KOL’s current situation analysis and future marketing trends and development

Research

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Introduction

Social media networks are becoming increasingly important for marketers for spreading positive WOM among their online users (Fosdick 2012). The rise of social media connect by Fortune 500 companies (about 83% by 2011) were supported by the growing figures of online users going to social media as a way to seek views about non-reputed brands (Naylor, Lamberton, and West 2012). These social media conversations often helped in the consumer decision-making process (Powers et al. 2012). The importance of social media analytics data from social networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google + helped marketers identify influential customers (Hinz, Schulze, and Takac 2014) and their online purchase intention (Jin and Phua ) in a cost effective way. Instances of the introduction of shippable video advertising in 2010 by Google and its consequent improvement in the viewing experiences and better customer engagement of online users were studied to aid content generators (Pashkevich et al. 2012). So blog is an important marketing tool, online marketing, just like Baker said, “blog is a phenomenon, you cannot ignore”. The research shows that the content and frequency types of blog posts can enhance the research of Web site access, thus bringing positive comments and improved search engine rankings.

Over the past few years, brands and marketers have transformed how they manage their communications and marketing. The network is intended not only to be a form of entertainment, but also a platform for consumers to exchange experiences and preferences referring to consumer brands (Araujo & Neijens, 2012). Reviews by internet users are a type of electronic word-of-mouth, and are important sources of information in the decision-making process of other consumers (Wei & Lu, 2013). This occurs because the psychological processes of individuals are subject to social influences (Deutsch & Gerard, 1955). While it remains important to identify target channels through relevant media, publications and formats – brands and marketers have taken it up a notch, to direct their attention to a multitude of potential key opinion leaders (KOLs) and sources, seeking them out to leverage on their following of fans and readers. In marketing, the experts or authority advertised by the manufacturers are called “key opinion leaders”, which are usually defined as people with more and more accurate product information, accepted or trusted by the related groups, and have great influence on the purchase behaviour of the group. Consumers routinely adopt strategies to reduce their decision-making risks (Leal, Hor-Meyll, & Pessoa, 2014) and the opinion leaders act as agents for risk reduction, through experimentation and evaluation (Cho, Hwang, & Lee, 2012). For example, Scotland brewers HighlandPark, in order to promote new DarkOrigins whisky, has invited the authorities of creative and alcoholic industries to endorse the Instagram and other accounts, considering that the target market is young and interested in scientific and technological products. One of them is the Chris Messina, which invented the social network tag “#”.This is a typical marketing campaign using KOL.

The digital age has seen a shift in marketing with the emergence of KOL. Key Opinion Leaders work double-duty: they not only connect with their audience, but in most cases, they also have a specific target demographic. This allows brands to effectively allocate their marketing budget because of the targeted, niche audience the influencer has access to.

L’OREAL, Bondi, IKEA… Many big brands to KOL marketing emphasis on the performance, one is to continue to increase the budget in KOL marketing, two is to start a long-term KOL marketing strategy, have their own long-term cooperation of KOL. And this is just a start, a report released in February by the KOL marketing platform Gen.Video shows that in the KOL marketing brand, 51% indicates that 2017 will significantly increase the budget on KOL marketing, and 64% of the brands hope that KOL marketing can improve sales transformation, and 50% of brand names want to build brand assets through KOL marketing.

And some mature brands, in the KOL marketing has passed the early extensive cooperation, but the use of different levels of KOL in different circles of influence, the formulation of their own KOL marketing strategy, and different levels of KOL in different forms of cooperation.

In these brands, Paris L’OREAL in the UK launched “Beauty Squad”, through the small public KOL accurately touch the market segments of the audience, this fine operation of KOL, let us see the brand of KOL marketing more mature thinking and practice. Paris L’OREAL UK is a brand that has gone a long way in KOL marketing. In 2016, Paris L’OREAL UK signed five British beauty bloggers to form “Beauty Squad”. In 2017, this beautiful small team added three members to eight people, and the Paris L’OREAL UK will cooperate with them for a long time. Meanwhile, Paris L’OREAL UK announced increased budget in KOL marketing. Paris L’OREAL wants to touch the subdivision of the consumer groups behind them by choosing a number of KOL, and on the other hand, different styles of KOL can also show the diversity advocated by Paris L’OREAL. These eight KOL are very good at areas such as Crilly focused on skin care, Canham is a beauty expert, and Bright is an opinion leader in the field of skin care, beauty and hair and the effects of these KOL are also obvious. The first KOL marketing campaign in Paris L’OREAL is aimed at its base brand True Match, and True Match has become the best-selling foundation in Britain in a few short months through the recommendation of the beauty blogger.

