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Executive Summary

The modern world is characterized with increased technological advancement due to globalization and information and communication technology takes the lead in this respect. Mobile phone technology has made means of communication across the globe easy and there is a significance rise in use of these gadgets by people. The emerging trend is that the people are spoilt for choice over the many models and handsets that are sold by various mobile manufacturing corporations in the world. It has therefore become necessary for some research to be carried out to establish the various factors that influence the decisions of people on what brand of phone to buy. Whatever the choice an individual makes among the several competing brands from the different manufacturers, there exist some evaluation process and certain consumer decision method. In-depth research study need to be carried out on the various product evaluation methods that explains the choice of people on a given mobile phone against the other even if the features are almost identical with marginal difference. The type of research study is important in explaining the reason behind failure of some mobile phone companies’ to make any impact in the competitive market. The findings would also extend to aid the other technological firms on some important considerations in designing, producing, promoting and selling their products.

Introduction

It is important to note that mobile phones are produced and sold by various giant manufactures. This is a very competitive industry that requires daily research and development both on the product and consumers. The manufacturers are competing for market share through various methods with the main focus of market expansion and customer retention. This sector relies on heavy technological investment and tricky pricing techniques since it almost exhibit oligopolistic market structure. This means that the consumer behavior is a core issue to each firm besides considering the market disturbance that any move of one producer can cause in the market. The central focus of each manufacturer is to find out the best marketing mix and other feature blends that conform to the varied product evaluation criteria applied by consumers. To undertake this research, it is important to highlight some of the global mobile manufacturers that command the global market and their product models. It is worth noting that there exists some common points where the all the manufacturers converge in their production analysis.

Top in this list is the customers taste and preference, price and durability. One common denominator in the consumer attraction strategy by the firms is the inclusion of a wide variety of user friendly features on the handsets. The preference of consumer on any mobile phone cuts across many factors and any of the firms must meet the clientele desires threshold to make appeal in the market. Besides the acquisition of the mobile phones there is the plan of using them which may take the form of prepaid or post paid policy or any other policy plan offered by the manufacturer. A client can apply many product evaluation concepts to make a choice and the probability of settling on a given option greatly depend on the average quality standing of the phone based on all the measurement criteria. A successful survey of this trend requires that a sample of respondents are selected and assessed on their choices which are then ranked and analyzed to give a representative conclusion about the entire population behavior. This is fairly technical method that requires in-depth understanding of decision matrix and statistical methods.  By constructing the decision matrix, it would be very easy to use various evaluation and decision making methods about alternative and competing products.

Mobile phone manufacturing companies

The mobile manufacturing industry is dominated by giant multinational corporations with central management in a given city and geographically dispersed distribution and sales agencies (Abbass Al-alak, B., Akram Alnawas, 2010, pp. 28-29). The top six mobile phone manufacturing firms are Nokia corporation with its headquarter in Espoo a neighboring city to Finland capital of Helsinki, Samsung electronics corporation with its headquarter in Seoul the capital city of South Korea, LG electronics corporation also based in South Korean city of Seoul, Apple an American electronics firm, Motorola inc. an American mobile manufacturer based in Illinois state and RIM-Blackberry company based in Ontario in Canada. All the above mentioned firms have high quality mobile phone products but the competition for the market is still stiff due to the complex nature of consumer behavior towards their buying decisions (Key , Dietmar ,Georg, 2006).

In this research work, six samples of mobile phones will be selected and the various methods of decision making will be employed after gathering a representative sample of people owning or planning to buy a phone. The phones will be identified with their brand names, price and service plans. Samsung Galaxy S3 at the cost of £94.00 with a monthly cost of £15.00, with a contract length of 24 months and 100 free minutes 5000 free texts (Choi, Seol, Lee, Cho, Park,2008, pp. 313-335). This handset has a quad core power complete with android 4.2.Its screen looks great with a 4.65-inches with a 720 x 1280 resolution, a high quality screen , slim chasis and faster processing pace among other features that makes a darling of many people. iPhone 5 at a cost of £529 and a monthly cost of £36.00,a contract length of 24 months, 1GB tariff and unlimited minutes and texting. This phone is sleek and thin with a high capability. It had a fast chip, larger screen display, wireless technology and other features. It is much smaller but more efficient than iPhone 4S.

Nokia Lumia 820 is another superb mobile phone brand costing £380, 24 months contract length, unlimited texts and number of minutes, monthly cost of £26.00 on O2 On tariff which is being offered by phones4u. This model of Nokia has a captivating design, a micro SD support, a large and wonderful screen display backed up with a powerful camera. It is one of the great pieces of art blended technology that Nokia Corporation has put on global offer for those who want sophistication attached with easy use. LG Optimus L5 is another ultra modern brand costing£140 with a monthly cost of less than £30 and 24 month contract length. It has cameras, Wi-Fi radios, android feature, slim structure with a light texture and a powerful web network that can help a person achieve high satisfaction at the press of the phones button. This is one of the exceptional technological masterpieces of LG electronics. It poses a micro-USB port at its bottom a headphone jack measuring 3.5mm at the top. This phone has a 2GB internal memory squeezed within the slim frame. This mobile phone presents the new communication experience at an artistic platform (Abbass Al-alak, B., Akram Alnawas, 2010, pp. 30-41).

Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc S costing £249 which Expansys offers is one of the sophisticated mobile products of Sony Ericson Corporation. Its arrival into the mobile phone market gave a new meaning to android technology. Some of its outstanding features include a faster single-core processor of 1.4GHz, user interface skin and an android 2.3.4 Google’s operating system update. It has a bright and wonderfully sharp screen display, high performance cameras, a longer battery life and a thin lighter weight. HTC Windows Phone 8S is a mobile phone brand from HTC costing  £240, a monthly cost of £15.50, an offer of O2 + 500MB, 2 years contract length and unlimited texts coupled with 200 minutes. Just to mention a few of its features, this mobile phone has a 5 megapixel camera, a nice LCD glass display and a resolution of 480 x 800.

The decision of consumers concerning the samples of the mobile phone brands highlighted above will capture some critical factors. Peoples’ desire and evaluation criteria depend on several attributes of the phone. In this case some of the important considerations include; colour, screen, camera, storage size, phone and plan total costs, contract duration, value and data included in the plan (Bouhlel , Mzoughi , Hadiji , Slimane, 2009, pp. 703-711). All these factors are to be tabulated and ranked according to their significance in decision making by the sample of the respondents selected. They form the basis of undertaking a reliable and result oriented research on the product assessment evaluation and choice of a specific mobile phone despite the negligible difference that may be observed from outside display in the shops and dealers stores.

To obtain a valid and reliable result at the end of the experiment, a decision matrix need to be drawn and it should capture the six mobile phone models. In each of the six selected mobile phones, the decision factors in their various ranks and using the various decision evaluation criterions to settle at one product. This would help in drawing the conclusion of the research report and making appropriate recommendations. Below is the set of decision matrix for the six mobile phones.

Decision Matrix

Perceived performance of the above mentioned six mobile phones in relation to eight evaluation criteria.

Table 1: Mobile brands

 

Consumer Perception

Evaluative Criteria

Samsung Galaxy S3

iPhone 5

Nokia Lumia 820

Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc S

HTC Windows Phone 8S

LG Optimus L5

Color

 

 

 

 

 

 

Screen

 

 

 

 

 

 

Storage Size

 

 

 

 

 

 

Phone And Plan Total Costs

 

 

 

 

 

 

Contract Duration

 

 

 

 

 

 

Value

 

 

 

 

 

 

Camera

 

 

 

 

 

 

Data Included In The Plan

 

 

 

 

 

 

The numbers assigned have the following qualitative attachments; 1- Very poor, 2- below average, 3-average, 4- above average, 5- very good.

Importance of the evaluative criteria to three buyers selected randomly during the research study.

Table 2: Consumer Evaluation and Assessment

Evaluative Criteria

Consumer A

Consumer B

Consumer C

Color

4

5

3

Screen

3

4

4

Storage Size

1

2

1

Phone And Plan Total Costs

3

2

3

Contract Duration

2

3

2

Value

4

4

3

Camera

3

3

2

Data Included In The Plan

1

2

1

 The numbers have the following qualitative meanings; 1 – most important, 5- least important

Considering three people that were selected to find out the evaluation criteria, the decision matrix tables above are filled in order of the preference of the consumers.

Table 3: Percentage Ranking

Evaluative Criteria

Importance score in %

Color

10

Screen

12

Storage Size

25

Phone And Plan Total Costs

10

Contract Duration

5

Value

7

Camera

4

Data Included In The Plan

27

Total percentage

100

The ranking of the various mobile phones by the consumers based on their perceived performance is a tabulated below:

Table 4: Consumer Decisions Matrix

 

Consumer Perception

Evaluative Criteria

Samsung Galaxy S3

iPhone 5

Nokia Lumia 820

Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc S

HTC Windows Phone 8S

LG Optimus L5

Color

5

2

4

2

3

2

Screen

4

5

3

3

4

4

Storage Size

3

4

4

2

5

3

Phone And Plan Total Costs

4

3

5

4

3

2

Contract Duration

2

1

2

5

2

5

Value

3

3

4

3

3

4

Camera

3

4

2

4

4

3

Data Included In The Plan

5

4

5

3

2

5

 

Compensatory Decision Rule

Using the compensatory decision rule, the mobile phone brand that will be rated highest on the total sum of the client’s personal judgment of the relevant product evaluation criteria will be selected. To arrive at the decision the following formulae is applicable.

Rb= ∑WB

Where R is the rating of the brand, W is the weight or significance attached to a given decision criteria and B evaluation of the criteria of the process.

