What is Exploratory Research Method?

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The design of such studies is flexible. Researchers are receptive to new ideas and unusual thoughts. They can change the course of research to get these new ideas. Hence, they could change the focus of attention of these studies on a regular basis simply because they are keen to learn about the new possibilities in the given field of study. The formal design is absent. The imagination of the researcher is the vital hinge on which, the structure of this type of research rests. Three types of techniques can be used to carry out this type of study or research project, as follows.

Study of Secondary Data

This method saves time, money, and efforts, as already stated. Such data are available from professional research organisations, directories, newspapers, magazines, journals of the government, web sites of Internet, electronic data libraries, company libraries, trade associations, and firm such as ORG, MARG, McKinsey, Neilson, etc. These sources of secondary data stimulate hypotheses.

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Whims and fancies of the researchers are, however, kept at bay. This study is not an aimless one, although it is not supported by formal designs. Several guides and indexes help researchers remain on a logical track of data collection. These researchers or data collectors ought to be very mature and intelligent.

Survey of Individuals

Some people move ahead of their times. They are a great source of creative data. But it is difficult to locate imaginative people in a sea of humans. Thus, the researcher has to be intelligent enough to weed out the paean and meet the right kind of person who could shake his own thoughts. It is better to interview those people who know something about the subject; that way, it is easy for the researcher to get creative cues from them. A creative person would be creative only in his own line of operation.

Within the framework of a broad problem, the respondent is free to speak anything. Thus, he comes out with the best, as he is not under tension. He may need some kind of incentive, gift, or a gift hamper to speak what he feels. We have no known cases in which, the creative respondent (like a senior manager or an art director of an advertising firm) has asked for money to give ideas.

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Normally, a creative person behaves in an unselfish manner most of the times but not always. This exercise is called Qualitative Research. When it is applied to consumers, it is aimed at finding the thoughts, feelings and attitudes that affect consumer behavior. Three types of data collection modes are in vogue in this context, as follows:

One-to-one (depth) Interviews: These interviews can be carried out to learn deeply about the choices and views of people. The researcher asks the respondents to express their ideas in a free and an open manner on a given subject. No questionnaire is used. The interviewer has an outline in his mind. The interviewer would guide the respondents to give more in-depth answers related to the topic. He does not let them deviate from the main course of the topic and hence, he goes deep into the topic along with the respondents. The interviewer must not nurture any kind of bias.

Projective Techniques: In this method, respondents are shown some photographs or sketches and asked to give replies to certain questions that are based on these photographs or sketches. They can also be involved in a role-playing game and asked to behave like different. These methods reveal more than the feelings of the superficial veneer.

Focus Group Interviews: The group is made to sit in a room. The researcher gives the topic of discussion and moves towards a side, as if he were not a part of the group. Members of the group start discussing the details and technicalities of the topic.

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The researcher guides them through the discussion whenever the need to do so arises. He gives them clues and takes them out of the abyss of boredom. Nevertheless, he keeps them on the track. The value of focus group interviews lies in the fact that they provide new ideas but do not measure the size of market segments that hold these ideas.

Analysis of Selected Cases

This is also called Case Method. It involves the study of one or a few situations. It is devoted to complex situations and problems; such situations arise when the interrelations of several individuals are important. Body et al have defined a case study as, “the empirical study of a marketing situation within its actual context when the situation is somewhat obscure and multiple sources of evidence are used.” In this method, some units are examined; each unit is called Case. Study of relations among various factors of each case is more important and not the number.

Design of Conclusive Research

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This type of research gives information to the manager and helps him make a logical decision. The manager has to select a decision out of a plethora of alternative decisions. In some cases, the number of decisions could be very few. The research can either specify an alternative, or it may explain the situation, albeit with some subtle insinuations, to the manager. He would have to use his decision making skills to arrive at the final decision. There are two types of conclusive research studies-descriptive and experimental.

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