This chapter addresses the chosen methods and research approaches. The authors describe and discuss what methods they have chosen to best fulfill the purpose of the thesis. A summary of used methods concludes the chapter.
Research philosophy within research, deals with the development of knowledge, and the character of that knowledge. Within the subject of research there are certain scientific philosophies that underpin research strategy; pragmatism; interpretivism; realism; and positivism (Saunders, Lewis & Thornhill, 2009). Nevertheless, this research paper has been conducted using the philosophy of interpretivism.
The interpretivist philosophy argues for the importance of recognising humans as “social actors” and their differences. The focus of the interpretivist philosophy is that research is not conducted on objects, but on humans, namely social actors (Goldkuhl, 2011; Saunders et al., 2009). Interpretivism emphasise that testing data is not significant enough when studying social science, as it is in natural science. When using interpretivist philosophy as a foundation for a study, empirical data is often collected in a natural setting with use of qualitative methods. The interpretative research mainly involves interpreting human elements of the study. Thus, understanding the reality from the perspective of the social actor. The use of interpretivist philosophy is highly relevant and recommended when researching behaviour within a complex, yet unique, marketing setting (Saunders et al., 2009).
This particular thesis focuses on consumers, who are humans, as well as their responses and association towards the Volvo brand after being exposed to the Volvo LifePaint campaign. Thus, this study has been composed on the base of social science. Moreover, since this research is based in the marketing field of study, an interpretivist philosophy is recommended for constructing research strategy (Saunders et al., 2009). The authors of this thesis have not created any hypothesis to test. Thus, the authors only used inductive approaches of empirical data gathering through qualitative methods by the use of semi-structured interviews and a complementary netnography (Saunders et al., 2009). The answers articulated during the interviews were interpreted, reflected, categorized, and synthesised, thus entailing an interpretivist point of view. Through this perspective of the interpretivist, insights of the consumers’ responses and associations to Volvo when exposed to the Volvo LifePaint campaign, were acquired.
Research approaches may be divided into two major branches within research theory: deductive and inductive. Depending on a reports structural arrangement and placement of hypotheses and theory, deductive or inductive methods are chosen thereafter (Saunders et al., 2009). The research approach chosen for this thesis is inductive.
The purpose of inductive research is to gain understanding of the essence of the problem, as well as obtaining an understanding of a situation. The undertaking is to make sense of, and analyse data collected through interviews. Subsequently, unlike a deductive approach, formulation of theory is built upon the result of the analysis. Research using an inductive approach allows for a deeper contextual research focus, in contrast to a particular focus on the variable of the study. The research processes carried out under an inductive approach starts with data collection. Thereafter, a formulation of theory is achieved based on the conclusion of research findings (Saunders et al., 2009). The exploratory nature of this thesis allows for an inductive approach since the gathering and collection of data occurred prior to making some generalizations, that concluded the research in a discussion which added to theory. Since the research questions are focused on exploring particular responses toward the Volvo LifePaint campaign, neither hypothesis or theory was formulated beforehand.
When formulating the research purpose, one have to think about the nature of the research questions one wish to answer in the research study. The way in which the research questions are asked will result in either descriptive, exploratory, or explanatory answers (Saunders et al., 2009). This thesis have aimed at answering research questions of a exploratory nature, since the authors seek to assess a phenomenon in a new light. There is barely previous research addressing such phenomenon, and the authors utilized certain prior theoretical frameworks to explain and understand it. Exploratory research is recommended when one seek to clarify the understanding of a phenomenon (Saunders et al., 2009; Keller, 2013).
There are two major techniques identified for data collection: quantitative and qualitative. Quantitative methods deal with the collection of data that produce numerical results, as opposed to qualitative methods that generate results based on a non-numerical data (Saunders et al., 2009). The authors of this thesis have used a qualitative data collection method throughout this research.
As previously discussed, the authors have used an interpretivist philosophy, which suggests for a qualitative research method (Saunders et al, 2009). Qualitative methods aim to generate a subjective understanding of the fundamental reasoning and ambition behind people’s actions and experiences. The purpose of the qualitative method is to interpret and contextualize the perspectives held by the sample. The sample-size used for qualitative research is usually significantly smaller than when using quantitative methods (Macdonald and Headlam, 2008). To uncover and identify the type of associations consumers link to a particular brand, as well as exploring consumer brand perceptions, qualitative research methods are relevant and appropriate (Keller, 2013). Keller (2013) further supports the use of qualitative research techniques when the aim is to uncover associations to a brand, and their equivalent favourability, strength, and uniqueness.
