The Sri Lankan Airline Industry

April 17, 2019 Media

The aim of this research study is to understand and evaluate the influence of social media on brand equity with a special reference to the Sri Lankan Airline Industry. It is clear that the social media networks have created a new level of interaction between the consumers and businesses. The discussions gone in the social media networks in the form of advertisements or posts can have significant impact on the brand equity.

Research objectives
1. To understand the impact of the social media networks on the brand equity.

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2. To understand and evaluate how social media networks affect the brand equity in the case of Sri Lankan Airline Industry.

3. To propose recommendations to strengthen the brand equity through social media networks.

Research questions
1. How do social media networks affect the brand equity?

2. How do social media networks affect the brand equity in the case of Sri Lankan Airline Industry?

3. What are the recommendations to strengthen the brand equity through social media networks?

Contribution of the chapters of the dissertation in meeting the research aim
This report would have approximately five chapters where each of them would contribute to the completeness and usability of the research study. The introduction chapter is the first chapter. Majorly, the research background, research aim, objectives and research questions, research rational, and the importance of the research study will be discussed under the chapter one. Chapter 2 is about eh literature review. The literature review has two sub section as related literature and theoretical literature. The related literature discussed the previously performed similar studies while the theoretical literature investigates the theoretical background with regard to the research area.

The methodology is the chapter three where the choices regarding various methods of research study will be executed. In a hierarchical manner, research philosophy, approach, strategy, methods, data collection and analytical methods, and ethical concerns will be addressed. The chapter four is about the data analysis and discussions. The data gathered from various sources needs to be analysed and presented in order to make meaningful conclusions. The discussions over the important findings are intended to do with the knowledge gathered from the literature review. The final chapter is the conclusions and recommendations. The conclusion will directly answer the research questions. Under the recommendations, it is expected to make meaningful proposals to make things better by the users of the research study.

Brief Literature Review:
Alam and Khan (2015) conducted a literature review on the impact of social media on brand equity. The study revealed that the impact is highly significant. Gorgan (2016) studied about the impact of the social network media on the brand equity in SMEs. The study highlighted that the impact is significant and it can affect negatively and positively as well. Abu-Rumman (2014) highlighted that the social media network affect brand equity of the mobile service providers in Jordan. Reza and Gorgani (2016) directed their research study in order to find the impact of the the social media on the brand equity. Likewise, many of the previous studies, it established that the social media contributed to strengthen the brand equity. The authors argued the modern generations are significantly depending on the social media sites to make new relationships and continue with the existing relationships. Hence, they tend to stay much of their time with the social media sites.

Ailawadi et al. (2003) highlighted the possibility of measuring the movement of the brand equity through measuring the premium characteristics of the revenue streams of the respective company. Hence, it was highlighted the possibility of measuring the relationship between the higher social media presence and the relationship between the brand equity. For example, if a company experiences continuous premium revenue while increasing their presence and campaigns, there can be established a strong relationship between the brand equity and the social media.

Bruhn et al. (2012) emphasized through their empirical research study that the social media is replacing the traditional media in creating the brand equity among the customers. In this case, the increasing usage of the social media by the modern generations were the major cause for this. Also, the authors highlighted that this situation can be improved further in the coming years as the world population in terms of the usage of social media is going to be risen. Gillin and Schwartzman (2011) highlighted the social media marketing is the other major cause for the increasing influence of the social media on the brand equity of the global corporations. Today, the social media sites such as Facebook and YouTube are capable of reaching millions of people instantly and hence the global mobility has become a game.

Ailawadi et al. (2003) highlighted that the social media communication is the communication on the social media platforms. Specifically, it can be through the graphical pictures, videos, or voice cuts, if it facilitates the users to communicate with each from around the world, it can be considered as the social media.

Figure 1: Major aspects of brand equity
Source: Keller and Lehman (2006)

Abu-Rumman (2014) highlighted that it is difficult to find the exact components of the brand equity. However, the researchers have extensively applied six components as the major elements under the brand equity; brand awareness, brand association, perceived quality, brand experience, brand performance, and brand loyalty. The brand awareness of making the customers aware of a respective brand. In the social media context, this can be performed through the social media marketing and other forms of campaigns on the social media. Gorgani (2016) highlighted that brand association is the unique capability of a brand to be stand alone. Similarly, perceived quality is the real quality from the perspective of the customers. The brand experience is the feelings of the consumers when the brand is consumed but can be continuously kept in their minds. The brand performance is the operational and financial performance of a brand. In order to measure the brand performance, a brand should be specifically reported for the performance. The brand loyalty is the continuous usage of the products under the brands by the customers when the alternative products are also available. Figure 1 shows the major components of the brand equity.

