This term's research project will concern attitudes and behaviors of college students with respect to the consumption of footwear.
Students in the class will be divided into 5 groups, each with it's own unique marketing-oriented theme, at the beginning of the second class. Then each group will 1) research available secondary sources about the group's unique theme, and 2) conduct primary qualitative and 3) primary quantitative research to explain the theme. Each of these research-oriented activities follows discussion of their respective procedures in class, e.g. the groups' survey questionnaires will be designed following lectures on questionnaire design. Process will be discussed in much greater detail -- indeed, it will become the focus of the course -- in class lecture, in the project schedule given below, and in conjunction with course readings.
Teams & Attendance Policy
The project will be done in teams. Each group should elect a coordinator and share contact numbers from the very first week of their formation. Some time will be given each week to coordinate group project assignments, but some outside effort will definitely be required. Attendance is mandatory on Wednesday, February 2 and Monday, February 7 to accommodate this process: if you are not present on these dates, you will be dropped from the course. Given the nature of the course, attendance is encouraged on all days and will most likely impact your grades on the two exams, as some material presented does not appear in the textbook. Attendance for lecture is necessary for the above dates, for exams, for in-class experiments, and for group project presentation days: failure to attend on these dates will meet with substantial penalty (attendance in lab is required to complete exercises and receive credit for them).
[Note: It is expected that students missing a lecture will arrange with another student to collect notes. Missing an excessive number of lecture days is ill-advised (this is PARTICULARLY the case in the latter, quantitatively-oriented half of the semester): material from lecture will find its way onto exams.]
The Research Scenario
Everybody has feet, and for a lot of reasons -- from simple protection to facilitating athletic endeavor to making a fashion statement -- those feet need SHOES.
Our research project for the semester is focused on learning what we need to know to get college-aged consumers to purchase footwear as an item for their limited budgets.
There are any number of marketing-related issues that come up in the effort to answer this question. What do consumers look for out of their shoes? How do consumers choose a shoes from the myriad of options available, in what form, in what context, etc.? What types of features or attributes do they seek? What types of features drive the evaluation of a functional, experiential, reputational, self-gratification product that is essentially interchangable? Most people have more than one pair, so it becomes important to think in terms of how shoes get bought as part of a "collection." What is their initial provocation for seeking a new pair? How does their experience with previous travel color the way they look for new experiences? What kinds of ancillary purchases -- stuff they need to "go along with" their shoes, like matching belts, etc. -- do they consider? What types of information do they gather, and where do they gather the information from? Do they "test drive" a shoe before purchase? Do they approach a their future purchases in a different way than they did their past ones? Do they seek the shoe experience to project a new image or just for the sake of self-improvement? All of these issues are appropriate questions for our semester's term project.
For our purposes, we will limit our search for knowledge.
- Firstly, we will take a business (as opposed to socio-anthropological) perspective to the study of travel consumption - how would we approach the problem as if a shoemaker or retailer HIRED us to do the project?
- Secondly, we will concern ourselves to the consumption of travel within a given target market. We will define our target market as current college students. Since we will be collecting data throughout the semester, making this choice will make the process easier, because there are a lot of accessible participants (duh!).
The output of this term project will be research which could aid in the creation of a marketing plan. As such, we need to develop information across all potential marketing decision areas, in other words, the Four P's:
- Group One will look at basic product and service areas. What products do consumers want, what product lines or product mix should be considered, what quality levels do consumers expect, what service levels do people want? What features or attributes are sought? What accessories or ancillary purchases are anticipated or made? Refer back to your basic marketing text to see a treatment of all the types of considerations that go under the umbrella term product.
- Group Two will consider peripheral issues like branding, labeling and packaging. This will include any design and logo issues. Refer back to your basic marketing text to see a treatment of all the types of considerations that go under the umbrella terms branding, labeling, and packaging. Think brand loyalty, the creation of a good brand name, the image conferred by a brand, the functional and aesthetic nature of a package, etc.
- Group Three will look at pricing issues. How does price impact a consumer's decisions? What kind of price allowances, discounts, price bundling, or price promotions work best, better? Refer back to your basic marketing text to see a treatment of all the types of considerations that go under the umbrella term price. .
- Group Four will look at place or distribution issues. How does location impact a consumer's decisions, or relative availability of your company's brands, as well as relative availability of your competitor's brands. What type of providers carry the product, and which consumer considers each of those provider types? Also consider online vs. physical locations as a dintinction.
