Hennes & Mauritz AB, popularly known as H&M, is one of the world’s largest clothing retailers. Founded in 1947, the Swedish company is headquartered in Stockholm and operates in more than 74 countries (Plunkett 2004). The management of this company has been keen on aligning its operations with the emerging technologies. Currently, it has made its products available in online platforms in 33 countries. The organizational performance of this company has been a huge success, especially over the last two decades (Rein 2014). The management has been embracing creativity and innovation as ways of ensuring that they offer their customers superior products.
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The use of digital marketing strategies has been at the core of the firm’s operations over the recent past. Top managers have created a platform that makes it easy to embrace new concepts and technologies in the market (Grant 2009). The firm has also been investing in employees’ empowerment programs to ensure that they can cope with emerging market trends. This paper synthesizes the influence of H&M’s key digital marketing concepts and delineates their role on the organizational performance. It specifically seeks to assess the linkage between the success of H&M’s organizational performance and the use of digital marketing strategies from 2010-2020.
Digital marketing strategies are becoming increasingly popular in the modern era. Neher (2019) explains that irrespective of a firm’s size, online marketing platforms have created unique opportunities for promoting a brand and products. Facebook has more than 2.8 billion active users around the world, YouTube has 2 billion, Instagram has 1.1 billion, and Twitter has over 300 million (Hwang 2020). Other major digital platforms through which a firm can reach out to their customers include Yahoo, Gmail, LinkedIn, Vimeo, and AOL (Clarke 2019). When social medial platforms such as Facebook emerged in 2008, most of the leading global corporation did not consider them as potential platforms through which they could promote their products and brands.
The perception has changed over time as it became apparent that most of the targeted audiences spend a significant amount of time on these platforms. In fact, newspapers and magazines, which were popular about 2 decades ago, have gradually lost their appeal because of the decreasing number of people who read them (Kehoe 2018). H&M is one of the largest multinational corporations that have actively embraced the use of these digital platforms to reach out to their customers (Linkov et al. 2019). It is necessary to ascertain if there is any linkage between the success of this firm’s organizational performance and its active use of digital marketing strategies within the stated period.
Purpose of the Study
The purpose of this paper is to investigate the impact that the use of digital marketing strategies has had on H&M’s organizational performance. The company has been keen on aligning its operations with the emerging technological trends. Digital marketing involves the use of the internet to reach out to consumers via platforms such as emails, search platforms, social media, and content marketing among others (Rowles and Rogers 2019). It is a major shift from the use of traditional marketing platforms that involved the use of radio, television, billboards, and newspapers to promote a firm’s brand and products (Lykou, Anagnostopoulou and Gritzalis 2018). Digital marketing has become one of the most effective strategies of reaching out to customers. Large corporations have embraced this strategy to enable them strengthen their brands and to promote their products. From 2010 to 2020, H&M has made a substantial investment in digital marketing, paying a special attention to social media marketing (Mahesh 2017). It is necessary to investigate whether the firm’s organizational performance is related to its use of digital marketing platforms.
It is necessary to have research questions that will help in defining data that is needed from various sources. As Star (2020) observes, developing effective research questions is the first stage in ensuring that the right information is obtained from both primary and secondary sources. The following are the primary questions that were used in defining data collected from these sources:
- Is there a linkage between H&M’s organizational performance and the digital marketing strategies?
- How have the digital marketing strategies evolved from 2010-2020
Aim and Objectives
The primary aim of this paper is to synthesize the influence of H&M’s key digital marketing concepts and delineates their role on the organizational performance. The company has been using various digital platforms to promote its brand and products. The study will discuss the firm’s application of these digital marketing concepts and assess how they have affected the firm’s overall performance. The following are the specific objectives that the researcher seeks to achieve through this study:
- To assess the linkage between H&M’s organizational performance and the digital marketing strategies.
- To determine how the digital marketing strategies have evolved from 2010-2020.
