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CHAPTER FOUR EXPLORATORY AND OBSERVATIONAL RESEARCH DESIGNS AND DATA COLLECTION APPROACHES LEARNING OBJECTIVES (PPT slides 4-2 and 4-3) 1. Identify the major differences between qualitative and quantitative research. 2. Understand in-depth interviewing and focus groups as questioning techniques. 3. Define focus groups and explain how to conduct them. 4. Discuss purposed communities and market research online communities (MROCs). 5. Explain other qualitative data collection methods such as ethnography, case studies, netnography, projective techniques, and ZMET. 6. Discuss observation methods and explain how they are used to collect primary data. 7. Discuss the growing field of social media monitoring. KEY TERMS AND CONCEPTS 1. Bulletin board 2. Case study 3. Content analysis 4. Debriefing analysis 5. Ethnography 6. Focus group moderator 7. Focus group research 8. Groupthink 9. In-depth interview 10. Listening platform/post 11. Marketing Research Online Communities (MROCs) 12. Moderator’s guide 13. Netnography 14. Observation research 15. Participant observation 16. Projective techniques 17. Purposed communities 18. Purposive sampling 19. Qualitative research 20. Quantitative research 21. Scanner-based panel 22. Sentence completion test 23. Sentiment analysis/opinion mining 24. Social media monitoring 25. Stratified purposive sampling 26. Technology-mediated observation 27. Theoretical sampling 28. Word association test 29. Zaltman Metaphor Elicitation Technique (ZMET) CHAPTER SUMMARY BY LEARNING OBJECTIVES Identify the major differences between qualitative and quantitative research. In business problem situations where secondary information alone cannot answer management’s questions, primary data must be collected and transformed into usable information. Researchers can choose between two general types of data collection methods: qualitative or quantitative. There are many differences between these two approaches with respect to their research objectives and goals, type of research, type of questions, time of execution, generalizability to target populations, type of analysis, and researcher skill requirements. Qualitative methods may be used to generate exploratory, preliminary insights into decision problems or address complex consumer motivations that may be difficult to study with quantitative research. Qualitative methods are also useful to understand the impact of cultural or subculture on consumer decision making and to probe unconscious or hidden motivations that are not easy to access using quantitative research. Qualitative researchers collect detailed amounts of data from relatively small samples by questioning or observing what people do and say. These methods require the use of researchers well trained in interpersonal communication, observation, and interpretation. Data typically are collected using open-ended or semi-structured questioning formats that allow for probing attitudes or behavior patterns or observation techniques for current behaviors or events. While qualitative data can be collected quickly (except in ethnography), it requires good interpretative skills to transform data into useful findings. The small nonrandom samples that are typically used make generalization to a larger population of interest questionable. In contrast, quantitative or survey research methods place heavy emphasis on using formal, structured questioning practices where the response options have been predetermined by the researcher. These questions tend to be administered to large numbers of respondents. Quantitative methods are directly related to descriptive and causal types of research projects where the objectives are either to make more accurate predictions about relationships between market factors and behaviors or to validate the existence of relationships. Quantitative researchers are well trained in scale measurement, questionnaire design, sampling, and statistical data analyses. Understand in-depth interviewing and focus groups as questioning techniques. An in-depth interview is a systematic process of asking a subject a set of semi-structured, probing questions in a face-to-face setting. Focus groups involve bringing a small group of people together for an interactive and spontaneous discussion of a particular topic or concept. While the success of in-depth interviewing depends heavily on the interpersonal communication and probing skills of the interviewer, success in focus group interviewing relies more on the group dynamics of the members, the willingness of members to engage in an interactive dialogue, and the moderator’s abilities to keep the discussion on track. In-depth interviewing and focus groups are both guided by similar research objectives: (1) to provide data for defining and redefining marketing problem situations; (2) to provide data for better understanding the results from previously completed quantitative survey studies; (3) to reveal and understand consumers’ hidden or unconscious needs, wants, attitudes, feelings, behaviors, perceptions, and motives regarding services, products, or practices; (4) to generate new ideas about products, services, or delivery methods; and (5) to discover new constructs and measurement methods. Define focus groups and explain how to conduct them. A face-to-face focus group is a small group of people (8 to 12) brought together for an interactive, spontaneous discussion. Focus groups can also be conducted online. The three phases of a focus group study are planning the study, conducting the actual focus group discussions, and analyzing and reporting the results. In the planning of a focus group, critical decisions have to be made regarding whether to conduct face-to-face or online focus groups, who should participate, how to select and recruit the appropriate participants, what size the group should be, what incentives to offer to encourage and reinforce participants’ willingness and commitment to participate, and where the group sessions should be held. Discuss purposed communities and marketing research online communities. Purposed communities are online social networks that may be specific to marketing research, or they may be broader brand communities whose primary purpose is marketing but are also used to provide research insights. Marketing Research Online Communities (MROCs) are purposed communities whose primary purpose is research. Consumers and customers are recruited for the purpose of answering questions and interacting with other participants within the MROC. Participant samples are usually handpicked to be representative of the relevant target market, or they are devoted fans of the brand. MROCs may be short or long term, and may involve small or large numbers of participants, from 25 in small groups up to Two thousand for larger groups.
