Marketing Tracks in  Consumer Behavior

Consumer behaviour is key to the impact that society is having on the environment.As well as what people consume directly in the home and elsewhere, our fulfilment of needs and wants lies behind many of the activities that create environmental impacts, such as the production of food and other goods.While new and more sustainable technologies offer great promise, they cannot in themselves ensure sustainability. Only people’s choices can lead us away from unsustainable patterns of consumption.

But there are many conflicting explanations as to why people consume:

  • some economic (to do with prices and technology)
  • some environmental (fulfilling physical needs such as shelter and food)
  • and some cultural (consumption as central to social identity).
Methodologically, consumer behaviour research uses the following types of research designs:
Based on questioning:
  • Qualitative marketing research – generally used for exploratory purposes – small number of respondents – not generalizable to the whole population – statistical significance and confidence not calculated – examples include focus groups, in-depth interviews, and projective techniques
  • Quantitative marketing research – generally used to draw conclusions – tests a specific hypothesis – uses random sampling techniques so as to infer from the sample to the population – involves a large number of respondents – examples include surveys and questionnaires
Based on observations:

  • Ethnographic studies -, by nature qualitative, the researcher observes social phenomena in their naturalsetting – observations can occur cross-sectionally (observations made at one time) or longitudinally (observations occur over several time-periods) – examples include product-use analysis and computer cookie traces
  • Experimental techniques -, by nature quantitative, the researcher creates a quasi-artificial environment to try to control spurious factors, then manipulates at least one of the variables – examples include purchase laboratories and test markets

Researchers often use more than one research design. They may start with secondary research to get background information, then conduct a focus group (qualitative research design) to explore the issues. Finally they might do a full nation-wide survey (quantitative research design) in order to devise specific recommendations for the client.

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