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Business Research

Meaning, scope, objectives, process

To help in Decision Making

Business Research
Is a systematic inquiry that provides information to guide managerial decisions. It is a process of planning, acquiring, analyzing, and disseminating relevant data and insights to decision makers so that they can maximize business performance.

This enquiry might lead to validating existing postulates or arriving at new theories and models.

TVS Nestle Boeing (preference for smaller planes) Toyota (toyota/Lexus under 30s group --- Scion ---live concerts) Blackberry








Basic research : the basic premise is the need to KNOW and the concern is primarily academic in nature. Applied research: Solution or action oriented research, that is contextual and practical in approach.

Exploratory research is loosely structured and the basic premise is to provide direction to subsequent, more structured method of enquiry. Conclusive research is structured and definite in orientation. These studies are usually conducted to validate formulated hypotheses and specified relationships.

EXPLORATORY RESEARCH Loosely structured in design

CONCLUSIVE RESEARCH Well structured and systematic in design Are flexible and investigative in Have a formal and definitive methodology methodology that needs to be followed and tested Do not involve testing of hypotheses Most conclusive researches are carried out to test the formulated hypotheses Findings might be topic specific and Findings are significant as they have a might not have much relevance outside theoretical or applied implication. the researchers domain

Descriptive research: The main goal of this type of research is to describe the data and characteristics about what is being studied. Causal research: Explores the effect of one or more variables on other variable(s), with reasonable level of certainty by controlling the impact of other influencing variables

Management Dilemma Basic vs Applied Defining the Research Problem

Formulating the Research Hypothesis

Developing the Research Proposal

The Research Framework Research Design Data Collection Plan Sampling Plan

Instrument Design

Pilot Testing

Data Collection

Data Refining and Preparation

Data Analysis & Interpretation

Research Reporting

Management / Research Decision

Market & consumer analysis, Product research, Pricing research, Promotional research New product research (idea generation / screening / concept development / business analysis / product development / test marketing / launch) Product life cycle research Product Mix Research (package designs / branding / after sales service)

In finance
Asset pricing, capital markets and corporate finance, Financial derivatives and credit risk modeling research, Market-based accounting research , Auditing and accountability, financial forecasting, behavioural finance, volatility analysis

In human resources
Training & development studies

Selection and staffing studies

Performance appraisaldesign and evaluation Organization planning and development

Incentive and benefits studies

Emerging areascritical factor analysis, employer branding studies

In production & operations management

Operation planning and design Demand forecasting and demand estimation Process planning

Project management and maintenance

effectiveness studies Logistics and supply chain-design and evaluation Quality estimations and assurance studies

Business Research is used to

Make Goals Decision support Business Intelligence Strategy

Research Methods
All those methods / techniques that are used for conduct of research. These include the methods of collection of data, methods of establishing relationships and evaluating the accuracy of the same.

Research Methodology
Is a way to systematically solve the research problem. It includes research methods and the logic behind the methods used in the context of the research study

Treatment of Respondents Anonymity protected Collection of data corrected No use of ultra violet ink / one way mirrors / hidden tape recorders / fake long distance calls Fake research firms

Treatment of Clients
Confidentiality Methods accurately mentioned Competitors research not undertaken Objectivity Right to Quality Research

Research Process
Problem Definition Research Design Field Work
Data Analysis and Interpretation

Report Presentation Management Decision

Defining and Identifying The Problem

Harley Davidson comeback in 2000s

2007 revenues were $6 billion plus Market share 50 % in the heavyweight category Distributors were pushing build more Co. mgt was more risk averse than risk prone Discussion with experts brand loyalty was imp

Conducted focus groups - bikes were for recreation (also owned SUVs) Forecasts - consumer spend to increase till 2015

MQ : should HD invest to produce more motorcycles ? Wanted to find out Who ? What ? How ? Loyal ?

