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Research Methods for Consumer Buying Behaviour Research

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Marketing
Wordcount: 4406 words Published: 15th Jan 2018

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Research Method

Research methodology

Everywhere, our knowledge is incomplete and problems are waiting to be solved. We address the void in our knowledge and those unresolved problems by asking relevant questions and seeking answers to them. The role of research is to provide a method for obtaining those answers by inquiringly studying the evidence within the parameters of the scientific method.


Research means finding out things in a systematic way in order to increase knowledge. In any research two phrases are important, first is the ‘systematic research’ that is based on logical relationship and not just beliefs (Ghauri et al., 1995). The second phrase is to ‘find out’ the purpose of the research. It includes describing, understanding, criticizing, analyzing and explaining. (Ghauri et al., 1995) (Saunders, M., Lewis, P. and Thornhill, A. 2000) (pg 1-2).

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Therefore in simple words research can be expressed as number of similar and related activities involving together in search of information. It is also found that many times we have a question or a problem to resolve. The main aim of research is to collect sufficient information or data relevant to the research topic to get the clear picture and proper understanding in order to accomplish the research goal. But it is thought that we have the answers to those questions thinking that the answer is obvious, commonsense, but until we have subjected our problem to rigorous scientific scrutiny, our ‘knowledge’ remains little more than guesswork or at best, intuition. http://www.chssc.salford.ac.uk/healthSci/rem99/resmeth/chap1.htm

Though the meaning of research is to find out answers for question but research can also be carried out in particular subjects. As a result research in marketing is the systematic and objective identification, collection, analysis, and dissemination of information for improving decision making related to the identification and solution of problems and opportunities in marketing.

There are different approaches to carry out the research. It truly depends upon the researcher which method to choose. It is also necessary to explain why a particular method is being chosen. However the author has focused on the levels of maintaining brand loyalty toward telecom service provider with respect to the competitor’s offers. To carry out this research the author has collected the primary as well as secondary data. Comparison of the primary and the secondary data will help the author for the interpretation leading to the conclusion and recommendation for the research topic.

Research Approach

Research can be carried out by using two types. One is the Inductive research and the other is Deductive research.

Inductive research

Inductive research is a study in which theory is developed from observation of empirical reality; thus general inferences are induced from particular instances, which is the reverse of deductive method”.( Hussey & Hussey, 1997, pg 13). In inductive research the data is collected and after that the theory and the hypothesis are defined and formulated. The inductive approach can also be helpful in coming up with new ideas, theories and hypothesis. It is also possible that the results of inductive research may not be hundred percent true as they are done through empirical observation. Inductive research is also known as theory generating as it done through specific observations to broader generalizations.

Deductive approach

According to Hussey & Hussey, 1997, pg 13, deductive research is

Deductive research is a study in which conceptual and theoretical structure is developed and then tested by empirical observation; thus particular instances are deduced from general inferences. The deductive method is referred to as moving from the general to the particular. In deductive approach the theory or hypothesis are drawn and the research is carried out to support or test the hypothesis. The deductive research draws conclusion through logical reasoning. Robson (1993:19) lists five sequential stages through which deductive research will progress:

  • Deducing a hypothesis from the theory: In this stage the relationship between the two variables can be defined and later tested.
  • Expressing the hypothesis in operational terms, which propose a relationship between two specific variables: In this stage the two variables can be defined to be measured. How the two variables relate to each other and how they would affect each other if any changes are made.
  • Testing this operational hypothesis: In this stage one can involve experiment or some other form research method to test the relationship between two variables.
  • Examining the specific outcome of the inquiry: In this stage the result of the research would be verified according to the hypothesis so that to see whether the result support the hypothesis or not.
  • If necessary, modifying the theory in the light of the findings: In this stage, if the results suggest that there should be justified then the theory needs to be modified or altered. (Saunders, M., Lewis, P. and Thornhill, A., 2000) (pg 85 – 87)

The author has decided to carry out the mixed approach that is the inductive and deductive method in order to carry out the research on whether customer are able to maintain band loyalty towards their mobile service provider and originate and analyze the essential facts required to fulfil the research objective

The research design builds on clear and concise understanding of research topic. A clear and concise statement of research purposes is absolutely essential for doing good quality research. The important idea of a research design is that all of its components must ‘fit’ with each other or ‘go together’ with each other in a logical manner. There are various methods to collect data. But which method the researcher should adopt will depend upon the nature of the research and various other factors. The method chosen should able to derive sufficient information to answer the research question. It should also be reliable, accurate.

