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Loyalty Programs in the Fashion Retail Sector, Dissertation Example

Pages: 55

Words: 15184

Dissertation

An examination of the role of loyalty programs in driving customer loyalty in the fashion retail sector: A case study of Marks and Spencer

Abstract

Loyalty programs have an integral purpose in improving the customer loyalty of the customers of any given company. Moreover, the significant aim of the recent investigation is assessing the role of loyalty programs in strengthening customer loyalty in the fashion retailing sector. The study’s focus was on Marks and Spencer, hence looking at some of the loyalty programs they have enrolled, their impacts, and the best strategies to improve the tendency of clients to purchase products from the fashion retailer. In addition to that, for collecting relevant information, various techniques and methods are utilised in the present research study. Positivism research philosophy and deductive approaches are adopted to comprehend the significance of enhanced customer loyalty and effective loyalty programs and also their impact in the fashion sector. Besides that, for comprehensively analysing the research, the exploratory research design is used and also utilised the primary data collection method for accumulating important information for the research topic. Additionally, the quantitative data is accumulated by surveying the 100 customers of Marks and Spencer of Oxford street in London city. Furthermore, the sample size is acquired using the convenience sampling method, and the data are analysed efficiently utilising the descriptive data analysis. The results indicate that loyalty programs have a positive impact on customer loyalty in case they are effectively employed. Further from the entire findings, the study concluded that Marks and Spencer should improve their loyalty programs for improving customer trust, as well as firm efficiency. Nevertheless, the major recommendations provided in the recent investigation are to strengthen the personalised interaction of loyalty programs with clients, digitalising the loyalty programs, and also include some entertainment of fun activities in the loyalty programs.

Chapter 1: Introduction

1.1 Introduction

The present topic enables the audience to have an increased understanding of the study on the whole by describing various elements of the research in detail. The chapter effectively outlines the scope of the research by analysing the study’s aims and objectives. Further, by examining the research background and rationale, the significance of the study is sufficiently described. The structure research offers an increased understanding of the various aspects that are covered in the study by describing each chapter in detail. This chapter, therefore, provides an increased understanding of the study by defining the scope of the study in-depth.

1.2 Research Background

Customer loyalty is one of the vital aspects focussed by various companies for efficiently increasing the base of the customer for the multiple activities and advancements of the Company (Wolter et al., 2017). Through customer loyalty, the Company can offer a positive emotional experience through the shopping experience they get, mostly based on physical attribute-based satisfaction. Thus, the Company also needs to focus on the quality of finished products or services provided for the customers for effectively increasing the customer retention element. Through customer loyalty, the products and services of a given business will be selected over others in the market consistently, and therefore, assist in providing a consistent advantage for the specific Organisation as it attempts to grow its customer base. Furthermore, analysing the elements of the rate of purchase of the products and services done by loyal customers and the new ones, the loyal ones are identified to select the particular products or services consistently and more in number (Cossío-Silva et al., 2016). Hence, with a growing number of loyal customers, the companies also can increase their sales as the new clients will only buy mostly single products for testing the quality of it. As new customers will be cautious about new product quality, reduced purchase of the products can be identified in the market.

Moreover, with a relatively large consumer base, the business will be able to efficiently increase the profit as a result of a given group of people trying to buy particular products and services continuously (Hapsari et al., 2017). By successfully increasing the customer retention aspect, increased sales and profit can be obtained. A successful business always attempts to get a consistent source of income through benefits, and therefore, tries to both stabilise and increase the same over time. The continuous loss of customers will affects the sales of the Company in the future when it is left unattended. Thus, many businesses attempt to create a positive image by capitalising on the elements of customer care. With improved customer care, the companies can efficiently focus on market demands and hence attempt to increase the positive branding element (Nyadzayo and Khajehzadeh, 2016). With such a positive aspect, companies can increase the customer base served by various operations of the Company in the future. By focussing on the case of expanding the customer base through actively attempting to lure more customers, it is identified to be a costly affair. Hence, rather than concentrating on both retaining the customers and gain them at the same time, companies with increased customer retention, they only need to focus on improving the new customers.

Marks and Spencer (M&S), as the focus of this study, has rolled out programs aimed at enhancing customer loyalty, such as the introduction of Sparks’s loyalty card that was initiated in 2016. The Organisation started giving points to the customers according to their frequency and the volume of purchases that they made (Fitzsimons, 2020). Marks and Spencer then unlocked new offers to the clients according to the number of points they have. The customers with the highest scores were also allowed early access to the latest fashion lines and were even invited to invitation-only events. The Firm also enhanced the customer services accorded to the most loyal customers by including free shopping to one lucky customer weekly. Better offers are also available to other loyal customers (Fitzsimons, 2020). The loyalty cards are essential to organisations since the customers may increase the tendency to purchase products from the stores to increase their points. This increases the sales for the organisation, which in turn results in increased profits. The strategy enhances customer retention and also helps attract new clients as a result of the offers attached to the loyalty cards.

Further analysis of the perks of increased customer loyalty, another significant advantage identified includes the element of reducing operations cost as well (Kiran and Diljit, 2017). Through analysing the expenses of an organisation, service expenses are one of the vital aspects that are required to be low and effective. With reduced operations cost, more profit can be obtained through increased sales and improved customer retention. Hence, through investing more in keeping and retaining the customers, a company gains advantages economically (Kasiri et al., 2017). The aspect of customer loyalty is determined by increased purchases that are made along with an increased number of references made to those close to them about the various products and services. It is through these aspects that more customers are identified to be present within the organisational aims and objectives and support the same through time. The research will assess the implications of the loyalty cards as customer loyalty programs in enhancing the client attraction and retention for Marks and Spencer. The introduction of the loyalty cards was expensive and required the Organisation to invest a relatively large amount of finances. Thus, the study aims at establishing how effective the newly enacted loyalty cards are in enhancing the Firm’s ability to attract and retain the clients as compared to the extra costs that the Organisation incurred. Therefore, a company can realise customer loyalty by fulfilling consumers’ demands and exceeding them through quality products and services.

The study opted to use the Marks and Spencer Oxford Street branch, which is one of the largest stores owned by the Company and tends to serve a relatively large number of customers. There are about 950 Marks and Spencer stores in the United Kingdom availing different types of products and services. The retailer has also established numerous stores globally that enable it to supply the products to a more diverse consumer base. Conducting the study in the branch will grant us insights on the loyalty programs the Organisation has established and the implications it has on customer loyalty. It enables us to understand the effectiveness of Loyalty Cards when rolled out in an area with people having a different cultural background. Another reason for selecting the Oxford Branch for the research is because it tends to serve customers hailing from different cultural backgrounds. This enables the researchers to assess the implications of loyalty cards in enhancing the retention of customers across different cultures. The main focus of the study will be looking at the impacts the recently enrolled program has on enhancing the loyalty the clients have on the products stocked and the entire Company. The loyalty program to be assessed is the recently introduced loyalty cards granted to the customers who buy from the store consistently. A research carried out by the Organisation established that the deals and discounts that they offered to the clients were generic, thus making the loyal clients feel like the Firm does not recognise them. The loyalty cards’ introduction aimed to ensure that the customers who purchased products from the stores were recognised and rewarded, thereby positively impacting their loyalty. Therefore, the research will aim at looking at the role that the introduced loyalty cards had on enhancing customer loyalty in Oxford Street.

1.3 Research Aim and Objectives

Aim

The essential aim of the research is to analyse the significance of loyalty programs in effectively increasing the loyalty of customers towards the brand. Through analysing the importance of loyalty programs, various potential issues affecting the customer loyalty programs are also examined for understanding ways of effectively implementing loyalty. Thus, by focusing on the case of M&S, adequate measures are identified and recommended that the Company can employ to increase the efficiency of the loyalty programs.