Research Questions
Can the motorcycle buyers be segmented based on psychographic characteristics ? H1 : there are distinct segments of motorcycle buyers H2 : each segment is motivated to own a Harley for a different reason H3: Brand loyalty is high among HD customers in all segments

Qualitative & quantitative research was conducted Focus groups & 16,000 mailers

Results - Seven categories of customers could be distinguished

1. Adventure lover traditionalist 2. The sensitive pragmatist 3. Stylish status seeker 4. Laid back camper 5. Classy capitalist 6. Loner 7. Misfit Hence H1 was accepted

All customers wanted to own a Harley signified independence, freedom and power H2 not accepted H3 accepted Decision taken to invest in a larger production facility

Management - Research Question

Management Dilemma (declining sales,employee turnover,manufacturing defects,customer dissatisfaction) Management Question (why ) Research Question (which courses of action can be considered to improve the problem)

Techniques involved in Defining the Research Problem

1. Situation Analysis : the circumstances under which the research is being conducted - product - industry and competition - Market - Channel distribution - Sales organisation (sales promotion) - Advertising

2. Informal Investigation (pilot survey) discussion with selected customers, dealers, top management personnel and others connected to the problem.

Formulation of Hypothesis
A tentative theory or supposition provisionally adopted to explain certain facts and guide the investigation of others. Descriptive Hypothesis : Is over half of MR book sales to MBA students ? Relational Hypothesis : High MR book sales MBA students is due to it being a 3 credit course

Research Design
Basic framework which provides guidelines for the rest of the research process

Essentials of Research Design

An activity and time based plan Always based on the research question A guide for selecting sources and types of information A framework for specifying relationships A procedural outline for every activity

Types of Research Designs

Exploratory ( more Qualitative in nature) Conclusive Descriptive (more Quantitative in nature ) Conclusive - Causal

Exploratory Research Design

Discovery of ideas Breaks vague problems into identifiable sub problems Establishes priorities Increases the analysts familiarity with the problem ( gathers practical difficulties)

Can be qualitative / quantitative in nature . Mostly qualitative

Qualitative Research
- Tells the researcher how(process) and why(meaning) things happen as they do - Develops understanding - Acts as a guide for Quantitative Research

A Classification of Qualitative Research Procedures

Qualitative Research Procedures

Direct (Non disguised)

Indirect (Disguised)

Focus Groups

Depth Interviews

Projective Techniques

Association Techniques

Completion Techniques

Construction Techniques

Expressive Techniques

Secondary data (Internal & external / syndicated data/ databases) Literature surveys Experience surveys Analysis of selected cases Focus groups

Personal Interviews( face to face / internet / telephone) Expert opinion survey


A focus group is an interview conducted by a trained moderator in a non structured and natural manner with a small group of respondents. The moderator leads the discussion Purpose gain insights by listening to a group of people from the appropriate target market about issues of interest to the moderator.

Eg : Ford (Taurus) door latches Whirlpool : new refrigerator a quieter one the quietest one ever

2009 Honda Pilot SUV -Baby boomers : family life was imp / friendships / getaway vacations / fitness /no midlife crisis

you will be ready for anything in the 2009 pilot

8 12 members Homogeneous, members screened 1-3 hours Recorded (audio / video) Moderator observational, interpersonal and interpersonal skills , knowledge Relaxed informal setting

Detached / empathetic Permissive but alert Must encourage people to talk People should be more specific Encourage unresponsive members to talk

Determine the objectives State the questions to be answered by the focus groups

Write a screening questionnaire

Develop a moderators outline

Conduct the focus group

Review tapes / analyze data

Summarize the findings and plan follow up research or action

Outline - handout Result is reviewed Reports specific comments, concerns suggested by facial expressions and body language Cannot report in frequencies / % most participants thought

Projective Techniques
Focus groups and depth interviews are direct approaches / PT disguise the purpose 1. Association techniques 2. Completion 3. Construction 4. Expressive

Association techniques
Respondent is presented with a stimulus and asked to respond with the first thing that comes to mind

Stimulus washday fresh Pure scrub filth family towels Mrs M everyday And sweet air Husband does This neighborhood squabbles dirty Mrs C ironing clean soiled Clean dirt children wash

Tide fragrance ( launched a detergent bar in India Focus GD)

P & G 44% of detergent market in the year 2009

Word or Picture association

Provide a prompt in the form of a word, phrase, or sentence and ask respondents to associate something with it. Tell me what you think of when you think of Kelloggs cornflakes When you think of your service provider, what is the first thing that comes to mind? What comes to mind when you hear the term customer service?

Imagery Associations
Show people an image, or ask them to bring or select an image. Images are pictures, drawings, or illustrations. Then, ask people to describe the image. Ask how it links to a product, brand, object, or person. Also, ask the respondents to imagine an image and describe it.

Please select a picture that best represents product X. How does the picture speak about product X? How does the image describe product X? What does each person in this picture feel about brand Y? Ask several follow-up questions about how the association relates, and probe to clarify.

