Psychological theories connected to consumption

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This chapter clarifies the research methods used in this thesis concerning the re-search approach, secondary and primary data collection, including pilot study, con-tent analysis and focus groups. Furthermore, generalizability, validity, reliability, and trustworthiness & dependability of the research findings will be discussed.

Research approach

Research can be conducted in three different approaches; inductive, deductive or abductive. Induction is an approach where a general proposition is made, based on the observation of facts (Kirkeby, 1990). Deduction departures from what is al-ready known and is conducted through logical processing. Abduction is a mix of the both methods and analyses facts resulting in new terms and methods (Kirkeby, 1990). This thesis will use a somewhat inductive approach since the issue being investigated is an area where rather little is known and therefore it is difficult to start out with what already is known. Instead the thesis will come to a conclusion based on the observation and analysis of facts.
The purpose of research, can be divided into three areas; exploratory, descriptive and explanatory research. Exploratory research is research conducted in order to define the nature of a problem, often in order to gain more knowledge about it to be able to make a deeper study on it later on. Descriptive research aim on describ-ing a phenomenon, this by asking for example, who, when, why, where, how ques-tions (Zikmund, 2000). Explanatory research methods focus on explaining the rela-tionships between variables, for example by statistical studies such as correlation analysis or to use qualitative data to explain why customers act in a certain way (Saunders et. al, 2007). Since this thesis have a two folded purpose the method for gathering data also need to be of two different types. The purpose of the pilot study was purely exploratory since it aimed on uncovering facts to facilitate for further investigation to build upon. The content analysis however, had a more de-scriptive purpose as it, for example, aimed on discovering the frequency of how of-ten Zoomers are included in printed advertisements. The purpose of the focus groups was to gain an understanding about the perception of older consumers, as well as younger consumers, had on the usage of older models in adverts. This pur-pose is thus explanatory since the aim is to understand what perception consum-ers have and why.

Choice of data collection

There are two types of methods for data collection; primary data collection and secondary data collection. Primary data is data collected to fulfill the specific pur-pose of the study being conducted and can be gathered by techniques such as in-terviews, observations or experiments. Secondary data are data that has been as-sembled in previous studies and thus is accessible in for example printed or elec-tronic form (Saunders, Lewis & Thornhill, 2007).

Primary data

Primary data can be gathered in many ways, for example by conducting interviews, focus groups, experiments, observations (Saunders et al., 2007). In this study primary data has been collect by two different primary data collection methods, due to that the thesis has a two folded purpose; firstly, to investigate the frequency and portrayal of Zoomers in printed adverts. And secondly, to gain an understanding of the perceptions held by older and younger consumers on the portrayal of Zoomers in adverts.
Therefore, the first type of primary data collection method used, was a descriptive form of a content analysis on adverts in magazines. This is a type of visual analysis and the reason for choosing a descriptive content analysis as primary data collec-tion tool in this thesis was fairly clear, since it seemed as the most appropriate way to uncover how frequently older characters appear in magazine adverts and how they are portrayed.
The second type of primary data collection tool was focus groups with the aim of revealing the respondents perceptions and opinions about the usage and portrayal of Zoomers in adverts. According to Morgan (1999) one of the greatest advantages with focus groups is the possibility for focus group members to share and compare their ideas and experiences, which is unusual to find in other research methods. It is an extraordinary opportunity to understand the target group and collect direct evidence of preferences and similarities and differences amongst the interacting discussion group. Due to the fact that the participants of the focus group will most likely find group interviews more interesting than individual interviews, the an-swers will probably be more interesting and revealing (Morgan, 1999).
The reason for choosing focus groups rather than interviews or questionnaires was that the authors wanted to engage the respondents in a discussion in order to uncover the respondents’ opinions and feelings. This would have been difficult to achieve in a questionnaire although it could have been managed in a face-to face interview setting. Albeit, an interview includes only one consumer and the re-searchers perceived that it could be difficult for one interviewee to discuss the sub-ject on his own, due to difficulty to remember or to connect events and thoughts to one another. The thought was thus, to conduct focus groups, which would let the researchers gain access to information they could not have gained in an interview, since focus group participants can become inspired of what other participants say, or further develop a statement made by other participants. Another issue with us-ing face-to-face interviews would have been the difficulty of deciding which con-sumers to interview. A flawed inclusion of one interviewee could bias the results. At least in a focus group setting, the risk of biased results due to a flawed inclusion of one focus group participant would not create as large bias, since the group con-sists of several members who can agree or disagree with stated opinions. There-fore, a focus group was determined to be the best data collection method to answer research question three and four, since it allows participants to discuss freely and build upon each other’s answers.

Secondary data

In this thesis, secondary data has been collected mainly by using the Jönköping University library. Books in physical form as well as electronic books and research articles have been utilized. Several reports from various Swedish institutes, such as Handels utrednings institute and Centrum för Konsument vetanskap, have also been used. Advantages of using secondary data are the easy accessibility and the vast amount of data readily available to a researcher. Disadvantages of secondary data is since it is gathered by another researcher to fit with another study, the data will never yield a perfect fit for the research at hand. This misfit can be due to the data consisting of out-dated information, variation between terms in the research, and different measurement techniques (Zikmund, 2000). To decrease the limita-tions of secondary data, the secondary data collected has been as recent as possi-ble and when possible the form of the original data has been changed to create a better fit with the thesis at hand.


