Spotify’s Online Branding: Consumer Perception

Abstract

Online branding has become one of the best and easiest ways of marketing a product. Many companies are looking at different and creative ways of boosting their online presence with almost half of the world’s population accessing the internet daily. The rise of the internet has also led to the increase in competition in different industries. It is this exact reason that has pushed businesses to come up with creative and attracted online branding strategies. One of the things that dictates online branding is consumer perceptions.

Consumer perceptions are owned fully by the target population. However, companies can manipulate these perceptions using several strategies. For example, companies that target the youth can manipulate how the youth perceive them by using famous youth celebrities to endorse their brands. Since the youth also prefer influencer marketing, they will be further convinced to purchase a good or hire a service if their favourite influencers have done the same. Above all, quality service is critical in ensuring positive online brand perceptions.

Other elements that affect brand perception include brand image, reputation and recognition. Towards this end, the brand image has to be memorable such that users can recognise it anywhere it shows. This leads the discussion to the importance of brand image in ensuring brand recognition. On the other hand, brand reputation refers to whether the public trusts the product or brand. Reputation is affected by many elements.

However, some of the world’s most profitable companies have developed viable crisis management strategies to ensure that their brand reputation is not damaged during a crisis. It goes without saying that all companies face crises at some point. A crisis management plan will guide the company on what to do, and what not to do, during such times to ensure their brand is not negatively affected. All these elements will then lead to brand loyalty, where consumers use that one brand as their brand of choice.

Introduction

The digital space has evolved over the years. Today, a majority of big companies in the world have online stores. Additionally, they have fully embraced digital marketing to reach more clients. Digital marketing, to some extent, places and ranks top brands online. The ever changing marketing spectrum is easily adaptable through a viable online marketing strategy (Chiang, Lin & Wang 2008).

Apart from this, as Guilbeault (2018) notes, digital marketing is more affordable and has proven more effective than traditional marketing. This research proposal highlights a study done on Spotify’s online branding strategy. The researcher looks at consumer’s interaction and perception of the stated brand. Spotify is a music streaming online platform headquartered in Sweden. The online platform has worked well as it streams copyrighted music from artists and music studios. It is, thus, a trusted brand. Additionally, the company has grown into a million dollar business due to its freemium service.

Schiele and Chen (2018) explain that a freemium service does not require users to pay to access the basics of the platform. The platform makes money through sponsorship, merchandising and advertising. The platform can be accessed on both computers and smart mobile phones that can access the internet. The fact that internet usage has grown over the decades has allowed the company to also grow immensely.

It is important to note that Spotify uses big data branding strategy. Bormane and Batraga (2018) explain that this type of strategy looks into the uses and interactions of target clients online and uses that to customise a marketing message specifically for that type of person. Indeed, people are grouped into several categories that then receive the same type of message about the brand in question.

The company has used big data for both traditional and online marketing. However, there is need for Spotify to enhance its branding strategy due to heavy competition. Additionally, the platform has received some negative publicity from artists that has affected its user database. Some artists have refused to partner with the organisation citing several differences. Critchlow et al. (2016) confirm that the company has changed its online marketing and branding strategy to accommodate both the new and old users, and at the same time also please the artists and music studios. Overall, the consumer perception of Spotify is still positive.

Research Questions

The following are the research questions that guided the research study:

  1. What are online brand strategies used in Spotify?
  2. How do customers perceive these different online brand strategies at Spotify?
  3. To what extent do the various online branding strategies influence customers’ perception of the Spotify’s online branding and its products?

Aims of the Study

The research has one main and two secondary aims and objectives. They are:

Main

To analyse and evaluate the impact of the online branding strategies used by Spotify on the consumers’ perception of the brand and its products (main).

Secondary

To evaluate customers’ perceptions towards the online brand of pure play companies and to explore and evaluate various online branding strategies that are used in pure play companies.

Objectives of the Study

The research’s main objective is to explore the hypothetical aspects of the different online marketing strategies used by Spotify to attract their target clients/market. The information can then be used to advice the company on any needs to change the marketing strategy to be more successful than they are at the moment.

Significance of the Study

The significance of the study can be divided into two broad categories. The two categories are industrial significance and academic significance. This section discusses both and how they interlink with the research study.

Industrial significance

The research is significant in that it can be used to reshape the current online marketing strategy, if it is limiting. As stated, Spotify has over the last few years received negative publicity from some of their biggest artist partners. For example Taylor Swift recently withdrew all her music from the platform citing ill treatment from the company (Buchanan, Kelly & Yeatman 2017). Such a withdrawal means that her fans will not use the platform and will look for other online sites that the artist likes. Additionally, Beyoncé also pulled out her music as she signed an exclusive deal with Tindal (Dahiya & Gayatri 2018).

The essay looks to recommend ways in which Spotify can still keep their users satisfied despite losing some clients. Towards this end, one can argue that Spotify has to make their users more loyal than they are to artists or music studios. On the same note, the study will also impact the choice in online strategy for other pure play companies. It is expected that Spotify will face more competition in the near future. The study will provide recommendations on how the company can stay on top of the market despite expected challenges.

Academic significance

The study also has some academic significance as it will prove a useful resource for further studies. Indeed, one of the limitations of the study (as will be presented later in the literature review) is gaps in the literature on similar studies. The study will be made available to students and other academics looking for more information and for purposes of furthering the research.

Review of Literature and Background

Online branding goes hand in hand with digital marketing. However, the two terms should not be used interchangeably. As McCartney (2014) explains, companies tie their branding strategies to their marketing plan. Towards this end, there are several elements of branding that will be discussed in this literature review. These elements are online brand recognition, brand image, brand reputation, brand loyalty, and brand dimensions. The literature review will be divided into three main sections, introduction to online branding, online branding techniques and consumer perceptions.

Definition of Online Branding

Mejía Trejo (2018) defines online branding as the use of the World Wide Web to market and position a brand in the market. Online branding has evolved over the last few decades due to the extent of growth of the internet and an increase in internet users. Due to stiff competition, strategists have come up with several ways companies can best place their brands online. Yan et al. (2016) argue that one of the reasons online branding has become very popular as a marketing strategy is the fact that it allows users to constantly interact with a brand without much effort from the mother company. Additionally, online branding has allowed companies to also reach people they would have otherwise never have interacted with at all.

It is important to mention that the internet is a very big platform for advertisers. The success of online branding is largely attributed to the users who use different internet platforms for daily use. Further, initially, people could only access the internet through computers. Today, there are very many other devices that allow users to access the internet. Items such as mobile phones and televisions also give users access to the internet.

The spread of technological devices across the world has ensured that advertisers have a great and open platform to capture their markets. According to Laird (2017), whereas establishing an online brand is easy, ensuring that potential clients see, recognise and go even further and buy into the brand is a difficult endeavour. This is due to the fact that there are many other companies that use the same platform and target the same audiences.

