Organizations are kept focusing on assessing the problems by research to address them properly so that long term planning is done in accordance of any uncertain event and to make strategies for unexpected events. Consumer goods companies keep focusing on market research about consumer response towards the products taste and its value deliverables in accordance to their changing lifestyles.
The consumer goods company that I have chosen for research is Coca Cola Company. Coca Cola was established in the year 1892 as a beverage manufacturing company. Its headquarters are located in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. Now Coca Cola is the world’s largest beverage manufacturing and marketing company of non-alcoholic beverages. The product that enabled the company to lead in the market is its non-alcoholic beverage branded as ‘Coca Cola’. Company is also serving internationally in more than 200 countries and is offering beverage variety of more than 3000 products for its customers (Coca-Cola Company, 2009).
Company has franchise system all over the world that helps it target a large market share and compete with other market players in the same industry. Finished products in the form of cans and pet bottles are distributed to different retailers and restaurants either directly by bottlers or in coordination with bottlers’ distributor. Company is offering both carbonated and non-carbonated product brands that include soft-drinks, juices, and mineral waters globally. Main brands of Coca Cola that are available in different worldwide markets include its leading brand Coca Cola, Aquana, Aquarius, Andina, Fanta, Sprite, Fresca, Fruitopia, Diet Coke, Cherry Coke, Fress, Coca-Cola Zero, Coca-Cola Orange, Vanilla Coke, Minute Maid juices, Gladiator energy drink and many others (Coca-Cola Company, 2009). Company is trying to target young generation and families which are more liberal and flexible about the lifestyle and fashion, shows positive attitude, like to go-on outside events, and enjoy friendly gatherings and try to add value through fun in their lives. This population is being target on the basis of their demographic characteristics and lifestyle as company is showing family in recent ads and friends gathering have touch of life happiness and fun in their lives. These individuals are the prime concern of business so that its products can be a part of every event where life’s happiness and joy is involved.
The company has recently invested $60billion to build plastic bottle recycling plant in order to ensure environment protection safety measures. Two years back company spent $6million to support healthy lifestyle programs (Coca-Cola Company, 2009) and with recent sponsorship of Olympic Events; Company is trying position itself as associated more closely with the one’s life and as being the company that concerns for environment; having ultimate concern for its consumers. This provided opportunity to enhance the market growth as people are becoming societal conscious about the industrial era impact on their health and environment. To go green ensuring benefits for consumers and also profit maximization for business, it is essential to engage in corporate social responsibility programs; highlighting the business role towards the end users.
The company culture is more collaborative providing diverse workforce to show up their talent and knowledge to undergo innovations and set the company apart. However, company has been criticized on environmental and religious background that affected the sale of products and took huge efforts in terms of investment to recover the company position and image. The company image has been distorted due to its discrimination that forced the company to change its business practices and in some cases sanctions were imposed by the court of law. However, through various ups and downs, business downturn and shocks; company has managed its position as the world’s leading beverage company.
Business image and profitability is dependant on the products sales that enhance the capacity of business to expand globally. Apart from trade push, environmental concern approaches stables and strengthens the responses of people and alters their beliefs followed by attitudes towards the products and company. Main issue that arises in this case is what forces are involved when even after focusing on and offering societal benefits and social responsiveness involvement of company harms the reputation of business.
I think company should assess the consumer environment and try to focus on findings that how consumers perceives the image of product and why their attitude towards coca cola company products changes over a period of time therefore consumers have been asked about their attitude formation factors in questionnaire question no. 3 & 5. Either some external pressure by competitors alters their views or they keep evaluating the brand independently gradually. This signifies the views formation of people that sometimes lead to criticism towards company affecting the sales and sometimes lead to sanctions by court. If company can find out the reason then it can amend its campaign and marketing programs that will focus on convincing and building a strong belief change threshold from coca cola products to other competitor’s brands address to consumers. Although this research co versifies the concept of brand relation and loyalty; emphasizes on short-term consumer response formation.
The question that company needs to address is to find out that either its competitors strategy to criticize company by highlighting business flaws through the channel of company’s respective customers or customers themselves independently assess the position of the company and make their responses towards the company brands; therefore question no.6 & 7 assess whether due consumer responses have been changed or not due to such strategies. In demographic question it is try to figure out whether the response is more in high income level group or low income level group; and which gender is more reactive towards these programs. The outcomes that would be concluded through the research; suggesting the behavior change forces in the business market that are directed towards the consumers and determining the extent to which associated consumers of Coca Cola will show resistance to such strategies before that brings a belief change in them in conjunction with attitude change measures.
