CHAPTER FIVE: PRIMARY RESEARCH FINDINGS

  1. PRIMARY RESEARCH FINDINGS 5.1 RESEARCH DESIGN

A research design is the framework for how to collect and analyse data, it is a structure that guides how to use a certain method in a concrete way (Bryman & Bell, 2007). According to Patel & Davidson (2011) a survey can be useful to measure what respondent thinks or what attitude they have towards something. Since this thesis had a research objective about measuring consumer opinion on the chosen topic, the selected research strategy was therefore to conduct an observational survey study, focus groups and interviews.

5.1.1 Data Collection Methods

The data for analysis was collected from both primary and secondary means, wherein the primary included the qualitative approach. Furthermore, triangulation was applied as aforementioned in the Methodology Outline (see Chapter 1: 1.4).

5.1.2 Sampling

According to Malhotra (2010) the aim of the most marketing research studies is to collect information about the characteristics or parameters of a population. To obtain this information it can be done either by taking a census or a sample. For this study, a sample only studying a representative subgroup of the population was considered. A simple random sample is the most basic form of a probability sample and is primarily used in a cross-sectional research design (Christensen et al., 2010). In this thesis, a simple random sampling technique was most deemed appropriate and used where the respondents were picked up randomly however some determinants like geographical city, age groups were pre-set from before to avoid discrepancies in analysis.

5.1.3 Sampling frame

Malhotra (2010) describes a sampling frame as a representation of the elements of the target population, which the sample will be selected from. Generation Y is a segment that is described to be having high purchasing power. The generation is specified to be individuals born from 1977 to 1994, which today in 2014 equals people in the age range of 19 to 36 (Noble et al., 2008).

Furthermore, they write about generation Y, “Branded products provide consumers a sense of comfort from knowing that they look and feel good in these garments” (Noble et al., 2008:626). Out of this data, it seemed logical to investigate this particular segment due to the purchasing power they possess. Therefore an age limit of 19-36 was being set as sampling frame for the focus group.

5.1.4 Study Sample selection

The population of interest for this study was specified as college-going/working adults aged between 19 to 36 years of age. A few are originally citizens of India but reside in London. The sample size is referred to the number of element that will be included in the thesis (Malhotra, 2010). A total of 14 respondents participated in the focus group, out of which 11 were females and 3 were males.
For the observational survey conducted at Westfield mall (Shepherd’s Bush branch), 100 respondents were observed and analysed, out of which 40 were males and 60 were females. Their age bracket was judged on the researchers assumption based on their looks, as there was no conversation involved.

5.1.5 Validity, Generalizability and Reliability of Data

While carrying out any research study, the three components of validity, generalizability and reliability need to be taken care of very well (Renata 2010). Validity is mainly concerned with the answers, which the researcher is supposed to gather with the help of methods of data collection. Here, real data is collected with the help of focus group and interview. While conducting the research study, reliability has an important part to play to be trusted by the readers of the report.
Reliable data was collected here from the customers as the respondents and from the interview of Mr Chris Windley. The findings of the research should also be general in nature so that it can be applied in any future research work.

Sample Profile Number/Percentage for Focus Groups Number/Percentage for Observational Survey  

Number/percentage for Interview

Total Respondents 14 100  

1

Male 4 40  

1

Female 10 60  

18-22 years 71% 05%*  

23-26 years 20% 21%*  

27-30 6% 49%*

 

 

 

31-36 3% 25%*

 

 

Table 01: Sample Profile
Source: Author’s Own
*The researcher assumed the age of the respondents.

5.2 Findings

5.2.1 Focus Group Findings

Focus Group 1 (G1) lives and study in Bristol and Focus Group 2 (G2) live and work in a major city of London. The focus group discussion was commenced by exchanging opinions on how, where and what we buy which has become ‘the new common denominator of social discourse’ (Yarrow and O’Donnell, 2009: 48). All the participants who had shopped online and offline (irrespective of what they preferred) were chosen for the focus group. This was done purposively because of the nature of the research topic.

The focus group findings are as follows:

  1. How often do you shop for fashion goods?

 

3

Once a month

Every 3 9 months

Twice a week

 

2

 

37

  1. What fashion goods do you usually shop for?

 

4

Shoes, Clothes and Accessories

Jewelry/Make-Up

Sale items and necessities

2

8

 

  1. Which is your preferred mode of shopping?

 

2 12

Online Offline

 

  1. Do you shop more for high-street or luxury brands?

 

1

2
9

High-Street Luxury Both

 

  1. Do you think having an online presence along with physical stores is an advantage?

 

14

Yes

  1. What according to you are the advantages of having an Online presence alongwith physical stores.

 

2 7

5

Cost Saving Wide Reach

Preferred Products

 

38

  1. Do you think an online- offline integration of the brand may have any disadvantages?

11

Yes No

 

3

 

  1. What are the Disadvantages of online offline Integration according to you?

 

4

3

Maintenance

5 Stock Management

 

2

Slow Internet Connection

Less Variety

 

The respondents of the first group (G1) consisted of college going students (see Appendix F) that seemed to be up to date with the fashion trends. “I love to shop whenever I have free time”, (Participant 5 Focus Group 1, 17th April 2014). A majority of both the focus groups said that they shop once a month (this being the largest number). This contrasted the findings from the second group (G2) (see Appendix G

) with one participant stating that shopping for fashion goods for her was only when there was a genuine need (or for her children). Mintel’s (2013) consumer research shows that the 25-34’s are the are the highest spenders of all age groups on clothing mostly due to their high disposable income.

