Ford Motor Company Market Research

Introduction and problem statement

Customer loyalty and retention has been identified as a major challenge in successful marketing. In essence, lack of thorough and proper communication is a real issue of concern when setting up the most viable strategies to use in marketing. On the same note, business organizations which have failed to invest in customer loyalty and retention have missed out on significant marketing share against their competitors.

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The latter explains why it is vital to put more emphasis in effective communication strategies for the sole purpose of building customer confidence, retention as well as loyalty. Lack of visionary planning and poor strategic management in addition to weak customer relations have led to dysfunctional organizational behavior and low profitability. However, customer loyalty and retention can still be realized in a business environment where strategic marketing has been put in place with the help of effective communication. Indeed, social media marketing is currently being used as a viable marketing tool largely due to its flexibility and viability in reaching out targeted market. According to Clow and Baack (2011), the emergence of internet and particularly social media has injected a lot of vigor in marketing alongside improving loyalty of customers towards particular brands.

Research questions

  1. What is the correlation between customer loyalty/retention and business success/failure?
  2. What role does the presence of social media play in influencing customer loyalty and retention?
  3. What are some of the positive impacts of the presence of social media in customer retention and loyalty?
  4. What are some of the challenges associated with the emergence of social media?

Customer retention and use of social media

Increasing the use of social media in management of companies has been noted down as a viable marketing campaign in the contemporary business world (Tuccy & Reamer, 2010). It is a revolutionary method that has been used by major organizations for purpose of brand recognition. Therefore, it is definite that businesses can indeed reach the target market through social media campaigns. This suggestion is due to the fact that the use of social media in the world is increasing at a very fast pace. Tuccy and Reamer (2010) are categorical that any company wishing to gain customers and at the same time retain them must use modern methods of marketing. Some of the recognized social media are Facebook, Twitter, You Tube and Google +. Facebook and Twitter have changed the way companies are managed. In essence, companies which are not using social media in their communication are loosing a big chunk of their loyal customers.

Use of social media, customer retention and Profit maximization

The ultimate goal of business management is profit maximization (Lovett, 2011). Customer relations have been cited as relevant when considering profit maximization. According to Wilkerson (2011), the presence of social media has enhanced good customer relations through feedbacks to pertinent questions and engaging them regularly. This in return improves customer retention and loyalty. The ultimate gain is maximizing production of goods and services to the loyal customers and other prospective buyers. Buying trends and behaviors have been heavily altered by the emergence of social media (Pride & Ferrell, 2010).

It is a strategic measure of management and ignoring it means losing out on customers and business growth. Even though there are some well known challenges of using social media, there are myriad of benefits that can be accrued from this form of marketing. For instance, one of the challenges of using social media as a marketing platform is that it may not be readily accessible to the target market especially in regard to different age groups. It is known quite well that social media usage is largely determined by age. Individuals who are between 14 and 24 years are known to be versatile users of social media. On the other hand, there is a significant decrease in the use of social media from age 40 moving upwards. Other challenges and risks of using social media include:

  • Massive investment of resources and time in social media marketing without assessing the possible value of risks to be encountered.
  • A poorly designed website may not drive sales even if social media has been used as the marketing platform. The general impression of a website being used for such a purpose should be appealing to targeted users.
  • Social media marketing may lead to serious failure in a business especially if the search engine intricacies are not well understood. This may include poor structure of the keyword strategy, article strategy, backlinks as well as content strategy.

Tangible benefits in using social media for customer loyalty

Gaining customer loyalty has been noted as a major objective of using social media for marketing. However, there are other benefits that are then tied to customer loyalty. According to Lovett (2011), social media is capable of raising awareness and improving the brand of a company. It is a recipe to managing market competitiveness as it is recognized as one of innovative methods of brand marketing. In some cases, products are sold through social media and therefore taking goods and services close to the customers. Constant updates and feedbacks to customer queries helps build confidence in them and encourage them to stick with the company. It is an interactive way rather than letting customers visit designated areas for customer services. Use of social media is capable of increasing trust. In addition, existing and prospective customers should always be informed of new products. Social media is instant and can immediately assist in availing products and services to targeted consumers.

Challenges brought about by social media presence in customer loyalty

Social media marketing is a subset of overall online marketing. In essence, it is possible that use of social media may adversely affect customer loyalty. According to Solis (2011), it is highly likely to lose customers if their needs and expectations are not fulfilled. Social media is recognized as a new form of democratization. Whenever there is a breach of this form of governance, good management is significantly lost. For this therefore, it can be recognized that if the company does not respond to some pertinent queries, dissatisfied customers would seek new avenues. Once lost, it is near impossible to get them back. Solis (2011) calls for caution whenever using this form of media marketing.

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Research Methodology

Research scope

This research study will be largely concerned with investigating whether the presence of social media has enhanced customer loyalty at Ford Motor Company. From the company information, it is evident that social media has been instrumental in marketing. For the sake of this research study, 150 participants will be used in order to maintain high validity and reliability as well as minimizing errors. The Michigan Branch of Ford Motor Company will be used as a case study point for the Ford Company since this branch has been in operation for considerably long period of time and there are adequate past data that can be used in the research study. However, the results that will be obtained from the research may not be a real representation of the whole company. The focus would be on the kind of loyalty that Michigan Branch of the company gets through use of social media.

