Tuesday, April 28, 2009

“Brick & Mortar: Shopping in the 21st Century”

The above is the title of a book where I contributed a chapter on Cartoon Sequence Research. Tina M. Lowrey, Professor of Marketing at the University of Texas, is the editor of the book and it was published by Taylor and Francis Group, NY, 2008.

Tina saw my research and invited me to make a presentation at the Annual Conference on Advertising and Consumer Psychology in 2006. Essentially, this conference was about the continuing relevance of shopping centers in the face of on-line computer shopping. I wanted to understand what factors are involved when a consumer decides to shop by computer versus going to the shopping mall or vice versa.

There are some obvious differences. Going to the mall is an “experience” filled with a multitude of sensory opportunities. It can be a hassle or an adventure. On-line shopping tends to be a solitary endeavor with a plethora of information but with little hands-on experience plus you must wait to receive the product which may lessen the impact of emotions.

There are so many questions in making the comparisons between the two that it is difficult to know where to start.

My presentation and subsequent chapter in the book simply made the case that Cartoon Sequence Research (CSR) is ideally suited for handling the complexity of this type of research question. There are no leading questions by the researcher and the respondent looks at the pictographs and starts telling a story.

After handling the academic rigors of background theory and such things as validity and reliability, I went on to suggest this straight-forward approach. I worked with a cartoonist to construct a series of pictographs showing individuals shopping in the mall and by computer. It should be noted that there are three types of cartoons: situational; interactive; and reflective. The situational cartoon sets the scene or provides the context. The interactive cartoon shows an individual or group with the product or another person. The reflective cartoon shows an individual, matched to the respondent by age, race and gender, discussing their reaction either in person or on the phone. In other words, we show where they are, what they are doing, and how they describe the experience.

The chapter also describes several settings in which CSR was used the past few years and they include the following industries: homebuilding; banking; education; national and state associations; and auto buying.

If you are involved in on-line marketing or perhaps you want to know more about brick and mortar shopping, e-mail me at AllegianceResearch@gmail.com.

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