MKT 4400

INTERNET EXERCISES 1-8

 

The purpose of the Internet exercises is to explore and learn about the Internet as a vehicle for marketing information, activities, and processes. While these exercises are assignments, I am hoping that each of you and your team members will experience the marvelous awe and wonder of what the Internet is, how it can be effectively and creatively used, and the joy and excitement of discovering new possibilities, particularly for marketing.

 

I have provided you with sample links on most pieces of each Internet Exercise. However, you are not limited to these suggested links.  Please explore as many as you would like to understand more about online marketing. If some links change during the semester, then google an equivalent link and use that instead.  It is up to you to make this as enjoyable and learning-rich as it can be.

 

We will not meet in our formal classroom on the days that Internet exercises are scheduled. Instead, each of you will meet in your groups of four or work independently as required by the assignment. I will be in my office during these times if you want to interact with me, or we can meet online, phone, whatever you need. At the end of the semester, each individual will hand in one overall peer evaluation of the group members’ behavior and contributions to the Internet exercises as a whole. Grades will be adjusted based on these peer evaluations.

 

Internet Exercise 1: Group Communication System (Tuesday Class:  January 28 and February 4; Thursday Class:  January 30 and February 6; In-Class Meeting)

 

1.     Create a group communication system via website, social media, phone apps, Skype, conference calls, Google, etc., or any combination thereof, where the 4 of you can meet online as a study group, that is, where you can be signed in and live/real time with each other so that you do not have to meet physically if you choose.

2.     Here are some websites to consider:

·       http://www.schools.com/articles/create-your-own-community-online-study-group.html

·       http://groups.google.com/, http://www.skype.com/en/

·       http://www.onlinecollege.org/2013/03/29/should-we-meet-in-person/

·       http://www.onlinecollege.org/2013/03/18/10-online-student-suggestions-surviving-group-assignments/

·       http://community.pennfoster.edu/thread/1171

·       http://www.educationandtech.com/2012/09/tips-for-forming-successful-online.html

·       http://news.everestonline.edu/post/2010/10/online-study-group/?dmredirect=IFLSC001

·       http://www.unisa.ac.za/default.asp?Cmd=ViewContent&ContentID=15151

·       http://www.elearners.com/online-education-resources/online-learning/how-to-survive-virtual-group-work/

·       http://www.onlinecollege.org/2011/10/11/starting-a-virtual-study-group/

·       http://www.scholarshipexperts.com/college-life/collaboration-tools-for-students

·       http://www.infed.org/groupwork/what_is_a_group.htm

3.     Turn in an approximately 3-5 page, typed paper explaining your group communication system – what possibilities are available, what you set up, how you did it, any problems you had, how you worked out the bugs, is it up and running fully at this time, are you already using it, why you set it up as you did, what contingency plan is available, how did the members participate as a group, journal of activities, and what you learned overall as a group from doing this exercise.

 

Due:  February 18 (Tuesday Class) andFebruary 20 (Thursday Class); 10 points. This is a group exercise. Hand in an approximately 3-5 page, double-spaced typed paper addressing the above concerns. Please email me any links referred to in your paper.

 

Internet Exercise 2: Demographics, Multicultural, and Community Marketing – Part I (Tuesday Class:  February 11; Thursday Class:  February 13; No In-Class Meeting)

 

1.     Visit two very different retail websites (e.g., Nordstrom and K-Mart) to think about different levels of socio-economics and their influence on consumer behavior. How have the marketers of these two very different socio-economic consumer bases developed their sites to appeal to their prospective customers? Identify the most important differences and any interesting similarities. Which of these sites has done a better job in your opinion of attracting and servicing their targeted audience? Why?

2.     When fashion trends start in the lower class and spread upwards, this is called status float. Identify a site and the particular trend(s) that is a good example of having implemented status float. Explain how the Internet has influenced the consumer behavior of this market.

3.     Visit the U.S. Census website (www.census.gov). What data are available there on the following? Which data are most useful to marketers? Why?

a.     African Americans

b.     Asian Americans

c.     Hispanics

d.     Native Americans

What are the total numbers of these groups? The U.S. Census Bureau site is organized into five areas: People and Households, Business and Industry, Geography, Newsroom, and Special Topics. As just one option, the “People” section (Estimates) of the site provides population estimates for each of these subcultures (http://www.census.gov/population/race/) overall, by state, and by county. Various Census tables (e.g., see Statistical Abstract) provide information on these subcultures relating to such factors as age and income. This information provides insight into the relative size and demographic composition of each of these segments in the U.S. population.

