This research aims at determining how the BMW brand strategy can influence the Chinese consumer behaviors in the Chinese E-car market. In the reviewed literature, the study already discussed the consumer decision-making process on the purchasing of the E-cars.
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Besides, to make this study viable and empirically confirmable, the reliability of the primary results is a part of the study target. To receive an adequate answer in the goal of this research, the researcher will make the potential BMW Chinese consumers as its target group, based on the aims of the topic.
More specifically, the researcher will sample 60 respondents from 10 different target groups, which will be from a stratified random sample. The researcher will analyze primary quantitative data using the computer-aided, SPSS system. Furthermore, the researcher will also collect secondary data, which will come from the published journals and from other pieces of literature to support the survey results.
The Research Hypothesis
The research hypothesizes that the brand reputation of the BMWi electric cars is low among the majority of the Chinese consumers.
In the reviewed literature, the research noted that the perception of the Chinese consumers towards the foreign automobiles is considerably low. Moreover, the study analyzed how product information, brand personality, and brand associations influence the consumer’s perception about products. This hypothesis will help in identifying the strengths and weaknesses the BMWi brand.
The study believes that the number of people interested in the BMWi electric vehicles is considerably low as the consumer’s attitudes are low towards the BMWi brand.
Based on the reviewed literature, the study discovered that marketers measure consumer attitudes through the Rosenberg theory that contains two important variables. These variables include the instrumentality and the value of a product. This hypothesis is sufficient for assessing the perceived instrumentality and value of the BMWi E-cars in the Chinese automobile market.
The study assumes that majority of the aspiring BMW consumers are worried about the future of the electric-supported BMWi vehicles due to low trust.
In the reviewed literature, marketing expert Frank Dophreide revealed that the BMW Group has failed to assist its consumers to distinguish between the old BMW models from the new E-car models. This construct will help in investigating the levels of trust among the Chinese consumers towards the BMWi brand.
The study hypothesizes that the Chinese consumers cannot associate themselves with any of the BMWI brands because BMW has not reinforced the BMWi brand.
Following the reviewed literature, the value-drivers model postulates that a brand experience is very meaningful for the consumer experiences. Therefore, reinforcing a meaningful and a different brand experience is essential. This hypothesis will assist the study to examine the attitudes of the consumers on their perceived brand experiences with the BMWi cars.
Sociology and Scientific Dimension
The intended research will hinge its foundation on the concept of sociology, in which the idea of the people’s way of living and their regular behaviors play important roles in this research. According to the researchers Auguste Comte, Hine, and Flemming, who invented the idea of sociology, the word sociology, literally means the continued cultural life of people (Babbie 2003).
The research will take the approach of sociology, based on the idea that analyzing how the BMW brand strategy can influence the E-car consumer behaviors in the Chinese market, needs an understanding of the Chinese consumer behaviors and trends. Consumer behavior is a concept that directly associates with the concept of sociology in a manner that the behaviors of the consumers tell a lot about the cultural and societal values of a certain consumer group (Babbie 2003).
In the concept of sociology, sociologists believe that social change can appear in a radical manner or through a regular process.
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Radical and Regular Change
The study assumes that social change can be in the form of a radical change perspective or a regular change perspective. A radical social change refers to a form of social transformation, in which people replace their conventional social behaviors in a quick manner and in an abrupt way (Babbie 2003).
In a radical social change, people change their cultures, social behaviors, and their routine practices in a drastic manner and adopt postmodern behaviors straight away. Contrary to the radical social change, regular social change refers to a process of social transformation whereby people of certain cultural values transform into their cultural behaviors and societal routines in a systematic manner (Bracken 2010).
The study shall use the regular change view in the process of finding an approach by which the BMW brand strategy will influence the consumer behaviors in the Chinese market. A regular change perspective will provide the BMW marketers with a systematic way of penetrating into the Chinese E-car market.
The Scientific Dimension on Social Change
The scientific dimension regarding sociological research entails the concepts of ontology, epistemology, human nature, and methodology (Bracken 2010). In this research, the four concepts comprise an integral part of analyzing how the BMW brand strategy can influence the behaviors of the E-car consumers in the Chinese market.
In the social science research, ontology is a modern philosophical term that refers to the manner in which research uncovers what entails reality and how people perceive this reality. According to Bracken (2010), the main purpose of social science research is to help people create an understanding of how people comprehend social reality and how their personal perceptions shape their behaviors in the reality they know.
