This chapter will discuss how we will conduct and analyze our data. The discussion will end by presenting the validity, reliability, generalizability and credibility of the method chosen.
The research design represents the general plan of the methods used to fulfill the purpose. The three main types of research designs are exploratory, descriptive, and causal (Hair et al., 2009).
Exploratory research involves seeking information about a problem and then understanding consumer attitude, behavior and motivation. Typically this research is employed when little is known about the research problem and when the hypothesis is vague (Hair et al., 2009).
Descriptive research is used to answer who, what, when, where and how questions. It can also be used to describe characteristics of a population or a phenomenon (Zikmund, 2000, p. 50). This research usually involves quantitative methods. However, qualitative research can also be used when the aim is to provide an in-depth description of the phenomenon (Zikmund, 2000; Hair et al., 2009).
Causal research involves identifying cause and effect relationships between two or more variables. Experiments are involved when doing causal research (Hair et al., 2009).
Our research is a combination of exploratory and descriptive research. During the first phase of the research process, exploratory research was used. In order to discover the importance of multimedia and the impact of the website atmosphere, we did a literature review – this review consisted of analyzing comments and articles by fashion news articles and empirical research on website design. Then when our problem statement and purpose was finalized, descriptive research was used in order to validate or refute the findings from the review (Hair et al., 2009).
The method used to fulfill the research purpose and questions is focus groups. A focus group is a qualitative method that involves eight to ten participants and a moderator. The moderator probes the participants into discussing their opinions, emotions, impressions and suggestions towards a topic (Sekaran, 2003). Thus focus groups provide in-depth understanding of a subject (Carson, Gilmore, Perry & Gronhaug, 2001).
Focus groups are commonly chosen when the researcher wants to understand consumer attitude (Greenbaum, 1997). By using focus groups, we want to understand consumer attitude towards multimedia used in fashion e-commerce and why consumers have formed this attitude. Knowing this information will help fulfill our purpose and will provide fashion designers with recommendations on how to design their webstore.
There are other qualitative methods besides focus groups that can assess attitude. For example, interviews. However, the focus group method was specifically chosen because we can simultaneously receive information about website atmosphere and multimedia – thereby developing an overview of the participants’ responses. Interviews, on the other hand, are more difficult to conduct because the information is received sequentially. When information is received consecutively it is more difficult to compile and make sense of the data. Further, focus groups allow for group interaction – an advantageous point considered by many researchers (Greenbaum, 1997). Group interaction enables the formation of issues that may not have been emerged in an interview and it encourages ideas to be built (Greenbaum, 2000).
Further, focus groups were chosen as opposed to quantitative methods because statistical measurements would not answer our research questions. Instead, focus groups are more appropriate because they explain how and why attitude and behavior towards a topic occurs (Carson et al., 2001).
Overall, even though there are many positive aspects of focus groups, a poorly conducted focus group can lead to misleading results (Aaker, Kumar, Day & Leone, 2009). Therefore it is vital that one prepares efficiently. Focus groups involve four phases: planning the focus group session, conducting the discussions, analyzing the results and drawing conclusions from them (Hair et al., 2009).
Phase 1: Planning the Focus Group Study
The preparation stage is considered the most vital phase. During this phase, the researcher must plan and prepare for the focus group. Most of the decisions in this stage involve the participants (Hair et al., 2009).
Focus group participants
First the relevant criteria of the participants must be identified. Although these criteria depend on the purpose, the most basic participant criteria are familiarity with the topic and homogeneity (Hair et al., 2009). Participants must be familiar with the topic in order to discuss and give valuable information (Greenbaum, 1997). For instance, because our topic involves fashion and e-commerce, participants must have prior experience purchasing clothing online in the past year. Experienced online clothing shoppers have already formed perceptions about atmospherics of a webstore. Therefore they have formed an attitude towards which webstore atmospherics they like and dislike (Kim & Stoel, 2004). Also, we want participants who have purchased clothing recently because they are more likely to remember what web design features they like as opposed to those who have shopped two or three years ago.
Further, a focus group must be as homogeneous as possible. A focus group with many similarities will feel less intimidated and more likely to offer their opinions (Hair et al., 2009). This homogeneity can be based on demographics, attitude or behaviour. The criteria in our focus group will be those living in Sweden and are in the generation Y group. The age group population was narrowed down because older customers may perceive the use of multimedia integration differently than younger customers. The generation Y segment was chosen because they have grown up in a media environment and is conscious of “marketing hype” (Kanuk & Schiffman, 2010, p. 410). They spend most of their time on the internet and they respond differently to marketing techniques than their parents (Kanuk & Schiffman, 2010). Further, even though this segment may be considered too young to shop for high-end products, they influence 81% of family apparel purchases (O’Donnell, 2006 cited in Kinley et al., 2010) and in fact are deemed to have the means to purchase higher priced clothing (Wolburg & Pokrywczynski, 2001 cited in Kinley et al., 2010).
The nationality group was chosen because the authors live in Sweden and thus have easier access to those who live in Sweden.
