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The methodology of research has three main views – realism, hermeneutics and positivism. These views give an insight on the emergence of knowledge; however, they are always exclusive and sometimes overlap each other. Scientific approaches are mostly limited to hermeneutic and positivism, and they are consistently recognised as methodological approaches.
An independent and objective point of view is present in positivism. In this approach, the researcher does not affect the research subject and neither is he affected by it and is independent of it (MacInnis and Folkes, 2010, p.899). This leans towards research based on the quantitative method and indicates that emphasis is put on observations that are quantifiable and can be used for statistical analysis. In the hermeneutic approach, the researcher's focus is more on the understanding and interpretation of the study. It is more qualitative in nature and focuses more on the background of the study so that the area of study can be understood more efficiently.
In this study, the approach of hermeneutics has been used more than positivism, as studying the background of consumer’s behaviour and social networks is more complex than literature study. The learner aims to find out the factors affecting the behaviour and decision of the consumers due to the flourish of online marketing and retailing.
With the emergence of so many online shopping sites, several people have started shopping there instead of going to the local supermarkets and retail stores. The aim of the study is to find out the impact of online marketing and the various e-commerce websites on the shopping behaviour and purchasing decisions of the consumers and what are the reasons behind it. Appropriate research methods have to be used for investigating the data and collecting it, so as to obtain reliable results. There are two types of main research orientations, which are deductive and inductive (Tingchi Liu et al. 2013, p.225).
In deductive research, the prediction is provided from the existing theories and the predictions are tested on a scale. In an inductive research, the research leans towards hermeneutics and the theories are based on the empirical and data findings of the researcher. In this study, inductive research has been used, so that a descriptive input can be provided to the data findings and analysis. This helps the researcher in understanding the research questions by analysing the answers provided by the consumers regarding online shopping and marketing, and the impact it has on the purchasing decision and behaviour of the consumers, and the findings can be used to build a theory.
To carry out this study and to analyse the prospective information and result, the researcher has chosen a qualitative methodology of research. In a qualitative study, the focus is on the observations of the review and its content, instead of on the numbers. A qualitative study has been described by Zikmund as “Stories, visual portrayals, meaningful characterizations, interpretations, and other expressive descriptions. The purpose of quantitative research is to determine the quantity or extent of some phenomenon in the form of numbers” (Zikmund, 2000).
A qualitativestudy is more adaptable and flexible in comparison to quantitative research. In this method, the researcher can use several methods to observe the response provided by the participants and analyse it. It helps in getting a better insight into the thoughts and feelings of the participants for the context (Niu, 2013, p.1228). The main aim of qualitative research is to generate theory instead of getting a scale of theory verified. This was chosen for this study as the aim is to find out the factors due to which the behaviour and the decision-making process of the consumers are affected. The researcher aims to understand the reason behind the increasing focus on online shopping and decrease in the regular supermarket visits.
Collection of Data
Different sources are available for collection of data for various purposes. The data needs to be collected appropriately so that it is valid for the data and suits the purpose of the research.
1.Primary data – Primary data is collected by researchers for a specific purpose, and usually costs more time and money than secondary data (Chen and Chou, 2012, p.104). In this study, online form filling (Google forms) was used by the learner. The consumers were asked to fill the forms prepared by the learner, for determining their decision making process and buying behaviour, and how it is affected by the emergence of online marketing and e-commerce websites.
2.Secondary data – Secondary data is the data obtained from another medium like internet and journals (Chu and Kim, 2011, p.47). This is cost effective for the researchers and saves time. In this study, the researcher collected secondary data from the review sites and existing studies on consumer behaviour.
The main methods of collecting data in a qualitative research are – projective techniques, collage research, metaphor analysis, focus groups and in-depth interviews (Darley et al. 2010, p.94). In this situation, in-depth interviews have been chosen, so that detailed answers regarding the preferences and behaviour of the consumers can be recorded. A questionnaire was created with the help of Google forms, and various Facebook groups were used to circulate it among the consumers. The questionnaires were also mailed to some consumers. This helped the researchers get information easily without any geographical limitation and due to this; a diverse group of consumers recorded their data. Since the data was obtained from a diverse group of consumers, instead of just a limited group of consumers, understanding the behaviour of the consumer and their decision making process before shopping became easier to understand. The descriptive of research design is appropriate to provide the best data since it has the ability to explore various segments in the research. With the help of descriptive research, a researcher can use surveys and questionnaires that have the capacity to provide fresh data for analysis. The reason for this selection is basically because it includes primary research.
Interview Question Design
The interview questionnaire was designed efficiently with correct format and composition so that the consumers could answer easily (Chen, 2011, p.23). The questionnaire was divided into two parts. The first part had basic questions related to the details of the respondents, which included their age, place, and gender. The second part of the questionnaire included individual depth questions related to their buying patterns and decision-making process. The questionnaire contained various questions related to the buying patterns of the consumers; how often they visit the supermarket, when do they opt for online shopping instead of going to the local market, and the influence of online marketing on their decision.
All the questions were marked compulsory so that the respondents do not leave out any question and answer them all. Several open-ended questions were used in the questionnaire so that the participants do not have to give descriptive answers and could just answer by selecting an option.
Reliability and Validity of Research
Reliability of any data or information refers to the accuracy and dependability of that particular data. It helps in ascertaining whether the right methods were used to gather the data and information from the consumers. The dependability is judged by the questions asked in the online survey (Neuman and Robson, 2012, p.45). The questions asked in the online forms should be bias free so that the responses generated by the consumers are not prejudiced. The questions asked in the survey should be specific and not vague so that the consumers have a clarity regarding the questions they have to answer.
Analysing the validity of the information attained is also important so that the data can be used to derive results and form conclusions. The validity of a data refers to measuring whether the online survey has achieved the desired objective for what it was designed for. For conducting this research, the learner conducted an online survey to ascertain the consumer behaviour and consumer demand. The questionnaire contained a set of questions which the consumers had to answer so that the learner could derive conclusions from those results. To make sure that all the questions are answered by the consumers, the learner made the questions precise and unbiased to ensure that the consumers were not influenced by anything while answering the survey questions. The consumers were not forced to answer the questions and it was voluntary on their part. This made the consumer's obligation free to answer the questions of the online survey.
Limitations of the Study
As there was a limitation of personal theoretical ability and knowledge, sources, region and time; the research and its analysis have some deficiencies. The major limitation is the number of samples and time (Solomon et al. 2012). Since the time provided for the research was limited, the response from a limited number of people could be taken for the purpose of the research, which does not give a clear insight into the behaviour of the consumers and their process of decision making. Furthermore, there was a similarity in the background of various respondents, due to which, the behaviour of another group of consumers could not be determined and the conclusion was not effective.
Solomon, M., Russell-Bennett, R. and Previte, J., 2012. Consumer behaviour. Pearson Higher Education AU.
Zikmund, W. (2000). Business research methods. 1st ed. Fort Worth, Tex: Dryden Press.
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