On the ROI measurement of many brand headaches, Andrien Koskas also mentioned the practice of Paris L’OREAL: “the advantage of using KOL is that sometimes we do some product promotion on social media, and KOL will tell its fans.” Promote sales information and give them discount codes to encourage them to buy. By tracking these codes, we can clearly see that sales are growing. The effectiveness of these promotional activities is very direct. ”

In this context, the study is based on the relationship between online opinion leaders and their followers. The digital opinion leader attracts a lot of attention from Internet users and plays a key role in word-of-mouth advertising, producing information and using content to other people (Meng, Wei, Zhu, 2011), affecting people’s attitudes. Therefore, the main purpose of this study is to investigate how consumers are influenced in their intention to buy after having access – within social media – to persuasive messages sent out by key opinion leaders. In addition, Internet marketing is becoming more and more abundant. Many traditional and new marketing concepts are related to network marketing strategies and behaviours. Based on previous research work, we have learned the most popular themes, representing the most popular field of online marketing. In order to meet the research needs, this paper also tries to explore the future development trend of KOL.

Literature review

2.1 key opinion leadership, behavior and social media

In marketing, the experts or authority advertised by the manufacturers are called “key opinion leaders”, which are usually defined as people with more and more accurate product information, accepted or trusted by the related groups, and have great influence on the purchase behaviour of the group.

Unlike the “opinion leader”, the key opinion leader is usually an authority in a certain industry or field. In the communication of information, they are not dependent on their own activity, but they are easily recognized and recognized.

When potential consumers are not yet familiar with a product/service, they associate a high degree of uncertainty and risk to its purchase. Therefore, the adoption of this product/service depends on an individual’s predisposition to test new features and form his or her own perception on the product (Ortega, 2011). Compared with people who seek information, the key opinion leaders generally have more experience and more information on the product/service category, have greater involvement with it, and display a more exploratory and innovative behaviour (Lyons & Henderson, 2005). Thus, we can see the importance of opinion leaders, whose main features are that KOL has a longer and deeper involvement in a class of products than others in the group, so the product is more knowledge-based, more information sources, more knowledge and more experience. What’s more, another feature is the characteristics of interpersonal communication: KOL is more sociable and talkative than the ordinary people. They have strong social and interpersonal skills, and actively participate in various activities. They are good at making friends. They are the centre of public opinion and information publishing centre of the group. They have strong infection to others

In the digital era, in which one can use the internet as a source of consultation for both news and reviews, the discussion on the influence of certain groups in the dissemination of information should be expanded to the online environment (Merwe & Heerden, 2009). Digital opinion leaders are those who use online spaces, such as blogs, forums, social networks and other forms of online social media actively and in a collaborative manner (San Jose-Cabezudo, Camarero-Izquierdo & Rodriguez-Pinto, 2012). They can influence people in three main ways: serving as a model to be copied, through word-of-mouth advertising, or by giving advice on purchase and use (Merwe & Heerden, 2009). Digital opinion leaders attract a lot of attention from internet users and play a key role in word-of-mouth advertising, generating messages and content of use to other people (Meng, Wei & Zhu, 2011), influencing people’s attitudes.

The emergence of online social media encompasses texts, images, videos and social networks (Berthon, Pitt, Plangger, & Shapiro, 2012) and has amplified the ability to share and spread the content generated by users. By exchanging messages, digital social media users can interact and exchange information through various channels such as blogs, social networks, forums, virtual communities, sharing platforms and virtual worlds, among many others (Teng et al., 2014a).

Within this scenario, Weibo is one of the digital social media platforms in china that is being most used by key opinion leaders to express their opinions on products and services. Weibo was created so that users could share photos, and presently also allows for short videos. Users interact through comments on published photos or through “likes.”

