Modern technology and various research methods present many opportunities for marketing researchers, allowing them to collect necessary data easily and in large quantities. Marketing research is the basis of informed decision-making, making it an essential step to conduct before implementing an idea in practice. However, marketers face the challenge of selecting an appropriate approach to conducting research, formulating a hypothesis, and selecting data collection methods, and this paper aims to clarify these issues. This paper will discuss the rationale for choosing a specific type of research design and data collection method for the following research question: “How Many Women Executives are in the Field?”
This literature review aims to examine the most appropriate methods for the marketing research problem of the number of women executives in the pet products and services industry. Firstly, the textbook by Hair (2017) is an essential source of information for marketing research decision-making because, in it, the author explains the basics of research in general, such as types of research, methods, approaches to data collection, and other specifics. Before beginning research, one must go through the six steps of defining a problem, resolving it, selecting a design, collecting data, and analyzing and presenting findings. Although Hair (2020) suggests that many individuals can make educated guesses based on their experience, with the research question such as the number of women executives, an educated guess is not an option because it will not provide a factual basis for decision making. This textbook helped the author structure the research and presented a step by step guide on preparing for data collection. Coupled with a book by Erickson (2017), the information on research methods allowed the author to select an exploratory method for this study.
The next source provides justification for the research approach that should be used when working on this problem. Jebb, Parrigon, and Woo (2017) define exploratory research as a “discovery, exploration, and empirically detecting phenomena in data” (p. 265). This paper suggests that the exploratory approach is appropriate for the given task since it will allow the researcher to determine a phenomenon in data, such as the ratio of male and female executives in the field. The authors suggest that this method enables detecting the uncertainty in data patterns and helps maximize data’s value. This source suggests that exploratory research is an approach used to gain background information on a problem.
To facilitate a proper collection of background information necessary to select the research and data collection methods, a report on the topic that helps clarify the research question is examined. The “Women in workplace 2020” report by McKinsey can provide some basis for formulating the hypothesis and defining the data collection methods (McKinsey, 2020). This report helps the author develop a research hypothesis and questions since it provides some information about the number of women who work, have managerial positions, and the industry breakdown of this information. As Hair (2020) suggests, one must study the background information on the topic before beginning to formulate the research questions and hypotheses. Moreover, because this report is a compilation of the research results, which helps determine the research design for this study, for example, McKinsey (2020) used a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods. The report suggests that among C-level executives, only 21% is female. Hence, interviews and surveys can be applied to study the population characteristics of executives as the basis for the exploratory study.
Hypothesis and Variables
Marketing research allows linking the marketing specialists with the consumers, and the first step in this process is formulating a hypothesis based on which the data will be collected. For this research into pet goods and services, a hypothesis is that there are more women executives than men in the Hagerstown-Martinsburg area. Next, there are these types of variables: dependent and independent. The latter is used by the researcher to affect the dependant variable and tests a hypothesis (Hair, 2017). The variables with this research are the job title of an individual and industry, which determines if a person holds a managerial position. The dependent variable would be the gender of an individual. Such selection of variables allows the author to collect data from a sample of people, who work in different industries in a given metro area and separate the data for women who work in the pet products and services industry to find the ratio of executives.
Research Design and Marketing Environment Scan
To determine the number of women executives in the pet services and products industry who reside in the MD-WV Metro Area, one must use an explorative research design. Hair (2017) suggests three types of research approaches: exploratory, descriptive, and casual. Exploratory research is appropriate for getting background information on the topic. This method’s pros are its flexibility since the researcher can select whatever sources of information they want and allows the use of informal data collection methods. Erickson (2017) mentions that this design can lead to unexpected findings. One issue is that the interpretation of data may be biased, or if the sources for the research are outdated, the results will not be useful.
Descriptive methods are applied to describe a phenomenon within a given timeframe and allow answering the question of “who, what, when, and how” (Hair, 2017; Ericsson, 2017, p. 57). The pros of descriptive studies are their complexity and the large amount of information that one can collect, while the con is that no data validation methods are used. Finally, the casual approach allows determining causality between two events, allowing to make “if-then” conclusions about phenomena, which is beneficial if the researcher aims to define an event’s cause. One issue is that some events may be coincidences and not the result of the “if-then” relationship.
A marketing environment scan is a method of evaluating the environment in which a business operates, for example, by using a SWOT technique. Based on McKinsey’s (2020) report, one can conclude that there are not many female executives in general. Hence, the focus on female executives in this field may be a weakness of the selected marketing strategy. However, the strength is that selecting this target audience allows creating a product or service directed at this specific population and following their needs. Moreover, concerning opportunities, McKinsey (2020) suggests that the number of female executives is increasing each year. Finally, a threat would be the COVID-19 pandemic, which led to many female executives losing their jobs, according to the same report.
For the selected research design, an appropriate data collection method should be a survey since the research question and hypothesis implies the need to use qualitative methods, and surveys can be distributed to many executives. A similar approach was used in a report by McKinsey (2020), focusing on female-executives. Overall, this paper outlines the specifics of marketing research and provides the rationale for using an exploratory approach to examine the number of women executives in pet products and services in the Hagerstown-Martinsburg Metro Area.
Erickson, G. S. (2017). New methods of market research and analysis. Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar Publishing.
Hair, J. (2018). Essentials of marketing research (4th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education.
Jebb, A., Parrigon, S., & Woo, S. (2017). Exploratory data analysis as a foundation of inductive research. Human Resource Management Review, 27(2), 265-276.
McKinsey. (2020). Women in the workplace 2020.