Objectives

  • Explain the importance of customer loyalty to the growth of a fashion retailer
  • To discuss the impact of loyalty programs on customer loyalty
  • To understand how loyal the M&S Organisation’s customers are to their brand
  • To understand the implications that the recently introduced loyalty programs have on customer satisfaction and loyalty
  • Another aim of the research is to come up with relevant loyalty programs that will positively impact the customer loyalty of the Organisation

1.4 Research Rationale

The research focusses on analysing the significance of loyalty programs within the fashion retail sector by first concentrating on the element of loyalty programs. Customer loyalty programs are significant aspects considered for effectively increasing the sale of company products and services (Budianto, 2019). One of the advantages of carrying out this study is to have a better understanding of the importance of the role of loyalty programs within the fashion retail sector. Therefore, the study undertakes a practical analysis of the importance of loyalty programs and focuses on the relevance of the same within fashion retail. Focussing on the case of the fashion retail sector with the increased pace of changes in fashion, companies find it hard to maintain the competition in the market with new companies emerging from time to time (Sahai et al., 2019). By actively using the customer loyalty programs of the Company, such organisations can retain more customers from slipping to other competitors in the market. With increased customer loyalty, the products and services of such companies will be identified by the customers in the market and will be considered for buying it. In such scenarios, even with the introduction of increased variations in clothing, the chances of getting an attraction is slim (Sahai et al., 2019).

As customer loyalty is one of the significant aspects focussed by companies within the fashion industry, the increased analysis of the various activities inducing the same will benefit the companies greatly. Hence, in addition to analysing the aspect of customer retention, the multiple factors affecting and reducing the customer loyalty element on brands is also explained (Wang et al., 2019). Through such an understanding of various components that affect the customer loyalty measure, companies will be able to efficiently take care fo the needs of the customers and hence increase the positive branding aspect of the business. Such knowledge among companies within the fashion retail sector is much more beneficial for the companies to take a solid stand within the fast pacing fashion changes (Torres, 2017). By examining the impact of the various elements on the customer loyalty aspects, the increased impact of issues along with the important ones to be considered also is reviewed and described. An understanding of such elements will assist the companies in taking countermeasures against such elements and hence effectively increase the customer attracting elements of particular businesses.

Finally, an assessment of the loyalty programs introduced by the Company will be analysed for understanding its influence on increasing customer loyalty. Even though multiple activities can efficiently increase customer loyalty, the effects of the same have to be analysed for effectively using it to gain a particular amount of customer loyalty (Yang et al., 2017). Hence, an active understanding of the influence of various customer loyalty programs is also discussed for effectively assisting the companies in assessing the range of efficiency of using multiple customer loyalty programs. Thus, practical analysis of such aspects provides a better understanding of different strategies that can be used along with an understanding of when to use the same (Selvarajah, 2018). Finally, through analysing these elements, quality recommendations are provided for M&S to improve their sales and hence increase the customer loyalty element through delivering quality products and services. As such, recommendations are based on analysing such diverse aspects of the research topic, and it will assist in not only useful in increasing the customer loyalty, but also the ways through which they are to be implemented.

The main thing that intends to comprehend through this research is an evaluation of the customer loyalty programs conducted by M&S. The British MNC’s like M&S is using customer Loyalty programs to rack up their customer retention rate effectively (Islam, 2016). The consumer study on M&S reflected that customers did not more adopt the clothing products of M&S on their previous days. However, when they have switched on to customer loyalty, their apparel brands are flying higher in the customer’s mind (Decision Marketing, 2015).  The customer’s services offered by the industries or companies were the main facts that influence customer loyalty. The Strategies of M&S mainly focussed on establishing excellent customer services that are valuable for creating customers satisfied and in improving their brand loyalty. For encouraging their customers, M&S made more investments in Hiring staffs those can improve their standards among customers and could create loyal customers (Davis, 2016)

1.5 Research Structure

Chapter 1: Introduction

This chapter aims to offer a better understanding of the research as a whole. It describes the scope of the entire study. With the research aim and objectives, the chapter provides an increased understanding of the various areas it covers.

Chapter 2: Literature study

The literature chapter provides an in-depth analysis of the various variables of the research topic. Its primary focus is assessing the element of customer loyalty by analysing the advantage of the same. Further, the section provides a compelling analysis of the potential issues affecting the customer loyalty aspect. With the conceptual framework, an adequate description of the research topic provides a proper summary of various elements connected with the research topic in entirety.

Chapter 3: Research methodology

This chapter efficiently describes the various methods used for the practical completion of the research by the researcher. Further, by analysing the different techniques used in this chapter, the researcher will also provide various reasons for selecting a particular technique over other methods. Additionally, with the description of the advantages of using specific ways, the benefits of the same reflecting on the present research are also described. Further, the study also describes various ethical considerations followed by the researcher to complete the study.

Chapter 4: Data analysis and interpretation

This chapter scrutinises the collected data with an attempt to obtain quality information from the same. Further analysing the type of research strategy used, multiple types of research analysis used is adequately described in this chapter. As the present study uses a survey strategy, the active description of the responses collected is done using pie-charts, bar charts, etc. Through analysing these charts, an adequate description of the opinions and perceptions of participants for effectively analysing the same. Further explaining the information collected, it is compared with the literature study conducted for effectively obtaining quality data.

Chapter 5: Conclusion and recommendation

This final chapter focusses on concluding the research by stating the various final statements and pieces of information regarding the research topic. In the case of research recommendations, different potential methods through which the current study can be upgraded is described. Further, through analysing the investigation, multiple ways that future surveys can be conducted relating to the current research can be improved are also provided through this chapter. With actively using the research objectives, an active description of the study is provided through this chapter.

1.6 Conclusion

The conclusion chapter offers an overall understanding of the scope of the entire research. Through the research background, the researcher provided a detailed description of the aspect of customer loyalty and the importance of the same by describing the reason why businesses focus on increasing the same. Further, through the research aim and objectives, the whole scope of the research and the various areas through which the study will go through are mentioned. The rationale element mainly focusses on describing the importance of the study in the first place. Finally, by providing the structure of the research, the present chapter also describes the various sections of the research and the information contained in the same.

Chapter 2: Literature Review

2.1 Introduction

This section will focus on analysing the research variables to provide detailed information relating to the research. The information is relevant since it enables the researchers to have a better understanding of the element of customer loyalty. Hence, initially, the chapter will be addressing the various customer loyalty programs for efficiently improving the customer loyalty aspect. Through analysing the various loyalty programs, it is noted that they enhance the customer support that a given client accesses from an organisation. Further, the chapter analyses the element of customer loyalty in detail and hence provides the various advantages of increasing customer loyalty. Such an understanding of customer loyalty also provides the significance of the present research as it focusses on improving the customer loyalty aspect. The various models of customer loyalty are also described to provide a better understanding of the research variable in detail. Additionally, through using these models, an adequate knowledge of how to use the various loyalty programs also can be understood. The implications of the loyalty programs on customer loyalty are critically analysed, providing a clear understanding of the multiple influences different loyalty programs have on the customers. The chapter provides an adequate knowledge of the aspect of customer loyalty and the importance of the same. Further, various similarities and dissimilarities among the present study and other works are also analysed for highlighting the importance of the current research. The conceptual framework finally provides a picturised description of the whole investigation by connecting various aspects of the study is presented.

2.2 Loyalty Programs

According to Stathopoulou and Balabanis (2016), loyalty programs motivated purchasers to go back to stores where they regularly do their shopping. Moreover, loyalty programs deliver special incentives, rewards, and discounts that are structured as a compliment for the loyalty of the brand. Similarly, Daryanto et al. (2010) assert that loyalty programs are given by corporations or other retailers as a technique to impress and recall clients. On the other hand, Blanco and Domingo (2014) identified that for conducting efficient, influencing, and attractive loyalty programs, the Company needs a high financial background. Otherwise, the Firm will fail to accomplish its goal. Likewise, Agarwal and Mehrotra (2018) oppose that the firms cannot keep a distance from the assurance of loyalty programs because of the anxiety of lost sales. Moreover, loyalty programs have various benefits to the business environment of the organisation, such as generating customer loyalty, increasing client retention, decreasing unprofitable clients, substantial cart value, and so on (Daryanto et al., 2010). The loyalty programs assist the Organisation for attaining essential data based on which products do the customers spend most and in which type of offers or rewards they provide more interest.