Theoretical framework
Figure 2 shows the theoretical framework with regard to this research study. The social media sites that being highly used in Sri Lanka have been selected for conducting the research study. The impact of these social media sites is to be measured in different ways such as questionnaires deployed to gather the data from some of the online consumers who are also social media users. Also, the company specific data with regard to the Airline industry in Sri Lanka would be obtained in order to measure the performance of the brand equity sites. However, in the questionnaire, the major aspects under the brand equity will be analysed and evaluated.

Figure 2: Theoretical framework for the research study
Source: Developed by the author
The research philosophy and approach
This research study follows the interpretivism research philosophy. When considering all the research philosophies, this was selected as the most appropriate philosophy. The interpretivism highly supports the complex behaviour of the human. Also, the interpretivisim can be successfully applied in the exploratory research design where a strong theoretical framework cannot be established. This research study is to investigate the impact of the social media on the brand equity is highly associated with the human behaviour.
A deductive research approach was decided to be more applicable in performing this research study. Though a fixed rule or a theory cannot be found with regard to the impact of the social media on the brand equity, a significant amount of research studies has proved this. However, those are not same context. This research study is to be conducted in the Sri Lankan context. Hence, the results can be changed. Nevertheless, the research study is conducted to find the impact of the social media on the brand equity.

Research strategy and method
The survey research strategy is mainly deployed in order to gather the data from the customers in the airline industry in Sri Lanka. The researcher understood that the customers are the most appropriate social segment in order to gather the evidence regarding the brand equity. In order to do that a questionnaire will be used. However, the most important is to design the questionnaire so as to understand by the general customers regarding the expectation of the questions.
A multi method will be used in this research study. In the multi method, the researcher can use both the qualitative and quantitative data collection and analysis methods interchangeably.

Data collection methods
Secondary data
The secondary data has an importance in this research study. It is expected to measure the brand loyalty based on the performance of the airline companies in the Sri Lankan industry. Referring to the revenues with regard to the specific brands, their brand equity can be roughly measured. Also, the use of the social media for various reasons can be found in the company specific and periodic publications. In that way, the impact of the social media on the brand equity is to be established.
Primary data
The primary data is also to be collected from the customers of the airline industry. 30 customers who used the service of airline companies in Sri Lanka will be used as the sample. Accordingly, the population is all the service users of the airline companies of Sri Lanka during the previous 6 months’ time period. The responses from the customers will be collected through a carefully designed questionnaire.

Data analysis methods
In the data analysis, it would be used both the qualitative and quantitative data analysis methods. In the analysis of the secondary data and primary data, some of the statistical techniques such as variations, relationships and will movements will be applied. Also, the qualitative techniques such as explanations, descriptions, and comparisons will be used. Also, MS Excel’s data presentation tools such as graphs and tables will be used for presenting the summarized data.

Justification of the research study
Ethical concerns
Since the research study uses the questionnaire in order to gather data, there are significant ethical concerns to be considered. The informed consent of the respondents to the questionnaire is more important. However, before obtaining the consent, the researcher should introduce the research study, its aim, and potential benefits. The potential misrepresentations or the hiding importance matters regarding the research study can create the deception.
More importantly, a separate section in the questionnaire will be incorporated to introduce the research study and its purpose. Also, it is highlighted the ability of the researcher to withdraw from the survey at any given time by informing to the researcher.

Validity and reliability of the study
The research study is to be conducted about the impact of the social media on the brand equity. This area is previously well-researched area. The data gathered for the very purpose and some of the credible sources such as company publications will be used to perform the research study.

Resources you need including access to primary and secondary data:
The secondary data will be obtained from the published materials such as periodic publications of the companies including annual reports. No inside information of the companies is intended to obtain. The primary data will be gathered through a questionnaire, but designing questionnaire is challenging task.


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