study and explore the methodological approach that has been used in the research

Research Methodology

Introduction

This chapter will seek to study and explore the methodological approach that has been used in the research. In the chapter will give an account of previously written literature in the literature review. The researcher will develop five questions that will be used to answer to main objectives and aims of the study. Data collection methods; the focus groups and the questionnaires will be used to collect data for the study. The sample used, and the sampling techniques will also be discussed. Data analysis, synthesis, ethical issues considered will be discussed before the conclusion.

Research problem

The study is tasked with detecting and developing the identifiable links between the consumer behavior and the brand dimensions. The study should also find out how cohesive brands affect the behavior of consumers and therefore leading them to making a purchase.

Methodology justification

The methodology to be used for the research is the pragmatic approach where both the qualitative and quantitative techniques will be used (Amaratunga & Baldry, 2002). Qualitative and quantitative research approaches will be used interdependently in the research. The extensive information gathered through the qualitative approach and the reduced subjectivity from the quantitative approach give a holistic point of view for the research (Carlson et al., 2009).  What is required for the study is an absolute set of data and statistics that will be relevant and useful for simple interpretation in relation to the subject of study. Branding and consumer perceptions will be classified as either dependent or independent variables. The consumer perception is dependent on the type of branding of the products that leads to the purchase. The focus group discussions will bring into perspective the actual experiences, perceptions and the behavior of consumers towards the brands available in the market and is, therefore, a suitable mean of data collection for the study. Qualitative techniques will focus on the use of interpretive and constructivist research paradigms and it will, therefore, be easy for the researcher to understand and interpret the data collected in the accordance of the circumstances of the respondent. On the other hand, the quantitative hand of the research will be used to generate primary data through the utilization of the survey results (Creswell et al., 2006)

For the study to be effective, the researcher needs to understand the causes of the consumer behavior as an effect of the brand dimension. To clearly understand this, the researcher needs to access the situation through the use of the cause and effect relationship of the deductive approach. Through this, the relationship between the concepts of branding and consumer perceptions will be struck.  The researcher is also needed to manipulate the independent variables in the study with competence to reduce the level of bias and as well as make clear readings of their effects on the dependent variables. The effect of the brand on the perception of its consumer needs to be understood for the making or designing of a cohesive brand.

Research philosophy/ approach

There are four common research philosophies that can be adopted for the study; these are the positivism, post positivism, constructive-interpretive and critical-ideological (Zachariadis, & Barrett, 2013). It is generally assumed that positivism and post-positivism are adopted if the study to be conducted is of quantitative nature whereas the latter two philosophies are the most suitable for carrying out qualitative studies. Other philosophies of research include feminism, relativism, subjectivism, hermeneutics and constructivism (Cooper & Skindler, 2006). Each of these approaches is a product of epistemological assumptions in regard to a legitimate study. To determine the approach to be used for the study, the researcher had to first find information about the approaches that exist so as to find out which is the most important for the study. For a typical research, the paradigms used are mainly; interpretive, positivist, critical and pragmatic (Kamal & Rahman, 2014). It is also of great importance that the research considers the current trends of the research approaches as they keep changing and developing over time this will ensure that the research paradigm used is up to date and produces the best results for the study. The approaches discussed do not conform to the needs of the study and therefore need not to be used as they will not bring forward the desired results.

Pragmatic paradigm

This approach emerged in the 1930’s through the work of Dewey, James, and Mead among others (Goldkuhl, 2012). Pragmatic paradigm in research involves the use of the appropriate method of research that wholly suits the needs of the research. When considering the use of the pragmatic paradigm, the researcher should not take into regard the philosophical debates on the best type of approach to be used. Freedom to choose the method desired for the study is, therefore, granted to the researcher. Through the adoption of the pragmatic paradigm (Harrison & Reilly, 2011) it is clear each that the methods of data collection has its limitations but they can be used to complete each other (Feilzer, 2010). This, therefore, makes the use of pragmatic paradigm best for the study as it encourages the use of mixed methods in research. The study is constituted of both qualitative and quantitative data and therefore needs the use of both the qualitative and quantitative data collection methods in the collection of data that is both reliable and valid (Cavana, Delahaye, & Sekaran, 2001)