2.3 Customer Loyalty

Customer loyalty is the outcome of the steadily perceived value of experience; physical attributed depended on gratification and positive emotional experience. Sahai et al. (2019) stated that to empower the loyalty of the Organisation, the management of the client experience merges the various value factors of experience, including its emotional and physical, into a single well, organised experience. Similarly, customer loyalty is the special act of selecting the services or goods of a company regularly over their opponents. From the findings of Wahab et al. (2014), there is a positive connection between customer loyalty and customer satisfaction, and the interested clients frequently like the brands that accomplish their necessities. Similarly, customer loyalty is a measure of the likeliness of the clients to do business operations consistently with a brand or Firm. Customer loyalty assists organisations in improving their customer engagement and hence the Firm’s efficiency, as well as profitability. In contradicts to this statement, Haesevoets et al. (2017) disclosed that in the recent era, every Firm providing distinct types of customer loyalty programs for impressing clients towards their brand and, as a result, some of the customers rejecting loyalty because of delivering unappealing rewards and bad user experience. Likewise, Huang (2019) opposes that for some organisations, joining loyalty programs is the frustrating process through both online and offline because of navigation through multiple pages on the internet, as well as the extensive form of registration (via offline).

Additionally, according to the opinion of Suwono and Sihombing (2018), it was demonstrated that the significant factors that influence the customer loyalty of the Organisation are customer service, personal connection, perceived value, service quality, reputation, rewards, and community reach. Apart from that, Aldaihani and Ali (2018) identify that employee experience and profound understanding regarding the journey of customers also helps to boost the customer loyalty of the Organisation. Nevertheless, customer loyalty is the outcome of the satisfaction of clients, customer’s positive experience, and also the entire value of services or products that the clients purchases from enterprises. Furthermore, Umar et al. (2019) oppose that customers feel very difficult some times when attending the loyalty programs because of the confusing program structure, and this discomfort feeling forces the customer to stop their purchase from that Firm. They might go for other good options. However, the results prove that customer loyalty has both positive and negative impacts on the business context. The negative consequences can be resolved by an appropriate solution (Umar et al. 2019). Further, the efficient utilisation of the positive effect of customer loyalty helps the firms to accomplish their goals progressively.

Another notable factor that influences customer loyalty is the norms and values that people living in Oxford Street, London, upholds. Culture is one of the most vital factors that influence customers purchasing patterns. Research proves that enacting loyalty programs that match with the culture of the people drove the customers to buy their products more often from the retailer (Umar et al., 2019). However, Oxford Street in England inhabits people hailing from different cultural backgrounds. Therefore, M&S needs to apply loyalty programs that consider cultural diversity. This is to ensure that every customer feels attached to the retailer and the products offered, which is crucial for enhancing customer loyalty. Thus, for any effective loyalty program, it is essential to take the cultural background of the target group into consideration.

2.4: Customer Loyalty Theory

Organisations tend to employ various incentives to attract clients and enhance customer loyalty. According to various researches carried out, various vital factors contribute to enhanced client loyalty. The satisfaction that the customers get from the products and services affect their tendency to purchase from the Firm (Soh, Chin and Wp, 2015). In case the customers are highly satisfied, they may be compelled to buy more goods and services from the organisation frequently. Another factor that contributes to customer loyalty is the quality of the products and services available. When a given business tends to offer high-quality commodities to the customers, they may come back more often and remain loyal to the organisation. The customer value that the clients are granted by purchasing from a given business is another factor that affects their loyalty to the brands availed. In case the consumers feel that the value they gain in one organisation exceeds the one they attain in other stores, they are more likely to be loyal to the one that avails more value (Soh, Chin and Wong, 2015). Other factors contributing to customer loyalty are the monetary benefits and the social bonds that they form with a given brand or Firm. The social bonds are affected by the culture, norms, and the demographics of the customers in relation to the implemented organisational policies. The loyalty programs enrolled is another factor that contributes to the levels of customer loyalty in a given corporation. The rewards and incentives that the enacted loyalty programs avail for the customers affect customer loyalty. Therefore, various organisational strategies that any firm implements affect the loyalty it experiences from the customers.

M&S Fashion Company employs the evolutionary links between the relational constructs and loyalty to enhance customer acquisition and retention. It increases its operations so that it affects the products and customer services it avails to its clients. The model is useful for the traditional shop that the Company has established in Oxford Street. This is since improving their operations, and attaining growth will make it one of the leading fashion retailers. Thus, the dynamic model of customer loyalty involves improving essential services, thus increasing the attachments the customers have with the stores. Customer satisfaction attained is more likely to compel the client to purchase more frequently from the shops.

2.5 Impact of Loyalty Programs on Customer Loyalty

According to the findings brought by Breugelmans et al. (2015), the main reason why retailers adopt loyalty programs is to impress and retail customers. (Appendix: 2). Implementing customer loyalty is the best part for businesses to maintain their previous and existing customers and increase profitability. Martínez and Del Bosque (2017) pinpointed that customer loyalty programs are capable of making customers more consistent with the Organisation and make them reappear in the Organisation for repeated purchase from similar companies. The author also mentioned that the extraordinary experience that experienced by a customer from a brand would make them more loyal to the organisations. Encouraging customer loyalty programs have become a trend in recent organisations since making more customers is the main aim that is preferred by every business, and these are a method for strengthening an organisations marketing image. Evanschitzkyn et al. (2012) pointed out that the main aim of loyalty programs is improving customer engagement and increasing their loyalty.

Góme et al. (2012) opined that loyalty programs could generate benefits for organisations; nevertheless, the negative approaches or mistakes of organisations in loyalty programs will negatively impact on customer loyalty. These issues will result in a loss in sales and will impact on the operational efficiency of the business. The main impact of loyalty programs is that the Company can maximise or improve the trust levels of customers. Zakaria et al. (2014) described that the customer loyalty programs could sustain consumers up to an extent by sharing compliments and rewards on their every purchase; this will shape our customers more strongly attached to the nature of the Organisation and brand. Zhenxiang and Lijie (2011) identified that a well-structured or well-established customer loyalty programs allow fashion organisation to be more customer-oriented, and thereby they offer a well conducive atmosphere in the Organisation. Further, they enable profitable as well as a non-profitable group of customers, and it allows the Firm to analyse and eliminates the group of customers who regularly focus on discounted product ranges and avoids premium ranges.

2.6 Link between the Existing and Present Study

The researcher carried out a recent study for accomplishing the primary objective; that is, to examine the role of loyalty programs in enhancing customer loyalty in the fashion retail industry. Furthermore, the section illustrates the existing link among the previous as well as the present study in connection with the research topic. By evaluating the previous works, it was identified that many studies are existing about loyalty programs and their influence on customer loyalty in the fashion sector. From the statements of Stathopoulou and Balabanis (2016), loyalty programs are accomplished by retailers or other organisations to attract or retain clients. Besides that, Sahai et al. (2019) disclosed that customer loyalty programs provide various benefits to the business environment, such as increase customer retention and boost the performance, as well as the sales of the enterprises.

Moreover, Aldaihani and Ali (2018) noted that an increased number of loyal customers is the result of the positive customer experience, client gratification, and the aggregate value of goods that the customer shops from a firm. Further, Aldaihani and Ali (2018) mentioned that some of the important aspects that impact the customer loyalty of the Firm include service quality, perceived value, rewards, reputation, and client service. Qi et al. (2012) explained that effectively enrolled loyalty programs help in enhancing the organisation’s customer loyalty. However, by analysing the specific fashion industry, the investigator can able to attain particular, as well as precise information regarding the importance of customer loyalty programs and its harmful and positive influence on the fashion retail sector.

2.7 Conceptual framework

Conceptual Framework

Figure 2: Conceptual Framework

Source: Created by Author

It was designed by extracting the relevant point of the current research study. Further, it can be noted that loyalty programs directly link to customer loyalty from the above conceptual framework. Moreover, the theoretical framework also illustrates that the aspects that have implications on the element of customer loyalty, such as perceived value, reputation, rewards, customer service, and service quality. In addition to that from the above figure, it was comprehended that loyalty programs have a strong influence on customer loyalty, and this direct relation helps the Organisation to increase its efficiency, as well as performance.

