Qualitative Consumer and Marketing Research.pdf - QUALITATIVE CONSUMER MARKETING RESEARCH 2 QUALITATIVE CONSUMER MARKETING RESEARCH RUSSELL BELK EILEEN

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Unformatted text preview: QUALITATIVE CONSUMER & MARKETING RESEARCH 2 QUALITATIVE CONSUMER & MARKETING RESEARCH RUSSELL BELK, EILEEN FISCHER AND ROBERT V. KOZINETS 3 QUALITATIVE CONSUMER & MARKETING RESEARCH 4 SAGE has been part of the global academic community since 1965, supporting high quality research and learning that transforms society and our understanding of individuals, groups, and cultures. SAGE is the independent, innovative, natural home for authors, editors and societies who share our commitment and passion for the social sciences. Find out more at: Connect, Debate, Engage on Methodspace Connect with other researchers and discuss your research interests Keep up with announcements in the field, for example calls for papers and jobs Discover and review resources Engage with featured content such as key articles, podcasts and videos Find out about relevant conferences and events 5 QUALITATIVE CONSUMER & MARKETING RESEARCH RUSSELL BELK, EILEEN FISCHER AND ROBERT V. KOZINETS 6 SAGE Publications Ltd 1 Oliver’s Yard 55 City Road London EC1Y 1SP SAGE Publications Inc. 2455 Teller Road Thousand Oaks, California 91320 SAGE Publications India Pvt Ltd B 1/I 1 Mohan Cooperative Industrial Area Mathura Road New Delhi 110 044 SAGE Publications Asia-Pacific Pte Ltd 3 Church Street #10-04 Samsung Hub Singapore 049483 Editor: Katie Metzler Editorial assistant: Anna Horvai Production editor: Ian Antcliff Copyeditor: Rosemary Morlin Proofreader: Jill Birch Indexer: Martin Hargreaves Marketing manager: Alison Borg Cover design: Jennifer Crisp Typeset by: C&M Digitals (P) Ltd, Chennai, India Printed by MPG Books Group, Bodmin, Cornwall 7 © Russell Belk, Eileen Fischer and Robert V. Kozinets 2013 First published 2013 Apart from any fair dealing for the purposes of research or private study, or criticism or review, as permitted under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988, this publication may be reproduced, stored or transmitted in any form, or by any means, only with the prior permission in writing of the publishers, or in the case of reprographic reproduction, in accordance with the terms of licences issued by the Copyright Licensing Agency. Enquiries concerning reproduction outside those terms should be sent to the publishers. Library of Congress Control Number: 2012939638 British Library Cataloguing in Publication data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library ISBN 978-0-85702-766-5 ISBN 978-0-85702-767-2 (pbk) 8 Contents About the authors 1 Introduction 2 Getting started: how to begin a qualitative research project 3 Depth interviews 4 Ethnography and observational methods 5 Online observation and netnography 6 Data collection aids 7 Approaches to data analysis, interpretation and theory building for scholarly research 8 Analysis, theory, and presentation for managers 9 Presenting, disseminating, and sharing 10 Final thoughts References Index 9 About the authors Russell Belk is Kraft Foods Canada Chair in Marketing, Schulich School of Business, York University. He is past president of the International Association of Marketing and Development, and is a fellow, past president, and Film Festival co-founder in the Association for Consumer Research. He also co-initiated the Consumer Behavior Odyssey and the Consumer Culture Theory Conference, two key events in qualitative consumer research. He received the Paul D. Converse Award and the Sheth Foundation/Journal of Consumer Research Award for Long Term Contribution to Consumer Research. Eileen Fischer is Professor of Marketing and the Max and Anne Tanenbaum Chair in Entrepreneurship and Family Enterprise at the Schulich School of Business. She is past chair of the Entrepreneurship Division of the Academy of Management. Her research interests span entrepreneurship and consumer behaviour topics, and she is currently an Associate Editor for both the Journal of Consumer Research and Journal of Business Venturing. Robert V. Kozinets is Professor of Marketing and Chair of the Marketing Area, Schulich School of Business, York University. He has authored or co-authored over 80 research publications, including many in the world’s top marketing journals, a textbook, and two books. Currently, he is Associate Editor of the Journal of Marketing and Journal of Retailing. He is the originator of netnography. 10 1 Introduction An introductory exercise Suppose that you wanted to understand the changing meanings of the greeting cards in twenty-first-century London. You are particularly concerned with these meanings and uses among young single adults aged 18–30 who are more likely to be online, socially active, and looking for work or embarking on careers and advanced education. You know that ecards are increasingly popular, but wonder whether both e-cards and traditional paper cards are likely to be seen as old fashioned by this target group. You also know that Greater London is culturally diverse and composed of many ethnicities and subcultures. And you know that the answer to your question is likely to differ over various card-giving occasions and non-occasions as well as over different types of relationships. How might you go about answering your question? See if you can think of at least one study using each of the following methods: survey research administered online; focus group discussions; observational research; individual depth interviews; a study of online material in forums, discussion groups, and social media; archives of the records of a subscription service offering online greeting cards and gifts. 