4.     As a result of a stagnant growth in "mainstream" market segments, relatively strong rates of demographic growth among ethnic communities, and recognition of their purchasing power (i.e., 15% of the U.S. total) marketing consultants from the U.S. to Australia and South Africa extol the virtues of multicultural marketing, or special targeting of ethnic minorities. Identify such a multicultural site and explain how and what the site does to enhance special targeting of ethnic minorities. See http://www.namic.com/research/demographics.php and http://www.terry.uga.edu/news/releases/2010/minority-buying-power-report.html.

5.     Visit the J. Crew website at www.jcrew.com to learn more about how J. Crew uses what it knows and understands about its customers to offer popular products. How does J. Crew use its knowledge of consumer behavior to offer services to help their customers?

6.     Consumer behavior research is dedicated to deciphering, explaining, and predicting human needs and wants, and measuring and understanding people's satisfaction. Select a website where you have researched or actually purchased a product(s) and evaluate the extent to which this e-retailer has met your expectations of needs and wants. Be sure and comment on whether or not the site asks for "customer feedback/satisfaction level." Does this site use consumer behavior research effectively to maintain a competitive advantage in the marketplace?

7.     Evaluate Apple’s website (http://www.apple.com/). What assumptions about consumer behavior are reflected in this website? For example, as of late 2008, the Apple site took a relatively sophisticated and minimalist approach, likely with the assumption that its target customers are skeptical of “hard sell” approaches and prefer soft sell approaches that focus on the products and technology. It also is easy to use with tabs relating to its core products including the very popular iPod and iTunes, iPhone, as well as the Mac. The site is information intensive and designed to facilitate shopping (its online Apple Store) reflecting the assumption that its customer base is time pressed and tech savvy. What else?

8.     McDonald’s strives to be a socially responsible company by giving back to the communities in which they live and work, from sponsoring sports teams, to providing free products to seniors, to a broad range of charitable endeavors. It would be hard though to beat the generosity of the man himself, Ronald McDonald. Through the Ronald McDonald Charities, in particular Ronald McDonald House Charities, the big man with the big feet, big hair, and big heart raises millions worldwide for a wide range of charities, especially those that focus on children. Administrative costs for Ronald’s charities are donated by McDonald’s corporate and franchise operators so all funds raised directly benefit the selected charities. Visit the following sites to see how Ronald and his helpers show that even large multinationals can have a heart:

a.     http://www.mcdonalds.com/ - Click on “Ronald McDonald House Charities.”

b.     http://www.mcdonalds.com.au/ - Check out the “Community” section to see Ronald in action in Australia.

c.     http://www.rmcc.ca/ – Site for the Ronald McDonald Charities in Canada.

9.     Use the Internet to discover what, if any, cause-related marketing activities the following firms are involved with: IBM, Subway, Estee Lauder, and Bayer. Does it make sense what they are doing? Do you have any suggestions for them?

10.  Examine a market research website (e.g., Nielsen or http://www.claritas.com/sitereports/reports/prizm-demographics-reports.jsp). Discuss what might motivate a consumer to provide answers to market research questions.

11.  What are your general conclusions from doing this Internet exercise?

12.  How well did your group work together? Any problems? Please provide a journal of activities and who was involved.

 

"People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care - about them and their problems." - Robert Cavett

 

Due:  March 11 (Tuesday Class) and March 13 (Thursday Class); 20 points.  This is a group exercise. Hand in an approximately 4-6 page, double-spaced typed paper addressing the above concerns. Please email me any links referred to in your paper.

 

Internet Exercise 3: Demographics, Multicultural, and Community Marketing – Part II (Tuesday Class:  February 11; Thursday Class:  February 13; No In-Class Meeting)

 

1.     Visit SRIC-BI’s VALS website (http://www.strategicbusinessinsights.com/). Complete the survey for yourself and your parents. Are you and your parents’ classifications and the behaviors associated with them accurate? This is fun. Rate yourself and your parents before you visit the site. Explain any differences.

2.     Visit Claritas’s website (PRIZM-now owned by Nielsen). Report on its PRIZM approach to lifestyle segmentation. Essentially, Claritas’ approach to lifestyle segmentation is based on answering: (1) Who are my customers? (2) What are they like? (3) What do they buy? (4) Where can I find them? and (5) How can I reach them? The PRIZM NE data allow identification down to the individual household, which is an improvement in precision over prior versions. Claritas takes geo-demographic analysis one step further by incorporating extensive data on product consumption and media usage patterns. The result is a “geo-lifestyle” approach that can be used in numerous ways including direct marketing campaigns involving a company’s existing customer base. Some “high-level” information on all 66 PRIZM segments is available at http://www.mybestsegments.com/. Subscribers can get even more detail. The Claritas site also provides a marketing brochure explaining in detail its PRIZM system.