Understanding the Concept of Digital Marketing
The concept of digital marketing has gained massive popularity over the recent past. Fisher (2019) defines digital marketing as “the use of the internet, mobile devices, social media, search engines, and other channels to reach consumers.” The emergence and massive popularity of the internet has revolutionized the approach that companies take to reach out to their customers. Traditionally, companies relied on mass media such as radio and television commercial or newspaper and magazine advertisements (Maqbool et al. 2020). These were the most effective ways of reaching out to the masses. However, that gas changed over the past decade as the relevance of the internet continues to grow.
Social media platforms have become the most effective way of reaching out to a large audience within the shortest period possible. According to Hemann and Burbary (2018), it is estimated that 2.8 billion active users around the world, YouTube has 2 billion, Instagram has 1.1 billion, and Twitter has over 300 million. This number continues to grow as internet connectivity and the use of smart phones increases. These platforms have offered the most effective ways of reaching out to customers. In Japan, and most of the developed countries around the world, it is less likely to find individuals under 40 years reading newspapers (Chaffey and Ellis-Chadwick 2019). The number decreases even further among the younger generation who rely on social media to share information and learn about new things. Television and radio are also becoming less popular than before because of the time that the younger generation spend on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter.
These platforms offer an effective way of reaching out to a larger audience. Gupta (2018) explains that when Facebook emerged, most of the large corporations dismissed it as a tool that could help in promoting their brands and products. It was considered as a communication platform for few university students. However, that is no longer the case (Millett, Dos-Santos and Millett 2019). Large multinational corporations such as Coca Cola, Apple Inc., and Toyota are currently spending more on online advertising than they do on mass media marketing (Mishra 2020). They have realized the potential of these platforms, especially when they are targeting youths. In most of the developed economies around the world, almost every person above 15 years has a smartphone. They also have internet connectivity which allows them to spend a lot of time online whether they are at school, work, or at home (Moisan and Gonzalez 2017). Some have become so addicted to these platforms that they cannot take more than 30 minutes before going online.
The trend means that the most effective way of reaching these people with a marketing message is through these online platforms. Facebook has created many features that enable people to promote their brands and products to a specific audience (Yin et al. 2019). WhatsApp, Twitter, and YouTube also have advanced features that allow marketers to popularize their brands. Digital marketing is rapidly replacing the traditional mass media marketing (Sumah and Baatiema 2019). Many companies, irrespective of their size of market coverage, are responding to these changes to ensure that they can reach out to potential customers more efficiently and within the shortest period possible.
Digital Marketing Strategies
Digital marketing is currently the most effective way of reaching out to a large audience within a short period. According to Scott (2020), one can use various strategies of digital marketing to reach out to members of the public. The digital marketing strategy is often defined by the platform that one chooses to use (Veksler et al. 2018). Some of the popular digital marketing strategies include website marketing, pay-per-click advertising, content marketing, social media marketing, and SMS messaging. It is necessary to discuss each of these strategies in details.
The website has become one of the most effective digital marketing strategies in the modern society. Almost every large and medium-sized company in the developed economies has a website. The website provides them with the opportunity to promote their brands and products to their current and potential customers. The platform is fully monopolized by the firm, hence it may not need to pay other companies for placing advertisements and communicating with customers. Smith (2018) explains that developing a dynamic, interactive and use-friendly website may be costly, but once it is developed and hosted, the firm is able to cut costs of promotion as long as it can generate adequate online traffic (Mozzaquatro et al. 2018). The marketing unit can regularly communicate with customers, informing them about the introduction of a new product or reminding them of an existing one.
Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising
Pay-per-click advertising is one of the most popular digital marketing strategies that many firms are currently using. In this case, a firm places a promotional message on various websites. In case an online visitor clicks on the advert and is directed to the company’s website, the advertiser pays the guiding website (Udum 2017). Facebook Ads and Google Ads are currently the most preferred PPC platforms because of their popularity. Bing, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest are the other popular platforms (Ryan 2020). Unlike social media marketing, in PPC the advertiser only pays the website when the product or brand being promoted is clicked. Whether the customer makes a purchase after that is not important as long as the clicked on the link provided.
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Content marketing has also gained popularity over the recent past as a digital means through which firms can reach out to their customers. In this case, one uses a content that is popular to a certain segment of the population. Blogs, infographics, e-books, webinar, and podcasts are some of the popular content marketing tools (Charlesworth 2018). For instance, a political blog may be relevant to a large population during electioneering period. Car enthusiasts may prefer visiting a given blog that explains about features of new and existing cars. Through such a popular blog, a company can opt to promote a product or a brand. As they visit the website to read about the blog or to listen to a podcast, the will come across a promotional message that informs them about the existence of a given product in the market (Schabacker et al. 2019). Advertisers often pay for the advert based on the popularity of the blog post, podcast, webinar, or any other content marketing tool that is used.
Email marketing has remained an effective digital marketing strategy that many companies, especially large corporations, still use to engage their customers. Azmi (2019) notes that one should not confuse email marketing with spam emailing where one receives unsolicited mass messages about a company that does not even offer a product that they may need. Email marketing is a systematic way of sending a catalogue or specially designed message to the current or potential customer about products that they have been purchasing or the one they intend to purchase (Rasool 2019). The company knows that the client needs the message, and as such, the message will be relevant to the recipient. It may be about a change in pricing, introduction of a new product, a change in product delivery, or any other information that is relevant to the client. It may also be a direct response to a client’s questions. Yahoo and Gmail have provided platforms that allow these companies to send bulk messages to their clients, especially when addressing a common issue (Veksler et al. 2020). Microsoft also offers similar services, allowing a firm to communicate to a large audience without having to pay a specific company a promotional fee.
Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing is currently the most popular digital marketing strategy that firms of all sizes are using. As mentioned above, platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and WhatsApp have billions of regular users globally. According to Babapour, Gholipour and Mehralian (2018), these platforms are so addictive that it is impossible for some people to go for more than an hour without visiting them. They offer entertainment and news about events happening around the world. Some people no longer rely on television and radio for news. They trust social media platforms because people report these events without coercion or excessive editing to meet specific objectives. Similarly, entertainment is rapidly moving away from the traditional mass media platforms. One can easily watch a movie or listen to a song through their YouTube channels. The fact that these platforms allow users to choose what they want to watch at a specific time has made them immensely popular. They no longer have to wait for their radio stations to select for them a given preferred song (Stewart and Brown 2020). They can easily search for and listen to the song for as long as they want.
Large corporations are currently using these popular platforms to reach out to their audience. As Cho, Yoo and Lim (2019) observe, YouTube has created a system where viewers are required to watch an advert for about 5 seconds before they can watch their preferred song or movie. The strategy has worked because many consider it a small sacrifice to make as long as they will be watching the movie or the song without any charge (Syed and Kramar 2017). Facebook has also embraced the same strategy when one is watching a movie through their platform.
The platform has also created a system that allows it to place adverts strategically across the page that a user can easily see when chatting with a friend, reading a post, or making a post on their walls. Cogin, Ng and Lee (2016) explain that social media marketing is currently more popular than mass media marketing because of its effectiveness in reaching out to a wider audience. It has also become popular because it is not restricted by geographic limitations. It means that the Coca Cola Company can develop a single commercial that can be used to target a global audience as long as the language barrier is addressed.
Theories Relevant to Digital Marketing
The growing popularity of digital marketing has led to the emergence of various theories to explain the trend and strategies that firms use. Mobile phone economy is one such theory that is rapidly becoming relevant in digital marketing studies (Weems et al. 2018). It holds the view that in the modern society, an individual can sell or buy goods, check their account balances, sell or purchase stocks, pay their bills, and conduct numerous other transactions that previously had to be conducted in brick-and-mortar settings (Dawson and Thomson 2018). Handheld devices have become critical in enabling people to conduct various activities that previously needed their physical presence.