Discuss other qualitative data collection methods such as ethnography, case studies, projective techniques, and the ZMET. There are several useful qualitative data collection methods other than in-depth interviews and focus groups. These methods include ethnography and case studies, which both involve extended contact with research settings. Researchers may also use projective techniques such as word association tests, sentence completion tests, and the ZMET, which use indirect techniques to access consumers’ feelings, emotions, and unconscious motivations. These techniques are less frequently used than are focus groups but are still considered useful approaches. Discuss observation methods and explain how they are used to collect primary data. Observation methods can be used by researchers in all types of research designs (exploratory, descriptive, causal). The major benefits of observation are the accuracy of collecting data on actual behavior, reduction of confounding factors such as interviewer or respondent biases, and the amount of detailed behavioral data that can be recorded. The unique characteristics that underline observation data collection methods are their (1) directness, (2) subject’s awareness, (3) structure, and (4) observing mechanism. The unique limitations of observation methods are lack of generalizability of the data, inability to explain current behaviors or events, and the complexity of observing the behavior. Discuss the growing field of social media monitoring. Social media monitoring is research based on analyzing conversations in social media, for example, Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and product review sites. The monitoring provides marketing researchers with a rich source of existing, authentic information and organic conversations in social networks online. The data from these conversations may be analyzed qualitatively and quantitatively. One strength of social media monitoring is that researchers can observe people interacting with each other unprompted by the potential bias of interviewers and questions. Another advantage of social media monitoring is individuals who may not fill out surveys or agree to focus groups might nevertheless share their experiences with online social networks. Weaknesses include expense, accuracy of automatic categorization, and the non-representativeness of online posts. However, expenses are forecasted to fall, while the accuracy and depth of categorization tools is expected to increase over time. CHAPTER OUTLINE Opening VIGNETTE: The Culture Codes The opening vignette in this chapter describes the outcomes of a multistage qualitative research project conducted for Chrysler to better understand how the Jeep Wrangler could be positioned. The results suggested that consumers view Jeep Wrangler as a horse, riding free in the American West. Executives were skeptical but agreed to change the headlights on the Wrangler from square to round to mimic the eyes of a horse. The response from consumers was positive suggesting that the qualitative research had provided valuable insights. I. Value of Qualitative Research (PPT slide 4-4) Qualitative research often is used in exploratory research designs when the research objectives are to gather background information and clarify the research problems and to create hypotheses or establish research priorities. Quantitative research may then be used to follow up and quantify the qualitative findings. Qualitative research results may be sufficient for decision making in certain situations. For example, if the research is designed to assess customer responses to different advertising approaches while the ads are still in the storyboard phase of development, qualitative research is effective. Qualitative research may also be sufficient when feedback in focus groups or in-depth interviews is consistent, such as overwhelmingly favorable (or unfavorable) reactions toward a new product concept. Some topics are more appropriately studied using qualitative research. This is particularly true for complex consumer behaviors that may be affected by factors that are not easily reducible to numbers, such as consumer choices and experiences involving cultural, family, and psychological influences that are difficult to tap using quantitative methods. Occasionally, qualitative research is conducted as a follow-up to quantitative research. This happens when quantitative findings are contradictory or ambiguous and do not fully answer research questions. II. Overview of Research Designs (PPT slide 4-5) The three major types of research designs are exploratory, descriptive, and causal. Each design type has a different objective: The objective of exploratory research is to discover ideas and insights to better understand the problem at hand. The objective of descriptive research is to collect information that provides answers to research questions. This type of research enables companies to identify trends, to test hypotheses about relationships between variables, and ultimately to identify ways to solve previously identified marketing problems. The objective of causal research is to test cause-and-effect relationships between specifically designed marketing variables. To do this, the researcher must be able to explicitly define the research question and variables. Depending on the research objective, marketing researchers use all three types of research designs. III. Overview of Qualitative and Quantitative Research Methods (PPT slides 4-6) There are differences in qualitative and quantitative approaches. The factors listed in Exhibit 4.1 summarize the major differences (PPT slide 4-7). A. Quantitative