Research Designs in Market Research
The research design also contains clear objectives, derived from research data, the sign technique(s) (survey), observation, experimental etc), the sampling methodology and procedures, the schedule and the budget. There should be clear justification with regard to the research design based on the research question and objectives. A research design is a framework or blueprint for conducting the marketing research project. It details the procedures necessary for obtaining the information needed to structure or solve marketing research problems.
Research design is a set of advanced decisions that make up the master plan specifying the methods and procedures for collecting and analyzing the needed information. Research design in simple terms is a plan of the methods and procedures that is used by researchers to collect and analyze the data needed by the manager. [pick 3. 2 Classification of Research designs Researchers have mixed different styles of inquiries for many years. They have recognized that all methods have their inherent strengths and weaknesses.
Most researchers broadly classify research designs into two types: exploratory and conclusive. Furthermore, some researchers classify conclusive research designs as descriptive or casuals. Therefore, there are 3 major classifications of research appropriate design depends largely on the objectives of the research and how much is known about the problem and research objectives. [pick] [pick] [pick] [pick 3. 3 Exploratory design As the term suggests, exploratory research design deals with exploring into the phenomenon.
In case of marketing research, it is used in cases when the problem must be defined more precisely, and to gain additional insights before an approach can be developed. It is not used most times to generate a course of action for decision making. At the exploratory design stage, the information is loosely defined. Exploratory research design focuses on collecting either secondary or primary data using an unstructured format or informal procedures to interpret them. Some examples of exploratory research designs include in-depth interviews, focus groups and projective techniques.
The choice of the most appropriate design depends largely on the objectives of the research and how much is known about the problem and research objectives. 3. 3. 1. In-depth interviews In-depth interviews are an unstructured and direct technique of obtaining insights in which a single respondent is probed by a skilled interviewer to uncover underlying titivation, beliefs, attitudes and feelings on the topic of enquiry. It endeavors to understand the nature and make-up of the area being researched, rather than precise measurement. In-depth interviews can last from 30 minutes to 2 hours and can provide ample information.
This technique allows the researcher to collect both present and future). A unique characteristic of this technique is that the interviewer has ample chance at probing the respondent and collect in-depth data. The interviewer can use the answers provided by respondent and turn them into related questions ensuring a more detailed answers. 3. 3. 2. Focus groups Focus groups are one of the most popular qualitative research methods used around the world. Many times researchers and managers use the term focus groups to define qualitative research.
Focus group is formalized process of bringing a small group of people together for an interactive, informal and spontaneous discussion on a particular and can capture vast array of information. The focus groups timing can vary from 1 to 3 hours and is usually conducted in a congenial surrounding such as a hotel or specialist focus group research facility. By getting the group members to talk at length about the topic, the moderator can ether vast amount of information on ideas, attitudes, feelings and experiences about a particular issue.
Focus groups are usually constructed using similar participants to encourage positive discussion. The advantage of selecting participants from the same demographics (age, income, gender and such other variables are called demographics) helps ensure that group members feel at ease with each other. It is believed that people with similar characteristics are more like to divulge their opinions in a group. However, in some cases a diverse group can also be selected to encourage a wider viewpoint relating to a concept or product.
This is an extremely important issue as it is hard to control group dynamics when more than 12 people are involved in a discussion, The group participants are guided by a leader of the focus group who is called moderator. The discussion at start is led by the moderator who introduces the topic of discussion and attempts to get everyone to participate in a honest discussion and debate. The moderator maintains a certain degree of control over the discussion by directing it whenever the discussion moves too far from the research objectives set forth.
The major goal of any focus group is to provide as much information as possible to he decision maker regarding the issue at hand. With a group of people involved, group dynamics becomes a very crucial issue in focus group discussions. The success of any focus group relies heavily on the overall group dynamics, willingness of members to engage in an interactive dialogue and moderator’s ability to keep the discussion on track. Group focuses are conducted for variety of different objectives.
For example they may be conducted for: a) Understanding the effect of an advertisement prior launch on the target market b) Launching new products or services in an existing or a new market c) f change in marketing mix variables (I. E product, price, place and promotion). E) Revealing hidden consumer preferences, motives, expectations and their relation to overall behavior. There are several advantages of focus group technique. Focus group can help generate creative ideas, thoughts and opinions relating to a topic. They can highlight the underlying reasons for a specific set of actions by a consumer and overall behavior.
They also allow client participation and provide consumer response in a direct manner. They also provide an interaction opportunity for organization to reach specific market segments. While there are many advantages of focus group, they also have disadvantages. The major weaknesses of focus groups are inherently similar to qualitative research techniques. They include the limited generalization of results to the target market, involve subjectivity (bias) of representation and interpretation, data reliability and validity and are costlier than in-depth interview as it brings diverse groups of respondents together. . 3. 3. Projective techniques Projective techniques involve indirect form of questioning which allows the respondent to project their beliefs, opinions, feelings, attitudes and emotions on an issue of concern. Projective techniques consist of several techniques of qualitative data collection. These techniques are useful when the respondent is not at ease in answering questions. The underlying objective is to learn more about the subject in situations where they might not reveal their true thoughts under direct questioning.