- Group Five will look at promotion issues. How do advertising, sales, and sales promotions impact your consumers' behavior? What types of information about the product needs to be communicated, both real information and image infomation? Where do you advertise that kind of product to reach the particular target market? Refer back to your basic marketing text to see a treatment of all the types of considerations that go under the umbrella term promotion.
On the second day of class, each group is given an "idea pack" -- a group of research articles that demonstrates the kind of issues that pop up for each of the five team areas. These articles are referenced below (all available through ABI/inform on the library database web page).
Cristiano Ciappei, & Christian Simoni. (2005). Drivers of new product success in the Italian sport shoe cluster of Montebelluna. Journal of Fashion Marketing and Management, 9(1), 20-42.
Marguerite Moore, & Jason M. Carpenter. (2008). Intergenerational perceptions of market cues among US apparel consumers. Journal of Fashion Marketing and Management, 12(3), 323-337.
Marguerite Moore, & Ann Fairhurst. (2003). Marketing capabilities and firm performance in fashion retailing. Journal of Fashion Marketing and Management, 7(4), 386-397.
Martinez, Angel R.. (1988). Two CEO-Driven Improvement Programs: Reebok -- Sprinting Ahead Through Influence Marketing. Management Review, 77(11), 15
Miller, K.. (2007). Investigating the Idiosyncratic Nature of Brand Value. Australasian Marketing Journal, 15(2), 81-96.
List of project components and their point values
Project requirements consist of several components which are to be done as a group. These components sum to a total of 300 points:
Secondary research component: 40 points, due 2/28
Qualitative research component: 40 points, due 3/7
Quantitative: questionnaire development: 40 points, due 4/4
Final Report: Written: 80 points, due 5/18 by 5 pm
Final Report: Oral: 25 points, due/given 5/18
Co-worker assessment: 50 points, due 5/18
Experiment summary: 25 points, due 4/27
Description of project components
EXPLORATORY PHASE: SECONDARY RESEARCH
2/28 - Turn in a summary of the group's secondary research efforts, and a proposal of the focus of research to come. (40 points total) back to list
Follows discussion of secondary research in lecture and in lab.
This summary is to be typewritten, and of two sections:
1) an annotated bibliography of no fewer than 2 (two) unique, relevant sources per group member encountered in your search of secondary sources material. An annotated bibliography consists of a citation and a brief (2-3 sentences) description of the source content (so this first section would combine the -- should you have eight team members -- sixteen sources arranged citation, description, citation, description, citation, description, and so on). You may use any standard (APA, MLA) citation format , but your team must use one style consistently-- citation format info and an example of what an annotated bibliography looks like is provided on the CSUS library website at http://library.csustan.edu/citation-style.htm); note that ABI Inform has a function (see "cite this" in the menu at the top of any results page) that will compose these citations for you.
2) a one-page summary of how the articles you found inform your project theme and prepare you for the next, qualitative phase of the project (such as inspiring a question to be asked in the interview, or a hypothesis to be tested later). The instructor is also looking for variety in the search techniques used, across Internet databases found on the CSUS library website, Lexis/Nexis, or bound indices like SSCI (mention where you found your articles).
Regarding the internet databases, for example, if you were to put the word "footwear" into the query window of the ABI/Inform-ProQuest database search engine (found on the library database list), it would return hundreds or thousands of matches. The lab exercises covering our available databases through the CSUS library website will give you further ideas. Each team should come up with search terms unique to their theme, and test them.
After you've found your array of informative articles, one way to proceed toward that section 2 is to compare what each paper has to say, and try to integrate findings into new hypotheses. For some ideas behind the logic of secondary searches, see this discussion from five years ago, when the topic was college student pleasure reading.
For another example, in this class a few years ago our topic was amount and type of internet use, and one group was comparing consumption of the internet by gender. They found one paper that said women were communal innovators and men were individual innovators, and another paper that said that e-mail attracted older consumers to the internet because of it's community appeal. They hypothesized (putting together the two threads) that women may spend more time on e-mail than men, or may have initially been attracted to the internet through e-mail. Get the logic? And that suggested some specific questions to cover in their interviews.
