1.0 Introduction
A dissertation should have something to add to the existing literature in a given field, but should not try to re-invent the wheel. Dissertations should be focused rather than broad, aiming to add to the literature in a manageable way bearing in mind time and cost constraints. The dissertation title should reflect this, being more narrow than broad, highlighting the main focus of the dissertation. This helps when it comes to setting clear, concise and manageable research aims, questions and objectives. Added to this, the choice of research topic should reflect the research setting where the study took place. To help in the preparation of your marketing dissertation, this article suggests areas and topics that you could base your research on. These subject areas include relationship marketing, branding, direct marketing, international marketing, consumer psychology, online marketing, mobile marketing, marketing mix, social networks and marketing ethics.

2.0 Relationship Marketing
Relationship marketing refers to the use of relationships rather than purely transactional means, in order to not only acquire customers, but also to generate customer loyalty that results in repeat custom for the firm. It is a very important area for modern businesses, and an ideal area on which to base your marketing dissertation.

  • Why has Tesco’s loyal card scheme been successful where competitors’ schemes have not?
  • Are switching costs effective barriers to customer churn in the airline industry?
  • How can Amazon.com charge a premium price over rivals such as Play.com?
  • What are the motivations and expectations behind loyalty schemes?
  • How and why does the relationship marketing-traditional marketing continuum vary within an industry?
  • How does product quality affect customer loyalty among high and low touch products?
  • Can luxury goods retailers prevent barriers to switching?
  • How do retailers cope with polygamous behaviour among consumers?
  • How does customer loyalty at Waterstone’s change when customers shop at their online store rather than in the high street?
  • In what ways does Waterstone’s improve its customer loyalty through its online store?

3.0 Branding
Branding is an umbrella term to refer to a wide body of literature examining how businesses can use their brands to achieve a competitive advantage, through building brand equity, launching brand extensions, managing global brands, and so forth. Marketing dissertations on branding could be more specific to the following topics.

  • An examination of the relationship between perceived risk and brand equity: A comparison of supermarket retailers.
  • Do consumers really understand a company’s brand values? The case of Starbucks.
  • How does the relative importance of tangible and intangible brand values vary across product types?
  • Do leading brands need to have the best products?
  • How is brand image affected by product availability?
  • Can brand image be transferred between industries? The case of Virgin Cola in the UK.
  • How does unethical behaviour affect brand image? The cases of Shell, Nike and Starbucks.
  • How do firms use corporate social responsibility to build brand equity? The case of Starbucks.
  • How can innovations sustain brands?
  • Can brand equity be transferred to a supermarket’s own branded products?

4.0 Direct Marketing
The world of direct marketing is a complex one that involves a wide range of tools and techniques that can be used to target consumers in a predominantly transactional manner. Direct marketers rely on information and a series of direct marketing media such as direct mail, magazines, newspapers, TV/radio, co-ops, telemarketing/teleservices and the Internet to disseminate their messages and acquire new customers. Here follows some suggested topics of direct marketing, which you could use for your marketing dissertation.

  • How does Tesco use its loyalty schemes to sell direct to the customer?
  • How does the importance of factors that influence direct selling vary according to product type?
  • Do customers respond differently to short and long-term offers? The case of magazine sales.
  • In what ways do toll-free (freephone) numbers influence consumers’ response to direct sales promotions?
  • How does the nationality (accent) of telemarketers influence customer response?
  • Do consumers know how to protect themselves from unscrupulous direct marketing tactics?
  • How does message length affect the success of direct marketing messages? A comparison of online and offline mediums.
  • Can direct marketing be used to build customer relationships or is it simply a transactional medium to acquire new customers?
  • Can direct marketing be as effective as a group-orientated tool as it is an individual orientated one?
  • How do prospecting methods differ in an online and offline environment? The case of the book industry.

5.0 Marketing across Cultures
For some products and services, cultural considerations can play an important role in how marketers interact with consumers. With the increasing globalisation of business, firms have to pay greater attention to how national culture impacts upon consumer behaviour and customers’ reactions towards different types of marketing communication. Marketing across cultures is becoming more prominent in business, as more and more businesses are expanding throughout the world. This creates an ideal area to base your marketing dissertation on.