The techniques relating to this are were developed in the field of motivational science and clinical psychology. The techniques include pictorial construction, word association tests, sentence completion tests and role plays in marketing research, these techniques are used to describe association with a product or an organization indirectly, without explicitly stating the association. In pictorial construction technique, the respondent is shown a picture and instructed to describe his or her reactions by writing a short narrative story relating to the picture.
At times this technique is used in focus groups scenarios to get a better idea of how respondents perceive an organization or product in a group setting. The difficulty with such techniques cones in understanding and interpreting what the response really means. Traditionally, this technique has proven quite useful in communication industry where experts have used it in testing the impact of product packaging, abeles, brochures and advertisements. In word association technique, respondents are exposed to presented words one at a time and are asked to respond what comes to their mind regarding that word.
This is put into the context of a brand name or a product attribute. For example, respondent may be asked to think what word comes in their mind when they are exposed to the word ‘#11’. Some may After completing the list of words researchers than look for hidden meanings and highlight associations between the words and the responses. This technique has been used successfully in research relating to positioning and branding. In sentence completion technique, incomplete sentences are provided to the respondents who are then asked to complete them.
The researchers hope that such completion will reveal hidden motives, feelings and behavior towards the issue at hand. From these data collected, researchers’ task is to interpret and evaluate meaningful themes. The themes can help in identifying competitive positioning within the marketplace. Respondents are asked to assume a particular role of a third person, such as a neighbor or a friend in role plays. They are then exposed too particular, retirement situation, and asked to verbalize how they would act in the situation.
The researchers hope that the respondent will reveal their attitudes and thoughts through their actions d behavior placed in a different role-playing situation. This technique requires high amount of interpretive exercise as the respondent and response bias is continuously existent. 3. 4. Conclusive research design. In the earlier chapter on exploratory research design one could observe that the findings derived from such techniques should be approached with caution due to the issues of generalization, reliability and validity.
However, one also has to remember the depth of insight available from such techniques. Conclusive research design provides a way to verify and quantify the insights gained from exploratory research. Techniques relating to conclusive research are specifically designed to assist the manager in determining, evaluating and selecting the best course of action to take in a given situation. The techniques used in conclusive research contrast with exploratory research as they are typically more formal and structured.
Most conclusive research techniques are based on large representative samples and data obtained through is subjected to quantitative analysis. As the findings represent a larger group of respondents many times they are directly used is large, it does not mean that the findings are the voice of all the consumers but this kind of studies provide a general guideline regarding the consumer and market behavior. In some instances, the research may come close to suggest precise consumer and market behavior; however in other cases, the research may partially clarify the situation 3. 4. 1.
Descriptive As seen in the table above descriptive research design is typically concerned with determining the frequency with which an event occurs or the relationship between two variables. This type of design is typically guided by an initial relationship between two variables. For example, an investigation of the trends to understand the consumption of cola drinks in relation to respondents’ age, income, occupation etc would be a descriptive study. Descriptive research design is quite prevalent in the field of marketing. It is used when the purpose of research is: a) To make predictions of market and consumer behavior.
For example, a manager will be highly interested in knowing differences in consumption pattern of olla drink during different seasons and will be able to develop a marketing campaign accordingly for the forthcoming season b) To describe characteristics of a certain groups. For example, using its loyalty club card scheme Tests (the largest retailer in the U. K) is able to identify who are the most profitable and least profitable shoppers by developing their generic socio-demographic profile which includes age, spending in Tests (number of visits and spend per visit), gender, regularly consumed items and less frequently bought items etc.
As it can be seen from the above example, descriptive research design focuses on description however such studies should not be conducted as fact-gathering expeditions. Many times due to the relative ease of conducting such studies managers start these studies with unclear objectives and inadequate planning. This results in much of the data becoming useless for decision-making. Therefore, to be of value, a descriptive study must collect data for a definite purpose. In comparison to exploratory design, descriptive research design requires a clear specification of the who, what, when, where, why and how of the research.
Therefore, descriptive research design requires clear landing with regard to collection of data. Unless the study design provides specified methods for selecting sources of information and for collecting data from those sources, the information obtained may be inaccurate or inappropriate. Descriptive research designs are divided into two categories. A) Cross-sectional design b) Longitudinal design c) Cross-sectional design The cross-sectional design is the most common and most familiar way off conducting population elements only once. In simple terms, cross-section studies are Just conducted once.
For example, the manager of a cola company wants to know the preference of teenagers regarding heir cola brand. This kind of study provides a snapshot of the variable of interest at that point in time, as contrasted to the longitudinal study that provides a series of pictures, which, when pieced together, provide a movie of the situation and the changes that are occurring. The objective of cross-sectional design many times is to establish categories such that classification in one category implies classification in one or more other categories. For example, a manger believes that gender is an important factor in consumption of their perfumes.
