The implementation of market research will focus primarily on qualitative methods which will be used to assess the consumer’s response to Levi’s problem in the market. The research will be facilitated through the use of in-depth interviews, observations and focus groups to assess the conception of the assignment. For Levis Strauss to be more successfully qualitative research methods have been suggested and the importance of using market research to solve these problems. And moreover advantages and limitations of these methods will be identified. Levis Strauss therefore needs to reassess and identify the information provided to solve its problem.
Levi’s Strauss is a global recognized clothing company: well known for selling high quality denim jeans, strong brand and its long successful history. However over the last few years Levis hold on the market has been severely challenged by new entrants. Traditional customers have adopted cheaper fashionable clothes. Prices have come under pressure from high street clothing competitors henceforth this in turn has reduced Levi’s sales. According to the article there are seven different factors that influence the decision to standardize or adapt. And these factors are competition, technological, physical/environmental, socio-cultural, and demographic and economics and these are some of the problems faced by this company (Mintel 2009).
PURPOSE AND SCOPE
The main objective is to conduct a qualitative research in order to solve Levi’s marketing problem. “Qualitative research is the gathering of data that is open to interpretation for example people’s opinions, where there is no intention of establishing statistical validity. This is essentially useful for investigating motivation, attitudes, beliefs and intentions rather than utilising probability based samples” (Brassington and Pettit 2000:215).Chisnall states that qualitative research provides unique insights to inspire and guide the development of marketing strategy and tactics (Chisnall 1986:147).
The proposed research will provide methods to offer in depth information which according to Jobber is about investigating the characteristics of a market through in-depth research that explores the background and context for decision making. Qualitative framework that can be used by Levi’s Strauss include focus groups, in-depth interviews and observations (Jobber 1999).
The objective of the study is to conduct a research project to solve Levi’s Strauss identified problems.
LEVIS MARKETING STRATEGY
In order for Levi’s to achieve its company’s goals profitability and sell successfully products a number of key values relating to consumer behaviour are to be looked and dealt with. The company need to also look at producing a variety of new, exciting and products of good quality. Levi’s have ensured that their products are smartly and attentively marketed to the appropriate consumer groups. Levi’s marketing strategy adopted is standardization, adaptation, product diversification and brutal trimming which has helped the company to overcome the six year period of sales loss (Jill & Johnson 2000).
Market research is a process by which businesses finds out about customers wants needs and desires (Jobber 1999). Marketing Research Association defines “market research as the process of collecting and analysing of information in order to solve a problem. The information is then used for identifying marketing opportunities, actions to be taken, monitor and improve the understanding of marketing process” (American Marketing Association 2000).
For manufacturers to meet customer needs, to understand how consumers view their product and services they need market research as it provides, analyzes and interprets the information. The aim is to satisfy the customers in order to get or maintain the consumers business (Jobber & Simpson 1988).
IMPORTANCE OF STUDYING MARKET RESEARCH
Market research allows business to identify markets gaps that were unfulfilled or poorly fulfilled demand for a product or service and hence this will allow a company to specifically develop strategies and tactics to exploit that gap. It is important for assuring that the segment subsists, that they are variable and for building what they want and how to accomplish them. Market research is important to organisations for understanding the marketing environment better and to also make better informed decisions about marketing strategies (McGiven 2009).
Market research provides different information to marketing managers about competitive products, the market and perceptions of their products, etc. Also it provides information about customer satisfaction, sales volumes, customer demographics, distribution channels, sales of competitive products and advertising effectiveness. Market research provides the basis for dealing with the competition (Adams 2006).
Market research is critical to the success of new products and will continue to be of great help in organisations as it helps firms to plan ahead rather than to guess ahead.According to Chadwick organisations that have used market research in the past and seen it as important are the ones who have survived and become successful (Chadwick 1998).
Focus groups are popular qualitative form of marketing research which is used as a research technique for gathering market research data. These are conducted with a group of people and its questions are unstructured. Focus group method is used as this will gather and explore perception, thoughts and opinions and feelings about Levi’s. With focus group methods there is a possibility of obtaining deeper results concerning subject of interest. (Saunders 2009).
With the use of focus groups you will get honest answers which will be provided by respondents being interviewed. It takes much less time to generate output from focus groups (Bianco 1997). This might be that respondents tend to understand and answer quickly when discussion raised is not known to them. Levis Straus will find focus group useful for staying close to consumers and their ever changing attitudes and feelings (Zikmund 2003).
