Determinants of Consumer behavior

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Methodology

This chapter explicitly presents the method chosen for the thesis and the critical discussion about the method is shown as well.

Research Approach

This thesis mainly applies the exploratory research, Kolter and Armstrong (2006) described that exploratory research mainly intends to gather preliminary information, which will contribute to defining problems and suggesting hypotheses. The authors mainly focus on gather information on consumers’ experience to define the role of experience to purchase by taking the demographic culture factors into consideration. Therefore, the authors select the methods of surveys and interviews. Additionally, the authors have applied the cross sectional study, which is defined as the study of a phenomena at one specific in time. Finally, descriptive method is applied in the qualitative interview.
Patton (1980) stated that a well-structured method part has to contain quantities of data collected and well-organized analysis towards the data summarizing. In terms of the data collection, there are mainly two methodologies, namely, quantitative and qualitative method. The quantitative study evaluates the scale of relationships between dependent variables and independent variables more precisely, its variance in the sample size can be explained rather clearly with a large percentage; moreover, it also presents a detailed pattern that spreads across a large number of situations, while the qualitative method is capable of showing the description of details, depiction of process in an active form, and attention to the viewpoints of those studied. Hence, these strengths contribute to decreasing the abstraction inherent in quantitative studies. On the other hand, compared with quantitative study, the qualitative research gives more ambiguous statements, such as “strong leadership is necessary, but not sufficient for excellence.”(Firestone, 1987, p.19) Based on the strengths and weakness above, the authors chose to mix these two methods to perform their thesis’ findings and analysis because of the explicit relationship showed by quantitative method and the detailed information provided by qualitative method. Additionally, the quantitative research is used as a main method in the paper, while qualitative method as supplements. The method selected is always being the most appropriate one for the given topic and purpose (Holme & Solvang, 1997); therefore, believed by the authors, the mixed strategy is the most appropriate choice.
Additionally, in terms of the quantitative method, questionnaire was proceeded to acquire the primary data, and statistical tools, such as SPSS, were applied for summarizing and analyzing those data. Furthermore, both structured and unstructured interviews from qualitative method have been used to acquire in-depth information for some specific questions.

Quantitative research

“Quantitative research is a research methodology that seeks to quantify the data, typically, applies some form of statistical analysis. (Malhotra, 2004, p.137)

The nature of Questionnaire

A survey strategy makes it possible for the researchers to have control over the research procedures and to collect data in a fast and efficient way.
The choice of questionnaire is influenced by the purpose of the thesis, which is to illustrate and analyze the role of consumer marketing through investigating how university students evaluate Apple products in terms of experience no matter what strategies Apple Inc. has set. It is a descriptive paper to illustrate and analyze the role of consumer marketing. Moreover, standardized answers in a questionnaire make it simple to compile figures.
The questionnaire conducted by Google Spreadsheet was not only put online but also handed out to collect data, since the authors believed that these were the fastest and most convenient way to reach as many consumers as they can in a limited time. Moreover, two different methods could neutralize each other’s advantages and disadvantages. For instance, Wright (2005) proposed advantages of online questionnaire are that, it may save time and money for researchers; while the disadvantages are that, researchers may be unknown about the characteristics of respondents and they may not access to the group of respondents they expect. However, researchers can reach the group of people they intend to investigate using hand-out questionnaire. And hand-out questionnaire is also flexible, because sometimes respondents may encounter problems in understanding questions. On the other hand, hand-out questionnaire is costly on time and money.

