Marketing, both discipline and as practice, has gone developed in theory as well as in practice as explained in existing scholarly literature (Wind & Robertson 1983). Hollander, Rassuli, Jones & Dix (2005) agrees and asserts new theories and paradigms have emerged due to new and dynamic marketing needs of modern business. Jenkinson (2006) acknowledges Hollander, Rassuli, Jones & Dix’s (2005) claims but adds that modern business needs new marketing approaches to exploit modern markets.
Similarly, White (2010) acknowledges Jenkinson’s (2006) claims on evolution of marketing adding that currently, marketing is characterized by relationship making through social media as well as through the internet, while Helfert and Vith’s (1999) adds that marketing teams are useful in improving customer relationships Unlike White (2010), Kubina (2008) gives examples of modern marketing tools such as blogs, social network sites, WEB 2.0 among others while Pallas & Fredriksson (2011) describes specific social networking tools such as twitter, Facebook and MySpace and explains that they help firms in network marketing. As such modern marketing tools such as twitter, Facebook and MySpace are changing the face of modern marketing.
In relations to the notable positive effect of nontraditional marketing tools on marketing, studies on the application and effectiveness of nontraditional marketing tools by Kuwaiti entrepreneurs seems relevant. Al-Fadhli (2011) explains that entrepreneurs in Kuwaiti are utilizing modern marketing tools such as Facebook, twitter and blogs as some of the major marketing tools. Al-Busaidi (2007) affirms Al-Fadhli’s (2011) assertions and add that Social media has improved performance of most businesses in Kuwaiti.
In a rejoinder to the debate on marketing in Kuwaiti, Gibb (2011) explains that the traditional techniques of door to door marketing, radio and television advertising among others in Kuwait is progressively becoming outdated. The advances in technology and use of social media have transformed the way modern generation of young entrepreneurs are conducting business in Kuwaiti (Gibb 2011).
This study is in the acknowledgment of the need for continued research on the effectiveness of social media in marketing. Because the existing literature does not address the specific opportunities available through social media for Kuwaiti entrepreneurs, this study thus seems relevant and is aimed at filling this knowledge gap. As such the main aim of this study is to explore marketing tools affecting Kuwaiti entrepreneurs in conducting businesses. As such this paper investigates marketing tools affecting Kuwaiti entrepreneur’s specifically social media tools such as Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and blogs, as well as the motivation of using such tools. In this regard the paper will try to meet the following objectives:
- To determining sectors of the market that social media marketing tool targets.
- To identify present marketing practices of young Kuwaiti entrepreneurs in different market segments.
- To offer suggestions on how the study may help fill the gaps in using social media.
- To identify factors that influence the social media marketing.
- To identify the marketing strategies for Kuwaiti young entrepreneurs.
- Identify and discuss the roles of social media in marketing amongst Kuwaiti entrepreneurs.
- Illustrate the various business fields social media has covered and explore the advantages young Kuwaiti entrepreneurs have experienced through it when undertaking social media marketing.
To meet the objectives outlined later, this paper is divided into five major chapters. The first chapter is the introductory chapter that highlight the basis of the study and the background information concerning the study. Chapter 2, the Literature Review focuses on providing insight into the topic by highlighting. Methodology for the conducting the study is highlighted in Chapter 3, while chapter 4 describes the results of the study was well as the discussion. Chapter 5 concludes this study and also gives the recommendations for future study.
In order to address the objectives of this study, effective research methodology has to be identified. This is study utilizes the deductive approach as explained by Saunders, Lewis & Thornhill (2007) since it borrows knowledge from general sources and draws conclusion from them. Furthermore, since the study aims at contributing to the ongoing scholarly debate, it thus becomes very objective in nature. Information for this study is derived from primary and secondary sources.
Information from secondary data was analysed from books, journals, literature materials and magazines. Primary data was collected from focus groups which included young entrepreneurs, experienced entrepreneurs, business owners and consumers through the use of questionnaires, individual depth interviews, group interviews, field studies and information on business history of individual participants.
This was necessary in order to establish marketing practice of each of the respondent. More specifically depth interviews were used to generate data from study participants. Individuals, companies and groups of Kuwaiti companies and young entrepreneurs were interviewed in depth. The study targeted 8 young business owners between the ages 22-39. The age 22 was found to be convenient since most young Kuwaitis graduate from the university at this age and then venture into business (Maceli 2011). Since the study did not have a focus on gender roles, the genders of participants were thus ignored.
As explained in the literature review, marketing tools have evolved. New marketing tool such as social media have notable advantages to modern business. Through the research methodologies described later in this paper, it was found out that, social media tools do provide a number of opportunities for Kuwaiti entrepreneurs to succeed in business. Technological advancements which facilitate the use of social media such as twitter, Facebook and blogs have had a transformative effect on the way Kuwaiti entrepreneurs conduct business.
Kuwaiti entrepreneurs through social media are able to expand their businesses outside Kuwait to the GCC countries, launch new products and services, establish rapport with clients, conduct Word Of Mouth marketing among other benefits. The study also found out that there are a number of other factors that influence the way business is conducted in Kuwaiti. One of the motivations for preferring to use social media is the existing networks within social media, cost effectiveness among others at
Evolution in marketing tools
According to Wind & Robertson (1983) the development of marketing as a discipline has reached a plateau phase, a phase within which there is no significant development in any theoretical foundation that might change the way marketing is viewed. Wind & Robertson (1983) study was conducted 20 years ago and largely ignores online marketing methods that have evolved of late. The notion that new marketing tools such as online technologies are crucial in today’s marketing is scarcely alluded by Day & Wensley (1983).
Even though Day & Wensley (1983) agree with Wind & Robertson (1983) to the extent that the development of marketing has reached a plateau phase, they add that there needs to be broader studies in research and theory development in generating of new paradigms in marketing strategies since there are a number of emergent marketing needs that cannot be addressed by traditional marketing tools.
Furthermore, Wind & Robertson (1983) explain that the new marketing strategy paradigms are focused on addressing new marketing requirement that needs for creativity in sustenance of businesses. However, Goi (2009) disagrees with Wind & Robertson (1983) and argues that the development in the business landscape since the 1940s has seen immense development in marketing theoretical frameworks. This has seen the movement of marketing strategies develop from traditionally used tools to modern IT based marketing tools.
Bouchard & Basso (2011) takes a similar stand with Goi (2009) to the extent that marketing have evolved over time, and further emphasizes that there are a number of marketing tools that have evolved over time. Wilson, Speare and Ree (2002) focus on traditional marketing tools such as products, prices and places. These components catch the attention of buyers and have been used over a long period of time. Möller (2006) argues that traditional marketing tools have increasingly been criticized for their perceived shortcomings, especially in addressing emergent marketing dynamics. Bernd (1999) adds to the debate on the evolution of marketing tools and describes both traditional and non-traditional tools of marketing.
In his article Bernd further highlights the functions of traditional and online marketing tools and also explains how marketing tools have evolved over time. Within the article Bernd (1999) findings have major implications in the filed of marketing as he explains the evolution of marketing tools by contrasting the role of traditional and online marketing tools. Bernd explains that traditional marketing tools help consumers make rational decisions and adds that marketing tools have evolved due to new marketing dynamics.
Bernd (1999) further argues that online marketing tools such as Web 2.3, social media and others are much more strategic in creating holistic experiential marketing experience, modeled along Gestalt idea of the whole. These tools other than helping consumer make rational decisions also generate emotional and pleasurable experiences. Furthermore, online marketing tools tend to exploit behaviors, lifestyles of consumers and their social-identity (Bernd, 1999).
According to Minhyung (2010) the internet is the basis of evolution in marketing strategies. Web marketing is regarded as one of the most significant marketing tools that have been utilized in the market to reach both potential and actual customers. While Bernd fails to identify forms of modern marketing tools, Kubina (2008) goes ahead and identifies a number of online marketing tools. Within this article Kubina identifies a number of modern marketing tools such as blogs, social network sites, WEB 2.0 among others.