Offline and online branding

Digital branding can be categorised into two aspects. These two aspects are offline and online branding. Indeed, companies can still advertise to their target clients when they are not on the internet (online branding). It is important to note that in this day and age digital branding also involves platforms that are not ideally internet channels (Dahiya & Gayatri 2018). For example, call back ringtones are very common all over the world yet they are a non-internet channel (Carah 2017).

There are advertisers who have used the ring back tones to reach their intended markets. Some companies also ask their consumers to subscribe to short messaging and similar services in order to always be in touch with the brand (Paladino & Ng 2013). All these are considered offline branding techniques (Miazhevich 2018).

There are various things that one has to consider when thinking about online branding. Digital branding can be associated with data driven branding, content branding, influencer branding, and search engine optimisation. Spotify currently uses big data, search engine optimisation, influencer branding and social media marketing to enhance their brand online (Katumba, & Coetzee 2017). Notess (2015) explains that there are many companies that only consider online branding while ignoring offline branding (Gertner, Berger & Gertner 2006).

The disadvantage of this is that competitors use this opportunity to continue interacting with their clients. One can argue, however, that online branding is mandatory for any company that seeks to position its brand well in its market. In this case, Spotify has to critically think about its online branding strategies if it wants to remain as the number one music streaming service.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Online Branding

One advantage of online branding is that it is very affordable. Kelley (2017) confirms that traditional branding is highly expensive considering that it does not reach as many people as online branding. Samuel (2013) goes further to state that a good branding campaign online just requires good content. Content curation is key in ensuring social media marketing and branding success. Goldner (2013) defines content curation as the gathering of relevant content to be displayed on a social media platform. Many a time, companies do not consider factors such as demographics and time when posting on social media (Shen, Vel & Khalifa 2016).

Zhou and Wang (2014) explain that a great content curation and posting schedule can effectively boost the position of a brand in the market. It is equally important to the management to stick to the social media schedule. As stated, different people in the target audience use the internet at different times. Content curation is also usually free of charge as it is normally done in-house.

Secondly, online branding can be boosted by many things that make brands more visible to the right audience. Traditional branding has limited “helpers” that can boost the brand. Online, marketers have several options they can use to reach as many potential consumers as possible. For instance, as mentioned, search engine optimisation, influencer branding and social media and website branding can all be done at the same time to help boost the brand. On the same note, the company involved does not have to constantly follow these platforms as branding strategies can be implemented over long periods of time.

Despite these advantages, online branding also has its disadvantages. One main disadvantage is the presence of doppelganger brands. These are brands that ride on famous brands to rank better in their markets. Many times, brands do not know whether they have doppelgangers. As mentioned, the internet is very vast and getting similar brands is not a surprise. Indeed, some brands might be doppelgangers simply due to lack of information on which brand was registered first. Doppelgangers can confuse consumers and such frustrations can lead to consumers picking competitors who do not have doppelgangers.

How Branding is Done Online

There are several ways in which branding is done online. One way of doing so is through creation of pages and groups on social media (Farag, Lee & Fox 2018). Currently, many international companies have used social media as part of their digital media strategy. In fact, the nature of social media allows advertisers to employ the same principles as those of word-of-mouth to reach to their target populations. Not only is social media marketing easy but it also greatly boosts branding. Liu and Burns (2018) argue that branding on social media relies heavily on content. This cuts across any type of platform that a company uses for their digital branding. It is important to note that the right content posted at the right time will significantly boost an online brand to its target audience.

Lepkowska-White (2017) goes further and explains that the best brands on social media fully embrace visual advertising. Traditionally, reviews are often written text and ranking that is done on the social media pages. However, due to the pull of visual aids, more clients are now encouraging video reviews. There are some brands that have used voice pops and podcasts to reach out to their target audience. Rubin (2018) argues that the choice of format for the review should also be determined by the demographics of the target market. For example the younger generation are more interested in videos and texts in the form of memes. On the other hand, the mid-aged market is interested in text reviews and videos. The older generation, however, prefers either text or audios (Khan, Dongping & Wahab 2016).

As stated, there are very many companies that use the internet (and the social media platforms) to boost their brands. This means that brands have to set themselves apart in order to remain relevant to their clients. Key (2017) argues that marketers have to come up with ways their brands will differentiate from others when they think about online branding. Brand differentiation is done in various ways. One is through seamless and similar content generation across all online platforms. Additionally, brand managers usually note down all their official brands in the official platforms to ensure that their clients can set them apart from their competitors.

Also, online branding is done through influencer support. There are several ways influencer online marketing can positively affect branding. Brouwer (2017) denotes three main elements of influencer marketing that can boost a brand online. The three elements are: generate low-cost, high-value traffic, affecting perceptions and conversations, and gather information about target demographics. Bladow (2018) confirms that these three elements all work together to boost a particular brand online.

As stated, influencer marketing can help generate low-cost, high-value traffic to a particular brand. Roach (2018) agrees that many marketing plans used in online advertising require a trial and error approach. This is due to the fact that target audiences are very different and gathering all relevant details of each individual in a target market can be very difficult. This is more so due to the diversity and broadness of the web.

Cramer (2017) explains that influencers have to be in direct and constant contact with the target market. Therefore, they can be changed from one branding campaign to another. The influencers have to fully focus on one brand at a time for them to be able to generate significant traffic. Many a time, these individuals push different brands at the same time (Ma, Liu & Chi 2018). This can be a disadvantage as it causes fatigue to the target audience.

Branding Attributes

There are five main brand attributes. According to Swaminathan et al. (2015), the five brand elements are brand purpose, personality and values, positioning, expression, and brand promise. All these elements make up the core structure of a brand. One can, thus, argue that brand attributes are an important consideration for any type of advertising and marketing campaign, including digital branding.

Brand purpose

Swaminathan et al. (2015) explain that brand purpose answers the “why” of the brand. This has to come out very clearly in order to boost the brand. One of the reasons clients buy into a brand is that they believe in what the company or product claims to do at all times. This, in turn, leads to brand loyalty. A brand should be able to communicate the reason why it exists to any of its target population. It is as relevant to company employees as it is to clients. According to Swaminathan et al. (2015), brand purposes also motivates employees to work more productively and to mirror the principles of the brand.

Brand personality and values

The brand personalities and values are often drawn from human behaviour. According to Swaminathan et al. (2015), a brand must have a human side. Thus, the main question asked here is if one’s brand was human, what type of human would it be? Brand personality and values are important as it dictates how your brand is presented at all times. How the brand speaks to both the consumer and the employees of the company ensures that it captures the right markets and also motivates the employees. It is for this reason that some employees adhere to brand principles even when they are not in the office.

Brand positioning

As stated, there are very many brands out there. Brand positioning refers to how much a brand stands out from the rest (Maisto 2016). This element is critical in both traditional and digital branding. Towards this end, marketers are often tasked with coming up with unique ways brands can be positioned favourably in their different markets. Thus, marketers should know their target populations well in order to draft specific messages that will position their brand well in their markets. At times, a product pushes its ranking in the market due to its own unique features. Marketers should use such elements to their advantage and to set their brand apart from the rest.

