According to Wikipedia, Exploratory research is carried out for a difficulty which has not been clearly defined. It helps in figuring out the best research design, data collection method and choice of subjects.
It should draw definitive conclusions only with extreme caution. Given its basic nature, it usually concludes that an identified problem doesn’t actually exist. The purpose is to find out ideas and information.
Types of Exploratory Research Design
Some of the more popular methods of exploratory research design include literature searches, depth interviews, focus groups, and case analyses.
Literature Search: It is one of the fastest and least expensive means to discover hypotheses. There is enormous quantity of information available in libraries, via internet sources, in commercial data bases, and so on. The literature search may include newspapers, magazines, trade literature, academic literature, or published statistics from research organizations or governmental agencies Census Bureau. Example: Assume an issue is “Why are product sales lower?” This can easily be evaluated with the aid of published data which should indicate “whether the issue is an “industry problem” or a “firm problem”.
If we acknowledge the specific situation that our company’s sales and profits are lower regardless of the market showing an up trend, then we must evaluate the marketing mix variables.
Depth Interviews: It’s important to start with a good literature search, but at some point it is desirable to talk to persons who are well informed in the area being investigated. These people could be professionals or persons outside the organisation. Here, we don’t need questionnaire. The approach adopted should be highly unstructured, so that the participant can give divergent views.
Depth interviews are widely used to tap the knowledge and experience of individuals with information strongly related the situation or opportunity at hand. Anybody with related information is a potential candidate for a depth interview, such as existing clients, members of the target market, executives and supervisors of the client organization, sales representatives, suppliers, retailers, and so on.
Focus Group: Yet another frequently used method in exploratory research is the focus group. In a focus group, only a few people are brought together to study and talk over some theme of interest. The discussion is directed by a moderator who is in the room with the focus group participants. The group usually is of 8-12 persons. While choosing these individuals, care must be taken to see that they should have a common background and have comparable experiences in buying. This is certainly needed since there should not be a conflict among the group members on the common problems that are being talked about. Throughout the discussion, future buying attitudes, present buying opinion etc., are collected.
Case Analyses: Researchers can understand a lot in regards to a problem by studying carefully selected examples or cases of the phenomenon. Case histories of businesses that have gone through an identical problem may be available. These case studies are suitable to undertake exploratory research. A researcher must examine carefully the previously published case studies with regard to variables like price, advertisement, changes in the trend, etc.
Examples of Exploratory Research
Literature Search Examples
Example 1: A Washing machine producing firm feels that its share of the market is decreasing whereas the overall industry is thriving.
Example 2: As a result of a trade restriction imposed by a country, auto exports are down and hence sales of a company making cars for exports is on the decline.
The above mentioned information enables you to pinpoint the reason for declining sales.
For example, a children’s book publisher obtained useful information regarding a sales decline by speaking with librarians and school teachers who revealed that increasing numbers of people were using library facilities and possibly buying fewer books for their children.
For example, L.L.Bean is recognized for its exceptional order fulfillment. Even during the busy Christmas season, the corporation usually fills over 99 % of its orders correctly. For that reason, various other businesses have sought to improve their own order fulfillment by benchmarking L.L.Bean.
This research is conducted to clarify ambiguous problems. In this article, we have discussed about the different types of exploratory research design, its examples, and methods. Post your feedback or queries in comments.