Consumer Behavior Research Project
MRKT355: Consumer Behavior
All students must complete a major project that is due at the end of the term. The purpose of this project is to provide you with an opportunity to:
Examine a consumer behavior-related issue and/or problem in detail and first-hand,
Gain experience analyzing a consumer behavior issue/problem that is not “pre-digested” or well laid out for you (e.g., you are not presented with all the relevant information in a tidy case format),
Design and analyze primary market research that you have collected,
Apply some of the important concepts and knowledge you have acquired in the course, and
Combine your conceptual, theoretical, and analytic knowledge and skills with your creativity
For the project, each student should select a real-world marketing issue in which consumer behavior plays a critical role (some examples are listed below). This issue can be one that a company or organization that you have access to is grappling with or one that you can acquire information about by reading business or other publications.
Some examples of consumer behavior issues include:
How do marketers shape young consumers’ self-concept?
What kinds of consumers collect certain products (e.g., beanie babies, precious moments sculptures) and why?
Depiction of men in advertising and how it’s changed over the decades?
Understanding the psychology and consumption behavior of teens?
Experiential marketing and appealing to consumers’ senses (color, taste, sounds, scents, etc.)
How effective is social media in influencing purchase decisions?
Choose a topic for your project for which there is a high level of interest. Spend some time brainstorming about different possibilities. Don’t decide on the first topic that comes to mind. The time invested in this preliminary stage can pay off in the long run. If your project focuses on a particular product, service, or organization, students generally uncover more interesting and insightful results for new products, underdeveloped products or product categories, products that have underutilized marketing (e.g., dentists, some banks), or products that have experienced a loss of appeal among consumers (small bookstores). On the other hand, feel free to study a more general topic that pertains to consumer behavior (e.g., overeating in America and the weight loss industry).
Your task for the project is two-fold: diagnose the key issues underlying the consumer behavior problem and develop a marketing plan consisting of suggestions for addressing the problems. To better understand the problem, you will be expected to obtain secondary data from the library, trade organizations, the company, etc. You may also conduct your own primary research. This might entail conducting interviews with one or more segments of relevant but reasonably accessible consumers or influencers. You must include at least five references in your Works Cited list; however, no more than one can be from Wikipedia. Personal interviews are cited in your paper, but they are not included in the Works Cited list.
Your report must be typed, contain appendices that offer details such as those pertaining to your primary research and your documented references. The paper should be written in APA format and should be about ten double-spaced pages, excluding title page, references, and appendices. The report will be evaluated on the following criteria:
Extent and soundness of the insightful inferences and recommendations or conclusions drawn from your references, primary research data, and general knowledge
The soundness and internal consistency of the logic offered for all of your recommendations
Appropriateness, quality, and thoughtfulness of your primary research materials, data analysis, and data interpretation
Comprehensive and thoughtful coverage of the issues
Identification and application of relevant consumer behavior concepts/theories from the course (refer to concepts in your book!)
Presentation of the report in terms of organization of material and its logical presentation flow, sentence structure, and general professionalism
The final paper should contain:
A statement of the consumer behavior issue being studied (1/2 to 1 pages)
A description of the methodology used for the research (1/2 to 1 page)
A thorough analysis of both the consumer behavior issue and the findings of the research (3-5 pages)
Recommendations for marketing actions based on your analysis (3-5 pages),
A reference list for your secondary research
Appendices containing details of your primary research or any other pertinent information
PLEASE NOTE: Internet searches will often take you to non-academic information resources such as Wikipedia.com, Ask.com, Encarta.msn.com, Infoplease.com, etc. You may supplement your research with these sources, but keep in mind that the information you find there may not be accurate, since it does not come under a formal oversight or peer-review process. While you may use and cite non-academic resources such as Wikipedia (once) when working on assignments, you may not rely on them exclusively. The majority of your sources should be peer-reviewed academic journals or reputable business magazines and newspapers (Wall Street, Business Week, Advertising Age – just to give a few examples).