The research questions of this thesis aims to uncover what associations a customer makes when being exposed to the Volvo LifePaint campaign, as well as the favourability, strength, and uniqueness of those associations, and to what extent the associations may be transferred to the Volvo brand. As suggested by Keller (2013), qualitative approaches are best suited to answer these questions. The authors identify the subject matter of the thesis to be of certain complexity, thus justifying the choice of a rather small sample. The rationale for choosing a small sample is further grounded in the desire to gain a deeper and more profound understanding regarding the nature of what association customers make, as well as their level of transferability. The authors used a qualitative research approach in the collection of data from interviews and YouTube comments, where results were generated from non-numerical human interaction, as opposed to a quantitative approach where numerical data collection is conducted.
After discussing research method, a natural progression is to discuss the suitable research strategy for conducting a study. There are a number of common research strategies including: surveys; case studies; action research; and experiments (Saunders et al., 2009). The authors of this thesis utilized a case study as research strategy.
A case study is highly suitable when the research involves an investigation of a phenomenon of contemporary nature, as well as when the desire is to gain profound understanding of a phenomenon within a certain context (Saunders et al., 2009). The identified trend, recognized by the authors, takes place in a modern, contemporary scene, which is online, through a complementary marketing communication video. Hence, the authors found it appropriate to utilize a case study for this research.
When investigating a unique case that presents the opportunity to analyse a phenomenon that few have considered before, and where limited knowledge exist, single case studies are often used (Yin, 2003). In this thesis, the authors considered the identified trend to be lacking in previous consideration, thus, the reasoning behind the use of a single case. This study is considered to be a single case study (Yin, 2003), since it exclusively examines the Volvo LifePaint campaign.
When seeking answers in exploratory or explanatory research, with questions in the shape of “why”, “what”, and “how”, a case study is proven to be useful (Saunders et al., 2009). Looking at the research questions of this thesis, the aim is to answer questions in the nature of “what” and “how”, thus, supporting the use of a case study approach. In accordance with the research purpose of this study, which is of exploratory essence, a case study was applied.
There are several sampling selection techniques that will facilitate the data collection and analysis process, by considering data from a smaller group, instead of an entire population. Sampling techniques may be divided into two categories: probability; and non-probability. This thesis have utilized non-probability samples, since it is recommended as tool to answer research questions where assumptions of the populations have no statistical ground (Saunders et al., 2009). A small sample is recommended when using an inductive research approach, since the setting and nature of the situation is of particular interest. Due to restriction in time and resources, collecting data from a small and particular sample is also recommended, (Saunders et al., 2009). This thesis has been conducted using an inductive approach, under limited resources, which rationalizes the choice for a small sample.
Non-probability sample techniques provide means for grounding the sample selection on the author’s subjective judgement (Saunders et al., 2009). Since the research questions and objectives of this study aims to gain a deeper understanding of a particular phenomenon, the authors must conduct studies that focus on a particular case, with a rather small sample group.
As mentioned earlier, this thesis is conducted under limited resources, which supports the use of non-probability sampling techniques (Saunders et al., 2009).
Non-probability sample techniques allows for some generalization of the conclusion, however, with no statistical ground to it (Saunders et al., 2009). Since the inductive research approach of this study aims to formulates some theory, the selection of non-probability sampling is applicable.
There are mainly four non-probability sampling techniques: quota; snowball; judgemental; and convenience (Saunders et al., 2009). This thesis has been conducted by collecting data based on a judgemental sample technique.
A judgemental sampling allows the selection process to be based on the judgement to choose cases that will best assist in answering the research questions. Judgemental sampling is recommended to be applied for case study research, where small samples are used (Saunders et al., 2009). The authors used a judgemental sampling technique for this thesis, since they wanted to select candidates that were best able to answer the interview questions, based on the author’s own judgement.
The sampling criteria was based on candidates whom: were in possession of a driver’s license; active participants in the traffic environment; and active users of social media. The authors consider the combination of being in possession of a driver license and being active in the traffic environment to be of importance, since the candidates then were more adequate to address the interactivity among drivers and cyclists. Further, the combination of possession of a driver license and being active in the traffic environment, enabled the participants to be able to relate to both drivers and bikers. Active usage of social media increased the possibilities of the candidates prior unintentional seeing of the Volvo LifePaint campaign, which was one of the early interview questions.
There are two types or collecting data: primary and secondary. Secondary data collection partly refers to the process of re-analysing data that has already been collected and established by previous scholars, then summarized in a literature review. Primary data concerns the gathering of data of empirical nature, through strategies such as interviews or focus groups. Secondary data provides means for supporting and partly answering the research questions, whilst primary data assist in further exploring the research question specifically, in alignment with the exact purpose of the thesis (Saunders et al., 2009). Next sections outline the data collection techniques the authors have utilized to conduct this thesis, as well as the rationale behind the selection of implemented techniques.
