2. What type of exploratory research designs would you suggest for each of the following situations? Justify your answers using specific illustrations and examples.
a. The research and development director of Louis Vuitton suggests a new type of cologne for men that could be promoted by tennis celebrity Marat Safin.
b. The General Manager of Thai Spices Restaurant in Hong Kong wishes to offer customers two “new and exciting” dinner items that would be a blend of fresh durians, herbs and chicken.
c. A retail manager would like to know the popularity of a new brand of dishwashing detergent produced by Proctor and Gamble.
a) In developing a research design for this particular situation, it would first be a consideration that Louis Vuitton is not an established force in the fragrance market. Vuitton must enter this field relying on the transfer of it’s superb reputation in current areas of production to the new endeavour.
Can the product be successful? Using the Case Study Method would be suitable in answering this question. It may be advisable to explore the success of other companies who have attempted similar campaigns. For example, Tommy Hilfiger (another fashion designer) has attempted and succeeded in entering this market. It would be worthwhile to analyse the past successes and failures of similar companies and use the information in developing the new product.
In the further stages of research it would be effective to use focus group interviews to gauge consumer reaction to the product and it’s prospective face of endorsement. It must be determined if potential customers feel they would be drawn to buy a fragrance created by Vuitton and what characteristics are important in influencing their purchasing decision (eg. Price, Packaging, Place and Promotion). It would be important to determine how the consumer feels about the promotion of the product by Marat Safin.
It is quite possible for example, that the participants of a focus group may feel that the luxurious, prestigious image of Louis Vuitton may slightly clash with the athletic image of Safin. In which case it would be advisable to use the young, attractive, marketable celebrity image of Safin to promote the product and make no link to Safin’s tennis career. Examples of this can be seen in the promotion of Tag Heuer watches by Mark Philippoussis. In advertising the products there is no connection made between Mark and tennis. It must also be noted that time must be taken to discuss the particulars of the product itself as products cannot survive on endorsement alone – as displayed by the past failure of Michael Jordan’s cologne.
Projective Techniques such as a Thematic Apperception Test (TAT) may be useful to use during the focus group(s). Various visual presentations of Safin and/or the cologne can be made to the participants and feedback can be used in further research and development. As the product research matures and the target audience is now more defined, it would at this stage perhaps be beneficial to conduct depth interviews with potential future customers to provide more direction for the development process.
b) The General Manager would benefit from first conducting several experience surveys. Asking informed experts about this particular research problem would be invaluable. It must first be established that the recipes are possible and compatible with the restaurant. Interviewing the head chef regarding this matter should answer such questions. It may then be advisable to ask other chefs from other restaurants for their thoughts and feedback on the matter. For example, durians are notorious for smelling terrible; this factor may lead chefs to suggest the ingredient to be quite unpopular. Finally, if the research process gets this far, it would be advisable to survey the most qualified experts of all; the customer (who is ‘always right’ and is also the most qualified when it comes to assessing their own appetites).
If the experience surveys suggest the addition to the menu to be acceptable it may then be advantageous to gauge consumer reaction before investing large sums of time and money into the project. This may be done with a simple observational study. For example, offering free samples of the food in question to existing customers will provide valuable insight into popular opinion.
c) To gain a better, in-depth appreciation of the marketing environment or consumption behaviour with regard to the new brand of detergent it may first be logical to examine any available secondary data. Analysis of such data may give a very clear indication of the brand’s popularity. As the product is already in circulation, sales information and other related figures may be extremely useful in determining the brand’s current market status.
Experience Surveys may prove effective in this situation as well. There are many opportunities for experience surveys in this particular marketing problem. Anyone from a company executive to a product merchandiser can provide useful experience and knowledge that can benefit the research. Management can be probed for information obtained overseeing the overall operation of selling the product, whilst sales representatives can be questioned about their experience in dealing with front-line sales. Buying trends can also be measured by interviewing individuals outside the organisation; such as wholesalers and retails who can provide very accurate information and figures regarding popularity (ie. sales).
Focus groups can also be used in this situation to measure consumer reaction, indeed focus groups are used in the greater majority of all marketing research. As usual the focus group allows the discovery of new ideas, consumer insight, and hidden motivations. A focus group provides direct, undistorted communication from the consumer to the manufacturer. Thoughts and feelings regarding attributes such as the detergent’s price, quality and general image can be recorded and used in further development if deemed necessary.
David Eccles School of Business [Online], Available: http://www.business.utah.edu/~pmkthl/5 [2004, Apr. 14]
McDaniel, C. & Gates, R. 2002, Marketing Research, South Western, Cincinnati
Zikmund, W. G. 2003, Exploring Marketing Research, South Western, Mason