Business Research Methods

Table of Contents

Brief Summary of the theory and progression in the field.

Common themes and findings across the four articles.

Different themes/findings across the four articles.

Study limitations and limitations across various research methods.

Areas for further research.

Critical evaluation of the articles.

References.

The following Structured Abstract will review ‘socio-demographic factors affecting consumer behaviour and purchase intentions’ based on the theory paper ‘Consumer Behaviour: Theory and Findings on Expectations and Aspirations’ by George Katona (1968) and developed through the qualitative research paper on ‘Shrinking the food-print: A qualitative study into consumer perceptions, experiences and attitudes towards healthy and environmentally friendly food behaviours’ by Hoek, Pearson, James, Lawrence, & Friel (2017) quantitative research on ‘A Study of Factors Affecting Consumer Behaviour Towards Electronic Durable Goods’ by Kumar & Kaushal (2019) and a mixed-method paper 'Motivations and constraints of Airbnb consumers’ by So, Oh, & Min (2018).

Brief Summary of The Theory and Progression in The Field

The conventional phenomenon surrounding traditional consumer behaviour theories have been premised on the propositions that highlight the rationality demonstrated by the consumer backed with the formulation of expenditures based on disposable income. That is, the income (whether relative or absolute) is one of the primary determinants of consumer expenditure and that the consumer chooses a rationale (best possible) course of outcome amongst the choices presented to him. However, Katona (1968) had a different view to offer. According to Katona (1968), the fact that a consumer may choose a course of action after carefully evaluating all the options thus implying rationality in behaviour is regarded as an exception than a rule. Yet at the same time, the consumers tend to follow a habitual behaviour that might be influenced through stereotypical notions thereby making it somewhat comprehendible and not entirely irrational as well. Furthermore, Katona (1968) challenges the assumptions of consumer behaviour based on the maximization of future revenue streams based on present rational decision-making and remarks on the inclusion of tastes, attitude and preferences along with income to ensure the validity of theories in the contemporary dynamic society.

Katona (1968) supports the proposition of excluding current income in defining the household's permanent or normal income as primary determinants of consumer behaviour since and extends the concept by implying the irrelevance in a dynamic society where the circumstances change frequently and the population has the belief of being a change inducer. His theoretical model primarily defines the role of purposive adaptation against a rigid continuation of behaviour and suggests a change in behaviour and the absence of change that leads to habitual behaviour in understanding consumer behaviour in the contemporary environment. His theoretical findings have been based on the study of the Index of Consumer Sentiment for predicting the demand of consumer durable goods between 1952-66 in the USA by evaluating the income (ability to buy) and index (willingness to buy). The findings revealed a fluctuation in consumer’s discretionary expenditures that affirmed the relevance of both ability and willingness to buy and that the willingness to buy may change simultaneously for a large number of people based on various socio-economic factors that are external and not in control.

The theory has found a progressive course over the years has especially been relevant in extending the concept of affluence band behavioural intentions in understanding the consumer behaviour (Hoek, Pearson, James, Lawrence, & Friel, 2017; So, Oh, & Min, 2018; Kumar & Kaushal, 2019). Studied across the dimensions of durable goods, tourism and lifestyle change the theory proposed by Katona (1968) has eventually evolved and contemplated the behavioural intentions based on factors such as price, quality, attitude, motivations and risk factors. Kumar & Kaushal (2019) attribute price to be an important determinant in analyzing consumer behaviour however they elaborate on the concept of consumer's perception of price against the real price to indicate behavioural intentions towards durable goods.

Hoek, Pearson, James, Lawrence, & Friel (2017) have contemplated the theory of consumer behaviour in understanding the intentions towards healthy food items and found that the inclination to purchase healthy food items is more towards attitudes and feelings than mere price indicating that behaviour is a function of variable factors while the price may form a hedonistic component in differentiating premium health food choices. Drawing from the theoretical aspects of social influence and affinity towards fetish and trends So, Oh, & Min (2018) contemplated the attitude of consumers towards emerging Air BnB travel and tourism concepts and have indicated a positive correlation of behavioural intentions such as price, home benefits, enjoyment value risk perception etcetera. Considering the importance of the consumer behaviour theory an increased amount of research is being conducted across a wide range of domains to assess the effect on consumption based on different variables.

Common Themes and Findings Across the Four Articles

Across the four articles, the common theme that has been drawn is the emergence of factors other than price that have significantly impacted the behaviour and purchase intentions of the consumers. For instance, So, Oh, & Min (2018) analyzed the importance of hedonic motivations and novelty of products that urge the consumers to regard price as relatively less important in the case of specialized travel and tourism products. Similarly, Hoek, Pearson, James, Lawrence, & Friel (2017) have attributed in the case of food and dietary consumption, the choices and behaviour of consumer are guided more by utilitarian and hedonistic benefits such as familiarity, taste and convenience and would choose a product labelled as healthy as a result of their affinity to consume a product which is considered positive by a large group of people or the fellow community. However, Kumar & Kaushal (2019) attribute factor affecting attitude was perceived quality followed by perceived brand image, perceived risk and perceived price, with perceived price having an important role in guiding the purchase frequency among consumers.

