Based on the guiding research question, a deductive approach was deemed best suited for the purposes of the study proposed herein.
The selection of an appropriate research strategy is important to the successful outcome of a study (Maxwell 1996). Based on a review of the available research strategies, the research strategy to be used in the proposed study will be to use a qualitative analysis of the secondary literature to develop a custom survey to collect relevant quantitative primary data. This research strategy is highly congruent with the guidance provided by Poggenpaul, Myburgh and Van Der Linde who report, "There is a strong argument for qualitative research strategies as a prerequisite for quantitative strategies" (2001, 408). The use of both qualitative and quantitative data is also congruent with Neuman's observation that, "Both qualitative and quantitative research use several specific research techniques (e.g., survey, interview, and historical analysis), yet there is much overlap between the type of data and the style of research. Most qualitative-style researchers examine qualitative data and vice versa" (2003, 16). Likewise, DeMarrais and Lapan suggest that the debate over quantitative vs. qualitative research methods has been resolved, with "both camps recognizing the value of multiple views and approaches to research practice" (2004, 3). This research strategy will follow the research process which is described below.
The research process to be employed in the proposed study is the inverted pyramid approach in which the researcher investigates the general issues under consideration from a broad perspective and increasingly fine-tunes the research process to target those specific issues of interest (Neuman 2003).
The data collection process will begin with the secondary research using a critical review of the relevant secondary literature. According to Fraenkel and Wallen, "Researchers usually dig into the literature to find out what has already been written about the topic they are interested in investigating. Both the opinions of experts in the field and other research studies are of interest. Such reading is referred to as a review of the literature" (2001, 48). The next step in the data collection process will be the administration of a custom online survey to collect primary data from Tesco customers as described further in the section, "Survey with Customers: Survey Monkey" further below.
According to Dennis and Harris, "Secondary data are information that has been collected earlier for a different purpose, but which may still be useful to the research project under consideration" (2002, 39). Because resources are by definition scarce, taking advantage of secondary data whenever possible can contribute a great deal to the findings of a research project (Dennis & Harris 2002). There are some constraints involved in strictly relying on secondary resources only, though. For example, Dennis and Harris caution that, "Finding the information needed to answer a particular research question from secondary data avoids the need to spend time and money on primary research, but the likelihood of an ideal match is remote" (2002, 39).
In contrast to secondary research, original research involves the collection of primary data, or data that has been collected for the first time (Dennis & Harris 2002). In this regard, the use of both secondary and primary data is consistent with the guidance provided by Dennis and Harris: "Primary data are information that is being collected for the first time in order to address a specific research problem. This means that it is likely to be directly relevant to the research, unlike secondary data, which may be out of date or collected for a totally different purpose. Ideally, an effective research project should incorporate both primary and secondary data" (2002, 39).
Survey with Customers: Survey Monkey
Surveys are a highly efficient and cost effective approach to collecting primary data (Benz & Newman 1998). According to Leedy and Ormrod's definition, "Survey research involves acquiring information about one or more groups of people ? perhaps about their characteristics, opinions, attitudes, or previous experiences ? By asking them questions and tabulating their answers. The ultimate goal is to learn about a large population by surveying a sample of that population (2005, 183). Since the custom survey will contain more than 10 questions, a premium account (approximately $10/month) will be created to accommodate the online survey. To help ensure the validity of the custom survey instrument, the steps recommended by Proctor and Vu for online surveys will be followed as set forth in Table 1 below.