2.8 Summary

The present chapter primarily focusses on describing the research and the scope of the study in detail for providing an adequate understanding of the various aspects to be addressed and understood. The focus is tailored to understanding the importance of customer loyalty and the multiple methods that can improve a particular element of customer loyalty for a brand. Hence, the chapter first focused on describing the research variable, customer loyalty, and the various programs which induce customer loyalty is assessed and analysed for its efficiency. An in-depth understanding of the research is obtained by comprehending the ability of multiple strategies to increase customer loyalty effectively. Additionally, through using a model, practical analysis of the element of customer loyalty is done for effectively analysing the various dimensions of the methods for introducing strong customer loyalty inducing processes. The effects of different loyalty programs on the customer loyalty element are also analysed for effectively assessing the ability of the various programs. This is done by actively comparing multiple sources of information with the data obtained through it. Moreover, with increased analysis of the present study with various related studies, a quality assessment of the link between the existing and the present study is also done. Through the conceptual framework, the chapter also provides a picturised description of the various variables connected with the research topic. The section offers an adequate understanding of the research variables and gives a better view of the scope of the research as a whole.

Chapter 3: Research Methodology

3.1 Introduction

In this section, the researcher is planning to conduct the research procedures steps, which will help analyse the various dimensions of the subject. The focus area of the report is the importance of loyalty programs in driving customer loyalty is the fashion retail sector. The research methodology covers the research philosophy, participants, research design, research strategy, research approach, data collection, and sampling. It will also include data analysis, ethical consideration, and accessibility. This helped the people researching to evaluate all the components of the study issue better and efficiently issues that can happen while doing research. Thus, this chapter will elucidate the necessary information for the ease of carrying out the research effectively.

3.2 Research Philosophy

According to Padilla (2015), research philosophy is the study which is carried out based on the existing factors, and it helps in the way in which the data has to collect. The research methodology allows us to predict whether the data will be obtained and utilised for a quantitative report. Three types, namely positivism, interpretivism, and realism, are commonly interested in research (Kennedy, 2017). In this study, the researcher has planned to take out the positivism research philosophy. Positivism is its tightly formal form, as the theory used to evaluate quantitative data. As this study will collect information from the fashion retailers and the customers, positivism can be effectively implemented to gather all the real-time data regarding the objectives which are decided in prior. It is widely known that the usage of data will be proper and up to the subject that helps in collecting the information entangled with the primary objectives of the research.

3.3 Research Design

From the findings of Lewis (2015), the research design is another crucial area that helps gain the information that is crucial for the study, and the option of study styles is solely based on the researchers’ expertise and knowledge. Study styles are primarily classified into three designs: analytical or casual, exploratory, and descriptive research.

A descriptive research design was applied to collect relevant data relating to the impacts of customer loyalty programs that Marks and Spencer had enrolled. The study technique is designed in such a way that it helps in describing a given occurrence, situation, or group. It helps in answering questions related to how, when, what, why, and where. The research design adopted is relevant for the study since it will enable the researchers to investigate how the customer loyalty programs, especially loyalty cards, encourage the consumers to purchase more from the store. Descriptive surveys and observations were employed to help collect the relevant information relating to the research problem. Some of the vital elements of the research design’s uncontrolled variables form the basis for further studies, and they can incorporate both qualitative and quantitative data. The data is also suitable for the study since it can help in evaluating changes in various life aspects and help in establishing the triggers of those changes. This will help people assess how the introduction of loyalty cards affected customer loyalty.

3.4 Research Approach

Descriptive research approach was adopted to help the researchers garner sufficient information regarding the implications of the loyalty programs, especially the loyalty cards. The study approach is employed to describe a given phenomenon or idea (Kennedy, 2017). The technique is applicable when creating supporting information to explain certain conclusions and hypotheses.  Unlike an exploratory research approach that aims to answer the basic questions about how, why, where, what, and when, a descriptive study method avails answers to questions related to the market. This type of research approach is characterised by the application of standardised methods. It is employed in different scenarios, such as describing the traits that a given group of people exhibit. Others are covariance between two valuables, the estimated size of people belonging to a given customer group, and also specific predictions in possible changes in the client’s behaviour. Thus, the approach adopted for the study was descriptive since it is poised to explain the implications of the loyalty programs on the commitment exhibited by customers to the retailer.

A longitudinal study is the type of descriptive research approach that seemed favourable and adopted to help in assessing the behaviours that the sample population portrayed. This entails carrying out the researches over a period of time, with the intent to observe the changes in consumer behaviours over the duration, the research is being carried out (Kennedy, 2017). The information garnered through the application of this type of descriptive research approach can be combined with others collected through other means to explain whether a given act can be linked to the changes in behaviours observed. For instance, it can be employed to assess whether the loyalty programs that Marks and Spenser have rolled out affect the levels of customer loyalty that its clients exhibit.

3.5 Research Strategy

A research strategy is a systematic approach to seeking a solution to the issue of science. By using and analysing the collected data, the research strategy helps to draw a definite conclusion to the point. Felin et al. (2015) suggested that a survey strategy is a versatile approach that makes it easier for large groups to collect data. Interpretation of quantitative data helps the researcher to assess population characteristics. Since multiple features are involved, the final result obtained is more accurate and credible. The researcher has planned to conduct the survey method to collect the details directly, which will be brewed freshly and helps the study to be more updated.

3.6 Data collection

The data collection approach is noted to define the techniques and methods the people conducting the research considers in the collection of the appropriate data for the analysis. The researcher may collect two types of data using data collection methods: quality data and quantitative data. Sutton and Austin (2015) observed that the researchers have to do some work by themselves for the primary source, and this is achieved by interviews, surveys, case studies, etc. In any research report, the investigator must determine which method to use for research data collection. Conjointly, the researcher has planned to implement the primary data collection method to complete the study more conveniently.

Consequently, the researcher had found different results on customer loyalty programs of the fashion industry and the customer’s attitudes towards such loyalty programs.  Besides all this, the collection of data using primary resources will help in achieving more realistic information and the most evident detailing of the topic from the concerned authorities. The result of primary data collection on the M&S fashion sector had contributed the knowledge on various customer loyalty measures taken by companies.

The study involves 100 customers of the M&S products in London Oxford Street. Questionnaires with the relevant questions to the survey were distributed to each participant, whereby they were to answer some already designed questions. Some of the reasons why the questionnaire method was applied in the research are because it offers a quick, cheap, and effective way of obtaining information from a relatively large number of participants. It is also useful in getting information such as opinions, intentions, preferences, and attitudes towards a given topic. Surveys and observation were the primary data collection tools employed to examine the implications of the customer loyalty programs on the tendency of the clients to purchase from the Store. The team that conducted the research entailed five members. The first step entailed convincing the store management of the importance of carrying out the research and acquiring their approval. The team then prepared questionnaires to be employed in the surveys. Employing questionnaires was relevant for our study since the customers would fill them at their own time without necessarily having to be in the Store. This would help ensure that the study was conducted according to the relevant government dictates relating to the covid19 measures. Some of the questions included in the questionnaires include the consumer demographics, their tendency to purchase from the Firm, and the role the customer loyalty programs that the Organisation had implemented played in attracting them to purchase. The questions also enquired about the impact of the recently enrolled loyalty cards in encouraging them to purchase from the Store and what they felt about them.

The designed questionnaires were distributed to the customers as they purchased the products from the Store. They were required to take the questionnaires with them home and return them to the Store after filling out the next time they come shopping. The step was to ensure that the research followed the relevant social distance strategies that the government has enacted. The questionnaires were corrected, and the analysis was carried out to come up with viable data to understand whether the customer loyalty programs were working or not. The research team analysed the data and came up with relevant conclusions relating to the research, as indicated in the result section.