3.     Visit a website that is actually a "community" (e.g., www.iVillage.com) and evaluate and explain how this "community" affects consumer culture. In what ways could such a site affect your own consumer culture?

4.     Visit one of these websites below and describe the firms’ efforts to foster brand communities.

a.     Red Bull

b.     Harley-Davidson

c.     Jeep

d.     Proctor & Gamble

e.     NASCAR

You will find a varying level of community building across these brands. Most have boards for posting messages and many have email lists in order to facilitate individuals’ connection with other owners/enthusiasts. Many brands have created membership groups. For example, the NASCAR website has a members’ community with blogs, a forum, and a chat room.

5.     Visit the Global Media Monitor at http://lass.purduecal.edu/cca/gmm/. What information can you find that is relevant to understanding consumer behavior? Global Media Monitor provides information and links pertaining to the global communications research industry including: profiles of organizations and regulatory entities, a directory of online journals and periodicals, latest research industry news, as well as discussion and informational links such as www.myglobalvillage.com, providing a discussion forum for addressing global markets and multicultural issues and trends.

6.     Visit Land’s End’s various international sites (you can start at http://www.landsend.com/).  Beyond adapting to language differences, how much adapting have they done to each country?  Based on your understanding of the cultural differences would you have expected more or less adaptation?  You can “Google” Lands’ End or look under the international tab at the very bottom of the U.S. site of http://www.landsend.com/.  Beyond language (Japanese in the Japan site http://www.landsend.co.jp/), it does not appear that Land’s End is doing a great deal to adapt to cultural differences.  For example, most of the people in the Land’s End Japan ads are American not Japanese.  A key discussion point here is to what extent such standardization is acceptable and how/what further customization might benefit Land’s End.

7.     Retail outlets owned by The Gap Inc. (http://www.gap.com/) were highly successful for many years, but their sales are now declining. To reverse its fortunes, the company has to determine how to satisfy changing consumer needs without alienating its current loyal customer base. The Gap’s success was due to the fact that it represented a fresh fashion idea: don’t chase the latest trends; let the wearer bring style to the clothes, not the reverse. However, when the dot.com bubble burst, some of the Gap magic seemed to go too. The “dress-down” revolution looked old; Gap’s advertising lost its edge. Today’s twenty-something buyers, the Gen Y’s, do not identify or buy into The Gap because the clothing is too homogeneous. This change in consumer tastes, combined with new high-end and low-end competition such as Gucci (http://www.gucci.com/us/home) and Zara (http://www.zara.com/), means The Gap is facing a huge challenge. Its original success was based on accurately assessing the consumer needs and attitudes of the time. Now it must do that again to remain an effective and viable competitor in the retail clothing market. Tour the featured website for The Gap. Go into the “About Gap Inc.” and the “Financials and Media” sections of the website and update your understanding of the company’s situation by looking at its history and latest financial figures. Look at its current product offerings and styles. Is there any indication that The Gap, Banana Republic (http://www.bananarepublic.com/), or Old Navy (http://www.oldnavy.com/) have changed their approach to fashion?

8.     What are your general conclusions from doing this Internet exercise?

9.     How well did your group work together? Any problems? Please provide a journal of activities and who was involved.

 

Due:  March 11 (Tuesday Class) and March 13 (Thursday Class); 20 points.  This is a group exercise. Hand in an approximately 4-6 page, double-spaced typed paper addressing the above concerns. Please email me any links referred to in your paper.

 

Internet Exercise 4: Generations (Tuesday Class:  March 4; Thursday Class:  March 6; No In-Class Meeting)

 

1.     Use the Internet to describe the following characteristics of the U.S. population in 2020 (www.census.gov is a good place to start). How will this differ from the way it is today? What are the marketing strategy implications of these shifts?

a.     Total size and size by major census region

b.     Age distribution

c.     Education level

d.     Occupation structure

e.     Income level

While “big picture” data on the population are available for free, accessing more detailed information can be fee based. You may be surprised and frustrated to find that many of the promising sources of data on the Internet charge for access to the really useful data. In addition, while some projections are readily available out as far as 2050, others may not be as readily available.

2.     Evaluate the services and data provided at www.easidemographics.com. While this site used to offer considerable demographic data for free, most of its data and software and reports are fee-based. You can drill down and investigate various aspects of the data and services available.

