EXTENDED DISSERTATION TOPIC AND OUTLINE

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Topic: Credit Crunch and Financial Crisis Effect on Consumer Buying Behaviour

1. Introduction

1.1. Background

Consumer buying behaviour is defined as a set of activities and processes that consumers use in the selection and purchase of goods and services. Consumer behaviour is affected by economic factors such as disposable income, availability of credit, savings, employment and business confidence. The global financial crisis, which originated in the US in 2008, spread to the UK and caused a recession in 2009. This has also affected consumer buying behaviour (Voinea and Filip, 2011).

1.2. Rationale

This topic has been chosen for the research because there is a gap in the literature on the effects of the global financial crisis. Most studies conducted in the past focused on the financial industry, international contagion of the global financial crisis and the performance of companies. The effects of the crisis on the UK retail industry were mainly limited to studies which explored the changes in financial performance of the retailers. This research will contribute to the body of literature by providing the most recent evidence on the effects of the global financial crisis on  UK consumers and the changes in their buying behaviour.

1.3. Aims and Objectives

The aim of the research is to assess the impact of the global financial crisis on the changes in consumer behaviour in the UK.

The objectives of the research are:

  • To discuss the causes of the global financial crisis
  • To find out the factors that determine consumer buying behaviour
  • To assess how the changes in the economy have affected consumer buying behaviour in the UK.

The question of the research is: “To what extent has the global financial crisis affected consumer buying behaviour in the UK?”

2. Literature Review

2.1. Theoretical Frameworks

This study uses several theoretical frameworks as the foundation for the research. These include the Maslow Hierarchy of Needs, Howard-Sheth Model, Andresen Model and Stimuli-Response Model. Additionally, theoretical literature argues that consumer buying behaviour is significantly affected by internal factors, which are reflected in the Theory of Planned Behaviour and the Theory of Reasoned Actions. However, academic literature also distinguishes the role of external shocks to consumer behaviour, which can be found in the Consumer Decision Model.

2.2. Empirical Literature Review

Empirical literature distinguishes several factors that have an impact on consumer buying behaviour. These factors include the demographic characteristics such as age and gender, the life style of consumers, their occupation, income, savings and economic environment (Kengthon, 2011). The latter is the particular element which this research focuses on. A significant change in the consumer buying behaviour during the global financial crisis was evidenced by Kopetz et al. (2012), Perriman et al. (2010) and Gonzalez (2012).

3. Research Methodology

3.1. Design of Research

The design of the research is shaped by its philosophy, approach and strategy. This investigation is guided by the philosophy of positivism, which suggests that logic, deduction and statistical or scientific analysis are the sources of knowledge. This philosophy is contrasted to interpretivism, which views social reality as a dynamic system that cannot be analysed using quantitative methods and different interpretations can be given to the reality. This study is approached using deduction, which implies a testing of the theory or hypothesis and is used to validate empirical observations with scientific methods. This approach is contrasted to induction, which is generally used for building a theory. The survey is the main research strategy implemented in this study. This strategy has been preferred to such alternatives as the case study and action research because the survey allows for collecting multiple observations in a rather short period of time. Moreover, this strategy is consistent with a deductive approach and positivism, which will allow for the quantitative analysis of the data to answer the research question.

3.2. Data and Sampling

This study uses primary data collected from UK consumers in the retail industry. Random sampling has been employed for the data collection. This type of sampling allows for the generalisation of the results, whereas the alternative non-probability sampling does not have this power. The sampling frame is represented by all customers who make at least one purchase a week in UK stores. Over 1,000 flyers, with a link to the online survey created for the purpose of the research, will be distributed to random consumers. The expected response ratio is 20%, which will generate 200 responses.

3.3. Methods of Analysis

Consumer buying behaviour will be investigated by analysing the results of the survey conducted among 200 respondents. Statistical software, SPSS, is used to estimate the descriptive summary statistics of the demographic factors, cross-tabulations of responses, ANOVA and t-test for equality between groups and Cronbach’s Alpha for reliability of responses. Regression analysis is then applied to the data to assess the statistical significance of the factors that determined consumer behaviour during the global financial crisis.

4. Findings and Analysis

The findings are expected to reveal significant changes in consumer buying behaviour. This chapter will show the types of products and services that suffered a decline in demand from consumers during the global financial crisis, how the spending patterns of the consumers changed, how consumer preferences were altered and what can be done by marketing professionals and companies to restore the demand, retain customers and increase sales.

5. Discussion and Conclusion

This chapter will discuss the findings of the research in light of the reviewed literature and theoretical frameworks. The results are expected to be consistent with the previous research conducted in a similar context. However, some differences can be expected since the studies use different methodologies and different data to achieve the results. The discussion of results is followed by the conclusions in which the research question will be answered and all aims and objectives addressed.

5.1 Implications

This research has implications for both marketing and international business. The results can be used by managers to develop new approaches to consumers so that their loyalty can be retained during the period of the economic crisis. The final section of the chapter will provide recommendations to businesses on how to retain customers and achieve greater sales during the period of distress. Limitations and future recommendations for academic research will be outlined.

References

Gonzalez, J. (2012) ‘World economic crisis impact on organic products consumption’, British Food Journal, 114 (1), pp. 5 – 18.

Kengthon, W. (2011) Consumer Buying Behaviour, London: GRIN Verlag.

Kopetz, C., Kruglanski, A. and Arens, Z. (2012) ‘The dynamics of consumer behavior: A goal systemic perspective’, Journal of Consumer Psychology, 22 (2), pp. 208-223.

Perriman, H., Ramsaran-Fowdar, R. and Baguant, P. (2010) ‘The impact of the global financial crisis on consumer behaviour’, Proceedings of Annual London Business Research Conference, pp. 12-14.

Voinea, L. and Filip, A. (2011) ‘Analyzing the Main Changes in New Consumer Buying Behavior during Economic Crisis’, International Journal of Economic Practices and Theories, 1 (1), pp. 14-19.