EXPLORATORY PHASE: QUALITATIVE RESEARCH
3/7 (40 points) back to list
Develop themes for your particular emphasis (Product, place, promotion, etc.), create a discussion guide, and create a set of specific questions (descriptive, structural, contrast) and explanations similar to those discussed in class. Then recruit 4-6 college students to become your focus group, conduct the group for a 30-45 minute session, video record the session. We will view some examples of focus groups in class, and you will note that they are CONVERSATIONAL, they are not simply surveys, Refer to the hand out for an example of the flow of these focus groups, Turn in the discussion guide, a one-page synopsis on how the resultant focus group has impacted your themes and/or hypotheses, and also hand in the actual taped focus group interview (VHS, VHS-C, or DVD playable on standard DVD or Windows Media Player - some directly-recordable DVDs are not compatible).
PRIMARY QUANTITATIVE PHASE
4/4 (40 points)- Create ten questions relevant to a questionnaire exploring your group's themes, and peruse the Bearden-Netemayer book on reserve and select a relevant published scale back to list
Having developed themes and hypotheses about college student consumption behaviors and attitudes, formulate a set of questions which test these hypotheses quantitatively. The document may be handwritten, and should discuss the intent behind each question, and discuss the integrity and consistency of the questions as a unit. The instructor is looking for variety of question types, and may revise the content.
Additionally, the student should select a published scale to be included in the questionnaire; the Bearden/Netemayer book "Handbook of Marketing Scales" on reserve (another copy is also available in the library reference section) compiles many of those commonly used in marketing research, or the students may find another scale from other published sources (Note: a SCALE in this usage means an entire set of questions). Be sure to check out the available scales early, and include a photocopy of it in your paper with a 2-3 sentence rationale for it's use in your study. We will not actually be using these scales, and the scales you find do not substitute for your required ten.
5/18 by 5 pm - A typewritten report of no fewer than 1500 words. (80 points) back to list
Each group takes their questionnaire along with a demographic set of questions developed in class, and then will be charged to collect a minimum 30 responses from appropriate target subjects and use that data set to prepare the statistics necessary for the final report. You must submit a name and phone number for each respondent, for sake of later verification: failure to submit this information will result in no points awarded for this part of the project.
Format of this report is left to your group, but must include qualitative and quantitative assessments of your chosen behavioral topic, and some discussion comparing the relative contributions and outcomes of each. Groups may use any of the variables in the questionnaire, but should emphasize those they developed. The quantitative portion, which will account for a majority of the grade, should provide simple statistical tests as demonstrated in class using statistical software (complete frequencies and at least four crosstabulations of interesting relationships found in the questionnaire data). An attempt of at least two higher-order relationship tests (e.g. bivariate regression or ANOVA) will also add to the report's credibility. Include a section interpreting your quantitative findings, and what marketing implications of your findings. Appearance of the document will definitely count, along with other mundane things such as spelling and grammar. Provide two copies, one for grading and return, and one for the instructor to keep.
5/18 - APPROX 20 minute class presentation (25 points) back to list
Convey the project's conceptual underpinnings, the design, and the results of the project. Aim the presentation at the level of your fellow research teams, who have a basic understanding of your general problem, but who have none of the specifics. consider further research. Communications skills -- such as orderliness and ability to simply convey complex ideas -- count, as does your facility with visual aids. Be prepared to answer a couple questions. All students must be present -- for the entire class period -- to receive credit
5/18 - Assessment of Individual's input into Group Project (50 points) back to list
Each group member will evaluate peers on instructor-provided sheet. This will include a midterm assessment which does not enter into the student's grade, and a final one which will.
Design experiment, write one-page description, conduct using other groups' members as subjects and summarize your findings. (25 points) back to list
Design sketch: 3/7
Summary of Results: 4/27
This experiment has nothing to do with the overall project, because the topic doesn't lend itself well to experimentation. In this case, design an experiment concerning a consumer products, according to experimental design techniques discussed in class and elaborated in lab.. A lot of students like to design "taste tests" of one sort or another. But be careful - follow a true experimental design and explain how your experiment fits the design. What is the treatment? What is the control? etc. KEEP ALL YOUR NOTES FROM EXPERIMENT DAY.
Then write a summary and critique of the experiment: what went right, what went wrong, how could we fix what went wrong, what are the results (include the calculations necessary to find these results, as developed in lab), etc. No more than 3 typewritten pages, please.