Brand expression

One of the common items related to branding is the logo. It is possible to find a company using different logos for its different products. Regardless, logos have to be very visual and attractive in order to remain memorable. Cleave et al. (2017) argue that many consumers quickly skim through products looking for familiar colours and logos. The same applies online. Consumers are attracted to adverts and even reviews that have attractive logos (Cleave et al. 2017). New companies and products are tasked with constant advertising of their logo in order to create memories among the target population.

Brand promise

Ghasemi, Chitsaz and Saeedi (2018) confirms that many consumers prefer products their family, friends and people they deem influential in their lives recommend. Towards this end, one can argue that consumers seek a proven guarantee of quality. It is critical that brand give a promise to their clients. At the same time, these promises should be guaranteed in order to ensure brand loyalty.

Brand Benefits

There are various reasons why companies are keen on their brand. In fact, many companies take time to strategies on their branding campaigns. One of the benefits of a proper brand is that it is easily recognisable. This means that clients and potential consumers will easily identify the brand wherever and whenever they see it. This is advantageous as consumers then feel like they can trust the brand, and this in turn results in significant sales. On the same note, a strong brand also ensures that a product gets a competitive edge. Currently, there are many companies offering the same goods and services. These companies target the same group of people and in an attempt to lower chances of fatigue develop creative ways of advertising and branding.

Miazhevich (2012) argues that a benefit of branding is that it makes it easier for a company to introduce new products into the market. Additionally, it makes it easier for companies to enter new markets. Companies that are already well established can use their trusted brand to introduce their new products to their target populations. Smaller companies that have not gained much reputation (in regards to their brand) might not necessarily use this same strategy to get into a market.

On the same note, companies that are well known can enter new markets easily due to the fact that consumers already know their brand. Online branding has made this especially easier as people from different parts of the world can interact with brands in different countries at any time. Such consumers can even buy products from the internet. Thus, they are more willing to buy more products when companies of the same products enter their markets physically.

Brand Emotion

Brand emotion refers to the use of elements in one’s branding that appeal directly to the consumer’s emotions. Online, influencers are known to help bring in an emotional aspect to branding. According to Bladow (2018), word-of-mouth advertising is still the best and most influential type of advertising. People trust the opinions of other people, especially those they deem, similar, influential or are their role models, as opposed to a fact-filled advertisement. Using influencers for branding uses the same approach as word-of-mouth brand advertising (Rowley 2009). The said influencers act as the friendly advisor. They put in emotion in the branding of a product that other consumers can relate to and that pull them to buy into the brand.

It is important to note that for influencers to enhance brand emotions, they have to ensure that the target market trusts their opinion. They can start conversations on brands they believe are best and in turn, shape conversations among the target audience. Moutaftsi and Kyratsis (2016) explain that influencer marketers have also been used to revamp brands by asking the target market the things they do not like about the brand in question.

Over the years, there has been debate on the impact of influencers when the target market knows they have been paid to promote a brand. However, Brouwer (2017) explains that consumers will generally agree with their trusted influencer, even if he or she has been paid, if he or she (the influencer) is honest about the paid promotion advertisement. Additionally, the brand itself can evoke emotions through type of content associated with it, advertisements and other forms of reviews.

Various Branding Strategies

Online brand recognition

Online brand recognition refers to the immediate acknowledgement of a brand by internet users. According to Chaney et al. (2018), brand recognition is very important in determining the strength of a brand. This is especially the case in companies that have different brands under one umbrella. Towards this end, it is critical for any company to create brand awareness before pushing other strategies that ensure brand recognition.

However, as Laroche, Zhang and Sambath (2018) note, many brand awareness strategies also lead to brand recognition by default. The previous section discussed several marketing components and how they affect branding. Search engine optimisation is one way of increasing brand awareness (Koker & Goztas 2010; Kerner 2014; Kerner 2017). To do this effectively, the company involved has to reach out to the right audiences. Social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter have inbuilt filtering systems that help companies reach their target markets through advertisements. However, as stated, the most effective way of doing this is through influencer marketing.

One strategy that has worked (in regards to increasing online visibility and brand recognition) is having a single voice (Rowley, Johnson & Sbaffi 2017). There are several ways of doing this. Amatulli et al. (2016) explain that visual aids such as profile pictures should be similar in all platforms. Lee, Yoon and Park (2017) advise that profile pictures should actually be company logos to ensure all that interact with the account know it belongs to a certain company. By so doing, any other product brand that the company details through their content will be easily associated with the organisation. Behe et al. (2017) explain that this is important as many clients trust the companies as opposed to the product.

If company A produces three different products and they are all reviewed well, consumers will trust the skills of the company and not of the individual product. Thoma and Williams (2013) explain that this is the reason some companies still have loyal clients when some of their products have failed. A real example that can be given is that of Samsung, where several phones exploded, but the client base was hardly affected. The use of hashtags has revolutionised target marketing online. Arguably, a company can use a single hashtag in all their online activities to boost their brand awareness (Tjiptono, Arli & Rosari 2015). Such a hashtag should ideally also have the company/product name so that clients can easily identify it.

Brand recognition goes hand in hand with brand authority (Sewall 2010). Mantonakis (2012) explains that brand authority mainly plays out when a company has had a monopoly in the market. Thus, any other similar product is referred to as the product with the monopoly. For example, Windows had a market monopoly for a long time. People would associate the term “computer” with “Windows”. Therefore, companies such as Apple had to strategies how to stop the market from referring to computers as Windows. Breaking a brand authority is not easy, but it is also not impossible (Behe, Huddleston & Sage 2016).

Sherman (2013) goes further to explain that brand recognition can be enhanced by traditional marketing approaches. Thus, the logo should be easily visible in the actual product. Additionally, other forms of marketing and advertising such as newspapers and magazines, and television and radio should embrace the same brand. It is for this reason that many multi-national companies have brand guidelines that indicate the use of the brand in different platforms (Stoica, Cristescu & Stancu 2017). Normally, the brand guidelines have a unifying factor that makes it possible for audiences to identify the said brand.

Brand image

Brand image is defined as the general perception and impression of a brand. There are several things that affect a brand’s image. Some of these things include the appearance of the product, the beliefs the client has about the company and the product, the ingredients that make up the product and the company reputation. The appearance of the product is very important according to Rossolatos (2018).

Appearance in this sense refers to the colour, shape of the container (if there), amount of product or size and also the smell of the product. All these things have to be attractive to the clientele in order for them to have an interest in purchasing the said product. However, as Xiaolei (2017) notes, a product does not have to have all the right elements for a client to buy it. Market research will collectively identify the right shape, color and general appearance of a product.

The beliefs the client holds are also very important when thinking about brand image. For example, some colours are associated with some type of products. Egg shampoo has to be yellow in colour while avocado shampoo has to be green in colour. Such arguments are based on the belief of the clients. Market research still comes in handy when thinking about the right colour of the product or even logo of a company. Cultural beliefs are part of the client beliefs stated. Yi, Zhao and Joung (2018) argue that some companies even use the clients’ beliefs for advertising purposes. For example, if a competing brand has overlooked the clients’ beliefs, another company can pinpoint that its brand is better because it respects cultural and personal beliefs unlike the other brand.