Research Methods (PPT slide 4-6) Quantitative research methods use formal questions and predetermined response options in questionnaires administered to large numbers of respondents (PPT slide 4-6). With quantitative methods, the research problems are specific and well-defined, and the decision maker and researcher have agreed on the precise information needs. Quantitative methods are most often used with descriptive and causal research designs but are occasionally associated with exploratory designs. Quantitative analysis techniques may be applied to qualitative data (e.g., textual, image, or video). These projects may be exploratory as they seek to detect and measure early problems or successes with products, services, or marketing communication efforts. The main goals of quantitative research are to obtain information to: make accurate predictions about relationships between market factors and behaviors gain meaningful insights into those relationships validate relationships test hypotheses Quantitative researchers are well trained in construct development, scale measurement, questionnaire design, sampling, and statistical data analysis. Quantitative researchers must be able to translate numerical data into meaningful narrative information, ultimately telling a compelling story that is supported by data. Quantitative methods are often statistically projectable to the target population of interest. B. Qualitative Research Methods (PPT slides 4-6 to 4-8) Qualitative research is the collection of data in the form of text or images using open-ended questions, observation, or “found” data (PPT slide 4-6). Qualitative data may be analyzed qualitatively or quantitatively. While qualitative research data collection and analysis can be careful and rigorous, most practitioners regard qualitative research as being less reliable than quantitative research. Qualitative research often uncovers unanticipated findings and reactions. Therefore, one common objective of qualitative research is to gain preliminary insights into research problems. Qualitative research probe more deeply into areas that quantitative research is too superficial to access, such as subconscious consumer motivations. Qualitative research enables researchers and clients to get closer to their customers and potential customers than does quantitative research. Qualitative researchers usually collect detailed data from relatively small samples by asking questions or observing behavior. Data analysis typically involves content analysis and interpretation. To increase the reliability and trustworthiness of the interpretation, researchers follow consistent approaches that are extensively documented. The semi-structured format of the questions and the small sample sizes limit the researcher’s ability to generalize qualitative data to the population. Nevertheless, qualitative data have important uses in identifying and understanding business problems. Qualitative research can be superior for studying topics that involve complex psychological motivations not easily reduced to survey formats and quantitative analyses. Qualitative research methods have several advantages. Exhibit 4.2 summarizes the major advantages and disadvantages of qualitative research (PPT slide 4-8). Advantages: Except for ethnography, data can be collected relatively quickly or may already exist as naturally occurring conversations on the Internet Richness of the data Accuracy of recording marketplace behaviors (validity) Preliminary insights into building models and scale measurements Insights from qualitative researchers with training in social and behavioral sciences Disadvantages: Lack of generalizability Difficulty in estimating magnitude of phenomena being investigated Low reliability Difficulty finding well-trained investigators, interviewers, and observers Reliance on subjective interpretation skills of qualitative researcher III. Qualitative Data Collection Methods (PPT slides 4-9 to 4-19) A number of approaches can be used to collect qualitative data. Focus groups are the most frequently used qualitative research method (Exhibit 4.3). A. In-Depth Interviews (PPT slides 4-9) The in-depth interview (IDI) also referred to as a “depth” or “one-on-one” interview, involves a trained interviewer asking a respondent a set of semi-structured, probing questions usually in a face-to-face setting. (PPT slides 4-9) The typical setting for this type of interview is either the respondent’s home or office, or some type of centralized interviewing center convenient for the respondent. Some research firms use hybrid in-depth interviewing techniques combining Internet and phone interviewing. In these cases, the conversation can be extended over several days giving participants more time to consider their answers. Use of the Internet also enables consumers to be exposed to visual and audio stimuli, thus overcoming the major limitation of in-depth interviews over the phone. Two more IDI methods have emerged in recent years: Online IDIs using webcams Online text-based chat A unique characteristic of in-depth interviewing is that the interviewer uses probing questions to elicit more detailed information on the topic. The general rule is that the more a subject talks about a topic, the more likely he or she is to reveal underlying attitudes, motives, emotions, and behaviors. The major advantages of IDIs over focus groups include: Rich detail that can be uncovered when focusing on one participant at a time Lower likelihood participants responding in a socially desirable manner because there are no other participants to impress Less crosstalk that may inhibit some people from participating in a focus group IDI is a particularly good approach to use with projective techniques. For in-depth interviewing to be effective, interviewers must have excellent interpersonal communications and listening skills: Interpersonal communication skills—include the interviewer’s ability to ask questions in a direct and clear manner so respondents understand what they are responding to. Listening skills—include the ability to accurately hear, record, and interpret the respondent’s answers. Probing skills—without this, interviewers may allow the discussion of a specific topic to end before all the potential information is revealed. Interpretative skills—it is the interviewer’s ability to accurately understand the respondent’s answers. Personality—plays a significant role in establishing a “comfort zone” for the respondent during the question/answer process. Interviewers should be easygoing, flexible, trustworthy, and professional. Participants who feel at ease with an interviewer are more likely to reveal their attitudes, feelings, motivations, and behaviors.