11 Try to detail how you would go about conducting the study and what you would observe, ask, or analyse. If you could only use one of these methods, which would you choose? If you could use three of these methods, which three would you use and in what order would you use them? Jot down some notes about how you would conduct and use each of these types of studies, then put your notes in a safe place. After you have completed reading this book or a substantial portion of it, return to these notes and see how you might respond to the exercise at that point. We anticipate that you may well formulate the research differently after reading the chapters that follow and participating in other exercises along the way. This book has one relatively straightforward goal. We want to help you develop skills in doing qualitative research. Our aim is to provide practical advice that will be valuable to you, whether you are a budding scholar, a budding practitioner, or someone who has been dabbling with qualitative methods (whether in academe or industry) and who wants to get better at using them. This book also has some slightly more ambitious goals. We want to help promote a wider understanding of the differences, as well as the commonalities, in the ways qualitative research is conducted depending on the purposes for which you are using it (such as to develop a communications strategy for a new product versus to write a journal article for publication). For those doing qualitative corporate research addressing applied business problems, we want to highlight guidelines for what makes effective research. For those who are doing qualitative research and hoping to publish it in academic journals or books, we want to provide some guidance on different traditions that have evolved among scholars studying consumers, markets, and marketing. Depending on which tradition(s) a scholar or corporate researcher works in, they might well collect different types of data and do different kinds of analyses to build theory. The nature of theory itself also differs across contexts. So if this book is to achieve its straightforward goal of helping you do better qualitative research, it needs to pursue these distinctions in the purposes of the research you wish to do. What makes qualitative research different from quantitative research? To take the first step toward achieving all our goals, we begin by telling 12 you what we mean by qualitative, versus quantitative, research. First, we point out something they have in common. We believe that all research is interpretive, whether that involves interpreting patterns in relationships between quantified observations or in recurring patterns in talk, text, images, or action. Thus we do not consider being interpretive something that distinguishes qualitative from quantitative research. So what is different? Table 1.1 summarises the basic differences that we will discuss here. Other, more nuanced differences will become clear in the chapters that follow and are also discussed by Sherry and Kozinets (2001). Table 1.1 Qualitative versus quantitative research differences Richly detailed data, not quantified data. One rather obvious but salient characteristic of qualitative research that is distinctive is that it entails, primarily, the analysis of data that has not been quantified. This is not to say that qualitative researchers never provide numbers to support some aspect of their analysis; it is perfectly acceptable to include numbers in a supporting role. However, the core contribution of a piece of qualitative research lies not in reducing concepts to scaled or to binary variables that can be compared and contrasted statistically based on the assumption that they provide meaningful measures of the behaviour they seek to understand. Instead, it builds upon detailed and nuanced observation and interpretation of phenomena of interest. Doing so requires a commitment to illustrating concepts richly, whether with words or images or both. Contextualised rather than decontextualised. A second, related, characteristic distinguishing qualitative research is that it is contextualised: it takes into account the cultural, social, institutional, temporal, and 13 personal or interpersonal characteristics of the context in which the data is collected. While quantitative research may sometimes be contextualised, it is often the case that quantitative data from distinct contexts are gathered and combined, and that interpretations stress that which is assumed to be generalisable across times and places. In qualitative research, data are frequently gathered from a single context or a narrow range of contexts, and immense care is taken to understand how the context matters to the phenomena under consideration. Theoretical claims and managerial insights developed from qualitative data analysis are thus based on characteristics of the context, and it is common for qualitative researchers to circumscribe the domain within which their findings are applicable as a result of the context of the research. For example, a doctoral student in our department, Mandy Earley, is currently doing research on the activists in the Occupy Wall Street movement in New York City. Both the time and place in which this observational and interview data are being gathered constrain attempts to generalise to Occupy movements in other times and places. Naturalism versus control. A third characteristic is that when qualitative research entails interviews or observations, these are often conducted in settings where people live, work, play, shop or just hang out rather than in settings that are controlled by the researcher, such as laboratories. While exceptions do exist, it is normal for qualitative researchers to try to observe and interact with people in the contexts that shape their everyday behaviours and perceptions. This ‘in situ’ characteristic of qualitative research contributes to its ability to capture insights that cannot easily be communicated by people who take for granted what is going on in the settings they frequent. And it means that qualitative researchers can often learn things that the people they study may not be able to articulate. For example, one of us (Eileen) is currently observing entrepreneurs’ use of Twitter to communicate with stakeholders. She interviewed them first to see what they explicitly state about why and how they communicate. Her analysis thus far shows recurrent patterns in the tweets of some entrepreneurs, such as the use of intensely emotional language. These emotion-laden tweets would not have been anticipated based on interviews alone, and variation in emotional language usage would not likely have been considered for inclusion in a controlled experiment on social media based corporate communication. In this project as in many others, the naturalism of observing actual behaviours affords insights that would otherwise have been missed. Researcher as instrument versus detached instrumentation. A final 14 point of differentiation between quantitative and qualitative work concerns the researcher’s relationship to the data. With quantitative research, care is taken to create instruments (such as questionnaires) that are meant to reduce the impact of the researchers on the data that is collected. In qualitative research, the researcher is the primary instrument of data collection. The researcher’s skills in building trust as well as in hearing and seeing what is going on in a setting, and in asking questions that could not have been anticipated prior to immersion in the setting, are crucial to the success of a qualitative project. Rather than the hands-off and distant approach of most quantitative