Due to the two folded purpose of this thesis, the sampling also has to be divided in two parts; 1) a content analysis of magazines and 2) focus groups with older and younger consumers. Firstly, the content analysis will be addresses, and thereafter the focus groups.
To perform the content analysis, a sample of magazines needed to be selected. To narrow the sample, it was decided that the ten Swedish magazines with the largest distribution in 2009 should be included in the sample, since this was perceived to add relevancy to the thesis findings in a way that a random sample of magazines could not. This since a large distribution implies that many Swedes read those magazines and thus, the way in which Zoomers are portrayed should have a larger impact than if choosing magazines with a low distribution. Therefore, magazines with a large distribution can be argued to be of more importance to examine in this thesis than magazines with a low distribution, as these do not reach as many read-ers. The sample included the current issue available in the store and the three pre-vious issues.
From Tidningsstatistik AB (Magazine statics AB) the Swedish magazines with the largest editions in 2009 were retrieved. From this sample several magazines were excluded; firstly, magazines only available for members and thus not accessible for the researchers were excluded. In this category for example Buffe, with a yearly distribution of almost 2 million magazines was excluded. Secondly; company mag-azines only promoting one actor was excluded since it could yield biased research. In this category member magazines such as Kollega with a distribution of 484 000, and HSB Hemma with 441 000 was excluded (Tidningsstatistik, 2009). After this sample the following magazines were considered; The primary thought was to select the top ten of these magazines from the city li-brary of Jönköping. After phone contact with a librarian it was determined that all the ten magazines were accessible on the library. Albeit, when visiting the library to perform the sample, only three of the top ten magazines was available and filed in the library. Therefore the magazine sample had to contain the ten magazines in the top 20 list that was available on the city library. These were; Land, Ica curiren, Turist, Illustrerad vetenskap, Allt om mat, Vi bilägare, Feminina, Amelia, Svensk damtidning and Sköna hem.
The members for the focus group were sampled by using a snowball technique. The technique is used when it is difficult to find members of a specific sample and starts by finding one respondent in a particular sample group. Disadvantages of the method can be bias due to a homogenous sample, since respondents are likely to recommend potential respondents that are similar to themselves. There after the respondent is asked to recommend someone in the target group that could be included in the sample (Saunders et. al, 2007). The snowball sample was achieved by asking a relative to one of the researchers to take part in the focus group. The participant recommended a friend who also agreed to take part. He in turn rec-ommended another friend, and so forth until a full focus group was attained.
Disadvantages of this method are that bias due to homogenous sampling can occur, since respondents are likely to recommend potential respondents that are similar to themselves (Saunders et. al, 2007). This possible bias was reduced by splitting up the participants who might know each other to focus groups on different dates.

Pilot study

In order to gain some basic knowledge about the area the researchers aimed to in-vestigate in a full scale content analysis, a small pilot study was conducted. This in order to make sure the area really would be of interest to continue on with a more rigorous investigation. A pilot study is a type of exploratory research which uses a small study to gather some data in order to serve as a guide for a larger study (Zikmund, 2000). The pilot study was constructed as a small scale content analysis which gave some indications about the thesis topic and in what direction the thesis should move.
For the pilot study a sample of at least 30 advertisements including models older than 55 years should be analyzed, in order the fulfill the theory of standard devia-tion. In total 36 advertisements were analyzed from the following magazines or newspapers; Tara, Feminina, Kollega, Illustrerad vetenskap, Hem ljuva hem, Per-sonlig utveckling och psykologi, Residence, Villaliv, Jönköpings allehanda, Student-liv, Må bra and Jönköpingsposten. The following characteristics of the characters in the adverts were looked upon; type of product, role of the older character in the ad, if the older character was portrayed positively or negatively, and if the older cha-racter was acting passively or actively in the advertisement.
Content analysis
A content analysis is a visual analysis form where data is observed and retrieved from various sources, such as reports, letters or advertisements. The observation and analysis is systematic in order to identify the information content or characte-ristics of a message. The objective of a content analysis is to gain a quantitative de-scription of the content of multiple communicated messages. The technique can emphasize various measurement variables, for advertisements these might for ex-ample, be which color is most frequently used in the background, the roles of women, what words are used in the advertising message (Schroeder, 2002). This thesis will use content analysis as its observation method, since it is perceived to be the most appropriate method to use when gathering information about the con-tent of advertising messages in printed media. The appropriateness is based on the notion that this method is the only really proper method to use when analysis the content of advertising messages.
The content analysis coding sheet (appendix, coding sheet 1) was inspired by ear-lier research using content analysis to measure the frequency of older characters in advertisements (Kyung, 2008; Higgs & Milner 2006, Chen & Zhou, 1992). The content analysis began by retrieving 10 of the 20 largest Swedish magazines (based on number of sold magazines in 2009) that were available at city library of Jönköping. The researchers browsed through the magazines one by one, in turn. This means that two researchers browsed each magazine in order to minimize er-rors. When in doubt if a character in the advert was older than 55 years, a consum-er in the age group was consulted for an opinion, which further decreased the risk for bias. It should be noticed that it is the perceived age of the model in the advert that is analyzed, not the actual age of the model. This since in content analysis it is not important to know the actual age but rather how someone is presented by for example clothing, make-up, activity on so forth (Leeuwen & Jewitt, 2002). The age of the model was determined by three aspects; directly mentioned age (For exam-ple “Eva 65 years”), not mentioned age but known (as in the case of a celebrity) and “look age” which is judged on the models appearance, clothing, body posture, face, hands and wrinkles. For each browsed magazine it was noted how many ad-verts it included, how many adverts had analyzable characters in them, and how many of the analyzable adverts that included characters older than 55 years. To these adverts, the content analysis coding sheet was utilized. If the advert included analyzable characters was judged on the following criteria’s; it had to be a clearly analyzable human characters and close up shots (Chen & Zhou, 1992). Blurry shots, human shadow figures or very small figures in crowded adverts were disre-garded.