Methodology Framework

The customer’s holistic experience model

By applying S-D logic, which emphasizes that value is co-created by both producers and consumers through exchange of knowledge, skill and expertise, Tynan and McKechine (2009) created an experience model from the customer perspective accordingly; in order to manage the marketing experience, an in-depth recognition of the customers, their consumption valuation and their willingness or capability to take part in the co-creation process are needed. Other than traditional models, this newly created model has taken values from consumer behavior perspective into consideration and hence it is more comprehensive.
Arnould & Zinkhan (2004) pointed out that consumer experience process can be divided into three sections, namely pre-consumption, purchase and core experiences. To manage the marketing experience, it is essential to proceed on its whole life span; therefore authors have adopted this idea and included all three sections in the model. In the figures below, there lists all activities the consumer engages in the whole experience process, and exhibits the possible sources of customer value and meaning related to the experience, as well as expresses the outcomes the consumers may experience.
According to Arnould et al. (2004), consumers participate the consumption process by firstly searching information and imaging the products/services, and next they will plan and budget for the experience; whereas, consumers gain value throughout engaging in the experience, and co-creating value of consumption (Peñaloza and Venkatesh, 2006). Thus, in the first stage (pre-experience stage), the key words, such as searching, imaging, planning and budgeting, are included. In the next stage of consumer experience, consumers are able to gain value from sensory while in the experience (Schmitt, 1999), as well as emotional meaning, which refers to more than the emotion of liking and disliking (Richins, 1997). However, most rational consumers choose products/service according to its functional value (Arnould et al. 2004). Furthermore, taking the role of Internet into consideration, informational value can not be neglected (Kozinets, 1999). Vargo and Lusch (2008) took a different view and emphasized the relational benefits in the experience process, even though the authors of the model pointed out that the relationship can be either social in nature or with other individuals or groups. Tynan and McKechine (2009) also adopted the idea that value can be obtained from consumption of novel experiences and utopian meaning (Poulsson & Kale, 2004; Maclaran & Brown, 2005). Finally, in the last stage, it is about the after-experience. According to Holbrook (2000) and Poulsson and Kale (2004), a successful experience should generate entertainment and enjoyment and enable consumers to learn new skills. Holbrook (2000) also indicated that if the experience provided is successful enough, consumers might have nostalgia towards it and envangelise by recommending others to have it. Additionally, Tynan and McKechine (2009) added the item of fantasising to indicate the possible better results if more knowledge and other contexts are offered.
The model above has been adopted as our research model. This model, which concentrates on consumers’ perspective, provides readers an explicit way of thinking in terms of different sources of experience. However, the authors revised the model slightly so as to be more exact and fit in the case better. Firstly, all nouns were applied in order to be consistent. Then some words were replaced or explained according to the case so as to be more exact. For instance, the budget in the pre-experience is denoted as price in the research, and so is novelty, which is denoted by Siri; while nostalgia, which indicates how much consumers like the experience, is associated with brand loyalty. Like Oliver (1997) and Reicheld (1996) pointed out that the long-lasting brand experiences, which are stored in the customers’ memory, should make some efforts on consumers’ satisfaction and loyalty. Furthermore, some items in their model have been neglected for different kinds of reasons: (1) The items of planning and searching were ignored since the authors simplified the planning process into budgeting and information searching process into the whole process; (2) Some of the items are hard to measure, such as Emotional, Relational, Learning, Social, Informational, Utopian, Skill and Enjoyment/Entertainment; (3) Fantasising has been deleted since the authors limited their measure to current experience rather than the opportunity cost of substitutes. (4) The authors have added the Overall performance in the model to measure the general impression that consumers have after using iPhone.
After all these revise, the model is presented as below:

Questionnaire design

Apple Inc. provides a wide range of products, including iPhone, iPad, Macbook, etc. Because of the limited time and resource, the authors chose iPhone as representative for the whole Apple products so as to simplify the work.
A combination of scale, open-ended and multiple-choice questions has been contained to design the questionnaire. Grover and Vriens (2006) stated that the traditional guidelines suggest the appropriate number of scale categories should be between five and nine, and there is no single optimal number of categories. Thus, to simply the process, the authors planned to choose five-scale question at the beginning, from which scale 1 stands for negative views and scale 5 stands for positive ones. Moreover, some students, such as Swedish, tend to choose the middle scale when it is available. In order to make them choose from either positive or negative options, the authors decided to add one more scale.
In the questionnaire, the authors carried out 27 questions in total corresponding to each of the experience in the model revised in Figure 5, which are Expectations (Q2), Budget (Price) (Q3), Sensory (Q6, Q7), Place (Q5), Function (Q8, Q11, Q20), Novelty (Siri) (Q9, Q10, Q22), Nostalgia (Brand loyalty) (Q24), Evangelizing (Q25), Overall performance (Q4, Q12). The rest questions ask about attitudes either towards to the specific apps, such as Q17, or reasons behind the choice, such as Q14. There are four parts in the questionnaire aiming at different respondents. The first part is for all respondents, and the second part is only for non-iPhone holders while the next part is for iPhone holders, and the last part is the demographic information about the respondents. Additionally, in order to make the questionnaires more interesting, the authors used some informal and colloquial words in the questionnaire.

