The usage of information technologies as an implement of consumer interaction in a small business

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School of Business | Bachelor's thesis
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Degree programme
Tieto- ja palvelujohtaminen
36 + 8
The environment, where today’s businesses operate is under constant change, which requires agility from companies trying to keep up with the competition. At the same time, businesses have to listen to the wishes of even more qualified consumers and be responsive to those in order to create a competitive advantage. A solution to this may be found in active consumer interaction, which has grown and become significantly more convenient during the past decade with the help of IT development and especially the revolution of social media. Utilizing interactive platforms enables smooth customer service, adoption of innovative ideas, and even the creation of loyal brand communities. This research aims to find answers on how information technologies can be utilized in social interaction between a small brand and its customers, and how this interaction affects the actions of the brand. I use adaptive structuration theory as a lens to interpret the findings of this research and as a frame for analysing them. The thesis reviews previous literature on phenomena forming the current operational environment, such as the appreciation of sustainable and ethical consumption, as well as the rise of positive body image in consumers’ values. These findings form a base for the main research: a case study examining the practices of a small Finnish swimsuit company and, how it has incorporated consumer interaction as a part of its operations by using different channels, Instagram being the primer platform. The objective is to study different ways of information technology usage as an implement of consumer interaction to benefit a small business to better hear and respond the demands of customers. The data of this case study was collected by a qualitative interview with the CEO of the company and by testing the company’s Instagram account and website as one of the channels of interaction. The results of this study implicate, that Instagram is an effective channel for interaction between a small company and its customers. Due to its diversity and user-friendly features, it is a convenient tool for communication and marketing purposes, which are both described from the viewpoint of the case company. Also, other channels of interaction, even outside of IT, and how Instagram supports them and vice versa is examined. Active utilization of these channels may help companies understand, what the consumers value, and act based on that information. The results suggest, that a versatile but consistent utilization of Instagram’s features and communication through information technology may lead to strong customer engagement and thus to financial prosperity. Consumer interaction on social media, or IT overall, is studied very little previously. Hence, this research was conducted to provide better understanding of the topic and to offer information for other small businesses on how they could successfully utilize the power of communication through those channels.
Thesis advisor
Tiilikainen, Sanna
consumer interaction, information technology, Instagram, change of action
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