Focus group

A focus group is a qualitative form of sampling primary data and usually consists of 5-8 participants. It is important that the participants share some common charac-teristics in order to be of relevance for the research. A discussion is induced by a moderator who guides the conversation and makes sure the discussion concerns the subject at hand. The participants can discuss freely, which allows the research-er to attain in-depth knowledge that for example a questionnaire could not attain (Saunders et al., 2007). According to Edmunds (1999) the usage of focus groups in research is typically applied to gain a flow of input and interaction in relation to a specific topic, market campaign, advertisement, or new product. It has the advan-tage of reflecting an understanding of perceptions, attitudes, motivations and feel-ings of the target group (Edmunds, 1999).
Four focus groups were conducted in this thesis. Two included younger consumers in the age 20 to 30 years, and two focus groups included consumers older than 55 years. The participants were gathered by using snowball sampling (Zikmund, 2000) where one participant was contacted by the researchers and who recom-mended another participant and so forth. The four focus groups consisted of 5, 8, 6 and 7 members respectively, one moderator and one researcher taking notes. The number of participants in the focus groups was fairly evenly distributed between men and women, as well as occupations, in order to gain a diverse set of partici-pants and thus a good discussion.
The focus groups started with a small presentation of the context in which the the-sis was written within and the structure of the thesis. The schedule of the focus group was also described as well as what time it would finish. Thereafter the focus group participants were offered coffee and sandwiches and asked to present them-selves with name, age, occupation, in order to get to know one another.
Once most participants had finished their coffee the moderator asked for the par-ticipants permission to record the conversation, turned on the tape recorder and started the discussion. The moderator had a script with open ended questions for the focus group members to discuss and posed when needed additional questions to get further explanations or to invite less talkative participants to the discussion.
All focus groups were finished by conducting an experiment inspired by the re-search of Kite et al. (1991) who did an experiment where younger consumers were asked to describe older consumers with a few adjectives. Based on these ad-jectives they learnt that younger consumers had a stereotypical image of older consumers as unhealthy, inactive etc. Another study found that older consumers are less likely to see themselves in a negative manner compared to the younger consumers (Miele et al., 1991). Therefore, the study at hand perceived it as inter-esting to do a similar experiment in the focus groups in order to detect similar or differing perceptions among the older and younger focus groups participants con-cerning Zoomers’ roles as consumers. The moderator asked the participants to in-dividually write down five adjectives that they perceived in the best way described Zoomers as consumers.
The focus groups discussions lasted for approximately one hour and once finished, the participants were thanked and assured they would be anonymous, and also promised to be sent a small summary of the thesis findings once the thesis was fi-nished. All focus groups were held in Swedish since the participants were most comfortable with that language and would not be able to express themselves freely and accurately in English.

Table of Contents
1 Introduction 
1.1 Background
1.2 Problem
1.3 Purpose
1.4 Research questions
1.5 Delimitation
1.6 Definitions
1.7 Structure of the thesis
2 Theoretical framework 
2.1 Marketing and advertising
2.2 Advertising to older consumers
2.3 Psychological theories connected to consumption
2.4 The youth aspect of Zoomers in advertising
2.5 Previous research
3 Methodology 
3.1 Research approach
3.2 Choice of data collection
3.3 Sampling
3.4 Pilot study
3.5 Content analysis
3.6 Focus group
3.7 Data analysis
3.8 Generalizability
3.9 Validity
3.10 Reliability
3.11 Trustworthiness and dependability
3.12 Limitations
4 Pilot study 
5 Empirical findings and analysis of the portrayal of older consumers 
5.1 Frequency of older consumers in printed adverts
5.2 Portrayal of older consumers
6 Empirical findings and analysis of the perceptions of older and younger consumers 
6.1 The perceptions of older consumers
6.2 The perceptions of younger consumers
6.3 Concluding analysis of older and younger consumers’ perception of the portrayal of older consumers.
7 Conclusion 
8 Discussion 
List of references
Zooming the Zoomers The portrayal of older consumers in printed adverts and the perceptions of this portrayal of younger and older consumers

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