A research proposal for MBA dissertation: How do e-marketing affect consumer behavior? The dissertation proposal aims to assess the impact that E-marketing has had on consumer behavior. The survey shall target graduate employees in various organizations between the age of 21 and 40 years as its respondents.
A brief review of the literature
Practitioners in E-marketing have over the last couple of years, endeavored to comprehend the mechanisms surrounding E-marketing. In addition, researchers are also increasingly gaining interest in the area. Based on the high level of adoption of the internet by consumers, business penetration, and transactions volumes, the expectation is that e-marketing will experience tremendous growth in coming years. In addition, online consumers are at the maturity level, and this has acted as a cue to virtual vendors to prioritize the urgency and importance of according E-marketing customer-oriented and professional approach. Whereas it may be expected that the internet bubble of the 1990s would have served as a wakeup call for online marketers to further explore the behavior of their online shoppers (Constantinides, Lorenzo, Gómez-Borja & Geurts, 2008, P. 2), nevertheless, existing empirical and anecdotal evidence shows that a majority of online marketing companies are yet to fully comprehend the behavior of their customers, even as a majority of them “… continue to struggle with how effectively to market and sell products online” (Lynn, Lipp, Akgün & Cortez, 2002, p. 38). Along with the external and personal uncontrollable factors, influencing buyer behavior customers’ exposure to the marketing strategy of an online company is capable of affecting the process of decision-making. Online marketers are in a position to influence the process of decision-making by employing physical, conventional tools of marketing. However, the most influential strategy is one that involves the establishment and creation of the right online experience, along with a web experience (Babin & Babin, 2001, p. 91).
Consumer behavior has greatly been affected by changes in demographics and lifestyle. For example, amongst the developed countries where online marketing has been embraced at a higher rate than other countries, the median age is also sent to have risen, in recent years. Moreover, many of the households in those countries have more money since the ratio of husbands and wives who are working is higher than in other countries (Tirmizi, Rehman & Saif, 2009, p. 526). However, they have less time at their disposal to attend to activities such as shopping. Therefore, E-marketing has been of benefit to them. Furthermore, consumers are increasingly demanding service that is ‘hassle-free”, and internet marketing has been customized to attend to their demands. Increased stress because of balancing work and life has led to increased autonomy, and this too has greatly affected consumer purchase behavior.
Cultural and social trends have significantly influenced E-marketing. For example, consumers now appear somewhat overwhelmed by information overload, thanks to the advent of the internet (Mai, Jung, Lantz & Loeb, 2001, P. 21). In addition, stressful life and multitasking have resulted in time poverty, and this has affected the purchase behavior of consumers. Furthermore, information overload has been very beneficial to sophisticated consumers, since they are now aware of the control they have over their purchasing decisions. Accordingly, they are aware of the various choices in existence for their marketing needs. However, E-marketing has also harmed consumer behavior. For example, given that the internet is vulnerable to data security and privacy issues, consumers are conscious about compromising their details, even as they benefit from E-marketing. In addition, consumers are also worried about the escalation in online crimes.
Consumer behavior is ‘the process and activities people engage in when searching for, selecting, purchasing, using, evaluating, and disposing of products and services to satisfy their needs and desires.” (Belch & Belch, 2007, p. 105). According to the black-box model, there is a correlation between consumer characteristics, stimuli, consumer responses, and decision process (Sandhusen, 2000, p. 218). The model assumes that the responses of buyers are due to the rational and conscious decision process. Accordingly, the assumption is that buyers are fully informed of the problem at hand.
E-marketing has been defined as “the use of information technology in the processes of creating, communicating, and delivering value to customers, and for managing customer relationships in ways that benefit the organization and its stakeholders” (Schiffman & Kanuk, 2004, p. 17). In recent years, marketers have relied on E-marketing to develop long-term and positive relationships with customers. This is intending to ensure a firm in question gains a competitive advantage in the face of competition. This is because E-marketing enhances efficiency and effectiveness over conventional marketing functions. In other words, marketing strategies are transformed, thanks to the use of technology. This way, international partnerships have thus far been created while new global markets emerged as well. This leads not only to new business models being created but also to the enhanced value of customers, thereby increasing the profitability of accompanying in question. Nonetheless, there is more to E-marketing than the mere utilization of the internet. When technologies are converged, customer relationship management is enhanced. This is in addition to improved supply chain management and database management. E-marketing makes use of the internet to provide content to the target market, sell and communicate such content, in addition to providing customers with a network function.