According to Pallas & Fredriksson (2011) marketing tools have gone through a complete evolution and add that social networking tools such as twitter, Facebook and MySpace are among the most viable internet marketing tools since they market the capability of a firm in particular areas by the use of networking. Welsh, Alon & Falbe (2006) agrees with this notion and adds that using social networks for business purposes is an evolution in marketing which enables entrepreneurs gain accessibility and chances to make better sales and increase their benefits by utilising existing social networks.
Al-Busaidi (2007) adds that many businesses are turning to social Media as a way of not only marketing their products but also monitoring consumer behaviour. Kaplan and Michael (2010) largely ignore to address the evolutionary stages of marketing tools but assert that social networking tools are much more useful for small business enterprises. Kaplan &Michael (2010) and Young & Tavares (2004) describe the challenges of using social media but conclude that the network of people created by social networks offer small business opportunities for growth. As such, as Bernd (1999) argues marketing tools have experienced significant evolution due to the emergent marketing needs of the modern business.
Conclusively, new marketing needs has seen the emergence of new marketing tools such as Facebook, twitter and MySpace. As Al-Busaidi (2007) adds, many businesses are turning to social Media as a way of not only marketing their products but also monitoring consumer behaviour. Through this study, factors that influence the social media marketing will be highlighted.
Social Media Networks
According to Tsai (2010) Facebook is one of the biggest and most effective non-traditional marketing tools. Tsai argues that since the facility has more that 500 million active subscribers, it thus becomes necessary for firms to incorporate it as one of the major marketing avenues. However, Tsai worries that the latest trend reveals worrying statistics. Many firms are shy of using Facebook for marketing of products due to a number of factors. Most company marketing managers see Facebook as just an avenue to increase the number of company fans. However, this needs not be the case since there are creative marketing techniques that can be used to turn those fans into possible consumers of company’s products.
In regard the use of Facebook by companies, Tsai (2010) suggest that among other techniques Facebook marketing should offer discounted products and services to consumer who orders through Facebook. Loceff (2010) agrees with Tsai (2010) to the extent that Facebook offers a very good opportunity to market a company’s product. However, Loceff (2010) argues that just being on Facebook should not be taken as social network marketing.
Loceff (2010) adds there are companies that have used Facebook successfully as a marketing tool. This has been attained through identifying the exact people that these companies are communicating with, how they are communicating and what message they are communicating. Story (2007) agrees with this notion but adds that Facebook holds an immense potential to market a firm’s products. In realization of the immense power of advertising, Facebook admin now allows firms to share information about their products within the network for free. Story (2007) adds that Facebook aims to use the network marketing techniques.
A company’s Facebook fans will thus be allowed to share information about products and services. Firms such as Blockbuster, Condé Nast and Coca-Cola have seen the potential and carry advertisement through Facebook with significant benefits. Maurer (2011) does not state companies that have successfully marketed through Facebook, but explains that Arguably, Facebook is new of the new marketing tools that have found extensive use in modern marketing.
Facebook has within itself evolved and with the help of the Facebook admin, has been used by major companies such as Blockbuster, Condé Nast and Coca-Cola. Through Tsai (2010), Loceff (2010) and Story (2007) the paper will help fill the gaps in using social media such as Facebook. Furthermore, Facebook can now use such platforms software-as-a service (SaaS). Maurer (2011) advises, Kuwaiti entrepreneurs willing to market through Facebook to use these three techniques: place links with special offer on news feeds, identify the best times to post these links and also create site about various products and link them on its Facebook fans page.
An online survey conducted by Wall street journal on tested the hypothesis that marketing on twitter and Facebook work for small enterprises (Wall Street Journal, 2011). The poll used the question ‘Do you believe marketing businesses via Twitter and Facebook works?’ to test readers perspective on social networking marketing. 64.5 % of the respondents thought that marketing on social networking works for small enterprises.
The pollster also explains that small enterprises are increasingly showing an appetite for marketing on twitter and Facebook. Teresa (2009) agrees with the conclusions of these poll findings and adds that twitter is among the social networks that add value in building sustainable customer relationships. Teresa (2009) further adds that twitter is one of the most effective marketing tools for artists. Artists have been able to upload their work on twitter.
This generates many followers who are also interested in their work. While Cunningham (2011) agrees that twitter is a very useful tool for marketing by small enterprises, she also urges those small businesses that have not yet tried twitter as a marketing avenue to try since it creates avenues for new business through its 200 million members. In her article Cunningham (2011) assumes a more precautionary approach to marketing on twitter and advises small entrepreneurs to try marketing on this network but do so cautiously to avoid making basic mistakes.
Cunningham (2011) enumerates ten major mistakes that entrepreneurs are likely to make as; following to many people rather than being followed by too many, incorrect messaging, sending spam messages, ingratitude, inability to use twitter search to look for new business opportunity among other mistakes. Unlike Cunningham (2011), Miller (2009) adopts a more daring approach and gives personal accounts of marketing by small entrepreneurs as well as big firms on twitter. Even though Dell, Starbucks and Comcast have used twitter successfully to market their products, small entrepreneurs like Curtis Kimball, an ice cream vender in America uses free marketing on twitter alert clients on new products on daily basis. This proves that twitter, like Facebook is a useful a marketing tool.
As Teresa (2009), Cunningham (201) and Miller (2009) explain, twitter is a very useful non traditional marketing tool available for use to day. This discovery will help to, among other things, explain how twitter is used as one of the marketing strategies for Kuwaiti young entrepreneurs
Other than twitter and Facebook, MySpace is one of the social networking platforms that small enterprises can use to launch their marketing campaigns. Al-Wugayan & Alshimmiri, (2010) argues that MySpace, being an automatic program, has been used by marketers to advertise goods and services to their audience easily. Furthermore, MySpace has been advantageous to businesses since it enhance delivery of unified information to the public through the use of the multiple channels available.
Stroud (2008) agrees with Al-Wugayan & Alshimmiri, (2010) and argues that social networking sites such as twitter are good for marketing. Stroud (2008) further explains that small business hold a false notion that social networking sites are just a passing fad. Stroud (2008) explains that Sites such as MySpace are here to stay. MySpace has a wide variety of users. Stroud thus challenges small entrepreneurs to find new ways to exploit MySpace as a marketing tool.
While the previous literature mentioned above focuses on a number of social networking cites such as face book twitter and MySpace, Thomas, Peters & Tolson, (2007) conducted an exploratory strictly limited to the effect of MySpace in fashion marketing. In spite of the research limitations, the result of this study revealed valuable insights on the power of virtual communities in marketing.
The study found out that Fashion icons use MySpace not only to discuss but also to market personal style in fashion, fashion brands, latest designers labels among other topics. KoMarketing Associates, a group of internet marketing professionals agree with the assertion explained above to the extent that MySpace is a valuable marketing tool. However, KoMarketing Associates (2011) paint a gloomy picture on the future of marketing on MySpace due to the dwindling number of users. But as Al-Wugayan and Alshimmiri (2010) argue this should not be cause for any worry as MySpace has been advantageous to businesses since it enhance delivery of unified information to the public through the use of the multiple channels available.
Because Stroud (2008) explains that MySpace is her to stay, this study will show how this tool can be effectively employed in marketing by Kuwaiti entrepreneurs. Since Al-Wugayan & Alshimmiri, (2010) argues that social networking sites such as twitter are good for marketing, the study will evaluate the usefulness of MySpace in marketing in Kuwait. While KoMarketing Associates (2011) paints a gloomy picture on the usefulness of MySpace today, this paper will identify factors that might influence the use of MySpace in marketing in Kuwait.
Singh, Veron-Jacksonb & Cullinane (2008) conducted a study on the effectiveness of blogs on modern day marketing. Within this study, blogging Vis a Vis traditional marketing tools was evaluated. It was found out that blogging is very effective as it not only helps in attracting customer attention but also engaging clients as it helps to establish and deliver key messages. Wright (2006) agrees with
Singh, Veron-Jacksonb & Cullinane (2008) and conclusively affirms that blogging can change firms fortune for the better. Unlike Singh, Veron-Jacksonb & Cullinane (2008), Wright (2006) explains that the main question which firms should contend with is not whether blogging is effective as a marketing tool but on which strategies that the firms should use to maximize the business opportunities available through blog marketing. Wright also identifies firms that have used successful marketing strategies such as GM, Disney Channels and Microsoft which have not only build brands but also increased sales through blogs.