Pragmatic paradigm being as very recent paradigm has offered many research solutions due to the freedom accorded to the researchers. Through this paradigm, the doubts, believes, and habits of consumers can be studied in a very natural setting as the habits are constructed within the societies as a result of their believes and doubts towards a particular brand. To achieve the objectives of the study, the researcher needed to disconnect the study from the existing systems of philosophy or reality. This is because these existing believe, and philosophies may not conform to the current study (Golicic & Davis, 2012). For the study, qualitative and quantitative data collection methods will be integrated together using the pragmatic paradigm.

Pragmatic paradigm bases its methodology in the idealist and realist metaphysical perspectives (Friedrichs & Kratochwil, 2009). This makes the results from the study to be real and applicable, and therefore can be generalised for other situations. Pragmatic paradigm allows the triangulation of data collection methods (Hammond, 2013); this implies that more than one method can be used to collect and analyse data for the study and therefore does not tie the researchers to the use of one method. With such a provision, the data from this study will be acquired using only the suitable methods for the study itself.

Qualitative, quantitative approaches and mixed methods

The decision to choose a specific methodology should be based on its suitability to answer the research questions (Cochran & Dolan, 2004). The argument goes that a quantitative research is weak in understanding the context or setting in which people talk (Duguleana, & Nicolae, 2005). On the other hand, qualitative research is seen as deficient because of the personal interpretations made by the researcher, the ensuing bias created by this (Bagele  & Gaelebale, 2009) and the difficulty in generalizing findings to a large group because of the limited number of participants studied. Quantitative research does not have these weaknesses (Creswell et al., 2006). Moreover, mixed method research provides more comprehensive evidence for studying a research problem than either quantitative or qualitative research alone. Alan Bryman argues that a qualitative research is the type of research that is not quantified. The lack of quantitative data from qualitative data brings the necessity of applying mixed methods of research in this study (Campbell, 1975). Mixed methods research provides strengths that offset the weaknesses of both quantitative and qualitative research (Andrew & Halcomb, 2009). Qualitative method allows deep exploration, and this is the reason it is used in this study. In order to clearly explain people’s attitudes and perceptions and to gain in-depth personal views of respondents on brand core value and brand equity.

Mixed methods are considered to be not common in research, and this is because it is one of the most modern methods of study and do not have an acknowledgment from many of the researchers. Description of data collection and samplings processes and gathering procedures are very important in the study of collected data. These properties of data are not in cooperated in mixed methods and therefore making them less popular (Tashakkori & Teddlie, 2003).

Research Questions   

  • How do branding attributes impacts customer loyalty?
  • What effect does customer perspective have on the creation of a cohesive brand?
  • Which elements of brand attributes will drive a potential customer to purchase the brand?
  • What are the effective elements of a cohesive brand that creates customer’s loyalty to the product in the long run?
  • How do consumers buying behavior affect a firm’s improvement of branding?

 Research Objectives

  • To determine the contribution of branding to the loyalty of the customers to the product
  • To analyze whether consumer perspectives have an effect on the creation of a cohesive brand
  • To determine the elements of a brand that will drive a potential customer to purchase the brand
  • To find out how the consumer buying behavior affects the branding
  • To determine how effective is the use of a cohesive brand in relation to its brand equity

Collection of Qualitative Data

Focus Groups

It will be conducted with a judge who is active in the marketing profession. He will be given a description and will be asked to delete items from the list that seemed inappropriate for brands. One way to build a relationship between a brand and the consumer is to create an appealing brand personality that is, to associate human characteristics with a brand to make it more attractive to consumers (Scammell, 2014).

