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Consumer Passion

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Consumer Passion

Bernadette Giene Cain
BUS642: Business Research Methods & Tools
Instructor Ashish Godbole
November 3, 2014

“A marketing philosophy should include a concern for the customers; needs and wants, an appreciation of the benefits and satisfactions which are looked for and a genuine effort to establish a dialogue and build a long-term relationship. The establishment of mutually satisfying exchange relationships, seen as the true essence of marketing requires that customers get value from the actions of marketing, allowing companies to gain value in return” (Heath, M.P., & Heath, M. 2008.).

The objective of every company is to either sell a product or service. To do so requires an understanding of the consumer, their wants, needs and desires. Once you have that understanding, you must make your company stand out from the others, and get that consumer to purchase from you. Sales can be a roller coaster, in that it can fluctuate various times throughout the year, or even month. There are uncontrollable factors that can affect the amount of sales, such as economy, rival products, and even product placement. As a manager, it is our job to understand why the fluctuations occur, and what we can do to stabilize our sales without a drastic loss. The reason for choosing this research topic is to have a better understanding of what affects sales, and possibilities of how sales can drop drastically without a noticeable cause. In September 2013, my location was performing at 93% attainment to goal through midmonth, only to drop to 65% attainment by end of month. The dilemma was that once our sales dropped, we could not achieve more than 70% attainment for almost a year. I had reached out for assistance from my manager and was either ignored, or was told to focus on other aspects of the business to work on (i.e. staffing). I looked at the trends from past years, and how our location had been trending the few months prior. The assistance was never given, the reason was never answered, and eventually I stopped caring as well. Based upon the performance of the store, I was asked to step down from my manager position, at which point I quit the job. There was one thing that stuck with me in the eight years working in the wireless industry, the brand loyalty of the consumers. The research question: Is there an emotional connection between consumers and the brands they purchase? If so, do the emotional connections determine how consumers buy? My hypothesis would state that there is some connection or loyalty to certain brands, and that an emotion is created after using a product. We all have a specific brand of shoes we buy, or certain make of car we drive that we remain loyal to, or certain situations where we impulse buy. There is a certain feeling we have that keeps us brand loyal, or creates that urge to buy impulsively. These feelings may be trust, reliability, security, pride, or simply a sign of status. These emotions can play a part of when a consumer makes a purchase, whether it is needed or impulsive. The term for this is brand passion and the five steps in measuring brand passion is thought, use, emotion, harmony, and action. This may sound ridiculous, but when you stop and think about the products you may purchase on a daily basis, are emotions not felt? That morning coffee from Starbucks, or the quick breakfast from McDonald’s, these habits are formed due to an emotion attachment, and without them, you do not function the same. “Marketing is described as the whole business from the customer’s point of view and the customer is considered to be at the centre of the business universe. While the marketing concept has evolved, this customer focus has prevailed” (Heath, M.P., & Heath, M. 2008.). By looking at ways to create brand passion, companies could maintain success for decades. I will examine companies such as Proctor & Gamble, Johnson & Johnson to better understand how innovation has helped create new products, but also ignite new excitement in existing consumers. Apple has created an extremely loyal consumer base, which expand their buying into multiple areas of the product line. Differentiation of products, consumer ownership (having it their way) are two ways that a company can build their consumer base, as well as create that loyalty and passion within the consumer. We live in a “consumer society where individuals are largely oriented towards spending and the accumulation of possessions, and consumers are concerned with the search for instant gratification” (Day, R. L. 1975). To determine the type of emotions generate by purchasing products requires obtaining information directly from the consumer on how, what, when, and why this purchase specific brands. When conducting research, there are some ethical concerns that must be addressed.
First is professional integrity of the researcher, which can include the ethics or morality of the researcher with respect to the interpretation of the data. Consumer research is susceptible to fraud as companies pay for the interpretation of the detailed data. Financial gain could bias the researchers’ interpretation of the collected data. “To be able to interpret the findings of some qualitative investigation, where we do not have the comforting support of hard data, and to arrive at some rational, logical, and convincing conclusion is so much more satisfying intellectually than to admit that the findings are inconclusive and inconsistent” (Tybout, A. M., & Zaltman, G. 1975).
Second, researchers who query individuals about their purchase behavior can induce stress by asking the participant to provide information about him/herself, preferences and behavior. The participant may feel that he/she is in some way being judged by the researcher and will thus experience apprehension; which in turns can lead to the participant distorting their responses. This is done as a measure to protect themselves and promote themselves to the researcher in a favorable manner. The presence of the researcher can introduce a new variable based on the change in human behavior.
