14 Pages, Grade: 62 = 1,7 (A-)
Research objectives and methodology
Review of existing research
Qualitative data collection
Techniques of qualitative data research and selection of appropriate method
Selection of data analysis method
Although Ayton et al. (2001) show that UK’s bicycle market recovered in 2001 after lost turnover due to poor weather in 1999 and the ban of cycling in countryside to avoid spreading of foot-and-moth disease, bicycles cannot be counted to the most favourite goods for both, leisure and transport in the UK.
Considering that in other European countries the relative market size is twice as big as the market for the bicycles in the UK (Fahrrad-online, 5 2002) it has been proofed that there is still a lot of potential in the UK’s bicycle-market. To gain a higher level of usage, a reasonable marketing of bicycles has to be carried out. However, and referring to Gater et al. (1965) the essence of marketing is not to be understood Source: VDZ (2002) as to increase the sale of goods produced by proper marketing-tools, but to produce the goods wanted by the customer.
illustration not visible in this excerpt
Hence, a reasonable market-research on the question ‘when people cycle and if they do so, why they do so’ might help the NCSB (National Cycle Strategy Board) to gain a better understanding of the bicycle market in the UK.
To avoid wrong interpreting of the data collected and to focus on the relevant target group, Proctor (2000) suggests a systematic approach on the problem-definition. Therefore, this report looks at the following research problem based on a goal orientated approach (Appendix A):
‘Explore possible reasons what inhibits people to cycle and vice versa explore motives what encourages people to use bicycles more frequently. Furthermore a detailed consideration of complex market-, product-, and segment-structures is required for this research’.
Research objectives and methodology
To tackle the several issues within the problem-definition mentioned above, a number of research objectives had to be drawn up.
In itemisation the research objectives are:
1. To determine what factors inhibits people to cycle
2. To determine what factors encourages people to cycle
3. To identify relevant environmental factors influencing the cycle behaviour
4. To identify important key segments for the cycle (demographic- and product-wise)
5. To differentiate why people cycle and when they cycle
As mentioned above, a demonstration of existing researches will follow in this part. For this review, several works and sources of areas like government, private agencies or other organisations, which deal generally with bicycles or with consumers’ habits and attitudes relating to bicycles, were consulted.
The most recent and detailed research about the bicycle market was carried out by Ayton et al. (2001). Although this quantitative research is focused on the usage of types of bikes (e.g. Mountain-bikes etc.) some statistical information about the usage of bicycles in general could be found. This research illustrates that people in the UK basically use their bicycles in a frequent way for general recreation (29%), to keep fit (28%) and for local trips (22%) (e.g. for shopping or visiting friends). Furthermore it [the research] shows that only approx. 10% employ their bicycles to travel to work. Further data can be found in Appendix B.
DeMajo (2003) and Mayne (2002) show that bicycles are not commonly thought of as a form of public transportation. The graph on the right-hand-side illustrates again that the UK is far behind the ‘normal’ level of bicycle-usage in the EU or the USA.
illustration not visible in this excerpt
Source: Mayne (2002)
The interesting fact is that the level for using a bicycle for school journeys is preferred than for work journeys. Only in the UK it is the other way round. However, Edwards (1993) shows that placing responsibility on children is crucial for their learning-process. Additionally, if children or younger people don’t get used to bicycles by the means of transportation, they [the children] are rather unlikely to use bicycles when they are grown up. This leads to a ‘not-using-bicycles’ generation. Furthermore, Kwai-Choi and Collins (2000) illustrate that children have a big impact on the family decision-making process.
Focusing on the usage of bicycles for work journeys the DFT (Department for Transportation, 1997) found out that 66% of all employees live in a distance of 5 miles and less to their working-place. Furthermore, the same research shows that lacks in secure and covered cycle parking facilities, missing changing/drying facilities or strict dress codes inhibits people to use there cycle to travel to work.
As shown in the brief review of existing researches the information gathered are mostly based on quantitative research methods. According to Proctor (2002), this means that it might be likely that a big sample was being questioned about the topic. Thus, representativeness and reliability are not the problem-issues.
However, Wade (2002) shows that quantitative research methods can’t subsidize qualitative methods and vice-versa because ‘quantitative research measures, estimates and quantifies. Qualitative research explores, defines and describes’. Although quantitative and qualitative data are not always coupled (Cateora and Ghauri, 2000), in the case of the UK bicycle market quantitative data provides a good basis for information. Furthermore, Cateora and Ghauri (2000) argue that ‘if after seeking all reasonable secondary data sources, research questions are still not adequately answered, the market researcher must collect primary data’. Hence, and referring to the task of this research habits, encouragements and attitudes or in short: emotions, have to be investigated. As secondary and quantitative data, published by governments and other private institutions, is already available sufficiently further research need to be focused on the collection of qualitative data. Therefore, this report recommends gathering primary data from a qualitative perspective what inhibits or encourages British to use bicycles more frequently.