3.     Visit www.freedemographics.com. Register for their free demographic information. Pick two cities of interest and use the site to develop a demographic comparison using the most recent data available. This is a nice exercise to demonstrate how demographics vary quite dramatically by geographic location. A linkage to geo-demographic segmentation can be made here. It can be interesting to speculate on (a) the underlying sources of the differences, and (b) the influence that these differences play in terms of consumption patterns and lifestyle. Currently, the most recent data are from the 2010 Census.

4.     Find and describe two sites targeting children under six. What is your evaluation of these sites? Many of the sites targeted at children under six are educational in nature. These sites are most often targeted at children of all ages, not specifically at those under six. An example of this type of site is www.pbskids.org. Sites such as these are generally designed to be used by a parent and a child. However, targeting younger children can have its pitfalls. Think about the ethical and public relations aspects of targeting younger children and to what extent parent involvement helps. Barbie has a social network site (Barbie Girls) aimed at young girls (not clear just how young, though reading and writing required). Consider this site from a parental point of view. What are the PR risks involved? What are the marketing benefits? You might want to examine http://www.netsmartz.org/Parents.

5.     Compare and evaluate two teen websites such as:

·       about.com/teens

·       delias.com

·       alloy.com

·       http://www.people.com/people/package/0,,20045075,00.html

·       http://www.lovetoknow.com/top10/teen-girl.html

·       http://www.exquisite-minds.com/best-sites-for-kids/

·       seventeen.com

These sites attempt to relate to teenagers as a consumption community. Their content includes lifestyle related links, news, chats, email, and interactive contributions by visitors in addition to merchandise that is sold (if any). These internet environments attempt to provide teens with experiences that they can relate to.  Here are some links for Generation Z:

·       http://www.forbes.com/sites/onmarketing/2013/05/28/generation-z-rebels-with-a-cause/

·       http://www.imediaconnection.com/content/35535.asp?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ImediaConnectionAll+(iMedia+Connection%3A+All+Stories)#multiview

·       http://www.edudemic.com/generation-z/

6.     What might be top websites for Gen Y? Why? For example, consider:

·       http://mashable.com/2009/01/30/generation-y-social-networks/

·       http://allgroanup.com/featured/best-websites-for-twentysomethings/

·       http://thenextweb.com/socialmedia/2012/01/21/number-crunching-the-top-51-stats-for-generation-y-marketers/

·       http://www.business2community.com/marketing/marketing-to-gen-y-0160367

·       http://www.forbes.com/sites/micahsolomon/2013/09/30/the-will-ferrell-theorem-marketing-to-skeptical-customers-millennial-or-otherwise/

·       http://www.marketwatch.com/story/10-things-millennials-wont-tell-you-2013-06-21

·       http://www.marketingmagazine.co.uk/article/1211416/makes-brand-appeal-generation-y

·       http://shaketampa.com/marketing-to-millennials-getting-gen-y-right

·       http://themarketingspot.com/2011/06/marketing-to-millennials-generation-y.html

7.     Visit the Tripod website (www.tripod.lycos.com). Evaluate this site in terms of its potential appeal to Generation X.

·       http://www.time.com/time/arts/article/0,8599,1731528,00.html

·       http://themarketingspot.com/2011/06/marketing-to-generation-x.html

·       http://allwebhunt.com/dir-wiki.cfm/generation_x

·       http://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/198964/gen-x-proves-boon-to-marketers.html

·       http://www.thematuremarket.com/SeniorStrategic/-9409---5.html

·       http://www.destinationcrm.com/Articles/Editorial/Magazine-Features/Gen-X--Stuck-in-the-Middle-79865.aspx

·       http://www.jour.unr.edu/outpost/specials/genx.overvw1.html

The technology-related nature of this site which allows consumers to be Internet “creators” should be appealing to some in this group. However, those who create web pages, blogs, video, and video uploads to places like YouTube, tend to be teens and early twenties. Thus, this website is probably attractive to a larger proportion in the Generation Y cohort.

8.     Visit the AARP’s website (www.aarp.org). On the basis of what you read there, do you think AARP is doing a good job of appealing to baby boomers?

