It is also very possible that some questions will not be asked, if person interviewed does not know how to answer them, or does not want to answer such questions.
For the beginning, a first section of questions wants to find out more about the subject of the interview, about the persons' background with the industry (Name, age, company and position, plus responsibility with the company). Also, the total experience of the persons with the industry of furniture in Thailand is of interest. We want to understand such elements in order to know the relevance to be given to this person's answers in the case of opposing opinions.
Next types of questions in the interview refer to the opinion of interviewees about the business of furniture in Thailand.
The differentiation between Ikea and the other main competitors (Index Living Mall and S.B. Furniture) is also tested with the subjects in a following section of questions. The trends of the market and also of consumer behavior in their decision making about furniture buying are also part of the questions asked. One question aiming at this know-how is: "What is your opinion on how can Ikea differentiate itself from its major competitors: SB Furniture and Index Living Mall on the Bangkok market?"
The specific target group of Ikea (middle class adults), is also brought in the discussion, as of their awareness of Ikea.
Several questions about the specific Ikea way of business compared with Thai customer behavior and preferences are also present, first to verify if the concepts of flat packs, customer self transportation of furniture and its DIY installment in their homes when offered better prices than the competitors. Also, some solutions are asked from the subjects of the interview in the case that this type of requirements from clients will not be satisfying.
Questions aiming at this kind of information are, for example: "Do you think Thai people's mind will be open to internationalism and thus follow Ikea's global concept? Or should Ikea adapt to meet with local preferences and characteristics of purchasing decision?"; or "There is so much available information leading to the idea that middle class in Thailand likes to buy built-in furniture rather than DIY and install by themselves at home. Do you think DIY concept will work with Bangkok's customers?," or "If the flat packs design prove to become trouble for Thai consumers to install by themselves, how could Ikea deal with such problems?"
Also the questions aiming to know if the dynamics of the target population for Ikea ("How Is the number of middle aged adults -- 30 years and over -- going to evolve?") appears in the questionnaire, as this is an important issue to know for the international furniture retailer.
Next subject of questions is related to the issue of competing with two competitors which are the local companies and gained market share more than half in the Thailand's market. (Question: "What is your opinion on Ikea being an international brand and competing with the best 2 competitors, local companies, owing more than half of the Thai market?")
If serious, this situation can make Ikea face with the failure, as it may be that if there are no leading international players in Thai market to be a sign that Thai people prefer national brands. Or this is happening because there was no international company to try to enter on the market, even if it is a very big population market (64 million). This is to be discussed and understood with the help of the subjects which know the country, the values, traditions of the population, and also know more about how businesses and international players work in this country.
The last subject for the questions is about the new added value that the local leaders' integrate into their services. This kind of added value services are as follow: free of charge delivery, installment, interior design and 3D interior design, consultancy on interior design, plus various loyalty programs that aim to retain their target customers. These are value added services that Ikea does not entirely offer on the international market, and they are elements that can provide competitive advantages to the local players. Will these elements become a challenge for Ikea in taking customers from the S.B. Furniture and Index Living Mall?
The Data Analysis
Of the information obtained from the interviews with the subjects, interpretative techniques will be used for obtaining the final recommendations and conclusions. That is, the data obtained will be examined and interpreted by forming an impression and structuring it. The answers for similar questions will be added and compared, in order to observe what is similar and what is different in the opinions of the specialists (Taylor and Bogdan, 1998: 225)
Most important elements in forming such impressions and analysis will be the level of knowledge of the Thai industry of furniture that the subjects demonstrate. If two subjects will state different or contrary answers to a similar question, more importance will be given to the person that appear to have better knowledge about the industry, and which has known the market for a longer period. Nevertheless, these situations are not expected to appear, because the subjects have been carefully selected due to their experience with the industry and consumers in Thailand, and are recommended professionals in the industry.
There are also open-ended questions in the interviews that will most probable not be possible to compare or contrast between them, and these will be stated as they are recommended by subjects.
1. Abrahamson, M. (1983). Social research methods. Prentice-Hall. New York
2. Denzin, Norman K. And Lincoln, Yvonna S. (Eds.). (2005). The Sage Handbook of Qualitative Research (3rd ed.), Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks, CA
3. Lindlof, T.R., & Taylor, B. C, (2002). Qualitative Communication Research Methods (second ed), Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks, CA
4. McCracken, G. 1988. The Long Interview. Qualitative Research Methods Series No. 13. Sage Publications, London
5. Taylor, S.J., Bogdan, R.(1998), Introduction to Qualitative Research Methods, Wiley, New York
6. Valentine, G. (1997). Tell me about...:using interviews as a research methodology. In Flowerdew, R. & Martin, D. (eds) Methods in Human Geography - a guide for students doing a research project. Longman, Essex.
Chapter 4: Data Analysis
The purpose of this chapter is to analyze in a structured manner the answers obtained during the five semi-structured interviews, in order to see what are the options, advantages and challenges that will need to be taken into account by Ikea when entering the Thai market.
The result of this Data Analysis chapter will constitute the base for the next chapter, Conclusions and Recommendations.
In order to make it easier to differentiate between the five respondents, a short analysis of their know-how regarding the Thai furniture market and its consumers will be offered. This analysis will serve in helping decide the relevance given to their answers, in case of opposing opinions on similar issues.
Even though most of the interviewees hold important positions within companies (General Managers), and some are at lower hierarchical levels, such as Project Manager or Assistant, nevertheless, the differentiation between them will not be made entirely on their level of seniority within their companies, but also on the level of know-how they demonstrate, the completeness of their information regarding Thai customer preferences and behavior.
31 years old, and a Project Manager with the company he works with, has a 6 years experience with the furniture industry, mainly with his current job, where he works with customers who want built-in furniture and professional interior design. He has some valuable insights about the industry, consumer needs and the do's and don'ts of a furniture provider in Thailand (e.g. -- he mentions the importance of having furniture built only from hard wood due to the high humidity of the atmosphere in the country, which is a threat for Ikea, as it has many products made of soft woods such as pine wood). Nevertheless, he is not one of the respondents ready to offer many valuable ideas for Ikea's differentiation strategies.
33 years old, and General Manager with the company he works with, has about 20 years of experience with the Thai furniture market and gives complete and well informed answers. He sees rather clearly the points of success and possible weaknesses of Ikea, elements that need to be adjusted in order to make in on the market, but also perceives the uniqueness of Ikea's proposition to the market and the chances for it to have a success story in Thailand.
33 years old, and General Manager with the company he works with. Besides his youth passion for architecture, he majored in Interior Design and worked in the field of furniture and interior decorations for over 5 years, then took his Master degree in the U.S.A. In Marketing Communication. Currently is working in Customer…