While Weil (2006) agrees with this, he adds that blogs are also useful as communicating tools. However, as precaution Weil cautions small enterprises against using blogs as replacements for traditional marketing tools. In his survey, Horton (2003) agrees with Weil (2006) to the extent that blogging are only useful in reinforcement of marketing activities but adds that this supplementary role makes difference in sales results. In this regard, like twitter, Facebook and MySpace, blogs are a useful marketing tool.
Wright (2006) agrees with Singh, Veron-Jacksonb & Cullinane (2008) and Weil (2006) that blogging can change firms fortune for the better. In regard to these earlier findings, this study will try to highlight how blogs can strategically be used as a marketing tool by Kuwait entrepreneurs.
Social media and telecommunications
Clere (2010) mission is to help small companies to gain a deeper understand of how telecommunication and social media tools interact and functions. Within her literature, Clere explain that there exist social media spaces within certain telecommunication services. These social media spaces will help companies communicate effectively with their clients. While Clere (2010) clearly describes the connection between social media and telecommunication, Haque, Rahman & Rahman, (2010) explains the specific telecommunication components that support the use of social media tools.
Haque et al (2010) argue that telecommunication tools such as iPhones offer better connectivity than an ordinary phone, and combine functions like personal digital assistant (PDA) and run a platform for applications known as operating systems software. These applications enable such telecommunication gadgets to support inbuilt social media tools such as Facebook and twitter. Minhyung, (2010) explains that iPhone’s makes communication simpler, faster and better by enhancing accessibility in both social and business fields.
Verkasalo (2008) agrees with Minhyung, (2010) to the extent that advancements in telecommunication technology have enabled creation of advanced telecommunication gadgets such as smart phones that shows great ability in advanced computing due to the ability to install advanced applications such as Facebook and Twitter among others that users’ have been granted. Verkasalo (2008) adds that there are other gadgets such as Blackberry that also support inbuilt social media tools functions.
Verkasalo (2008) goes beyond the social media functionality of such gadgets and explains that they can be used in financial transactions, surfing the net and financial banking. Even though Maceli (2011) does not focus on the use of such telecommunication tools on banking and other financial services, he concurs that the use of Facebook and twitter through iPhones and Blackberries enhances business communication.
Maceli (2011) adds that entrepreneurs are able to interact with customers online about products and services they offer. Furthermore, gadgets with inbuilt Facebook and twitter functions boosts marketing by allowing advertising of products to be done online free of charge. Therefore, through iPhones and Blackberries, Facebook and twitter can be used in marketing of products on a global scale. This is enhanced by the large number of users of such social media. Therefore, telecommunications and social media combine effectively not only to aid effective social and business communication but also enhance marketing.
Clere (2010) Haque, Rahman & Rahman, (2010), Haque et al (2010), Minhyung, (2010) and other agree telecommunication components such as PDA, iPhones and others enhanced the usefulness of social media tools. This study will therefore aim at suggesting ways through which these components can enhance communication through social media and thus help advance marketing initiatives by Kuwaiti entrepreneurs.
Word Of Mouth as a Marketing Tool
Word Of Mouth marketing is a new discipline, within which there still needs further research to test it effectiveness (Anderson, 1998). However, word of mouth or referral marketing has gained increased attention from academics such as Ennew et al. (2000) Gladwell (2000) Money, Gilly & Graham, (1998), Dobele (2006) who add that within the existing literature, threes types of studies can be identified. There are those studies that hypothesize on the type and frequency of word of mouth marketing.
Furthermore there are those studies that focus on effect of word of mouth marketing and lastly studies that have focused on the relationship between social relations and word of mouth marketing. While Anderson (1998) explains that there are existing knowledge gaps regarding word of mouth marketing, Verkasalo, (2008) and Welsh, Raven & Al-Mutair (1998) attempts to provide further insight on the use of word of mouth and referral marketing techniques. Word of mouth as argued by Verkasalo (2008), is one of the most effective and vital marketing tools that is used by entrepreneurs.
Compared to advertising, use of word of mouth, especially through social media is flourishing among medium size and small population since people trust each other in matters of quality products and services. Verkasalo (2008) and Kotler & Connor (1977) add that it is unfortunate that most entrepreneurs do not include word of mouth as part of viable advertising plans, yet word of mouth is the most important tool for consumers. Welsh, Raven & Al-Mutair (1998) agrees and adds that, people get to know about new products through word of mouth than from media and other means of advertisement.
Welsh, Raven & Al-Mutair (1998) further gives practical examples of new restaurants that are well advertised through word of mouth rather than through other means of advertisements and cautions that negative word of mouth automatically creates long lasting negative attitudes on prospective clients. Hoult (n.d.) made a conference presentation on social media and word of mouth marketing.
In his paper, Hoult identified Facebook and MySpace as some of the social media tools through which word of mouth is effectively used to market services and products. This is achieved through sharing of information amongst users. Word of mouth is not only useful in real world marketing but also in virtual world marketing
In previous studies by Ennew et al. (2000), Anderson (1998), Verkasalo (2008), Welsh, Raven & Al-Mutair (1998) and others, word of mouth is effectively used to market services and products through social media tools. The purpose of this paper is to explore the advantages for young Kuwaiti entrepreneurs have experienced through word of mouth marketing through social media.
Elements affecting WOM – Word Of Mouth
Population size and its effect
Kracht & Wang (2010), illustrate that customers value opinions from other customers more than from entrepreneurs and adds that almost half of purchasing decisions are made by word of mouth which is effective and does not use much money as compared to other means of advertisement. Campbell (2008) agrees and further adds that one of the factors that influence word of mouth effectiveness in marketing through social media is population dynamics.
Campbell (2008) adds another dimension to the population factor. Pierre & Shane (2001) explain that small population forms a tight network will be greatly impacted by word of mouth marketing, than larger population, which are most likely to have loose connections. Furthermore, almost every person in small populations gets access to the information. As such, word of mouth makes the impact small population more than large population. Maceli (2011) agrees that small populations are affected by word of mouth more than larger populations but adds the cultural dynamic to the complex.
Maceli (2011), like Haque, Rahman & Rahman (2010) argues that other members within small population have similar cultural values, which means that they may share similar product preferences. Maceli (2011) therefore advices small entrepreneurs to focus on identifying small groups in social media, as marketing target for their products and services. Entrepreneur marketers should therefore monitor the population and cultural values to develop effective word of mouth marketing.
Maceli (2011) and Haque, Rahman & Rahman (2010) argue that members within small population have similar cultural values. Maceli (2011) the cultural values within group is a reflection of the prevalent lifestyles within that group. Thomas (2008) agrees with Maceli (2011) but adds that cross cultural differences which define different community lifestyle dictates the effectiveness of word of mouth marketing.
Furthermore, people without cultural differences share the same cultural values and thus similar lifestyles. They are therefore likely to have an easy and fast way of spreading through word of mouth. Alfadly (2011) agrees and reckons that different lifestyles affect word of mouth differently, a notion that AlSagheer & Al-Sagheer (2010) concurs with. According to AlSagheer & Al-Sagheer (2010) cultures which posses’ lifestyles characterized by high avoidance to uncertainty are strongly affected by word of mouth more than cultures that have lifestyles designs characterized by notable uncertainties.
The Amma Group, a group of marketing experts add to this debate and defines lifestyle marketing as marketing activities that join marketing themes to lifestyles of the consumers of company products. According to The Amma Group (2010) lifestyle marketing does not thrive on traditional methods of marketing but on non-traditional marketing tools through a process referred to as interactive advertising.
Social networking, mobile phone applications as well as the internet are some of the tools through which lifestyle marketing is attained. The Amma Group (2010) further explains that while internet marketing is passive lifestyle marketing, social network marketing engages the consumers in more creative ways. The Amma Group (2010) sees mobile phone applications are the most effective lifestyle marketing tools as they fully immerse the consumer in the marketing as well as using of advertised products.