·       http://www.accessrx.com/blog/expert-interviews-and-podcasts/top-13-baby-boomer-websites/

·       http://www.seniorsforliving.com/blog/2011/03/10/top-100-senior-boomer-blogs-websites/

·       http://www.aabri.com/manuscripts/10575.pdf

·       http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-09-17/aging-boomers-befuddle-marketers-eying-15-trillion-prize.html

·       http://www.boomercafe.com/2013/11/16/baby-boomer-generation-defined-numbers-dates/

·       http://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/190455/marketing-to-baby-boomer-and-senior-customers-pa.html

·       http://themarketingspot.com/2011/06/marketing-to-baby-boomers.html

AARP is in an interesting position with respect to Baby Boomers. As of 2013, they ranged from 49-67. This wide age distribution makes it difficult for them to successfully target all Boomers. AARP has made explicit attempts to modify its image to appeal to the Boomers with more of a youth-oriented approach. Interestingly, as Boomers age, this could actually become a disadvantage, although there is evidence that the cognitive age of Boomers in retirement will be younger than that of the pre-depression and depression generations.

9.     Visit the Federal Trade Commission website (www.ftc.gov). Describe the issues the FTC is concerned with in terms of consumer protection and marketing. A host of information will provide you with a good flavor for what issues are hot and being discussed, including press releases, opinions, workshops, and publications available to both businesses and the consumer (e.g., e-commerce practices).

10.  Visit the CARU website (http://www.caru.org/). Examine the past 6 month’s news releases. Place each case in a category (such as privacy protection). What do you conclude? Children are a special case, requiring legal protection (hence, their inability to enter into contracts and so forth). This legal difference is evident by the differences in regulation of advertising to adults and children. “CARU's basic activities are the review and evaluation of child-directed advertising in all media, and online privacy practices as they affect children. When these are found to be misleading, inaccurate, or inconsistent with CARU's Self-Regulatory Guidelines for Children's Advertising, CARU seeks change through the voluntary cooperation of advertisers.” Found on this site are guidelines for children’s advertisers, as well as guidelines for parents to help their children learn to become savvy consumers. New information is added regularly to this site.

11.  Visit the TRUSTe website (http://www.truste.org/). Evaluate its approach to privacy. Will such a seal increase consumer confidence in a site? Justify your response. TRUSTe is a non-profit organization that is committed to ensuring that consumer privacy is maintained on the Internet. By clicking on the TRUSTe seal on a website, users are taken directly to the company’s privacy statement. The TRUSTe seal is given to only those sites that agree to abide by TRUSTe’s privacy principles of disclosure, choice, access, and security. According to the TRUSTe website, those companies that display the TRUSTe privacy seal agree to comply with ongoing TRUSTe oversight and its dispute resolution process. TRUSTe offers five types of Web seals: (1) The Web Privacy Seal, indicating a given company adheres to the TRUSTe standards; (2) EU Safe Harbor Seal, signifying companies that do business with EU citizens comply with the EU Safe Harbor program; (3) International Services, indicating a company’s commitment to privacy in any language; (4) Children’s Privacy Seal, demonstrating compliance with the COPPA laws; and (5) The Email Privacy Seal, indicative of a company’s dedication toward legal compliance with email and privacy laws.

12.  What are your general conclusions from doing this Internet exercise?

13.  How well did your group work together? Any problems? Please provide a journal of activities and who was involved.

 

"Customers set up a hierarchy of values, wants, and needs based on empirical data, opinions, word-of-mouth references, and previous experiences with products and services. They use that information to make purchasing decisions." - Regis McKenna

 

Due:  April 8 (Tuesday Class) and April 10 (Thursday Class); 20 points.  This is a group exercise. Hand in an approximately 4-6 page, double-spaced typed paper addressing the above concerns. Please email me any links referred to in your paper.

 

Internet Exercise 5: Consumer Decision Process – Part I (Tuesday Class:  March 4; Thursday Class:  March 6; No In-Class Meeting)

 

This is Part I of the two-part exercise examining the Consumer Behavior Process. The purpose of these exercises is to broaden your understanding of consumer behavior by bringing you face-to-face with customers. To begin, find a person who is not a member of this course (3 individuals for Part I and 3 individuals for Part II), and who has recently bought a product or service of the kind defined for each exercise described below (A, B, C). An alternative is to interview an institutional/industrial buyer.

 

Your task is to conduct an in-depth interview of about 30-60 minutes in length with each customer. The goal of the interview is to understand the decision process that governed the purchase of the product or service in terms that can be useful to a marketing manager.

 

As a reminder, here are the five steps in the consumer decision process:

 

1.     Become Aware of a Problem or Opportunity: The consumer becomes aware of an unfulfilled need, for example, replacing a regularly purchased item such as toothpaste or buying a new SUV (sports utility vehicle) to reach remote areas and perhaps gain peer approval.