Company reputation is also critical when talking about brand image. Chih-Ching, Pei-Jou and Chun-Shuo (2013) explain that brand images suffer under bad reputations. Thus, crisis management is critical in ensuring a great brand image (Taehee, Hyo & Kyungro 2017). Braun et al. (2018) explain that every company will experience one form of crisis or another from time to time. This is unavoidable. However, the main difference between companies that have great brand images and those that don’t despite the crisis, is the way they handled the situation. Melo et al. (2017) go further to explain that a proper online crisis management plan has to be laid out before any crisis strikes. In turn, communication during and after the crisis should also be guided. Proper communication skills can effectively lower the damage made to a brand after a crisis (Ghaderi, Ruiz & Agell 2015).

Several reasons can be discussed on the importance of brand image. One, it creates recognition. A proper brand image should be recognisable at any online platform. Towards this end, a great brand image is also visible. Thaotrakool (2016) explains that there are some colours that stand out from the rest. This premise is particularly true in some industries. As stated, egg shampoo is normally yellow while avocado shampoo is green. However, different brands make the same products with the same colours. It is their brand image that sets these competitors. Schielke (2016) adds that a good brand image creates a feeling of trust.

This is because it indicates credibility. Indeed, more visible companies are thought to be more reliable than others (Nagar 2015). It is crucial to note that brand image can be affected by product image. Companies have to be careful when presenting a different product image to their target market.

Brand reputation

Brand reputation is ideally whether or not the market trusts a company and its product. As mentioned, crisis often makes or breaks brand reputation. Zulganef and Julianto (2017) explain that building brand reputation is a daily activity. When discussing brand reputation, one has to consider company reputation. There are some companies that have very good reputations that any brand they associate themselves with automatically receives great brand reputation.

For example, Rolls-Royce is a car manufacturing company headquartered in Britain. It is associated with BMW. The company has several cars under its belt but rarely advertises its products. One of the reasons this is so is the great brand reputation they have. This is in regards to both its parent organisation, BMW and the brand Rolls-Royce. The brand has several products such as the Ghost sedan and the Dawn convertible. All these products are trusted in the market due to the good reputation the company enjoys.

Parent company reputation can also affect a good brand. Suomi (2014) explains that companies that have several brands under their name have to design comprehensive crisis management strategies in case one of their brands or products receives negative publicity. An example can be given to describe this further. Samsung is a strong mobile phone brand. However, recently, here have been reported cases of the Galaxy Note 7 bursting into flames. The company has many other products but since the reports of the Galaxy Note 7 bursting into flames, sales of all other products have gone down significantly. Sözer, Civelek and Kara (2017) explain that the company has rolled out a crisis management strategy that has helped it overcome the crisis and clients are just starting to trust the company’s brand again.

There are some opportunistic companies that take advantage of great brands to also make money. There have been cases of brand doppelgangers over the years. For example, a bookshop in the US came to the limelight in 2009 when the Tea Party political movement began to gain momentum (Vahabzadeh et al. 2017). The bookshop, known as Tea Party Bookshop, was linked to the party and got a lot of users looking for books related to the movement.

In this case, the bookshop gained financially. However, sometimes such brand doppelgangers can be detrimental to a brand. For instance, in 2013, the company Silk Road received a lot of negative publicity when the owners of an online dark market of the same name were arrested. The public thought the two companies were owned by the same people.

There is no single company that has a good brand reputation throughout their years of operation. McCusker (2017) states that the secret to the success of internationally acclaimed brands is that they respond to their crisis well. Target markets can be forgiving if the situation is handled properly. Having great online presence and consumer support is also key in creating a great brand reputation. As Beachboard (2017) observes, making clients loyal to one’s brand is a sure way of getting a positive brand reputation. The next section discusses some of the things brands can do to ensure loyalty.

Brand loyalty

Ong, Lee and Ramayah (2018) argue that brand loyalty is combined behavior pattern of clients who are committed to only buying a particular brand. Brand loyalty is key in position of a brand in the market. The feeling is usually positive such that consumers prefer to some extent to not purchase any product until their favourite brand is stocked. According to Kim and Stepchenkova (2018) brand loyalty is not affected in any way by the competitors’ actions. Thus, companies strive to achieve maximum brand loyalty among their target markets ton be assured of significant sales.

Kim, Kim and Holland (2018) explain that there is a psychological reasoning behind brand loyalty. Human beings by default have to be attached to one thing or another. Thus, they often seek to find attachment in brands as well. Towards this end, consumers use their own cultural and personal beliefs and their personalities to choose which brands they should show loyalty. For example, there are clients who believe that timely customer support is crucial in any brand. Therefore, they will be very loyal to brands that offer fast and reliable customer support across any platform the client is using at the time.

At times, clients might be loyal to a brand that has been in the market for a long time. The belief here is that the brands have stood the test of time, thus have to be good. Rather (2018) goes further to explain that some clients use the same products and brands their parents used. Indeed, there are times when clients “mistakenly” discover a brand and on using it, like it. This type of loyalty relies on how the person feels when they use the brand for the first time. It is for this reason that some brands offer free samples of their products.

Consumer interaction with the brand during manufacturing is important in establishing brand loyalty. Limpasirisuwan and Donkwa (2017) argue that consumers who have had some type of interaction with a brand often feel obligated to buy that particular brand. Through market research, companies have been able to include their target market in the manufacturing of their products. For example, a spice manufacturing company can ask the public to taste food with their spices and give recommendations for improvement. Such activities ensure that clients feel part of the manufacturing process. According to Mohsen, Hussein and Mahrous (2018), the target market then not only feels as part of clients but as valued partners.

This also ties to high and low involvement consumers. Fu, Kang and Tasci (2017) explain that high involvement consumers have complex purchasing behaviours. However, many often buy brands that have a sentimental meaning or feeling to them, or that are used by people they deem very influential in their lives. These clients are willing to buy expensive products as long as the brands meet their needs. To some extent, the high involving consumers think about class and status when buying a product. On the other hand, the low involvement consumers have habitual purchasing behaviours (Zhang & Liu 2017). They are often affected by advertisements but would prefer brands that are cost friendly as well. Class and status make little impact on the buying behaviour of these consumers. Overall, many marketing gurus suggest that perceived value, consumer support and satisfaction, and trust all affect repeated and committed purchase of a brand.

Brand dimension

Brand dimensions can be referred to as the personality of a product. According to Chakraborty and Bhat (2018), there are five brand dimensions. These are sincerity, excitement, competence, sophistication and ruggedness. Sincerity aspect refers to the down-to-earth, cheerful, honest and wholesome feeling of a brand. Zainol et al. (2016) explain that consumers do not need all the said elements to describe a brand dimension as sincere.

