research design

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Types of Research Designs:

Types of Research Designs Exploratory Research (huh?) Designed to generate basic knowledge, clarify relevant issues uncover variables associated with a problem, uncover information needs, and/or define alternatives for addressing research objectives. A very flexible, open-ended process. Descriptive Research (who, what, where, how) Designed to provide further insight into the research problem by describing the variables of interest. Can be used for profiling, defining, segmentation, estimating, predicting, and examining associative relationships. Causal Research (If-then) Designed to provide information on potential cause-and-effect relationships. Most practical in marketing to talk about associations or impact of one variable on another.

Types and Characteristics of Exploratory Studies:

Types and Characteristics of Exploratory Studies Literature Search Conceptual literature Trade literature Published statistics Library homepage ( www.uah.edu/library ) Analysis of Selected Cases Intensive study of related cases or past activities May be internal or external Can help provide clues as to how other units or companies have dealt with similar issues

Types and Characteristics of Exploratory Studies:

Types and Characteristics of Exploratory Studies Experience Surveys (a.k.a., depth interviews) Knowledgeable people with varying points of view Unstructured and informal interviews Respondent free to choose issues to be discussed Focus Groups 8 to 10 people at one time Relatively homogeneous groups Multiple, heterogeneous groups Group dynamics Moderator is key Relies on general topical guide with plenty of time for interaction

The Growing Role of Focus Groups:

The Growing Role of Focus Groups Goal of focus group research: learn and understand what people have to say and why. Find out how participants feel about a product, concept, idea, organization, etc.; How it fit into their lives; Their emotional involvement with it May be conducted alone or as part of a broader project May be use to define issues or to confirm findings from survey research.

Requirements for Focus Groups:

Requirements for Focus Groups Good group of information-rich participants How many people? How many groups? Characteristics of participants Discussion guide and outline Ground rules Agenda Guiding questions Qualified Moderator Controls flow Stimulates discussion Analysis and Report

Good Moderator Characteristics:

Good Moderator Characteristics Must be able to break down barriers; get subjects to open up within first 10 minutes Must be a quick learner Good listener Absorb content Gauge personalities Adapt quickly Must be in control, but not dominating (guide rather than lead) Must appear to be neither an expert nor naive Must be flexible to allow for free flow of discussion Don’t concentrate too rigidly on the moderator guide Keep the big picture in perspective Know what is important When to move on

Facilitating Group Dynamics:

Facilitating Group Dynamics Use a introductions to set the tone Use only first names in introductions Avoid job titles and positions, unless necessary State your purpose and establish position as an objective, unbiased party Encourage everyone to participate; no right or wrong answers Use an ice breaker to get everyone comfortable State ground rules, procedural details Ask for permission to tape if possible Ensure confidentiality/anonymity Report to contain summary of group, not individuals Use “write-down” method to allow for both introverts and extroverts to have input, and to “lock” people into their own opinions (avoids too much group think)

Handling Problems in the Focus Group:

Handling Problems in the Focus Group Confusing Concept or Discussion Topic Break the concept into components that are easier to understand Use the confusion as a discussion point (ask for their interpretation, then attempt to resolve) Dead Subject (no discussion initiative) Play one person off the other. Use projective techniques What color do you most closely associate with …. ? Why? What animal does ______ remind you of? Why? What type of people might use…? Why? Lively Subject (everyone talking, often at once) Assert leadership role and take charge Promise more discussion time later Suggest that everyone wants to hear all opinions, which is easier done one at a time Use “write-down” techniques to quiet the group down

Handling Problems in the Focus Group (cont’d):

Handling Problems in the Focus Group (cont’d) The Talkative Member Leverage his/her energy to you benefit Ask the rest of the group to respond to (agree/disagree with) what the talkative member said Call on someone else specifically when asking questions Say, “Don’t let “Ed” do all the talking, I’d like to hear from someone else….” Silent Members Call on them by name (“John, how do you feel about…”) Reinforce the value of their responses Do this several times in a row and they will open up voluntarily Probe their short answers for more detailed ones “Tell me more about…” “That is interesting, why do you feel that way/”

The Moderator/Discussion Guide:

The Moderator/Discussion Guide Purpose is threefold: Outline flow of discussion Defines issues Sets ground rules Provides time constraints Provides information for participants Serves as a guide for the final report May be very basic or extremely detailed depending on formality of the research. Very exploratory research will require a simple guide More extensive analyses need more structure

Contents of The Discussion Guide:

