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 in the past 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 of social media on consumer purchasing decisions has increased.

Social media and online communities make is 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, organizations can market their products and reach a large number of audiences. Nowadays, consumers seek information directly on social media about different 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 recognize new products and consumer needs while interacting with others using social media (Evans, 2008).

On social media people express their recommendations, opinions, and reviews about different things including products. Nowadays, consumers have access to all these different sources of information and recommendation, influencing their purchase decisions (Senecal & Nantel, 2004).

It is one of the key 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).

The consumer is 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. Compared to traditional marketing, social media marketing is an indirect way of selling much more creative and interactive. It makes the customers feel much more connected to the brand, the products and generally the service (Anderson, 2016).

Given this 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 industrial 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.

This study will be highly useful for the 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

Introduction

Research methodology can be defined in terms of methods employed to collect data, analyze data, and interpret results to get research finding (Bryman & Bell, 2011).

There are different research methods which can be used to perform a study. An 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 an overall strategy of the study. A well-developed research will help the researcher describe an analysis method and effectively describe the collected data (De Vaus, 2001; Trochim, 2006).

Research Design

Research design in the structure or framework guides data collection and analysis based on the focus of a research. This present research aimed to identify the Impact of the Influence of Social Media on consumer purchasing decisions; therefore, the research design selected to conduct this study was causal.

The causal research design enables researcher to statistically analyze the causal relationship of predicting variable(s) on dependent variable(s).

There are two main research methods which can be used to solve or answer a research problem or question and to collect data to obtain information: quantitative and qualitative research (Ghauri & Grønhaug 2005, 109).

Quantitative research involves collection and analysis of data which is in statistical form, such as numbers. The importance of quantitative research method is that the results are statistically tested (such as hypothesis testing) and it prevents researchers from using their judgement to interpret the results.

Moreover quantitative research enables data collection quickly from a large number of respondents, for example a closed ended questionnaire.

Besides, quantitative research can be evaluated in terms of, validity, reliability and generalizability. Whereas qualitative research involves collecting and analyzing data in non-statistical form, such as opinion and text.

The importance of qualitative research method is that the results do not require support of statistical testing and it allows researchers from obtaining in-depth perceptions and views of respondents regarding something.

Besides, there are two main research approaches: inductive and deductive. The inductive research is a research approach which enables researchers to analyze data to develop new theories.

However deductive research is a research approach which enables researchers to analyze data to test an existing theory. The inductive research approach moves from generalized observation to specific conclusion, while the deductive research approach moves from specific observation to generalized conclusion.

In this study deductive research approach was used because the present study involved testing of existing theory and hypotheses, moving from specific observation to generalized conclusion. (Bryman & Bell, 2011)

The first part will present the considered research strategies and approaches that were taken for the research. In a second part the research methods will be examined showing the actual methods 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 completely based on primary and secondary research. A research is primary when it involves collecting data from its origin, for instance from a sample of target population via primary data collection tools like questionnaire 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 analyzed to identify if social media has a statistically significant impact on consumer purchasing decisions. However the secondary research was used so that past literature related with the research can be best collected and reviewed.

The primary research utilizes the quantitative research method to collect and statically analyze 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 quantitative research method (survey questionnaire) will be used to collect quantitative data, which 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 the industrial countries.

However, secondary research based on qualitative research will be used to 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 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 researcher have limited resources. Besides, it help researcher in identifying what research is done in the past and what is still undiscovered, this helps find the gap in the existing literature.

Several research methods can be used to collect data when doing primary research: surveys, case study, experiments, grounded theory, ethnography, archival research and grounded theory (Saunders et al., 2007, p. 135).

For this dissertation, the author used the survey as an appropriate research method to answer the research questions. 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 survey method are that the respondents can fill them without even 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 then they can get in trouble for expressing negative views.

The target population of this study 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.

The 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 therefore 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.

Online questionnaire is very convenient for participations 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 online survey is that it can be responded by multiple times by an individual and can be created artificially.

The author developed a questionnaire with close ended questions based on 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 find; 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 approaching the internet.

Moreover, online journal websites like Emerald and JStore will be used for searching past research article. 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.

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Data collection

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 main acquaintances of the researcher. Participation was voluntary and the questions were designed in English.

Data analysis

Before conducting the primary research, a small scale pilot study was conducted based on 10 respondents (10% of the research sample) to test if the questionnaire is reliable and valid. The respondents can understand the questions correctly. While writing this dissertation proposal, the researcher consulted with a supervisor to get 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 reliability of the questionnaire was tested based on Cronbach’s Alpha value, where the questionnaire was considered reliable if the Cronbach’s Alpha value will be more than 0.7.

The researcher designed the questionnaire based survey using “SurveyMonkey” web application and used it to analyse the survey data.

The web link to the survey on the “SurveyMonkey” was distributed using “The Web Link Collector” as 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.

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. Beside while drafting this study it will be ensured that the plagiarism is completed avoided. It will be achieved by properly paraphrasing the reviewed text and using proper in-text citations and references to give credit to the original author. (Collis & Hussey, 2009)

The selected topic of research is not a sensitive subject and so the participants will be ensure that they would not face any problem by participating in the research.

Moreover there would not be any offensive comment about any company or organisation and no name will be used. In this regards it will be ensured that the identities and details of the participants are kept anonymous, and the data will be destroyed after completion of the research work.

Limitation of Research

The limitation of using questionnaire is that the respondents may just tick randomly the answer choices of the close ended questions without even reading and hence the answers would not be true.

However, the strength of using 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. Besides, the limited budget and time prevented the researcher from accessing companies to include respondents from companies in the research sample.

Gantt Chart

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.

gantt chart

References

Bryman, A., & Bell, E. (2011). Business Research Methods 3e. Oxford University Press.