However, the brand must have one strong and easily identifiable element of sincerity. Companies that use this approach often tie their brand to personal and cultural values. For example, spice companies can use this dimension to bring a homely feeling to their clients. If the older generations (parents) used the same recipe then the consumer feels obliged to purchase the same brand. Ideally, the sincerity dimension is often used by companies that have been in operation for years. However, this does not mean that new companies cannot use this dimension successfully.

The excitement dimension is a favourite for new companies. It is described as daring, imaginative, spirited and current (up-to-date) (Bosnjak, Bochmann & Hufschmidt 2007). Companies that target young individuals also rely heavily on this dimension. Lin and Huang (2012) are of the opinion that all companies (either old or new) should embrace the use of the excitement dimension. This is because target markets do like some form of change.

The change does not have to impact the quality of the product, but it should bring some form of excitement to the consumers. This is easily applicable in advertisements. Indeed, there are some companies that have used this dimension to completely change their structure, management and even brand. Abdullah and Seman (2018) explain that whereas this is possible, it should only be done with a clear understanding of the impact it has on the target market.

The third mentioned brand dimension is competence. Consumers think a brand has competence if it is reliable, successful and intelligent (Yen, Kyutoku & Dan 2018). Again, like the other dimensions, a brand has to strongly showcase just one of these elements for consumers to refer to it as a competent brand. Towards this end, companies use extraordinary values and similar components to make their brands stand out from the rest.

Acharya and Gupta (2016) explain that many companies that offer similar services prefer this dimension. For example, the automobile industry has many similar cars from different brands. One of the key things consumers look at when choosing car brands is stability. Therefore, while one company can state that their car is stable despite its large horsepower, another can state that their brand is stable and will get a family home safely through a storm.

The fourth dimension, sophistication, refers to brands that are deemed classy (Nikhashemi & Valaei 2017). The products can be very expensive that are normally advertised as limited editions. For example, some Rolex watches and some wines are known for using this brand dimension. Ladhari, Morales and Zaaboub (2017) explain that many companies that have used this approach also make editions for the general public.

This serves as a motivation for those looking to one day afford the limited and expensive editions. For instance, BMW has some relatively affordable vehicles but also has the Rolls-Royce brand which is very expensive. The last dimension is ruggedness. George and Anandkumar (2014) explain that brands that use this dimension often want to be referred to as tough. Any product, thus, that can withstand harsh weather or similar conditions is encouraged to use this dimension. Manufacturers or tents, cars for rough terrains and outdoor furniture use this dimension.

Impact of Branding on Consumer Perceptions

Consumers have over the years been warned on fully trusting all companies they interact with online. Truthfully, the nature of the internet makes it easy for dishonest businesses to trick genuine consumers. Due to this, consumer perception of online branding strategies has shifted with time. It is important to note that brand perception is owned by consumers. Despite this, there are various things that a company can do to ensure positive consumer perception online.

One such thing is providing quality goods or service. Clients will have a positive brand perception if the good or service fills a gap in the market effectively and efficiently. Also, good consumer perceptions are established through constant engagement. Chovanová, Korshunov and Babčanová (2015) explain that it is very easy for companies to engage with the clientele online. The social media platforms ensure that clients can easily reach their favourite brands and have any queries or issues addressed.

Towards this end, customer support has to be fast and reliable. Wildfeuer (2018) explains that these online platforms are accessible all over the world. Therefore. Some clients might be affected by time zones. If customer support is not offered all the time, then an auto-response and a time zone should be indicated clearly in the platform (Vasic, Petrovska & Selim 2014). It is important for brand managers to fully understand their target audience.

An example can be made to explain the importance of this further. Company A targets youths in campus and uses the excitement brand dimension. To have a great consumer perception of the target market, the company has to understand that youths are fast-paced (Field et al. 2012). This means that they get distracted easily and will move on to the next brand if their needs are not met or queries not answered. It makes sense for such companies to respond to any communication made by their target audience as fast as possible.

De Alwis (2016) argues that companies also have to always act and react based on facts in order to get positive client perception. This should especially be the case during a crisis. The argument also ties back to the importance of crisis management and communication strategies. Rajagopal (2017) explains that target markets often do not search for companies that have positive reviews only. They are more comfortable using brands that have a mixture of both positive and negative reviews, (preferably with more positive reviews compared to the negative ones). Negative reviews should however be addressed. According to Lee, Yukyoum and June (2018), the best way to do this is by first apologising to the client who left the review and the target market at large, and requesting a call or email to the affected people. The side bar allows the company to understand the concerns raised by the client and act or react based on the facts.

Methods

The research employed a quantitative approach. The methods parts of this research paper will look into several aspects of the methodology. Sections that make up the methods part are research philosophy, research design, sample design, target population, data collection techniques, and data analysis methods. The approach chosen will also be validated to ensure it was the right approach for this type of research. This section will also discuss the reliability of the quantitative approach.

Research Philosophy

Zahid and Shabbir (2018) define research philosophy as a method used to determine how research data should be collected and analysed. There are two main research philosophies. The first revolves around that which is known to be true and the second focuses on that which is believed to be true. The study will endorse an exploratory approach. Having said that, the adopted philosophy is positivism. This means that the researcher subscribed to that which is known to be true as the broader research philosophy. The philosophy has been selected to ensure no form of bias is observed before, during and after the data collection.

Research Design

The research design used is exploratory in nature. Exploratory research is a type of quantitative research study (Nind & Lewthwaite 2018). The researcher sought to collect a number of and analyse thoughts, opinions and reasons for different consumer perceptions on the online presentation of Spotify. It is important to note that there is also need to create a link between consumer perceptions and brand loyalty, which also serves as the aim of the study. One can argue, thus, that quantitative research design is best fitted for this study.

Target Population

The target population for the study is all Spotify users who have interacted with the company on any of the social media platforms. The company has a great online presence, which has greatly contributed to its dominance in the market. On Facebook, the company has over 21 million followers while approximately 3 million users follow the company’s account on Twitter. The company also has an account on Instagram, where it has attracted about 3 million users as well.

Sample Design

As stated, the target audience of the study is very large Due to this, a random stratified sampling design was used. The first step in random stratified design is to define the target audience. The researcher did this by looking at Spotify’s target audience. The researcher, however, only focused on users located in East and Central London. Viable candidates had to have interacted with the company online through any of the social media platforms.

Since the target audience is very large, the researcher applied a random selection method to identify the right people for the study. The stratified approach groups the target market into different cohorts. The three larger cohorts used were based on age, location and gender. After this random selection, the researcher again stratified the cohorts further to lower the number of participants. A group form each of the smaller stratifications was then approached to partake in the study. The researcher settled on 150 individuals who were both willing and available to participate in the study.

According to Zahid and Shabbir (2018), random stratified sampling is valid in such studies as it ensures everyone is represented. Shahzad, Hanif and Koyuncu (2018) also explain that researchers have to ensure that all steps of the stratified process have to be adhered to in order to ensure the processes validity. In summary, the steps are identification of a target audience, creation of categories suitable for the study, stratification or division of the audience, and placing the individuals in the categories created.