Contents of The Discussion Guide Introductory Statements (typically 10-15 minutes) Moderator introduction Respondent introductions Objectives/Statement of Purpose Ground rules Key Discussion Questions (45-50 minutes) Practice using multiple types of questions to elicit more detailed responses Think about the purpose of your questions: Collect information? Maintain flow? Lead respondent? Wrap-up Clarify, Verify, Summarize Ask “All things considered” type questions to get them to summarize

Thoughts on Discussion Questions:

Thoughts on Discussion Questions Begin with simple, easy to answer questions Place more specific, sensitive questions toward the mid-point in the discussion Don’t want to force them to work too hard early or scare them Ensure that questions are short and deal with a single issue Utilize vocabulary that is consistent with the respondents’ Include questions that the respondents would reasonably have knowledge of and ability to answer Remember to keep the tone of the questions conversational, not accusational, confrontational, or critical of individuals Don’t ask questions that would potentially single one person out for inspection Be cautious about giving examples (might lead too much) Use parallel or similar questions to test commitment to positions

Activities to Engage Participants:

Activities to Engage Participants List generation Ranking or evaluating items May be abstract ideas or concrete objects Sentence completion Creating analogies Picture or word sort Create a collage of your feelings Drawing a picture or ideal image Role playing or enactment Personal experiences Hypotheticals Divide group for debate Monitor and follow-up on Nonverbals

What is Included in Typical Reports:

What is Included in Typical Reports Depends on type of report desired Most focus group reports are designed to answer the following questions: What was the purpose of the study? What were the research objectives? What methodology was used, and why? What was the group composition? What were the key findings? As a result, what are the recommendations?

Techniques for Summarizing Findings:

Techniques for Summarizing Findings Identifying comments that are frequently mentioned Evaluating rankings or "votes" occurring over the course of the project Grouping similar responses by meaningful subgroups (for instance, mentions by region, age group, or company size) Resolving differences between groups Discussing messages with opposing ideas indicated perhaps by body language To ensure accurate evaluation of focus group reports, keep in mind several rules of thumb: Avoid quantifying results; remember this is qualitative analysis. Look for patterns that show consistent themes It is important to provide quotations to support your evaluations. Identify which thoughts were generated through a free-flowing discussion and which were actually aided responses.

On-line Focus Groups:

On-line Focus Groups Advantages No geographic barriers Lower costs Fast turnaround time Do not have to see a moderator face-to-face Can reach hard-to-reach managers Two way interaction between moderator and the client is possible

On-line Focus Groups:

On-line Focus Groups Disadvantages Group dynamics are construed Nonverbal inputs are minimal Client involvement with participants is practically non-existent Security - who is the person on-line? Attention to the topic - is the participant paying attention? Exposure to external stimuli - can not present product prototypes. Or can we? Role and skill of moderator are more difficult

Depth Interviews:

Depth Interviews One-on-one interviews that probe and elicit detailed answers to questions, often using nondirective techniques to uncover hidden motivations. Advantages No group pressure Respondent is focus of attention and feels important Respondent is highly aware and active Long time period encourages revealing new information Can probe to reveal feelings and motivations Discussion is flexible and can explore tangential issues

Depth Interviews:

Depth Interviews Disadvantages Much more expensive than focus groups Do not get the same degree of client involvement; clients do not want to observe single interviews Are physically exhausting for the moderator…reduces the number of people that can be interviewed in a given time period. Moderators do not have other group members to help obtain reactions and to stimulate discussion.

Types and Characteristics of Descriptive Studies:

Types and Characteristics of Descriptive Studies Cross-Sectional Study Easily the most common type of research project. Typically involves conducting a survey of a sample of population elements at one point in time. Useful because it provides a quick snapshot of what’s going on with the variables of interest for our research problem. Longitudinal Study An investigation that involves taking repeated measures over time. Useful for conducting trend analysis, tracking changes in behavior over time (e.g., brand switching, levels of awareness, turnover) and monitoring long-term effects of marketing activities (e.g., market share, pricing effects) True panel vs. omnibus panel

Causal Research Designs:

Causal Research Designs Evidence to Support Causation Concomitant variation If X is supposed to cause Y, then the two variables must move together. If one variable changes, we should observe a resulting change in the other. Time order of occurrence If X is supposed to cause Y, then changes in X must precede changes in Y. Elimination of other possible causes If X causes Y, no other factor could have reasonably caused the change in Y at that moment. Must hold all other variables constant.

Causal Research Designs:

Causal Research Designs Experiments are the best way to satisfy elements of causation. May be Field Experiment or Laboratory Experiment Tradeoff between realism versus control Examples of experimentation in marketing Market test (test marketing) Advertising response (recall, affect, attitude toward ad elements) Promotional design (consumer response to promotional deals, incentives, tie-ins Store layout and design Product positioning Color tracking and package design

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