2.2Acceptance of information theory

The theory of limited rationality indicates that when a person is making a choice, that person does not have access to all the information available on that subject and, even if they did, they would not have the ability to process and evaluate it all (Merwe & Heerden, 2009). A way to facilitate their decision-making is through recommendations from other users that give useful information on the products (Kumar & Benbasat, 2006).

Deutsch and Gerard (1955) proposed the Dual-Process theory (DPT) model to evaluate social influences on individuals? Judgments. According to this model, two types of influence can affect a person’s decisions: normative and informational influences. Normative influences are those that seek to make an individual act in accordance with the expectations of others. Informational influences, in their turn, are those referring to the acceptance of information passed on by others as evidence of reality. DPT suggests that the first motivator of attitudinal changes and, consequently, behavior, is external information (Bhattacherjee & Sanford, 2006). New information introduces other possibilities, causing one to think about different alternatives and possibly change the attitude towards a certain subject and people tend to believe messages transmitted by sources that are considered highly credible and to accept information transmitted through them more easily (Cheung et al., 2009).

2.3 Purchase intention

Purchase intention is understood as the desire to purchase a product in the future (Cheung & Thadani, 2012). The relationship between purchase intention and actual buying behavior is based on the fact that individuals make decisions based on the information available. Thus, a person’s intention to take action is the immediate determinant of their actual behavior (Ajzen & Fishbein, 1980) The relationship between attitude and purchase intention is well established and validated in the literature of online consumer behavior. For example, Chang, Cheung, and Lai (2005) found that the attitude consistently has a significant impact on online purchase intention. This is also corroborated by Hsu et al. (2013), who revealed how a positive attitude can influence individuals’ purchase intention in online shopping environments.

Moreover, in studies on online word-of mouth communication, online recommendations are also a kind of social influence, especially when given by opinion leaders (Cheung & Thadani, 2012). Therefore, it is expected that the acceptance of information has a direct and positive effect on the intention to buy the evaluated products/services and the attitude of individuals regarding the purchase of the products/services recommended by online opinion leaders has a direct and positive effect on the purchase intention of the evaluated products/services.

Methodology

This section of the research study will describe the methodology applied for the study. The methodology section describes the research strategy applied, the research method, the approach, the methods in collection of data, selection of the samples, data analysis, ethical considerations during the research and the limitations of the study.

Research strategy

The study is based on the relationship between online opinion leaders and their followers. The digital opinion leader attracts a lot of attention from Internet users and plays a key role in word-of-mouth advertising, producing information and using content to other people (Meng, Wei, Zhu, 2011), affecting people’s attitudes. Therefore, the main purpose of this study is to investigate how consumers are influenced in their intention to buy after having access – within social media – to persuasive messages sent out by key opinion leaders. In addition, Internet marketing is becoming more and more abundant. Many traditional and new marketing concepts are related to network marketing strategies and behaviours. Based on previous research work, we have learned the most popular themes, representing the most popular field of online marketing. In order to meet the research needs, this paper also tries to explore the future development trend of KOL. Even the social media have been on the rise due to the advancements in technology, the proposed research will take the form of a new research but on a subject that already exists.

Research methods

In order to attain the goals of the research, a quantitative research method was applied. The major feature of a quantitative research method is that it is appropriate for larger samples and the outcomes are measureable. Quantitative research methods emphasize on mathematical analysis of data that has been collected. Since quantitative research methods work with data, it provides a clear picture of the variables under study. Quantitative research methods have also been described as effective and efficient and the results can be used in further research (Ngai, Tao, & Moon, 2015).

Even though quantitative research has been considered an effective research method, its major disadvantage is that it cannot cover some topics that do not involve numbers. In quantitative research, the variables must be measurable. In addition, the quantitative approach is vulnerable to errors, which might compromise the findings. When conducting a study that involves a quantitative research approach, it is therefore important to first understand the scope of the study and ensure that proper considerations have been made when conducting data analysis (Ngai, Tao, & Moon, 2015).

Research approach

A research approach is a description of the procedures and plans that will be undertaken in narrowing down to the detailed methods of analysis of data analysis and interpretation in order to attain the goals of the study. Based on the nature of the research, the research approach to be applied for the study is inductive. In an inductive research approach, there is usually a set of research questions that need to be answered at the end of the research process. In this study, we are aiming at studying how consumers can be influenced after accessing social media. After the research process, we will therefore be in a position to develop a theory on the impact of KOL on customer making decisions with the help of social media platforms (Ngai, Tao, & Moon, 2015).

