In the business world, it is important to understand and satisfy consumer needs. In recent times, many businesses have noticed the need to market their products and services to deliver the best consumer experiences. Most companies, especially car dealerships, have decided to stand out from their competitors by showcasing their unique products and services to attract and retain new clients.
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Therefore, the development of brands is essential for any successful business operation. A brand may be a discrete symbol, name or term that identifies a firm’s product and services. On the other hand, brand loyalty is a consumer’s perception of a specific brand and their preference for that brand (Solem 2016).
Over the years, car companies have devised strategies to get insights into consumer habits. Social media is an important avenue that businesses can use to understand useful consumer perceptions and preferences, for example, brand loyalty. This paper outlines the methods that will be used to obtain data regarding the role of social media of consumers on brand loyalty of cars.
A research paradigm can be described as a belief system that directs the steps of researchers in their quest to obtain knowledge (Creswell & Clark 2018). It consists of theoretical underpinnings of a specified view and methods of data collection that align with the specific theory. Before conducting any study, it is important for a researcher to identify the philosophical viewpoint that is appropriate for their research (Stage & Manning 2015; Bell, Bryman & Harley 2018).
This research will take a positivist philosophical stance. Positivism can be defined as any scheme that limits itself to information regarding an observed incident as opposed to a priori or conjectural speculations (Rosenberg 2018). Positivism projects the belief of the French philosopher Auguste Comte (Sacks 2017).
The two fundamental assertions of positivism are that all information concerning factual matters is founded on the magnitude of data collected in real-life settings and that pure logic and mathematics pave the way for the realm of fact (Alexander 2014; Potter 2016). The most important rule in positivism is the firm observance of the evidence of observation and experience (Potter 2016). Overall, positivism uses quantitative data to collect factual data and uses statistically valid techniques to evaluate relationships between groups of the collected data (Babones 2016; Sacks 2017).
A positivist stance was chosen due to its close relationship to objective ontology, which asserts that casual regulations influence the consistency of social mannerism in humans (Mercer 2014). In addition, the reality is considered a measurable parameter that comprises entities that exist in real-life settings. The purpose of this study is to assess the role of the social media of consumers on the brand loyalty of cars. A positivist approach is appropriate for the study because the investigator is independent of the factors under investigation. As a result, it is possible to obtain reliable and consistent outcomes that are free of the researcher’s personal bias. Another benefit of the positivist standpoint is the ability to collect data from large samples, which permits generalisations of the study findings to the population.
Data Collection Methods
A quantitative approach will be suitable to answer the research question in this study because it will facilitate the determination of statistically significant relationships between the examined phenomena (McCusker & Gunaydin 2015). Quantitative data is based on the gathering and analysis of assessable numerical data. Simple random sampling will be used to select the study participants. The subjects will be chosen from a population of adults aged 18 years and older. No preference will be given to the gender of the subjects. Inclusion criteria will include social media use and car ownership. It is expected that at least 100 participants will accept to take part in the study.
Primary data will be collected by the use of self-administered questionnaires, which will be made available to the participants by the researcher. The questionnaires will follow a structured format, which consists of organised and undisguised questions. Therefore, the responses are restricted to specific choices. As a result, participants are required to choose from a predetermined list of answers.
Undisguised questionnaires have direct questions, which allow the respondents to have a rough idea about what the researcher wishes to know. The main advantage of structured questionnaires, as compared to unstructured ones, is the ability to generate data that can be analysed quantitatively to recognise specific patterns and trends. Therefore, structured questionnaires will be the most appropriate tool to collect data that matches the selected research philosophy.
Questionnaires were chosen as the preferred data collection tool due to a number of advantages. For example, questionnaires facilitate the collection of data from many participants using minimal resources (Rowley 2014). This approach is important in cases where vast data is needed to improve the generalisability of the findings without the need for resource-intensive methods. Questionnaires also promote the anonymity of the participants, which makes it easy for a researcher to fulfil the component of privacy and confidentiality as part of ethical research requirements. Furthermore, anonymous questionnaires promote honesty and openness from the respondents (Muehlheusser, Roider & Wallmeier 2015).