  • How does language impact upon brand identity? The case of Coca-Cola in the People’s Republic of China.
  • How does social class influence relationship-building activities? The case of supermarket promotions in India.
  • What effect does family orientation have on marketing communications? The case of tourism operators in the Philippines.
  • How do marketers take into account regional differences in “national” culture? The case of banks in the Basque country and Catalonia, Spain.
  • Can automotive vendors afford to treat consumers as a homogenous mass? The case of the North-South divide in Sweden.
  • How does individualism-collectivism influence the sales of mobile phones? The case of the People’s Republic of China.
  • How do supermarket chains overcome language differences in Switzerland?
  • How do banks vary their product offerings based on social class? The case of India.
  • How can national culture explain the prominence of Scottish whiskey sales in the global whiskey market?
  • How can countries use national culture to help them promote major exports? The case of the Champagne region, France.

6.0 Marketing and Consumer Psychology
Marketing is fundamentally underpinned by consumer behaviour, which can be largely explained by examining consumer psychology. This highlights how consumers behave in each stage of the buying process and why they react as they do. On this basis, marketers can design and implement communication strategies that target specific customer groups based on their psychological profiles. to base your marketing dissertation within the area of marketing and consumer psychology, here are some suggestions for topics:

  • What motivates consumers to pass on marketing messages?
  • What are the antecedents of word-of-mouth communications? The case of blockbuster marketing.
  • When word-of-mouth communications turn negative: What can be learnt from previous mistakes?
  • How does gender effect information processing among consumers of luxury goods?
  • What role does motivation play in buying behaviour? An examination of the mobile ringtone market in the UK.
  • How does gender effect selective distortion among luxury goods buyers?
  • What role does learning play among functional online advertisements?
  • Does the importance of beliefs and attitudes vary across low and high involvement products?
  • An investigation of habitual buying behaviour and geographical location: The impact of socio-economic status.
  • What effect does geographical location have on the relationship between variety-seeking buying behaviour and habitual buying behaviour? An examination of when workers eat out for lunch.

7.0 Marketing online
When marketing moves online the traditional rules are either broken or extended. Such extensions include the need to take into account privacy, security, the greater ability to customise and personalise user experiences, the changing nature of consumer behaviour and the interaction of online and offline mediums. Marketing online is a subject that many companies now have to consider, and the subject would create a useful marketing dissertation. More specific subjects are suggested here.

  • How can firms customise their products? The case of Apple.
  • How can firms personalise their products? The case of Nike.
  • An assessment of the value of assortment to customers: The case of Dell Computers.
  • How does a consumer’s perception of control affect their choice of brand? The case of buying computers online.
  • How does visual constituency affect site identity and product attitude?
  • How does gender effect website preference?
  • How can firms successfully combine online and offline shopping features? The case of Amazon.com/Toys-R-Us.
  • What product attributes are most valued by consumers in search, comparison and purchase decision-making online?
  • How do consumers react to brand alliances online? The case of Amazon.com and Wal-Mart.
  • An investigation of the antecedents of consumer behaviour in online auctions? The case of eBay.

8.0 Mobile Marketing
Mobile marketing has become the latest marketing communication medium to enable large brands such as Coca-Cola, Nintendo, MTV, New Labour, Lastminute.com, and others to reach customers and target customers in traditional and non-traditional ways. With the lowering of mobile tariffs, including Internet browsing using mobile phones, this medium has becoming increasingly important to marketers. Some topics are suggested here for you to base your marketing dissertation on the area of mobile marketing.

  • How does permission-based marketing affect mobile marketers when implementing international marketing campaigns?
  • How can brand image be conveyed in a mobile marketing environment?
  • Can an info brand be built through mobile marketing techniques?
  • What do customers want from mobile marketing messages? The case of low-cost airlines.
  • How does location influence mobile marketing communications?
  • What role does time play in mobile marketing communications?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of push and pull mobile marketing?
  • How can mobile marketing be used as a viral marketing tool?
  • How can mobile payment services increase revenue for mobile marketers? The case of Vodafone.
  • How can customer relationship management (CRM) be applied in a mobile marketing environment to improve customer loyalty?