Tools and methods for data collection

In data collection, there is a set of tools and methods that have to be used. The choice of the tools and methods is based on the nature of the study and the research objectives. It is also important to understand that the choice of the tools and methods is based on the availability of resources. For the purpose of this study, the survey method was used. A survey method is a data collection method that involves questioning individuals on a specific topic and describing the responses. There are two major purposes for survey method. One aim of the survey method is to describe the characteristics of the identified population. The second purpose of the survey method is to test hypotheses on the nature of relationships across the identified population.

For the purpose of this study, questionnaires were administered to the interviewees. The questionnaires were administered online where the respondents were expected to fill the questionnaire forms. The questionnaires contained a list of questions that the interviewees will answer based on their experience with key opinion leaders and on whether they have influenced their purchase decisions. The questions determined to what extent the potential customer was influenced to making a decision to making a purchase. The questions were structured in a way the customers would answer the questions and won’t feel that their private life is being investigated. All the questions in the questionnaire were semi structured, which provided a guideline to the interviewees when answering the questions. In addition, the questionnaire forms had a section where the respondents could write any additional information that they had on the influence of key opinion leaders on their purchasing decisions.

Some sample questions that were included in the online questionnaire include:

Question 1: What do you know about key opinion leaders?

Question 2: Are you on social media?

Question 3: which social media do you mostly use?

Question 4: what do you think about social media marketing?

Question 5: Have you ever been influenced by the social media in buying a product or a service?

Question 6: Do you think that you would not have made the purchase if the key opinion leader did not influence the product or service?

Question 7: Do you think that key opinion leaders influence consumer behaviour?

Question 8: Can every product or service be marketed on social media and still be a success?

Question 9: In your view, do you think that the key opinion leaders need to diversify their marketing channels? Why?

Sample selection

There are many people who are on social media and whose behaviour has been directly or indirectly influenced by key opinion leaders. Since it is not possible to interview all people on social media platforms, the study focused on a small sample that would represent the entire population. For this study, the sample population was a group of students who had bought new mobile phones or laptops for school use in the past three months. To get this population, the researcher posted on an online chat group and requested any willing individuals to contact him for a survey that he was conducting. Based on the many people that had recently bought mobile phones or laptops online, the researcher applied the simple random sampling. Since the determining factor was on whether they recently bought a product online, the sample selected would be effective in attaining the research objectives. Gender, age, or ethnic affiliations were not considered during the sample selection since they do not affect the purchasing decisions among students. Within the context, it was possible for the researcher to directly relate the impact of the key opinion leaders on the purchasing decisions of consumers (Orcher, 2016).

Ethical Considerations

The current study was subject to a number of ethical issues. Firstly, there was an issue with anonymity and some of the students felt that by engaging in the research, the information that they would present would be used maliciously. To deal with this issue, the researcher assured the students that the information was only for research purposes and that it would not fall into the wrong hands. In addition, the researcher ensured that each interviewee did not include any personal information, which would reduce the chances of their personal information being used maliciously. The second ethical issue encountered during the study was the use of incentives during the research. During the study, there were some subjects who wanted incentives tin order to fill the questionnaires. To ensure that the research study was objective, the researcher opted not to offer any incentives as they would alter the objectivity of the study. The third ethical issue was determining the validity of the information provided. It was difficult to ascertain on the validity of the information that was provided by the interviewees. However, the researcher ensured that he provided a positive environment for the interviewees, which would ensure that reliable information has been provided (Ngai, Tao, & Moon, 2015).

Research limitations

During the study, there were a number of limitations that were experienced. The first major limitation is the failure to cooperate among the respondents. Even though some of the respondents were willing to fill the questionnaire, some of them failed to fill in the forms thus making the sample population to be smaller. The other major challenge that was experienced during the study was the inability to capture some of the factors that the customers were looking at when buying the product after being influenced. Despite these limitations, the study has set precedence in understanding the role of key opinion leader in influencing consumer behaviour across social media.

Data Analysis

This section analyses the data that was collected through the survey questionnaires. The data collected was analysed through Microsoft excel. The data was used in making plausible conclusions based on the studies that were considered.