Further, he or she also wishes to examine the age roof of a consumer effects their perfume buying behavior. These hypotheses could be examined in a cross-sectional study. Measurement would be taken from a representative sample of the population with respect to their gender, age group and frequency of buying perfumes. A. Longitudinal design A longitudinal design is much more reliable than a cross-sectional design for monitoring changes over time, because it relies less on consumers’ mental capable and more frequently monitors events as close to their time of occurrence as feasible.
The primary objective of longitudinal design is to monitor change over a period of time. It involves a fixed sample of population elements that is measured repeatedly. The sample remains the same over a period of time, thus providing a series of pictures which, when viewed together, portray a detailed illustration of the situation and changes that are taking place over a period of time. The major difference between cohort analysis and longitudinal design thus is the sample. While longitudinal design adheres to a single sample, it changes every time the research is conducted in cohort analysis.
In simple terms, the same people are studied over time and same variables are measured. For example, a cola company manager ashes to measure the purchase frequency of various brands of cola beverages among consumers over a period of time. For such research questions longitudinal study is a desirable way of measuring the phenomenon accurately. Sometimes, the term panel is used interchangeably with the term longitudinal design. A panel consists of a sample of respondent, generally households that have agreed to provide information at specified intervals over an extended period.
Such panels are called true panels. Measurements are required from the same entities over a period of time. Such analysis cannot be conducted using omnibus panels. A true panel is also capable of generating more data directly pertaining to the research for the reasons being: (a) captive sample of willing respondents are likely to tolerate extended interview and lengthy questionnaire and (b) background details and other demographics information collection is not required every time providing researcher an opportunity to collect more relevant data.
Data obtained from such panels not only provide information on market shares that are based on extended period of time, but also allow the researcher to examine changes in market share over time. These changes cannot be determined by cross-sectional designs. . 4. 2. Advantages and disadvantages of cross-sectional and longitudinal designs Considering that information is available from panels for multiple periods, the unique advantage of longitudinal analysis becomes obvious. A manager can look at changes in individual’s behavior and attempt to relate them to a succession of marketing tactics.
For example, change in advertising campaign, change in packaging, price change etc furthermore, since the same respondents are measured before and after changes in the marketing variables, small changes in the behavior are more easily identified than if separate cross-sectional studies were conducted sing two or more independent samples. Although the major advantage of a panel is analytical, panel also have disadvantages with respect to the information collected in a study. This is particularly true with respect to classification information, such as income, education, age and occupation as it may change over a period of time.
In many studies, such information is crucial for decision making. Cross-sectional design fails to provide a complete picture in that regard as it Just takes a snapshot at a time. Most panel members are compensated for their involvement in the panel and therefore provide an opportunity to capture longer-term data. As stated earlier longitudinal true panels provide an added advantage of collecting more relevant information as the background information of respondents is known.
Panel data are also believed to be more accurate than cross-sectional data because panel data tend to be relatively freer from the errors associated with reporting past behavior. A typical cross-sectional study requires respondents to recall past purchase and behavior and these data can be inaccurate due to memory lapses. In comparison, panel data, which rely on continuous recording of purchases in a diary place less reliance on respondents’ memory and therefore are more accurate. Airy place less reliance on respondents’ memory and therefore are more accurate.
Errors also occur because the interviewer and respondent represent distinct personalities and different social roles. Very often respondents say what they think the interviewer wants to hear or what they feel the interviewer should hear. The panel designs help reduce such interaction bias because of frequent contact and rapport generation between the interviewer and respondents. While there are many advantages of longitudinal design (consumer panels) over cross-sectional design (one-shot surveys), the consumer panel themselves are not without drawbacks. The main disadvantage of consumer panel is that they are non- representative at times.
The agreement to participate involves a commitment on the part of the designated respondent. Some respondents refuse this commitment. Sometimes they are not interested in filling out diaries or test products or evaluate advertising copy. Furthermore, creating a consumer panel in itself is a difficult task as some members of the society are hard to find or hard to reach and many time are not ready to participate at all. Mortality is another concern associated with consumer panels. Furthermore, payments may cause certain group of people to be attracted to panel making the group unrepresentative.
Another disadvantage of panels is the response bias. New panel members are often found to be biased in their initial response. They tend to increase the behavior being measured, such as food purchasing and consumption. This bias decreases as the respondents overcome the novelty of being on the panel. Furthermore, seasoned panel members also give biased responses, as they want to look good and think they are experts at things. Because of the potential limitations of true panels, researchers may be wise to restrict their use to situations in which periodic monitoring of the same respondents s essential. 5.
Causal designs As it can be observed from the above discussion relating to descriptive design that such designs are commonly used as direct bases for marketing decisions. However, one of the common problems is that descriptive designs do not provide direct cause and effect relationships. On the other hand, managers continually make decision based on assumed causal relationships. As these assumptions are based on intuitions, they are hardly Justifiable and validity of such causation should be examined with causal research. For example, one of the common causation related judgments relates to pricing decisions.
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