Sample Undergraduate Management Dissertation Proposal
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Assess the Impact of the Influence of Social Media on Consumer Purchasing Decisions in Industrial Countries: A Detailed Study
Introduction (Rationale & Background)
The choices and actions of a consumer that leads to purchasing a product are known as consumer purchasing decisions. Various studies have been conducted to identify the factors that can influence consumers’ purchasing decisions (Khatib, 2016). It has been observed that with the increasing usage of social media networks, the influence o,f social media on consumer purchasing decisions has increased. Social media and online communities make it easy for people to share and access information (Chen et al., 2011a). Nowadays, individuals use social media to interact and connect with people worldwide (Anderson, 2016).
The most popular social media websites such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube has provided a place where people can interact and share information (Anderson, 2016). Through social media, organisations can market their products and reach a large number of audiences. Nowadays, consumers seek information directly on social media about fernet products to compare their prices and features and identify the best bargains.
In addition to identifying the best prices and features of a known product, they also recognise new products and consumer needs while interacting with others using social media (Evans, 2008). People express their recommendations, opinions, and reviews about different things on social media, including products. Nowadays, consumers have access to all these other sources of information and recommendation, influencing their purchase decisions (Senecal & Nantel, 2004).
It is one of the critical factors in marketing as customers get more and more involved through social media (Do-Hyunget al. 2007), and this networking leads to a positive impact on trust (Wu et al. 2010). Consumers are likely to be influenced by the recommendConsumersse they trust, know and believe, such as friends, peers, family, and celebrities (Mersey, Malthouse, & Calder, 2010). Today, social media has an increased effect on consumers when purchasing products online.
It leads to companies developing newer marketing strategies such as social media marketing. Social media marketing is an indirect way of selling much more creatively and interactive than traditional marketing. It makes the customers feel much more connected to the brand, products, and service (Anderson, 2016).
Thus, the present research focuses on investigating the role of social media and other factors on the consumer purchasing decisions within the cosmetics and fashion industry in dual countries. It examines how social media can influence the consumer’s intention to buy and identify the impact of social media celebrities on buying cosmetics and fashion products. The study will benefit marketers and organisations in industrial countries as it would enable them to know which factors are more important in influencing consumers’ purchasing decisions.
Methodology / Research Design
Research methodology can be defined as methods employed to collect data, analyse data, and interpret results to get research findings (Bryman & Bell, 2011). Different research methods can be used to perform a study. Appropriate research is dependent on a good structure and a guiding framework known as research design. It helps to identify the main focus of your research and the overall strategy of the study. Well-developed research will help the researcher describe an analysis method and effectively describe the collected data (De Vaus, 2001; Trochim, 2006).
Research design in the structure or framework guides data collection and analysis based on the focus of research. As the purpose of this present research was to identify the impact of Social Media on consumer purchasing decisions; therefore, the research design selected to conduct this study was causal. The causal research design enables the researcher to statistically analyse the causal relationship of predicting variable(s) on the dependent variable(s).
Two main research methods can be used to solve or answer a research problem or question and collect data to obtain information: quantitative and qualitative research (Ghauri & Grønhaug 2005, 109).
Quantitative research involves the collection and analysis of data which is in statistical forms, such as numbers. The quantitative research method’s importance is that the results are statistically tested (such as hypothesis testing), and it prevents researchers from using their judgment to interpret the results.
Moreover, quantitative research enables data collection quickly from many respondents, for example, a closed-ended questionnaire. Besides, quantitative research can be evaluated in terms of validity, reliability, and generalizability. As per Groth-Marnat (2009, p. 9), “The basic approach of construct validity is to assess the extent to which the test measures a theoretical construct or trait. “However, reliability is the extent to which a research tool can measure results with the same accuracy and consistency (Bryman & Bell, 2011).
While as per Schneiders (2011, p. 28), “Generalizability means that the findings of a research study are extendable and applicable to other situations and settings.” The validity, reliability, and generalisation of results are highly useful in quantitative research to maintain the comparability, soundness, consistency, and predictability of research and findings.
The qualitative research method’s importance is that the results do not require the support of statistical testing, and it allows researchers to obtain in-depth perceptions and views of respondents regarding something.