3.7 Sampling

For an active collection of information, approaching the authorised personalities by the researcher will be different. For this, the team responsible for carrying out the research may obtain the important samples from the population selected for the research study using an appropriate sample process as an observational research sampling is usually distinguished (Etikan et al., 2016). The researcher selected a simple approach for measuring the non-probability of sampling of consumer satisfaction from all choices of sampling methods. The researchers picked the sampling elements based upon the convenience of the respondents and the researcher via convenience, free sampling (Zayed, 2018). The researcher performed the survey by including the 100 customers of the M&S brand in London Oxford Street by providing a questionnaire to complete. The reason why the Oxford Street branch was selected was that it would enable the researchers to understand the effectiveness of the Loyalty Cards in multicultural settings. Most of the modern cities have been characterised by having a population that consists of people hailing from different cultural backgrounds. Researching on the M&S Oxford Branch will grant us a detailed overview of how effective the enacted customer loyalty program is in multicultural settings. The researcher analysed the position of customer loyalty critically here. The researchers were primarily responsible for choosing an appropriate measurement to ensure that the size of the sample employed in the study is sufficient.

Convenience sampling was employed in coming up with the desired sample size. It is the easiest method in sampling and entails selecting participants according to their willingness to participate in the study and their availability. The questionnaires were distributed to the customers who visited the store on two already decided dates. The research team then granted the customers a time frame of one month, and the first 100 valid and correctly answered questionnaires were employed in the data analysis process. However, the process also introduced biases to the research since the convenient sample did not necessarily represent all the perceptions of all the other customers purchasing from the store. The sampling method also contributed to the unequal representation of customers in different age groups or gender.

3.8 Data Analysis

Data analysis is performed to assess the collected data for errors and to accumulate all the core points of the study as a brief. Descriptive data analysis is the technique chosen by the researcher to complete the study. The research was carried out in surveys, and the researchers gathered sufficient information for the review. The information was then further analysed using pie charting and tables (Hartwig and Dearing). The time and expense constraints were critical restrictions for the investigator for the researcher. The sample size chosen by the investigator was, therefore, limited to 100 and cannot be taken as exact representations of the entire M&S, and this may negatively impact the study’s reputation.

3.9 Accessibility Issues

The problem of obtaining the relevant data from the sources from which the appropriate interpretations are generated is one of the significant challenges facing a researcher during the analysis. Primary data collection through surveys was obstructed because workers objected to engaging in surveys because they believed that their anonymity and confidentiality would be compromised with the Organisation. Conducting a smooth survey was not easy since the customers were not equally participating, and the lack of genuine answers was also a drawback of the research. Accordingly, the collection of knowledge was limited to those that the researcher could economically accomplish. The validity of the information obtained may be adversely affected.

3.10 Ethical Consideration

For research to happen without any flaws, it is essential to maintain ethics while conducting the study. Moreover, if the ethical values of the survey were upheld, chances of any moral question facing them are negligible. All study participants were given equal and equitable care. The researchers strictly complied with the data protection law of 1998, maintaining confidentiality and privacy of the study participants. The researcher trained the study’s intent and objectives and how the data should be used for the analysis of the findings. The investigator also ensures that the research is performed solely for academic purposes and does not have any personal motive. This helped the researcher to create confidence for the participants to provide truthful answers. Prior permission was assured by the authorities concerned before undertaking interviews and surveys.

3.11 Summary

In this section, the researcher has successfully incorporated the whole process of research methodology, and this chapter describes the different methods used in the analysis and also adequately describes the justifications for the use of these methods. To carry out the study effectively, the researcher has taken the positivism theory and a deductive approach; exploratory study architecture has been adopted to establish the exactness of the proposed hypothesis. The researcher collected data from the primary resources for obtaining the appropriate information for the analysis. Moreover, the sampling is done with 100 customers of the M&S in oxford street London, through a survey method which effectively makes use of the primary resource. Altogether, the researcher has completed the process successfully and gained all the required information.

Chapter 4: Results, Discussion, and Analysis

4.1 Introduction

The most essential and vital part of a research study is to answer all the questions that are related to the research problem, which would aid in improving the research study. Therefore, this chapter assesses the collected data for relevant and valid information with regards to the hypothesis. Moreover, the collected data enables the researcher to reach a logical and structured result. The researcher has used various data collection sources to obtain data that are credible and accurate to the subject of discussion on the topic related to Marks and Spencer. The data was collected with the aid of primary data with the help of the survey. Moreover, questionnaires were provided to the participants of the customers of the M&S fashion retailer in London city. The polls included open-ended, close-ended, and Likert scale questions. Hence, this chapter would be an amalgamation of the different results, analyses, and discussions based on the various findings of the research.

4.2 Plan of Analysis

The data collection method that was chosen for obtaining valid and relevant data was the primary data collection, which was collected using the survey method. The data collection methods helped to retrieved and group the data customers of the M&S fashion retailer in London city. An in-depth survey data collection and questionnaire were conducted by the researcher to carry out the research study effectively and to find solutions to the problem.

The data collection method was restricted to primary data; however, the primary data collection has increased the validity and authenticity of the research. On the contrary, if secondary data collection were used, it would have created a bias in the research study and the results as the data are collected from various sources that already exist. Moreover, the researcher has also used multiple graphs, tables, and charts to portray the research findings and to reach a valid and accurate conclusion. Additionally, with the literature review, the evaluation and drawing of the findings were possible.

4.3 Quantitative Analysis

The main aim of the recent research study was to analyse the role of loyalty programs in enhancing customer loyalty in the fashion retail sector by focusing more on the case study of M&S. Therefore, for efficiently conducting the recent investigation, the investigator progressively accumulated the relevant data. Furthermore, the researcher collected the quantitative data by surveying the 100 customers of M&S, Oxford-street, London. In addition to that, the researcher presented the attained data with the help of pie charts and bar charts. For accomplishing the precise data regarding the investigation topic, the researcher compared the survey findings with the findings of the literature review. Moreover, the response of customers towards the survey questions, which was prepared by the investigator, is given below. Nevertheless, the survey responses undoubtedly assisted the investigator to examine and deduce the overcomes from the survey findings.

Age of the respondents

Pie chart 4.1: Age of the respondents

The above chart describes the age of the customers of M&S who participated in the survey. From the above pie chart, it was defined that the majority of the customers who take part in the study belong to the age limit of 21-32 years, and it approximately 40 per cent. Furthermore, the chart also provides information regarding the lowest percentages of customers who reside in the age range of above 52 years, and it is only about 10 per cent.  Nevertheless, the customers whose age ranged between 33-42 years and 43-52 years were also included in the survey. Their percentage is about 30 per cent and 20 per cent, respectively. However, from the graph, it is inferred that youth shows more interest in taking part in the survey when compared to the aged population.

Gender of the respondents

Pie chart 4.2: Gender of the respondents

The above graphical representation demonstrates the gender of the customers of Marks and Spencer, who involved in the survey. From the above pie chart, it is comprehended that the majority of the customers who engaged in the study belong to the female category. Further, the percentage of female customers who participated in the survey is about 60 per cent. On the other side, when compared to female, the male number is less, and it only about 40 per cent of the total customers participated in the survey. Hence, it can understand that majority of the respondents who take part in the review are females when compared to males. Nonetheless, the female customer shows more interest in answering the loyalty programs of the fashion industry.

Customer loyalty Experience

Pie chart 4.3: Customer loyalty Experience

The above figure illustrates the experience of customers with the loyalty programs of the Marks and Spencer.  Moreover, from the above chart, it is pointed out that majority of the client’s respondent as they have 1-2 years of experience with the M&S loyalty programs, and it is about 50%.  Further, the researcher from the literature review noted that loyalty programs are obtained by retailers or other companies as methods to impress and recall customers.  Similarly, the loyalty programs offer various advantages to the organisational business context like reduce unprofitable customers, maximise client retention, client loyalty, and so on.

Moreover, about 22 per cent of the clients responded that their experience was below one year, and about 16 per cent of customers replied that they have 2-5 years’ experience with the loyalty programs of M&S. In addition to that from the graph, it was identified that only very few percentages of clients, which is about 12 per cent have more than five years’ experience with the Loyalty programs of the M&S.