Social Media Use

According to the data that was collected, all of the participants in the study were in the social media platforms. According to the participants, everyone in the modern world is on social media, which they use for communication, having fun, and being updated on various emerging trends within the society. Some of the participants also noted that they use social media as one of the ways in which they are updated on the news from across the world. Majority of the participants stated that the social media has helped them in reducing the conveniences that were caused by other communication channels such as telephone or emails. Through the use of social media, majority of the participants stated that the social media has really helped them in different ways. When asked on the amount of time that they use in social media platforms, majority of them stated that they log in to their social media accounts for more than five hours a day. Others stated that they only log in to their social media accounts when they are out of class, while the minority stated that they only login into their accounts once they get home or in the evening after classes. When asked on the social media platform that they use most, majority of the participants stated that they mostly use Facebook, twitter, and instagram.

The observations made during the data collection on the use of social media reveals some of the trends that key opinion leaders need to consider when campaigning for their products or services. The data results show that the majority of consumers spend a considerable amount of their time on social media platforms than on their TV and radios. The study shows that due to technology advancements, more people are now on social media platforms, which is a more convenient way of reaching out to potential customers. The study has shown that by spending more time on the social media, key opinion leaders can use this as an avenue to inform the potential customers of their products and the advantages associated with reaching out to people in social media (McCann & Barlow, 2015).

Social media marketing

During the study, it was noted that a majority of the participants used social media as not only a media of communication but also as a source of information. Majority of the participants noted that they hardly sit to watch TV or listen to radio. This is mainly because, the social media makes it easier to share information by just posting it and everyone can see it regardless of their geographical location. The studies show that the majority of the participants prefer social media marketing as compared to the traditional methods of marketing. The participants also noted that the social media makes it possible for businesses to connect with their potential customers due to features such as instant messaging, which allow the potential customers to get information on the product that they are willing to buy instantly.

Technological advancements have changed the way people operate and especially businesses. Due to technology, business organizations have set up websites and social media sites, which have helped them connect with their clients and potential customers (Jones, Borgman, & Ulusoy, 2016). Most importantly, it is worth noting that majority of the businesses are using the social media s their new channel of marketing. According to the results exhibited during the study, any organization willing to become successful by increasing its customer base will need to venture in social media marketing. Social media marketing provides an opportunity for an organization to showcase its products and services to many potential customers, which improves the chances of being successful in the market. It is also worth noting that social media marketing has provided an affordable and convenient channel on which organizations can advertise and sell their products online. The social media sites have been created in a manner that users can communicate or share information as long as they are connected to the internet, which provides a platform for organizations to sell and advertise their products or services. Even though they may be required to pay a small fee for promotional purposes, the costs incurred in social media marketing are far way much less as compared to other strategies such as magazines, radio, and TV. The studies have therefore affirmed that the social media marketing is one of the most effective ways in marketing the products and services of an organization (Dijkmans, Kerkhof & Beukeboom, 2015).

Purchasing patterns

When asked on their online purchasing patterns, the participants provided insightful information on some of the factors that influence their online shopping. One of the factors that were noted among the participants during their online shopping is on the level of need for a particular product or service. When prioritizing on the product or service to buy, the participants noted that the level of need was the most important aspect that determined whether they actually wanted to buy a product or service. One of the participants offered an example of buying a laptop when theirs has been stolen or damaged. Since a laptop is a necessity to a student, then they will be prompted to buy regardless of the price. The second factor that influenced the decision to buy product online is its price. Majority of the participants stated that they will buy a second phone as long as the price that has been listed is attractive. The participants stated that low prices attracted their online shopping and highly influenced their decision to buy a product or a service even when the level of need is low. The third aspect that the participants considered to influence their online shopping pattern was promotion. Majority of the participants stated that given an option of choosing between buying a product that is being promoted online or a product that has been in the market and is not been promoted, most of them stated that they would buy the product that is being promoted (Schivinski & Dabrowski, 2016).