The BMW brand strategy meant to influence the Chinese consumers to adopt the BMW electric cars, targets to help the people understand the reality in the use of electric vehicles (Bracken 2010). The ontological perceptions of the Chinese consumers concerning the BMW i3 and i8 cars will give the BMW Group a chance to teach its E-car consumers.
Methodologically, the intended research will also use an epistemological research approach. According to Bracken (2010), epistemology is a social science approach in which the research concentrates on what comprises a valid knowledge and the way people can obtain that valid knowledge. In epistemology, researchers concentrate on the creation and dissemination of information to suit the people who need it most.
Methodologically, the research seeks to use the epistemological approach to help the Chinese consumers understand the need to embrace the BMW electric vehicles, and help them cease their conventional ideologies about the electric cars. The philosophy of human nature will also be integral in this research.
In social sciences, human nature is complex and researchers tend to develop ontological approaches to examine the human nature. While trying to understand ontology, epistemology, and their association with the human nature, it is important to understand that there are two main ontological approaches namely the positivism and the interpretivism approaches. The study will use a positivist approach.
The Positivism Approach
A positivist research technique is a form of a systematic scientific approach that “sees the world as being based on the unchanging, universal laws and the view that everything that occurs around us can be explained by knowledge of these universal laws” (Mukherja & Albon 2009, p. 11). This study will employ the positivist paradigm of research because the research on the BMW brand strategy entails the use of manipulative and quantitative approaches in analyzing a research environment.
According to Mukherja and Albon (2009), a positivist research yields high validity and reliability because it regularly assumes that the much-needed truth is always within the people. Therefore, since people have enough knowledge to inform research, the positivist approach believes in the quantitative research approach, which accurately helps to measure and quantify a certain phenomenon.
In this proposed research, the positivist approach will help the researcher to quantify and measure the responses of the participants quantitatively, and to provide a high data validity and reliability through an appropriate sampling and instrumentation.
The Research Approach
Based on the philosophies of the ontology and epistemology approaches that informed the research to use the positivism paradigm, the research will use the quantitative research approach to collect data, analyze data, and discuss the results. According to Tewksbury (2009), quantitative research aims at measuring, quantifying, and investigating a phenomenon through the collection of numerical data that comes from the closed-ended questionnaires.
Quantitative research aims at investigating a phenomenon through manipulative techniques as it views behavior to be regular and predictable. In this study, the researcher intends to use a quantitative method because the research will rely on the positivist approach in which the data involved will provide predictable the aspects.
According to Tewksbury (2009), a quantitative research approach helps researchers to study human behaviors under controlled conditions. The research on the BMW brand strategy involves a review of the predictive situations that accompany the participants who will provide data concerning their perceptions about the BMW electric cars.
The Research Design
Quantitative researchers often use descriptive statistics to present quantitative data and descriptions in a convenient manner (Borman & Dowling 2008). The intended research is going to use a descriptive form of research in which a survey approach that uses closed-ended questionnaires will be useful in the collection and analysis of the primary data.
Descriptive studies according to the social science researchers are studies that focus on describing the research participants. Therefore, since the study intends to deal with the consumer behaviors of the Chinese BMW users, the descriptive research design will be suitable for describing their consumption trends, consumption attitudes, and their consumption culture.
The research will use a quantitative research survey technique to analyze how the BMW brand strategy can influence the consumer behaviors in the Chinese market. A quantitative technique may sometimes involve large data, which ends up not providing concise findings. To help make the data concise and meaningful, the descriptive research will help the researcher synthesize the data.
The Survey Method
Historically, a survey was a kind of a research method that used an observation or an investigation to prove the truth about a phenomenon. However, nowadays a survey is a scientific research term that explains the process of collecting primary data from the selected individuals, or from a research sample.
It should remain noted that a short period of 12 weeks spared for an academic research is a limitation for research. Therefore, a questionnaire survey method is the best chosen for the research, because questionnaires are easy to comprehend, take little effort to fill, and are capable of providing a huge amount of information in a little space. A self-made questionnaire made up of 23 questions will be appropriate for this research.
According to Ledesma and Valero-Mora (2007), self-made questionnaires help researchers to collect data based on the research question to test the available assumptions. The survey will comprise an interview form of research, in which the researcher will engage directly with the respondents, and administer the questionnaires by hand.
The Sampling Strategy
Studies involving the ontological and epistemological approaches often involve analyzing certain aspects with the human population. A scientific research must always have a target population in which a study must gather the required responses to produce empirical facts about a study phenomenon.