research, the qualitative researcher develops a deep connection to the context being investigated and often builds a relationship with those being studied. Why is qualitative research so valuable? All three of us have immense respect for the insights that quantitative research can yield. But as people who have spent most of their professional lives using qualitative methods to understand the things that interest us, we are convinced that qualitative research is invaluable because it provides unique insights into how consumers, marketers, and markets behave, and into why they behave as they do. Take Christmas gift shopping as an example. In particular, let us try to understand how the Christmas shopping gets done, and why the work of gift shopping tends to get divided rather unevenly in so many families, with women doing the bulk of the work in households that include heterosexual couples (Fischer and Arnold 1990). Quantitative approaches are excellent for measuring variables such as how many gifts each member of a household purchases, how many hours the adults spend shopping, how much money they spend per gift, and how many ‘self-gifts’ each person buys as they shop for other people. They are also great for looking at patterns of association between social psychological variables (such a gender-role attitudes or gender identity) and specific shopping behaviours. But qualitative research can help to identify the cultural discourses and market place mythologies that infuse shopping activity with meaning. They can help us understand that Christmas gift shopping has, in North America, been socially constructed as an extension of the feminised work of caring for and perpetuating the ties that matter to families. They can help us, too, to understand the varied experiences recounted by people who enjoy the ‘fun’ of Christmas shopping in the intensified retail environment 15 that builds to a peak in the weeks leading up to 25 December, compared with those who dread the harried overload of work that Christmas shopping entails, and who attempt to incorporate gift search into their routines throughout the year (Fischer and Arnold 1990). They can also help us understand what consumers mean when they refer to a gift recipient who is ‘difficult to buy for’ – and to appreciate that consumers feel someone is easy to buy for when they can fulfil certain desirable social roles by shopping for them (Otnes et al. 1993). As this example illustrates, quantitative approaches are neither inferior nor superior to qualitative ones. Whether you are a marketer trying to help stressed-out women ‘cope’ with Christmas or a scholar attempting to understand the persistence of patterns of gendered division of labour, when it comes to complex everyday phenomena, quantitative and qualitative methods can be invaluable complements. Why is it important to learn to do qualitative research now? We believe that there has never been a time when it has been more important for qualitative marketing researchers, whether they are practitioners or scholars, to develop and refine their skills in doing qualitative research. Why do we make this assertion? There are several reasons. First, the contexts where qualitative methods can be fruitfully applied are evolving rapidly. In particular, the burgeoning range of online activities in which consumers and marketers are engaging – whether they are networking via social media sites, making exchanges in online markets, or sorting out complaints via company websites – means that there are abundant new contexts where qualitative data can be collected and where new insights into consumption and marketing can be generated. A related factor that is leading to an explosion of new research contexts is the growing appreciation of the need for investigations of contexts outside more economically developed, formerly ‘first world’, countries. And qualitative methods are well suited to investigating consumer and marketing phenomena within cultural contexts that have previously been overlooked, or across cultural contexts that vary dramatically from one another. Second, among marketing managers, there is a growing appreciation 16 for the insights that skilled qualitative researchers can bring to bear. The types of qualitative research that managers are commissioning extend well beyond the traditional focus group, encompassing ethnographic interviews, netnographies, pantry studies, shop-alongs, and much more, as we discuss in Chapters 4, 5, and 8. At the same time, the standards by which managers are judging the quality of the research they commission continue to be demanding. Those who provide qualitative research services are required to be able to tailor their approaches and integrate new techniques for data collection on a continual basis. And, regardless of their techniques or data sources, they need to be able to provide inspiring interpretations that facilitate managerial decision-making. In fact, growing competition in most industries and the continual ‘scientising’ of professional managerial functions in global businesses have led to increased demand for data analysis that cuts across every type and form of data. Business has a bottomless appetite for quality data to inform its decisions. It is these developments, along with a growing sense of the need to get a deeper understanding than numbers alone can provide, that seem to account for the rise of qualitative marketing research methods at a time when scanner panel data, online analytics, and other quantitative measures of consumption and competition are more readily available and abundant than ever before. Third, for scholars working in the fields of consumer behaviour and marketing, there are many more publication outlets that accept qualitative manuscripts for consideration and that publish a number of qualitative papers each year. Although a small (and decreasing) number of journals cling stubbornly to biases against all qualitative research, the good news is that the majority of so-called top tier publications are now open to publishing qualitative research if reviewers can be satisfied that a manuscript features qualitative data that are rich and relevant, incorporates data analysis that is systematic and thorough, and offers theoretical contributions that are insightful, original and important. The same is true for outlets for videographic consumer and marketing research, as discussed in Chapter 9. Consumer research film festivals, special DVDs and online issues of journals, refereed online video streaming websites, and various broadcast and narrowcast outlets all have a hunger for good quality videographic work. One challenge – an...
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