The concept emphasizes the need for marketers to redefine their strategies in line with the mobile phone economies. In the modern society, mobile phones go beyond offering means of communication. They enable individuals to conduct various business activities. Advertisers must find a way of reaching the current and potential customers through these platforms (Fernández-Caramés and Fraga-Lamas 2020). It encourages firms to shift their operations from the traditional brick-and-mortar model to the online marketing platforms. Although some customers still prefer visiting physical stores to make their purchases, the majority currently trust online stores, especially from major brands (Roome, Raven and Martineau 2014). Moving to the digital platform not only cuts the cost of operation significantly but it also eliminate the geographic limitation as long as the firm can mail the purchased product to the customer.
Maslow’s theory of needs is another relevant concept that can be used to explain the growing popularity of digital marketing strategies. When using digital marketing platforms to reach out to customers, it is important to understand needs of specific customers to know the product promotional message that is appropriate for them (Field and Chan, 2018). At the bottom of the pyramid are those with physiological needs such as food, water, warmth, and rest. The next level of the pyramid are individuals with safety and security needs. These first classes are considered basic needs. Individuals with such needs are price sensitive and rarely emphasize on quality. Although these clients prioritize quantity and low pricing, a firm should not compromise on quality (Figueroa et al. 2019). Promotional message for these customers should focus on how the product meets their needs.
The second level are psychological needs such as a sense of belonging, love, and self-esteem. These individuals have successfully met their basic needs and are at a level where they cherish self-esteem and friendship (Georgescu, Iancu and Zurini, 2019). Marketing messages should explain to them how they can achieve these needs when they use products of the firm. They highly value quality of their products over quantity. Some of them are less concerned about the price of the product they purchase. At the apex of the pyramid are those with self-actualization needs (Gile et al. 2018). These individuals are after self-fulfillment because they feel they have achieved everything they had focused on in their lives. They rarely focus on pricing when purchasing their products as they highly value quality (Hu et al. 2020). When using digital marketing strategies, this theory helps in classifying customers before developing an appropriate message for each segment.
Gaps in Literature
When conducting this study, the researcher noted that most of the published literature focus on digital marketing in the western countries. Little literature existing about how local companies are using this new concept to popularize the brand and products. It was also evident that the existing bodies of knowledge have not effectively addressed the direct link between a firm’s successful organizational performance and the use of digital marketing strategies. These are the issues that the study addresses through the collection and analysis of primary data.
The previous chapter has provided a detailed review of the literature. In this chapter, the focus is to discuss the methods and methodology used to collect and present data obtained from various sources. According to Bairagi and Munot (2019), the review of literature makes it possible to identify knowledge gaps and contradictions. These gaps can only be addressed by collecting and analyzing primary data. The study relied on both primary and secondary data. Secondary data was obtained from books and journal articles, and they form the basis of the chapter above. Primary data was obtained from a sample of respondents. The research onion in figure 3.1 below identifies stages that one has to follow when conducting a study. The chapter discusses the research philosophy used, the research approach, methodological choices, and research strategy, as identified in the figure. The chapter also discusses the research design and specific steps taken to obtain data from the participants. Ethical considerations are also addressed in this chapter.
Research philosophy refers to the nature, development, and source of knowledge. Daniel and Harland. (2018) state that it is a belief on ways that data about a given phenomenon should be collected, processed, and used. The choice of a philosophy often depends on the research aim and objectives that have to be realized. One can choose to use pragmatism, positivism, realism, or interpretivism. Positivism is popular when conducting a highly structured research with large sampled that require quantitative methods of analysis. On the other hand, interpretivism is popular when conducting an in-depth qualitative research that involves small samples. Realism is popular when conducting pure sciences research. In this study, pragmatism was considered the most appropriate philosophy to guide the process of data collection and analysis.