The intention of marketers using the internet for purposes of communicating with customers is to establish a robust relationship with them. Therefore, the internet becomes a direct channel for marketers to sell their products and services. E-marketing has revolutionized the functions of marketing, and this is useful to businesses in the face of escalating global competition (Taylor & Strutton, 2009, P. 4). Furthermore, the expectations of consumers appear on the rise regarding the quality of products and services offered in response speed, as well as the customization of products and services. This is an indication of the change in the behavior of consumers, in tandem with technological changes. In light of this, there is a need for marketing functions to experience a dramatic change. E-marketing is characterized by a high level of interaction for both the customers and marketers alike, as far as the eliciting and provision of instant responses is concerned. An unusual trait of consumer behavior entails the simultaneous “punishment” and “reinforcement” of the subject. In this case, benefits attributable to services and products act as reinforcement, along with the social approval of purchase by, for example, opinion leaders. On the other hand, consumer behavior is also punished given that a consumer is usually required to give up such generalized conditioned reinforcers as rights and money. Furthermore, there is also the issue of the efforts and time that they have to spend while engaging in a purchasing process.
Concerning E-marketing, consumer behavior is punished when an individual has to forfeit some of their rights, such as credit card details to merchants, during the purchasing decisions. As a result, their security becomes quite vulnerable. On the other hand, e-marketing has enhanced the speed at which the purchasing process is accomplished. As a result, consumers do not have to make a physical appearance at a store to make their purchases. All that is needed is access to the website of a company involved in e-marketing. From there, the customer is in a position to sample the products or services on offer, and their prices as well. They can then make their purchase once they are satisfied with the product or service. The BPM (behavioral perspective model) endeavors to understand better consumer behavior by exploring the peculiarities that characterize consumers (Kacen & Lee, 2002, p. 165). According to this model, the learning history of an individual regarding consumption, along with consumer behavior setting jointly account for the purchasing behavior of a customer. The behavioral setting off a consumer involves events within their environment of consumption, which indicate diverse penalties for various consumer responses. Behavioral settings act as stimuli. Based on previous learning history, the consumer receives a signal from behavioral settings regarding the likely repercussions of individual purchasing responses, purchasing postponement, purchase acceleration, saving, and searching.
E-marketing has also enabled marketing practitioners to personalize the mass market into smaller segments that allow them to attend to the needs of their customers (Park, Kim & Forney, 2006, P. 444). However, it is important to note that customized products are no longer the major purchasing concern of customers. Instead, the advent of the internet has aroused the need for customers to demand convenient products and services in the shortest time possible. Time, therefore, is an important factor here. Moreover, customers are willing to spend more on products and services offered online, as long as they can match their changing lifestyles and preferences. Accordingly, online marketers must undertake periodic surveys to determine the preferences of their target market, in a bid to maintaining a competitive edge in the face of competition.
Aims and objectives
This research study aims to assess the impact of E-marketing on consumer behavior. Accordingly, several theories as they affect consumer behavior shall be explored, within the context of E-marketing. Since E-marketing usually emphasizes the significance of the function of marketing to attract and influence the behavior or specific interests of potential consumers, it is the intention of this research study, therefore, to give empirical validation regarding the behavior of the consumer, in as far as E-marketing is concerned. This will help shed light on the role of E-marketing in influencing consumer purchase behavior.
- To assess how e-marketing has affected the purchasing decision of consumers
- To explore the impact of e-marketing on the consumer purchase decision process
- To determine the attitude of consumers on privacy regarding the use of e-marketing
- To assess how e-marketing has affected consumer-vendor interaction during purchase
Statement of the design and methodology
This research study shall be based on a descriptive quantitative design. The aim of adopting such a research design is for purposes of enabling the researcher to quantify the existing relationship between, on the one hand, E-marketing and on the other hand, consumer behavior. In addition, the descriptive quantitative design shall be cross-sectional, meaning that data collection from respondents shall be carried out only once.
To address the validity and reliability issues of the research design, several measures shall be instituted. For example, the researcher will ensure that the instrument for data collection, in this case, a self-administered and semi-structured research questionnaire is reliable. Accordingly, the questionnaire shall have to be pre-tested, before its being administered to the study respondents. Regarding the issue of validity, the use of a pre-tested questionnaire for purposes of data collection shall help in reducing instrument error. In addition, the selection processes of study participants will be done properly to increase the validity of the research design. The researcher also intends to keep the attrition rates of respondents low by ensuring that the data collection exercise is completed in the shortest time possible, in this case, two weeks.