There are a number of steps to be concerned with in planning and conducting an in-depth interview. Exhibit 4.4 highlights those steps (PPT slides 4-11): Step 1: Understand initial questions/problems Step 2: Create a set of research questions Step 3: Decide on the best environment for conducting the interview Step 4: Select and screen the respondents Step 5: Respondents greeted, given interviewing guidelines, and put at ease Step 6: Conduct the in-depth interview Step 7: Analyze respondent’s narrative responses Step 8: Write summary report of results B. Focus Group Interviews (PPT slides 4-11) The most widely used qualitative research method in marketing is the focus group, sometimes called the group depth interview. Focus group research involves bringing a small group of people together for an interactive and spontaneous discussion of a particular topic or concept (PPT slides 4-11). Focus groups typically consist of 8-12 participants who are guided by a professional moderator through a semi-structured discussion that most often lasts about two hours. The fundamental idea behind the focus group approach is that one person’s response will spark comments from other members, thus creating synergy among participants. In addition to the traditional face-to-face method, focus groups are now conducted online as well. These groups can be either text- or video-based. Text-based groups are like chat rooms, but with some enhancements. Online focus groups are especially appropriate for web-based advertising of products and services because they can be tested in their natural environment. Online focus groups can be conducted relatively quickly because of the ease of participation and because the focus group transcript is produced automatically during the group. While body language cannot be assessed with text-based online focus groups and asking follow-up questions is somewhat more difficult than it is in 3D or traditional offline focus groups, there are advantages to online focus groups. A variation of online focus groups is the bulletin board format (PPT slide 4-11). In the bulletin board format, participants agree to respond over a period of four to five days. The moderator posts questions and manages the discussion which unfolds over several days. This format enables people to participate who might otherwise not be able to and is especially useful for specific groups that are difficult to recruit, such as purchasing agents, executives or medical professionals.
The primary disadvantage of text-based online focus groups is they lack face-to-face interaction. Thus, some online focus group providers are now offering video formats. There is no single approach used by all researchers. But focus group interviews can be divided into three phases (Exhibit 4.5; PPT slide 4-12): Planning the study Conducting the focus group discussions Analyzing and reporting the results C. Phase 1: Planning the Focus Group Study (PPT slide 4-13) The planning phase is important to the success of focus groups. In this phase, researchers and decision makers must have a clear understanding of the purpose of the study, a definition of the problem, and specific data requirements. The purpose of the focus groups ultimately determines whether face-to-face or online focus groups are the most appropriate. Other important factors in the planning phase relate to decisions about who the participants should be, how to select and recruit respondents, and where to have the focus group sessions. Focus group participants: The objective is to choose the type of individuals who will best represent the target population of interest. The number of groups conducted usually increases with the number of participant variables. Most research issues can be covered in four to eight groups. Selection and recruitment of participants: To select participants for a focus group, the researcher must first develop a screening approach that specifies the characteristics respondents must have to qualify for participation. Researchers also must choose a method for contacting prospective participants. Because small samples are inherently unrepresentative, it is usually not possible to recruit a random sample for qualitative methods. Therefore, researchers select sample members purposively or theoretically. Purposive sampling involves selecting sample members because they possess particular characteristics (PPT slide 4-13). A stratified purposive sample may be chosen so that various target group members are included or to provide comparisons between groups (PPT slide 4-13). Theoretical sampling occurs when earlier interviews suggest potentially interesting participants not initially considered in the sampling plan (PPT slide 4-13). Size of the focus group: Most experts agree that the optimal number of participants in face-to-face focus group interviews is from 10 to 12. Any size smaller than eight participants is not likely to generate synergy between participants. In contrast, having too many participants can easily limit each person’s opportunity to contribute insights and observations. Focus group locations: Face-to-face focus groups can be held in the client’s conference room, the moderator’s home, a meeting room at a church or civic organization, or an office or hotel meeting room, to name a few. D. Phase 2: Conducting the Focus Group Discussions (PPT slide 4-14) The success of face-to-face focus group sessions depends heavily on the moderator’s communication, interpersonal, probing, observation, and interpretive skills. The focus group moderator must be able not only to ask the right questions but also to stimulate and control the direction of the participants’ discussions over a variety of predetermined topics (PPT slide 4-14). The moderator is responsible for creating positive