Pragmatism as a research philosophy holds the view that a concept is relevant and true if it can support an action. McGregor (2017) explains that pragmatics “recognize that there are different different ways of interpreting the world and undertaking research, and that no single point of view can ever give the entire picture, and that there may be multiple realities.” The philosophy emphasizes the need for a researcher to be independent in choosing the appropriate path of developing knowledge without having to stick to a specific one. The nature of research question required both qualitative and quantitative research. As such, pragmatic was considered effective in assessing the linkage between the success of H&M’s organizational performance and the use of digital marketing strategies from 2010 to 2020.
When research philosophy has been defined, the next step is to determine research approach appropriate for the study. The approach should be in line with the selected philosophy. One can use inductive, deductive, or deductive reasoning. Inductive reasoning approach involves moving from a specific level of focus to general knowledge. This approach was considered less appropriate for the study. Abductive reasoning involves embracing concepts of both deductive and inductive reasoning. The researcher considered deductive reasoning as the appropriate approach for the study.
As shown in figure 3.2 above, deductive reasoning involves moving from general level focus to specific level focus. One develops takes a theory, develops a hypothesis, then focuses on confirming or rejecting it Instead of starting. In the previous chapter, the researcher reviewed various theoretical concepts related to the topic under investigation. The researcher then collected primary data, conducted an analysis, before developing specific level of focus that addresses the research question.
When research philosophy and research approach have been defined, one can then develop research methodology that defines how primary data will be collected and then analyzed. Since the study aims to identify the most appealing digital marketing strategies used by H&M, acquiring data from different perspectives is the best solution for the data. Thus, data was obtained from both primary and secondary sources. Secondary data was obtained from relevant scholarly articles, books, and reliable online data sources. The information obtained formed the basis of the literature review conducted in chapter 2 of this paper. An online questionnaire was used to conduct a survey to obtain primary data. This chapter provides a comprehensive explanation of how this data was obtained and then processed.
The nature of data gathered is both qualitative and quantitative. When assessing the linkage between the success of H&M’s organizational performance and the use of digital marketing strategies from 2010 to 2020, the researcher needed both qualitative and quantitative methods of processing data, quantitative method was needed to determine the degree of linkage while qualitative method was used to provide a comprehensive explanation of that linkage. This mixed method approach to data analysis was comprehensive enough to address research questions in a way that makes it easy to achieve the aim of the study.
The research strategy defines the specific approach that one seeks to use to gather the needed data. Grounded theory, survey, ethnography, narrative, action research, and archival research are some of the popular strategies that one can use to collect the needed data from respondents. In this study, an online survey was considered most appropriate way of gathering primary data. The researcher preferred a face-t-face interview as an effective way of collecting the primary data, but the current COVID-19 pandemic made it impossible. The containment measures for this virus require minimal interactions among people. As such, an online survey was the only option that the researcher had to use to gather the needed information from the sampled respondents.
The researcher used a questionnaire to collect data from participants. The questionnaire had three parts. The first section of the questionnaire focused on the demographical factors of the participants. It enabled the researcher to gather data about age of the participants, gender, and country of residence within the last three years. This section was needed to ensure that those participating had the authority to provide the needed information in this study. One of the inclusion criteria was that every participant must have been living in a country where H&M has been actively operational. This section ensured that this criteria is met.
The second section of the document focused on academic background and experience of the participants. An individual with advanced academic qualification has a better opportunity to provide authoritative information about an issue than the one with limited education. Experience is another critical factor when one is answering a research question. An individual who has spent a long period working for a specific organization in a given department is in a better position to provide accurate information about the department. As such, the section enabled the researcher to determine the authority that each participant had when answering each question (Worthington and Bodie, 2017). The last section of the document focused on specific issues relating to the linkage between the success of H&M’s organizational performance and the use of digital marketing strategies from 2010 to 2020. The study used both structured and unstructured questions to facilitate mixed method analysis needed in this project.