The targeted population of the study is the Chinese E-car consumer group. The theory concerning the use of electric vehicles in China has associated the Chinese E-car consumers with increased levels of adamancy and negative attitudes towards the electric cars, and especially those manufactured by the foreign companies such as the BMW Company.
The study will use the Chinese E-car consumers as their target population to unravel the association between cultural perceptions against the BMW electric vehicles, and the consumption trends of the Chinese E-car users. The research targets about 60 respondents from different consumer groups, to provide data on the present Chinese consumer perceptions about the BMW electric cars.
The proposed research intends to sample its targeted population using the non-probability sampling technique. This non-probability sampling believes in the critical theory that argues that the modern social structure contains people with varied traits.
Non-probability sampling is a research approach used to acquire a sample size from a targeted population through a procedure that does not give the targeted people equal participation opportunities in the research. In this form of sampling, the research will adopt a quota form of non-probability sampling technique to sample the consumers based predominantly on their connection with the BMW cars.
To be more specific, the proportional quota sampling strategy will apply in this proposed research. Based on its prior empirical evidence, the propositional quota sampling technique will be relevant in this research because it allows researchers to sample the respondents based on their unique characteristics, i.e. age, occupational statuses, situational experiences, social statuses, and economic statuses, among others.
This study understands very well that the representation of women in the class of premium car owners in the Chinese population is relatively low than that of men. To ensure that the results remains reliable and logical based on the principles of the propositional quota sampling technique, the study will conduct a pre-visit or a reconnaissance study, which will help the researcher identify the representation gap between the women and men in the premium car ownership.
The reconnaissance will take almost a month to the actual study, and the researcher will make frequent quota sampling to ensure that the sample is proportional via a 50-50 representation. During the reconnaissance period, the researcher will sample the 60 respondents based on their educational backgrounds, their income statuses, their ages, and most importantly, their experiences with the BMW brands. A quota sampling of this kind will allow the researcher to get the respondents with high legibility for participation.
The Questionnaire Design
In quantitative research, researchers collect primary data from the respondents using carefully selected data instruments. A quantitative survey relies on the collection of quantitative data that comes in the form of numerical values or statistical figures. In scientific research, the most appropriate data collection instrument that is suitable for the collection of quantitative data is the closed-ended questionnaire.
Closed-ended questionnaires are capable of giving uniform results with high accuracy when appropriately applied in a quantitative research. The proposed research will use self-administered closed-ended questionnaires with a manipulative framework in which the respondents will only fit their responses using some fixed conditions.
The structured or closed-ended questionnaires will have predetermined responses driven by the existing theories. The study will articulate the questionnaires using the Chinese language to yield better responses because most of the respondents may not be well conversant with English despite their high educational levels.
Data Collection Procedure
Just like any other scientific research, the study will use two forms of data namely the primary data and the secondary data. Primary data is a form of research data observed and gathered through a first-hand field experience. According to Driscoll (2011), primary research involves the actual collection of data through observations, interviews, and surveys.
The most appropriate means of collecting primary quantitative data is through the surveys, which come through the structured questionnaires commonly known as the closed-ended questionnaires (Scotland 2012). Just like in the other forms of quantitative research, this study will rely on the surveys administered through the structured questionnaires to collect primary data from the 60 participants identified for the study.
The importance of primary data in research is that primary data reinforces the theoretical assumptions and other empirical findings identified in the existing literature. This approach helps because primary data provides verifiable facts to validate the findings of a given research.
Research is all about gathering and analyzing data to have a coherent conclusion. To reinforce and bolster the facts established in the primary data, researchers gather data from the peer-reviewed published journals, books, and from other relevant literature sources.
According to Nicholson and Bennett (2008), data gathered from the peer-reviewed journal, the books, and other literature sources, where no significant first-hand experience is involved, is known as the secondary data. In this research, the researcher will use several secondary data sources including books, journals, and articles on genuine websites.
The study proposed to use secondary data with an aim of strengthening the primary data collected since secondary data is normally capable of enabling a richer exploration of the research phenomena. In a carefully triangulated manner, the research will establish the most relevant secondary data through various internet searches. Data with verified empirical facts will be more useful in this proposed research.
In a primary research, the collected data must undergo further synthesis and analysis to provide meaningful information that can enrich the research conclusion. According to Babbie (2003), the practice of social research where a quantitative approach plays a role requires an understanding of how to analyze the quantitative data that comes in the form of numeric data.