Their drawbacks are that it can be costly and difficult to control (see appendix 1).
“This is the collection of data directly from individuals. People can either be interviewed individually or in a group and this can be direct or face to face personal interview. People can be interviewed in different places such as arranged places, office and in their own home” Brassington& Pettit 2000:229. These are usually extensive and unstructured. During the interview process the researcher looks for in-depth answers as the name suggests (Kvale 2009). The area of discussion is in depth so are answers being given: therefore questions will be answered deeply and freely resulting in obtaining the required facts. Moreover the in-depth interview is recorded not written down on a questionnaire.
Respondents targeted are carefully chosen. They are usually chosen using the segmentation process that includes their age, income, social class, gender and whether they are regular buyers of that particular product. The main element of depth interviewing is to be able to listen as this encourages the respondent to open up and build a trustworthy relationship (Hague 2002:278). (See appendix 2).
The third of the qualitative research tool is observations. This is whereby a trained observation person observes different types of individuals or groups. Those individuals can either be children, members of the public, high or lower class figures, potential customers to mention the few. The purpose of this observation by a trained staff is to understand some aspects of selected individual’s behaviour so as to see the problem that has been identified by market research plan. Another form of observational research is a mystery shopper. This allows a researcher to go through the same experience as a normal customer. As far as the staffs are concerned they are dealing with a normal customer. The shopper is trained to ask questions and measure performance on certain things as service, handling and question answering. Saunders states that in observations actions speak louder than words (Saunders 2009).
Another form of qualitative observation method to be used will be accompanied shopping. This is whereby an interviewer observes the shoppers, ask them such question on their attitudes and opinions then records everything henceforth helps the researcher to match ones opinion to behaviours.
This type of research can be costly because of its training and supervision needs of observers which are of great importance and since it’s more subjective the likelihood of misinterpretation is higher. Observations are more reliable because they predict behaviour than verbal assertions or intentions (see appendix 3).
LIMITATIONS OF PROPOSED METHODS
Selected methods have limitations. In interviews, ethic problems might arise due to the fact that some candidates might think that questioning is too deep for them and moreover there is also need for mutual trust on interviews. Focus groups can be difficult to control and where the subject is highly sensitive people might not open up. Observations are difficult to analyse and also difficult to organise. Therefore it can be said that chosen methods of Levis Strauss might cause some difficulties in obtaining the required results. And according to Jobber induced bias can be difficult to detect and prevent by researchers. Henceforth there are boundaries on approaches of comprehensive data gathering of in-depth interviews (Jobber 2000).
Therefore it can be said for Levi’s Strauss to be successful and overcome their problem qualitative research had to be used. Qualitative research method is used so as to acquire greater results. Based on the information provided market research is seen as the back bone of the Levi’s Strauss. For Levis in order to satisfy the need and wants of its customers they need to know, understand and respond to their customers.
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ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES OF FOCUS GROUPS
Ø They explain questions clearly
Ø Good for resolving differences of opinion between respondents
Ø Respondents feel safety in groups
Ø It is an excellent medium for showing things like products or adverts
Ø Are difficult to control
Ø They are subject to bias from dominating respondents
Ø It can be difficult to organise
Ø Lots of skill work is needed to organise groups
Ø Respondents may feel unpleasant when subject is highly sensitive
Ø Some views can be lost
Ø Can be costly
Source: Brassington& Pettit 2000
ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES OF IN-DEPTH INTERVIEWS
Ø Less standardised and more flexible
Ø Use open ended
Ø Good for following difficult issues definite to a respondent
Ø An independent view is obtained on a situation
Ø There is no peer group pressure that
Ø creates bias
Ø Can accommodate widely scattered respondents
Ø Allows the interviewer to see the surrounding home or office of the respondent
Ø They may be interruptions if in their own home
Ø No brainstorming and therefore less creativity in responses
Ø May be more expensive and time consuming
Ø Takes longer to set up and organise
Ø Difficult for transporting products
Source: Brassington& Pettit 2000
ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES OF OBSERVATIONS
Ø Strong balance to other research techniques such as watching the body language in interviewing
Ø Can provide an object picture as there is no bias from the use of respondents words or interviewer intervention
Ø Are inexpensive if cameras are used to carry out the observation
Ø Not good at answering the why question
Ø Can only be used when people do things
Ø Difficult to analyse
Ø Difficult to organise as many actions are in private and over a long period.
Source: Brassington& Pettit 2000