group dynamics and a comfort zone between himself or herself and each group member as well as among the members themselves. To ensure that the actual focus group session is productive, a moderator’s guide must be prepared. The moderator’s guide is a detailed outline of the topics, questions, and subquestions used by the moderator to lead the focus group session (PPT slide 4-14). Moderator’s guides must be developed and used for both face-to-face and online focus group sessions. Questions should be asked in different ways and at different levels of generality. Beginning the session: When using face-to-face focus groups, after the participants sit down there should be an opportunity (about 10 minutes) for sociable small talk, coupled with refreshments. The purpose of these pre-session activities is to create a friendly, warm, comfortable environment in which participants feel at ease. The moderator should briefly discuss the ground rules for the session: participants are told that only one person should speak at a time, everyone’s opinion is valued, and that there are no wrong answers. Main session: Using the moderator’s guide, the first topic area is introduced to the participants. It should be a topic that is interesting and easy to talk about. As the discussion unfolds, the moderator must use probing questions to obtain as many details as possible. If there is good rapport between group members and the moderator, it should not be necessary to spend a lot of time merely asking selected questions and receiving answers. In a well-run focus group, participants interact and comment on each others’ answers. The most common problem that inexperienced moderators have is insufficient depth of questioning. Moderators may give participants exercises to help stimulate conversation. Moderators for face-to-face focus groups must have excellent listening skills. Participants are more likely to speak up if they think they are being heard and that their opinion is valued. Moderators should try to see the topic of discussion from the participants’ point of view. When a participant gives feedback that is useful, but which may be uncomfortable for the participant, moderators should support the disclosure by saying something like ‘‘thanks so much for bringing that up,’’ or ‘‘that’s really helpful for us to know.’’ Closing the session: After all of the prespecified topics have been covered, participants should be asked a closing question that encourages them to express final ideas or opinions. The moderator may present a final overview of the discussion and then ask the participants, ‘‘Have we missed anything?’’ or ‘‘Do you think we’ve missed anything in the discussion?” Participants should be thanked for participating and given the promised incentive gift or cash. E. Phase 3: Analyzing and reporting (PPT slide 4-15) The researchers and the sponsoring client’s representatives should conduct debriefing and wrap-up activities as soon as possible after focus group members leave the session. Debriefing analysis gives the researcher, client, and moderator a chance to compare notes. Individuals that have heard (or read) the discussion need to know how their impressions compare to those of the moderator (PPT slide 4-15). Debriefing is important for both face-to-face and online focus groups. Qualitative researchers use content analysis to create meaningful findings from focus group discussions. Content analysis requires the researcher to systematically review transcripts of individual responses and categorize them into larger thematic categories (PPT slide 4-15). F. Advantages of Focus Group Interviews (PPT slide 4-16) There are five major advantages to focus group interviews: Stimulates new ideas thoughts, and feelings about a topic Foster understanding of why consumers act or behave in certain market situations Allows client participation Elicit wide-ranging participant responses Bring together hard-to-reach informants The major weaknesses of focus groups are inherently similar to all qualitative methods (PPT slide 4-17): The findings lack generalizability to the target population The reliability of the data is limited The trustworthiness of the interpretation is based on the care and insightfulness of researchers. The possibility that group dynamics contaminate results While the interaction between participants can be a strength of focus group research, groupthink is possible as well. Groupthink happens when one or two members of the focus group state an opinion and other members join the bandwagon (PPT slide 4-17). Groupthink is most likely when participants do not have a previously well-formed opinion on issues discussed in the group. G. Purposed Communities/Marketing Research Online Communities (PPT slide 4-18 and 4-19) Purposed communities are online social networks that may be specific to marketing research, or they may be broader brand communities, the primary purpose of which is marketing but are also used to provide research insights (PPT slide 4-18). Marketing research online communities (MROCs) are purposed communities, the primary purpose of which is research (PPT slide 4-19). Consumers and customers are recruited for the purpose of answering questions and interacting with other participants within the MROC. In online communities, most people participate because they think they can improve products and marketing communication for a brand or product about which they care. IV. Other Qualitative Data Collection Methods (PPT slide 4-20 to 4-24) A. Ethnography (PPT slide 4-20) Ethnography is a distinct form of qualitative data collection that seeks to understand how social and cultural influences affect people’s behavior and experiences (PPT slides 4-20). Ethnography records behavior in natural settings, often involves the researcher in extended experience in a cultural or subcultural context, called participant observation, produces accounts of behaviors that are credible to the persons who are studied, and involves triangulation among multiple sources of data (PPT slide 4-20). In nonparticipant observation, the researcher observes without entering into the events. B. Case Study (PPT slide 4-21) A case study is an exploratory research technique that intensively investigates one or several existing situations which are similar to the current problem/opportunity situation (PPT slide 4-21). It is particularly useful in studying business-to-business purchase decisions because they are made by one or only a few people. Case study research tracks thinking by the same individual, group, or organization using multiple interviews over several weeks and can therefore obtain subconscious thinking and study group interaction over time as problems, projects, and processes are defined and redefined. C. Projective Techniques (PPT slide 4-22 to 4-24)