Sampling

International students at JIBS are the population target in the research. At JIBS, there are students from more than 70 countries with different cultures, backgrounds, and personalities, which may influence consumers’ opinions on experience of iPhone. However, the amount of all international students at JIBS is too large to be investigated, thus, a sample is needed to represent the international students (Aczel & Sounderpandian, 2006).
Learned from Ekman (2011), international students at JIBS mainly come from EU-countries, Asia, North America, and The rest of the world, which are regarded as subpopulations. More specifically, 32% of international students are from EU countries, 38% are from Asia, 14% are from North America, while 16% are from The rest of the world. Based on the internationalization, a sample of 100 students is collected due to the time and cost limitation, and the proper representation would be 32 EU students, 38 Asian students, 14 North American students, and 16 other students. Accordingly, those students from different subpopulations would be selected randomly. This method is called stratified sampling, in which “the population is partitioned into two or more subpopulations called strata, and from each stratum a desired number of samples are selected at random” (Aczel & Sounderpandian, 2006, p.213).

Qualitative Research (Supplementary Research)

“Qualitative research is an unstructured, exploratory research methodology based on small samples that provides insights and understanding of the problem setting.”(Malhotra, 2004, p.137)
Saunders, Lewis & Thornhill (2003) presented that qualitative interviews are categorized into structured, unstructured, semi-structured, and in-depth interviews. They also stated that the qualitative interview allows you to collect a rich and detailed data. Thus in order to obtain deeper information, the authors chose to perform the qualitative research as supplement, which consists of structured interview and unstructured interview.

The structured interview

In the structured interview, Silva and Fraga (2012) proposed that the interviewers follow a set of previously defined questions in a specific order, and the data from the interview is often submitted to the quantitative analysis.
In order to obtain in-depth information, the authors chose 12 students for the interview after dealing with the quantitative data. The authors chose 3 representative categories to do the further research, which have been listed in table1. In the group of non-iPhone holders, there are exactly 11 students unwilling to purchase iPhone in future, 30% of these students are randomly chosen to further study the reasons behind their choices. Similarly, 30% of students in the group of iPhone holders are chosen. To be more specific, 2 out of 7 students who tend to switch to another brand and 7 out of 23 students who will be dedicated to the brand. The explicit information is shown as below:

The unstructured interview

Unstructured interview is the interview that can be implemented through informal conversational interview, in-depth interview, no standardized interview, and ethnographic interview (Zhang and Wildemuth, 2006). Concerning the unstructured interview, the authors selected 5 students after they finished the questionnaires to inquire some different reasons whether students prefer one specific experience.
The merits of unstructured interview are that it is flexible in inquiring the information towards some specific questions without any need of preparation for categorization (Punch, 1998), and it also allows the interviewer to be highly responsive to individual differences and situational changes (Patton, 2002). So in order to elicit insights into some specific questions, the authors have performed unstructured interviews after handout-interviewees finished their questionnaires.

Reliability

In this case, SPSS, the formal and structured test, was used to increase the reliability. A combination of online and face-to-face survey not only increases the speed of questionnaire collection but also offers the possibility for respondents to raise questions while doing the questionnaire. And this is argued by the authors to be important so as to avoid the misunderstanding of the questions, which would lower the reliability. Additionally, more than 100 questionnaires were collected; therefore, it is possible to get rid of the invalid questionnaires, in which existed the non-responses. Moreover, the missing data were dealt via applying the average method according to the relevant categories, which increased the reliability of the data analysis.
Additionally, questions were clearly defined by explanations for avoiding misunderstandings, and the authors also did the interviews with a neutral behavior to avoid imposing interviewers’ views to interviewees. Therefore, those interviews were able to provide the unbiased and comprehensive information for the quantitative analysis; what is more, Saunders, Lewis & Thornhill (2003) illustrated that the use of interviews can contribute to collecting valid and reliable data that are relevant to the research questions and objectives.

Table of content
Table of Content
Abstract 
Authors’ Acknowledgements 
Table of content 
1. Introduction
1.1 Background
1.2 Problem issues
1.3 Theoretical background
1.4 Target group
1.5 Purpose statement
2. Theoretical Framework
2.1 Four realms of experience
2.2 S-D Logic
2.3 Consumer decision making process
2.4 Determinants of Consumer behavior
3. Methodology
3.1 Research Approach
3.2 Quantitative research
3.3 Qualitative Research (Supplementary Research)
3.4 Reliability
3.5 Validity
3.6 Limitation
4. Empirical findings 
4.1 Data responses and demographics
4.2 Quantitative Finding
4.3 Qualitative interview finding
5. Analysis 
5.1 Demographic subcultures
5.2 Experience in Buying Decision Process
5.3 Qualitative Analysis
6. Discussion and indication
7. Conclusion 
8. Reference
GET THE COMPLETE PROJECT
Consumer experience analysis A case study of Apple Inc. from consumers’ perspective in experience marketing

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