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Designing Communication Research

Boston is being threatened by the increasing use oI drug. The number oI arrests related to drugs is
continuously on the rise. It also implies a huge inestimable underground black market` oI drugs
running through the city. Boston`s Mayor Raymond Flynn is looking to take the drug problem
head-on. He enIorced various anti-drug` and drug-education` programmes but quick and
substantial proIits were increasing drug-traIIicking and attracting illegal drug dealers. This time
Mayors policy advisor Neil Sullivan and Marc Zegan initiated a research program to create a plan to
de-market` the drug in Boston. Harvard Business School`s Iour member Iield study group came up
with a research design and analysis.
Problem Definition
The mayor wants to determine what message the city should send to its young people and how it
should be packaged and through what delivery channels it should be communication.
Objectives of Market Research
The basic objective oI the market research is to obtain guidelines on designing an eIIective
communication message. This would be through Iollowing sub-objectives: 1) Understanding their
motivation Ior drug use 2) who inIluences their behaviour 3) which advertisement inIluences them.
Let us now evaluate their approach and Iindings.
Methodology Used
Research Design: The research design they used was exploratory qualitative design. It was a good
method considering it needed insight and understanding into behaviour oI drug users. Quantitative
method would have taken more time and would have required rigorously designed questionnaire.
One-on-one interview was considered too slow and too subjective Ior a proper evaluation. Focus
group which they went Ior was appropriate Ior the context. Focus group was one design which has
various merits such as synergy, snowballing, stimulation oI ideas and Ilexibility and speed in the
Sampling: They considered clustered sampling Irom 'community schools oI 4 neighbourhoods
which were representative oI the school going youth oI Boston in terms oI socioeconomic
distribution. One more neighbourhoods` community school was considered Ior adult groups.
Further they segmented population into two age-groups to actually track which stage oI drug abuse
they were in: 1) The 10-13 year group: Represented school children who were Nonusers or
Experimental users 2) The 14-18 year group: Represented school children who were Regular users.
They also considered a Young adult group which represented those who could shed some light on
Drug dependent user and oIIer some contrast but were outside scope. However the sampling which
they have done might not be representative because lesser number of the drug users comes to
community schools, still iI they would have interviewed in school or used market research Iirm they
would have obtained bias.
Screening: They cleverly disguised the questions so that the volunteers answer objectively.
However, they should have made the questionnaire Iriendlier and easier to understand as many
volunteers were unable to read and interpret the questionnaire.
Protocol: It was well thought protocol. However, the moderator should have taken the needed
action to ensure that protocol oI one person speaking at a time was Iollowed and the concerned
topics were discussed.
Analysis of focus group summaries:-
1) orchester Boys & Roxbury Boys (Exhibit 6):- ids are aware oI drug problem. They listen
to the Iamily member`s opinions about drugs. Educational programs are eIIective and have a
good recall. The Iocus group however should have been moderated properly and only one
person should have been allowed to speak at one time.
2) harlestown Girls (Exhibit 7):- Nonusers neglect and avoid people who use drugs and try to
stay Irom them. Movie stars are not considered credible by them, instead they relate with
kids in a realistic commercial which is not Iar-Ietched. ommunity programs could give the
needed diversion to drug use.
3) Mission Hill Boys (Exhibit 8):- rug users should take up some activity. They consider
educational programs through drug specialist or policeman more credible. They also like
being related to a story.
4) Mission Hill Girls (Exhibit 9):- They are aware oI the negative eIIects oI drugs. Friends
inIluence them in about drugs. They listen to radio and watch television. Showing
consequences oI drug use can deter its use.
5) orchester Boys, Age 14-18:- rug pushers are rampant in the city. Peer pressure is high to
do drugs. They react to mail and radio advertisement. This age group considers itselI mature
and wants to be treated like adult.
6) harlestown Boys, Age 14-18:- They consider various sportsperson take drugs. This group
shows greater awareness oI drugs.
7) Roxbury Girls, Age 14-18:- They seemed to suggest that educating little kids would be
helpIul. iscussion groups would also be helpIul. Advertisements were considered to be less
8) Mission Hill Girls, Age 14-18:- They showed concern about behaviour oI drug-users. They
also reIerred to practise oI kids blindly doing drugs because their Iriends and parents do.
Modification/Additions in findings:
rug programs through policemen or drug specialist give additional credibility. Apart Irom Iamily,
Iriends also play an important inIluence and peer-pressure is an important Iactor. Education
programs should target kids in their early stage. ids dislike the violence resulting Irom drug use
and get disgusted by its eIIect. Advertisements should also reIer to parents using drugs because kids
take up the habit Irom them.
According to the analysis oI the Iocus group, the themes which standout were storytelling, Ieelings
about Iamily, questioning behaviour and the role oI realism and also we Ieel that showing kids, the
consequences oI drug use as well as using oI Iamily members is important. Thus we suggest that
the advertisement should be based on some story situation, they should include local teen age
characters and Iamily members in the advertisements. They should also depict the devastating eIIect
oI the drug uses and should give them conIidence to handle peer pressure.