A consumer first becomes aware of a department store. That person then gains an understanding of the store by evaluating the store in terms of the factors comprising the choice criteria, Based on the evaluation. the consumer forms a degree of preference for the store. If preference is strong enough. the consumer will patronize the store
As can be seen from this example. the verbal. graphical. and mathematical models depict the same phenomenon or the etical framework in different ways. The phenomenon of store patronage stated verbally is represented for clarity through a figure (graphical model) and is put in equation form (mathematical model) for ease of statistical estimation and testing. Graphical models are particularly helpful in conceptualizing an approach to the problem. In the opening Harley-Davidson example. the underlying theory was that brand loyalty is the result of positive beliefs, attitude. affect. and experience with the brand. This theory may be represented by the following graphical model.
Research questions (RQs) are refined statements of the. specific components of the problem, Although the components of the prClltlem define the probleln in specific terms Jurther detail may be needed to develop an approach. Each component of the problem may h1tve to be broken down into subcomponents or research questions. Research questions ask what specific information is required with respect to the problem components. If the research questions are answered by the research. then the information obtained should aid the decision maker. The formulation of the research questions should be guided not only by the problem definition, but also by the theoretical framework and the analytical model adopted. For a given problem component, there are likely to be several research questions, as in the case of the department store project
The fifth component of the research problem was the psychological profile of Sears’ customers. In the context of psychological characteristics, several research questions were asked about the customers of Sears.
• Do they exhibit store loyalty?
• Are they heavy users of credit?
• Are they more conscious of personal appearance as compared to customers of competing stores?
• Do they combine shopping with eating out
The theoretical framework and the analytical model plays significant role in the operationalization and measurement of variables specified by the research questions. Whereas in the department store project, the literature reviewed did not provide any definitive measure of store credit, the mathematical model could incorporate any of the alternative measures. Thus, it was decided to include all four measures of store credit in the study. Research questions may be further refined into one or more hypotheses,
A hypothesis (H) is an unproven statement or proposition about a factor or phenomenon that is of interest to the researcher. It may, for example, be a tentative statement about relationships between two or more variables as stipulated by the theoretical framework or the analytical model. Often, a hypothesis is a possible answer to the research question. Hypotheses go beyond research questions because they are statements of relationships or propositions rather than merely questions to which answers are sought. Whereas research questions are interrogative, hypotheses are declarative and can be tested empirically (see An important role of a hypothesis is to suggest variables to be included in the research design. The relationship among the marketing research problem, research questions, and hypotheses, along with the influence of the objective/theoretical framework and analytical models, is described in Figure 2.4 and illustrated by the following example from the department store project
The Taste of Comfort
In the midst of an insecure global environment in 2009, nothing was more comforting than trusted. familiar foods and treats. Do certain foods provide comfort under different situations in people’s lives? For instance, does chicken soup make people feel better on a rainy day or when they have a cold, partially because they may have eaten chicken soup during the same situations when they were growing up? Marketing research was conducted to investigate comfort foods. The specific research questions and the associated hypotheses were:
RQI: What foods are considered to be comfort foods?
HI: Potato chips are considered comfort food.
H2: Ice cream is considered comfort food.
RQ2: When do people eat comfort foods?
H3: People eat comfort foods when they are in a good mood.
H4: People eat comfort foods when they are in a bad mood.
RQ3: How do people become attached to comfort foods?
H5: People are artached to comfort foods that are consistent with their personality.
H6: People are attached to comfort foods because of past associations
The more marketers know about the psychology behind fonds, at both the associative and personality levels, the better they will be at establishing new brands, as well as packaging and advertising existing brands that are already considered comfort foods and have their own brand personalities. For example, Frito-Lay’s Baked Lays brand of low-fat potato chips has been very successful. Frito-Lay combined the fact that chips are fun to eat with the wave of health-conscious people in the United States. The slogan for the new brand was “Taste the Fun, Not the Fat,” which affects one’s concept of wanting a fun lifestyle. The fun product continues to be comfoning while reducing people’s gullt by its low fat content
Marketing Research Begins at Home (or Near the Campus
Visit a local business located near your campus. Interview the business owner or manager and identify some of the marketing challenges facing this business. Also, interview an expert in this industry. Search and analyze secondary data penaining to this business and the industry and identify the environmental context of the problem.
1. Define the management decision problem.
2. Define the marketing research problem.
3. Develop I graphical model plangent the consumer choice process leading to the patronage of this business or its completion .
4.Develop an appropriate research eloquent and hypothesis.