Besides, there are two main research approaches: inductive and deductive. Inductive research is a research approach that enables researchers to analyse data to develop new theories. However, deductive research is a research approach that allows researchers to analyse data to test an existing theory.
The inductive research approach moves from generalised observation to a specific conclusion, while the deductive research approach moves from specific observation to a generalised conclusion. In this study, a reasoned research approach was used because the present study involved testing of existing theory and hypotheses, moving from particular observation to generalised conclusion. (Bryman & Bell, 2011)
The first part will present the considered research strategies and approaches that were taken for the research. The second part will examine the research methods, showing the actual techniques used to gather the data. Furthermore, the researcher will examine the data collection and will discuss the secondary information sources. Related to sampling methods (pilot study), the author included techniques applied to sampling methods (pilot study).
Primary and Secondary Sources
This research is entirely based on primary and secondary research. Research is primary when it involves collecting data from its origin, for instance, from a sample of the target population via primary data collection tools like questionnaires or interviews. However, research is secondary when it involves data collection from secondary sources, such as books and research articles.
The primary research was used to collect quantitative data, which would be statically analysed to identify if social media has a statistically significant impact on consumer purchasing decisions. However, secondary research was used so that past literature related to the research could be best collected and reviewed.
The primary research utilises the quantitative research method to collect and statically analyse quantitative data to identify if social media has a statistically significant impact on consumer purchasing decisions. The secondary research will involve qualitative research as it will focus more on qualitative research as most of the literature can be best analysed using qualitative research.
The primary research based on the quantitative research method (survey questionnaire) will collect quantitative data. It will be analysed (See 5.1 Analysis) to identify the factors, including social media influence and their respective impacts on the consumer purchasing decisions in industrial countries. However, secondary research based on qualitative research will collect and review the past theoretical and empirical literature related to the research topic.
The benefits of using primary research are that when the required information is not readily available, such information can be obtained by conducting primary research. In the primary research, the reliability of the data can be statistically tested by the researcher. However, secondary research is less expensive to employ, and therefore it is beneficial to use when researchers have limited resources. Besides, it helps the researcher identify what research was done in the past and what is still undiscovered. This helps in finding out the gap in the existing literature.
Several research methods can be used to collect data when doing primary research: surveys, case studies, experiments, grounded theory, ethnography, archival research, and grounded theory (Saunders et al., 2007, p. 135). The author used the survey as an appropriate research method to answer the research questions for this dissertation’s purpose. A survey gives the possibility to obtain a great amount of data about a person questioned at one time (Du Plessis & Rousseau, 2008).
However, the negative points about using the survey method are that the respondents can fill them without thinking. It would not be possible to identify if the respondents genuinely answered and expressed their views rather than just completing the questionnaire. It is also possible that the participants may not like to select a negative option in fear that if their answers are revealed, they can get in trouble for expressing negative views.
This study’s target population is the total number of social media users from industrial countries over 18 years of age. However, it is not possible to include the whole population in this study; therefore, a representative sample of 100 users of Facebook from industrial countries over 18 years of age was selected using convenience sampling. Convenience sampling was used in this study because it permitted the researcher to select the easily available respondents (Bryman & Bell, 2011).
For quantitative research, a sample of greater than 30 respondents is considered appropriate. Therefore a sample of 100 is the sample size for this study(Sekaran & Bougie, 2016). The researcher has many Facebook friends from industrial countries. It was easier to assess and get questionnaires filled from 100 users of Facebook from industrial countries over 18 years of age. The Facebook friends were requested to fill the online questionnaire and were informed about this research’s intended purpose and participation.
The online questionnaire is very convenient for participants to respond to. It can easily be created without incurring any extra cost. The online questionnaire can be created on social media pages like Facebook, and Twitter and its link can be easily shared with friends and group members on social media. However, the disadvantage of using an online survey is that it can be responded to multiple times by an individual and can be created artificially.
The author developed a questionnaire with closed-ended questions based on a Likert-type scale to collect quantitative data from the proposed research sample. The questionnaire was shared online with friends on Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat to collect quantitative data.