The questionnaire was developed when writing the proposal. The document was essential when collecting primary data from participants. As Kurum (2018) explains, it makes it possible to gather data from participants in a uniform way. It is necessary to discuss the sampling techniques and sample size before explaining how the online survey was conducted.
Sampling and Sample Size
Sampling is always essential when deadline with a large population of potential participants. It allows a researcher to pick a small group of people that best represents the entire population. H&M has 126,376 employees working in 5076 locations across 76 countries (Grant 2009). As such, it was not possible to collect data from the entire population. The researcher opted to collect data from a small sample of 50 participants. The inclusion criteria was that one had to be residing in Japan for at least 3 years prior to the date that they participate in the study. They had to be employees of the company working in the sales and marketing department. They had to be over 24 years. The researcher used simple random sampling to select those who met the inclusion criteria.
The researcher used online survey as the primary way of collecting primary data. Because of the corona virus containment measures, physical interactions are highly discouraged unless it is unavoidable. Potential participants were contacted on phone after obtaining approval from H&M’s top management unit in the country. The reason for the study was explained and the role that they were to play stated. Those who agreed to take part on the investigation received the questionnaire through their e-mails. They were informed about the same as soon as the document was emailed to them. They were requested to answer each question based on guidelines provided and send back the document thereafter. They were given two weeks to respond to these questions. The researcher was able to receive 50 questionnaires duly filled by the respondents. It met the minimum required number to facilitate the analysis of primary data. The success was achieved because of the effective communication that the researcher maintained with the participants throughout the process.
When conducting research, it is important to take into considerations ethical concerns in the study. In this academic project, the researcher was keen on observing ethical expectations. Sood (2017) explains that one of the factors expected of a researcher is to protect the identity of the respondents. Sometimes a participant may be victimized by their colleagues or superiors because of their divergent views. To ensure that these participants can freely give their views without the fear of intimidation, it was necessary to hide their identity. Instead of using their actual names, the researcher assigned codes meant to identify them. The researcher contacted each respondent, explained the relevance of the study, and the role that they were expected to play. They were informed that their identity will be protected and a code was assigned to those who agreed to be part of the investigation. Participation in this study was on voluntary basis and they were informed that they were at liberty to withdraw from the study whenever they wished to do so.
In academic research, one of the major crimes that one can commit is to plagiarize the work of other scholars. As such, the researcher avoided all forms of plagiarism. Information obtained from secondary sources were referenced accordingly using Harvard referencing format. Information obtained from primary sources (sampled participants) was properly analyzed both qualitatively and quantitative, as discussed above. It was also necessary to ensure that the project is completed at the right time and handed in as per the instructions that has been stated.
Findings and Analysis
The previous chapter has explained the method that was used to collect and analyze data collected from various sources. In this chapter, the focus is to present findings made from the quantitative and qualitative analysis of primary data that was obtained from a sample of participants. This chapter focuses on answering each of the research questions and meeting the aim of the study. It also addresses the existing gap in the bodies of knowledge.
Is there a linkage between H&M’s organizational performance and the digital marketing strategies?
The first question focused directly on the topic of the study. The researcher wanted to determine if there is a linkage between H&M’s organizational performance and the use of digital marketing strategies within the period of 2010 to 2020. Figure 4.1 below shows the response that was obtained from the sampled participants when the question was posed to them. It is evident that a significant number of the participants (70%) strongly agree that there is a linkage between H&M’s organizational performance and digital marketing strategies. Another 24% also agree with the statement. It means that an overwhelming majority of those who took part in the investigation (94%) believe that the firm’s performance is linked with digital marketing strategies. 4% were not sure whether there is a direct linkage. Only one participant (2%) of the participants disagreed with the statement. It means that the researcher can conclude that there is a direct linkage between the firm’s organizational performance and its use of digital marketing strategies.
