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In order to achieve high degree of effectiveness and efficiency within the analysis, results and findings of this research, it has been suggested by Wells (1994) to present feasible and satisfactory explanation surrounding data collection and analysis strategy adopted by the researcher. It should be noted that research methodology refers to the approach of researchers in achieving answers and solutions to the focus of the study. This is the reason that Hollway & Jefferson (2000) has argued that research methodology is at the heart of projecting the authenticity and feasibility of any study. This chapter has therefore been aimed at highlighting and presenting the key research methodology that has been adopted for the current study aimed at critically analyzing the role played by relationship marketing in current discounted climate for cupcake and wedding cake industry. The chapter has been sub-divided into a number of sections, which have been based on key frameworks presented in the literature for the purpose of internal consistency and flow of argument.
The review of academic literature surrounding research work have pointed out that the evolution of research work has led to the development of a number of schools of thoughts. It has however been argued by Hollway & Jefferson (2000) that there are ultimately two types of predominant research philosophies that are used in varying degrees to develop characteristics of all contemporary school of thoughts. These, according to Robsons (2002) include positivist and phenomenological studies, which have inherent differences with each other, however are used significantly across the academic and commercial research. Positivist research, according to Adams & Schvaneveldt (1991) has been the school of thought that is inspired by the scientific method and therefore is bound to look for facts, figures and quantitative understanding of the social and organizational situations. Phenomenological studies, on the other hand have completely different understanding of the organizations and their approach towards solving the problem issues. It has been suggested that this school of thought takes a subjective and qualitative approach towards conducting research, where contextual knowledge is given high degree of importance. There has been significant discussion within literature regarding the appropriate use of both schools of thoughts within business academics; however both have been argued to have their advantages and disadvantages in certain conditions. In case of current research, which is aimed at critically analyzing the role played by relationship marketing in the current discounted business environment for cupcake and wedding cake industry, it can be suggested that subjective and qualitative underpinning is required. This is the reason that phenomenological research philosophy has been found to be aligned with achieving the aim and objectives of current research.
It should further be noticed that critical review of literature that falls within the area of relationship marketing in contemporary business environment has highlighted that there has been significant gaps that require exploration based studies. It should therefore be noted that the direction of current research is steered by the aim and objectives of the current research study set out in this dissertation. Positivism, drawing upon Adams & Schvaneveldt (1991) can have low degree of effectiveness when studies require understanding of the contextual knowledge and business environment. It is argued by Kervin (1992) that key insights into complex topics surrounding organizational behavior are lost if different aspects of the organization are generalized and studied in isolation of its interacting factors. This is the key reason that phenomenological philosophy would underpin the current research methodology to achieve the aim of this research study.
It should further be noticed that researcher has used inverted funnel approach in presenting and developing research objectives, which starts with idealistic set of research objectives and ends with realist and rational set, which has high degree of practicality to the cupcake and wedding cakes industries. Drawing upon Kervin (1992), it should be noted that such an approach towards research study essential means that exploration of new knowledge is being undertaken.
It has been pointed out by Kumar (2005) that there are essentially two types of approaches towards conducting research, which include induction and deduction. It is the reasoning that is used to analyze different aspects of the research study that define the overall research approach. It should be noted that induction deals with development of new theories, while deduction is aimed at testing hypothesis (Saunders et al, 2003). As the nature of this research is exploratory, therefore the researcher has found inductive reasoning to be aligned in achieving the aim and objectives of this research. There has been understanding in research methodology that has argued that choice of decision within research philosophy and approach layers have its effect on the typology of research strategy relevant for any study.
The exploratory nature of the study requires qualitative and subjective data, which is both longitudinal and cross sectional in nature, therefore leading to the use of case studies. It should be noted that plausible cases ranging from SMEs and large cupcake and wedding cake firms will be targeted. As the aim and objectives required significant analysis and understanding of relationship management and its dynamics within the context of contemporary discounted business environment, which requires great deal of in-depth knowledge that can only be achieved through the use of case studies. Drawing upon Saunders et al (2003) case studies have been highlighted as one of the key research strategy tool that can lead to significant understanding of the topic and lead to exploring new theoretical development. This is the reason that researcher carefully selected 6 case studies within Manchester area, each of which had different size and orientation to the rest.