Using the decision matrix above the computed values for the different mobile phones are as follows:

R Samsung Galaxy S3 = 5(10) + 4(12) +3(25) + 4(10) + 2(5) + 3(7) + 3(4) + 5(27)

                                     = 50+48+75+40+10+21+12+135

                                    = 391

R iPhone 5                  = 2(10) +5(12) +4(25) +3(10) +1(5) +3(7) +4(4) +4(27)

                                    = 20 + 60 +100 + 30 + 5 + 21 + 16 + 108

                                    = 360

  R Nokia Lumia 820 = 4(10) + 3(12) + 4(25) + 5(10) + 2(5) + 4(7) + 2(4) + 5(27)

                                    = 40 + 36 +100 + 50 + 10 +28 + 8 + 135

                                     = 407

   R Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc S   = 2(10) + 3(12) + 2(25) + 4(40) + 5(5) + 3(7) + 4(4) + 3 (27)

                                                       = 20 + 36 + 50 + 16 + 25 + 35 + 21 + 16 + 81

                                                       = 289

R HTC Windows Phone 8S = 3(10) + 4(12) + 5(25) + 3(10) + 2(5) + 3(7) + 4(4) + 2(27)

                                              = 30 + 48 + 125 + 30 + 10 + 21 + 16 + 54

                                               = 334

R LG Optimus L5                 = 2(10) + 4(12) + 3(25) + 2(10) + 5(5) + 4(7) + 3(4) + 5 (27)

                                              = 20 + 48 + 75 + 20 + 25 + 28 + 12 + 135

                                              = 463

In respect to the results calculated, LG Optimus L5 is the most popular mobile brand with a value of 463 while Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc S trails the preference list at 289. This a general market model of the average preference but in real situation there would be a scene of shift in preference. One of the reasons for this includes the extraneous factors that may not be captured by the researcher in the evaluation criteria list like peer influence, age and gender.

Choice Analysis

Considering the table 2 above, it can be observe that the three selected consumers have different relative preference ranking of the phones based on different product assessment and evaluation methods. It is important that the respondents are of different age groups (Bauer, Reichard, Barnes, Neumann, 2005, pp. 181-192). One of them is a young   person, another one is middle age and the last consumer is an old person. It is also worth to note that the consumers forming this list are from the two genders. The two characteristics of the consumers highlighted above offers an explanation to the different ranking criteria they attach to the various mobile phone brands on offer. Young consumers are interested in the storage capacity, screen, Camera mostly due to their great demand of entertainment while using the phone. They pay least attention to contract duration since in most cases the bill is settled by the parent or guardian. The middle aged clients are at the edge of the two age groups hence will consider an average behavioral action that captures almost all the evaluation criteria. The old client is after basic applications like making calls and reading messages. In this respect they have little attention to the beauty aspects like screen, color or value. Gender is equally important as it will be observed that there is a marginal preference difference based on the available evaluation criteria due to gender roles and the subsequent desires in a mobile phone. The female buyers will consider mostly beauty part of the phone like screen and colour while male will consider value, durability and cost.

Other demographic attributes that explain the preference differential constitute family situation, income, ethnicity and others (Amin, 2008, pp. 493-503). The tabulated presentation of the preference of the three respondents (refer to table 2 above) captures the effect of income on the level of income on consumption decision. It is evidenced that those earning meager income must consider the initial cost of acquiring the handset, the look at the Phone and Plan Total Costs and contract duration before other features can be taken care of. The respondent who is well off gives little attention to the cost of acquisition and use but attach a lot of prestige and importance to the appearance and value. Any rational consumer wants to maximize utility subject to his/ her income level and this creates a great variability in decision making criteria. The family situation has to do with the economic ability of the household. In this regard, the clients from humbly backgrounds behave more of like the financially worse off while those hailing from affluent families goes for the whole quality package. An equally critical factor is the ethnic affiliation. The respondent who comes from an ethnic class of customary conservatism tends to consider basic features and cost only (Yang & Jolly, 2009, pp. 502-508). The rest of the criteria are not taken care of due to the rigid social and cultural belief inculcated from childhood. Religious faith is also vital in influencing the evaluation criteria to adopt by the different clients. Superstitious beliefs are a critical player in ranking of some features of the phone like camera, storage capacity and the value. From the experiment done with the three respondents, it was clear that all of them had a mature conscience and composure while answering the questions posed besides filling in the product assessment and evaluation criteria.

Conclusion

In conclusion, it was observed that the decisions made concerning the various mobile phone brands overlaps even to other electrical devices and is increasingly gaining convergence across the globe (Ajzen, 2008, pp. 179-211). Different consumers gauge their preferences with respect to mobile phones. This implies although there are common attributes to all consumers, their preference and tastes for the choice of the mobile handset is based on other attributes. As observed (in table 2 & 3 above), consumers places value on color, brand, feature and the manufacturer. Besides, consumer choices are also influenced by their purchasing power parity. Demographic variable such as sex, age, and residence forms other preference decision in the matrices.

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