The observations made on the factors influencing online shopping among the participants reveals on some of the factors that influence the success of social media campaigns. It is fact that people do not log into their social media accounts to buy products or services. However, giving them ideas on these products builds interest and leads to sales. Social media marketing is similar to traditional marketing only that the platform is different. Based on the studies, key opinion leaders need to focus on creating the need for the particular product or service that they are advertising. Creating need requires the key opinion leader to provide the target audience with much information in regard to the product or service that they are willing to sell. Provision of information shows the target audience how much they might need the product or service and how it’s important to the potential customers. In addition to informing the target audience on the need for the product or service, the studies show that price is an important factor that key opinion leaders will need to consider. Potential customers are usually impressed by low prices, which show that key opinion leaders will need to provide proper pricing strategies when advertising their products. However, low prices do not always result to high sales, which mean that information remains a key factor for key opinion leaders during social media campaigns. The third aspect that has been noted to influence online shopping among the participants is promotion. In addition to providing information and offering impressive prices, a key opinion leader will need to evaluate on how to promote their products or services. Promotion of a product may take many forms and it is the role of the key opinion leader to evaluate their promotional strategies with the nature of the product, the market position of the organization that they represent, and their goals and objectives. These factors help in coming up with a coherent framework that key opinion leaders can apply in implementing their promotional strategies (Roth, Madden, & Hudson, 2015).

In evaluating the impact of KOL on purchasing decisions, majority of the participants stated that an ‘influencer’ in a social media campaign highly influenced their decision to buy a product or service. The participants stated that the presence of influencers helps in providing information on the particular product or service and engaged the potential customers, which highly influenced their decision to make the purchase. The studies therefore affirm that the KOL play an important role in influencing the potential customers in making purchasing decisions on social media platforms. The studies show that despite the fact that the key opinion leaders play an important role in influencing the potential customers, the strategies that they employ in the social media campaigns highly influence consumer behaviour (Hassan, Nadzim, & Shiratuddin, 2015).

Conclusion

This study was aimed at studying how consumers are influenced in their intention to buy after having an access with social media. The study would determine on the effectiveness of key opinion leaders in influencing the customers to buying the specific products that they are promoting. The results of the study will be effective in providing recommendations on the strategies that the key opinion leaders need to adopt in ensuring the success of their brands.

Over the past few years, brands and marketers have transformed how they manage their communications and marketing. The network is intended not only to be a form of entertainment, but also a platform for consumers to exchange experiences and preferences referring to consumer brands. Reviews by internet users are a type of electronic word-of-mouth, and are important sources of information in the decision-making process of other consumers. This occurs because the psychological processes of individuals are subject to social influences. While it remains important to identify target channels through relevant media, publications and formats – brands and marketers have taken it up a notch, to direct their attention to a multitude of potential key opinion leaders (KOLs) and sources, seeking them out to leverage on their following of fans and readers. In marketing, the experts or authority advertised by the manufacturers are called “key opinion leaders”, which are usually defined as people with more and more accurate product information, accepted or trusted by the related groups, and have great influence on the purchase behaviour of the group. Consumers routinely adopt strategies to reduce their decision-making risks and the opinion leaders act as agents for risk reduction, through experimentation and evaluation. For example, Scotland brewers HighlandPark, in order to promote new DarkOrigins whisky, has invited the authorities of creative and alcoholic industries to endorse the Instagram and other accounts, considering that the target market is young and interested in scientific and technological products. One of them is the Chris Messina, which invented the social network tag “#,” which is a typical marketing campaign using KOL.

The digital age has seen a shift in marketing with the emergence of KOL. Key Opinion Leaders work double-duty: they not only connect with their audience, but in most cases, they also have a specific target demographic. This allows brands to effectively allocate their marketing budget because of the targeted, niche audience the influencer has access to. Due to the increase in the use of social media among a considerable percentage of the population, key opinion leaders need to understand the need to apply effective strategies in the ensuring that they have attained their marketing goals and objectives (Parveen, Jaafar, & Ainin, 2015).

The studies have revealed that one of the most important factors that key opinion leaders will need to consider is the customer. In traditional marketing, the marketer usually understands the need of the customer and creates a specific strategy aimed at meeting the needs of the customer. However, with the advent of technology, the needs of the customers are becoming dynamic and it is important to understand all the factors influencing the needs of the customer. For a key opinion leader to be able to effectively influence the customer into buying their product, the leader will need to understand the customer. Understanding the customer means being in a position to understand the current trends in the market and the needs of the market. Understanding the customer places them in a position to tailor their strategies in order to meet the needs of the customers. In addition to meeting the needs of the customer, understanding the needs of the customer helps in being in a position to understand on the communication and promotion strategies to be applied. The social media is no longer meant for the millennial as the generation X, and generation Z are actively on social media. Therefore, the strategies that are employed by the key opinion leader in understanding the customers determine the intention of the customer to buy the product or service that they are promoting (Tiago & Veríssimo, 2014).