A projective technique is an indirect method of questioning that enables a subject to project beliefs and feelings onto a third party, into a task situation, or onto an inanimate object (PPT slides 4-22). Projective techniques were developed by clinical psychologists and can be used in conjunction with focus groups or in-depth interviews. These techniques include word association tests, sentence completion tests, picture tests, thematic apperception tests (TAT), cartoon or balloon tests, role-playing activities, and the Zaltman Metaphor Elicitation Technique (ZMET). The stimuli should be ambiguous enough to invite individual participant interpretation, but still specific enough to be associated with the topic of interest. The major disadvantage of projective techniques is the complexity of interpretation. Highly skilled researchers are required and they can be expensive. There is a degree of subjectivity in all qualitative research analyses, but even more so when projective techniques are used. The background and experiences of the researcher influence the interpretation of data collected by projective techniques. A word association test is a projective technique in which the subject is presented with a list of words or short phrases, one at a time, and asked to respond with the first thought [word] that comes to mind (PPT slide 4-23). The responses to the test are used to ‘‘map’’ the underlying meaning of the product or brand to consumers. A sentence completion test is a projective technique where subjects are given a set of incomplete sentences and asked to complete them in their own words (PPT slide 4-23). When successful, sentence completion tests reveal hidden aspects about individuals’ thoughts and feelings toward the object(s) studied. From the data collected, researchers interpret the completed sentences to identify meaningful themes or concepts. The Zaltman Metaphor Elicitation Technique (ZMET) is a visual research technique used in in-depth interviewing that encourages research participants to share emotional and subconscious reactions to a particular topic (PPT 4-24). It is the first marketing research tool to be patented in the United States. It is based on the projective hypothesis, which holds that a good deal of thought, especially thought with emotional content, is processed in images and metaphors rather than words. In contrast to surveys and focus groups which rely heavily on verbal stimuli, the ZMET uses a visual method. Several steps are followed in the ZMET: When recruited, participants are told the topic of the study. Participants are asked to spend a week collecting 10 to 15 pictures or images that describe their reaction to the topic and to bring the pictures to their interview. Each participant is asked to compare and contrast pictures and to explain what else might be in the picture if the frame were to be widened. Then, participants construct a ‘‘mini-movie,’’ which strings together the images they have been discussing and describes how they feel about the topic of interest. At the end of the interview, participants create a digital image, which is a summary image of their feelings. V. Observation Methods (PPT slide 4-25) Researchers use observation methods to collect primary data about human behavior and marketing phenomena regardless of the nature of research designs (e.g., exploratory, descriptive, or causal). Observation research can involve collection of either qualitative or quantitative data and may result in qualitative or quantitative summaries and analyses of the collected information. The primary characteristic of observational techniques is that researchers must rely on their observation skills rather than asking participants predetermined questions. Information about the behavior of people and objects that can be observed includes the following: Physical actions (e.g., consumers’ shopping patterns or automobile driving habits) Expressive behaviors (e.g., tone of voice and facial expressions) Verbal behavior (e.g., phone conversations) Temporal behavior patterns (e.g., amount of time spent shopping online or on a particular website) Spatial relationships and locations (e.g., number of vehicles that move through a traffic light or movements of people at a theme park) Physical objects (e.g., which brand name items are purchased at supermarkets or which make/model SUVs are driven) Observation research involves systematic observing and recording of behavioral patterns of objects, people, events, and other phenomena (PPT slide 4-25). Observation is used to collect data about actual behavior, as opposed to surveys in which respondents may incorrectly report behavior. Observation methods require two elements: A behavior or event that is observable A system of recording the behavior or event Behavior patterns are recorded using trained human observers or devices such as video cameras, cameras, audiotapes, computers, handwritten notes, or some other recording mechanism. The main weakness of nonparticipant observation methods is they cannot be used to obtain information on attitudes, preferences, beliefs, emotions, and similar information. A special form of observational research, ethnography, involves extended contact with a natural setting and can even include researcher participation. However, because of the time and expense involved, true ethnographies are rarely undertaken by marketing researchers. A. Unique Characteristics of Observation Methods (PPT slide 4-26) Observation can be described in terms of four characteristics: Directness Awareness Structure Type of observing mechanism Exhibit 4.6 is an overview of these characteristics and their impact (PPT slide 4-26). B. Types of Observation Methods (PPT slide 