2.     Search for Information: The individual is gathering information from various sources in order to make a better-informed decision. For example, the SUV buyer may consult with others who own one and conduct research on the Internet (manufacturer sites, online automobile magazines, etc.).

3.     Evaluate Alternatives: Once the choices have been narrowed, the consumer compares them based on the criteria that matter most. Continuing with the SUV example, the consumer may decide that the SUV must be both comfortable on the highway and agile in the back country, be pleasing to look at, and convenient for loading mountain bikes and other gear.

4.     Decide on What to Buy and Then Purchase It: At this stage, the SUV buyer may look for the best dealer, based on such factors as service, location, and price.

5.     Postpurchase or Reassess the Purchase: The bigger the purchase, the more the consumer will reconsider whether or not the decision was correct. The SUV buyer may periodically think about his or her satisfaction with the vehicle, compare it to other SUVs while driving, and tune in to passenger comments.

 

The list of questions below is intended as a broad guide for structuring your in-depth interviews. The format need not be followed dogmatically, nor is the list necessarily complete and exhaustive of the types of questions you need to ask, or the level of detail for which you need to probe. Rather you should try to stimulate a lively and open discussion around these key question areas from which you can: (a) develop a deep understanding of the purchase decision process; and (b) surface the factors, in the environment and in the customer’s psyche, that really determined why the customer acted the way she/he did.

 

Part I

 

Prepare a report briefly and concisely (1-2 pages) for each interview for submission. You also may be called upon to report to the class on your key insights.

 

Exercise A: A mundane product or service costing less than $5.

Exercise B: A product or service costing over $100 that performs a utilitarian (practical or functional) function.

Exercise C: A product or service costing over $100 that, the customer feels, reveals something about the kind of person he/she is, e.g., based on ego, image, or self-concept.

 

General Discussion Areas for Part I

 

Your task is to audit the choice process.

 

Who is the decision-making unit?

§  Who bought the product or service?

§  Identify all those who played a role in the decision process. What role did they play?

§  What motivated the purchase?

§  What problems did the product/service solve?

§  What functions would it facilitate?

§  What attributes seemed important?

 

Characterize the decision.

§  Was it a first time decision? A review of a previous decision? A casual decision?

§  Was the amount of deliberation appropriate to the decision?

 

Characterize the decision-making process.

§  What triggered the process?

§  Was there an information search? How was the search conducted? How much information was collected? What sources were used? When in the process was information gathered?

§  How many alternatives were evaluated? Why those?

§  How was the final choice determined?

 

Where did the consumer buy?

§  Why there?

§  Which came first: where to buy or what to buy?

 

What are your general conclusions from doing this part of the consumer behavior process exercise?

 

How well did your group work together? Any problems? Please provide a journal of activities and who was involved.

 

Source: http://faculty.washington.edu/giambatt/mktg301_old/forms/conbehavior_analysis.pdf

 

Due:  April 8 (Tuesday Class) and April 10 (Thursday Class); 20 points.  This is a group exercise. Hand in an approximately 4-6 page, double-spaced typed paper addressing the above concerns. Please email me any links referred to in your paper.

 

Internet Exercise 6: Consumer Decision Process – Part II (Tuesday Class:  March 25; Thursday Class:  March 27; No In-Class Meeting)

 

This is Part II of the two-part exercise examining the Consumer Behavior Process. The purpose of these exercises is to broaden your understanding of consumer behavior by bringing you face-to-face with customers. To begin, find a person who is not a member of this course (3 individuals for Part I and 3 individuals for Part II), and who has recently bought a product or service of the kind defined for each exercise described below (D, E, F). An alternative is to interview an institutional/industrial buyer.

 

Your task is to conduct an in-depth interview of about 30-60 minutes in length with each customer. The goal of the interview is to understand the decision process that governed the purchase of the product or service in terms that can be useful to a marketing manager.

 

The list of questions below is intended as a broad guide for structuring your in-depth interviews. The format need not to be followed dogmatically, nor is the list necessarily complete and exhaustive of the types of questions you need to ask, or the level of detail for which you need to probe. Rather you should try to stimulate a lively and open discussion around these key question areas from which you can: (a) develop a deep understanding of the purchase decision process; and (b) surface the factors, in the environment and in the customer’s psyche, that really determined why the customer acted the way she/he did.

 

Part II

 

Prepare a report briefly and concisely (1-2 pages) for each interview for submission. You also may be called upon to report to the class on your key insights.

 

Exercise D: A mundane product or service costing less than $5.

Exercise E: A product or service costing over $100 that performs a utilitarian function, i.e., practical or functional.