Research deign is of main emphasis how research is carried out. This clearly defines the purpose of research and depends on the nature of research. Therefore, it is essential to properly configure the design that suits best to conduct the research. Research designs define the purpose of research; each one has its advantages and disadvantages and is of following types.
Exploratory research helps to gather information about the problem and to formulate a hypothesis. This research design provides insight about the situation and would require to gathers information through secondary sources that has some relevancy to the related situation (Creswell, 2003).
Descriptive research describes the problem and is used to define the causes and effects independently. This research design is used when research wants the information and description of data in order to ensure the understanding about how, when and why situation arise but the purpose of cause and effect is not defines in this type of research design (Creswell, 2003).
This type of research is used to test the relationship between the cause and effect. For the effectiveness of research it is necessary to control other factors that are the causes of same effect (Creswell, 2003). It is used by business researchers to test the market scenarios and situation that what may occur if a particular stimulus related to product is changed. Therefore, this research forms the basis of factors that are bringing any change in the object.
In this type of research the result is monitored by experiments on the object. Situation is manipulated to assess the overall change in the stimulus and consumer response towards it (Creswell, 2003). Marketers may use to determine how a person will respond if a particular scenario will be created.
The research design that I prefer for my research is ‘causal research’ as I would be testing the impact of competitors strategy focus on degrading the corporate image of Coca Cola Company (cause) and the changes that it brought in the perception, attitude and behavior of consumers towards the Coca Cola Company and its products (effect). The main reason to prefer is that relationship between these two variables can be tested that either the above stated will cause the above highlighted effect or any other factor affects the consumer behavior. Other forms of research excluding experimental research can not highlight the study impact; whereas in experimental research cause can not be effectively manipulated and the consumer response will not be rationale as he would knew that his behavior is being tested that brings some psychological changes and cause errors in research. Causal research will address the issue in large context and can define the extent by which the specific cause will bring the change in the consumer (Johnson & Christensen, 2007). Exploratory research design is not relevant because the problem can not be figure out through the other secondary sources and it would not suggest ways to how to resolve it. Descriptive research is effective only to the extent of explaining the situation and the impact that a particular stimuli has on the company image; whereas causal research suggest the relations between variable as either true or false by which company may alter its marketing campaign, operational process and service offerings to address and minimize the intensity of effect.
There are multiple methods of conducting research each one has its own method of data collection that differs for nature and type of research design. Exploratory research methods include literature search, experience survey, focus group, and case analysis. Whereas in case of descriptive research case studies, observational research and survey methods are done to conduct the research. Exploratory research methods are useful to find out the pre-requisite of problems but it does not involve the proper defining of current state of problem due to present reasons (Emory & Cooper, 1991). Descriptive research gives advantage to configure reasons and provide detail description of situation (Emory & Cooper, 1991). The biggest flaws in descriptive research methods are that it requires time and huge cost to properly conduct the research; and also the changes in the consumer responses due to inapt situation and biased behavior of researcher may affect the outcomes.
Observational research method gives the research the first hand information about the response generated by the consumer. Researcher can note down the all relevant information that appears relevant to the situation at the time of observation; due to its external approach researcher can not assess the behavior that cause the particular response. Therefore survey methods give legitimacy to the respondent to share their responses and highlight the reasons which propel them to lead to that response (Fowler, 2002). People do not try to disclose all information about them therefore they may share only limited information and can give negative response to hide their bad habits. Since all, due to relevancy with research I would go for survey method as I am focusing on the causes that are external to human nature, therefore the extent of personal differential response will be very less of respondents, and the result would be more relevant. As the respondents are involve in giving responses through their frame of referencing and easily highlight the internal feeling as the surveys are mostly anonymous; which otherwise in case of observation would tend to formalize the respondents’ response (Fowler, 2002). Observations in some contexts also raise some ethical issues on behalf of respondent as it is not consider good to monitor someone’s action. Therefore, in my views survey is most appropriate for my research that collects quantitative as well as may collect qualitative data.
Data Collection Technique
Data collection technique is dependant on the form of research methods. Once the form of research method is finalized, instruments to collect data can be shape to gather the data (consumer response in given scenario). It can be focus group discussion in which researcher may participate as an active participant, audit, and content/trace analysis (Johnson & Christensen, 2007). But for my survey research method; telephonic interviews, personal interviews, computer assisted interviews, or electronic survey technique can be used.