4-27) The type of observation method refers to how behaviors or events will be observed. Researchers can choose between two methods: Human observers Technological devices With human observation, the observer is either a person hired and trained by the researcher or is a member of the research team. To be effective, the observer must have a good understanding of the research objectives and excellent observation and interpretation skills. In many situations the use of mechanical or electronic devices is more suitable than a person in collecting the data. Technology-mediated observation uses a technology to capture human behavior, events, or marketing phenomena (PPT slide 4-27). Devices commonly used include video cameras, traffic counters, optical scanners, eye tracking monitors, pupilometers, audio voice pitch analyzers, psychogalvanometers, and software. The devices often reduce the cost and improve the flexibility and accuracy of data collection. Advances in technology are making observation techniques more useful and cost effective. Scanner technology, a type of electronic observation, is rapidly replacing traditional consumer purchase diary methods. Scanner-based panels involve a group of participating households that are assigned a unique bar-coded card that is presented to the clerk at the checkout register (PPT slide 4-27). The household’s code number is matched with information obtained from scanner transactions during a defined period. Scanner systems enable researchers to observe and develop a purchase behavior database on each household. Researchers can combine offline tracking information with online-generated information for households, providing more complete customer profiles. Scanner data provide week-by-week information on how products are doing in individual stores and track sales against price changes and local ads or promotion activities. They also facilitate longitudinal studies covering longer periods of time. Scanner technology is also used to observe and collect data from the general population. The fastest growing observational research approaches involve the Internet. Online merchants, content sites, and search engines all collect quantitative information about online behavior. These companies maintain databases with customer profiles and can predict probable response rates to ads, the time of day and day of week the ads are likely to be most effective, the various stages of potential buyers in the consideration process for a particular product or service, and the type and level of engagement with a website. Extensive qualitative data from social media is increasingly being harvested on the Internet. The data involves online conversations about products, services, brands, and marketing communications that occur in social media. C. Selecting the Observation Method (PPT slide 4-28 to 4-30) The first step in selecting the observation method is to understand the information requirements and consider how the information will be used later. Without this understanding, selecting the observation method is significantly more difficult. First researchers must answer the following questions: What types of behavior are relevant to the research problem? How much detail of the behavior needs to be recorded? What is the most appropriate setting (natural or artificial) to observe the behavior? The second step is to evaluate the various methods of observing behaviors. Issues to be considered include: Is a setting available to observe the behaviors or events? To what extent are the behaviors or events repetitious and frequently exhibited? What degree of directness and structure is needed to observe the behaviors or events? How aware should the subjects be that their behaviors are being observed? Which observation method is most appropriate: in-person or technology-mediated? The researcher can now determine the proposed method’s ability to accurately observe and record the behavior or activity. The costs involved—time, money, and manpower—also must be determined and evaluated. Finally, potential ethical issues associated with the proposed observation method must be considered. D. Benefits and Limitations of Observation Methods (PPT slide 4-31) Observation methods have strengths and weaknesses (Exhibit 4.7; PPT slide 4-31). Among the major benefits is that observation enables collection of actual behavior or activities rather than reported activities. This is especially true in situations where individuals are observed in a natural setting using a disguised technique. In addition, observation methods reduce recall error, response bias, and refusal to participate, as well as interviewer errors. Finally, data often can often be collected in less time and at a lower cost than through other types of procedures. E. Social Media Monitoring and the Listening Platform (PPT slide 4-32) Social media monitoring is observational research based on analyzing conversations in social media, for example, Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and product review sites (PPT slide 4-32). The monitoring provides marketing researchers with a rich source of existing, authentic information from the ‘‘river of news’’ that is being organically shared in social networks online. Blogs, social networking sites, and online communities provide a natural outlet for consumers to share experiences about products, brands, and organizations. The difference between social media monitoring and the MROC (covered previously) is that in social media research, the data (text, images, and video) already exist and were not created by interaction with researchers. Two main advantages of social media monitoring are: Researchers can observe people interacting with each other unprompted by the potential bias of interviewers and questions. Individuals who may not fill out surveys or agree to focus groups might nevertheless share their experiences with online social networks. Social media monitoring also has several weaknesses: While the expense is forecasted to decrease, it currently costs thousands of dollars a month just to monitor a few well-chosen keywords. Many of the automated techniques for classifying textual data are unproven so the accuracy of the information is unknown. The sample of people