The Amma Group (2010) asserts what AlSagheer & Al-Sagheer (2010) and Alfadly (2011) explain that lifestyle plays a big role in word of mouth marketing. The Amma Group (2010) thus calls small entrepreneurs to explore the opportunities available through social media as well as mobile phone applications in consideration for lifestyle marketing.
Conclusively, Campbell (2008), Pierre & Shane (2001) and others highlight that population has a bearing on the effectiveness of social media marketing. This study will highlight the opportunities available through social media Vis a Vis this discovery. Furthermore, Maceli (2011), Haque, Rahman & Rahman (2010) and other reveal that groups are formed by people with similar values and as such the paper will aim at offering suggestions on how word of mouth can be incorporated as marketing strategy by Kuwaiti entrepreneurs.
The effect of Events/ Exhibitions on young businesses
According to a survey conducted in 54 countries by the Global Association Of Exhibition Industry it was found out that exhibitions significantly improve a firm fortunes if done consistently (GAEI 2011). Even though AlSagheer, & Al-Sagheer (2010) do not mention the survey by GAEI, they are in agreement with the findings of this survey that businesses develop as a result of exhibitions and shows and adds that young businesses have been affected by exhibitions which are used as viable marketing tools in 21st century. While (GAEI, 2011) tends to portray exhibitions as the most effective marketing tactics, AlSagheer, & Al-Sagheer (2010) explains that exhibitions and events are ranked third in marketing tactics.
Kracht & Wang (2010) further expound that young businesses are turning to exhibitions because they provide an efficient way of enhancing face to face contact between sellers and customers, which will enable direct marketing. As such, decision makers in young businesses need to know the importance of exhibitions and events such as trade shows. Welsh, Raven & Al-Mutair (1998) agrees but adds that in modern era marketing exhibition and events are only useful if technology is used to market such events.
While Pallas & Fredriksson, (2011), fails to mention the use of technology in exhibitions and such other marketing events, they assert that these events influence consumers largely to make purchases of certain products as they are able to test those products before they buy. Pallas & Fredriksson, (2011), adds that exhibitions enhance face to face interactions between marketers and consumers, a notion that Kracht & Wang (2010) share. Kracht & Wang (2010) adds that young businesses are turning to exhibitions because they provide an efficient and cost effective way of enhancing face to face contact between sellers and customers, as exhibitions replace in-person sales which are more expensive.
According to GAEI (2011), AlSagheer, & Al-Sagheer (2010) and others exhibitions are beneficially utilized for meeting and directly interacting with clients, with direct positive outcomes. In this regard the paper, as Pallas & Fredriksson, (2011) suggest small entrepreneurs in Kuwaiti Entrepreneurs should consider exhibitions as marketing avenues for introduction of new products and services to customers, meeting current and potential customers and finally to create customer interest. Furthermore, the paper will suggest other opportunities available for Kuwaiti entrepreneurs through exhibition, such as combining the use of exhibition and social media.
The preceding chapters within this paper have focused on discussing the existing knowledge and dynamics in attempts to provide background information on the study question. Within this chapter the focus will be on the research methodology chosen for this study. The chapter will also involve a clear description of the purpose and relevance of the specific research method chosen for this study. Furthermore the research population is discussed research population is discussed and the selection of a sample unit will be explained. Additionally the research objectives as well as research questions are clearly identified.
Data collection method
In order to describe the research methods for this study it is important to recapitulate the essence of this study as well as finding of the existing literature. The main aim of this study is to find out whether social media affect marketing for small businesses in Kuwaiti. In the preceding chapters current literature reveal that social media has in deed significantly influenced marketing. Furthermore, there is still need for further studies in relation to this topic to fill in the existing knowledge gaps. This study, other than contributing to the ongoing scholar debate on the influence of social media on marketing will attempt to provide further insights on this topic.
As such, philosophically, this study is very objective. The research methods have also been influenced by time factor. Since the study could only be conducted over a short period of time, a cross sectional study is the most suitable method for this study. As Wright & Marsden (2010) explain cross section research methods allow for collection of quality data from a single point in time.
As Saunders, Lewis & Thornhill (2007) explain, this is a deductive study since information is gathered from general sources and then conclusions are deduced from them. This also adds to the objectivity of the study. Information that was used for this study was gathered from primary and secondary sources. Information from secondary data came from books, journals, literature materials and magazines.
Literature sources to examine entrepreneurs, their characteristics, main debates and challenges facing them in their daily business operations were used for this study. Primary data was collected from focus groups which included young entrepreneurs, experienced entrepreneurs, business owners and consumers through the use of questionnaires, individual depth interviews, group interviews, field studies and information on business history of individual participants. This was necessary in order to establish marketing practice of each of the respondent.
This study utilised both quantitative and qualitative data. Quantitative data incorporates numbers and figures while qualitative data consist of sketches of study findings in terms of words (Denzin & Lincoln 2005). The former comprised of various databases which contained information on e- marketing business and especially in regard to social media. Some of the resource materials for analysis of this research study included published books, peer reviewed journals, newspapers, magazines and credible websites. On the other hand, primary research data for this study was gathered through observations, taking field notes, focus groups discussions, transcripts, recording communications as well as structured and semi structured interviews.
The information gathered from primary data and was used for qualitative analysis. A qualitative research is more open unlike quantitative research as explained by Guba & Lincoln (1994) and as such, it was possible to incorporate unexpected data in making conclusions and recommendations, as explained by LeCompte & Preissle (1992).
Additionally, during the study, content analysis was used to assess gathered information and reports from the data collected. It is imperative to note that for easy evaluation of themes from recorded information collected from primary sources, content analysis is the preferred method that should be used.
Collected data was systematically evaluated, and put into smaller categories. Even though the study sought to gain information from other business owners, the focus of the study was on young Kuwaiti entrepreneurs between the ages of 22-39. Young entrepreneurs for the study were identified first, and their levels of marketing performance, activities and sustainability were determined.
In conducting content analysis, CRA methodology was applied. This is a system that uses Crawdad, a specifically developed analytical software package, to analyse reports gathered from quantitative data, interpret and determine meanings of words and phrases. It achieves this through representation of concepts, checking position of words and building upon inference based on network theory and a combination of linguistics. CRA methodology was used as it was important for analysing and giving meaning to data gathered from primary sources that had phrases or words through bringing out their inter-relationships, their influence, and main concepts.
Within this study CRA methodology was effectively used to create a relationship between a set of words or phrases with others (Haque, Rahman & Rahman, 2010). CRA uses values such as 0.05 and 0.01 to mean very significant and significant respectively. As aforementioned, collection of data for this study was done using qualitative and quantitative and methods. Individual depth interviews were conducted when gathering data using the quantitative method. Depth interviews were important for this study since business owners and young entrepreneurs provided detailed information and answers to interview questions.
The reasons why this study’s main data collection was depth interviews was because that method involved intensive individual or group interviews whereby respondents gave answers and their perspectives on situations, programs or ideas. Besides, as Entrepreneur Press & Mitch Meyerson (2010) asserts claims made by Wengraf (2001) that it is imperative to underscore the fact that depth interviews provide detailed information, give answers to the why and how questions, as well as a complete picture or context of an issue.
Furthermore interviews were more preferred by the interviewees themselves as they found it easier to be interviewed that to fill out questionnaire forms. However, depth interviews have limitations and some of them lack generalization of results (Evans 2008).
However, this is just a small limitation since the study population is too small to allow for any generalization. Furthermore, it requires skills and appropriate training on the part of the interviewer such as the ability to keep in check personal opinions, use of appropriate body language and effective interview techniques. Moreover, analysing and transcribing results as well as conducting interviews is time-intensive (Brown 2008; Maceli, 2011). This shortcoming was overcome to a very large extent by the use of recording tools which could be used to verify interviewees response if need arose, as explained by Walther & Kyle (2001).