Third, potential respondents may be unaware of their right to refuse. "once the subject has given his consent he may find it difficult to later withdraw or refuse to answer when personal or sensitive questions are asked” (Day, R.L. 1975.) Questions may be asked that are not relevant to the participant, therefore leaving the question unanswered. A major question that may be left unanswered is one concerning household income, which is personal information that is not freely given. Some participants may begin a study and find that their situation has changed, or they no longer wish to participate. Those particular participants may change their responses based on those feelings; whereas they could leave and the information gathered could still be analyzed with some missing data.
Finally, preserving the anonymity of participant information, such as name, address from being used without consent. Some companies may offer free samples of products in return for consumer responses to their surveys, as a way to improve participant cooperation. When the consumer competes their personal information, they are unaware that it could be sold to a third party marketer in order to promote their own product. This can lead to mistrust of the company and can affect the views of the consumer, thus leading to potential bias in future surveys.
To obtain the data needed on the influences behind a consumer purchase, research design is needed. Research design is defined as “A detailed outline of how an investigation will take place. A research design will typically include how data is to be collected, what instruments will be employed, how the instruments will be used and the intended means for analyzing data collected” (WebFinance, Inc. N.d.). Specific information is required from the participant, such as influences behind the purchase, brand loyalty, latest technology and when and how they make their purchases.
Although the age and income of consumers could help determine their ability to make purchases, and how often they make purchases, this information is personal and participants are less likely to answer those questions. A descriptive research design can help provide answers to the questions of who, what, when, where, and how consumers purchase. However, a descriptive study cannot irrefutably answer as to why they made that particular purchase, or if an emotion was attached. Descriptive research can be used to obtain information concerning the current status of the purchase and to help describe possible reasoning with respect to purchases. This type of study allows the participant to be observed in a natural environment with normal behavior. With an understanding of the limitations on the connection of emotions, this study could help develop a more focused study on purchasing emotions, such as an observational study.
An observational study is a “type of research design draws a conclusion by comparing subjects against a control group, in cases where the researcher has no control over the experiment. There are two general types of observational designs. In direct observations, people know that you are watching them. Unobtrusive measures involve any method for studying behavior where individuals do not know they are being observed. An observational study allows a useful insight into a phenomenon and avoids the ethical and practical difficulties of setting up a large and cumbersome research project” (Atkinson, Paul and Martyn Hammersley. 1994.) tracking of purchases followed by a questionnaire could help make the connection of emotions and purchases. By developing a specialized study that allows participants to record purchase preference and history, accompanied by a questionnaire regarding what emotions were felt prior to and after purchase can help determine how consumer passion is established.
The original information collected and analyzed by the researcher is considered the primary data, unless reused by another researcher, in which case it is called secondary data. The secondary data is than classified into two categories, internal and external data. Internal data would be collected by an organization for a reason other than to prove the hypothesis in a particular study. External data is collected from an organization outside of the original researcher’s and should be considered for usage after internal data.
In this particular observational study, internal data from manufacturers could be used to gather information regarding the number of products sold. This can help establish a buying trend by consumers if a specific brand or model is a consistent top seller. Quarterly reports can also help establish if there are particular times of year that have a rise or decline in sales. The internal data may only show one particular manufacturer, and cannot help determine or establish industry trends in regards to consumer purchasing. Therefore, external data would be utilized in helping determine and establish consumer trends from other manufacturers. For example, if the study was on consumer passion towards wireless devices, the researcher could gather information on the sales of Samsung devices. In order to accurately determine the amount of sales, and the buying trends, data would have to be gathered from each cellphone manufacturer to determine the change in consumer purchasing.