Different Themes/Findings Across the Four Articles

The difference observed within the research articles has been the focus of authors on different elements of the consumer behaviour factors in addressing the theoretical implications. Kumar & Kaushal (2019) focused primarily on attitude and perceptual factors (such as perceived quality, perceived brand image) to understand the purchase intentions and behaviour guiding consumer choices for durable goods. So, Oh, & Min (2018) has based the focus on hedonic and utilitarian factors to understand how the consumer's behaviour is being reshaped in approaching the travel and tourism sector. Hoek, Pearson, James, Lawrence, & Friel (2017) on the other hand have drawn the guidance largely from the theory of planned behaviour which runs in lines with the theoretical findings of Katona (1968) and present a perspective on the inclination of the consumer to purchase healthy food items based on their emerging need and motivation to reduce the consumption of unhealthy items. These differences present insights about the different perspectives on the varied factors affecting the behavioural intentions yet affirming the essence of the consumer being guided by socio-demographic factors in shaping their preferences towards a product.

Study Limitations and Limitations Across Various Research Methods

The limitations in the context of the need for probing and extending the theories in the context of affluence is widely observed across all the articles. The mixed-method analysis conducted by So, Oh, & Min (2018) have cited the novelty of the trend of Airbnb therefore not many consumers are fully aware of the utility and benefits of offerings by the company. Furthermore, the mode of data collection has been regarded as one of the key limiting factors that affect the application of findings to a larger audience. Hoek, Pearson, James, Lawrence, & Friel (2017) in conducting a qualitative analysis have also found the limitation in validating the findings to a large population since the sample size chosen by the researcher while conducting interviews as part of data analysis has been relatively smaller. Furthermore, in the study by Hoek et al. (2017) the respondents were not informed about the underlying intention of the study which could have possibly led them to only give positive answers thus leaving scope for unintended bias in the overall findings. Similarly, the quantitative analysis conducted by Kumar & Kaushal (2019) has admitted to adopting convenience sampling that has resulting in receiving responses from other demographic segments such as the rural population. Additionally, the factors considered by the researcher have been not more than six which is why the findings cannot be generalized to apply to a larger population.

Areas for Further Research

Kumar & Kaushal (2019) recommends the future research for durable goods to consider rural population along with urban population to give a holistic overview of the results. Likewise, So, Oh, & Min (2018) have suggested incorporating target audience from different parts of the world so that the findings can provide better meaning for a wider range of target audience in the tourism sector. Hoek et al. (2017) recommend the future research consider a bigger sample size as well as predefining objectives of the research to receive genuine responses that can be critically evaluated.

Critical Evaluation of The Articles

Based on the analysis of all the articles a critical question that needs addressing is that whether emphasis must be laid on all the variables affecting consumer behaviour and equal importance be laid to each. While the study by Hoek et al. (2017) has managed to justify this through simultaneous modelling of identified factors, the study by So, Oh, & Min (2018) has not been able to contribute much in that regard. However, despite the limited sample size So, Oh, & Min (2018) can represent the responses with minute details which helps in understanding easily how the consumers are motivated and guided to purchase healthy food options. Kumar & Kaushal (2019) have also been able to run multiple regression frameworks to assess how one factor is dependent on the rest which helps in understanding how marketers can allocate resource on the importance of each behavioural factor. Yet the choice of sampling and population by Kumar & Kaushal (2019) does limit its outcomes and relevance for a larger audience. 

References for Socio-Demographic Factors

Hoek, A. C., Pearson, D., James, S. W., Lawrence, M. A., & Friel, S. (2017). Shrinking the food-print: A qualitative study into consumer perceptions, experiences and attitudes towards healthy and environmentally friendly food behaviours. Appetite, 108, 117–131. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2016.09.030

Katona, G. (1968). Consumer Behavior: Theory and Findings on Expectations and Aspirations. The American Economic Review, 58(2), 19–30. Retrieved from https://www.jstor.org/stable/1831793?seq=1

Kumar, R., & Kaushal, S. K. (2019). A Study of Factors Affecting Consumer Behaviour Towards Electronic Durable Goods. Indian Journal of Marketing, 49(7). https://doi.org/10.17010/ijom/2019/v49/i7/145403

So, K. K. F., Oh, H., & Min, S. (2018). Motivations and constraints of Airbnb consumers: Findings from a mixed-methods approach. Tourism Management, 67, 224–236. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tourman.2018.01.009

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