Customer interested factors of M&S’s loyalty program

Pie chart 4.4: Customer interested factors of M&S’s loyalty program

The above chart analyses the major factors that attract customers towards the loyalty program of Marks and Spencer.  The survey results show that the majority of the clients (28 per cent) were attracted by the quality of incentives and rewards given by the M&S loyalty program. In addition to that, from the findings of the literature review, it was revealed that loyalty programs offer special discount offers, incentives, and rewards that are planned as an asset for the brand loyalty. Apart from that, these loyalty programs encouraged customers to go back to shops from where they continuously do their purchasing. Moreover, about 24 per cent of customers responded that they liked the advanced features made by M&S in their loyalty programs.  Likewise, customers are also interested in the customer relationship and ease of use factor of loyalty programs of M&S, and it is approximately 20 per cent and 16 per cent. Additionally, from the above figure, it was also analysed that about 12 per cent of customers replied that they do not have any interest in the listed factors of M&S’s loyalty programs.

About 58% of the respondents also explained that introducing loyalty cards in the programs was exceptional. They explained that owning the card had an additional bonus and incentives that made them desire to own one. However, the study also indicated that only a small proportion of the customers had owned the loyalty cards even though they regularly shopped from the store. Only 20% of the respondents stated that they own loyalty cards. About 45 per cent of the participants explained that they were pleased with the rewards and incentives available through the cards. The other 55% explained that Marks and Spencer Oxford Street Branch should improve the rewards, thus granting the loyal customers more advantages, thus encouraging them to shop more.

Customer’s inspiration towards the M&S’s loyalty program rewards

Pie chart 4.5: Customer’s inspiration towards the M&S’s loyalty program rewards

The above pie chart states the intensity of to shop from Marks and Spencer by utilising its loyalty program rewards. Further, the chart describes that approximately 56 per cent of clients replied that sometimes they wish to purchase products from M&S by using the loyalty program rewards of the Marks and Spencer. Besides that, some customers replied that which is approximately 24 per cent liked to purchase from the Organisation based on the loyalty program rewards. However, about 20 per cent are not interested in buying products from the Firm, depending on their loyalty program rewards. However, from the pie chart, it was understood that only 50% of the customers like to purchase products from Marks and Spencer based on the Firm’s loyalty program rewards. On the other hand, the findings from the literature section described that the Organisation requires substantial financial support for developing influencing, attractive, and efficient loyalty programs.  Moreover, for successful growth, the Organisation needs to focus more on their loyalty programs.

Communication channel preference for the loyalty program of M&S fashion

Pie chart 4.7: Communication channel preference for the loyalty program of M&S fashion

The above graphical representation describes the channels that the customers prefer for interaction for attaining the loyalty programs of the M&S fashion. The significant channels listed in the above chart are e-mail, Online account, Mobile text messages, and Mobile app. Furthermore, from the survey findings, it was necessarily notified that the primary communication channels utilised by the customer for the loyalty program of M&S fashion are online accounts, and about 40 per cent of customers support the online account as a communication channel. Moreover, the survey results go opposite to the findings from the literature portion, providing a gap in the investigation. This reveals that the clients face particular challenges while using online accounts, and the customers need to follow many pages for the login process and other criteria. Likewise, about 26 per cent of customers responded that they use the Mobile app as the communication channel for M&S fashion’s loyalty program. Nevertheless, a very less percentage of customers, which is approximately 14 per cent and 20 per cent, responded that they prefer mobile text messages and e-mail as the communication channel for the loyalty programs of the Organisation.

How far do the following elements affect the adoption of the loyalty program offered by M&S fashion? (Please rate the below statements from a scale of 1-Highly disagree to 5-Highly agree)

Statements 1 2 3 4 5
I am happy to embrace the loyalty program when the incentives were according to my perception. 20 16 10 22 32
I would discontinue using the loyalty program if the brand failed to provide prompt responses to my queries. 12 14 18 22 34
I would adopt and recommend to others if the loyalty program offered particular or additional unique value compared to other brands. 10 14 20 24 32
I will reject the loyalty program of a brand if I am dissatisfied with it during the first two times. 10 14 18 22 36
I will stop using the loyalty program if my points are not promptly updated 14 16 20 22 30
I would be inspired to continue with the loyalty program if they promote me to the next level (e.g., Silver, Gold, Diamond) based on my purchases. 10 18 20 24 28
I would be satisfied if they were used by data to provide personalised communication, such as reminding me of product offers related to my interest, wishing me on my birthday, seasonal gift/voucher based on special occasions, and so on. 6 12 18 24 40
I would suspend the use of the loyalty program if they failed to maintain the privacy of my data. 10 14 18 20 38
I was affected by reviews regarding the loyalty programs of brands. 12 16 20 24 28

Table 4.1: Rating the following job qualities of the M&S loyalty program

Factors affecting the adoption of the M&S loyalty program

Bar chart 4.1: Factors affecting the adoption of the M&S loyalty program

The above bar chart describes the various elements that influence the adoption of the loyalty program offered by M&S. From the chart, it is comprehended that majority of the customer’s satisfied with a loyalty program that provided them with personalised communication. In addition to that, some customers replied that they would reject the loyalty programs od M&S fashion if it failed to sustain the privacy of personal information. Likewise, customers also responded that they would avoid the loyalty programs if their first attempts did not work correctly and also replied that they discontinue the usage of loyalty programs if the brand does not provide accurate answers for the queries. Further, the chart also described many reasons why the customers decline or accept the loyalty programs of the brand.

Customer Intention for sharing the M&S loyalty program with others

Pie chart 4.8: Customer Intention for sharing the M&S loyalty program with others

From the chart, it was understood that most 60 % of clients have the interest to share the loyalty program’s peculiarities of M&S fashion to another while about 40% M&S customers have no interest in sharing their loyalty program experience to their relatives and friend.

The loyalty programs of the M&S need more improvement to attract customers towards their brand. Further, the best method to enhance the loyalty program in the digitalised world is to digitalise the loyalty programs of the brand. This will make the entire program convenient for both customers and marketers. Furthermore, another technique for refining the loyalty program of M&S to improve personalised communication in their loyalty programs because it helps to makes them feel more encouraged and valued.

4.4 Judgement of Findings

This study was to understand the primary concepts of the changes in the fashion retail industry and to be more attentive to customer loyalty since, despite the customers, the sales, productivity, and the growth of the sector are not possible. Conjointly, this report discusses the role of customer loyalty programs in the driving growth of customer loyalty in the retail industry, including the case of the famous retail sector in the UK, known as M&S. The impulsive buying behaviour of the customers is a ray of hope of organisations and. The study findings, both from the literature review and the survey of the 100 customers, it is evident that, to an extent, the loyalty programs reflect in sales growth. Moreover, certain factors can easily influence the customers to the loyalty programs. Also, if the sales executive can have a rough idea of the behavioural pattern of the customer, the plan of influencing can be implemented quickly. The literature review reveals that it is found that a well-structured rewards plan helps template companies to separate consumers and deliver unprofitable and competitive consumers. Based on the literature review findings, loyalty programs also need to include offers and redeemable vouchers which are provided for the customers according to their buying pattern.

Despite all these, not every customer falls for the loyalty programs; that is, if the Company does not provide any new variations or patterns in setting the clothes and accessories might lead to reduced interest and discontinued shopping. As in the references from the survey conducted with the customers, the first question was to mention the age. Additionally, by taking the average of the age groups registered, it is found that the majority of people depending on M&S are of 21 to 32 years. Along with these, the most consuming gender is female. On the other hand, the main reason for a group of people discontinuing the loyalty programs offered by M&S is because the commitment of consumers to the Company has a detrimental effect. This is, therefore, very challenging to determine where the real loyal client falls from the Company’s reward process.

As per the observations from the literature review, the main factors which determine customer loyalty can be termed as customer experience, personal relation, relative interest, business efficiency, credibility, benefits, and group scope. Besides all this, considering the facts from the survey, most of the customers are using benefits of loyalty programs from 1-2 years, as the rewards management and the loyalty programs were strong from the past two years. Equally important, the most attractive factor out of all the loyalty programs offered by the Organisation is the quality incentives and the rewards. This can be critically supported by the buying behavioural and the influence management of each customer. However, the majority of the customers, more frequently women, can be easily attracted to the offers and the rewards, as they think it is free of cost and values the price.