The task of identifying intrinsic content quality when using social media as a marketing tool was determined from interviews carried out on business owners and young entrepreneurs. Some of the issues the interviews sought to find out included the best social media platform for marketing today and the best social media strategy young Kuwaiti entrepreneurs have today for social media marketing. Respondents from both the Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) and large business enterprises were interviewed pre-determined inquiries on the effectiveness of social media marketing for business growth (Anwar & Tuqan, 2006; Rotfeld, 2001).
The main aim of this research study was to explore marketing tools affecting Kuwaiti entrepreneurs in conducting businesses. The research objective of this study was divided into main objectives and specific objectives.
To investigate marketing tools affecting Kuwaiti entrepreneurs alongside their motivation to use such tools.
- To determining sectors of the market that social media marketing tool targets.
- To identify present marketing practices of young Kuwaiti entrepreneurs in different market segments.
- To offer suggestions on how the study may help fill the gaps in using social media.
- To identify factors that influence the social media marketing.
- To identify the marketing strategies for Kuwaiti young entrepreneurs.
- Identify and discuss the roles of social media in marketing amongst Kuwaiti entrepreneurs.
- Illustrate the various business fields social media has covered and explore the advantages young Kuwaiti entrepreneurs have experienced through it when undertaking social media marketing.
- What is the role of technology in underpinning the whole customer experience through social media? Is the social media marketing platform the right technology for businesses today?
- Is social media a good marketing tool for business?
- What are the needs of young Kuwaiti entrepreneurs in marketing?
- What are the expectations of young entrepreneurs and consumers interacting using social media?
- What are the weaknesses of social media marketing?
- What are the key success factors of social media marketing?
- How can social media marketing be improved to consider consumer interests? Are the marketers today in Kuwaiti observing the established codes of ethics?
Data collection points and sample description
This study took focus on individuals, entrepreneurs and groups of Kuwaiti companies and young entrepreneurs. Precisely, 8 young business owners were interviewed. The young entrepreneurs selected for interviews were between the ages 22-39. The age 22 was found to be convenient since most young Kuwaitis graduate from the university at this age and then venture into business (Maceli, 2011). The interview was not gender biased at all. Young business owners and companies were searched via websites, through friends, neighbours and through other credible primary and secondary sources until a long list of names was obtained.
The number was then narrowed down to the aforementioned 8 people for easy analysis. The interviews were administered through questionnaires. The questionnaire had eight questions (See Appendix 1). Each of the questions targeted to meet the requirement of specific objectives. Questions 1and 6 and 8 are targeted to identify the marketing strategies for Kuwaiti young entrepreneurs.
Question 7, is targeted to determining sectors of the market that social media marketing tool targets as well as the various business fields social media has covered, while Question 5 and 2 aim at identifying present marketing practices of young Kuwaiti entrepreneurs in different market segments as well as roles of social media in marketing amongst Kuwaiti entrepreneurs. Question 3 offer suggestions on how the study may help fill the gaps in using social media, question 2 identifies factors that influence the social media marketing
To get to this group, the interviewee also looked into their websites and Facebook pages, and then contacted them by e-mailing them and sending them Facebook massages. All of the contacted individuals and companies responded except one (See appendix I for attached copy of the e-mail). Among those who were interviewed in the study included a spa owner, an advertising company owner, a marketing and PR company owner, a photographer who owns a studio, a restaurant owner, a cafe owner and finally a tattoo and jewellery shop owner.
After the initial data collection from the conducted interviews, it was found out that the main marketing tools were WOM. This indicated that there was need for more information. A survey was conducted on 80 people. It is important to note that there was no significance for the number 80, but this was the maximum number that the interviewee was able to contact due to lack of time. The age group that responded to the survey was between 18 to infinity.
Again, it is imperative to note that the age 18 is significant because this is the age where young Kuwaitis enter the university after graduating from high school. Furthermore, this age represents the target market for young Kuwaiti entrepreneurs because they are able to drive, have their own money and most frequently visit social media sites.
The purpose for infinity was because every citizen in Kuwaiti is important and especially those people who were interviewed. Research carried out on these different groups during the study varied. Different groups were contacted during the study. These groups comprised of individuals who sold and offered different types of services and product. Additionally, the target market for this research varied. The survey asked 5 short questions which on target markets which were given to American university of Kuwait (AUK) Kuwait University (KU), 360 Mall and other gathering areas in Kuwait.
As earlier mentioned, 7 business owners, age ranging from 22-39 years, from both the Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) and large business enterprises were interviewed inquiries on the effectiveness of social media marketing for business growth. Due to privacy considerations, the interviewees were guaranteed complete protection and that information they volunteered was held in confidence and that it would only be used this study. Despite being informed that their responses would remain anonymous, the respondents did not have problems with remaining anonymous or not. However, to protect their privacy, the complete transcripts of the interviews are not included in this paper.
Results and Discussions
Within this chapter, the findings of the study are presented. The findings are discussed bearing in mind the findings of the already existing literature. The findings are also presented based on anecdotal data that is generated through interviews. This is inline with Mintzberg (1979) argument that “systematic data presentation creates the foundation for our theories, and that it is the anecdotal data that enables us to do the building theories rich in description.”
Study findings on marketing tools affecting young Kuwaiti entrepreneurs when using social media as a marketing tool was determined from interviews that were carried out on business owners and young entrepreneurs. Some of the issues the interviews sought to find out included the best social media platform for marketing today and the best social media strategy young Kuwaiti entrepreneurs have today for social media marketing.
Respondents from both the Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) and large business enterprises were interviewed pre-determined inquiries on the effectiveness of social media marketing for business growth (Tian & Li 2011).
In-depth interview participants
The study focused on companies and young entrepreneurs in Kuwaiti and how they are shifting to online marketing. As illustrated earlier, 7 business owners, were involved in in-depth interviews. Locating the target population was achieved through websites, friends, neighbours and other credible primary and secondary sources until a long list of names was obtained. After making contact, the list was reduced down to the 7 participants based on availability and willingness to participate in this study.
All of the contacted individuals and companies responded except one. Among those who were interviewed in the study included a spa owner, an advertising company owner, a marketing and PR company owner, a photographer who owns a studio, a restaurant owner, a cafe owner, and a tattoo and jewellery shop owner. The Information sheet of participants interviewed for data collection is included in the appendix.
As earlier indicated participants for this study were aged 22 and above not for any scholarly value on figure 22, but basically due to the fact that Kuwaitis graduate at 22 and venture into business. As such this was intended to increases the chances of targeting entrepreneurs who were university graduates.
Participants age groups
For the interview, the researcher targeted entrepreneurs aged 22years and above for reasons explained in the preceding paragraph. For the survey 80 people were targeted. Their ages varied as follows:
- 18-22 (28 people).
- 23-30 (40 people).
- 31-40 (10 people).
- 41+ (2 people).
With reference to marketing plan participants, the presence of marketing plans within the Kuwaiti young entrepreneurship industry was confirmed by participants. Furthermore, findings reveal that young Kuwaiti entrepreneurs marketing plans are moving towards the utilization of online marketing. Participants involved in this study confirmed that they had working marketing plans for their businesses. 43% of entrepreneurs (4 out of 7) responded in the affirmative on the interview question confirming that they had prior marketing plans before starting their own businesses.
Within this category of participants, the development of marketing plans was done at different stages of their business development. Some stated that they developed marketing plans. Some of them confirmed that they had developed their marketing plans during the production stages of their products. Some of these plans identified to have been developed at this stage as confessed by one participant include “marketing products on Facebook pages as well as blogs such as http://52blog.kuwait.tt/?page_id=2.”
In addition this category of participant confirmed that some of the other marketing plans they developed during this stage involved participating in exhibitions organized in Kuwaiti to market the products they would sell even before starting the business. Participants who confirmed to have used exhibition to market their products and services agreed there their businesses developed out of the benefits of participating in these events.
Some of the benefits identified from study findings include establishing improved relationship with their clients due to the face to face interactions through online marketing. Furthermore, respondents who confirmed taking part in exhibitions explained that exhibitions made economic sense as they were an inexpensive way of marketing.