9.0 The 4Ps (Price, Product, Promotion, Place) of marketing mix
The 4Ps, which have seen a number of extensions, are the cornerstones of the marketing mix that marketing professions have available to them when trying to influence consumer decision-making. To base your marketing dissertation in this area, there are some topic suggestions below.

  • How do price adjustment strategies vary in an online and offline environment? The case of music sales.
  • Can an overt international pricing strategy negatively affect brand image? The case of iTunes.
  • How effective are public relation campaigns following brand failures? The cases of Nike, Shell, and Marks and Spencer.
  • How and why do firms vary the frequency of advertisements in an online and offline environment? The case of Waterstone’s.
  • An examination of the suitability of information and persuasive advertising based on the nature of the product being sold.
  • How do the characteristics of companies that use comparison advertising vary from those that do not use comparison advertising? The case of the alcoholic drinks industry in the US.
  • What is the effect of the lack of controls online when advertising across international borders?
  • Can point-of-purchase promotions be as effective in an online environment as they are offline?
  • How important is location to customer choice in the airline industry in the UK?
  • How has the Internet helped unsought goods building brand awareness? The case of comparison websites.

10.0 Marketing and Social Networks
Social networks (Facebook, Orkut, MySpace, Bebo, LinkedIn) are not only changing the way that many people use the Internet, but they are also presenting marketing practitioners with new challenges when trying to reach and acquire customers online. At the same time, these social networks have their own challenges in trying to acquire and retain customers when many of the traditional principles of consumer behaviour no longer apply. As social networks become more popular, a marketing dissertation in this area would be up to date and in line with current trends.

  • To what extent is the “new” Facebook the product of its users? An examination of positive, neutral and negative user comments.
  • Why have functional applications on Facebook achieved so little success compared with their fun counterparts?
  • How do Facebook applications turn users into cash? The relationship between total installs, daily active users, and application valuation.
  • A comparison of the effectiveness of banner advertising on different social networks? The cases of Facebook, Orkut, MySpace and Bebo.
  • What impact does newsfeed restriction have on consumers’ attitudes towards using Facebook?
  • Are social networks more persuasive than traditional word-of-mouth? An investigation of product recommendations?
  • How does the “behaviour chain” vary between Facebook and Facebook applications?
  • How has Facebook used marketing communications to outstrip user growth when compared with MySpace?
  • Do traditional customer loyalty typologies apply to consumer behaviour in social networks?
  • In what ways have social networks used “peace technologies” to acquire new customers? The case of “causes” on Facebook.

11.0 Marketing Ethics
The power of the media and changing consumer attitudes are having a significant impact on how firms are expected to behave, as well as how they should integrate ethics into their marketing campaigns. On this basis, marketing ethics is interested in a range of issues from the business case for ethical practices, to CSR programmes and cause-related marketing, and ethical issues that must be taken into account during the marketing communications process. a marketing dissertation on marketing ethics could include any of the following topics:

  • Is easyJet’s low fare, online pricing strategy misleading or a justifiable way of managing customer demand?
  • Is firms’ use of Fair Trade branding misleading consumers?
  • What affect do published codes of conduct have on buying behaviour? The cases of The Body Shop, Levi Strauss, and Marks and Spencer.
  • Are “happy hours” ethical? An application of the marketing communicator’s rules of behaviour.
  • How does ethical purchase intention and ethical awareness affect purchasing behaviour? An examination of the sale of battery and free range chickens.
  • What impact do cause-related marketing campaigns have on consumer buying behaviour? The case of Tesco’s “Computers for Schools” vouchers.
  • Why do some controversial marketing communications work whilst other fail?
  • How have spam laws improved marketing ethics online?
  • What factors distinguish a consumer’s choice of most and least social responsible firms?
  • How do firms use public relations to recover from consumer boycotts? The case of Shell and Nestle.

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