After determining the existence of the relationship, the researcher focused on determining the nature of that relationship. It was necessary to determine if that relationship has led to the success of the firm’s organizational performance. Figure 4.2 below shows the outcome of the analysis that was done. An overwhelming majority of the respondents (84%) strongly believe that the firm’s success from 2010 to 2020 is directly linked to its usage of digital marketing strategies. Another 14% also agreed with the statement. It means that 98% of those who took part in the study believe that the firm’s success is directly linked with its usage of digital marketing strategies. One participant stated that they cannot define the relationship more accurately. None of those who were interviewed had a contrary opinion.
The company has embraced digital marketing as a means of reaching out to a wide audience in the market. The researcher was interested in determining if the marketing department at this company effectively understands the concept of digital marketing. Figure 4.3 below shows the outcome of the analysis that was conducted. 36% strongly believes that the department understands this concept while another 44% agree with the statement. It means that the majority of the participants (80%) believe that the department has mastered this concept. 12% stated that they are not sure whether this department has understood the concept. Only one respondent, which is 2% of the entire population had a contrary opinion. It means that based on the outcome of the analysis, the researcher can conclude that the firm’s marketing department has a proper understanding of the concept of digital marketing. They know how and when to apply it to achieve the best outcome possible.
It was evident from the analysis of the data that the majority of these participants believe that this firm’s success is directly linked to its usage of digital marketing strategies. The researcher was interested in determining if these participants support the idea of the firm maintaining its traditional marketing strategies that emphasize more on mass media marketing. Figure 4.4 shows the outcome of the analysis of their response, which shows their perception about the traditional marketing strategies. The figure shows that 60% of the participants strongly disagree with the idea of maintaining traditional marketing strategies. Another 26% disagree with such a move. It means that 86% of these participants feel that this company should not consider going back to its traditional marketing strategies. One participant stated that they are not sure about the benefit of such a move. The other 12% believe that maintaining the traditional strategies may not be a bad idea. Based on this outcome, it is clear that most of those interviewed feel that the company should not maintain traditional marketing strategies.
In the methodology section, it was explained that the researcher will use both quantitative and qualitative analysis to process the primary data collected from the participants. In this section, the researcher conducted a qualitative analysis of the data to have a comprehensive understanding of the issue under investigation. Quantitative data analysis has proven that there is a linkage between the success of this company’s organizational performance and the usage of digital marketing strategies from 2010 to 2020. Qualitative data analysis was meant to explain the nature of this relationship. The second question below required a qualitative analysis.
How have the digital marketing strategies evolved from 2010-2020?
Participants were asked to provide explanation when responding to this question to enable the researcher to understand how digital marketing strategies have evolved in this company from 2010 to 2020.
Participant 1 explained, “At H&M, digital marketing strategies has evolved significantly in terms of the platforms that the firm uses to promote its products and brand. Initially, Facebook and Twitter were the dominant platforms. However, YouTube, Instagram, Google Ads, and even TikTok have emerged as prominent platform that can be used.”
The view of this respondent was shared by many other participants. They explained that one of the biggest changes witnessed in digital marketing is the emergence of numerous options for the marketers. Initially, the two platforms dominated digital marketing. However, as new social media platforms continue to emerge, the duopoly that the two firms had is eroding (Leal-Millan, Peris-Ortiz, and Leal-Rodríguez 2018). Marketers currently have various options whenever they want to promote their products through these online platforms.
Participant 7 stated, “The main evolution in digital marketing strategies is that it has grown significantly and overtaken mass media marketing as the primary platform through which companies can reach out to a large audience.”