Sources and acquisition of data
A self-administered and semi-structured questionnaire is the tool of choice for collecting data from the study respondents. In addition, a survey method shall be used to collect the data, in which case the researcher will send by post the questionnaire the respondents. The open-ended and semi-structured questionnaire shall endeavor to explore the behavior, attributes, beliefs as well as attitudes of respondents regarding E-marketing. The study respondents will be grouped based on their professional status and age group. In this case, the graduate professional with access to the internet shall be the respondents of choice. This is because the group is more likely to use the internet for purposes of browsing for and purchasing products and services. Whereas the use of an online survey targeting the employees of companies involved in E-marketing would have been more appropriate, nonetheless, the research is limited in terms of cost and time, and hence the use of the postal questionnaire. Before the actual exercise of data collection, the researcher shall seek consent from the IRB committee in the learning institution where he is a student. In addition, the researcher will send an E-mail to potential respondents requesting their participation in the survey. Ethical considerations shall also be addressed throughout the data collection and analysis exercises. The respondents shall be fully informed on the aims and objectives of the study. Furthermore, participation shall be voluntary. Data collected from the survey shall only be used for purposes of informing the research study questions. Moreover, the study questionnaires shall be locked in a safe place once the data is collected and compiled, and later on, destroyed.
Method of data analysis
Because a descriptive quantitative design shall be used in this research study, there is a need also to use a method of data analysis that integrates well with the research design of choice. Accordingly, analysis of data shall be accomplished by the use of statistical tools of analysis, in this case, SPSS (Statistical Package for Social Sciences). The design of the study questionnaire shall also be to facilitate the collection of quantitative statistics to facilitate the correlations of the study variables. Therefore, the use of a quantitative tool of data analysis is the most appropriate tool of choice.
Form of presentation
The researcher has deemed it appropriate to make use of graphs, tables, and charts to facilitate the presentation of the research findings. This will also facilitate a comprehensive presentation of such research findings, in effect setting the background for the discussion of study results and ultimately, recommendations for future research studies in the field.
|Activity||Feb. 2010||March 2010||April 2010||May 2010|
|Questionnaire formulation||Week 1 & 2|
|IRB Approval||Week 3|
|Approval from the company||Week 4|
|Pre-testing of study Questionnaire||Week 1|
|Amending of the pre-tested questionnaire||Week 2|
|Mailing of questionnaire to respondents||Week 3|
|Data collection||Week 4||Week 1|
|Compiling of data||Week 2 & 3|
|Data analysis||Week 4|
|Final report Writing||Week 1|
|Proofreading and editing||Week 2|
|Photocopying and binding||Week 3|
|Final report submission||Week 4|
Babin, B. J., & Babin, L. (2001), “Seeking something different? A model of schema typically,consumer affect. Purchase intentions and perceived shopping value”, Journal of Business Research, 54(2): 89-96.
Belch, G. E., & Belch, M. A. (2007). Consumer behavior. New York: McGraw-Hill
Constantinides, E., Lorenzo, C., Gómez-Borja, B. A. & Geurts, P. (2008). Effects of Cultural Background on Internet Buying Behaviour: Towards a Virtual Global Village? London: Springer
Kacen, J. J., & Lee, J. A. (2002), “The Influence of Culture on Consumer Impulse Buying Behavior,” Journal of Consumer Impulse Buying Behavior, 12 (2):163-176.
Lynn G., Lipp S., Akgün A. Cortez A. (2002). Factors Impacting the Adoption and Effectiveness of the World Wide Web in Marketing. Industrial Marketing Management Journal, 31(1): 35-49
Mai, N. T. T., Jung, K., Lantz, G., and Loeb, S. G. (2003), “An Exploratory Investigation into Impulse Buying Behavior in a Transitional Economy: A Study of Urban Consumers in Vietnam,” Journal of International Marketing, 11(2):13-35.
Park, E. J., Kim, E. Y. & Forney, J. C. (2006), “A Structural model of Fashion-oriented Impulse Buying Behavior”, Journal of Fashion Marketing and Management,10(4): 433-446. Web.
Sandhusen, R. L. (2000). Marketing. New York: Barron’s Educational Series p. 218.
Schiffman, L. G., & Kanuk, L. L. (2004). Consumer behavior. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
Taylor, D. G., & Strutton, D. (2009). Has E-marketing come of age? Modeling historical influences on post-adoption era Internet consumer behaviors. Journal of Business Research
Tirmizi, M. A., Rehman, K. & Saif, I. (2009). An Empirical Study of Consumer Impulse Buying Behavior in Local Markets. European Journal of Scientific Research, 28(4): 522-532. Web.