Millennials – A Distinct Age Cohort in Today’s Market Place

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Research Perspective and Approach

While there is a variety of philosophical perspectives that guide how specific knowledge is generated, adopting interpretivism allowed for respecting and taking into account the richness and complexity of the phenomena under study. In contrast to positivism, which considers the one reality to be ‘out there’ and views participants as simple measurement objects to be studied, importance was ascribed to social actors as being the constructers of reality and their differing roles, characteristics and mindsets to lead to distinct and subjective interpretations of CM campaign stimuli (Malhotra & Birks, 2007, p. 158; Saunders, Lewis & Thornhill, 2012). Supported by Morrison, Haley, Bartel Sheehan and Taylor (2002, p. 20), who reason ‘that meaning arises from within a person’ rather than lying within an object, the interpretivist perspective adopted for this thesis incorporated that reality is dynamically evolving and multiple and not reducible to law-like generalizations (Malhotra & Birks, 2007). Especially in the context of this thesis, assessing the perception of Millennials was to result in knowledge about the subjective interpretation of CM stimulus factors and the interrelation with individual factors of these actors. Whereas previous research in the field of CM was focused on assessing consumers’ responses to CM stimuli in a quantitative way, the consumer-centric perspective adopted for this thesis allowed to go beyond the effect and provided insights into the mental processes and underlying, manifold and subjective reasons for perceptions of CM stimulus (Malhotra & Birks, 2007).

Research Strategy and Design

Mainly on a quantitative and rather general level, previous research focused on identifying and measuring the attitudinal and behavioral responses to different associated factors and their contribution towards the short- and long-term effectiveness of CM campaigns. Since previous research was lacking in the particular field of Millennials’ perception of CM, this thesis is exploratory in its nature to provide deeper insights (Saunders et al., 2012). Especially, making the perception of different stimulus factors and what individual factors of Millennials influence this perception central to a qualitative study, presents a seldomstudied perspective in this field. To obtain the information needed to answer the specific research questions and to attain the purpose, a consequent process considering both primary and secondary data was adopted (Malhotra & Birks, 2007). Firstly, secondary data was assessed to establish a competent knowledge on the age cohort under investigation, to introduce the specifics of the campaign format CM and the perception process reflecting the underlying consumer behavior theory (Saunders et al., 2012). Additionally, a systematic literature review was conducted to consolidate previously studied stimulus and individual factors that would serve as a guiding framework for the set-up of the primary data collection. Since rich information and insights are required when studying consumer perception, semi-structured face-to-face interviews were selected as the main method for primary data collection. Findings were then organized and interpreted in the light of pre-existing theory including stimulus and individual factors that resulted from the systematic literature review. Finally, findings were integrated into existing research of most relevant authors and used to further develop the existing knowledge (Malhotra & Birks, 2007).

Set-up and Execution of Semi-structured Interviews

A neutral, consistent surrounding that held the same meaning and was equally comforting for all participants was chosen (Morrison et al. 2002). All interviews were recorded and findings were enriched through notes taken on pauses and intonations. Interviews were held by both interviewers on a one-on-one basis with the participant. To establish rapport and empathy with the participants, they were introduced to the formalities of the interview and informed that the session was recorded. Anonymity and confidentiality was ensured to them to establish a trustful atmosphere (Malhotra & Birks, 2007). Moreover, it was emphasized that the aim of the thesis lay in understanding their views and that there were no “right or wrong” answers as perceptions are individual. A specific interview structure ranging from broad to narrow inquires was prepared as this had previously proven to elicit the best responses (Morrison et al., 2002). To allow for comparability of findings from the different interviews and to ensure that all important factors were covered, a topic guide inheriting the general interview structure was developed (please refer to Appendix 2). Through conduction of three test interviews (held prior to the actual data collection), the topic guide could be developed and questions adapted according to how well participants reacted to them. However, the order of question was kept flexible and was adjusted to the flow of conversation. Clearly, if participants addressed interesting issues that were not considered previously, it was probed to incorporate the results in the interview and to provide a holistic and in-depth view on participants’ perception (Barbour, 2007). By using open questions, yes or no answers could be avoided, which helped to better access participants’ perceptions and to identify reasoning behind the answers given.