Chisnall (1992) states that ‘the essence of qualitative research is that it is diagnostic; it seeks to discover what may account for certain kinds of behaviour….’. This means that in opposite to quantitative research methods, which normally gain to find statistical results to be interpreted, the qualitative research methods goes wide underneath of the surface of ‘just’ numbers and statistics. Although some there are some critics, for example Sampson (1987) who believes that ‘qualitative research appears to be familiar to almost everybody, but really understood by relatively few, there is a danger that it could be presumed to lack subtlety and to require little skills’, qualitative research means that it gets deeper into the consumer’s decision-making process by getting information about emotions and attitudes of the (potential) consumer.
Cooper (1987) describes the basic techniques of qualitative research as ‘varied and eclectic’. This means that they include depth interviews with individuals or discussions within groups (e.g. focus groups).
Due to the broad and sophisticated psychology the list of different techniques to gather qualitative data is nearly endless. Proctor (2000) illustrates a few of those such as teleconferencing, word-association tests, sentence and story completion, cartoon test or analogies.
However, and relating to the objectives and requirements of this research, which’s task is to reveal attitudes (inhibitions) and emotions (encouragements) towards cycling, two main techniques should be considered: interviews with focus groups and depth interviews with individuals.
Depth interviews can be understood as being carried out as unstructured and loose one-to- one interviews. The person being interviewed is expected to talk about a certain subject rather than ‘just’ ticking yes or no boxes. Proctor (2000) illustrates that such depth interviews are often being conducted by skilled psychologists to ‘uncover hidden emotions’ or attitudes. Due to the unstructured and clinical nature of those interviews they often result in complex results. Thus, the success of this research method depends on the capability of analysing and interpreting the right information of the interviewer. To minimize the danger of misinterpretation Chisnall (1992) suggests using a list with all the topics to be covered during the interview.
Collecting useful data from discussions with focus groups is another option for the research to be carried out. According to Panther (2003), focus groups normally consisting of ‘6-10 individuals who have something in common’ are lead by a moderator in in-depth discussions on a specific issue or topic. The goal of such focus groups discussions is to gain information about what people have to say to this particular topic. Comparing the focus groups method with the depth interviews on individuals, Proctor (1992) believes that ‘the free exchange of ideas, beliefs and emotions’, could rise synergy and inspire the participants to release new and creative ideas or discussions. Again, the success of the discussions with the focus groups depends on the skills of the interviewer. (S)he needs to lead the discussion away from irrelevant topics to the right ‘path’ and conclude with an agreement on which all participants feel comfortable.
As the findings of this research should result in a clear determination of attitudes and emotions related to cycling both, the in-depth interview with an individual and a discussion with focus groups could be considered as sensible methods.
Although Arnold (2002) states that ‘focus groups remain the dominant technique in qualitative marketing research’, the decision made is for conducting depth-interviews. This decision aims to reveal deep emotions and attitudes and not ‘just’ opinions of people. According to Proctor (2000), the advantages of a depth-interview over focus groups are that:
- There is no group pressure and hence the respondent uncovers more honest feelings and opinions
- The person being interviewed feels more important because their opinions are ‘genuinely’ wanted.
- Dialogue with the interviewer only. No distraction by other people.
- Interviews with individuals allow a higher level of flexibility. This means that the respondent can be examined from different perspectives.
Considering the need of gaining attitudes, beliefs and emotions, another advocate of interviews with individuals in lieu of focus-groups is Zaltman (2002) who states that ‘95% of all cognition, all the thinking that drives our decisions and behaviours, occurs unconsciously - and that includes consumer decisions’. This shows that depth-interviews with individuals are rather likely to deliver the information required.
While analysis of quantitative data can be easily conducted by using the appropriate statisticstool, the focus on analysing qualitative data gained is on interpreting in the right way. The problem here is that there are not any numeric data available and the answers of the different persons interviewed are likely to be of very diverse nature.
However, Proctor (2002) describes the strengths of qualitative data analysis as its ability to be in ‘context’ on ‘structure’ and ‘situation’. The weaknesses of qualitative data analysis are illustrated by Strauss (1993) as being weak on ‘cross-comparisons’.
Like the large number of methods for collecting qualitative data there is also a diverse existence of methods how to analyse the data gathered.
Methods which can be considered for interpreting and analysing qualitative data vary from easy understandable methods such as locating words and phrases, counting the frequency of the occurrence of words to indicate the importance and the context those words are mentioned or attaching key words to segments of texts (Proctor,2002) to complex methods such as cluster analysis or content analysis with neural nets (Green et al., 2000). Beside this, many professional researchers such as MacIaran (1998) or Dembrowski (1995) recommend also computer applications for the analysis of qualitative market research data such as NUD*IST (non-numerical Unstructured Data Indexing).
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