According to the findings of the study, there is a direct relationship between key opinion leaders and the intent by the customers to make a purchase. A key opinion leader has been considered as an individual whose major role is to influence potential customers into buying a specific product or service. The major difference between a key opinion leader and an opinion leader is that a key opinion leader is tasked with the authority of persuading customers over different social media platforms into buying their products and services. Key opinion leaders are charged with the responsibility of ensuring that the information that they present to the potential customers is in line with the product or service that they are offering. One of the major aspects that have been noted to influence the strategies that are employed by the key opinion leaders is how information is presented. Given the rise of the social media, the key opinion leaders need to understand on how to present information the social media pages that they manage. The level of persuasiveness is determined by how much information they present to the potential customers, which influences their intention to buy the particular product or service (Valentini, 2015).

There are three major aspects that have been identified during the study that apply to key opinion leaders: customer, price, and promotion. A key opinion leader is charged with the responsibility of ensuring that they establish target customers and ensure that they create proper strategies that match with the needs of the customer. In addition, the aspect of customer also involves understanding the nature of the customer, which determines on how to communicate with them in persuading them to buy the particular product. On the aspect of price, the key opinion leader needs to ensure that they create an effective pricing strategy that ensures that the sales are made translate to profitability for their organization. Every organization is taking advantage of social media platforms, which means that the level of competition is high. Therefore, an effective pricing strategy will help the organization in ensuring that they maintain a competitive advantage in the market. The third aspect is on promotion. It is a fact that the role of a key opinion leader is to promote the products and services, but the manner in which they conduct the promotional campaigns determines the success. The choice of promotional strategy should be determined by the nature of the product, target audience, and the goals and objectives of the organization. It is important that key opinion holders understand the business environment on which they are operating on in ensuring that they implement promotional strategies that are effective for the business organizations that they represent (Tsimonis & Dimitriadis, 2014).

The choice of the key opinion leader has been described to have a direct influence on the intention by customers to buy a specific product or service. As mentioned, a key opinion leader is an individual charged with the responsibility of influencing the potential customer into buying their product or service. In order to attain this goal, the opinion key leader is expected to have a certain level of influence in the public domain. Key opinion leaders have been known to be widely known bloggers, celebrities, or other personalities that are known to create some level of influence to the potential customers. Therefore, the choice of a key opinion leader should be considered if any social media campaign is to be successful (Tuten & Solomon, 2017).

In conclusion, the current studies have affirmed the positive relationship between key opinion leaders and the intent by customers to buy products. The studies have revealed that key opinion leaders influence consumer behaviours and are effective in driving sales growth across organizations. With the increase in the use of social media across members of different age sets, the use of key opinion leaders is becoming more effective and efficient in promoting products and services. The studies also note that the choice of the key opinion leaders determines the level of influence to the potential customers.

Future Research and Development

The current research has provided insightful information on the impact of key opinion leaders on the intent by customers to buy products and services. It is notable that the key opinion leaders have become more common as a result of technological advancements and the increased use of social media platforms. In the future, the research will need to focus on the specifics on the key opinion holders and the specific impact of promotional campaigns. The research will need to establish on whether organizations can sustain the promotional strategies given that most companies only run promotional campaigns for a short period of time. Since promotions are costly, the research will need to recommend on strategies for sustained promotional campaigns. In addition, future research will need to consider other interplaying factors that affect the perceptions of the customers towards the key opinion leaders. By focusing on these areas, future research will have answered some of the questions that have not been answered in the current research.

References

Dijkmans, C., Kerkhof, P., & Beukeboom, C. J. (2015). A stage to engage: Social media use and corporate reputation. Tourism Management47, 58-67.

Hassan, S., Nadzim, S. Z. A., & Shiratuddin, N. (2015). Strategic use of social media for small business based on the AIDA model. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences172, 262-269.

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