Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Article Type: Editorial From: Qualitative Market Research: An International Journal, Volume 11, Issue 3
As expected of a journal of international standing Qualitative Market Research: An International Journal (QMRIJ ) benefits from conceptual and methodological contributions from many parts of the world. This issue is an example of international contributions from Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, the UK and the USA. The first three papers share a theme of researches in the online environment. The fourth and fifth papers, respectively, deal with how people project themselves to appear better in the eyes of others whether in their material possessions or in the display of their knowledge about wines. The sixth paper differs from the others as it is not about market research, but about how the use of a research technique, that of covert observation, much used in qualitative market research, is shown to be applied in studying management issues in organisations.
The first paper by Thorsten Gruber, Isabelle Szmigin, Alexander Reppel and Roediger Voss describe the developmental processes in creating an online procedure for listeners to music using the iPod. It demonstrates the online method of selecting respondents for interviews. From an initial sample total of 2,472, they reduced this to 22 online-laddering interviews. Respondents were deemed to be opinion leaders as the qualifications for this seemed to be an interest in music and the ownership of an iPod. This paper is good reading for anyone contemplating online research about innovators and early adopters of the product life cycle. The paper’s main contribution is its methodology in selecting the samples and the reported intensive application of the laddering technique.
In researching why consumers purchase mass-customized products, Seiji Endo and Doris Kincade ifocus on the re-emergence of online purchasing in the shoe business. They evaluate three classifications of online buying and show how through the economies of this mode of purchase the concept of mass customization can be a reality. They look at the enhancement of the traditional customer-retailer and customer-producer relationships. In this analysis of the processes leading to the situation during and after the customer purchase, they show how online facilities can exceed those from the high-street store. It is an example of the application of communications facilities for a chosen group of products with the benefits of choices made available through such online processes.
In examining the regulation of online advertising with the benefit of qualitative insights, Debra Harker in the third paper concentrates on the Australian environment. The paper does not look at the European Union or the elements of internationalisation with regard to the ubiquitous nature of advertising online. What the paper does is to describe the commercial importance of internet advertising in relation to its cost economies and its ability to penetrate actual and potential markets by verbal and pictorial expositions. Much advertising is unsought by recipients and varies in quality across the spectrum of ethical values. However, control is not feasible in what the author describes as a “messy” area because of international variations in the views of what should be controlled and the efficacy of such controls. A total of 21 interviews were conducted with representatives of relevant moderating organisations. However, beyond voluntary control any effective mandatory system appears distant in the future.
The fourth paper by Kara Chan studies the social comparisons of material possessions and takes in a sample of 60 students aged between 13 and 16 in Hong Kong to assess the relationship between the possession of personal characteristics and membership of peer groups along with their subjective self-esteem. The investigation is conclusive that downward looking social comparisons are less important and less frequent than those looking upwards. Furthermore, while the presence of media figures such as pop idols is important for many, its influence is not universal. The manifestations of one’s wealth, personality and spending power, as well as being wanted, i.e. fitting in with a peer group, are created in the “visibility of possessions”. So one’s social contacts and aspirations, membership and self-esteem are bound up with the visible elements of possessions.
Simone Pettigrew and Stephen Charters in the fifth paper on projective techniques research the context of the wine industry in Australia. The investigations expose contradictions and certain superficial attitudes towards wines simultaneously by showing personal prejudices of the selected interviewees. Drawn from persons purporting to know about wine including those operating in the industry, the paper shows how the use of projective techniques can supplement interview and focus group techniques and expose the undesired behaviour of mendacity. While the tasting of wine is necessarily subjective and taste varies between people, the projective approach gives opportunities for such diverse effects to be manifested. Since those judging themselves as having expertise in the industry were choosing wines that turned out not to be the most exclusive as they had thought, the research in the paper confirms suspicions popularly held about wine tasting that the quality and attractiveness of wine may not be reflected by either price, brand or location of production.
In the last paper, John Oliver and Keith Eales’ report on covert research into managerial and human relations is a cautionary tale into two organisations, where they conduct undercover observations. In the first, the researcher was an employee able to observe first hand the management style and generally unhappy inter-personal relations between the management and line staff. In the second organisation, which was a leisure business the undercover investigator became a club member with the cognizance of the chief executive. Ultimately, it caused dissension among the senior managers when the researcher’s report was shown to them since they did not know of the undercover research. The main conclusion of the researcher seems to concern his own conscience. There are no hard and fast rules about the use of undercover work concerning its ethics. The contribution of the paper is that while the observations are into the real situations, there can be no preparation possible by those being observed.
The views of academics and practitioners about business-to-business are provided by Peter Williams in the “Practitioner perspectives’” section, who takes an overall perspective from the first UK “Marketing Masterclass B2B Event” which was held at De Montfort University. There is dedication by committed researchers and practitioners in the world of B2B and much can be learnt from the academic-practitioner interface.
Paul Henry from Australia looks at “Understanding Social Inequality” by Tim Butler and Paul Watt in his “Book reviews” section, which is one of the topics that he has researched about himself. Social inequalities are relevant to most people. We live in societies that tend towards some form of class stratification due to internal forces from unequal wealth, income and power influences. Paul has also researched into aspects of cultural capital.
I end this Editorial with a fond farewell to Professor Clive Nancarrow from UWE, UK as the Market Research Reports Editor and a warn welcome to his successor, Dr Sheila Keegan of Campbell/Keegan Ltd, UK.
Professor Clive Nancarrow developed the “Practitioner perspectives/market reports section” as its Special Editor. He has been with QMRIJ in this capacity for nearly ten years. Clive has given a lot of himself in the past with his energy and drive in creating this section. He has sought to bridge the divide between academics and practitioners, forging partnerships with people from both sides, e.g. in his work publishing about market researches, branding and drinks. He is a marketing strategist and market research specialist with a keen interest in qualitative market research.
Dr Sheila Keegan is a Chartered Psychologist and Founding Partner of Campbell Keegan Ltd, a business and social research consultancy, working with multi-national, blue chip companies and government departments providing a psychological grounding for understanding people’s motivations, drives, fears and motivations. Sheila is a fellow of the MRS, a regular speaker at MRS, ESOMAR, AQR, BPS conferences and teaches on MRS and AQR research training courses. She has written and presented programmes for BBC Radio 4. She has written for various publications including The Sunday Telegraph, The Times, The Psychologist and Mensa Magazine. She is a committee member and a newsletter Editor for the British Psychological Society in the “Qualitative methods in psychology” section.
I am grateful to Clive for all his past contributions and to Sheila for taking on the role.
Len Tiu Wright