The most reliable data analysis tool that quantitative researchers use is the SPSS data analysis tool (Scotland 2012). The SPSS research tool, which stands for the Statistical Package for Social Sciences, is a form of predictive analytics software that helps researchers to analyze quantitative data appropriately (George & Mallery 2003).
The software will be appropriate because the study will rely on data collected from the structured questionnaires where numerical data will be present (Scotland 2012). Additionally, the research will use the Excel system to support the SPSS software in analyzing some data that will be in numerical form but maybe with a different dimension.
In the social science research, the collection of primary data often entails the use of human participants as subjects that provide empirical data of a study. The involvement of human beings as important research subjects that enrich a study in the collection of data often requires a close consideration of the research ethics (Ledesma & Valero-Mora 2007).
The proposed research seeks to collect data from 60 participants who are all human beings. The study will ensure a maximum use of ethical principles in the collection, analysis, and dissemination of the primary data collection. Firstly, while collecting primary data will be an essential part of the research, respondents will participate in the study and give information upon their willingness and upon their discretion.
In a diplomatic manner, this research understands that using coercion or intimidation to extract information from the research participants is unlawful and unethical. In the secondary data, the research will ensure a proper acknowledgment of the authors through proper document citation.
The proposed research may face limitations because, within the targeted population, it is uneasy to detect the exact number of people with the knowledge about the BMW electric cars. Secondly, the area of study is China, where the introduction of the electric cars has elicited sharp political and social reactions concerning the engagement of the foreign automotive companies in the Chinese automobile market.
The inherent social attitudes and political influences are capable of influencing the response behavior of the participants (Tewksbury 2009). Locating the reliable participants is also another significant limitation to this research. The research requires the collection of data from 60 human respondents, who are either in motion with their vehicles or scattered somewhere within the large population.
People with premium or personal cars are often uneasy to locate and engage them in a survey because they are either driving or busy with certain schedules. Moreover, BMW has a low brand identity in China, and the Chinese participants may not respond efficiently to some questions.
Validity & Reliability
Since most of the social science studies often measure the human behavior using the positivist paradigm and empirical analytic approaches to discern the reality, the measurement instruments must always prove to be valid and reliable (Drost 2011). Due to the Chinese political and social influences against the foreign car brands, respondents are likely to provide biased information.
To help reduce the chances of information biases, the study aims to use a self-made questionnaire, which can suitably counter this social dilemma, as the fixed responses will yield coherent answers (Drost 2011). First, the researcher should determine whether the questionnaire has a correct design and a clearly understandable design that is familiar to the respondents.
Moreover, as Drost (2011) states, the researchers must determine whether the selected sample is suitable for the survey when handing out the questionnaire. Additionally, the researcher will make sure that the responses will not remain affected by external inhibiting factors through assuring the respondents of their confidentiality and respect in the responses they will give.
To help ensure high reliability and validity of the research data, the study will employ several test and data reliability measures to improve the validity and reliability of the collected data. In their study, Saunders, Lewis, and Thornwill (2007) discovered that for research to prove empirically correct, researchers must ensure that the instruments of data meet all the satisfactory levels of validity.
The four satisfactory levels of data validity include the internal validity, the external validity, the construct validity, and the statistical conclusion validity (Drost 2011). To avoid problems related to the construct validity, just as Drost (2011) recommends, the researcher will ensure that the self-made questionnaires follow the guided principles of forming questionnaires, are scientifically verifiable, and have the proper structure.
A researcher can ensure the validity of the data from a survey (Saunders et al. 2007). Before the respondents answer the questionnaires, there has to be a premise, in which the researchers need to know whether respondents have the idea about it.
In the construct validity, if the respondents did not clearly understand any of the questions, the researcher will have the responsibility to explain it until they understand how to answer the questionnaire. Because this topic is about a hi-fi tech product, the number of male respondents may be higher than that of the female respondents.
However, using a balanced proportion of male and female respondents for a reliable questionnaire is vital (Pogodzinski, Young, Frank & Belman 2012). Thus, it is necessary to let respondents understand what the questionnaire includes. Based on the existing theory, several hypotheses are verifiable by the findings. The validity of hypotheses will be used to confront the observation that is conducted by the questionnaire.
If hypotheses are not valid, further adjustments of the hypotheses will be necessary (Steele, Hamilton, & Stecher 2010). To study the consumer behavior effectively, the researcher will write the questions in the Chinese language. Using the Chinese language to target the Chinese respondents will help to avoid language bias.
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