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Journalism 4952 - Strategic Communications Research Methods I: Module 1: Secondary Research

Module 1: Secondary vs. Primary Research and Qualitative vs. Quantitative Research

Research may include both primary and secondary sources and use quantitative or qualitative methodologies - or both

  • Primary sources include raw and first-hand evidence.
    • Examples of primary sources might be first-hand research, interviews, statistical data, diaries, biographies, all providing direct access to research.  

  • Secondary sources may describe, interpret or synthesize primary source information.
    • Examples of secondary sources might be academic journal articles, reviews and textbooks.

  • Quantitative research is expressed in numbers and statistics and is used to test or confirm assumptions and theories. 
    • Quantitative methods might include experiments or observations recorded as numbers and surveys with closed-ended questions. 

  • Qualitative research is expressed in words and is used to understand concepts or experiences. 
    • Qualitative methods might include interviews and focus groups with open-ended questions. 

Situational & SWOT Analysis 

The goal of your research is to find ways to assist your client company in reaching their goals. This type of company research has been called a situational analysis.  It is a collection of methods that managers use to analyze an organization's internal and external environment to understand the organization's capabilities, customers, and business environment.  It is sometimes called a SWOT analysis  since it allows you to discover the company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.  You might find it helpful to fill in the SWOT grid with the information that your research discovered about your client company.

We suggest that you keep track of your research using Zotero, a citation manager that will allow you to capture information and export it into Microsoft Word in the  APA format style that is required for this course.  

Fall 2021 Research Scenario #1 - Increasing Usage of Starbucks Mobile App

Starbucks seeks to increate usage of their mobile app among the 18-24-year-old demographic 

You will be searching for information about:

  1. The company: Starbucks (specificallly the mobile app)
  2. The category in which the company classifies itself (NAICS Code 712553 - Limited Service Restaurants)
  3. The consumer (demographic/psychographic information) about the 18-24-year old’s purchasing behavior
  4. The competition for coffee/specialty drinks app users

Create a list of concept terms to assist your search.

            Example:  

Concept #1 - Starbucks, coffee shop

Concept #2 - 18-24-year-olds, generation Z

Concept #3 - Mobile application or mobile app

Concept #4 - Incentive, motivation, loyalty program, gamification

Concept #5 - Barrier, obstacle

Depending on where you search (market research database, news database, scholarly & trade article database), you may search using one or more of these concepts.  For article and news databases, you may combine terms in a search string, such as:

Example: (Concept #1a OR Concept #1b) AND (Concept #2a OR Concept #2b) AND (Concept #3a) AND(Concept #4a OR ((Concept #4b OR Concept #4c OR Concept #4d) OR (Concept #5a OR Concept #5b))

Example:  starbucks AND ("18-24-year old" OR "generation z") AND "mobile app" AND ((incentiv* OR motivat*) OR barrier OR obstacle))

Remember to put phrases in quotes ('") and concepts connected with OR in parentheses () for every set of concepts.  

Fall 2021 Research Scenario #3 - Increase visits to Breakout Como

Breakout COMO wishes to increase visits by the 18-24-year-old demographic 

You will be searching for information about:

  1. The company: Breakout COMO
  2. The category in which the company classifies itself (NAICS = 713990 All Other Amusement and Recreation)
  3. The consumer (demographic/psychographic information) about the 18-24-year old’s behavior
  4. The competition for recreation

Create a list of concept terms to assist your search.

            Example:  

Concept #1 - "escape room" or "breakout room"

Concept #2 - 18-24-year-olds, generation Z

Concept #3 - visit*

Concept #4 - Incentive, motivation

Concept #5 - Barrier, obstacle

Depending on where you search (market research database, news database, scholarly & trade article database), you may search using one or more of these concepts.  For article and news databases, you may combine terms in a search string, such as:

Example: (Concept #1a OR Concept #1b) AND (Concept #2a OR Concept #2b) AND (Concept #3a) AND(Concept #4a OR ((Concept #4b OR Concept #4c OR Concept #4d) OR (Concept #5a OR Concept #5b))

Example:  ("escape room" OR "breakout room") AND ("18-24-year old" OR "generation z") AND visit* AND ((incentiv* OR motivat*) OR barrier OR obstacle))

Remember to put phrases in quotes ('") and concepts connected with OR in parentheses () for every set of concepts.  

1. What company are you assisting in reaching their goal?

Answer these 4 questions as you conduct your research.  Suggestions and links to database resources are listed at each step.

What company are you are trying to assist to reach their goal?

  • What is their mission, vision, values, competencies, history?
  • Financials – what are the key drivers of revenue and profit?  Trends?

If your client company is publicly traded - Information about the company's history, mission and vision statements, culture and values can often be found on the company's website.  Financials (if a publicly traded company) can be found in the SEC disclosure documents or 10K.  Mergent OnlineNet Advantage (Capital IQ) and Factiva will have financials for publicly traded companies.  Look for news releases, business trade and news publications in Business Source PremierABI Inform and Factiva.  ABI Inform and Business Source Premier often have market research reports and SWOT analysis of companies and industries. 

If your client company is privately held, a franchised business or locally owned, you will need to consult local publications (newspaper, magazines and the company's website) for information about the company, its owners, customers, competitors, category/industry and trends). 

If your company is a nonprofit, it should have a website.  On that website, they should have information about them:  mission, vision, history.  Financial information can be found on tax forms.  Charities and Nonprofits must file 990 forms with the Internal Revenue Service.  ProPublica' Nonprofit Explorer offers free searching for nonprofits, including IRS 990 files.  Much information about competition, past advertising and promotional efforts will come from the client interviews.

2. What category or industry is the company a part of?

What category or Industry is the company a part of?