Personification Associations
Personification asks respondents to give human characteristics to products, services, or brands. If your Volvo could talk, what would it say to you? If brand X were a person, what would he or she look like?

How does your digital camera feel about you? Personification is fun. The challenge of personification is interpretation of data and analysis. Use associations to understand imagery and stimulate memory recall.

Projective Techniques completion

My cell phone is like a

A cell phone is like a best friend. My cell phone is part of my body. A cell phone is like my wallet. I would never leave home without it. A cell phone is like a lifeline now. Leaving it behind is like cutting off the oxygen supply. A cell phone is like a leash.

The results show cell phones are a necessity for a segment of consumers. A minority find them annoying.

Projective Techniques completion

Sentence completion people who shop online are .

People who shop at Big bazar are .

Story Completion

Story completion
A man was shopping for a business suit in his favorite department store. After spending 45 minutes and trying several suits, he finally picked one he liked. As he was proceeding to the check-out counter, he was approached by the salesperson who said: Sir, at this time we have higher quality suits for the same price. Would you like to see them? What is the customer response? Why?
Qualitative Research Methods

Construction Techniques
With a picture response, the respondents are asked to describe a series of pictures of ordinary as well as unusual events. The respondent's interpretation of the pictures gives indications of that individual's personality.

A Cartoon Test

Lets see if we can pick up some house wares at


In cartoon tests, cartoon characters are shown in a specific situation related to the problem. The respondents are asked to indicate what one cartoon character might say in response to the comments of another character. Cartoon tests are simpler to administer and analyze than picture response techniques.

When I eat pizza I love drinking coke

Qualitative Research Methods

Expressive Techniques

Expressive Techniques
In expressive techniques, respondents are presented with a verbal or visual situation and asked to relate the feelings and attitudes of other people to the situation.

The subject may express himself more freely than when expressing his own beliefs. However, societal norms may also influence research subjects why may not have given much thought to their own attitudes. One way of using a construction projective technique is for the researcher to ask a subject to fill in a bubble to represent what a certain character is thinking.

1. Role playing 2. Third Party Technique

Role Playing
Ask respondents to assume a role and act the part. If you were the product manager, what would you do to improve the product? If you were the CEO of this company, what would you do to reduce customer complaints?

If you were the creative director, what would your ad say? If you were in your friends shoes, what would you do? Use role-playing when asking for product or advertising recommendation

Third-person technique
The respondent is presented with a verbal or visual situation and the respondent is asked to relate the beliefs and attitudes of a third person rather than directly expressing personal beliefs and attitudes. This third person may be a friend, neighbor, colleague, or a typical person.

With this technique, you ask respondents to describe what other people are doing, thinking, feeling, believing, and saying. Ask respondents to project to a third-party. What does your friend think about brand X? What does company X think about you? Who uses brand X? What is the real reason they use it?

Ask follow-up questions and probe answers, using the third person. Use third-party projections for sensitive subjects. In other words, when people hide or deny their real thoughts, feelings, or beliefs.

The fear of flying increased in the US after the Sept 11, 2001 hijackings. Air Transport Association (ATA) reported that passenger bookings were down. Continental Airlines suffered a much lower drop.

Respondents were asked Are you afraid of flying . Most respondents said no. Reasons for not flying were cost , bad weather etc. A follow up study was conducted Do you feel your neighbor is afraid to fly? Answer was affirmative.

CA addressed the fear of flying by stressing heightened security measures and enhanced cabin comforts for passengers

Depth Interviews

One to one interaction between the investigator and the respondent. It is semi structured, direct, conversational and recorded.

Open-ended Questions: Questions should be worded so that respondents cannot simply answer yes or no, but must expound on the topic.

Semi-structured Format: Although you should have some preplanned questions to ask during the interview, you must also allow questions to flow naturally, based on information provided by the respondent. You should not insist upon asking specific questions in a specific order. In fact, the flow of the conversation dictates the questions asked and those omitted, as well as the order of the questions

Seek understanding and interpretation: You should try to interpret what you are hearing, as well as seek clarity and a deeper understanding from the respondent throughout the interview.

Conversational: You should be conversational, but your role is primarily that of a listener. There should be smooth transitions from one topic to the next.

Recording responses: The responses are recorded, typically with audiotape and written notes (i.e., field notes)

Record observations: You observe and record non-verbal behaviors on the field notes as they occur.

Record reflections: You record your views and feelings immediately after the interview as well