The past theoretical and empirical literature will be collected from various secondary data sources, including; academic journal articles, textbooks, market/industry reports, news articles, and websites. This form of data collection is called triangulation and helps to improve data reliability and validity and supports. The more supporting articles can be found, the more evidence can be given to support the theory. Ghauri and Gronhaug (2001) have identified triangulation as collecting data via “different methods.” The Google search engine will be used for searching relevant information on the internet.
Moreover, online journal websites like Emerald and store will be used for searching past research articles. The benefit of using the past research article is that it enables the researcher to identify what had been studied in the past. It becomes easier to identify the gap in the present literature.
To understand the consumer attitude towards social media influence when buying fashion or beauty products, the author developed an online questionnaire and invited participation via a link shared on Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat. The target individuals were social media users over 18 years old.
The 100 participants ranged from 18-30 years old, 31-45 years old to above 45 years old, of which 66% are male, and 34% are female. The research attracted mostly residents in the UK and Germany and some people from Australia as these are the researcher’s main acquaintances. Participation was voluntary, and the questions were designed in English.
Before conducting the primary research, a small-scale pilot study was conducted based on 10 respondents (10% of the research sample) to test whether the questionnaire was reliable and valid to correctly understand the questions. While writing this dissertation proposal, the researcher consulted with a supervisor to get the approval of the questions.
The pilot was conducted through questionnaires in paper form at the New College Durham. The 10 respondents were selected randomly from the selected research sample (Field, 2013). The questionnaire’s reliability was tested based on Cronbach’s Alpha value, where the questionnaire was considered reliable if the Cronbach’s Alpha value was more than 0.7.
The researcher designed the questionnaire-based survey using the “SurveyMonkey” web application to analyse the survey data. The weblink to the survey on the “SurveyMonkey” was distributed using “The Web Link Collector”. It is the fastest and most versatile way to distribute the survey and collect responses.
The short survey link generated by the “SurveyMonkey” was posted on Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat. After collecting the responses, it was possible to see a summary view of the data. Using filters, it was possible to browse individual responses and focus on specific data views and segments. Besides, the rules were used to; filter, compare and show results to see trends and patterns in the data. SurveyMonkey is a good tool for data collection because it provides data security and enables researchers to develop a responsible data source.
As per Lehman & DuFrene (2010, p. 346), “SurveyMonkey.com is an online survey tool that enables people of all experience levels to create their surveys quickly and easily.” It is also a good source because the developed questionnaire’s link can be shared easily on social media such as Facebook and Twitter. Besides, it is free, and so a questionnaire based on a variety of questions can be developed easily.
Ethical Considerations and Contingency Plan
First of all, formal approval and informed consent will be obtained from the study respondents regarding their participation and the use of the information they will provide. It will be ensured that their personal information will remain confidential. Besides, while drafting this study, it will be ensured that plagiarism is completed avoided. It will be achieved by properly paraphrasing the reviewed text and using proper in-text citations and references to give the original author credit. (Collis & Hussey, 2009)
The selected research topic is not a sensitive subject, so the participants will ensure that they would not face any problem by participating in the research. Moreover, there would not be any offensive comments about any company or organisation, and no name will be used. In this regard, it will be ensured that the participants’ identities and details are kept anonymous, and the data will be destroyed after the completion of the research work.
Limitation of Research
The limitation of using a questionnaire is that the respondents may tick the answer choices of the close-ended questions randomly without even reading, and hence the answers would not be true.
However, the strength of using a close-ended questionnaire is that it would enable data collection from a large sample of 100 respondents in a short period and with limited resources, which is why this method was collected to collect primary data (Cohen, Manion, & Morrison, 2013). As there was limited time available to complete this study, the scale of this study was kept limited, so only 100 participants were included.
The limited budget and time prevented the researcher from accessing companies to include respondents in the research sample.
The intended time duration in which this project report is intended to be completed is three months, starting in January. The Gantt chart helps identify the activities and their respective time duration in which they are likely to be completed, as shown in the following table.
Bryman, A., & Bell, E. (2011). Business Research Methods 3e. Oxford University Press.
Groth-Marnat, G. (2009). Handbook of Psychological Assessment. John Wiley & Sons.
Lehman, C. M., & DuFrene, D. D. (2010). Business Communication. Cengage Learning.
Schneiders, S. (2011). Apple’s Secret Of Success – Traditional Marketing Vs. Cult Marketing. Diploma Verlag.