interacting about the brand, product, or advertising campaign is a self-selected sample that may not be representative of consumer reactions in the target market. In fact, different social media monitoring tools often produce different results. Some social media sites are not publicly available for researchers to mine. A listening platform or post is an integrated approach to monitoring and analyzing media sources to provide insights that support marketing decision making (PPT slide 4-32). In the past, larger companies often paid for a service that would read and clip articles from newspapers and magazines. Listening platforms are a technologically enhanced version of this older service. Reasons for deploying a listening platform include: Monitoring online brand image Complaint handling Discovering what customers want Tracking trends Determining what one’s competitors are doing Listening platforms are in their infancy and are ripe for a large number of research innovations in coming years. The market opportunity for research firms who collect and process social media data and provide a listening platform is predicted to be in the billions by 2014 with practically every company eventually needing some kind of listening research and engagement tools. The qualitative data available from social media monitoring can be analyzed qualitatively, quantitatively, or both. Currently, most social media monitoring tools seek to seamlessly mix qualitative and quantitative analyses. The earliest application of quantitative methods is simple counts of mentions of keywords. Another emerging, but controversial, quantitative tool is sentiment analysis, also called opinion mining (PPT slide 4-32). Sentiment analysis relies on the emerging field of natural language processing (NLP) that enables automatic categorization of online comments into positive or negative categories. Initial research applied sentiment analysis tools to product, movie, and restaurant reviews. Quantitative measures of sentiment are still limited as a large amount of data is currently unclassifiable or incorrectly classified with current automation tools. But more advanced sentiment analysis tools are being developed to go beyond grouping by category and enable classification by emotions such as sad, happy, or angry. Thus, in the next few years, sentiment analysis methods are likely to be improved substantially, with their use becoming more pervasive. In addition to quantitative metrics, online conversations are typically mined for qualitative insights as well. Online conversations about the topic of interest may be too numerous to efficiently analyze manually. But qualitative researchers can sample comments for intensive analysis. Sampling can be random or can involve oversampling among especially active and connected web posters. In addition to being useful as an independent tool to provide in-depth opinions, qualitative analysis of conversations provides relevant categories of issues and opportunities for automated tools to follow up and quantify. F. Netnography (PPT slide 4-33) Netnography is an observational research technique that requires deep engagement with one or more social media communities (PPT slide 4-33). What differentiates netnography from the other social media research techniques is the extensive contact and analysis of online communities and the use of participant observation. These online communities are often organized around interests in industries, products, brands, sports teams, or music groups, and contain fanatic consumers who are lead users or innovators. Rob Kozinets, who developed netnography, used the technique to study an online community of ‘‘coffeephiles.’’ Kozinets concluded that devotion to coffee among the members of the community was almost religious: ‘‘Coffee is emotional, human, deeply and personally relevant—and not to be commodified . . . or treated as just another product.’’ In netnography, researchers must: Gain entrée into the community Gather and analyze data from members of the community Ensure trustworthy interpretation of the data Provide opportunities for feedback on the research report from members of the community Before gaining entrée, researchers develop research questions and search to identify online forums that will provide the answers to their research questions. Generally, researchers prefer to collect data from higher traffic forums with larger numbers of discrete message posters and greater between-member interactions. MARKETING RESEARCH IN ACTION REACHING HISPANICS THROUGH QUALITATIVE RESEARCH (PPT slide 4-34 and 4-35) More than 50.5 million (16 percent of the U.S. population) are classified as Hispanic. The Hispanic/Latino population is diverse as it flows from many Spanish-speaking countries around the world characterized by different levels of acculturation. When Hispanics become acculturated, they often strongly identify with both America and their country of origin, an effect that persists across generations. A minority of Hispanics use Spanish as their primary language, with most Hispanics preferring to speak both Spanish and English. Vice president of multicultural business development at Horowitz Associates, Adriana Waterston, emphasizes that approaching the Hispanic segment ‘‘has never been exclusively about language as much as cultural relevance.’’ Other researchers have concluded that whatever the country of origin, five themes are relevant in Spanish-speaking communities: family, moral values, religion, music, cooking, dancing, and socializing. Traditional marketing research among Hispanics has often focused too heavily on classifying the marketplace in terms of language, acculturation, and generation. Perhaps this is because of overreliance on quantitative research approaches. One strength of qualitative research is the ability to tap deeper contextual, psychological, and cultural issues. As the Latino marketplace continues to grow, marketing researchers will need to adjust their research approach, continually identifying ‘‘culturally relevant ways to interact.’’ Instructor Manual for Essentials of Marketing Research Joseph F. Hair, Mary Celsi, Robert P. Bush, David J. Ortinau 9780078028816, 9780078112119

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