There has been significant discussion within research literature surrounding the fact that researcher tend to believe that data collection is simple and straight forward task, therefore providing little personal focus and allocate low degree of resources to achieve the given tasks. Drawing upon Greenfield (2002), it should however be noted that although devising an effective research strategy is not a daunting task, but it requires its due focus to achieve effective and efficient methodology. It has been argued by Saunders et al (2003) that focus should be given to the alignment of research strategy adopted and the aim of the research study.
In the light of aim and objectives of this study, the researcher has adopted a multiple method strategy comprising of both primary and secondary research structures. In the light of literature, a number of advantages have been presented for using such a research strategy. These advantages include: (a) triangulation of data; (b) cross-sectional and longitudinal data collection; and (c) varying objectives can be achievable (Greenfield, 2002). The multiple method strategy comprised of collecting both primary and secondary data, which can be represented as follows:
the Research methodology
Secondary data Collection
Data Collection Strategy
Source: Researcher's own Analysis
The use of primary research in achieving exploratory aspects of the research studies has been well documented within experiential based business research literature. Drawing upon Saunders et al (2003), primary research can be seen as the first hand observations made by the researcher in regards to the focus of the research, which in the current case would be relationship management in discounted business environment. It should however be suggested that researcher takes the responsibility for checking coherence and internal consistency of the data collected (Kumar, 2003). This is the reason the researcher has chosen semi-structured interviews as the primary data collection tool so that data collection is done via active discussion with managers and customers of the businesses. This would provide an opportunity for the researcher to undertake a gap analysis between the expectations and perceptions of the two parties of the effectiveness of relationship management.
Semi-structured interviews have been selected as data collection mechanism as it provides an opportunity for changing questions during the course of the interview process and therefore led to discovery of new facts, figures and understanding of the topic. Drawing upon May (1997), individuals are more likely to be involved in studies that have semi-structured interviews as primary data collection tool than questionnaires and other structured approaches. The choice of semi-structured interviews helped the current research in two key ways. Firstly, they helped in clarification of key research topics and key gaps that exist between the perception and expectations of managers and customers surrounding relationship marketing. Secondly, it also helped in developing key recommendations for relationship marketing strategy proposed for the cupcake and wedding cake manufacturing industry.
May (1997) has highlighted variation between the expected response rate for semi-structured based approach, however it is expected that such studies would gain a response rate in excess of 50%. Due to the nature of the topic, the researcher has used purposive sampling technique to choose managers and customers of cupcake and weeding cake firms as and when the researchers found the sample fit for the purpose the research.
Do not have enough time for semi structured interviews; therefore I will be doing the online open-ended surveys and questionnaires as one of the research tools because it gives respondents a freedom to take part in the fieldwork. Moreover, managers of small and medium sized wedding cake companies do have a lot of responsibilities, if the researcher physically visits them and interviews them in person, they may find it hard to allocate time for the survey. The main focus of the management view survey is to gather views and opinions about how small and medium sized wedding cake firms use relationship marketing to benefit them.
Secondary Data Collection:
The second stage of data collection strategy has been based on secondary data collection mechanism. The researcher has used extensive number of sources that falls in the area of primary, secondary and tertiary sources. The importance of secondary data collection has been presented by Saunders et al (2003) that has highlighted that researchers believe that the aim of their study is unique and therefore cannot be achieved using secondary data collected for different scope. It is however argued by May (1997) that even the most uniquely aimed researches can be undertaken with the help of carefully selected secondary data. There have been a number of advantages highlighted for the use of such data, which include: (a) incorporating peer reviewed and audited data, which is of high quality; (b) making research feasible within limited time and resources; and (c) incorporating different schools of thoughts into the research. Saunders et al (2003) has summed up the use of secondary data for any kind of research with such words as "nowhere in science we reinvent the wheel".
The primary sources that have been incorporated within this research include explicit data supplied by the firms used as the case study for this study. These datasets include company websites e.g. M&S and Waitrose, press releases, annual reports and any other relevant published material from the company and its management. This data has allowed the researcher to develop the sense of perception of the company in regards to its relationship management marketing strategy. Similarly, secondary sources have been used from both academics and commercial area to achieve the aim of this research. The academic sources included peer reviewed journals, conference summaries, and marketing books, while the commercial sources included quality newspapers, industry magazines, and databases like Mintel. The use of tertiary sources has been done significantly as they were used to locate all the relevant material that has been produced within the domain of this research. The key tertiary sources used included Emerald.