Choice of Ford Company

While there are myriad of companies that this empirical research study could be based on, it is imperative to note that the Ford Motor Company was chosen as the best sample organization due to the following reasons:

  • It is an automobile industry that is well established in the market and equally competitive against other similar market rivals.
  • Social media marketing campaign remains as one of the most viable tools of marketing Ford products. It is against this reason that this research study opted for the company in order to align this form of marketing strategy with the day-to-day activities at Ford Company.
  • In comparison to other players in the market and within the same industry, Ford Motor Company has adequate data that can be accessed online with much ease. As a matter of fact, this is an added advantage when conducting this study bearing in mind that social media fully relies on online presence of both buyers and sellers.

The 150 participants in the research survey can only be reached through online structured questionnaires. These data collection questionnaires will have to be distributed to respondents. As a result, the research study will be able to benefit from quantitative information. Moreover, information on social media marketing will also be derived from both primary and secondary sources of data (Biddle, 2009). In this case, the main primary sources of information for the survey will entail analysis of the online structured questionnaires after they have been obtained back from the 150 participants. In line with this, use of online surveys will equally act as secondary source of information for the empirical research study.

Research tools and design

The main research tool and design will be online survey through the questionnaires dispatched to company employees. As already mentioned, supplementary data will be obtained from secondary sources such as books, journals, magazines as well as web resources. Experimental methods would be used by utilizing questionnaires as the research tools. The choice of questionnaire as a research instrument is drawn from the fact that it can cover variety of topics touching on social media use in addition to the fact that a large number of the target population would be reached. Moreover, quantitative method was perceived to be very cost effective for the research.

It is definite that use of online surveys would be best suitable to collect quantitative data since it saves time. In line with this, there will be need to reinforce this method with qualitative methods since the former gives figurative data only. In this case, the research study will incline towards analytical information through observation of the target group. It is imperative to note that qualitative methods allow in-depth interaction between the researcher and the targeted group.

Company employees will be given questionnaire forms for filling which will then be collected after three days. However, consent will have to be sought from relevant company managers. Additionally, both open and closed research questions will be used to gather data. However, confidential questions will not be used in the questionnaires. In terms of research design, observations will be used to qualify data collected from employees in regards to customer loyalty through use of social media. The collected data will then be measured against the relevant data from previous research. This will assist towards interpretation of results. The task of analyzing and interpreting data will be combined with final presentation of the findings. It is expected that with the availability of required resources in terms of literature, personnel and finances, the research will be completed successfully within the set deadline.

Validity of the research

This is the degree to which this research will reflect going by the defined research problem. There is content validity in this research in the sense that the issue of customer loyalty is rational and a major component of management. The desired traits can be measured. For example, customer behaviors can easily be measured by use of responses through use of major social media account. The concentration would be on making sure that the results would be useful and valid.

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Research reliability

This research is reliable in the sense that the results are compatible with some statistical trials. The results can be reproduced again, especially with emergence of new social media methods and increase or decrease with the use of social media among people. Reliability is high on the basis that the possibility that results would differ by a large margin if a new research was to be conducted would be very minimal.

Ethical consideration in data collection

It would be pertinent to obtain ethical clearance from the management of Michigan branch of Ford Company. The latter can be achieved through wring a formal request to the management of the branch. This may be in form of a memo seeking permission to carry out online survey on the use of social media. There are ethical concerns on the use of questionnaires as the only research instrument in this research study. The fact that only the employees would be given questionnaires to fill may jeopardize getting tangible results. This calls for seeking prior consent from their management of the company.

This is essential since information given by the employees would be corroborated by company information regarding use of social media. Ethical consideration is also integrated in the type of questions that would be asked. The questions should not be directed towards disclosing some crucial information that employees may be privy to. In addition, researchers would be advised not to guide respondents in answering towards a certain direction. Employees or respondents would be given freedom to answer to the best of their knowledge.

Choice of employees

This research study will opt to use employees in gathering data since they are well placed as instruments of information compared to subscribers. In other words, employees have adequate knowledge on the most viable marketing tool that would boost production and profitability at Ford Motor Company.

Challenges

There are quite a number of limitations and opportunities that are likely to be encountered when conducting this research study on customer satisfaction. The limitations which may be encountered evolve around primary research. For instance, honesty and thoroughness of the answers in the questionnaires will be an area of concern. Some responses given by the participants may not thorough or honest enough. Another limitation will be in relation to the interviews; it may be cumbersome to obtain the right respondents for the interviews especially if adequate time and financial resources is not allocated to the study. For the secondary research methodology, some of the challenges that may be inevitable include outdated sources, and the confidentiality of certain reference materials that require authentication before accessing the data.

References

Clow, K.E & Baack, D. (2011). Cases in marketing management. California: SAGE Publications, Inc. Web.

Lovett, J. (2011). Social media metrics secrets. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Web.

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Pride, W. M & Ferrell, O.C (2010). Foundations of Marketing. Belmont: CengageBrain Learning. Web.

Solis, B. (2011). Engage: The complete guide for brands and business to build, cultivate, and measure success in the new web. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Web.

Tuccy, A & Reamer, E. (2010). List that saved my business. Charleston: Experience Pros. Web.

Wilkerson, C. (2011). The barefoot executive: The ultimate guide for being your own boss. Tennessee: Thomas Nelson publishers. Web.

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