Data collection

There are various methods that can be used for collection of data. In research data collection methods may vary greatly in the amount of time and money required and in complexity. The best method is one that provide the relevant and sufficient information that is needed and not necessarily the one which is fastest, cheapest and easiest. In many cases it is also possible to use more then one type of data collection method to obtain data on the same research topic. Sources of data can be put into the two general categories of being either primary or secondary.

Research methods can be classified in various ways. However one of the most common methods are qualitative and quantitative research methods.

Quantitative research

The quantitative research is more easily defined as the collection of numerical and statistical data. a quantitative approach involves collecting and analyzing numerical data and applying statistical tests…a qualitative approach, which is more subjective in nature and involves examining and reflecting on perceptions in order to gain an understanding of social and human activities”. (Hussey & Hussey, 1997, pg 12).

The aim of quantitative methods is to determine whether the predictive overview of a theory hold true. Quantitative designs of research tend to produce results that can be generalised. The important features that are associated with quantitative research are Objectivity, deductive ness, generalisability and numbers. It can also be said that quantitative research is concerned with numbers and measurement, rather than words, in the collection and analysis of data. Charts and graphs demonstrates the results of the research, the researchers commonly employ words such as ‘variables’, ‘populations’ and ‘result’ as part of their expressions Quantitative research usually seeks to establish causal relationships between two or more variables, using statistical methods to test the strength and significance of the relationship. Quantitative methods include experiment, surveys, and questionnaire for data collection.

Qualitative research

Preissle (2002) confirms that ‘qualitative research is a loosely defined category of research designs or models, all of which elicit verbal, visual, tactile, olfactory, and gustatory data in the form of descriptive narratives like field notes, recordings, or other transcriptions from audio and videotapes and other written records and pictures or films’.(Web 14)


Qualitative research is conducted in a natural setting and involves a process of building a complex and holistic picture of the phenomenon of interest. Qualitative research is concerned with no statistical methods of inquiry and analysis of social phenomena. Qualitative Research is collecting, analyzing, and interpreting data by observing what people do and say. Qualitative research is more subjective and deals in words, images. Qualitative research methods are observation, in-depth interviews or the case study. Therefore in some cases the researcher can also take an active part while interacting with participants. This helps the researcher to get in-depth views and knowledge from participants.

Research is carried out with some or the other aim. Thus research is important to answer the questions and draw conclusion. Therefore to achieve the aim of the research it is crucial to choose the correct research approach and correct research method. As a result the author has made an effort to collect the primary as well as secondary data from the reliable and relevant sources in order to achieve the final results of the study.

Collecting and using primary data

Primary data is collected with a specific purpose or some reason. It is collected especially when the researcher cannot find the relevant data or enough data in the secondary sources. Primary data is also known as grey literature; they are the first occurrence of piece of work. They include published sources such as reports and some central and local publications such as white papers and planning documents. They also include unpublished manuscripts sources such as letters, memos and committee minutes that may be analyzed as data in their own right”. (Saunders, Lewis & Thornhill, 2003, p52).

In many cases primary data is the first hand data that is directly collected from the field survey and thus it is really important for the respondent to understand the aim of the research. This helps the respondent to answer the questions the from the researcher’s view and not from their personal thinking.

There are various types to collect primary data. Every type is advantageous and disadvantageous in its own way. The choice is also highly influenced by the availability of time and money. The basic methods are observations, interview, questionnaire survey, focus group interview, and case study.

After the proper and complete understanding of each and every method the author had decided to obtain the primary data by using questionnaire survey and interviews to carry out the research. The method selected by the author is the mixed approach of qualitative and quantitative method. The main reason to use mixed approach is that qualitative method of approach is process-oriented, real, subjective and descriptive where as quantitative method of approach is objective and mainly outcome oriented. The use of multi methods or triangulation is adopted so that the weakness of one method is offset by the other and to ascertain whether the findings of each method achieve the same results or conclusions which will greater validity and reliability.

The questionnaire survey

Questionnaire is one of the simple and widely used methods for collecting primary data. “In questionnaire technique each respondent is asked same set of questions and thus it provides an efficient way of collecting response from a large sample prior to quantitative analysis”. (Saunders, M., Lewis, P. and Thornhill, A., 1997)(pg 244).