In the light of above analysis, it can be highlighted that an effective all rounded research methodology has been undertaken by the researcher to achieve the aim and objective of this research. The combination of both primary and secondary data would help achieve the variety of objectives that have been set forth for this research study.
Chapter: Literature Review
Relationship Marketing Orientation:
One of the key concepts that have been introduced in the marketing literature is known as the relationship marketing orientation. Although loads of literature has been written on the importance of links that have been found between the organizational performance and the marketing orientation but still there are many researchers who say that the firms performance can be better enhanced with an implementation of the concept as the relationship marketing orientation. Relationship marketing orientation in many cases has been referred to as the ways of enhancing, building more customer relationships (Fritz, 1996). In many cases by the researchers this is the definition that has not been accepted and it has been said that the relationship marketing orientation is maintained by the firms, no doubt, to establish as well as maintaining the customer relationships but in this case the customers that are being included in this case are the ones who are at a profit thereby all the mutual desires of the parties including the customers are achieved in the profitable manner (Day, 1994). Any organization in the dynamic service market that is seen to be engaged in the maintenance and building the fruitful relationships with their customers, in exchanging the profits, products and services with the customers and the partners, on the far run this is the organization which is on its way to build the much better and strategic marketing orientation (Kohli & Jaworski, 1990).
Here it can be seen that the concept f relationship marketing is the one that focuses on the buyer seller relationships in the market that are counted among the stronger relationships as well as of longitudinal nature (Slater & Narver, 1993). Moreover the most important point that has to be noticed in this case that the buyer as well as seller in this case, as indicative of both the parties are the ones who benefit from the relationship. If the firm's perspective is taken into account, there is a philosophy that is related to the relationship marketing as has been said by the many researchers that the philosophy clearly indicates that the philosophy if implemented in the proper manner is the way to succeed in the business in the face of competitions in the dynamic market. Relationship marketing orientation is the name of another distinct and a pragmatic organizational culture that gives the buyer seller relationship an utmost importance in case of the strategic and implementable prospect of the firm's business orientation. As has been indicated by many studies the marketing orientation has been able to increase the profitability for the firms and the businesses (Manu & Sriram, 1996).
The business firms in china are the ones that have developed a scale for the relationship marketing orientation that is itself composed of many subscales. the six subscales that accurately measure the levels of integration of the relationship marketing or any firm include the bonding with the customer, communication with partners as well as the customers, shared values, empathy, reciprocity, and trust building with the customers (Manu & Sriram, 1996). At many places it has been said that the relationship marketing orientation always seems to have a positive effect on the firm's business and the related output in the market.
Marketing orientation as well as the relationship marketing orientation has been seen as the strategy that can be implemented and adopted by the firms in many forms and ways by keeping the fact in mind that the customers are the stakeholders for any firm and organization and they are to be prioritized in any way they can be (Roberts, 1990). The adoption and the implementation of the marketing orientation strategies depend upon the environment of the firm and the organization.
Previous studies that have been focused on the strategic management and the marketing literature has been indicative of the fact that the firms and organizations should be taking the environmental characteristics into consideration in case of the choice, development as well as the implementation of the strategy (Siguaw & Diamantopoulos, 1995). Drawing upon Santos et al (2005), it has been noticed as often that the strategies of the firms are the ones that reflect the external conditions of the firms.
A strategic marketing orientation if implemented and observed in the proper manner by the organization, only than the effectiveness of the strategic orientation can be seen to come into existence Sinkula (1997), it has been added that the effectiveness of the marketing orientation in many cases depends upon the dynamics that are seen in the business environment. Thus the firm if having any competitive environment characteristic s, different levels of the performance may be experienced which can be the outcomes of the mix of the marketing orientation as well as the relationship marketing orientation (Santos et al, 2005).
Relationships and the marketing orientation
According to Sinkula (1997), relationships are one of the most important activities in the relationship models that have been considered to be one of the integral relationships in the firms and organizations. Trust in the case of businesses has been defined as the positive attitude and the beliefs that are seen to be mutual in the relationships between the parties and the customers for the firms. According to Linus (2006), a supplier and the buyer in this case has to be trusted to be honest and faithful in his work by the customers and that is the only factor that can make the firm grow in the dynamic market.