57% of participants confirmed that they did not have a marketing plan since they considered such business ventures as very expensive for their young businesses. This category of participants confirmed that lack of finances hindered them from developing marketing plans, though they thought that a marketing plan is a worthy idea. This claim is backed by the revelation that only about 15 % of all participants confirm to be financially sound and could finance all their business activities, as explained by Spiro, Rich and Stanton (2008) and Kotler & Connor (1977). This implies that financial limitation was a big hindrance to business growth.
The figure below is statistical representation of those participants with viable business plans against those who did not. These findings show that Kuwaiti entrepreneurs are moving towards online marketing, as explained by Loceff (2010) and Tsai (2010) who argue that entrepreneurs have used social media is part of marketing plan.
Main marketing tools
In reference to the most dependable marketing tools by Kuwaiti entrepreneur, it is evident that Kuwaiti entrepreneurs are shifting towards blogs, word of mouth, and Facebook, which were lauded for their efficiency. 42 % of the respondents revealed that exhibitions were preferred and dependable marketing tools. The study confirms UFI’s (n.d.) assertion that there are immense benefits associated with exhibition marketing such as increase in sales and revenues, business development, publicity of young businesses and reduction of advertisement related costs. Respondents also confirmed that they preferred exhibitions since they are rich grounds to launch new products. Furthermore, exhibitions increase opportunities to interact with clients and establish preferences and tastes.
It is imperative to state that a larger percentage, 57% of those interviewed confirmed Word of mouth, (WOM) and social media were the other desirable marketing tools for those interviewed. This is compared to 42 % who preferred exhibition. WOM, twitter and Facebook, were effective platforms where cross-selling opportunities to diverse groups was made possible. This finding is in line with Welsh, Raven & Al-Mutair’s (1998) assertions that, people get to know about new products through word of mouth than from media and other traditional means of advertisement.
One of the participants confirmed that through Facebook and Word of mouth it was not only possible to get consumer feedback but also decipher pertinent issues on their products. As one respondent claimed WOM is preferred by Kuwait entrepreneurs as people trust each other in matters of quality products and services, as explained by Ashton (2011). That social media is the most preferred tools can be summed up by one of the respondents who state that through Social media “We are famous to do bold moves. And, we are famous to understand our client needs. And, we are experts in word of mouth and social media”
In regard to marketing strategies, about 90% (See figure below) of those interviewed confirmed to have marketing strategies for their businesses. Two strategies were found to work for them; advertising and social media. As explained by Thomas (2008) and Wind & Robertson (1983) the interviews confirmed that they saw a marketing strategy as ways to improve revenues and as Qualman (2009) asserts social media brings more clients to business, a claim that was confirmed by those interviewed. One of the respondents added that WOM was also a useful marketing strategy for her business.
Expansion of business beyond Kuwait
Bell, Crick & Young (2004) explain that internationalization of business is among the most popular business expansion strategies and that such expansion occurs at varied speeds and requires diligent paling to be effective. Furthermore, AlSagheer, & Al-Sagheer, (2010) explains the role of exhibition in business expansion who argue that exhibitions have become important marketing tools in the 21 century.
These findings are in line with the discovery of this study. 86% of those interviewed asserts that they have thoughts of expansion their businesses across borders (to the GCC -Gulf Cooperation Countries), and were motivated by capturing new clients. Bell, Crick & Young (2004) fails to mention good business reputation in home country as a motivation for expanding, those who participated cited it.
42% of interviewees had plans of expanding their businesses to other strategic location, but as future plans motivated by Bell, Crick & Young (2004) assertion that such expansion requires proper planning. Furthermore, those with plans to expand business planned to use social media tools such Facebook and blogs
Impact of marketing and marketing tools on your business
All those interviewed unanimously agreed that the marketing tools they were using tremendously benefited their businesses, which is inline with Bernd (1999) assertion on the usefulness of social media. 28% confirmed that through social media, their business gained much exposure and thus able to contact wider population. Furthermore, interviewees added that social media created a notion to the consumers that their products were of higher quality.
This is because through social media customers gain knowledge about the value of their products and services. This has had a positive effect for their business as they have been able to gain the trust of both social commerce and social shopping communities. Furthermore, interviewees confirmed that Welsh, Alon & Falbe (2006) and Wright (2006) assertions that through Facebook, twitter and blogs they were able to make better sales. This claim was asserted by 72% of respondents who lauded the efficiency of the social media marketing tools citing that these media gave them more clients and raised their business status and ranking like other top companies. Basically I do agree that social media marketing and word of mouth is the best way to market in Kuwait.
Revelations from the study reveal that marketing teams were not very popular among those interviewed. 86% of the respondents confirmed that they did not have marketing teams for their business. Some of the reasons given for lack of marketing team include the notion that businesses had not grown and expanded. Interviews confirmed that they were able to manage marketing on their own without the help of marketing teams. These respondents’ fails to acknowledge Helfert and Vith’s (1999) findings that marketing teams also help to foster tighter customer relationships. Only one respondent, working with 52 Degrees Company admitted to engaging a team that made marketing decisions for him. Another respondent outsourced these services.
Within the interviewed participants the clients they targeted varied. 29% responded that they target was general public, which included people of all ages and gender, whole another 29% of respondents had women and ladies of ages between 20-60 years as potential targets. 16 % targeted clients with orientation for Japanese cuisine, while another 16 % had both young and already grown companies that needed their services as potential clients. These findings fulfil Maceli’s (2011), as well as Haque, Rahman & Rahman’s (2010) social media are useful in targeting specific consumers for specific products and services.
Bouchard & Basso (2011) asserts that direct competitors are those businesses that sell the same products or services. Within the study group, there was increased awareness of direct competition and that entrepreneurs were aware of the implications competition had on their businesses. Furthermore, the interviewees claimed that they dealt with competition through a number of strategies.
This study found out that some entrepreneurs were not affected by the competitors directly. One of the respondents claimed that competition did not affect his business directly since he concentrated with competing with high end stores which did not manufacture the same products as his. Normal stores do not offer any competition for his products since theirs were of low quality. Furthermore, his potential competitors did not target the same clients that he did. This implies he first conducted a SWOT analysis of his competitors before he started his business. This helped him identify the strengths and weakness of his business and as such he was able to identify the most suitable marketing tool for his business to combat competitors.
Bouchard & Basso (2011) are of the view that newspapers, radio and internet vehicles enable companies identify their competition, a notion that was confirmed by 50 % of those interviewed. Furthermore, one of the respondents agreed that it was important for him to be knowledgeable on the business operations of the Japanese restaurants. It was also evident that even though some businesses lacked competitors in their line of business, they still found it necessary to find out their potential competitors are either marketing or producing.
Furthermore, 80% of those interviewed affirmed the importance of identifying a suitable marketing strategy that would help the combat competition. However, 40 % of businesses interviewed were unaware of the notion of selecting marketing tools in effort to combat competition as they were relatively new to business, but hold the notion that PR as well as a marketing plan was suitable for business growth amidst competition.
Findings from this study confirm Young & Tavares (2004) assertion social media is a sufficient platform for establishment and growth of business. It is evident that Kuwait entrepreneurs are on social media tools such as Facebook, twitter and blogs as avenues through which their business will grow. As explained by Weissman (2011), Wocke, Bendixen & Rijamampianina (2007) and also evident from the findings of this study Kuwaiti seems to be offering vast business opportunities for SMEs, which has intense competition that compels business owner to use social media to market products.
This study targeted among others, six business enterprises namely Pink Coffee, Wynnis Baby Photography, Jewel Tattoo and Photography, The People’s Factory, Feathers Spa, Oishii Sushi and Artistic view. Owners of these enterprises were asked a total of 8 questions with the aim of exhuming valuable data that would meet the study objectives. Amongst the findings include financial needs, social media marketing (which included marketing plans and strategies) as factors that affected business growth in Kuwaiti. This is further explained by Palmås (2011).
