The impact of social media on brand equity in the financial sector in Zimbabwe: A case study of ZB bank
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The general indication from literature is that the effective use of social media marketing leads to brand awareness, customer loyalty, improved brand equity and low cost of advertisement. On the contrary, literature shows that social media can destroy a brand due to negative comments on the brand. However, this literature on social media marketing is on research conducted in other parts of the world, therefore the aim of this study was to fill the research gap by evaluating the impact of social media on brand equity in ZB bank, a Zimbabwean financial institution. The research was conducted in view of recommending measures for ZB bank to benefit from social media marketing. This study was based on a single case study of ZB bank. Semi-structured questionnaires and personal interviews were used to collect empirical data from seven ZB bank managers and six corporate customers purposively selected. The data collected was on marketing communication methods in ZB bank, social media marketing in ZB bank, strength of ZB bank brand, and the inhibitors of social media marketing. Preliminary results show that ZB bank recently adopted social media marketing concept but the necessary conditions for social media marketing are nonexistent in the bank. The challenges faced by ZB bank in adopting social media include lack of buy in by management, lack of appreciation of the concept, fear of negative feedback, no budgetary support, and old people in key positions. There is extensive use of traditional marketing methods in ZB bank. The general perception of ZB bank on the market relative to other banks in Zimbabwe is not pleasing. However, the marketing department believes that ZB bank is a very strong brand relative to other banks in Zimbabwe. There are two distinct groups of customers in ZB bank, namely old and new customers. The old customers are loyal to the bank and associate it to stability and heritage. On the contrary, young customers are not loyal and have negative perception about ZB bank. Therefore, ZB bank will lose clients due to old age and this will reduce the bank’s market share in the future. The bank should carry out a market research to determine the level of awareness and the general perception on the market. The bank should recruit a social media marketer to benefit from social media marketing and to incorporate social media into the bank’s strategic marketing communications. In addition, the bank should therefore actively engage its clients using integrated marketing communication methods to increase the level of awareness. Furthermore, the bank should offer competitive products and service to improve its brand equity.