Focus Groups

At the simplest level, a focus group is an informal discussion among a group of selected individuals about a particular topic, focus group as a research method (Van, 2005). Broadly speaking, focus groups are ‘collective conversations,’ which can be small, or large. Focus groups are group discussions which are arranged to examine a specific set of topics (Weller & Romney, 1988). To describe and understand the meanings and interpretations of a select group of people in order to gain an understanding of a specific issue from the perspective of the participants of that particular group (Neamtu Leuca, 2007).

Methodologically, focus group interviews will involve a group of 6–8 people who come from similar social and cultural backgrounds or who have similar experiences. Age, gender, literacy, lifestyle and attitudes of participants are the main factors that are to be considered when selecting a focus group. A good environment needs to be selected for the operations of the focus groups. The members of the groups gather to discuss specific issues about branding and their perceptions in buying with the help of a moderator. Focus groups encourage a range of responses which provide a greater understanding of the attitudes, behavior, opinions or perceptions of participants on the research issues (Tashakkori & Teddlie, 2003).It is a means to set up a negotiation of meanings through personal debates (Cook &Crang, 1995). In conceptual terms then, focus groups are situated between individual interviews where only one respondent is involved in a considerably structured setting and participant observation where many participants are involved in a relatively unstructured of ‘natural’ setting (Schultz & Kitchen, 2004). Through focus groups, the researcher can get closer to the feelings of the consumer and therefore appropriate data will be collected for the study.

Focus groups put control of the interaction into the hands of the participants rather than the researcher. This will, therefore, make the discussions in the groups more natural and better results could be ripped. The method allows the intended individuals and groups to be more involved in the research project. As such, it is likely that the research will meet (Savin-Baden at al, 2004). Through communication, the researcher is, therefore, able to obtain knowledge about the experiences of the consumer during the process of making a purchase. In this study, selecting appropriate research methodology and methods will be effective in answering the research questions and gathering the data from the field using both quantitative and qualitative methods.

Collection of Quantitative Data

Quantitative data will be collected through the use of the questionnaire method. Once the questionnaire is prepared it will be given to a set number with the following characteristics

  1. Aged between 22 and 60- this will indicate that they can make independent decisions
  2. Can read and write- this will enable them to read and answer the questions
  3. Sane- this will ensure that data recorded is relevant.

This will help collect a more generalizable data. The researcher will select ten different brands in such a way that different purchase motivations are represented such as functional, experiential, symbolic, and emotional.

Questionnaires

A questionnaire is simply a ‘tool’ for collecting and recording information about a particular issue of interest. It is mainly made up of a list of questions but should also include clear instructions and space for answers or details (Oppenheim, 1992).

Self-completion questionnaire surveys are very widely used as a data collection method in health service, educational and social science research. In some situations, self- completion questionnaires may allow people to express views on issues about which they may not feel comfortable talking with an interviewer. Most of the research methods literature relating to the use of questionnaires focuses on issues relating to reliability and validity. The primary concern is with ways of designing questionnaires so as to maximize the accuracy of, and reducing bias in, the data collected (Rajagopal, 2005). Attention to the length, layout, readability, language used, order of questions and content of questionnaires is advocated in order to improve the quality of the data obtained (Su & Adams, 2010).

The questionnaires method will be used in the study in the collection of the quantitative data. In this case, they will be made up using a simple to understand language. The questionnaires will also be treated with confidentiality in a bid to conceal the identity of the respondent.

 

 

Sampling

Although sampling procedures in the social and behavioral sciences are often divided into two groups (probability, purposive), there are four broad categories (Virgo, & Chernatony,  2006). Probability sampling techniques are primarily used in quantitatively oriented studies and involve selecting a relatively large number of units from a population, or from specific subgroups of the population, in a random manner where the probability of inclusion for every member of the population is determinable’’ (Tashakkori &Teddlie, 2003). Purposive sampling techniques are primarily used in qualitative studies and may be defined as selecting units (e.g., individuals, groups of individuals, institutions) based on specific purposes associated with answering a research study’s questions (Max-Well, 1997). In the study, mixed methods are used and therefore purposive, and probability sampling will be used. First the researcher uses purposive sampling to get the population that is been targeted for the study and then randomly selecting the respondents.