All the participants from both the groups further mentioned that they mostly shopped for clothing and accessories thus confirming Mintel’s recent survey on growth of the clothing-retailing sector. According to Mintel (2013) the total clothing spending rose 4.5% in 2012 – and against 0.9% clothing price inflation, this equated to a 3.6% real- terms boost in spending (see Appendix E).

Although all the participants were carefully selected knowing that they have shopped online and offline to meet the aim of the study, when asking which medium they preferred for shopping all of them said offline. While the popularity of shopping online for clothes has been increasing, with a quarter of consumers now mainly browsing and buying online, buying in-store is still the most used route. However, the male participants said that being time crunched they also shop online.

The conversation further continued by gathering the fact that the former group (G1) aged 18-25 tend to browse online but buy in-store as they still see shopping for clothes as a day out with friends.
Most of the participants opted for high street as a shopping choice largely with a handful expressing that they shopped for both occasionally (G2 male participants). G1 had strong opinions about shopping for high street products, which was undoubtedly the low price factor. This is supported with Mintel (2013) affirming that this group is going through the growing financial pressure.

For all the participants having an online presence was an along with a physical proved to be an advantage for the fashion retailers. The reasons for this included the being able to see the collection online hence already having an idea of what would be available in the store. The integration reaches a much larger audience therefore restoring a better brand recall.
The other most important reason being that the integration caters to customers’ convenience, offers them a variety of delivery options for shopping online.
G2 respondents firmly said that it is a must for brands to have an online presence as well also revealing that an online presence integrated effort is advantageous for oversea customers.

The findings also showed that only 3 participants felt that the online-offline integration may have disadvantages. In their opinion these disadvantages included maintenance costs for their integrated presence may not generate equivalent sales. Also, the maintenance would be time-consuming. A participant from G1 group said that, “The people might stop going to the outlets in the longer run by integrating the online presence with the offline”. A few raised an issue of having a poor internet connection which might be a shortcoming for brands having an online presence and. “There would be a difficulty in maintain the stock”, was a response from a member of the G2 group. Another member from the group said that if the brands having an online presence do not have attractive offers, delivery options and a whole range of their collection present online, it could be a huge drawback leading to a loss of its online consumers.

To conclude the response of the both the groups (majorly) was in well coordination with Xiaozhai (2012) suggesting that an online-offline integration is all set to work well in future with one arguing that it might not be viable in the longer run.

5.2.2 Interview Findings

The interviews were conducted with Mr. Chris Windley and a spokesperson at ASOS. Mr. Chris is a known digital marketing expert and is also known as six-figure mentor and nine-figure mentor. He is the co founder of centripetal networks, which is a digital marketing company. The spokesperson at ASOS and Mr. Chris was contacted via email (see Appendix ) requesting them to answer a few questions about the topic. The questions used in both interviews were devised from the aim(s) and objectives of the study. It was developed as a structured interview due to the inability to meet in person with either interviewee and email responses do not allow for development and clarification of answers that can yield rich material (Bell, 2010). Mr. Chris has been in this field for a long time and has gathered much idea regarding the marketing process done either online or offline. According to him, the idea of choosing a better option out of these two methods is based on the fact that every customer has his or her own preference for shopping. For instance, one might find it very difficult to go out in the market so he will prefer online method of shopping. While on the other hand, a person would like to see the fabric and material of the clothes, so he will opt for offline shopping. Wang (2010) also believed that it is the mindset of the individual which decides the action or purchase decision. Wang says that the process of showrooming is very common now and adopted by many branded companies. Chris also believes that the concept of showrooming needs more investigation and should be studied more to come up with its specific usage. Kotler (2010) says that the marketer should always try to find out the possibilities where he can easily tap the opportunities available in the market. Chris also agrees with the point of view of Kotler that if it is used by the marketers in a proper manner, they will surely get benefit out of this process. To support this, Mr. Chris also said that only a single mode of marketing- online or offline would not help the marketer to gain the desired result. He should adopt a combination of both the techniques.

5.2.3 Observational Survey Findings

The observational survey conducted helped to understand shopping habit and attitudes of today’s shoppers. Consumers mainly spent their money on food, fun and entertainment. The people who visited the mall seemed to be brand conscious. The decision of consumers, visiting mall with their children, was affected by the choice of their __children. Some of the old consumers got motivation from their relatives/partners and __friends to make purchase decisions. Also, a lot of time was spent (mostly by female shoppers) to first gain satisfaction of the touch and feel factors of the products and then proceed with the purchase. Around 20% of the people observed came to collect the orders placed online on the brand’s website thus showing the emergent click and collect service. Similarly, among the mid twenty’s a lot of them even placed orders for products in stores to come and collect it later, or to be delivered directly to their address or pick up from a store near them. This was predominantly done for the high street brands present in the mall remotely proving a point of one of the focus group participants who said, “I can buy online (or use the click & collect) for a high street brand but would shop in the physical stores for luxury brands. Most of the male shoppers were seen using the in store kiosks and tablets to browse for other products while shopping in-store and making most of their experience.
The findings from the survey presented the prominent of the buy online pick up in store (BOPS) model along with a lot of individuals executing comparison-shopping.

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I'm an eCommerce Project Director at an agency in London and a consultant for a number of eCommerce start-ups. I founded Think etc 9 years ago which now lets me share my research and experience with all the interesting brands, people, places and projects that I have been privileged to work with. My work on crowdsourcing was published by Oxford as part of a journal article and I have been obsessing over eCommerce and Magento over the past several years.

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