Secondary data would prove useful to the research study on consumer passion, as there has been a rise in sales and popularity of Samsung smartphones versus Apple iPhones. As the researcher, internal data from Samsung would give the most accurate report on sales for a given timeframe. Than external data would be gathered from Apple to show an accurate report on the sales trends during the exact timeframe as Samsung. From there, questions could be developed for those consumers as to why they continued purchasing a particular brand or switched. Behavior and emotions towards products could help in determining the main factors behind an initial purchase or a repeat purchase of a particular brand. Apple has a reputation of cross brand customer loyalty, where multiple products are purchased by consumers, as well as repeat purchases. “By creating an emotional connection with its customers, Apple has done the near impossible – it has acquired a loyal following. Brand loyalty has played a huge part in its global success” (Goodson, S. 2011, November 27).
To consider the use of secondary data, a list of research questions have been established to help determine whether primary or secondary data would be better suited for a study. An example question would be; was the sample drawn from the population appropriate for the research planned? The researcher must determine whether the necessary resources and funds are available to gather, replicate and analyze the secondary data. Once those answers are determined, the researcher can draw their own conclusion on which sources to utilize for their study. To analyze the secondary data, explicit questions directly related to the study must be asked of the participants. Making selection of the participants directly related to those research questions. For example, to understand Apple customer loyalty, the researcher would have to develop specific questions related to why that participant chose to purchase products from Apple. Proper storage of data must be in place to help protect collected information, and proper data identification and anonymization, or transferring of data to third parties.
To measure the responses of the questionnaire, a Likert-type scale could be used to give a value to specific emotions. Many surveys often have a ranking scale and utilize 1=strongly agree to 5=strongly disagree. By developing a similar scale based on emotions, such as 1=extremely happy, the data could show where emotional attachment exists and at what level the emotion plays a role in purchasing. With qualitative data, such as responses to the questionnaire, it is necessary to determine a precise and consistent method of value for each answer. The semantic differential scale technique could also be used to measure emotions. This scale measures polar opposites on a continuum, such as excited_ _ _ _ _ _depressed, in which the participant would place a mark at a certain point between the two emotions. Although it is a simple design, analysis of the data could be complicated as the opinion of the emotion could vary between those analyzing the data. Ideally, a combination of the two scales would produce an effective scale to measure the level of emotion, and provide a less complex way to analyze the data.
The final option for measurement scales would be a visual analog scale, and if designed properly, would be beneficial if taken online. The researcher establishes two opposite emotions on a continuum, similar to a semantic differential scale; however, they could program each space in between the opposite emotions as a progressive/regressive emotion. For example, the scale could show excitement_ _ _ _ _ _angry for a response, and each dash from excitement downward would express an emotion that would lead to anger. Such as excitement, joyful, happy, calm, neutral, annoyed, upset, angry, and each emotion has a value assigned to it. Once completed, the data could establish a baseline value for each question that helps determine how likely a product is to be purchased.
By developing a measurement scale that is appropriate to the type of participant response desired, the researcher has a more accurate and consistent method of verifying the data collected. The questions developed for the survey must be precise in order to receive the necessary emotional response needed. Failure to do so could result in inaccurate responses, and produce errors in the data. The researcher must be aware of any limitations of their survey and ensure that any variables are controlled, there is no difficulty in interpreting the results, and that the confidentiality of the participants remains anonymous. This will help ensure that the most accurate results are obtained, thus resulting in proving or disproving the stated hypothesis.
“Every person has a chronic or habitual emotional level that determines the overall behavior in life” (Finding Authentic Happiness.com. 2008). People have the ability to express and control their own emotions; however, it is also the ability to understand, interpret, and respond to the emotions of others. Emotional intelligence (EI) “refers to a person’s ability to perceive, control and evaluate emotions and can be learned and strengthened, although believe to be inborn” (Cherry, K. N.d.). Peter Salovey and John D. Mayer are the leading researchers on emotional intelligence and have defined EI as "the subset of social intelligence that involves the ability to monitor one's own and others' feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them and to use this information to guide one's thinking and actions" (Cherry, K. N.d.).
There are four different factors in the emotional intelligence model, which are perceiving emotions, reasoning with emotions, understanding emotions and managing emotions. These models begin at the basic psychological process to the highest process. The first model, perception, involves nonverbal signals, and the understanding how body language and facial expressions are an expression of emotion. The second model, reasoning, promotes the thinking and cognitive activity, which helps prioritize where we focus our attention and how we react to those things. The third model, understanding, is how the person interprets the emotions that are being emitted and their meaning. The fourth model, managing, is the regulation of emotions, and determining the appropriate response to the emotions of others.