Data Collection Techniques

The researcher used both primary and secondary data collection techniques. As stated, a questionnaire was used to collect data from the participants. The questionnaire was created prior to the study by the researcher. The researcher tested the questionnaire to also ensure it captures all the information needed for the study. The testing was done with the help of two research assistants that the researcher trained. It is important to note that the researcher also submitted the questionnaire for peer review to ensure it was appropriate. Feedback that was received during the testing (and the peer review) was culminated and incorporated to make the questionnaire better for the study.

Secondary data collection methods that were employed included reading from books and peer reviewed journals. Secondary data was just as crucial as it helped in the presentation of the literature review. The researcher looked into studies that have been done on the same topic and used this to also shape the objectives and aims of the study. The studies provided both support and critic of the objectives of the study. As Kumar, Trehan and Joorel (2018) note, adding contradictory research to critic a study not only makes the work authentic but also strengthens the arguments made by the researcher.

Validity and reliability of tools

A pre-test was done to test the validity and reliability of the primary data collection tool. This pre-test helped the researcher restructure the questionnaire so that it captured all the needed information. The researcher incorporated some of the feedback received, but filtered others out based on their relevance to the study. The researcher personally trained the research assistants to ensure they were aware of the standards of an academic research study. The assistants were graduates who had already completed their undergraduate thesis. Further, the researcher closely monitored and inspected the work of the assistants to ensure they were at par as by the guidelines and standards of academic research.

Data Analysis Methods

Data analysis began after the data collection process. Quantitative data analysis design was used as it goes hand in hand with the chosen methodology. Data was then presented in the form of text, frequency tables and charts. The questionnaire was distributed to participants from East and Central London. It is important to note that the data was analysed using SPSS 2.0 and the Linear Regression Model was also employed in the study. The model was relevant as it helped the researcher identify both the dependent and independent variables.

Findings

This section of the report presents the raw findings of the study. The findings will be presented as per the different sections and questions of the questionnaire.

Primary Information

The first section of the questionnaire collected primary information. It had four questions. The first question was on age where majority of the sample size (19%) was aged between 20 and 24 years. 18% of the sample was between age 35 and 39 while 16% was aged between 15 and 19. Only 2% of the sample population was over the age of 50. The primary information was important to determine the ages of Spotify’s most influential clients. Below are graphic representations of the stated data.

Table 1: Age.

Age
Frequency Percent Valid Percent Cumulative Percent
Valid 15 – 19 years 16.0 16.0 16.0 16.0
20 – 24 years 19.0 19.0 19.0 35.0
25 – 29 years 15.0 15.0 15.0 50.0
30 – 34 years 14.0 14.0 14.0 64.0
35 – 39 years 18.0 18.0 18.0 82.0
40 – 44 years 8.0 8.0 8.0 90.0
45 – 49 years 8.0 8.0 8.0 98.0
50 – 54 years 2.0 2.0 2.0 100.0
Total 100 100.0 100.0

Out of the 150 participants, 46% were male and 51% were female. 3% did not comment on the question. All the 200 participants had heard of Spotify before as they were active Spotify users. Since all participants had heard of Spotify before, and were active users, the entire sample size was able to continue with the study to completion. This translates to 100%. Additionally, the section required the participants to also clarify their level of education. 36% had a bachelor’s degree or an equivalent of the same. 29% identified “secondary” as their highest level of education while 25% had a master’s degree or equivalent. The remaining 10% identified “primary” as their highest level of education.

Table 2: Education.

Education
Frequency Percent Valid Percent Cumulative Percent
Valid Primary 10.0 10.0 10.0 10.0
Secondary 29.0 29.0 29.0 39.0
Bachelor’s 36.0 36.0 36.0 75.0
Master’s 25.0 25.0 25.0 100.0
Total 100 100.0 100.0

Online Branding Strategies

The second section of the questionnaire focused on online branding strategies. The first question sought to find out if the participants had interacted with Spotify online. All of them agreed that they had translating to 100%. Interestingly, 60% of the participants had initially heard about Spotify online and 40% had heard of the platform through traditional media platforms. The second question asked the participants which of four online platforms the participants had interacted with Spotify on.

They were supposed to pick all the platforms that applied. Facebook received the most attention with 49% of the users picking it as their first choice for interaction. 12% of the sample size stated that they preferred Twitter as their first point of interaction while 15 said Instagram. Interestingly, 24% of the participants said they interacted with Spotify on its application. Below is a visual representation of the same data.

Table 3: Online Platforms.

Online Platforms
Frequency Percent Valid Percent Cumulative Percent
Valid Facebook 49.0 49.0 49.0 49.0
App 24.0 24.0 24.0 73.0
Instagram 15.0 15.0 15.0 88.0
Twitter 12.0 12.0 12.0 100.0
Total 100 100.0 100.0

96% of the participants of the study agreed that they could identify Spotify’s logo if it was shown to them. Interestingly, 71% of the sample population admitted that Spotify was a good brand when they first interacted with the platform. It is specifically for this stated reason that they subscribed to the platform. Additionally, 76% of the sample population stated that being connected to a recognised brand was important to them, while 24% said it was not important. The following charts give a visual representation of the stated data.

The participants were also asked whether they felt safe doing transactions with Spotify on their preferred online platforms. 86% felt the platform was secure while 14% thought the platform unsafe. Additionally, the participants were given four choices and were asked to identify which of the four elements they believe influences Spotify’s online branding. 46% of the sample population agreed that technology was key. 25% stated that word of mouth was essential while 20% believed trust was important. The remaining 9% stated that emotional contact was the most important element. The chart below is a visual representation of this data set as analyzed using the exploratory quantitative approach.

Table 4: Which of the following elements is important for Spotify?.

Elements
Frequency Percent Valid Percent Cumulative Percent
Valid Technology 46.0 46.0 46.0 46.0
Word of Mouth 25.0 25.0 25.0 71.0
Trust 20.0 20.0 20.0 91.0
Emotional Contact 9.0 9.0 9.0 100
Total 100 100.0 100.0

69% of the sample population argued that the level of innovation affected their perception about the company. 20% stated that the company’s response to their customers largely shaped their perception while 11% agreed that the company’s ethical behavior was important in determining how they perceived the brand. The table below shows a statistical representation of the question. The mean

Table 5: Which of the following elements affects your perception of the Spotify UK brand?.

Perceptions
Frequency Percent Valid Percent Cumulative Percent
Valid Level of Innovation 69.0 69.0 69.0 69.0
Response to customers 20.0 20.0 20.0 89.0
Ethical Behaviour 11.0 11.0 11.0 100.0
Total 100 100.0 100.0

The participants were also asked whether they believed Spotify UK had a superior brand within its market. A majority of the participants agreed that they did (86%) while 14% did not agree with the statement. The researcher also sought to find out whether the participants could recognise the Spotify UK brand. Out of the 150 participants, 71% stated that they could easily identify the brand. 22% chose “average” on this question while 7% said it would be hard for them to identify the brand. The table below summarises the data provided.