In addition to the trust that has b been counted as an important factor in the business and the marketing orientation another factor that has been deemed to be very important is the commitment that has been aligned with the trust. Commitment in the work, in performance by the marketers as well as the by firm's authorities and with the customers is the ones thing that can make the firm have a better relationship marketing orientation (Linus, 2006). Concept that has been added is that the commitment is an attitude related component that helps in signifying an importance for the firms in case of the durable relationships that are required by the firms and the businesses so that the relationships can be sustained in a better manner (Jaworski & Kohli, 1996).
There are four main characteristics related to the relationship commitment, and these are described as the supplier commitment including loyalty, intentions to make the short term sacrifices as well as long term orientations and the most important part being the intentions to make the investments that can get the profits delivered to the end consumer as well as the partners in the business (Jaworski & Kohli, 1996).
Modern marketing in the firms
It has been seen that an analysis carried out on the firms demonstrate that the marketing in the modern days is not as strategies as it is supposed to be. In this case there have been many publications as well as the discussions that have seemed to point out the fact that the marketing in the modern days needs to stand up grab the most of the strategic power as much as it can (Anwar, 2008). In many cases it has been seen that the marketing has become unnecessary to many of the senior managers in many firms. The misguided marketing strategies have been the ones that are being followed by the managers and the marketers and these are the ones that have destroyed the concept that once was being help among the managers that the customers are the stake holders to any firm as well and the most important fact being that the shareholders are the ones who are looking for the best profits (Gounaris & Avlonitis, 2001). If the firm is able to apply and implement the best of the strategies than the share holders are the ones who can get the profits and can achieve much more than the trust from the firm.
Faulty marketing orientation is the one that has been seen to make losses for many firms and these are the loss of the share holders, suppliers, many customers and the careers also. In this case it has been seen that there are many marketers who have been seen to be engaged in the tactical decisions that require much more of the strategic analysis and these are the decisions that include the sales as well as advertising and support in terms of the buyers as well as the suppliers (Gounaris & Avlonitis, 2001).
Failing markets and Relationship Marketing:
By many studies it has been proved that the role of the marketing in the dynamic market especially the corporate hierarchy has been seen to be diminished. In case of the boardroom, it has been seen that apart from the many other issues that have been ignored, the marketing issues are the ones that are not receiving proper attention as they should be (Sin et al (2005). The latest factor that has been noticed is that the marketing has been receiving lesser attention and it is considered as a cost rather than an investment. This has been the major fault that has been noticed in the boardrooms as well as within the organization that are operating in these days.
These days as has been noticed that marginalization is taking place within the markets as it has been noticed that the more important aspects related to the marketing have moved into the other departments. Marketing mixing decision have always resulted in the synergetic effects in the organizations and the firms and as has been discussed the firms tend to get an outcome from the correct marketing mix if implemented in the proper manner (Gounaris & Avlonitis, 2001). In the modern firms and organizations that he roles that are being played by the finances departments are granted much more of an importance as compared to the marketers and the marketing mangers in the same firms (Sin et al, 2005).
The research clearly indicates that the marketing has a clear effect and the influence on the firm. It has been found out by Subin et al (2004) that the external contingent variables are the ones include the frequency and the unpredictability of the market and the changes related to these variables are the ones that are related to the factors that are influenced by the marketing. In addition to this, the competitive strategies as well as the organizational level institutional determinants are the ones that are influenced by the marketing orientation that is taken up by the business form or the organization (Caruana et al, 2003).
It has been said that the marketing functions have been seen to make contributions in the perceptions and the future planning that is focused on the financial performance that is being reflected by the firm, the performance in case of the customer and supplier-buyer relationships that are considered to be the most important in any case as well as the performance that is being anticipated by the newer product that is to be released into the market (Subin et al, 2004). These are the factors that are seen to be profitable therefore the fact that needs to be realized here is that the firms not only need t be market oriented but also need to have a strong as well as an influential marketing department with the risk taking minds and the innovators.
In many cases the competitive strategies and the institutional variables are the ones that labeled as firm characteristics. In this case as some of the studies reveal there are some counted institutional variables in the firms as the marketing related background of the Senior Management of the firm are the ones that are related to the marketing influence that is exerted by the firm (Caruana et al, 2003).