“A brand is nothing more than a mental representation of a product in the consumer’s mind. If the representation consists only of the product’s attributes, features, and other information, there are no emotional links to influence consumer preference and action. The richer the emotional content of a brand’s mental representation, the more likely the consumer will be a loyal user” (Murray, Ph.D., P. N. 2013, February 26). Why is emotional intelligence of importance to a consumer? Many people believe that their actions are made from a rational analysis when in fact, emotions greatly influenced our decisions. Emotions from past or related experiences place values on our options and therefore create our preferences to our decision making. Humans are compelled to respond to emotion, and may cause insecurities that force us to purchase items to improve our self-identity. Documentation shows that emotions are primarily used when consumers evaluate brands over product information. Advertising appeals to the emotional response of the consumer, and is the largest predictor to help increase sales of a specific brand. When a consumer has more positive emotions towards a brand, there will most likely be more consumer loyalty based on those emotions than any other attribute of the brand. (Murray, Ph.D., P. N. 2013, February 26).
To better understand the connection between consumers and their emotions, researchers must conduct studies to explain purchasing behavior. As a researcher, two types of surveys would be given in order to obtain a quantitative and qualitative response from the participant regarding emotions felt when purchasing. The qualitative survey would consist of a four question sequence; main question (open-ended questions), follow-up questions, probing questions, and prompted questions. The main question will begin the conversation and by continuing the steps in the sequence, it ensures that the conversation flows and information is freely given. It also allows for clarification and inquiry to occur to grasp a better understanding of the answer. The situation, cause and importance of the situation can be understood by asking the questions to have a better understanding. The following are sample questions that would be asked in a qualitative survey for consumers that have purchased a Samsung smartphone.
A qualitative survey gathers data that is non-numerical and consists of open-ended questions, interviews and observations that use the details of a person’s thoughts or feelings to explain the behavior. This survey would be conducted in a focus group or be interview, in which the participant has the belief that they are able to speak and express themselves freely. The interviewer must speak clearly and be aware of the verbal and nonverbal messages of the participants, as well as being a good listener. There are ways of recording these sessions, such as video, voice recording or writing down answers; although some of these options can play a role in the comfort of the participant.
Quantitative research collects data that can be analyzed in numerical terms, and can help establish trends across large groups. This type of survey can be useful with a qualitative survey to test the result and validate the hypothesis. The analysis of this type of survey is to develop a pattern, possible links between variables, and changes over a time period. As a researcher the use of this survey will establish a numerical value of each emotion based on the human emotion chart. The chart lists a wide range of emotions and an average can be determined from the results of the group; which in turn helps establish a baseline of the emotional level required to make a purchase. The participants will be asked a series of questions and asked to choose an emotion that best fits those felt surrounding the buying experience.
By combining the two types of surveys, the data collected will measure the characteristics of the product that are valued by the participant. The data will also show that there must be a specific amount of emotion required to compel a buyer to make that particular purchase. This will be beneficial to companies in not only the products they produce, but also to the marketing agencies. With advertising, the brand personality characteristics are relatable to the consumer through packaging, visual imagery, and the words used as a description of the brand. This understanding can help establish brand loyalty and define consumer passion.
By using the measures of central tendency, which are the mean, median, and mode, the researcher can better interpret the data collected. The median of the data will represent the middle of the scores recorded, where the mean is the average of all the scores. The mode in this case, would not be useful as it is the most occurring score and would not determine at what level of emotion is needed for the consumer to make a purchase. By collecting the mean of the scores, an average level of specific emotions necessary to commit to the purchase is easier to establish. The median will allow the range of scores to be analyzed, showing the various range of emotions shown by consumers. Correlation is a descriptive measure that can describe the relationship between two variables. In this study, it is important to establish whether a relationship is needed in order for a purchase to be made. Correlation will not establish a cause-and-effect conclusion however, and using the Pearson r coefficient will measure the degree of the relationship between the two variables. In the simplest form, this “correlation is used with pairs of quantitative data to see if there is a statistically significant trend or relationship between the pairings. The correlation statistic, called r, ranges in value from 1.00 to+1.00. Although we often look at specific r values, we can divide the potential outcomes of r values into three categories: positive correlations, negative correlations, and no correlation” (Landrum, R. E. 2014).