In regard to having a marketing plan, 4 out of the 7 entrepreneurs affirmed to having an already existing plan for marketing their products and services. All of those interviewed saw a marketing plan as a good idea, which needed strong financial backing to implement. Those without a marketing plan cited lack of funds as the major reasons. Furthermore, the study reveals correlations between existence of a marketing plan and improved business, a finding whose claims are further asserted and explained in details by Kotler & Connor (1977). As further revealed by the finding of this study social media is one of the marketing plans amongst those interviewed.
Young Kuwait entrepreneurs use Facebook, twitter and blogs as a means of advertising their product and gaining new markets. This has a number of benefits which include improved sales as well as reaching consumers of diverse groups. Suffice to say that only one of the respondents confirmed to have used both offline and online marketing activities. The respondent claims to have placed a few ads on TV as well as doing a magazine interview in combination with using social media. This shows that there is online marketing for her business which supports offline presence.
Nizar (2002) argues that traditionally Kuwaiti entrepreneurs exhibit characteristic of choosing popular marketing plans suitable for their business. Study findings reveal knowledge that is affirmative to this thought and suggest that Kuwaiti entrepreneurs who affirmed to having a marketing plan also understand the appropriateness of using the social media as strategic marketing tools effectively due to their ability to do market selection.
Awareness of consumer characteristics and nature of the products also enhanced use of social media in marketing. These findings assert Upton, Teal and Felan (2002) claims that before the implementation of any marketing plan it is imperative to understand consumer interests as well needs to be understood. As explained by (Wolf & Egelhoff 2002) this study further found out that In Kuwaiti business, a marketing plan targets meeting and fulfilling the needs of customers in various market segments as well as caring for the needs of the shareholders by maximizing returns on investments.
In regard to consumer groups, this study reveals that Kuwait entrepreneurs have several plans, which include social media tools like Facebook, blogs and twitter as well as exhibitions. This notion is explained by Yin (2003) who adds that if entrepreneurs use social media during market selection, their business will accrue added benefits. Marketers greatly benefit from the use of social media tools such as word of mouth (WOM). Marketing of a product with consideration to factors such as growth rate and size to a segment of attracted consumers is referred to as concentrated marketing (Luo 2006). These findings also beg the question on the preferred marketing tools for Kuwaiti entrepreneurs.
In the regard to the role of exhibitions in the marketing mix, the study reveal that exhibitions have helped Kuwaiti entrepreneurs increase in sales and revenues, business development, publicity of young businesses and reduction of advertisement related costs. In relation to this, three of those interviewed affirmed to be dependent on exhibitions and social media UFI, (n.d.) asserts concurs with the findings of this study as regard the role of exhibition and adds that such events have helped business to increase interaction with consumers.
It is within these events that those interviews are also able to launch new products as well as learn about consumer preferences. As confirmed by those who participated in exhibitions, such benefits has helped their businesses experience immense growth. Such growth can be attributed to the ability of social media, which allows Kuwaiti business reach many clients. AlSagheer, & Al-Sagheer (2010) assertions that exhibitions rank highly amongst efficient marketing strategies for Kuwaiti business is confirmed by this study. AlSagheer, & Al-Sagheer (2010) further explains that through exhibitions Kuwaiti entrepreneurs are able to create face to face contact.
From the finding of this study there is a clear relationship between WOM and exhibitions, an assertion that can also be connected to Moul’s (2007) finding. 57% of those interviewed confirmed that they depended on WOM, which is attained through social media such as Facebook and twitter. Those interviewed affirm that they also use Facebook, twitter and blogs to increased interaction with their clients as well as opportunities for cross selling, which signifies word of mouth marketing.
This views is also shared by Welsh, Raven & Al-Mutair, (1998) who also explain that consumer gets information about a certain product from the social media sites and then spreads it out not only to friends who are in the site but also to those who are not. In addition to the argument concerning word of mouth and social media, respondents also revealed that, they preferred selling through exhibition as well as social media since word would spread to other people. This assertion is well explained by Kracht & Wang (2010) who also add that customers value opinion from fellow customers rather than from entrepreneurs.
As earlier explained Kuwaiti entrepreneurs use exhibition to increase interaction with consumers, launch new products as well as learn about consumer preferences. Increased contacts with consumers mean that these entrepreneurs use exhibition to market their products through word of mouth. As such exhibitions and social media are avenues for word of mouth marketing for Kuwaiti business.
UKTI (2010) reveal that the Arabian Gulf provides good opportunities for doing business across the borders. Against this backdrop, 86% of those interviewed portrayed a willingness to expand their businesses across the borders to GCC-Gulf cooperation countries as this would provide added business opportunities. Several reasons were given by those interviewed, which ranged from the opportunities which were provide by social media as well as a good business reputation established in Kuwait.
As earlier explained by Kracht & Wang (2010) customers value opinion from fellow customers rather than from entrepreneurs. Additionally, Thomas, Peters & Tolson, (2007) asserts integrating it in the social media tools like Facebook, twitter and MySpace among others Laczniak (1999) claims that virtual communities (users of social media) interact within borderless communities. The interviewed in this study confirmed that social media tools such as Facebook and twitter are some of the strategies they use to expand their business to GCC-Gulf cooperation countries.
The preference for social media to expand business by those interviewed is motivated by the fact that virtual communities are borderless and that it is cheaper way business information. Furthermore, social media is also found to be an effective way of word of mouth marketing. Even though the Kuwait businessmen did not point out reasons why they preferred to use social media for the purpose of business expansion the reason can be tied to its cost effectiveness.
In addition to the conclusion that social media allow Kuwaiti businesses to expand to GCC-Gulf cooperation countries, findings from this study reveal that Kuwait entrepreneurs also prefer to use exhibitions as business expansion strategy. This can be tied to earlier views highlighted by AlSagheer, & Al-Sagheer, (2010) about the role of exhibition in business expansion who argue that exhibitions have become important marketing tools in the 21 century.
The preference for exhibition as business expansion strategy can also be tied to the fact that these events can be advertised in the borderless virtual world. Additionally, business entrepreneurs in Kuwait use exhibition as a tool for expanding their business because it assists them in handling competition from their rivals. Successful handling of competition further results into market expansion as businesses will eventually venture into regions where their competitors have failed or have not explored. However, this study does not reveal the extent to which social media (online marketing) supports offline marketing (exhibitions).
Despite Helfert and Vith’s (1999) assertion on the usefulness of marketing teams in creating good customer relationships, most of those interviewed did not prefer to use one. Contrastingly 86 % of Kuwaiti entrepreneurs regarded marketing teams as a factor that contributes negatively to the firm’s success both financially and businesswise. Since marketing teams are more likely to engage in offline marketing activities, their notable absence can be interpreted to mean that online marketing is not intended to support offline marketing. Furthermore, those interviewed agreed that they preferred to make decisions on their own.
Therefore from this study, the lack of marketing team can be taken to be a business limitation. Kuwaiti businesses have to thus engage marketing teams, either theirs or through outsourcing, like some of the respondents claimed to have been doing. In addition, the study revealed that those interviewed were indiscriminate when it came to target population. The Kuwait entrepreneurs marketed their products to all customers regardless of age, gender or class. This revelation adds weight to the suggestions that Kuwaiti entrepreneurs need to engage marketing teams, an initiative which will see online marketing support offline presence.
Of all the entrepreneurs interviewed only one confirmed to have conducted a SWOT analysis. From this type of analysis, the entrepreneur was able to identify not only business opportunities, but also strengths, weaknesses and threats of the competitors to his business. The entrepreneur further used his knowledge gathered from such an analysis to identify the best marketing strategies in effort to deal with competition effective. As Kotler & Armstrong (2006) explain SWOT helps entrepreneurs to come with marketing strategies that will enable them to expand their clientele zone in addition to maintaining the existing ones.
Therefore, the revelations that most of those interviewed did not conduct a SWOT analysis portray a weakness in business practice amongst the Kuwaiti entrepreneurs, especially those interviewed for this study. In this regard Kuwaiti entrepreneurs needs to conduct a SWOT analysis on online business. This is an area of urgent attention for Kuwaiti business if Kuwaiti entrepreneurs have to expand their businesses exponentially.