Qualitative Data Analysis

Qualitative data collection methods and in particular, in-depth interviews with flexible and open-ended questioning generate large amounts of data. As such, a data analysis method that enabled handling and making sense of the generated textual data had to be selected. Due to the structure derived from the systematic literature review and the subsequent semistructured approach to the interviews, a clear picture existed regarding what factors to explore. Therefore, content analysis appeared most appropriate as it allowed reducing, simplifying and structuring the textual data of the interviews through the application of rules that derived from the systematic literature review and the selected factors (Malhotra & Birks, 2007). Content analysis is a methodologically controlled, systematic text analysis method that classifies and ascribes textual content to categories through set rules, thus reducing subjective interpretation effects. The reduction of data to a minimum through summarizing created a somewhat quantitative display of vast amounts of textual data that enabled handling and comparison between different interview findings (Malhotra & Birks, 2007; Mayring, 2000).

Trustworthiness in Qualitative Research

Demonstrating diligence and that ‘findings are based on practices that are acknowledged to be the bases of good research’ is essential to any study (Denscombe, 2010, pp. 297-298). However, there are different strategies to assess the quality of quantitative and qualitative research (Williams & Morrow, 2009). Taking into account that qualitative research does not fit the positivist paradigm, which assumes that the world can be explained by observable and quantifiable facts, conventional criteria for quality assessment cannot be applied (validity, reliability, generalizability and objectivity) (Choudhuri, Glauser, & Peregoy, 2004; Denscombe, 2010). Subsequently different terminology and criteria are used to establish trustworthiness and credibility in qualitative studies (Cope, 2014; Williams & Morrow, 2009). There are three superordinate categories for quality assessment that apply to qualitative research: data integrity, balance between reflexivity and subjectivity and clear communication of findings (Morrow, 2005; Williams & Morrow, 2009). The three will be explained and examples of their application in this thesis are provided.

Table of Contents :

  • Abstract
  • Acknowledgement
  • Table of Figures
  • Table of Charts
  • Abbreviations
  • 1 Introduction
    • 1.1 Background
    • 1.2 Problem Definition
    • 1.3 Purpose and Research Questions
    • 1.4 Delimitations
    • 1.5 Contribution
    • 1.6 Definition of Key Terms
  • 2 Theoretical Framework
    • 2.1 Millennials – A Distinct Age Cohort in Today’s Market Place
      • 2.1.1 Shaping Conditions and Millennials’ Characteristics
      • 2.1.2 Millennials’ Demand for Altruistic Behavior
    • 2.2 The Role of Perception in Consumer Behavior
    • 2.3 Cause-related Marketing
      • 2.3.1 What is Cause-related Marketing?
      • 2.3.2 Stakeholders and Their Interest in Cause-related Marketing
      • 2.3.3 Key Factors in Cause-related Marketing Research
      • 2.3.3.1 Stimulus Factors Related to the Donation
      • 2.3.3.2 Stimulus Factors Related to the Cause
      • 2.3.3.3 Individual Factors Related to the Consumer
  • 3 Methodology and Method
    • 3.1 Research Perspective and Approach
    • 3.2 Research Strategy and Design
    • 3.3 Data Collection
      • 3.3.1 Systematic Literature Review on Cause-related Marketing
      • 3.3.2 Semi-structured Interviews
      • 3.3.2.1 Participant Selection and Sampling Technique
      • 3.3.2.2 Set-up and Execution of Semi-structured Interviews
    • 3.4 Qualitative Data Analysis
    • 3.5 Trustworthiness in Qualitative Research
      • 3.5.1 Data Integrity
      • 3.5.2 Balance Between Reflexivity and Subjectivity
      • 3.5.3 Clear Communication of Findings
  • 4 Findings from Semi-structured Interviews
    • 4.1 Participants’ Characteristics and Their General View on Cause-related
    • Marketing
    • 4.2 Perception of Stimulus Factors Related to the Donation
    • 4.3 Perception of Stimulus Factors Related to the Cause
    • Table of Contents
    • 4.4 Rating of Stimulus Factors
  • 5 Analysis
    • 5.1 Millennial Participants’ Perception of Stimulus Factors Related to the
    • Donation
    • 5.2 Millennial Participants’ Perception of Stimulus Factors Related to the
    • Cause
    • 5.3 Individual Factors Influencing Millennial Participants’ Perception of
    • Cause-related Marketing
    • 5.4 Model of Cause-related Marketing Perception Factors Based on Analysis
  • 6 Conclusion and Discussion
    • 6.1 Conclusion
    • 6.2 Implications
    • 6.3 Limitations
    • 6.4 Future Research
    • List of References

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Cause-related Marketing A qualitative study into Millennials’ perception

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