Exercise F: A product or service costing over $100 that, the customer feels, reveals something about the kind of person he/she is, e.g., based on ego, image, or self-concept.

 

General Discussion Areas for Part II

 

Your task is to audit the relationship between the customer and the product/service.

 

How would you describe the consumption experience?

§  How often is the product used or consumed? Who uses it? When? Where? How often?

§  What feelings and opinions surround the consumption experience?

 

What type of relationship does the customer have with the product or service?

§  How long has the relationship been going on?

§  How has it evolved and changed over time?

§  What terms best describe the relationship: good, bad, mixed, ambivalence, dependency, casual, partners, exploited, exploitative, good friends?

 

What kinds of things have gone wrong in the relationship?

§  Stock outs, unavailability of parts or service, inappropriate communication, quality lapses, violations of norms or expectations or values?

 

What positive surprises have occurred?

§  Exceptional service, welcome communication, performance above expectations, affirmation of values.

 

Is the customer satisfied or dissatisfied with the product or service?

§  What factors influence the level of felt (dis)satisfaction?

§  How were expectations formed? Did the product exceed them or fall short? How?

 

What is the meaning of this product or service to the customer?

§  How does the product fit into the consumer’s life? What role does it play?

§  What role does the brand play in all of this?

 

What are your general conclusions from doing this part of the consumer behavior process exercise?

 

How well did your group work together? Any problems? Please provide a journal of activities and who was involved.

 

Source: http://faculty.washington.edu/giambatt/mktg301_old/forms/conbehavior_analysis.pdf

 

Due: April 29 (Tuesday Class) and May 1 (Thursday Class); 20 points.  This is a group exercise. Hand in an approximately 4-6 page, double-spaced typed paper addressing the above concerns. Please email me any links referred to in your paper.

 

Internet Exercise 7: Online Retailing and Consumer Behavior – Part I (Tuesday Class:  April 1; Thursday Class:  April 3; No In-Class Meeting)

 

1.     Online retailers first need to be recognized and found. Go to http://www.searchenginewatch.com/ under their search engine marketing 101 section. Examine the various resources in this section including strategies for search engine optimization (SEO). Prepare a brief report on the various techniques involved in SEO. Provided mostly for webmasters, site owners, and web marketers, you quickly will see the huge amount of resource material and strategies available, including strategies for improving search engine rankings through better web design, e.g., http://thenextweb.com/lifehacks/2013/08/21/how-to-improve-your-sites-seo/, http://www.jeffbullas.com/2013/11/11/how-to-increase-your-seo-with-google-plus/, and http://static.googleusercontent.com/media/www.google.com/en/us/webmasters/docs/search-engine-optimization-starter-guide.pdf.

2.     Visit several online retailers. How would you characterize this shopping situation relative to shopping in a physical store? List the various situational dimensions and then compare online shopping to physical store shopping on those dimensions. Physical aspects will vary as will social aspects. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each, how each format can be seen as complementary, and how each format could be improved from a situational dimension standpoint.

3.     What type of online environment does BarnesandNoble.com have? BarnesandNoble.com is a multi-product online store (offering books, music, cards, games, etc.). Barnes and Noble has created its site in a way that enables you to get much of the information on books, movies, music, and a host of other products that you would normally get from asking a sales person at a traditional store - with the convenience of doing it from the comfort of your home or office. The environment is straightforward, product and information oriented, and fairly utilitarian. It aids the shopping and buying process which is also efficient and designed to enhance security. Rate the various situational dimensions of the site as in question 1 and discuss how the site might be improved from the perspective of situational influences.

4.     Surf http://www.homedepot.com/ and check whether (and how) the company provides service to customers with different skill levels. Particularly, check the “kitchen and bath design center” and other self-configuration assistance. Relate this to market research.

5.     Enter clairol.com to determine your best hair color. You can upload your own photo to the studio and see how different shades look on you. You can also try different hairstyles. This site also is for men. How can these activities increase branding? How can they increase sales?

6.     Visit http://www.orbitz.com/. What decision rule and evaluative criteria seem to dominate? Why do you think this is?

7.     Monitor several product- or activity-related chat sites, interest groups, or blogs for a week. Prepare a report on how a marketer could learn about the following by doing this.

a.     Customer satisfaction levels and customer commitment

b.     Product use

c.     Customer evaluation processes

You may notice blogs devoted to a particular company and so forth. The key is to recognize how answers to the above questions can be obtained via online observation. You may want to track which was the most difficult to obtain and which was the easiest and why. Participate in a blog of your choice – why did you choose it and what did you contribute and why?