The last criteria will only be applicable to some of the groups – two of the groups will have a sincere interest of fashion while the other group does not. In essence, this non-fashion interested group can be viewed as the control group. We would like to compare whether being interested in fashion influences attitude towards multimedia.
Selection and Recruitment of Participants
After the criteria for the participants are finalized, the researcher must select and recruit those fulfilling the criteria. In order to select suitable participants, screening methods are employed. Typically, the screening process involves a questionnaire (Hair et al., 2009). However, we will use judgment sampling in order to select participants. Judgment sampling is used when the researcher selects people based on a certain criteria (Blumberg, Cooper & Schindler, 2008). As students, we have a large contact network and thus personally know those who fulfill the required criteria. Therefore participants will be obtained via personal contacts. For instance, we will conduct two focus groups in Jönköping and one in Stockholm. One group in Jönköping will need to fulfill criteria 2 and the other group will fulfill criteria 1. The group in Stockholm will fulfill criteria 1– they are interested in fashion. Based on these requirements, we will contact our friends and ask whether they can participate in the focus group.
Further, we will also use the convenience sampling method to select university students. Convenience sampling is the process of obtaining people that are considered to be appropriately available for the research (Zikmund, 2000). For instance, it is more Interested in fashion means that people have high fashion awareness and are studying or involved in the fashion industry.
convenient, efficient, less time consuming and economical to gather data by using focus groups from our home towns.
Judgment and convenience sampling are non-probability sampling methods. Non-probability excludes random selection. These non-probability sampling methods were chosen because it is inexpensive and takes a short time to implement (Blumberg et al., 2008). Further, while randomization is an important factor in quantitative research, it is not essential in qualitative research (Hair et al., 2009). Randomization is not important because statistical inferences about the characteristics of the population are not needed when conducting focus groups (Saunders, Lewis & Thornhill, 2007).
Size of the Focus Group and Number of Sessions
Most researchers agree that a focus group should have 8 to 12 participants. Having fewer than eight can cause one or two people to dominate the conversation. Conversely, having too many participants will limit the amount of information each person can say (Hair et al., 2009). Each of our focus groups had eight participants.
The number of sessions needed for valid results varies among researcher to researcher. Hair et al. (2009) stated that there should be four to eight focus group sessions. Aaker et al. (2009) believed that three or four will be enough. Despite this difference in opinion, it is agreed that there should be at least two sessions. However, if each focus group has extremely different attitudes then more focus groups must be needed (Hair et al., 2009). We chose to have three different focus groups sessions. The two groups who were interested in fashion had similar attitude to one another. Thus more sessions were not added.
Creating a Guide
Before leading a focus group, a moderator guide should be developed. A guide is a detailed outline of the topics, questions and sub questions used by the moderator (Hair et al., 2009, p. 172). Its role is to facilitate the flow of the focus group session. For instance, by reading the guide the moderator knows what topics to talk about and the time assigned for each topic (Greenbaum, 2000). Further, the moderator guide is used to probe the participants into discussion (Greenbaum, 1997).
The content of the guide depends on the research objective. Therefore there are no guidelines for creating the right guide (Greenbaum, 2000). Our research objective is to explore Swedish consumers’ attitude towards multimedia of fashion e-tailers. Using this objective as a framework, we developed our own guide (see Appendix C).
The questions and issues brought up in our guide are based on previous research focused on website design and analyzing popular high-end fashion retailer’s webstores.
In order to ensure that the questions of the guide were clear, we asked students who were not participating to look over the questions. Questions that were deemed unnecessary were deleted and those that were considered confusing were reworded.
Finding a Moderator
The last step in the preparation phase is to find a moderator. The quality of the focus group depends on the moderator because “the moderator is the instrument in the focus group” (Carson et al., 2001, p. 121).
Litosseliti (2003) stated that the researcher should always carry out the role of the moderator. The researchers are familiar with the topic and understand when to probe into different issues. Due to this reason the authors of this report will take turns becoming the moderator. When one person is the moderator, the other author will become the assistant moderator. The assistant moderator’s role is to ensure that the moderator sticks to the moderator guide and time limit.
1.2 Problem Discussion
2 Theoretical Framework
2.2 Fashion E-commerce
2.3 The Fashion Consumers’ Attitude towards the Web Store
2.4 Online Purchasing Intention
2.5 Model of Online Purchasing Behavior for Fashion
3.1 Research Design
3.2 Focus Group
3.4 Validity and Reliability
4 Results of the Focus Groups
4.1 Purchasing Fashion Online
4.2.3 Tiger of Sweden
5.1 Online Fashion Consumer Behavior
5.2 Key Factors for Fashion E-Commerce
5.4 Purchase Intentions
5.5 Final Purchasing Decision Model for Fashion
7.1 Recommendations to the Webstores Used in the Focus Group
7.2 Recommendations to Fashion E-Tailers in General
7.3 Critique of Method
7.4 Suggestions for Future Research
GET THE COMPLETE PROJECT
Multimedia and Purchase Intentions: Web Design for Fashion E-Tailers