For the purpose of the study focus group, correspondents will be selected using information about their age, literacy levels, and attitudes towards a specific product. The members of the focus groups must not be of the same gender. There is a need to include male and female members. This will avoid gender-based biases on the results taken from discussions at the group level. The age of the participants should be a leading factor. It does not make sense putting together a 60-year-old in the same group with a teenager. The groups many be clustered about the ages. Such grouping can be 20-30, 31-45 and 46-60.

Data Analysis

For quantitative data, the researcher will conduct scale assessment through the use of tables and graphs (Brazelton & Nugent, 1995).Specifically, descriptive analysis will be performed to generate information in terms of the subjects’ demographics. Factor analysis and reliability testing will also be carried out for the testing of the validity and reliability of the questions used to measure the research constructs. Regression analysis can be used for testing the relationship between the whole range of predictors and the dependent constructs of the research.

Narrative analysis will be conducted for the qualitative data obtained through the focus group discussion as the method will capture the social aspects relating to the participants. The results acquired through such discussion can be internalized and interpreted through words based on the understanding of the researcher. To avoid subjectivity during the transcribing of data will ensure that a written document highlights the actual meaning of the results (Mingers, 2001). On the whole, to use these methods for data analysis can underline the important implications of the findings and contribute to the establishment of sound conclusions and appropriate recommendations.

Synthesis

The research philosophy that will be used in the study is a pragmatic approach, thereby incorporating qualitative and quantitative methods into the study to collect and interpret primary data. The focus group discussion will be carried out among marketing professionals whereas surveys will be administered to customers to further understand brand value and brand equity by examining customers’ perceptions towards brands and the factors influencing their purchase behaviors. Data analysis will be performed through both statistical and narrative analysis

Ethical Considerations

Since this study involves human subjects, it is very important to make sure rights of individuals as respondents are protected. The purpose of the information given forward by the participant first explained to the correspondents in regard to ethical issues in data collection methods. The confidentiality of the participants of the focus groups must be prioritized. The participants were given free choice to take part in the study or to refuse to take part. Similarly, they have the right to withdraw at any time during the research.

The participants were informed about the purpose of the study, and they were assured about the data protection and confidentiality.

Conclusion

Qualitative and quantitative methods are integrated into the study of gathering and interpreting data (Frels & Onwuegbuzie, 2013). Both quantitative and qualitative methods play a crucial role in creating a holistic point of view, such as the extensive information acquired through a qualitative method or the reduced subjectivity achieved through a quantitative approach. The qualitative aspect of the proposed research has been considered appropriate, owing to the fact that its methods will require the active participation of marketing professionals and consumers alike, particularly through a focus group discussion (Cook & Reichardt, 1997).

Such chosen subjects are expected to demonstrate knowledge and experience with regards to branding and the factors that influence consumers’ perceptions about brands and their purchase behavior. Through the use of qualitative methods, the researcher should emphasize the principles of the interpretive and constructivist research paradigms (Goldkuhl, 2004), thus the creation of reality through a social manner (Schwandt, 2000).

The analysis of consumers’ perceptions of brands and their purchase behaviors will be anchored in numerical data, thereby contributing to low levels of bias and increased objectivity in the research. The quantitative approach to research is based on the assumptions of the empirical-analytical paradigm with which the researcher should be capable of conducting a systematic and balanced process of collecting and interpreting data (Agres et al., 1990). On the whole, combining the qualitative and quantitative methods through a mixed methods approach has been deemed appropriate for exploring brand value and brand equity, particularly through consumers’ perceptions on brands and their purchase behaviors. The strengths of quantitative and qualitative methods alike can be utilized (Sandelowski, 2000).

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