QUALITATIVE SURVEY
The qualitative data collected from five participants show the various reasons behind purchasing a specific brand. This also shows the characteristics that rank from highest to lowest when associated with the product. Below are the results and calculations from the participants and the ranking of the characteristics. The instructions for the survey are as follows: Please think back to when you purchased your Samsung smartphone, and please answer the following questions as concise as possible. Please rank the following characteristics that are important when making a purchase from 1 to 6:

This chart shows that a smartphone that is user friendly is ranked highest, followed by price, reputation, durability and functionality are tied for fourth, and latest technology is last. There were no other characteristics listed that affected the purchase of the device. The results of the verbal portion of the survey are listed after the questions; with no real consistency on one reason behind the purchase. 1. Please think about smartphones and say what comes to mind.
Complicated; iPhone; portable; convenience; higher bill 2. Can you describe how you first became aware of Samsung products?
TV; friends/family (3 participants); advertising 3. When you think of Samsung, what is the first thing that comes to mind?
Televisions (2); cell phones (3) 4. Do you own other Samsung products? Yes (5) a. If so, what are those products? Phones (5); TV’s (3) 5. How often do you purchase a new smartphone?
2 years (3); 1 year (2) 6. What was you previous brand of smartphone? LG; Apple (2); HTC; Samsung b. If different from Samsung, what was the major reason behind switching brands?
Price; compatibility; storage; camera (2) 7. If you were to purchase another brand of smartphone, what brand would you choose? HTC (3); Apple (2) c. What is the reason for purchasing that brand? Reputation (2); Android (3) 8. What were the personal benefits from purchasing this product?
Larger screen; better quality pictures; extra storage (2); less replacing phone 9. What do you like best about this product?
Capabilities; waterproof; camera (2); pen/stylus 10. Please explain any emotional responses experienced when purchasing your smartphone.
Excitement; happy (2); satisfaction; relief
QUANTITATIVE SURVEY
Below is a list of questions that will require the participant to match an emotion in response to the question. Using the chart on the left, please list the emotion that is the most relatable to the one felt in response to the question. (Please note, the value of each emotion will not be listed on the survey.) 1. When you make a good purchase. 2. When you find/receive a deal on a purchase. 3. When the product gives additional benefits. 4. When you buy a product repeatedly. 5. When you purchase your favorite item. 6. When a product is not available. 7. When you switch brands. 8. Your first use experience. 9. Your after purchase experience. (Additional instructions or customer care.) 10. Remarks from your friends and family about the product. 11. Feelings when a new version of your product is released. 12. Service received at the store where purchased. (If purchased online, please put N/A and answer the question 12a.) a. The ease of use of the website where purchased. 13. Attitude of the staff or customer service.
To the left, is the chart that shows the median scores for the first 7 questions of the survey which shows the average amount of emotions required to make the purchase. The chart below are the scores associated with the emotions felt when making the purchase, and any customer service interaction had. It also shows the frustration felt by the consumer after their initial purchase that may be associated with learning the new device, transferring data, etc.

