Somhatai Timsard

  • Somhatai TimsardSomhatai Timsard is originally from Bangkok, Thailand. She joined Oxford Brookes Business School in March 2015 and her thesis title is 'Consumers and role of social media in consumption of cosmetic products in Thailand’.

    How did you hear about Oxford Brookes University?

    I first heard about Oxford Brookes University while studying a bachelor’s degree in Business at Mahidol University International College, an international partner institution of Oxford Brookes University. I have been familiar with the name of Oxford Brookes University through recommendations from my supervisors and friends who were exchange students here. I decided to pursue my master’s degree here and completed it in 2012. Having had a great experience whilst studying for my master’s, I decided to continue with PhD study here.

    What attracted you to Oxford Brookes University to conduct your research?

    As I completed my master’s degree here at Oxford Brookes University, I became confident that the University is able to provide me both academic and non-academic resources for my research including talented researchers, lecturers and staff, a well-formed research community and good study environment. I also feel like home here in Oxford. 

    What were you doing before?

    I completed my master’s degree in 2013 and started my PhD in 2015. I took a gap year in 2014; I was travelling and reflecting on myself. It was a year that I was finding myself and since pursuing a PhD has always been a significant goal for me, I spent a good few months writing a research proposal and applied for it here. 

    How easy did you find it to settle into the research environment?

    It was not hard getting settled into the research environment, thanks to courses and seminars provided by the University which allowed me to meet researchers from other faculties and departments. These seminars and courses were not only aimed at helping to gain a PhD; they were also designed to help you to prepare for after graduation. These courses have helped me with confidence in studying and continuing my career outside the University.

    Tell us about your research.

    I have always been passionate about cosmetics and I spend a lot of time on social media. I realised that there are days I haven’t turned on my TV because I spent my time on social media instead. I have spent time on social media researching for cosmetics and watched reviews online for many hours a day, every day. Also I’ve followed beauty bloggers’ recommendations and reviews and bought whatever they mentioned. It has got me to the point that I started to question myself ‘Why do I believe people I haven’t met before and why do I trust them?’ Additionally my mum asked me randomly ‘why are teenagers these days so good at applying cosmetics?’ When she was a teenager, there wasn’t a strong need for cosmetics and she didn’t even know how to apply it. This question has inspired me to start my research. 

    The purpose of this research is to evaluate the role of social media in understanding the consumption of cosmetic products in Thailand. The number of social media users (SMUs) is increasing rapidly. Existing SMU typologies such as that formulated by Kozinet (1999) use two criteria: the degree of consumption activity and the intensity of relationships with other members of the community. His study suggests that these two variables enable four distinct types of communities – Tourists, Minglers, Devotees, and Insiders – whose intensity of relationship and consumption activity ranges from low for Tourists to high for Insiders. This research specifically examines the consumer behaviour of these four types of SMUs in Thailand. 

    Even though there has been a rapid growth in the number of SMUs, and consumers’ motivations have been studied (Baker and White, 2010; Park, Kee and Valenzuela, 2009; Raacke and Bond-Raacke, 2008; Shao, 2009), research on the consumption behaviour of SMUs in relation to cosmetic products is limited, and the factors that make social media channels, such as YouTube, popular remain unknown (Hennig-Thurau, Houston and Walsh, 2006). Importantly, social media’s arrival has created a shift. It has turned the private and limited realm of skills and behaviour of cosmetic users into an open, shared and community-based realm. This study also extends the knowledge of consumer behaviour on social media in the marketing literature. Ultimately, this research aims to develop an evidence-based framework of the influence of social media on social media users’ cosmetic consumption behaviour in Thailand.

    What do you enjoy about being a research student?

    Being a research student is a great opportunity to research a topic I am passionate about; to gain a deeper understanding and contribute to knowledge in the field of study. I believe that the PhD journey is not easy and people who are there to guide me along the way are significantly important. I always keep this in mind; I am not alone on this journey. Talking to family and friends, going out with friends or even baking are great helps when facing hard times. 

    Undoubtedly, challenges are always there at every step of the journey. One of toughest challenges so far for me was time management. My PhD journey entirely depends on how well and efficient I can balance study and life. A strategy that works for me is to have a daily schedule and to set my own deadlines. I like the feeling of accomplishment so I create a daily plan and try my best to get it done. Of course, no pain no gain, and I set a reward for myself if I accomplish my plan. 

    What do you think about the research training offered at Brookes?

    I have attended almost every seminar and training course provided at Oxford Brookes University and always a have take-home knowledge after the sessions. The most important thing is that Oxford Brookes University has provided academic and beyond-academic training courses for research students. There are training courses that help students with their research and also those training courses to help students to be prepared for after graduation. Academic training courses, such as ‘Tackling the writing up stage of the research degree’, have given me knowledge that I could apply to my research. Also beyond-academic training courses such as ‘How to Get a Job: Successful Applications and Interviews for Researchers’, have provided me with confidence and a foundation to be prepared for a career in the future.

    What are your future plans?

    After finishing my PhD, I plan to apply for jobs outside academia to gain experience in the beauty industry before pursuing a teaching career. As my research is practical and dynamic, getting into the beauty industry and applying what I have learnt and gained from this research into the business world will enable me to have complete aspects of industry and theories in order to widen teaching contexts for students in the future.