In 2010, digital marketing had demonstrated its potential, but large corporations still relied on mass media marketing as their primary means of reaching customers. They spent a significant amount of their promotional budget on television, radio, and newspaper commercials (Kingsnorth 2019). However, that has changed over time and in 2020, digital marketing is seen as the most effective strategy of reaching out to a larger audience. It has eliminated many barriers that mass media had, especially when targeting a global audience.
Participant 24 said, “Digital marketing strategies has evolved significantly in terms of tools that people use. Smartphone has become the most common gadget that the audience use to get information from the advertisers.”
As online marketing continued to gain momentum, laptops, tablets, and iPads were seen as the ideal tools to use when reaching out to customers. However, that has changed significantly over the last 10 years (Kleitman, Law and Kay 2018). Smartphones have become the most common gadget that the targeted audience use to have access to promotional messages. The change may be attributed to the low cost of this gadget, the ease with which it can be carried from one location to the other, and its appeal to the youth (Hall 2020). Advertises currently understand that when developing a promotional message that target the youth, they have to make the content friendly to mobile phone users.
Participant 44 stated, “I believe the significant evolution in digital marketing has been the approach that firms take to fight cybercrime, which has become a major threat to many companies operating in the online platform.”
Online platforms offer a highly effective avenue through which one can reach a wider audience within the shortest period possible. Despite the benefits that it has to companies, it can also be used negatively by criminals and competitors to attack a firm’s brand and its products. This participant explained that as social media continue to gain more popularity and power, criminals have also evolved and are using different strategies to attack their target. Large companies have developed sophisticated strategies to protect themselves and their customers from potential cyber-attacks (Visser, Sikkenga & Berry 2018). They are keen on ensuring that these platforms are as safe as possible. As these criminals change their strategies in the online platforms, large corporations such as H&M are also changing their defense strategies.
H&M is one of the most successful fashion clothing retailer in the world. When it started its operations in in 1947, mass media was the only platform through which it could promote its products and brands. However, digital marketing has gained popularity in the market over the recent past. The management of this firm has remained dynamic in its operations. Its sales and marketing unit realized that this new platform presented a huge opportunity for promoting the firm’s brand and products. Data collected from secondary sources identify various digital marketing strategies such as the use of content marketing, social media platforms, SOEs, email marketing, and pay-per-click advertising. These platforms offer a unique opportunity for a firm to reach out to the targeted audience with promotional messages. H&M not only took the initiative of promoting its brand in the digital platforms but has also made its products available in these online channels. The move has not only increased its sales but also lowered its overall cost of production.
The primary data analysis has clearly demonstrated the direct linkage between the success of H&M’s organizational performance and the use of digital marketing strategies from 2010 to 2020. The company has been consistently increasing its expenditure on digital marketing platform while at the same time reducing the amount it spends on mass media. In the 1990s, the firm was spending a significant amount of cash on newspaper and radio marketing. The trend has changed over the last 10 years. Television commercials are the only mass media platform where the firm is spending a significant amount of its marketing budget. It has been actively using Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram to promote its brand and products. The strategy has paid off because the firm’s organizational performance has improved significantly.
The study shows that there is a significant relationship between a firm’s organizational performance and the use of digital marketing strategies. It is evident that in the current competitive business environment, firms can no longer ignore digital marketing as they seek to achieve sustainable growth. The following recommendations should be considered by the management of H&M and any other firm that seeks to grow in the current business environment where technology has become a critical component of marketing:
- The management should consider increasing their digital marketing budget to enable them reach a wider audience within a given market;
- In order to avoid making a radical shift from traditional marketing to digital marketing, a firm should find a way of balancing these platforms to achieve maximum coverage;
- The management should find effective ways of addressing security concerns that often affect the popularity of digital marketing, especially the issue of cyber security;
- H&M should increase its online presence in terms of the sale of its products in the global market. It should ensure that it sells its products through online platforms in all the countries where it operates.
The marketing team will need more training to enable them understand the concept of digital marketing. Empowering employees will reduce the firm’s reliance on outsourced experts.
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