  • What business does the client think that they are in? (food, drink, fitness?)
  • Is the category/industry growing or not?
  • What product/service is typically marketed in the category?
    • What are the usual marketing tactics?
    • Does everyone market alike?
  • What external factors might impact the category?
    • Natural Disaster/ weather/ power outage?
    • Covid

Information about industries, business lines, etc. can be found by exploring the North American Industrial Classification System (NAICS) codes business assign themselves.  Data about these industries/codes is collected by the government and aggregated on the United States Census NAICS website.  Mergent OnlineNet Advantage (Capital IQ) and Factiva will have information about individual publicly traded companies and comparisons within their peer group.  IBIS World provides information about industries and trends by NAICS.    Net Advantage will have industry surveys and information about representative companies in that space, although they do not categorize by NAICS.  Find geolocation of businesses and information about a specific business at a specific location by using SimplyAnalytics.  Associations and organizations, which collect data and educate their members about trends, etc., are very good places to locate information about a particular category or segment.

If your company is private or locally owned and you know the category/industry in which they do business, you can search Discover@MU, Business Source Premier, ABI Inform  and Factiva and perhaps Mintel for industry trends.  

Fall 2021 Research Scenario #2 - Increase memberships at Planet Fitness

Planet Fitness wishes to increase membership/usage for 18-24-year-old demographic

You will be searching for information about:

  1. The company: Planet Fitness
  2. The category in which the company classifies itself (NAICS = 713940 Fitness & recreational sport centers)
  3. The consumer (demographic/psychographic information) about the 18-24-year old’s fitness behaviors
  4. The competition for fitness and recreational memberships

Create a list of concept terms to assist your search.

            Example:

            Concept #1- Planet Fitness, fitness center, recreation center, sport center

            Concept #2 - 18-24-year-olds, generation Z

            Concept #3 – membership

            Concept #4 – incentive or motivation

            Concept #5 – barrier, obstacle

Depending on where you search (market research database, news database, scholarly & trade article database), you may search using one or more of these concepts.  For article and news databases, you may combine terms in a search string, such as:

Example: (Concept #1a OR Concept #1b) AND (Concept #2a OR Concept #2b) AND (Concept #3a or Concept #3b) AND((Concept #4a OR Concept #4b)OR (Concept 5a OR Concept 5b))

Example:  "planet fitness" AND ("18-24-year-old" OR "generation z" ) AND member* AND ((incenti* OR motiv*) OR (barrier OR obstacle))

Remember to put phrases in quotes ('") and concepts connected with OR in parentheses () for every set of concepts.  

Fall 2021 Research Scenario #4 - Increase visits to MKT Nature and Fitness Trail

MKT Nature and Fitness Trail wishes to increase visits by the 18-24-year-old demographic

You will be searching for information about:

  1. The company: MKT Nature and Fitness Trail
  2. The category in which the company classifies itself (NAICS = 713990 All other amusement and recreation)
  3. The consumer (demographic/psychographic information) about the 18-24-year old’s fitness and recreation behaviors
  4. The competition for fitness and recreational trail usage

Create a list of concept terms to assist your search.

            Example:

            Concept #1- "fitness trail", "nature trail"

            Concept #2 - 18-24-year-olds, generation Z

            Concept #3 – usage, visit*

            Concept #4 – incentive or motivation

            Concept #5 – barrier, obstacle

Depending on where you search (market research database, news database, scholarly & trade article database), you may search using one or more of these concepts.  For article and news databases, you may combine terms in a search string, such as:

Example: (Concept #1a OR Concept #1b) AND (Concept #2a OR Concept #2b) AND (Concept #3a or Concept #3b) AND((Concept #4a OR Concept #4b)OR (Concept 5a OR Concept 5b))

Example:  ("fitness trail" OR "nature trail") AND ("18-24-year-old" OR "generation z" ) AND (usage OR visit*) AND ((incenti* OR motiv*) OR (barrier OR obstacle))

Remember to put phrases in quotes ('") and concepts connected with OR in parentheses () for every set of concepts.  

3. Who is the consumer of the good or service?

Who is the consumer of the goods or service?

  • How do consumers respond to the category?
    • Loyal, switchers, deal or variety-seeking?
    • Profile them (demographics, psychographics, attitureds, behavior
  • What can you identify about the purchase?
    • High or low involvement?
    • Primarily a rational or emotional decision?
    • Motivations?

Market size, segments, channels, customer information sources and trends may be found in market research databases like: Mintel and SimplyAnalytics,  ABI Inform and Business Source Premier often have market research reports and SWOT analysis of companies and industries.  Articles about trends, channels and market share may be found in: Business Source Premier and Factiva.  Industry trade publications and blogs offer another source of market and trend information.

If your company is private or locally owned, you can search Discover@MU, Business Source PremierABI Inform  and Factiva and perhaps Mintel for information about consumers of similar businesses.

4. Who is the competition?

Who is the competition?

  • Direct competitor?
  • Indirect competitor?
  • What is the competition doing and why?
  • How is you client’s brand positioned in relation to the competition?
  • How does your budget compare?

Information about competitors, their products, market share, strengths and weaknesses can be found in company/industry databases such as:  Business Source Premier, Mergent OnlineNet AdvantageIBIS World; business trade and news publications like Factiva; and market research databases like Mintel.  Competitive positioning might be revealed through advertising campaigns shared in advertising databases like Adforum,  WARC and Winmo.  Communication literature databases such as Communication and Mass Media Complete will have both scholarly and trade publications.

If your company is private or locally owned, you might consult the business itself to see who they consider their competition to be.

Module 1 Deliverables

Deliverables for Module 1: 

  1. Provide a 2-3 page write-up of your secondary research searches in a Word document using the criteria listed in your syllabus.
  2. Write a short memo describing your approach to the secondary research.