Exploring and Describing Store Patronage Marketing Research Help

In the department store patronage project, exploratory research, including secondary data analysis and qualitative research, was first conducted to define the problem and develop a suitable approach. This was followed by a descriptive study consisting of a survey in which a questionnaire was constructed and administered by personal interviews. Suppose the patronage study was to be repeated after a year to determine if any changes had taken place. At that point, exploratory research would probably be unnecessary and the research design could begin with descriptive research.

Assume that the survey is repeated a year later and some unexpected findings are obtained. Management wonders why the store’s ratings on in-store service have declined when the sales staff has increased. Exploratory research in the form of focus groups might be undertaken to probe the unexpected findings. The focus groups may reveal that while the salespeople are easy to find, they are not perceived to be friendly or helpful. This may suggest the need for training the sales staff

Project Activities

1. suppose Sears was interested in examining changes in department store shopping as people grow from 30 to 40 to 50 to 60 years old. What type of research design should be adopted?
2. How can Sears make use of causal research? Identify two scenarios in which such a design would be appropriate

The department store patronage project involved the use of exploratory and descriptive research but not causal research. This reflects the fact that exploratory and descriptive research are frequently used in commercial marketing research but causal research is not as popular. However, it is possible to combine exploratory, descriptive, and causal research as demonstrated by Citibank,

Citibank Groups Exploratory, Descriptive, and Causal Research

As of 2009, Citigroup  was a leading provider of a range of financial products and services, including banking, in more than 100 countries. In order to maintain its leadership position, Citigroup must continually research target customers to better cater to their needs. Marketing research at Citibank .a division of Citigroup, is typical in that it is used to measure consumer awareness of products, monitor their satisfaction and attitudes associated with the product, track product usage, and diagnose problems as they occur. To accomplish these tasks Citibanlc makes extensive use of exploratory, descriptive, and causal research

Often it is advantageous to offer special financial packages to specific groups of customers, in this case for senior citizens. Citibank followed the following seven-step process to help in the design

Step 1 A task force was created to better define the market parameters to include all the needs of the many Citibank branches. A final decision was made to include Americans 55 years of age or older, retired, and’ in the upper half of the financial strata of that market.
Step 2 Exploratory research in the form of secondary data analysis of the mature o older market was then performed and a study of competitive products was conducted. Exploratory qualitative research involving focus groups was also carried out in order to determine the needs and desires of the market and the level of satisfaction with the current products. In the case of senior citizens, a great deal of diversity was found in the market. This was determined to be due to such factors as affluence. relative age. and
the absence or presence of a spouse.
Step 3 The next stage of exploratory research was brainstorming. This involved the formal ion of many different financial packages targeted for the target market. In this case, a total of 10 ideas were generated.
Step 4 The feasibility of each of the IO ideas generated in step 3 was then tested. The following list of questions was used as a series of hurdles that the ideas had to pass 10 continue on 10 the next step.

• Can the idea be explained in a manner that the target market will easily understand?
• Does the idea fit into the overall strategy of Citibank?
• Is there an available description of a specific target market fur the proposed product?
• Does the research conducted so far indicate a potential match for target market needs. and is the idea perceived to have appeal to this market?
• Is there a feasible outline of the tactics and strategies for implementing the program?
• Have the financial impact and cost of the program been thoroughly evaluated and determined to be in line with company practices?

In this study, only one idea generated from the brainstorming session made it past all the listed hurdles and on to step 5.

Step 5 A creative work plan was then generated. This plan was to emphasize the competitive advantage of the proposed product as well as better delineate the specific features of the product.
Step 6 The previous exploratory research was now followed up with descriptive research in the form of mall intercept surveys of people in the target market range. The survey showed that the list of special features was too long, and it was decided to drop (he features more commonly offered by competitors.
Step 7 Finally. the product was test-marketed in six of the Citibank branches within the target market. Test marketing is a form of causal research. Given successful test-marketing results. the product was introduced nationally.’?

to determine the needs and desires of the market and the level of satisfaction with the current products. In the case of senior citizens, a great deal of diversity was found in the market. This was determined to be due to such factors as affluence. relative age. and
the absence or presence of a spouse. Step 3 The next stage of exploratory research was brainstorming. This involved the formal ion of many different financial packages targeted for the target market. In this case, a total of 10 ideas were generated.
Step 4 The feasibility of each of the IO ideas generated in step 3 was then tested. The following
list of questions was used as a series of hurdles that the ideas had to pass 10 continue on
10 the next step.
• Can the idea be explained in a manner that the target market will easily understand?
• Does the idea fit into the overall strategy of Citibank?
• Is there an available description of a specific target market fur the proposed product?
• Does the research conducted so far indicate a potential match for target market needs. and is the idea perceived to have appeal to this market?
• Is there a feasible outline of the tactics and strategies for implementing the program?
• Have the financial impact and cost of the program been thoroughly evaluated and determined to be in line with company practices?