Marketing orientation and the Performance Measures:
It has been said that the marketing orientation has an effect on the business performance. There are many indicators that are related and counted to be among the business performances indicators and these are inclusive of return on assets, the market share, return on sales, as well as return on investments including the sales growth on the products (Caruana et al, 2003).
It has been seen that the product innovation has been seen to be the prime determinant of the firm's growth as well as the performance of an organization has been seen to be enhanced because of the product innovation. If in any case the product innovation is being given the preference by the marketers in any organization than it is known that it may not necessarily and most importantly leads to the superior business performance in many cases (Santos et al, 2005). This can be explained by saying that the innovation if used by making changes in already existing products from the market can give no competitive advantage to the organization. In contrast if the emphasis is made on developing newer products with the discontinuous innovations are the ones that may not lead to competitive advantage as well (Roberts, 1990).
The main point is this case is that the marketing performance is not the main factor that leads to the positive business performance. This is the factor that has been taken into consideration regardless of the company specificities as well as the market share that the company might well be holding. There is a complexity that is associated with the innovation which makes it more difficult to achieve and thereby it is said that the risk taking minds are the one who can be more innovative as compared to the uncompetitive managers as well as the marketers (Katy & Lloyd, 2006).
This is the strategy in relation to the marketing orientation has been criticized in many cases as it has been said that the intra group comparison cannot be made by this. There are many categorizations that are done on the basis of competitive strategy as these are the categories that do not make the differentiations from the taxonomy in question. The characters that are associated with the market orientation have been seen to shape the strategy that is involved in the market orientation (Katy & Lloyd, 2006). There are six main dimensions of the competitive strategy that has been analyzed and these include the aggression, analysis, defensiveness of the marketing strategy as well as the risky minds that are involved in the marketing strategy development. Here we shall be discussing the dimensions to the competitive strategy that have been mentioned so far (Wanous et al, 1992).
Aggressiveness in the marketing is the min dimension that reflects the organizations competitive behavior and the strategy. With the help of this particular strategy the allocation of the resources is seen to be made possible by all means as the managers and the marketers are the ones making the firm a success in the dynamic market. In this case it has been that the managers and the marketers are the ones that can detect the opportunities and the chances that are present in the market and they, to improve the firm's position in the market, try to implement the changes that have been made by taking the chances (Wanous et al, 1992). Thereby here it can be said that this is the kind of the behavior that can leads to the implementation of the better changes in the firm that can have the positive effects on the firm.
This is the case where the main factor that has to be noticed is the goal that has been set by the marketers and the managers. It is said that the competition in the market has to be faced by the mangers at the marketing department for any firm and for this the basic requirements that need to be fulfilled include the proper and an analyzed approach towards the knowledge of the customer based needs as well as the demands that they have (Wanous et al, 1992). In addition to this the other main factor that has to be kept in kind is the resources and the amount that can be made usable by the marketers at the firm.
Analysis is the ways in which the marketing managers and the authorities in the firms are the ones who adopt the decisions in the strategic marketing that are done by properly making an analysis of the situations of the global markets in relation to the trends and the demands of the customers (Noble et al, 2002). In this case a complete understanding is needed in case of the all the internal as well as the external issues in the organization. Therefore all of the information that is obtained about the customers have to be utilized in many ways so as the strategic planning can be done.
Defensiveness is the strategy by which the firms are meant to defend their competitive position in the market (Morgan & Strong, 1998). An internal orientation of the firm is protected din this manner as it has been known that the main interest that any industry are the costs reduction and the profit maximization. The leadership strategies that are related to the cost and the marketing differentiation are the ones that are found to be incompatible (Noble et al, 2002).
In case of the developed consumer based societies it has been seen that all the firms that are superiorly market oriented have the goals to give the customers the best quality in case of not only the consumer based relationships but also the products in the market according to the demands and the desires of the customers (Morgan & Strong, 1998). There are some firms that are more interested in developing the cost leadership strategy as has been seen in the case of the firms that are developed and are more oriented towards the development of the marketing orientation. For these forms also it is important that a knowledge base is developed in relation to the demands that are being developed by the customers as these are the demands which if fulfilled in the proper manner can be helpful for the organization (Liu, 1996).
The firms and the authorities in the firms are required to be aware of all the need of the customers as well as the competition that is being faced in the market. All this has to be anticipated and has to be analyzed prior to that it happens and in accordance to this the marketers and the authorities have to make the decisions as well as the strategies (Arnold, 1996).