Multiple sources of evidence may be applicable for the empirical investigation in a case study (Yin, 2003). Techniques for collecting empirical data in a case study include interviews, observations and questionnaires. To support credibility and validity of the collected data, a combination of data collection techniques can be applied (Saunders et al., 2009). In order to gain insight into the associations customers make when being exposed to the Volvo LifePaint campaign, as well of the meaningfulness and transferability of these associations, this thesis used interviews as the main technique for data gathering. As a complement to the interviews, the authors applied netnography, which can be classified as observations (Kozinets, 2002) and will be explained more later. With a combined data collection approach, the authors advocates for a more profound result.
There are three main types of interview structures: structured interviews, semi-structured interviews, and unstructured (in-depth) interviews. The structured interview format is highly formal and standardized, while the semi-structured is more similar to an unstructured conversation, and recommended for exploratory research (Saunders et al., 2009). Since this research is conducted based on a qualitative approach, semi-structured interviews are recommended (King, 2004). In semi-structured interviews, the interviewer is namely supposed to cover certain themes and subjects that contributes to the interviewees discussions and elaborations on the research topic. To uncover and understand interviewee’s opinions, beliefs, and attitude towards a topic, qualitative semi-structured interviews are suggested as data collecting technique (Saunders et al., 2009).
The authors of this thesis decided to conduct, semi-structured interviews, since the data could be organized more easily if a similar line of questions were asked to all candidates. Further, due to the utilization of semi-structured interviews, the authors were able to guide the interviewee to cover and discuss the research topics, in order to generate valuable data.
Since the nature of this thesis aims at exploring a rather unconsidered phenomenon, semi-structured interviews were applicable. The aim was to uncover what associations customers made when exposed to the Volvo LifePaint campaign. In order to do so, the authors used semi-structured interviews, because they assist in uncovering a person’s perceptions, opinions, and attitudes. The authors have further analysed these perceptions, opinions, and attitudes in order to asses what association the participant have made, and whether those associations are meaningful and transferable to the Volvo brand.
Formulating Interview Questions
When formulating interview questions for semi-structured interviews it is necessary to arrange interview themes that will help answer the research questions. A critical success factor of the research is the formulation of appropriate interview questions (Saunders et al., 2009). The authors came up with the questions for the interviews by reviewing the research questions of this thesis and relevant theoretical constructs. For example, the authors wanted to find out about the candidates’ favourability towards the Volvo LifePaint. Therefore, the authors identified what makes up favourable associations, and formulated questions thereafter. In order to not ask directly if the interviewed candidates perceived the product as favourable, the authors asked questions aiming to find out, for example, the candidates perceived usefulness of the Volvo LifePaint, since usefulness is one of the components of favourability. The main interview questions are found in appendix 1.
Ten interviews were conducted and used as an essential source for the primary data collection of this thesis. The interviews took place in locations agreed upon by the interviewers and the interviewees, all situated in Jönköping. All interviews were recorded and timed at around 30 to 45 minutes each. The authors were the ones conducting the interviews. One person was the main interviewer, asking all the questions and guiding the conversation, while the other two took comprehensive notes of what the interviewee said. Based upon profound notes and quotes captured from each interview, the authors decided not to transcribe the recordings of the interviews. Since all candidates were Swedish and Swedish-speaking, and the authors being fluent in both Swedish and English, the interviews were held in Swedish. However, in the sections where the findings are presented, the author have translated all notes and quotes directly.
Since the authors were seeking to gain insight into the perceptions and responses the candidates had toward Volvo and the Volvo LifePaint campaign, the candidates were pre-exposed to the complementary marketing communication video, one week prior to the interview. This enabled the candidates to have some time to reflect about the Volvo LifePaint campaign, as well as develop perceptions and formulate opinions about it. After the first overall topic had been covered in the interview, the candidates were exposed once again to the Volvo LifePaint complementary marketing communication video, to remind them of how the video was composed.
Table of Contents
1.2 Problem Statement
1.4 Research Questions
2. Industry-Related Information
2.1 Background Information of the Volvo LifePaint Campaign
3. Theoretical Frame of References
3.1 Introduction to Frame of References
3.2 Customer-Based Brand Equity
3.3 Building CBBE Through Supporting Marketing Programs
3.4 Summary of the Theoretical Frame of References
4.1 Research Philosophy
4.2 Research Approach
4.3 Research Purpose
4.4 Research Method.
4.5 Research Strategy
4.6 Sample Selection
4.7 Data Collection
4.8 Data Analysis
4.9 Summary of Methods
4.10 Credibility of Collected Data
5. Empirical Data
5.2 YouTube Comments
6.1 Favourable, Strong, and Unique Associations
6.2 Transferability of Secondary Associations
7. Conclusion and Discussion
7.3 Limitations and Future Research
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Spraying a New Trend Exploring Branding Strategies Through the Volvo LifePaint Campaign