Recommendations for Web Survey Ordering, Organization, and Implementation
1. Limit the number of open-ended questions;
2. Design the survey so that it answers only the questions of interest (as briefly as possible).
1. Ask demographic questions first.
2. Make the first question interesting to the participant.
3. Do not require contact information such as telephone number early in the survey.
4. Do not place open-ended questions at the beginning of the survey.
1. Use simple designs;
2. Include a prompt if the respondent has not answered the relevant research questions;
3. Provide clear instructions where needed;
4. Keep question implementation similar to allow the respondent to focus on the content of the question;
5. Identify each drop-down menu box in use with a "click here" instruction;
6. Allow the respondent to scroll to each question unless ordering of the items is fundamental to the research;
7. When skip directions depend on the answer of a question, give respondents the control of going to the next question;
8. Do not design the survey so that it requires specific software or hardware for the user to respond;
9. Double space responses if they do not fit onto one screen of the expected minimum resolution of the target sample;
10. For long surveys, consider providing a progress indicator
Source: Proctor & Vu 2005, 311
Finally, fundamental limitations to the online survey approach to be used in the proposed study will be the inability of the researcher to verify the identities of the survey respondents and the potentially limited number of Tesco customers who agree to participate in the research. As Darlington and Scott point out, "Experienced researchers will know, however, that potential research participants are not always easy to find. Researchers often have to take as many participants as they can get, within the constraints of time and other resources" (2002, 53).
Chapter 4 -- Ethical and Access Issues
This chapter describes the population of interest for the purposes of the proposed study and what steps will be taken to ensure data privacy.
The population of interest for the purposes of the proposed study will be Tesco customers who possess Clubcards as well as those who do not. Potential respondents for the online survey will be recruited by placing requests for participation in online forums directed at Tesco and other warehouse superstores such as Ware Online (http://www.wareonline.co.uk/haveyoursay / topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=4789) and Wales Online (http://forums.walesonline.co.uk/viewtopic.php? t=19540). The recruitment advertisements will include a description of the research project as well as a hyperlink directing interested customers to the online survey that is posted on SurveyMonkey.
Although all respondents of the custom survey instrument will be assured of their anonymity, all responses to the online survey will remain confidential and will be secured under password in the researcher's personal computer.
Chapter 5 -- Preliminary Bibliography
Batra, R., & Homer, P. (2004) The situational impact of brand image beliefs. Journal of Consumer Psychology 14(3) 318-330
Benz, C.R., & Newman, I. (1998). Qualitative-quantitative research methodology: Exploring the interactive continuum. Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press.
Burton, S., & Steane, P. (2004). Surviving your thesis. New York: Routledge.
Costabile, M. (2000), A Dynamic Model of Customer Loyalty. Presented to 16th Annual IMP Conference, September 7th-9th, Bath (UK). [online] http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&cd=2&ved=0CBwQFjAB&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.impgroup.org%2Fuploads%2Fpapers%2F43.pdf&ei=5q-sTarLD4W10QH2tfj4CA&usg=AFQjCNGRQdbe1PJHk7dPAY23xvIzBf2rvg&sig2=pNYCgID7L4yz5rihCh0chA
Crosby, L., DeVito, R., & Pearson, J. (2003) Manage your customers' perception of quality, Review of Business, 24(1), 18-38.
Darlington, Y., & Scott, D. (2002). Qualitative research in practice: Stories from the field. Crows Nest, NSW: Allen & Unwin.
Delgado-Ballester, E. & Mumuera-Aleman, J. (2005) Does brand trust matter to brand equity? Journal of Product & Brand Management 14(3) 187-196.
DeMarrais, K. & Lapan, S.D. (2004). Foundations for Research: Methods of Inquiry in Education and the Social Sciences. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Dennis, C., & Harris, L. (2002). Marketing the e-Business. London: Routledge.
De Vaus, D. (1996). Surveys in Social Research. London: UCL Press.
Ehrenberg, A. (1988) Repeat-buying: Facts, theory and applications London: Charles Griffin and Co.
Funding Universe (2011) Tesco. Retrieved online at http://www.fundinguniverse.com/company-histories/Tesco-plc-Company-History.html
Heskett, J. (2002). Beyond customer loyalty. Managing Service Quality, 12 (6), pp. 355-357
Jenkenson, A. (1995) Retailing and shopping on the internet. International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management, 24 (3), pp. 26-37
Jensen, K.B. (2002). A Handbook of Media and Communication Research: Qualitative and Quantitative Methodologies. London: Routledge.
Lach, J. (2000) Redeeming qualities. Advertising Age. Retrieved online at http://adage.com/article/american-demographics/redeeming-qualities/42382/
Leedy, P.D., & Ormrod, J.E. (2005). Practical research: Planning and design (8th ed.). Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Merrill…