United Ideas is a small family-owned business that wants to expand its B2B market segment and increase the volume of its wholesale operations. This article discusses the research objectives, methods, and timeline to identify the key factors that can help United Ideas achieve its goal.
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What are the key factors which will enable United Ideas to increasethe volume of its wholesale operations?BackgroundUnited Ideas is a small family owned business, which works closely with Peruviancooperatives and workshops to design and produce handmade clothing for kids. Theproducts are sold at company’s retail outlets – website, store in Greenwich Marketand stalls in Covent Garden and Jubilee markets.The preliminary analysis revealed that attention has to be drawn to marketingstrategy, public relations, online retail outlet and promotions – the areas that are noteffective enough and require immediate improvements in order to contribute to anddrive business growth and prosperity in the long run. It also was revealed thecompany owners’ objective to expand the business into B2B market segment andincrease the volume of the wholesale operations.The analysis and evaluation of current company’s situation and position in themarket and the identification of its main competitive advantage will allow determiningcompany’s capabilities (Johnson et al, 2009) and possible opportunities it can pursue(Dess et al, 2008). The knowledge of the above will allow reviewing marketingstrategy and, if necessary, reconsidering market segmentation and the best ways ofreaching, influencing, communicating customer value and building strong customerrelationships within the selected target market (Kotler et al, 2008; Wickham et al,2008).The research will provide necessary knowledge and ground for required changes and improvements to public relations, advertising, promotions and online retail outlet.This will also contribute to the expansion and increase of wholesale operations.Research Question and ObjectivesResearch Question:What are the key factors which will enable United Ideas toincrease the volume of its wholesale operations?Research Objectives:1.To examine and evaluate the current position of United Ideas in the market 2.To identify key sources of competitive advantage for United Ideas 3.To develop appropriate marketing strategy 4.To determine the appropriate marketing mix 5.To determine the most effective promotion mix for United Ideas 6.To make specific recommendations in respect of points 1-5 above 204/12/2010
Research MethodResearch DesignThe research strategy will be approached in the form of the case study, which willinvolve empirical investigation of specific business in its real life context. Theresearch question is more of the exploratory and explanatory nature – seeking togain deeper knowledge and understanding about the specific issue, raised inresearch question, by examining and analysing relationships between the variables,which affect this particular matter (Saunders et al, 2007). For this reason, case studyapproach is the most appropriate as it allows addressing all the aspects of the studyas a result of the combination of various research methods. This preventsaddressing the issue from one perspective only and provides more accurateevaluation of contextual elements affecting the researched area of interest(Saunders et al, 2007).The mixed method research design will be used in this project, which, according toBryman and Bell (2007), is the combination of quantitative and qualitative datacollection and analysis techniques and procedures. It is the most appropriateapproach for this study, as it enables flexibility in data gathering – from acquisition ofdescriptive statistical data, to detailed understanding of perceived company’s imageand reputation by its stakeholders. It also allows establishing interrelations betweendifferent research data (Bryman and Bell, 2007), which reveals causes of the currentbusiness situation.Data CollectionData collection will include number of quantitative and qualitative methods. These are: Semi-structured and in-depth interviews will be conducted with twocompanyowners.In-depth interviews are the most appropriate tool to get a better picture ofwhat is happening in the company – the way it operates, its nature, valuechain and capabilities etc – as it doesn’t not restricts interviewees topredetermined questions and allows speaking freely about the specificaspect (Saunders et al, 2007). Semi-structured interviews covers list of themes and questions, whichmight vary depending on the situation and outcomes. This approachprovides the understanding of the relationships between variables,revealed in other studies (Saunders et al, 2007) and also helps to gain aninsight about company’s strengths and weaknesses, spotting out anyunobserved problematic areas or issues. 304/12/2010
Depending on the availability of interviewees, it is intended to conductbetween 2 and 4 semi-structured and in-depth interviews. It is expected thateach of them will last approximately one hour. Depending on the agreementof the interviewees the conversations will be either audio-recorded for thefuture analysis, or notes will be taken during the interviews. If it will berequired, confidentiality and anonymity of participants will be guaranteed.•Group interviews with company employees will provide the insight about theway business is seen by its personnel – how do they feel about the companyand management, are they well trained and motivated. The level and attentionto the customer service and customer relation management can be exploredusing this method, as group members can generate, respond to and evaluatenumber of different ideas (Saunders et al, 2007). Participants will be chosen by judgemental non-probability sampling. Thisapproach allows selection of participants to be based on personal judgementthat this selection will best suit the requirements of the research (Saunders etal, 2007). Judgemental sampling is also very useful in the case studyapproach when working with small samples, which have to be particularlyinformation rich (Krueger and Casey, 2005). It is anticipated to conductbetween 2 and 4 interviews with up to 4 participants in a group. •Questionnaires to customers and business clients will enable to identify anddescribe the patterns of customer perceived value and quality of products andservices, provided by the company. Linking statistically analysed quantitativedata, provided by questionnaires, with qualitative interviews outcomes, willprovide valuable insight about the most effective advertising and markettargeting ways, customers and business clients’ preferences, needs andrequirements. Self-administered questionnaires to the customers will be distributed viaemail, delivery and collection method or will be asked to fill it in the store. Also a number of telephone and structured interviews will be conducted. The sample will be selected using probability sampling, which represents theresearch population (Saunders et al, 2007): The sample frame is the entire customer contact base, possessed bythe company. The minimum sample size - based on the size of the population, it hasto be 132. The actual sample size 330 – based on the response rate of around40% for questionnaires distribution methods, described above andmathematical calculation. Random sampling will be used in order to avoid bias and ensureaccuracy. 404/12/2010
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