This section introduces the reader to the selected methodology for this research paper. The chosen research philosophy, strategy, and approach will be presented as well as justified. Additionally, ethical considerations surrounding the methodology will be carried out. Finally, the method of processing and analysis will be presented to the reader.
Saunders, Lewis & Thornhill, (2009) explains ontology as the philosophy concerned with the assumptions, we can make about how the world operates. There are two major distinctions within ontology, being objectivism and subjectivism. Objectivism views social entities existing independently of social actors. The subjective view is that social phenomenon is based on the actions and perceptions of social actors, and in order to understand them one has to study the details of the situation. According to Saunders et al., (2009), the subjectivist view is often linked with social constructionism which is a follow up on the interpretivism philosophy that in order to understand the actions of a human, one has to understand and explore the subjective meanings leading up to social actions. Considering that the aim of the research is to understand the underlying reasoning behind a specific behavior in human beings, the subjective view will be implemented in this research paper. The research paper will keep to the subjective view by an in-depth discussion about behaviors and reasoning in order to understand certain choices and actions.
Saunders et al., (2009) states that epistemology is concerned with knowledge, more specifically what constitutes acceptable knowledge. Keeping to the subjective view of this research, the knowledge that will be of the highest value for this study will be attitudes and feelings gathered from the in-depth discussion.
There are several approaches to implement for research philosophy, and in this research paper, the interpretive approach is the chosen philosophy. The interpretivism has its historical roots in anthropology and can be traced back to the 18th century and the philosopher Giambattista Vico (Ryan, 2018). Another example of a research philosophy is the positivist approach. The positivist approach is favorable if you believe the study will produce end result that will be law-like generalizations similar to natural and physical science. In connection to what Saunders et al., (2009) state, implementing a positivist approach to conduct this research paper would not be suitable and due to the aim of this research, one would not be able to reach the research intent with a positivist approach. The Interpretivism belief is that in order to understand the behavior of people one has to consider the difference in human beings, so-called “social actors”. According to Saunders et al., (2009), the philosophy highlights the difference in examining human beings and examining cars and computers. Implementing an interpretivism approach for this study is appropriate since the aim is to understand and explore behavior in a selected group of human beings and viewing each individual’s role and actions as an important factor to grasp the research question. The interpretivism approach allows the research to view each individual and their specific role, and by doing this, understanding the specific research area of this study.
Research Strategy and Approach
There are different approaches that researchers may consider when conducting research. These include quantitative and qualitative approaches. The quantitative research approach is applied through gathering data that will be used when formulating and testing a hypothesis. This approach is associated with numerical data and is less effective in displaying thoughts and behaviors. A qualitative approach is used by the researcher to understand the issue as well as exploring its reasons and motivations, which is more relevant when studying consumer behavior (Saunders et al., 2009). Since the aim of this research paper is to explore and understand the issue, rather than testing a hypothesis, a qualitative approach has been applied. The chosen approach contributes to a more focused understanding of the issue through a variety of methods that are unstructured and semi-structured. Examples of these are focus groups, ethnographic fieldwork and individual interviews. One may use one method only or apply all of them which will allow the occurrence of a methodological triangulation (King & Horrocks, 2010).
Applying a qualitative research approach will provide certain benefits when conducting research papers of this sort. Its methods allow the researcher(s) to gain valuable insights from the consumers in order to understand their behavior, which is useful in this study due to the purpose. In other words, it may be an effective way of accessing consumer thoughts and opinions (Mariampolski, 2001). The qualitative approach includes small sample sizes, in comparison to the quantitative approach, which permits the researcher(s) to analyze the participants’ reactions and thoughts. Open-ended questions and passive observations may be utilized in order to draw conclusions (Saunders et al., 2009). Qualitative research is also easier to organize and is less time consuming due to the smaller sample sizes and the planned locations for the focus groups. These factors also contribute to an easier way of controlling, managing and predicting limitations (Mariampolski, 2001).