Conclusions and Recommendations
The current study focused on exploring the affecting business in Kuwaiti. In addition the study focused on non traditional tools such as billboards and newspaper ads and focuses on non traditional tools such as social media, exhibitions and exhibitions, and word of mouth marketing. The study targeted 8 Kuwaiti entrepreneurs of which 7 responded to interviews. Among those who were interviewed for the study included a spa owner, an advertising company owner, a marketing and PR company owner, a photographer who owns a studio, a restaurant owner, a cafe owner, and a tattoo and jewellery shop owner.
Because the study aimed at gaining valuable data, it builds on the use of qualitative as well as quantitative data which is collected from books, journals, newspapers, credible websites as well as deductions from interviews conducted on the 7 entrepreneurs from Kuwaiti. As such, the findings from interviews are both interpreted in statistical sense as well as anecdotes. They are then analyzed Vis a Vis the existing sources included in literature by Wind & Robertson (1938), Bouchard & Basso (2011), Goi (2009), Upton, Teal and Felan (2002), Wolf & Egelhoff 2002), Wright & Marsden (2010), Saunders, Lewis & Thornhill (2007), Denzin & Lincoln (2005), Guba & Lincoln (1994). The arguments found in these sources as well as others included in the papers main body are used to provide the theoretical foundations for this study.
With respect to the findings of the study, it can be concluded that Kuwaiti entrepreneurs are shifting towards online marketing (through social media) due to opportunities provided by social media tools as well as exhibitions to Kuwaiti entrepreneurs to succeed in business. Furthermore, there are other factors that do affect the performance of business and as such it needs other numerous studies to reveal further knowledge as it cannot be concluded within a single empirical study.
Suffice to say that social media has not been embraced by all entrepreneurs in Kuwaiti. However, to those who have, there have been notable benefits. The advances in technology and the use of social media have transformed the way modern generation of Kuwaiti entrepreneurs are conducting business since clients as well as business proprietors crave for information from the internet as individuals have become knowledgeable in technology.
As discussed in the literature review, social media has been used in the process of planning, advertising and marketing, an assertion that is confirmed by the findings of this study. Some of the Kuwaiti entrepreneurs confirmed to have marketing plans and strategies for their businesses, and cited Facebook, twitter and blogs as some of the constituents. Furthermore, those who participated as interviewees for this study confirmed that there also preferred exhibitions due to the number of benefits that are accrued.
In social media and exhibitions, Kuwaiti entrepreneurs were able to establish direct link with clients. This has enabled them to enhance their business as this link provides direct communication between the entrepreneurs and their clients. In business, creating direct link with clients in important since it helps not only to understand the preferences of clients, but also know their needs. Furthermore, through social media as well as exhibitions, Kuwaiti entrepreneurs have been able to launch new products and services.
Due to the immense population of Facebook and Twitter users, anything the business community in Kuwaiti brings into the market gains global audience (Day 2011). As explained earlier, businesses have been able to develop communication with customer to understand their needs, preferences tastes and behaviour. Social media are avenues within which direct communication and marketing was achieved. Social media creates a virtual world, and in the virtual world, people who use social media tools live as virtual communities. The virtual world is borderless, implying that there are no borders that limit peoples’ interaction. In this regard people can share information with others from any part of the world.
Coupled with the assertion that people who use social media do so in groups which share similar cultures these further enhances communication and trust amongst these groups. Such people within these groups also share in similar preferences. Therefore, virtual communities provide a very rich environment for cross border marketing. As such entrepreneurs can be able to expand their businesses to their countries through social media tools, such as Facebook and twitter. As such social media thus becomes a very vital tool in marketing initiative for people who want to internationalise their businesses.
This assertion has been explained by earlier researchers and is further supported by finings in this study. As this study found out, Kuwaiti entrepreneurs interviewed confirmed that social media tools such as Facebook, twitter and blog are essential marketing tools through which these entrepreneurs are using to target clients from outside Kuwait especially in the GCC countries. Therefore, such marketing tools, as identified have become part of marketing initiatives for Kuwaiti entrepreneurs.
As explained in the literature review, word of mouth is a very effective way to market products and services. There are a number of benefits associated with word of mouth marketing which include gaining client loyalty for services and products marketed through word of mouth. As further explained earlier, there are number of ways through which word of mouth can be done, including social media and exhibitions.
Word of mouth marketing thrives on social media because of the fact that social media thrives on creating network of people. As such information of products and service spread very fast through this network. Furthermore, what helps this speedy relay of information is the fact that people within social media networks share in similar values, interests, preferences and needs. In light of this assertion the study found out that Kuwaiti entrepreneurs use social media as well as exhibitions since they realise that clients they target will refer other people within these social networks. Therefore word of mouth has helped Kuwaiti entrepreneurs to further maximise the benefits of social media marketing.
Through Facebook, twitter and blogs entrepreneurs in Kuwait have been able to interact with customers online about products and services they offer. They have not only been able to do online marketing about their products and services, but have also conducted several other businesses deals online. Generally, these social network sites have boosted the marketing sector by allowing advertising of products to be done at lower costs.
Due to the immense population of Facebook and twitter users, anything the business community in Kuwaiti brings into the market gains global audience (Day, 2011). However, it is clear that online marketing is not intended to support offline line marketing by most of Kuwaiti entrepreneurs. This is evidenced by the confession for lack of marketing teams which are most likely to engage in offline marketing activities. In respondents confirmed to have conducted both online and offline marketing activities
As earlier indicated this study was conduced with the scope of the effectiveness of using social media Kuwaiti entrepreneurs. This thus means that it was limited in the scope of coverage. As such there are a number or recommendations to be considered for future studies. One of the limitatons for this study was time and as such future studies needs to have more time allocated to gather more information. In this regard future studies needs to be longitudinal on the same topic and evaluate how social media with time shapes entrepreneurs marketing strategies.
This will be useful in gaining further knowledge on the challenges associated with social media marketing. In relation to time, there were a few challenges experienced. These include some of the respondents failing to answers some of the interview questions. They had to be emailed the question late. To avoid such inconveniences enough time needs to be allocated for future studies which will give the researcher adequate time to contact every interviewee and gather adequate data. Other than time the study was also limited in the number of interviewees as only seven of them were interviewed. As such, future studies should target a bigger population.
Furthermore, findings reveal that some of the Kuwaiti entrepreneur lack in business knowledge, which affected their businesses. Such gaps include the lack of knowledge on conducting SWOT analyses and indentifying the underlying strengths weaknesses and opportunities available for businesses. As such further studies are recommended on the extent to which lack of the SWOT analysis skills and knowledge affected business. Finally, this study focused on a range of social media tools. Further studies needs to be conducted separately on each of the social media tools and find out how each of them has contributed to the growth of business in Kuwaiti.
Appendix I: Interview sheet
- Did you already have a marketing strategy in mind before starting your business?
- What are the main marketing tools that you find yourself depending on?
- To what extent do you believe marketing affects the success of your business?
- Do you think of expanding to a foreign/non local market? If yes, how are you planning on marketing it?
- How much weight/impact do you think your marketing has on the success of your business?
- Do you have a marketing team to make decisions for you, or do you implement biased on your own judgment?
- What sector of the market are you targeting?
- Does competition in the market place determine your marketing strategy?
Appendix 2: Survey sample
This questionnaire is about a study regarding the marketing tools that has been found to be the most powerful in Kuwait.
- 18-22 (28 people)
- 23-30 (40 people)
- 31-40 (10 people)
- 41+ (please specify) …….. (2 people)
- 1 person was 48 years old
- 1 person was 52 years old
- Male (38 Male)
- Female (42 Female)
- What type of phone do you own?
- Smart phone (please specify) ……
- Cell phone
- IPhone (26 people)
- BlackBerry (62 people)
- * Eight of the 80 participants own two smart phones (Blackberry and IPhone)
- Do you use your mobile for social networking? (Facebook -twitter)
- Yes (72 people)
- No (8peopel)
- Do you pay attention to advertisements that are shown on FB – twitter – blogs -..etc? ( shakodakhaltaygoogle faj2a?) + try not to use etc
- Yes (50 people)
- No (30poeple)
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