Minor Research Project funded by UGC

Duration of the Project: 2016-2017



-with special reference to Social and On-Line Word-of-Mouth


Retailing is a social institution traditionally associated with the selling of products to consumers. Retailers meet the needs of their customers by providing essential services such as accessibility of location,convenience of timing, size, information and lifestyle support. The changes in our national and social environment have been constantly affecting the wants of consumers and how these wants are satisfied by the retailers. The developments in the retail and consumer technology has increased the spread of shopping. Consumers expect better services from retailers as their standard of living and life style have improved. Retailers are interested in the changing environment which is affected by the changes in the demographic, technology,economic, social, political and cultural factors.

The retailers use a range of methods to promote their offerings. The factors that determine the effectiveness of the retailer`s communication and the choice of appropriate goals are based on the messages that are sent out. The message has to be appropriate to the social and cultural context of the intended audience. The retail communication ensures that the customers receives the correct message. Communication is an integral part of the retailer`s marketing strategy. Communication is used inform the customer about the retailers, the merchandise &services. It is also serves as tool for the building the store image.

Retail Communication has moved on from the time when the retailer alone communicated with the customers. There are different methods in retail communication such as – Direct Marketing, On-line Marketing,Sales promotion, Personal selling, Advertising and Public relations. According to Fill (2009) four important characteristics can guide the choice of the communication tool used for delivering marketing communication messages to the customers by the retailers – Communication potential, Credibility, Cost and Control.

A communication program can be designed to achieve a variety of objectives for the retailer, such as building a brand image of the retailer in the customer’s mind, increasing sales and store traffic, providing information about the retailer’s location and offering, and announcing special activities. Retailers communicate with customers both online and off line interactively and passively. Direct marketing has received the greatest increase in attention by retailers and can occur using telemarketing (offline/ interactive),mobile marketing (online/interactive), direct mail and catalogs (offline/passive), and e-mail (online/passive). These elements in the communication mix must be coordinated so that customers have a clear,distinct image of the retailer and are not confused by conflicting information. Retailers go through four steps to develop and implement their communication program: Establish objectives, determine a budget, allocate the budget, and implement and evaluate the program.

Marginal analysis is the most appropriate method for determining how much should be spent to accomplish the retailer’s objectives because it maximizes the profits that could be generated by the communication mix. Since marginal analysis is difficult to implement, however, many retailers use rule-of-thumb methods to determine the size of the promotion budget. The internet and social network has brought new digital marketing perspectives to the retail industry as it serves as an additional channel for communication and promoting brand image and product information.

In the retail industry digital marketing strategies are aligned to meet the retailer-customer demands. The most popular digital marketing techniques available are Content marketing, social networking tools, re targeting community building etc., Digital Marketing in the present environment is able to speak to a large number of relevant people directly, effectively and relatively cheaply. It is understood that about 40% of there tails marketing spend are on digital marketing techniques compared with less than 10 % about five years from now. The digital marketing has become the most celebrated way to speak to the customers. Social Commerce is a sub-set of digital marketing. In November 2005, Yahoo!introduced the term social commerce. Yahoo! defines the term social commerce as “The Shoposphere and Pick Lists are examples of social commerce. We believe the community of shoppers is one of the best sources for product information and advice” (Yahoo! 2005). The official literature of Social Commerce can be traced from 2005. It is the combination of e-commerce and social media enabling the consumers to share information, experiences and opinions. A purchasing decision after doing research on-line, or via mobile and flipping the different purchasing options, has replaced the earlier version of shopping where 70% of purchasing decisions were made in-store. The relationships on the internet through social networking sites and the emergence of Web 2.0 applications has created enormous opportunities for business.

The social networking sites have developed e-commerce as an excellent channel for meeting business solutions. Consumers regularly search for specific product and service information. Retailers have to focus more on their on-line strategies and identify social networks as a tool for brand enhancement. The consumers still have a fear to buy on-line as they are not sure whether the retailer will support them after sale or whether they have to face a product or service failure. The electronic environment in retail sales is always challenging. The electronic marketing environment still has a greater scope and more to be achieved.

The effect of social interactions through the social networking sites on on-line and off-line purchase behaviour, among the different sections of customers will be explored and compared in the present study. The findings of the study is expected to contribute to the academic literature on social commerce and its role in the retail communication process. Furthermore, this research would contributes directly to the area of Information Technology due to a common interest in studying the environments and contexts in which people,information and technology interact and interplay.

2. Statement of the Problem

The Word Of Mouth (WOM) is considered as the primary source of information that would influence the Consumers purchase decisions.Although WOM has a significant role to be played in the Consumers Pre-purchase and Post-purchase decisions, relatively less attention has been focused on the measurement of the variables of WOM that influence the purchase decisions. The present study will identify the product categories that are influenced by WOM and also focus on the effect of social and on line word of mouth on Consumer purchase decisions.

3. Objectives:

  1. To discuss how retailers and Shoppers interact through social commerce technologies

  2. To identify the trends in the customer acquisition process influenced by social and online word of mouth

  3. To discuss how on line consumer generated content affect traditional media in retail industry


The purpose of this study is to identify the trends in the consumer purchase decisions comparing its influence from the social and online word of mouth. The variables of customer acquisition process will be explored in this study through the level of Education, Engagement, Experience and Exposure through and with the e-commerce channels. This study will be conducted from the user`s expectations and experience on the knowledge of Web 2.0, and Social Networking Sites. Purposive sampling will be adopted to select 150 samples. This study will use social support theory and related theories on intention to use to propose a theoretical framework for the adoption of social commerce. The study will employ primary data collections through structured questionnaire and interview from customers of Central Districts of Kerala – Thrissur and Ernakulam. Electronic questionnaire will also be use to collect data from vendors and retailers. The present study will adopt both qualitative and quantitative approaches for analysing data collected. The main data analysis method will be text and content analysis using coding and pattern coding of the collected data.


September 2020

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