Research Proposal: Marketing an Exploratory Study on the Adoption

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Marketing

An Exploratory Study on the Adoption of Emerging Online Marketing Vehicles for Healthcare Products

The increasing popularity and availability of the Internet to almost every individual makes it a potentially viable tool or vehicle for marketing. Internet has the potential to reach the most number of people, and simultaneously, also provide a personal and in-depth approach to marketing. Internet, in effect, can provide both breadth and depth to marketing: it can mass market and at the same time, it can provide personal communication and interaction with the consumers. It is for these reasons that the researcher would like to explore these potentials by proposing an exploratory research study on the adoption of online marketing vehicles for healthcare products.

This proposal is hinged on two important concepts: online marketing (and its vehicles) and healthcare products. Why online marketing, and why focus on healthcare products? The rationale for choosing healthcare products is that this category is the most commonly bought and used among consumers, but marketing strategies on this category is primarily traditional -- that is, relegated only to TV, print, and radio media. However, recent literature showed that while the figures are not highly attractive, there is a potential for healthcare product selling to be effective and eventually become profitable through the Internet. Bughin et. al. (2008) reported that the Internet contributes to about 8% of direct online sales to healthcare products. "Cross-channel impact," that is, 'online sales using offline touch points and offline sales using online touch points' is 8% for online marketing strategies (3). These results may not be as impressive as the percentage of sales impact of traditional media; however, as the authors argued, online marketing could be profitable if companies are able to apply 'niche-ing' in their strategies. This means that companies will target "online customer segments," wherein consumers' purchase and usage behavior can be identified as more appropriate to be addressed through either "e-mail, graphics-rich media, or video," among others (4). This is especially critical in marketing healthcare products, since this category is rich in customer segments, resulting from different demographic characteristics of individuals who generally have the same healthcare needs.

Online marketing, meanwhile, have numerous vehicles that healthcare product companies can use to their advantage and target their consumer market. Among the most acknowledged online marketing vehicles are blogs, online games (multi-player), podcasts (audio or video recordings), social networks (such as MySpace and Facebook), virtual worlds, (usage of avatars in social, three-dimensional environments), web services, and "wikis" ("collaborative publishing") (2). These vehicles are just some of the dominantly used marketing strategies on the Internet, and may also include other vehicles, such as sidebar ads in web pages and pop-up ads.

Since the Internet is a relatively new medium for marketing activities, this proposal will utilize the qualitative approach in order to explore the potential of online marketing of healthcare products to consumer segments, in terms of adoption to Internet technology, openness to online marketing strategies, Internet access and usage, and habits related to online-mediated shopping.

Research Objectives

General Objective:

Determine how healthcare consumer segments adopt and use online marketing strategies in purchase decision-making.

Specific Objectives:

Identify the touch points or types of media accessed by the healthcare consumer segments;

Determine the segments' attitudes towards online marketing strategies for healthcare products;

Determine the media habits of these healthcare consumer segments;

Determine the likelihood of trial of healthcare products among segments when these products are marketed online; and Identify the processes involved in each segment's purchase decision-making while online or using the Internet;

Methodology

Research Design

This study will use the qualitative approach, and is an exploratory study in design. Exploratory research design is used to generate insights and understanding to the research problems enumerated in the previous section. This is the most appropriate design for this research topics, since online marketing of healthcare products is still a broad and relatively new strategy, and additional insights are still needed before a more specific (i.e., quantitative) approach is used. This approach, in effect, is "loosely defined, flexible, and unstructured" (Malhotra, 1996:87).

Methods & Sampling

The exploratory will be conducted in three (3) stages, utilizing also 3 different qualitative methodologies: a media habits diary for the selected participants to answer every end of the day for one week; a focus group discussion (FGD) involving all diary participants for a more in-depth discussion of their media habits; and in-depth interviewing through 'accompanied online shopping.'

One-week Media Habits Diary

For the diary method, participants will be chosen based on interlocking sex and age groups: males and females, and youth/young adults, adults, and the elderly. These groups are based on the rationale that healthcare products are driven by these two characteristics of the individual. Healthcare products are sometimes age-specific, and most often, are also gender specific, since there are products that are exclusively used by men, and similarly, there are healthcare products that are exclusively used for women.

The one-week media habits diary will contain three sections: the first section will provide a detailed explanation of how the participants will accomplish the diary, the second section is the body of the diary, providing a detailed, unfilled pages of questions pertaining to the media that the participant accessed and used for the day; and the third section will be accomplished last, after the one week period, and this sections asks about the attitudes and values of the participant towards the Internet and online shopping in general.

The body of the diary will specifically ask about the media access and use of the participant, but questions related to exposure and purchase of healthcare products will only be general. This will be done so that the participants will not be given a clue or preempted about the specific objective of the diary, which is to determine the media habits and propensity to shop for healthcare products online. Also, fresh insights will be generated in the FGDs if participants will not be prompted on the possible topics that they will be talking about as a group.

Focus Group Discussions (FGDs)

Participants in the one-week diary will also be the discussants in the focus group discussions. For the FGDs, participants will be grouped according to the following characteristics: Males- youth, adults, elderly and Females- youth, adults, and elderly. In effect, there will be six (6) mini-groups composed of 4-5 discussants with the following characteristics:

Group Type

Age group

Males

Youth/Young Adult (13-25 years old)

Adults (26-55 years old)

Elderly (56 years old or older

Females

Youth/Young Adult (13-25 years old)

Adults (26-55 years old)

Elderly (56 years old or older

FGDs will actually be a thorough discussion and eventual consolidation of the diaries of the participants. Participants will exchange diaries, and, per group, there will be a moderator who will act as a mediator for the group. Each diary will be thoroughly evaluated and discussed. After the discussions, the group will consolidate all their findings through the laddering technique, wherein discussion on media habits and online healthcare products shopping/purchase will take on a path from product characteristics to user characteristics (Malhotra, 1996:175). To ensure the quality and provide a more holistic approach to consolidating the FGD findings, the researcher will hold a workshop with the mini-group moderators, which will be a one-day activity.

In-depth Interviewing through Accompanied Online Shopping

This method is adopted in order to provide a more in-depth look at the media exposure and online shopping habits of individuals considered to be receptive to online marketing strategies for healthcare products. Interviewees will be different from the diary participants/FGD discussants; they will be recruited based on their attitudes towards Internet technology and propensity for online shopping. An attitude screener will be used during recruitment to determine if indeed, the individual is an appropriate participant for this method. The accompanied online shopping component of this method… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Marketing an Exploratory Study on the Adoption.  (2008, November 15).  Retrieved July 16, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/marketing-exploratory-study-adoption/8012

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"Marketing an Exploratory Study on the Adoption."  15 November 2008.  Web.  16 July 2019. <https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/marketing-exploratory-study-adoption/8012>.

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"Marketing an Exploratory Study on the Adoption."  Essaytown.com.  November 15, 2008.  Accessed July 16, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/marketing-exploratory-study-adoption/8012.