Telephonic interview gives edge to gather respondents response through place of convenience for researcher as he would be require to have phone facility. The biggest disadvantage in this technique is to determine which time is most suitable to call respondent and it also involves high cost to the researcher; whereas other forms of interviews given above are more appropriate for my research due to its cost effectiveness in which online poll, electronic questionnaire (send to respondents via e-mail or website link) and distribution of questionnaires to correspondents (shopkeepers) to distribute and get filled at time when customer of Coca Cola company purchases the product that also eradicates the interviewer bias problem. This technique allows researcher to reach wide population and gather extensive data by which chances of error are minimized. It also gives advantage to respondent to fill the questionnaire upon their discretion and places where interview is conducted, queries related to question can be resolved by the interviewer.
There are two types of sampling methods that are probabilistic and non- probabilistic. When every respondent of population gets equal chance of being selected in the sample is known as probabilistic sampling and if not is non- probabilistic sampling.
One of the sampling techniques of probabilistic sampling is Simple random sampling that could be systematic or non-systematic. The other technique is stratified sampling in which population is divided into different strata; from each stratum later on samples are drawn on random. Each stratum is homogenous in nature where each element is a true represent of same population. The third probabilistic technique is cluster technique that is done by dividing the population into internally heterogeneous classes from which sample are drawn on random (Johnson & Christensen, 2007). The main disadvantages of this population technique is that it cost much when whole population is involved in the research; but the data generated then is true representation of the population characteristics.
There are four major types of non-probabilistic sampling that are Convenience sampling, judgmental sampling, quota and snowball sampling. In convenience sampling researcher selects the respondents based on his convenience (Johnson & Christensen, 2007). This allows flexibility to select the ones who are in easy approach to researcher. In judgmental sampling, researcher decides himself who can be a part of research sample which also result in selecting the wrong elements. Quota sampling focuses on selecting a specific percentage or number of respondents to be apart of sample (Johnson & Christensen, 2007). Snowball is used when researcher is unaware of exact respondents of population; selecting few respondents and then information about other respondents is acquired by them.
For my research, convenience non-probabilistic sampling technique is more useful as majority of population consumes the beverages. Therefore researcher upon his convenience can select the respondents and it would require much effort to reach customers as the methods to reach respondents describe above suits the sampling technique selected.
Coca Cola Company has been criticized and affected by the strategies of its competitors many times; because consumer’s response towards the products and service offering vary due to many hidden factors. These factors could be personal, internal, company’s capitalist policies or due to third party that is competitor. Company can motivate the consumer through service offering; can change its policies if consumers threaten the business image or boycott the Coca Cola’s products; whereas in considering the other external party factor on amending consumer’s response towards the Coca Cola Company and its product would require extensive productive strategies to flourish in the market. The questionnaire pilot testing on 10 Coca Cola products consumer showed its ease and understandability by the respondents as only seven questions have been asked that does not consume much time and takes few minutes to fill the questionnaire. By my research company can figure out why consumers are attracted towards other market players’ strategies even when company was offering them more value and benefits in terms of service and product offerings.
Coca-Cola Company. (2009). Behind the Brand. The Coca Cola Company. Web.
Creswell, John W. (2003). Research design: qualitative, quantitative, and mixed method approaches. Edition 2. Published by Sage Publications
Emory, William. Cooper, Donald R. (1991). Business research methods. Edition 4. Published by Irwin.
Fowler, Floyd J. (2002). Survey research methods. Edition 3 revised. Published by Sage Publications
Johnson, Burke. Christensen, Larry B. (2007). Educational research: quantitative, qualitative, and mixed approaches. Edition 3. Published by Sage Publications
- Less than $10000
- More than $30000
When evaluating a brand, what factors do you consider? (Check all that apply):
- Product quality
- Product offerings
- Company image
- Competitor’s promotion
- Other influential person’s views
To what extent do you think Coca Cola Company is focusing on social responsive programs and society?
What reasons derive you to make above selection?
- Competitors reviews about the company
- Informative leader views
- Surrogate buyers responses
- Evaluate the performance myself
Do you think that competitors try to harm the Coca Cola Company and its products image?
- Don’t know
Have your views about the Coca Cola Company been modified since after the responses by other competitors of same industry?
- Don’t know