In this study, only one idea generated from the brainstorming session made it past all the listed hurdles and on to step 5. Step 5 A creative work plan was then generated. This plan was to emphasize the competitive advantage of the proposed product as well as better delineate the specific features of the product. Step 6 The previous exploratory research was now followed up with descriptive research in the form of mall intercept surveys of people in the target market range. The survey showed that the list of special features was too long, and it was decided to drop (he features more commonly offered by competitors. Step 7 Finally. the product was test-marketed in six of the Citibank branches within the target market. Test marketing is a form of causal research. Given successful test-marketing results. the product was introduced nationally.’?

Many descriptive studies utilize secondary data, which we describe in surveys, which are discussed in Chapter 6; and panels. which are discussed in Chapters 4 and 6. The use of the Internet for causal research designs is discussed in Chapter 7. The Internet, in its capacity as a source of information, can be useful in uncovering secondary data and collecting primary data needed in conclusive research.

Potential Sources of Error

Several potential sources of error can affect a research design. A good research design attempts to control the various sources of error. These errors are discussed in great detail in subsequent chapters, but it is pertinent at this stage to give brief descriptions.

Random Sampling Error

Random sampling error occurs because the particular sample selected is an imperfect representation of the population of interest. Random sampling error is the variation between the true mean value for the population and the true mean value for the original sample. For example, the average annual income of the target population is $75,871. but it is only $71,382 for the original sample, as determined from the mail panel records that are believed to be accurate. Random sampling error is discussed further in

Nonsampling Error

Nonsampling errors can be attributed to sources other than sampling, and they may be random or nonrandom. They result from a variety of reasons, including errors in problem definition, approach, scales, questionnaire design, interviewing methods, and data preparation and analysis. For example, the researcher designs a poor questionnaire, which contains

Potential Sources

Potential Sources

‘several questions that lead the respondents to give biased answers. Non sampling errors consist of non response errors and response errors

RESPONSE ERROR Response error arises when respondents give inaccurate answers or their answers are misrecorded or misanalyzed. Response error is defined as the variation between the true mean value of the variable in the net sample and the observed mean value obtained in the marketing research project. For example. the average annual income is $69,467 for the net sample. but is estimated as $67.157 in the marketing research project. Response errors can be made by researchers. interviewers. or respondents

Population definition error may be defined as the variation between the actual population relevant to the problem at hand and the population as defined by the researcher. The problem of appropriately defining the population may be far from trivial. as illustrated by the case of affluent households.

How Affluent Is Affluent

In a recent study. the population of the affluent households was defined in four different ways: (I) households with income of $50.000 or more; (2) the top 20 percent of households. as measured by income; (3) households with net worth over $250,000; and (4) households with spendable discretionary income 30 percent higher than that of comparable households. The number and characteristics of the affluent households varied depending upon the definition, underscoring the need to avoid population definition error

as may be surmised, the results of this study would have varied markedly depending upon the way the population of affluent households was defined.

Data analysis error encompasses errors that occur while raw data from questionnaires are transformed into research findings. For example, an inappropriate statistical procedure is used, resulting in incorrect interpretation and findings

Respondent selection error occurs when interviewers select respondents other than those specified by the sampling design or in a manner inconsistent with the sampling design .

Cheating error arises when the interviewer fabricates answers to a part or all of the interview. For example, an interviewer does not ask the sensitive questions related to respondent’s debt but later fills in the answers based on personal assessment

Unwillingness error arises from the respondent’s unwillingness to provide accurate information. Respondents may intentionally misreport their answers because of a desire to provide socially acceptable answers, avoid embarrassment, or please the interviewer. For example, a respondent intentionally misreports reading Time magazine in order to impress the interviewer.

Sometimes, researchers deliberately increase a particular type of error to decrease the total error by reducing other errors. For example, suppose’ a mail survey is being conducted to determine consumer preferences for purchasing fashion clothing from department stores. A large sample size has been selected to reduce sampling error. A response rate of 30 percent may be expected. Given the limited budget for the project, the selection of a large sample size does not allow for follow-up mailings. However, past experience indicates that the response rate could be increased to 45 percent with one follow-up and to 55 percent with two followup mailings. Given the subject of the survey, non respondents are likely to differ from respondents in terms of salient variables. Hence, it may be desirable to reduce the- sample size to make money available for follow-up mailings. While decreasing the sample size will increase random sampling error, the two follow-up mailings will more than offset this loss by decreasing non response error.

Once a suitable research design has been formulated, the researcher is in a position to prepare a budget and schedule for the project, both of which are needed to prepare a proposal for the client.

Posted on November 30, 2015 in RESEARCH DESIGN FORMULATION

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