Table 6: How easy is it for you to identify Spotify UK’s logo?.

Perceptions
Frequency Percent Valid Percent Cumulative Percent
Valid Easy 71.0 71.0 71.0 71.0
Average 22.0 22.0 22.0 93.0
Hard 7.0 7.0 7.0 100.0
Total 100 100.0 100.0

Also, 44% of the target population stated they use the Spotify brand often. 36% said they use the brand on an average basis while the remaining 20% stated they do not use the brand as often (they selected the not “often choice”). 71% of the target population agreed that they took time to consider several things before they subscribed to Spotify. 29% stated they did not consider anything else and just subscribed to the platform. This question was based on the previous sentiments the participants had given about the different elements that shape their perceptions of the brand. Interestingly, majority of the participants argued that Spotify UK brand image reflected their own.

Table 7: How often do you use Spotify?.

Usage
Frequency Percent Valid Percent Cumulative Percent
Valid Often 44.0 44.0 44.0 44.0
Average 36.0 36.0 36.0 76.0
Not Often 20.0 20.0 20.0 100.0
Total 100 100.0 100.0

The last question sort to determine which brand dimensions affected the user’s interaction with Spotify on their preferred digital platform. 50% stated that devotion to brand was important. 25% agreed that the brand name was crucial while 15% stated that brand reputation was essential. The remaining 10% agreed that brand image was crucial in determining their decision to interact with a company or brand. The following frequency tables are a summary of the stated data.

Table 8: Which of the following brand dimension affects your interaction.

Usage
Frequency Percent Valid Percent Cumulative Percent
Valid Devotion to brand 50.0 50.0 50.0 50.0
Brand name 25.0 25.0 25.0 75.0
Brand reputation 15.0 15.0 15.0 90.0
Brand image 10.0 10.0 10.0 100.0
Total 100 100.0 100.0

A correlation test was also conducted to determine whether there was a relationship between consumer perception and online branding. The researcher used the Pearson’s correlation coefficient to test the strength of the two stated variables on each other. The researcher used the brand dimensions presented to test the strength between consumer perception and successful online branding. The brand dimensions were referred to as DB (devotion to brand), BN (brand name), BR (brand reputation), and BI (brand image). N represents consumer perception as derived from the data presented earlier. The table below summarises the results realised.

Correlations
DB BN BR BI
DB Pearson Correlation 1 .382** .103 .384**
Sig. (2-tailed) .000 .308 .000
N 50 25 15 10
BN Pearson Correlation .382** 1 .211* .521**
Sig. (2-tailed) .000 .035 .000
N 50 25 15 10
BR Pearson Correlation .103 .211* 1 .309**
Sig. (2-tailed) .308 .035 .043
N 50 25 15 10
BI Pearson Correlation .106 .202* 1 .319**
Sig. (2-tailed) .298 .045 .051
N 50 25 15 10
N Pearson Correlation .384** .521** .309** 1
Sig. (2-tailed) .000 .000 .002
N 50 25 15 10
**. Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level (2-tailed).
*. Correlation is significant at the 0.05 level (2-tailed).

The correlation test shows that all the brand dimensions are important when discussing consumer perception to brand. However, brand devotion stood out with a strong correlation of 1.

Discussion

Several things come up from the findings that were realised. One interesting fact is that many of the participants were between the ages of 20 and 24. They made up 19% of the sample population. Considering that the selection was randomly made, one can argue that majority of Spotify’s active users are also between that age bracket. The realisation is important as it then determines the type of branding that Spotify should be using. According to Maha (2015), the mid-aged population prefers interesting yet informational branding strategies.

It is also important to note that 60% of the sample population had first heard about Spotify on online platforms. The term “online platforms” was used to refer to social media, website, app and all other digital platforms. 40% had heard about the platform through traditional media. The phrase “traditional media” was used to refer to televisions, radios, newspapers and billboards. This realisation lays a lot of emphasis on the importance of proper branding online, especially on social media.

Since the platform works in collaboration with artists and celebrities, their constant endorsement of the brand would also ideally boost the company. However, the company has to add more efforts to ensure that its website attracts more users. This can be done through linking the website with other popular websites and even advertising the website as its own element. Additionally, referrals are one of the best ways of boosting a brand.

Referrals can be conducted through both online and traditional media. Online, influencer marketing is a good way of embracing both the word of mouth and referrals concepts. The artists and music studios can also endorse the platform to ensure their users access their music through the same platform. It is important for Spotify to lay proper strategies on how to get as many referrals as possible.

A significant number of the participants (86%) stated that Spotify’s online branding was strong (50%) while the remaining (14%) did not think it was. This is a very significant number of people that perceive the brand to be weak. One can argue that they thought the brand to be weak due to the fact that majority of the participants also felt that the company’s ethical behaviour and response to customers (artists and music producers) was poor.

It is interesting to note that Spotify has been on the spotlight for ill-treatment and miscommunication with artists over the years. Some artists have even opted to remove all their music from the platform. Whereas the company issued statements on some of the crises they have faced, their crisis management strategy is still lacking. In turn, this has affected consumer perception of the brand. On the same note, 20% of the participants stated that how the company interacts with all its consumers is important in shaping their perception of the brand.

When asked what the most important branding elements that influence Spotify’s online branding were, majority of the sample population stated that technology was most important. Towards this end, one can argue that Spotify has to use its cutting edge technology that is not only easily accessible but also fast and reliable their primary selling point. Again, this question brought up the issue of word of mouth advertising. 25% of the sample population agreed that word of mouth was important in determining their interaction with a brand.

It is interesting to note that a majority of the participants felt that devotion to brand, image, name, and reputation were all important components in ensuring their interaction with the brand. Thus, it is important for Spotify to boost all the stated components in an attempt to improve consumer perceptions of the brand. The correlation test confirmed that devotion to brand is key in consumer perception of the brand. Towards this end, therefore, one can argue that the brand (Spotify) is not only well recognised but can also be well placed within its right dimension. This is important as it denotes the perceptions of the consumers about the brand.

Ethics

Several ethical concerns had to be addressed before, during and after the research study. First, the research included individuals who are considered minors under the law. Therefore, the researcher had to go a step further and request for permission from the minors and their parents or legal guardians. The researcher also had an ethical obligation to inform the participants that the study was purely for academic purposes.

Respondents were also informed that they were free to stop filling in the questionnaire at any point and that they could withdraw their answers within two days after submission of the questionnaire. The researcher deemed it appropriate to give the respondents some time to withdraw just in case some of them felt the need to do so. Fortunately, none of the participants requested to withdraw their forms. All the questionnaires were also dully filled.

It is important to note that none of the participants’ personal information (in regards to name and other similar data) was collected. This was for the protection of the participants. The researcher also trained the research assistants to ensure that the participants’ and the data collected were protected. The research assistants also had time to practice their skills during the tools pre-testing period. The participants that were used in the pre-test were eliminated from the study as denoted by research guidelines.

