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    Bachelor thesis

    Brand Image and Social Media – an ever trending story?

    A Qualitative study on Social Media and Brand

    Image of a Brand of Low Involvement Products


    Herman Kempe

    Hugo Nyberg

    Karolina Nilsson

    Supervisor: Viktor Magnusson

    Examiner: Åsa Devine

    Date: 2017-05-23

    Subject: Branding

    Level: Undergraduate

    Course code: 2FE21E

  • i


    This bachelor thesis was conducted during the sixth and final semester of the Marketing

    programme at Linnaeus University, Växjö, Sweden. Owing to the support and guidance

    we have received throughout the process of writing this thesis, we would like to express

    our foremost gratitude.

    Firstly, we would like to direct a thank you to our tutor Viktor Magnusson, lecturer at

    Linnaeus University, for all the both moral and theoretical support throughout this

    process.We would also like to direct a thank you to Åsa Devine, Senior lecturer and

    Assistant professor at Linnaeus University, who has acted as examiner for this thesis

    and have contributed with highly valuable critique and feedback during seminars. This

    thesis would not have progressed as well without the time and effort you both have put

    into guiding us throughout this process.

    Secondly, we would also like to direct a thank you to Dan Halvarsson, lecturer at

    Linnaeus University, for guidance regarding qualitative studies and the application of

    this method in our thesis.

    Finally, we would like to say thank you to all the respondents in the interviews and

    participants of the pre-tests together with the opponents of the seminars. We would also

    like to thank our friends and families for moral support throughout this semester.

    Växjö, 2017-05-24

    Herman Kempe Hugo Nyberg Karolina Nilsson

    ___________________ ___________________ ___________________

  • ii


    A firm’s brand image has to stand the test of time and be durable through different

    trends and changes, which emphasize the importance of following developments in the

    marketplace such as the emerging relevance of firm generated content on social media.

    With attitudes towards a product being lower in relation to the involvement regarding a

    product, the importance of establishing brand image for low-involvement product

    brands increases. With this in mind the purpose of this thesis was to explore how

    consumers’ brand image of low involvement products was affected by firm generated

    content on social media.

    This research provides insights on how brand image of a brand of a low involvement

    products is affected by firm generated content on social media. The study is based on

    existing research within brand image and was conducted through the use of a qualitative

    research approach using in-depth interviews as data collection method.

    The findings of this thesis suggest that consumers brand image is influenced by

    symbolic benefits where the benefits around the product are emphasized. A pattern

    could be seen where consumers emphasized symbolic benefits communicated through

    firm generated content on social media in a higher regard when the perceived functional

    benefits between brands were similar. This suggests that firm generated content of

    brands of low involvement products communicated on social media often seem to

    influence consumers perception of symbolic benefits in regards to favorability, strength

    and uniqueness of associations which in turn influence brand image.


    Brand Image, Types of brand associations, Favorability of brand associations, Strength

    of brand associations, Uniqueness of brand associations, Low involvement product,

    Firm generated content, Social media

  • iii


    Bachelor thesis ________________________________________________________ 1

    1 Introduction _________________________________________________________ 1 1.1 Background ______________________________________________________ 1 1.2 Problem discussion ________________________________________________ 3 1.3 Purpose _________________________________________________________ 4

    2 Theoretical framework ________________________________________________ 5 2.1 Brand image _____________________________________________________ 5

    2.1.1 Types of brand associations _____________________________________ 6

    2.1.2 Favorability of brand associations ________________________________ 8

    2.1.3 Strength of brand associations ___________________________________ 9

    2.1.4 Uniqueness of brand associations ________________________________ 10

    2.2 Firm generated content on social media and its relation to brand image ______ 11

    2.3 Summary of the theoretical concepts _________________________________ 12 2.4 Figure of the theoretical concepts ____________________________________ 14 2.5 Research questions _______________________________________________ 14

    3 Method ____________________________________________________________ 15 3.1 Research approach _______________________________________________ 15

    3.1.1 Quantitative or Qualitative approach _____________________________ 16

    3.2 Research design _________________________________________________ 17

    3.3 Data source _____________________________________________________ 19 3.4 Research strategy ________________________________________________ 19

    3.5 Data collection method ____________________________________________ 20 3.5.1 Conducting interviews _________________________________________ 21

    3.6 Sampling _______________________________________________________ 22 3.7 Ethics _________________________________________________________ 24

    3.8 Data collection instruments ________________________________________ 24 3.8.1 Operationalization ____________________________________________ 24

    3.8.2 Interviewguide _______________________________________________ 30

    3.9 Data Analysis Method ____________________________________________ 31 3.10 Quality Criteria _________________________________________________ 33

    4 Empirical findings ___________________________________________________ 36 4.1 Types of brand associations through firm generated content on social media __ 36 4.2 Favorability of brand associations through firm generated content on social media

    _________________________________________________________________ 38 4.3 Strength of brand associations through firm generated content on social media 39

    4.4 Uniqueness of brand associations through firm generated content on social media

    _________________________________________________________________ 40

    5 Analysis ____________________________________________________________ 42 5.1 Types of brand associations ________________________________________ 42 5.2 Favorability of brand associations ___________________________________ 44

  • iv

    5.3 Strength of brand associations ______________________________________ 45

    5.4 Uniqueness of brand associations ____________________________________ 46

    6 Conclusion _________________________________________________________ 48

    7 Discussion __________________________________________________________ 49 7.1 Practical implications _____________________________________________ 49

    7.2 Theoretical implications ___________________________________________ 49 7.3 Further research _________________________________________________ 50

    References ___________________________________________________________ 51

    Appendices ___________________________________________________________ I Appendix A _________________________________________________________ I

  • 1

    1 Introduction 1.1 Background

    Over the last couple of years there have been changes in the media landscape (Kumar, 2016), which partly have lead to a rise of social media offered online (Killian &

    McManus, 2015; Kumar, 2016; Kim & Ko, 2012; Rohm, Kaltcheva & Milne,

    2013; Faulds & Mangold, 2009). Social media is defined as technology, user generated

    content and social interaction combined, and can for example be used to keep in contact

    with people in the surroundings, for news reports or marketing (NE, n.d). The increase

    of social media users worldwide reached 2.34 billion users during the year of 2016, and

    with the number estimated to keep increasing (Statista, 2017a) there is a need for firms

    to manage their communication through social media (Schivinski & Dabrowski, 2016).

    The communication through social media can take place on different social media

    platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Youtube (SOI2016, 2016).

    Platforms like these have furthered the communication between companies and

    consumers (Kim & Ko, 2012; Killian & McManus, 2015; Rohm, Kaltcheva & Milne,

    2013; Faulds & Mangold, 2009), and social media has created new ways for companies

    to interact with consumers (Kumar, 2016). Content on social media which is

    generated by companies is utilized to fu