Thus it can be understood that questionnaire is a set of the question given to the respondent. The questions are in preset format and the respondents are asked to fill in the answers. There are various advantages in using the questionnaire technique as it is cost effective, less time consuming and efficient. Questionnaire is one the most familiar method for data collection so the researcher doesn’t have to sit and spend time in explaining how to fill them. It also won’t make the respondent nervous. The clear and simple questionnaire can also be filled in by the respondent without the presence of the researcher. Therefore the respondent will be honest and researcher’s own opinions will not influence the respondent to answer questions in a certain way.

There are also certain disadvantages of using questionnaire method. It is very difficult to design the questionnaire. In many cases the researcher is not present while filling in the questionnaire thus it is not possible to give any assistance. The questions in the questionnaire have to be very simple. The response rate is also low many times. Many times it is difficult to find a consumer group who are co operative to answer the question.

The main purpose of using the questionnaire survey was to obtain as much as information possible on customers brand loyalty towards their mobile service provider. The questionnaire survey was intended to acquire the information from the customers using the mobile service. In terms of design and layout of the questionnaire was kept very simple. The questions framed were very clear, simple and easy to understand by the respondent. The length of the questionnaire was also kept short keeping in mind that the respondent may not be bored or tired. This may hinder the final results of the research.

The questionnaire was the combination of open ended and close ended questions, which will use the rating scale technique from 1 to 5. In which 1 represented the highly satisfied customer, 2 represented the satisfied customer, three represented the moderate customer. 4 represented dissatisfied customer, 5 represented highly dissatisfied customer. The questionnaire was self administered and researcher administered. The author had chosen the option of delivering and collecting the questionnaire. With the help of the supportive consumer group the author had achieved 90% of the response rate from the customer and tried to maintain the privacy of the data collected.


Pilot testing

Before using the questionnaire on the main sample the pilot testing of the questionnaire was carried out. It is important to obtain information by pilot testing the questionnaire on individual similar to those who will be asked to complete the questionnaire. The purpose of pilot testing is to refine t questionnaire so that the respondent will have no problem in answering the questions and there will be no problems in recording the data. (Saunders, M., Lewis, P. and Thornhill, A., 2003)(pg 308). This will help the researcher to perform the necessary changes in the questionnaire before giving it to the actual sample. Pilot testing helps to assess the questions, validity and reliability of the data collected.

After the completion of designing and drafting of questionnaire it was circulated between the MBA students at UWIC. Some of these students were currently working in a company. As a result the author received a response on the clarity, sequencing and inter relation of the questions. This response facilitated the author to make the necessary alteration in the questionnaire.


An interview is a purposeful discussion between two or more people. In this one the person is the researcher. Making use of the interview method can be helpful help to gather valid and reliable data that are relevant to the research question and objective. There are three categories of interview each category has its own advantages and disadvantages.

Structured interview

Unstructed interview

Semi structured interview

The first is the structured interview in which the researcher has a list of question in a predetermined manner. They are focused and précised there fore more data can be collected. These are informal interview. The second is the unstructured interview in such type of interview there are no predetermined questions. The conversation between the respondent and researcher is quite general but the researcher needs to have a clear idea about the aspects that he has to explore. The interviewee is given an opportunity to speak on the research topic this type of interview is called as non directive. As there are no set of questions that are prepared it takes lot of time to gather sufficient information. But in such interview the interviewee feels at ease and does not realise that he is being interviewed. There are also some ethical issues that may prevent to make use of such interview especially for research projects.

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The third category is the semi structured interview. In such interview there are the list of topics and question to be covered by the researcher. The researcher may also vary the order of the question as per the situation and flow of the conversation. Additional question can also be asked related to the research topic in order to gain the in depth knowledge. It is more flexible. The response rate is also higher. It is a time-consuming method and also requires more time to analyse them.

Therefore the author has decided to make use of the semi structured interview in order to gain the in depth knowledge and achieve the research objective.

Secondary data

Secondary data is the data that readily available. Secondary data is data that is neither collected directly by the user nor specifically for the user, often under conditions not known to the user. “Secondary data is a source such as books and journals are designed either to help to locate primary literature. These publications are aimed at wider audiences. They are easier to locate than primary data”. (Saunders, Lewis, Thornhill, 2003, p52). It is the information that has already been collected for some other purposes by some one else. It may be available from internal sources, or may have been collected and published by another organization. It is basically gathered before the primary data as to find out what is already known about the subject matter before starting the own research. In many cases the researcher prefers using the secondary data instead of carrying out the primary research.

There are advantages as well as disadvantages of using secondary data. Secondary data is available quickly, easily and cheaply. It provides the researcher in determining the direction for primary data collection. It is flexible and provides great variety to the researcher.