Structured questionnaires also facilitate the identification of trends that call for further probing using quantitative approaches. The main shortcoming of the chosen approach is that it will be impossible to obtain richer feedback that could provide further insight into the observed patterns, respondents’ thoughts and attitudes (Choy 2014). This shortcoming could be circumvented by using unstructured questionnaires. However, unstructured questionnaires would complicate data analysis by quantitative methods as outlined in the research philosophy.
Nonetheless, questionnaires also have a few limitations that should be acknowledged. For example, there is a possibility that different subjects can interpret the same set of questions in different ways and give conflicting answers, which can result in data inconsistencies (Bryman 2016). Convincing potential participants to complete the questionnaires is not an easy feat and may drastically reduce the number of participants (McPeake, Bateson & O’Neill 2014).
The questionnaire will be divided into three sections. Section A will contain questions aimed at obtaining the background information of the respondents, including different social media platforms used by the participants. Section B will contain questions that weigh the level of consumer awareness of different car brands, how they knew about the brands and product promotion strategies associated with specific brands. Section C questions will attempt to determine the impact of pricing strategy on the brand loyalty of cars.
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Since the study will involve the collection of quantitative data through questionnaires, the data analysis process will focus on the documented approach to quantitative data from questionnaires. The first step will be the creation of a simple table that will be used to collate the data collected in the questionnaires. The second step will be the coding of variables for ease of identification. Data coding also transforms qualitative data or string variables into a form that can be recognized by statistical software for subsequent analysis (Stuckey 2015; Nicholls, Langan & Benchimol 2017).
The different variables that will be considered in the data collection will include the type of social media platform, frequency of social media use, knowledge of different car brands through social media and the impact of social media on brand loyalty of cars. All these variables will be compared against the demographic data collected from the respondents. A five-point Likert scale will be used to quantify data in dimensions that follow an ordinal scale (Harpe 2015; Joshi et al. 2015). The values obtained in each parameter will then be entered in the table. Thereafter, the proportions of observed responses in each category will be computed and recorded.
Descriptive statistics will be used to summarize the collected data and will include measures such as mean, median and mode. The impact of different social media of consumers on brand loyalty of cars will be determined by comparing the means of brand loyalty dimensions against social media use. Analysis of variance (ANOVA) will be used for this purpose (Orcher 2016). Chi-squared tests will be used to explore relationships between categorical data (Agresti 2018).
All analyses will be conducted at a 0.05 level of significance. Data analysis will be done using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) software version 23. Conclusions will be made based on factors that will demonstrate statistical significance at the specified level of significance.
Research investigations need to adhere to ethical standards of research by doing good and minimising any intended and unintended harm to participants (Wallace & Sheldon 2015). Three main issues that will be considered are informed consent, privacy and confidentiality (Check et al. 2014). Informed consent entails obtaining the approval of participants before involving them in the investigation (Lancaster 2017).
This process will involve sending invitation letters (via email) to prospective respondents requesting their participation in the study. The letter will include the objective of the study, the expected duration and procedures of data collection and how the respondent’s input will benefit the investigation study. It will also be indicated that participation is voluntary and that the subjects will be free to leave the study at any point. The respondents will be expected to provide their confirmation that they have understood what the research entails and are willing to be participants.
The ethical principle of privacy requires the researcher to respect participants’ privacy throughout the data collection stage (Wolf et al., 2015). The researcher will not collect any vital personal information from the participants, such as personal identification numbers or social security numbers. Additionally, the collected data will be used for research purposes only. The data will only be accessed by the researcher, which will guarantee the privacy of the participants. Anonymous questionnaires will be used throughout. Therefore, the subjects will not be expected to disclose their true identities.
This approach will also promote the reliability of the data and eliminate bias because participants will be free to give their responses without any fear. Ethical approval will be obtained from the researcher’s institution before beginning any part of the research.
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