Consumer Behavior Research

Topics: Qualitative research, Scientific method, Quantitative research Pages: 31 (9148 words) Published: March 13, 2013

Consumer Research


After studying this chapter students should be able to:
1. Compare the differences between customer research and marketing research. 2. Describe the differences between quantitative research and qualitative research. 3. Understand the use of positivist and interpretivist research. 4. Describe the steps in the consumer research process.

5. Explain the difference between primary and secondary research. 6. Discuss the differences between qualitative and quantitative research designs and why you would choose one over the other. 7. Discuss the differences between qualitative and quantitative data collection instruments or methods. 8. Identify the various probability and nonprobability sampling methods.


The field of consumer research developed as an extension of the field of marketing research to enable marketers to predict how consumers would react in the marketplace and to understand the reasons they made the purchase decisions they did. Consumer research undertaken from a managerial perspective to improve strategic marketing decisions is known as positivism. Positivist research is quantitative and empirical, and tries to identify cause-and-effect relationships in buying situations. It is often supplemented with qualitative research.

Qualitative research is more concerned with probing deep within the consumer’s psyche to understand the motivations, feelings and emotions that drive consumer behavior. Qualitative research findings cannot be projected to larger populations, but are used primarily to provide new ideas and insights for the development of positioning strategies. Interpretivism, a qualitative research perspective, is generally more concerned with understanding the act of consuming itself rather than the act of buying (i.e., consumer decision-making). Interpretivists view consumer behavior as a subset of human behavior, and increased understanding as a key to eliminating some of the ills associated with destructive consumer behavior.

Each theoretical research perspective is based on its own specific assumptions and uses its own research methodologies. Positivists generally use probability studies that can be generalized to larger populations. Interpretivists tend to view consumption experiences as unique situations that occur at specific moments in time; therefore they cannot be generalized to larger populations. The two theoretical research orientations are highly complementary and used together provide a deeper and more insightful understanding of consumer behavior than either approach used alone.

The consumer research process—whether quantitative or qualitative in approach—generally consists of six steps: defining objectives, collecting secondary data, developing a research design, collecting primary data, analyzing the data, and preparing a report of the findings. The researcher must make every effort to ensure that the research findings are reliable (that a replication of the study would provide the same results) and valid (that they answer the specific questions for which the study was originally undertaken).



1. The field of consumer research developed as an extension of the field of marketing research. 2. Studying consumer behavior enables marketers to predict how consumers will react to promotional messages and to understand why they make the purchase decisions they do. 3. Savvy marketers realize that customer research is a unique subset of marketing research, which merits the utilization of specialized research methods that collect customer data and also enhance the company’s relationship with its customers.

*****Use Learning Objective #1 Here *****


1. The early consumer researchers gave little thought to the impact of mood, emotion,...
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