The data to the left showed that there was a consistent level of negative emotions felt by the consumer in regards to their after purchase experience. Perhaps with certain educational discussions by the salesperson, some of those negative emotions could be alleviated. The research question initially asked was: Is there an emotional connection between consumers and the brands they purchase? If so, do the emotional connections determine how consumers buy? My hypothesis would state that there is some connection or loyalty to certain brands, and that an emotion is created after using a product.
The data collected shows that there is in fact an emotional connection between consumers and the brands they purchase. In this study, it showed that the median levels associated with the purchase require of an emotion with a level of 3.5. When purchasing their favorite item/brand, it showed a minimum emotion level of 8.0. The 0.98 emotional level felt when their brand was not available, reflects negativity in the consumer; which in turn affects their willingness to purchase another brand. In conclusion, the data showed the relevancy of emotions associated with a consumer purchase, and the hypothesis was proven.

References Anastas, Jeane W. Research Design for Social Work and the Human Services. Chapter 5, Flexible Methods: Descriptive Research. 2nd ed. New York: Columbia University Press, 1999; McNabb, Connie. Retrieved from http://libguides.usc.edu/content.php?pid=83009&sid=818072 Albert, N., Merunka, D., & Valette-Florence, P. (2010). Passion for the Brand and Consumer Brand Relationships. Retrieved from http://www.anzmac.org/conference_archive/2010/pdf/ anzmac10Final00222.pdf Atkinson, Paul and Martyn Hammersley. “Ethnography and Participant Observation.” In Handbook of Qualitative Research. Norman K. Denzin and Yvonna S. Lincoln, eds. (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 1994), pp. 248-261; Observational Research. Retrieved from http://libguides.usc.edu/content.php?pid=83009&sid=818072 Cherry, K. (n.d.). Emotional Intelligence-What it is and why it matters. Retrieved 2014, from http://psychology.about.com/od/personalitydevelopment/a/emotionalintell.htm

Day, R. L. (1975). A Comment on 'Ethics in Marketing Research'. Journal Of Marketing Research (JMR), 12(2), 232-233. Dinnie, K. (2005). Creating passion brands. Journal of Brand Management, 13(2), 169-171. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/232488094?accountid=32521 Finding Authentic Happiness.com. (2008). List of Emotions - Human Emotion Chart. Retrieved August, 2009, from http://www.findingauthentichappiness.com/list-of-emotions.html Goodson, S. (2011, November 27). Is Brand Loyalty the Core to Apple's Success? Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/marketshare/2011/11/27/is-brand-loyalty-the-core-to-apples- success-2/

Heath, M. P., & Heath, M. (2008). (Mis)trust in marketing: a reflection on consumers' attitudes and perceptions. Journal Of Marketing Management, 24(9/10), 1025-1039. Hemetsberger, A. (2014). There's no passion; I need passion: Why some brands excite consumers so much. GfK Marketing Intelligence Review, 6(1), 34-39. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/1528143660?accountid=32521 Institute for Work & Health, Toronto. (2009). What researchers mean by...missing data. Retrieved from http://www.iwh.on.ca/wrmb/missing-data

Landrum, R. E. (2014). Research methods for business: Tools and applications. San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education, Inc. Market Probe. (2011). Customer Experience and Brand Passion & Advocacy. Retrieved from http://www.marketprobe.com/stakeholder-solutions/brand-power-a-brand- engagement/background-bp.html Murray, Ph.D., P. N. (2013, February 26). How Emotions Influence What We Buy: The emotional core of consumer decision-making. Retrieved 2014, from http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/inside-the-consumer-mind/201302/how-emotions-influence-what-we-buy Newlin, K. (2009, April 25). The Seven Markers of Passion Brands. Retrieved from http://www.brandingstrategyinsider.com/2009/04/the-seven-markers-of-passion-brands.html#.VFfOxvnF8yc

Swimberghe, K. R., Astakhova, M., & Wooldridge, B. R. (2014). A new dualistic approach to brand passion: Harmonious and obsessive. Journal of Business Research, 67(12), 2657. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/1562018191?accountid=32521
Tybout, A. M., & Zaltman, G. (1975). A Reply to Comments on 'Ethics in Marketing Research: Their Practical Relevance'. Journal Of Marketing Research (JMR), 12(2), 234-237. WebFinance, Inc. (n.d.). What is research design? Retrieved 2014, from http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/research-design.html

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