The loyalty programs more influence the customers, and the tendency of shopping has also changed states, as noted in the survey. Another query raised in the study was of the most affected loyalty program, in which the majority of the customers stated that brand reputation is one of the reasons, and the second priority is for product and service quality. Since the products offered and the service quality of both brick and mortar is world-class. To crown it all, the standard of the products delivered is most exceptional and meets the requirements of the customers, which eventually ended up in making more reliable and loyal customers all around the world.

In addition to this, the customers of M&S rely more on online sites in the first position to make the buying more convenient and practical, suggested most of the customers in the survey session. However, the second priority is for mobile applications, which are utilised more by teenagers. Both the literature review and the survey questionnaire, it is evident that the customers prefer to get reminded via personal and confidential messages on their birthdays and offer related notifications. Conversely, if the Company fails to keep the data protected, then the customers will withdraw the loyalty claim and offer another opinion out of all the participants from the survey. According to the literature review, the client loyalty is the willingness of the client, because of his extensive and exceptional interest in the Company, to continually reappear into an entity to carry out a specific form of business.

Furthermore, the Organisation will expand in its industry faster than its marketing and sales departments by improving consumer satisfaction. This knowledge helps to understand the meaning and rewards of customer loyalty. Nevertheless, contrary to this, each corporation offers different forms of consumer loyalty services in the recent era with outstanding consumers to their brand, and subsequently, some consumers are refusing their loyalty because of unattractive incentives and lousy user interface. Likewise, it is condemned that the complicated procedure for some organisations by browsing several sites on the website and through the exclusivity of the application method through the way of both online and offline rewards schemes.

Besides, the literature review also mentions the customers’ buying behaviour, which will differ every day, should not be anticipated over the coming year to be as lucrative as the previous year’s reward programs. The productivity of the prior consumer thus has no assurance of potential probability. In the present research report, this information allows the researcher to learn about the various negative consequences caused by reward programs. These results also help the investigator to learn more about the benefits of the fashion loyalty programs and to learn how fashion companies strengthen their loyalty to their customers by creating an ethical loyalty framework.

From the study and the literature review, however, the question was known, and not less than half a percentage of the customers wanted to continue the online services, quoted M&S customers. The online style store must, therefore, use the software effectively to provide a pleasant shopping experience and to provide more appealing and improved deals and promotions for its consumers, to resolve this situation and to increase the marketing performance of the online shop. Thus, concluding the findings from the collected sources, such as the primary data collection method of survey analysis and the literature review prepared by the researcher, can be viewed as a brief that contains the suggestions and recommendations to enhance customer loyalty. Along with this, productivity, sales performance, and the overall level of the Organisation can be leveraged.

4.5 Summary

The current section of the project included various aspects like analysis, evaluation, and portrayal of the different data that were collected from the data collection methods used by the researcher. The study has included the primary data collection method to obtain the needed accurate and valid data that have helped in reaching the desired and credible conclusions. The primary data was collected using questionnaires that were given to the participants selected as the customers of the fashion retailer M&S. The survey was conducted using 100 customers of the M&S fashion retailer in London city through the survey method. Besides, the questionnaire would be provided to them for this purpose, which would involve open-ended, close-ended, and Likert scale questions. Moreover, the research study has also included various charts, tables, and graphs that would help in substantiating the validity of the study.

Chapter 5: Conclusions and Recommendations

5.1 Introduction

This chapter explains the research scenario of the research problem. The data collection that was used to reach valid conclusions were described depicting the use of the primary data collection method. Moreover, the researcher has used qualitative data to obtain adequate knowledge. Additionally, through this chapter, the researcher has suggested some recommendations to effectively increase the loyalty of customers towards the brand, taking the case of the Marks and Spencer retailer in fashion.  Moreover, the chapter also discusses and provides the various challenges and risks that were faced when conducting the research. Further, through this chapter, the needed recommendations that would be helpful to do the research study in the future with efficiency and productivity are also provided.

5.2 Conclusion

In conclusion, the investigator analyses the relevant objectives of the recent study with the assistance of findings from the literature review and survey findings.

5.2.1 Objective 1: To understand the importance of Customer Loyalty to a Fashion Retailer

Enhanced customer loyalty is one of the important factors that facilitate the growth of any organisation since it tends to increase the sales it makes. Customer loyalty entails the attachments that the clients have regarding purchasing various products from a given business. These attachments are attributed to the positive emotional experience and gratification that the customers achieve when buying the products from the fashion retailer. The findings of the study proved that customer loyalty was integral to the M&S organisation. The results proved that customer loyalty enhances the number of times a given client purchases from a given business. Only 22% of the participants explained that they have purchased from the fashion retailer for less than a year. The rest, 78% of the participants, explained that they had more than one year of experience buying products from M&S. One of the relevance of customer loyalty is the increased purchases, which translate into increased sale volume and revenue generated. The results from the study indicate that a higher proportion of the customers involved in the study purchased products from the retailer. This proves that they purchased more products from the firm and enhanced stock turn over, which is crucial for its development.

Customer loyalty also helps in the attraction of new customers. The result showed that about 60 per cent of the customers had an interest in sharing their experiences with others. This shows that when clients become loyal to a given brand or supplier, they tend to share their experiences with others hence attracting them to purchase the commodities. The literature review indicates that most people make their decisions regarding whether to purchase a given product from a given supplier or not from the suggestions offered by those close to them. More than 60% of the customers indicated that they were willing to promote products and services that Marks and Spencer avails to their friends and relatives. This, in turn, increases the number of customers visiting the retailer stores. Therefore, customer loyalty is essential for a business since it increases the number of times a given client purchases products from the firm and also useful in acquiring new customers as a result of shared experiences.

5.2.2 Objective 2: How loyal Marks and Spencer Organisation’s customers are to the retailer

 

The research proved that the Fashion Retailer, M&S, has a loyal customer base. The findings show that more than 78 per cent of the respondents purchased their fashion products from the retailer for more than one year. This indicates that they are loyal to the retailer and buy the commodities stocked frequently. About 60 per cent of the participants also stated that they would share the information regarding the loyalty programs as rolled out by the fashion retailer to others through the online platforms. The frequency at which the customers purchase from the firm and the interest to invite others are some of the determinants of the levels of customer loyalty that clients portray. Therefore, the results indicated that the levels of customer loyalty that the customers for Marks and Spencer exhibit are relatively high. This proves that they are loyal to the retailer and act as promoters for the products stocked. However, one of the vital aspects that enhance the attachment the customers have toward the retailer, as noted in the study, are the loyalty programs rolled out. According to the results, about 80 per cent of the respondents wished or liked purchasing fashion products from the retailer as a result of the loyalty programs enacted. The rewards that the rolled out loyalty programs availed to the customers can be termed as the reasons most of the customers, indicated in the study results, purchase from the organisation and more frequently. Thus, the retailer has a loyal consumer base that is usually motivated by loyalty programs.

5.2.3 Objective 3: To evaluate the factors affecting customer loyalty in the fashion retail sector

Another objective of the present investigation is to assess the factors that influence client loyalty in the fashion retail sector. Further, data from the literature review proved that the significant elements that affect client loyalty in the fashion retail sector are rewards management, reputation, rewards management, perceived value, and customer service (Abbasi et al., 2011). Moreover, similar findings identified by the investigator from the survey analysis. The researcher described that the major factors that influence the customers towards the loyalty programs offered by M&S are ease of use, customer relationship, quality rewards and incentives, and also advanced features, such as personalised service, digital mobile wallet, and so on. Additionally, the survey analysis notified that the majority of the customers liked to use the loyalty programs because of the quality rewards and incentives of the M&S. Besides that, the investigator from the literature review analysed that for boosting the loyalty of the firm, the managing of the customer experiences amalgamates the distinct factors of experience involving its physical, as well as emotional, into the single well-planned experience (Sahai et al., 2019). Likewise, from the literature portion, the researcher also noted that client loyalty is positively linked to the gratification level of customers, and the fascinated customers always liked the brands that attain their needs (Wahab et al. 2014). The study results indicated that the loyalty programs that the retailer had rolled out contributed much to the retentions and acquiring of customers. About 80% of the respondents explained that they were attracted to the loyalty programs, thus purchasing more to access better rewards. Therefore, one of the vital roles of the enacted loyalty programs by Marks and Spencer is to help in increasing customer loyalty, thus increasing the sales achieved.