The disadvantages of secondary data are as follows. It is difficult to rely on secondary data in terms of quality and accuracy of the data. As the gathered may be long time back hence it may not be valid in current situation. The data readily available may not be related to the research question or may not available in sufficient quantity. There are three types of secondary data:

1. Documentary.

Organizational records, communications and web sites; reports of committees; media accounts (newspaper articles); TV and video recordings; Internet sources

2. Multiple sources. (different data sets combined)

Country or sector reports; industry statistics

3. Survey data.

Government surveys and censuses (continuous); surveys by international bodies. (Saunders, M., Lewis, P. and Thornhill, A., 1997) (pg 190)

There are other types of secondary data available such as books, journals, newspaper, articles, and internet. In order to make the research more effective the author has gone through various books, journals, articles, and internet. The combination of primary and secondary data has been collected to obtain answer to the research question more efficiently.

Reliability and Validity

In order to reduce the possibilities of getting the answer wrong attention has to be paid on two important factors in research design: reliability and validity. These two factors are dependent on one another. Reliability is required to make statements about validity. Reliability of the research means the extent to which the instrument would yield the same result if used in the other occasion. Validity applies to both the design and the methods of research it is an indication of how sound the research is. Validity is concerned with whether the findings are really about what they appear to be about (Saunders, M., Lewis, P. and Thornhill, A., 2003) (pg 101).

Validity in data collection means that the findings truly represent the phenomenon that the researcher is claiming to measure. Research can be affected by different kinds of factors that irrelevant to the concern of the research, can invalidate the findings” (Seliger & Shohamy 1989, 95).

“Findings can be said to be internally invalid because they may have been affected by factors other than those thought to have caused them, or because the interpretation of the data by the researcher is not clearly supportable” (Seliger & Shohamy 1989, 95). Findings can be externally invalid because they cannot be extended or applied to contexts outside those in which the research took place. (Seliger & Shohamy 1989, 95).

Therefore the author has taken proper care while making the selection of the sample as well as the research planning. The information acquired is also from the reliable and valid sources. The incomplete questionnaires were also discarded to avoid the effects on final results.

Ethical issues

There were certain ethical issues that the author had to face throughout the research. Ethics in research is mainly the appropriateness of your behaviour in relation to the right of those who become the subject of your work, or are affected by it (Saunders, M., Lewis, P. and Thornhill, A., 2003)(pg 129). Therefore the ethical issue has to be taken the special care as they remain sensitive and had a impact on the research work as well as the respondent.

While carrying out the survey the companies were assured that this research work is truly for educational purpose and wouldn’t be revealed any where else. Therefore special care was taken by the author to maintain the privacy for the data collected so that it is not been misused by anyone else for any other purpose.

For primary data




Consumer buying behaviour

A buyers decision are also influenced by personal characteristic such as the buyer age and life cycle stage, occupation, economic situation, lifestyle, and personality and self concept. There are various internal factors, external factors and marketing factors which motivates the customers in their decision making process. Some of the important factors are mentioned below:

Competitive price: a product with a competitive price often attracts customers. Customers are willing to pay a certain amount for a specific product. If the price ranges of that product falls within their purchasing power, customers are tend to be happy.

Good Customer service: customers are satisfied if the are given good customer services for the product that they have purchased. Customer should be provided with good service not only at the time of buying a product but also after sales service should be provided as this influences the buyers buying behaviour. Efficiently handling the customers’ problem.

How convenient the buyer is in buying and using the product also influences the buying behaviour of the customer.

Availability of the product also acts as an influencing factor for the customers buying behaviour. In some cases, if a particular product that the customers buy regularly is not available in the market then the customer may intend to buy the substitute of that product.

Attitude of customers toward a particular product and company also influences their buying behaviour. A good attitude will always have a positive effect and a bad attitude will have a negative effect. Individual learns attitude through their personal experience and interaction with other people. Therefore it becomes important for the companies to develop a positive attitude in the minds of the customers by providing excellent quality of service. If the negative attitude is developed within the customers it is difficult to change it.

Life style of a customer is also becoming an influential factor in their buying behaviour. This influencing factor relates to the way we live through the activities we engage in and interests we express. Lifestyle is often determined by how we spend our time and money. A person having a high standard of life will always prefer using a high quality of product specially a brand.

Many people respond to what they perceive to be fun, exciting, and hip, and they want to feel valued and recognized

Consumer purchasing decisions are often affected by factors that are outside of their control but have direct or indirect impact on how we live and what we consume.


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