The handling and disposing of the research data tool was also an ethical concern for the researcher. Whereas the tool cannot be disposed of until the research study is done, the filled questionnaires were scanned and uploaded in a secure cloud account. The hard copy files were then permanently destroyed. There was no breech or hack noted and the researcher can confidently state that all the data collected was secured. As stated, the tool will be disposed of after the research study and report are completed, submitted and approved. Since they are in soft copy, they will be deleted permanently from any records. It is important to note that the researcher takes all ethical concerns seriously and it is for this reason that he adhered to the university’s research guidelines.

Conclusion

In conclusion, consumer perception of online branding is often affected by many things. Indeed, companies cannot control or even address all the needs of a consumer. However, there are some basic needs that affect the client’s behavioural patterns that should always be considered when a company invests in online branding. It is important to mention that the internet has diversified the concept of marketing and branding. This is due to the fact that the internet is unlimited. Thus, clients from different parts of the world have access to the company’s branding despite them not being a direct target market. This research study sought to find out consumers’ perception of Spotify’s online brand.

Spotify is an online music streaming platform that is based in the UK. Indeed, it is one of the most common streaming services in the world. However, new competitors have come up over the years and this has threatened the company’s grip on the market. One of the reasons why the company has failed to retain its number one position in the market is the fact that it has had significant negative publicity over the years.

The business works in collaboration with artists and music producers. It uploads the artists’ music on the platform where its users can then listen. The users can either use a freemium account, where they listen freely, or a premium account where they pay to listen. The advantage of the premium account is that it contains less advertisements compared to the freemium service. The business also has several social media platforms where they strive to make consumer support easier and faster. Several scholars argue that online branding is key in the success of any business in this day and age.

Some of the things one has to consider when talking about the perceptions of consumers in regards to the Spotify brand. Some of these factors include marketing and communication plans, online branding strategies and also brand dimensions.

The research employed a quantitative and exploratory methodology. This methodology was deemed best as the study sought to figure out opinions and perceptions of the target market. The target population included everyone who had any form of interaction with Spotify online and the sample size was selected from East and Central London. This included all the people who had followed the platform on social media. A total of 150 respondents were selected for the study. The researcher developed a questionnaire to serve as a data collection tool and data was analysed using the exploratory design. Interestingly, all the people that participated in the study duly filled the form and submitted it to the researcher in hard copies through two research assistants.

Several findings were realised after the data analysis. One interesting finding was that consumers perceived devotion to brand a key element in interactions with companies and their products. One can argue that the brand dimensions are often associated with the way the company itself behaves and presents itself online. Since the perception of the company is owned by the clients, all the company has to do to change perceptions is adhere to its clienteles’ needs.

Another realisation made was that a majority of the participants learnt about the platform while on various digital platforms. It is important to note that a significant number of the participants first learnt about Spotify through traditional media. As explained, the impact of word to mouth endorsements and advertising cannot be overstated. Also, a majority of the sample size agreed that they could identify the company’s brand if shown to them. However, despite all the participants acknowledging the company, a small percentage agreed they were not familiar with the brand and would not recognise it if it were to be shown to them.

It is crucial for Spotify to engage more with its clients. One of the challenges the company has faced so far, which has negatively affected consumer perception of its brand is miscommunication and ill treatment of artists. It is crucial for the brand to treat their consumers well. As mentioned, the company has lost several major artists due to such incidents. In turn, the fans who would use the platform to access their favourite artists’ music also withdraw their subscription to the platform.

To avoid this, the platform should treat all its consumers well. It is interesting that a small percentage of the sample agreed that the company’s ethical behaviour was crucial in determining their perception of the same. The treatment of consumers can fall under the “ethical behaviour” category. However, one can also argue that the researcher also included the “response to consumers” answer, which attracted more participants.

Recommendations

One of the recommendations that can be made from the research study presented is the development of a valid content management plan. The findings realised highlighted the fact that Spotify does not seem to have any content management plan. Towards this end, content management refers to content generation, posting and updating the sites, reaction to consumer content and provision of information and press releases.

The company is encouraged to have a timeline for posting content on their sites. This timeline should be guided by a market research study that indicates the different times the company’s target audience is online. Since the target population is diverse in terms of age, it would be beneficial for the company to also indicate their working hours on all their platforms. This will reduce the number of complains and bad reviews. The recommendation is made based on the fact that majority of the platform’s users have accessed it through digital means.

Additionally, it is recommended that the platform legally deal with any doppelganger brands as they affect its standing in the market. In this case, the doppelganger negatively affects Spotify’s online brand and its consumers’ perception of the same.

On the same note, Spotify should invest in influencer marketing. Any agreement the company makes with artists and music studios should include the promotion of the platform on the artists’ or music studios online platforms. Apart from this, the company should also get other influential people to advertise their platform on social media. It is critical that the target population feels like their friends and family also use the platform. This will in turn also increase the number of referrals the company gets to the site.

It is also recommended that the company develop a crisis management strategy. As stated, the business was greatly affected by accusations from artists. Several artists such as Taylor Swift opted to withdraw all their music from the platform due to misunderstandings. Even though the company released a statement on the matter, one can still argue that more could have been done to reduce the number of users who stopped using the platform due to such a withdrawal from an artist. Whereas different artists have promoted the platform by telling their fans that they can listen to their music on the platform for free, the company has not done anything to ensure that the attracted clients remain loyal to their brand (Spotify) and not the artist. Provision of quality service can ensure that such users remain loyal to Spotify.

Whereas brand reputation and image are important, there are several things the company can do to boost itself. It is important to note that the reputation of the artists that use the brand is also critical in boosting Spotify’s online engagement. The company has so far not rejected artists based on their reputation. However, with a vision of increasing the number of users taking up the premium service, this might prove necessary.

One way the company can ensure clients get to see only the artists they like on the platform is through bid data filtering. Just like other online platforms, Spotify is capable of collecting the interests of their users and use that information to customise the users’ interface and experience on the platform. Whereas this is possible, to some extent, it has many loopholes as people can still see the activities and songs of artists they do not like. Additionally, devotion to brand is key in ensuring positive perceptions of the company from their target population.

One can also recommend that the company put more effort in ensuring brand devotion. There are several ways the company can do this. One is through creating a good rapport with its clients (both the subscribers and the artists). Constant engagement with the subscribers on the online platforms will help to ensure that they become loyal to the brand. On the other hand, fast and reliable communication and offering a great platform will ensure artists are also loyal to the platform. In the same breath, the company can also ensure its consumers are loyal by encouraging referrals. It is important to note that referrals are only sustainable if the quality of service offered is also high. Traditional referrals will require partnerships with music stores and such like companies.

They can promote the online platform to clients who go to buy music from them. Digital referrals are easier to manage. Whereas the company should allow consumers to give their own reviews and feedback, the process should be monitored to ensure that no malicious attacks are made against the brand. Such monitoring of the online platforms will also highlight any doppelgangers. As stated, doppelgangers can negatively affect a brand if they offer poor services or are linked to things the society considers bad.

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