Furthermore, in this qualitative research, deductive research has been used. The deductive approach involves the development of a clear theoretical position prior to the collection of data. Which is in contrast to the inductive approach that starts by exploring data, followed by developing theories from the gathered data and subsequently relating it to literature (Saunders et al., 2009). Using a deductive approach was relevant in this study due to the availability and amount of theory and articles related to green purchasing behavior. These theoretical frameworks may serve as enablers in identifying thoughts and motivators towards the green purchasing behavior of young Swedish consumers.
Methods of Data Collection
This research paper will use focus groups as a research method in order to collect qualitative data. Bente Halkier (2010) defines focus groups as a combination of group interaction and a predetermined subject of the discussion made by the researcher(s). Another definition, made by Krueger and Casey (2009), describes focus groups as “… carefully planned discussion designed to obtain perceptions on a defined area 24 of interest in a permissive, non-threatening environment”. A focus group is not to be compared to a regular group, as it is a special type of group in regard to purpose, size, composition, and practices. The purpose of using a focus group is to listen and subtract information in the form of opinions and experiences of the participants, with regards to a specific subject. The size of focus groups is normally composed of five to ten participants but can range from four to twelve. When deciding upon the size, substantially one has to take the purpose of the focus group into account. If one wishes to have a rather deep and intimate discussion, one would preferably have a smaller group. However, if the purpose is to gain substantially diverse opinions one would go for more participants. Additionally, when selecting participants for the focus group, the goal is to create homogeneity in characteristics amongst the participants. The homogenous characteristics are chosen by the researcher(s) beforehand and could include gender, age, lifestyle, occupation and more (Krueger and Casey, 2009).
Kamberelis and Dimitriadis (2013) highlight the importance of creating a safe environment to enable interaction between the group members and encourage self-disclosure. This, in order to achieve a fundamentally effective focus group. A careful selection of space is substantial in order for the participants to feel comfortable. Preferably, one has to choose a space that is perceived as familiar to the participants. Furthermore, Halkier (2010) states the importance to select a neutral place with limited distractions, in addition to being familiar.
The reasoning behind selecting a focus group in order to answer the formulated research question is due to the many benefits derived from this method of qualitative research. Focus groups have great strength in generating data about interpretations, norms, and behavior within a specific social group. It focuses less on the individual’s behavior and opinions, and more about the social interaction between the participants. This allows the researcher(s) to derive more complex information, due to the many different experiences and opinions amongst the participants, and data about social practices, which could be difficult to develop from individual interviews (Halkier, 2010).
Sampling is the act of choosing a small portion of a big population to observe in order to reach assumptions about the whole population (Saunders et al., 2009). Since the aim of the study is to understand the behavior of a specific group of people, the research question cannot be answered by just any people out in the world. Hence, the need for sampling is made apparent. Focus groups will be used in order to gather data to answer the research question, therefore the strategy for sampling has to be chosen accordingly (Krueger and Casey, 2009). The first step of the sampling process is to recognize suitable participants for the focus groups. This calls for a screening process which is a process where one decides upon the demographical and observable characteristics of suited participants for the focus groups. According to Kreuger and Casey (2009), the screens for this particular study is that the participants have to be between the ages of 20-26 and Swedish descendant. The next step of the process is to design a process in which one selects the participants for the focus group. In the case of this study, the design is based on the aim of the study, the screens for suitable participants, and the dates for the focus groups. The third step is to generate a pool of suitable participants. Kreuger and Casey (2009) state that the pool of participants is the next step of the sampling process, and there are several strategies to this such as list, ads, announcement, and nomination sampling. The pool of participants for this research was generated based on the screens and geographical convenience. Kreuger and Casey (2009) state that, in order to ensure an unbiased cross-selection, one can implement randomization to the sampling process. This is a process where the participants from the pool of suitable participants are chosen at random to ensure everyone an equal chance of being selected. Randomization was implemented to some extent to reduce selection bias.