8.     Pick a brand that offers an online newsletter and sign up for it. Evaluate its role in customer satisfaction and relationship marketing. One such brand that offers a newsletter is http://www.kraftfoodscompany.com/ which provides weekly e-newsletters containing recipes and cooking tips.  Others can be found at http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/best-online-newsletters-to-be-named-by-web-marketing-association-179288691.html.

9.     What are your general conclusions from doing this part of the online retailing and consumer behavior exercise?

 

Due:  May 13 (Tuesday Class) andMay 15 (Thursday Class); 20 points.  This is an individual exercise. Hand in an approximately 4-6 page, double-spaced typed paper addressing the above concerns. Please email me any links referred to in your paper.

 

“Customers can’t always tell you what they want, but they can always tell you what’s wrong.” - Carly Fiona

 

Internet Exercise 8: Online Retailing and Consumer Behavior – Part II (Tuesday Class:  April 1; Thursday Class:  April 3; No In-Class Meeting)

 

1.     Join an online social networking site of your choosing (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn). Observe and/or participate for a week. Write a report that examines the various strategies that marketers are using on this site. The strategies that marketers are using have and will continue to evolve rapidly. The key here is for you to identify specific marketing techniques that are being used and how/why they are effective and useful to their target audience.

2.     Use an Internet shopping service such as mysimon.com or http://www.bizrate.com/ or http://www.nextag.com/ to determine the “best buy” for a product that interests you. Evaluate this process. How could it be improved? If you were actually going to make the purchase, would you buy this one or would you purchase elsewhere? Why? Most of these sites have a basic search. When the list of items is displayed that qualify based on the search phrase provided, most sites will display a brief description of each item and a price range. Consumers can select a given item to compare outlets based on price.

3.     Visit Amazon.com, epionions.com, or a similar site. Examine the product reviews provided by other customers. How useful do you think these are? What could make them more useful? How do you view the customer reviews versus sales personnel information and product descriptions, as well as the usefulness of this information. For example, do the reviews and descriptions make up for the fact that consumers cannot see and touch the merchandise in person?

4.     Find a company site that helps the company in terms of relationship marketing. Describe and evaluate this effort. For example, Saturn used to offer a “My Saturn” link from its homepage in which members could contact club members from across the country or post stories about their Saturn experience. In addition, there was a link to chat “live” with a Saturn representative. All of this was designed to increase the attachment customers felt with the Saturn brand.

5.     Find an independent complaint website (go to Yahoo/Google and search for “complaints about _____”) for the following firms. What insights does it provide? How should the target company respond?

a.     Walmart

b.     Disney

c.     Saturn

There are a variety of insights and responses that can stem from this type of information. Consider the positive long-term effect that complaints can have for a business that addresses them in an effective manner.

6.     A customer’s consumption or use experience with products and services is extremely important in determining value perceptions. Furthermore, postpurchase experiences can lead to positive or negative word-of-mouth and influence the likelihood of repeat-purchase behavior. Service Intelligence Inc. at http://www.serviceintelligence.com/ maintains a website that catalogues customer stories of unpleasant and pleasant experiences with airlines, banks, retailers, and other businesses. Visit their website, click Customer Service Heroes and Horror Stories and answer the following questions:

a.     Are there more "horror" stories than "hero" stories? If you cannot find it on this site, then choose an equivalent site and examine negative consumer experiences, e.g.,  http://www.marketingcharts.com/wp/traditional/how-consumers-say-they-react-to-negative-service-experiences-37938/ or http://blog.laptopmag.com/online-shopping-horror-story.

b.     Choose two particular businesses such as airlines and banks. What is the most frequently mentioned complaint customers have for each business?

7.     Does the use of video excerpts of service failures by consumers on sites such as YouTube enhance their influence? Find an example and justify. Your discussion can focus on what level of consumer satisfaction is practical. Also, I am sure that you will recognize the potential ramifications of a firm’s customer satisfaction failure appearing on a site such as YouTube and the importance of encouraging customers to complain directly to the firm.

8.     Find a product, company, or brand site that helps the consumer use a product properly or effectively. Describe and evaluate this effort. Sports equipment firms can be good sites to examine.

9.     What are you general conclusions from doing this part of the online retailing and consumer behavior exercise?

 

Due: May 13 (Tuesday Class) and May 15 (Thursday Class); 20 points.  This is an individual exercise. Hand in an approximately 4-6 page, double-spaced typed paper addressing the above concerns. Please email me any links referred to in your paper.

 

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