Nevertheless, the investigator from the survey analysis demonstrated that the major factor that attracts the loyalty programs of the M&S towards their audience is personalised communication. The results indicate that about 40 participants highly agreed that they would like the organisation to avail more personalised communications about the products it stocked. It was also identified by the researcher from the survey outcomes that the main communication channels preferred by customers regarding the loyalty programs of M&S fashion are an online account, 40 per cent, rather than mobile app other channels. On the other side, from the findings of the literature portion, it was revealed that customers encounter many difficulties for the online login process because they have to pass through various pages for making a simple purchase. Thus, the research team was able to meet this objective by obtaining the relevant information from the survey and literature review.

5.2.4 Objective 4: To Analyse The Impact of Loyalty Programs on Customer Loyalty in The Fashion Retail Sector

Another objective of the recent study is to examine the influence of loyalty programs on client loyalty in the fashion retail sector. The main objective is to assess the importance of loyalty programs in enhancing client loyalty in the fashion retailing industry by focussing more on the case of M&S. Moreover, the investigator mentioned that loyalty programs provide various benefits for the organisations, especially in the fashion retail sector in the literature review section. The literature review also proves that the significant benefits that the loyalty programs provided for the business context of the fashion organisations increase customer engagement, increase sales revenue, maximise customer loyalty, and so on (Breugelmans et al., 2015). Besides that, for creating impressive, as well as effective loyalty programs, the firm should need more funds, and for small firms, it was challenging to attain progressive growth in the competitive market.

The findings of the research proved that the loyalty programs enhanced customer loyalty for M&S. For instance, the results prove that the loyalty programs the organisation rolled out helped in customer retention. More than 78 per cent of the customers had purchased from the retailer for more than one year. This shows that the loyalty programs enacted were effective in customer retention. The findings indicated that about 56 per cent of the respondents wished to purchase products from the fashion retailer while utilising the loyalty programs enacted. The other 24 per cent explained that they liked purchasing from the firm since they were attracted to the programs that the organisation had established to enhance customer loyalty. The strategies employed by M&S were also useful in attracting new customers to the business. According to the research findings, more than 60 per cent of the respondents were willing to share about loyalty programs to others, thus encouraging to purchase from the fashion retailer. The research also indicates that about 28 participants highly agreed that they were affected by the reviews regarding the loyalty programs, which compelled them to purchase from the retailer. Therefore, the study proves that loyalty programs enhance customer loyalty.

Moreover, from the survey findings, it was identified that the customers are not fully satisfied with the M&S loyalty programs, and some percentages of the customer were refused to recommend their services to other clients. Hence, the firm needs to improve its loyalty programs to certify its customer loyalty, such as digitalising the contents, boosting personalised interaction, and also including fun sections. The researcher has also attained the final objective through the study results and the finding of the literature review.

5.2.5 Objective 5: To explore the effectiveness of the Loyalty Cards

According to the research findings, a higher percentage of the participants explained the introduction of loyalty cards was a great idea. This proves that recently introduced customer loyalty programs had implications on the customers. A higher percentage, 58%, explained that they would like to own the cards. However, only a small proportion, 20%, of the respondents had owned the loyalty cards even though they shopped in the Store frequently and for a relatively long period. This shows that the distribution of the cards was not effective, thus requiring the Organisation to come up with ways to ensure that they avail them to all the loyal customers making them feel recognised and appreciated. The findings also indicated that a higher number of the participants explained that the incentives and the rewards that the loyalty cards availed were not satisfactory and recommended the Organisation to add some bonuses. They explained that the rewards and incentives were not effective in attracting them to continue purchasing from the Store more frequently. Thus, the Marks and Spenser Oxford Street branch needs to enhance the rewards and bonuses they avail to the clients with loyalty cards, thus encouraging them to purchase even more and attracting the other customers to buy more frequently to obtain the card.

5.3 Recommendations

M&S should improve their loyalty programs for increasing their organisational performance by empowering their customer loyalty. Further, the current century has witnessed a proliferation of technology, and therefore, M&S can digitalise their loyalty programs. Moreover, the loyalty program on an exceedingly communicative digital platform helps the firm to engage loyal customers. Also, the firm can provide them with a more convenient experience for their customers by digitalising their loyalty programs. Another technique to improve loyalty programs is to empower the personal business client connection by offering better-personalised communication through loyalty programs. Besides that, personalised communication towards clients makes them feel more special, valued appreciated. Through involving fun activities in the loyalty programs helps the firm to attract more customers and also can strengthen the loyalty of clients towards the firm. Moreover, the features, such as “Scratch and win,” “Birthday Club,” and other gaming operations helps the firm to develop their loyalty program more interesting, creative and entertaining and these additional features attract customers towards the brands. Moreover, through following these techniques, the M&S fashion can improve their loyalty programs, and it also helps in certifying the firm’s customer loyalty.

Improving the loyalty cards is another recommendation for Marks and Spenser Organisation. According to the research, customer loyalty programs play a critical role in the attraction and retention of clients. The introduction of loyalty cards is one of the recent developments that the customers explain as exceptional. However, the distribution of the cards and the rewards that they avail for the customers are not effective. The Organisation should develop other ways to recognise loyal customers and accord them the cards, thus encouraging them to shop even more from the Firm. Availing the loyalty cards to a higher proportion of loyal customers will encourage others to purchase from the Firm more frequently to acquire the cards. Enhancing the rewards will also inspire not only loyal customers but all the clients to buy products more frequently from the store with an attempt to acquire the cards and exploit the available pleasing rewards and bonuses. Therefore, the Organisation should develop ways such as enhancing the distribution and availing more attractive rewards if they want to improve the effectiveness of the loyalty cards.

5.4 Limitations of the Research

The researchers encountered several challenges and restrictions, especially in accessing data and the validity of the data. One of the main restrictions encountered while collecting the needed and relevant data was applying the primary data collection method. This was since collecting preliminary information from the participants was complex and consumed more time and effort as the participants have to select from a pool of the customers. Moreover, the time and effort constraints in accessing the participants made the study lag. The preliminary information was collected through surveys, where 100 customers of the M&S fashion retailer in London city were gathered. The smaller size of the sample of about 100 customers raised challenges within the researcher as it may affect the authenticity of the research.

The researcher had solely dependent on the primary data collection method, which had restricted the researcher from using the existing sources, such as internet articles, company sites, newspapers, and other journals, which would also provide relevant data about the research issue. Moreover, with the aid of secondary data along with the primary information, the people carrying out the research can gather more data about the research issue. Additionally, as the researcher has emphasised on a single brand to analyse the significance of loyalty programs in effectively increasing the loyalty of customers towards the brand by taking the case of M&S alone, the researcher had a restriction in generalising the results and having a broader perspective of the research issue.

5.5 Recommendations for Future Researcher

The future study could be able to consider the case of the retailer in fashion, M&S, in analysing the significance of loyalty programs in effectively increasing the loyalty of customers towards the brand. Moreover, the researcher could also use a higher sample size of the participants to get more valid results about the research issue. Future research can make use of more than three companies to get information about the research subject so that the researcher would be able to generalise the concept and to have a broader perspective of the issue. Moreover, the researcher can use various existing sources to obtain more information about the research issue. Additionally, the researcher had recommended adding more financial aid to carry out the research issue with a higher number of participants and collecting more data. Moreover, time availability is needed to conduct the survey and other primary data collection more effectively. Future researchers should also research on the vital aspects that should be incorporated into the loyalty cards programs to enhance their effectiveness and efficiency. The team responsible for the research should assess the implications that enhanced distribution of the customer loyalty cards and the improvements carried out in terms of rewards and bonuses had on the attraction and retention of customers.

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