Composition of Questions
When composing questions for qualitative research, one can use three different types of questions; structured, semi-structured and unstructured. Looking into the semi-structured nature of focus groups, one may find it highly relevant to also use semi-structured questions (Saunders et al., 2009). Moreover, Kamberelis and Dimitris (2013), suggests that the most suitable composition of questions in regard to focus groups are semi-structured, open-ended questions. Questions that open up for a free discussion amongst the participants generate richer and more complex conversations (Kamberelis & Dimitris, 2013). Furthermore, during all focus group sessions, one or more moderators will be present in order to ask formulated questions and structure the discussion. However, the most important role of the moderator is to carefully listen to the conversation (Halkier, 2015).
Open-ended, semi-structured questions will be used in combination with probing questions. The intention of probing questions is to further explore certain responses received, that are of importance to the specific subject discussed. When asking probing questions, the moderator needs to avoid exposing their certain view or judgment on the topic discussed (Saunders, et al., 2009). See Appendix C for the question guide for the focus groups.
Empirical Data Collection
Focus groups were used in this study to collect qualitative data. Four different groups were held within the timeframe of one week where the participants were sent electronic invitations. According to Kreuger and Casey (2009), the optimal size for focus groups that aim to create deep and intimate discussions are rather small. Therefore, the chosen sizes for the focus groups were between four to six participants. Furthermore, in order to find significant patterns in thoughts and opinions, the four focus groups were divided by gender. One group consisted of females only, the other one contained only males and the final two were mixed with males and females. However, the last group included participants without a higher education background in order to analyze differences in knowledge based on education. The focus groups were held by the three authors whereby one acted as a moderator and the other two acted as assistants. The authors then switched roles as each author was responsible as a moderator for at least one focus group. Moreover, the assigned roles allowed the authors to effectively collect insights as one assistant took notes and the other one analyzed the behavior of the participants whilst recording the sessions via smartphones. Participants were also asked to sign a paper of consent (see Appendix B) before the recorded session began.
The location of the focus groups was at Jönköping University as the meeting rooms ensure a convenient and safe environment. This is in line with Kamberelis and Dimitriadis (2013) proposition of creating a safe environment that enables interaction and encourages self-disclosure. The participants were also offered refreshments such as sparkling water and snacks in order to provide a comfortable environment for discussion. The interviewee let the participants chose whether to do the focus groups in Swedish or in English. This resulted in 3 out of 4 sessions being held in Swedish and the fourth one in English. Furthermore, throughout the sessions, the moderator asked questions that were prepared beforehand (shown in Appendix C). The focus groups were initiated by asking the participants about their name, age, occupation and if they ever purchased a green product. This was followed by general questions about the environmental crisis, grocery shopping, and consumer behavior. The whole discussion was finalized with questions about the participants’ knowledge and attitude towards green products. However, probing questions that were unscripted, as well as follow up questions, were formulated by the moderator during the sessions in order to gain deeper insights and knowledge of the participants’ thoughts and opinions. The moderator used a calm body language and speaking tone which encouraged the participants to further discussion and self-disclosure.
1.3 Purpose and Research Question
2.0 Frame of Reference
2.1 Collection of Literature
2.2 Overview of Frame of Reference
2.3 Green Marketing
2.4 Consumer Behavior
3.1 Research Philosophy
3.2 Research Strategy and Approach
3.3 Methods of Data Collection
3.4 Sampling Method
3.5 Composition of Questions
3.6 Empirical Data Collection
3.7 Ethical Considerations
3.8 Quality of Data Collected
3.9 Data Reduction
3.10 Data Analysis
4.0 Empirical Findings
4.1 Impacts of Green Marketing
4.3 Consumption Practices
5.1 Lack of Knowledge
5.2 Failure in Green Marketing
5.3 Consumption Patterns
7.1 Discussion of Empirical Findings
7.4 Suggestions for Future Research
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Value Enhancers and Inhibitors for Green Purchasing Behavior Attitudes towards green products within the food industry among young Swedish consumers.