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Homework answers / question archive / MARKETING RESEARCH PROJECT DESCRIPTION BACKGROUND:  Joe Brown, a former marketing researcher, is considering entering the coffee shop business

MARKETING RESEARCH PROJECT DESCRIPTION BACKGROUND:  Joe Brown, a former marketing researcher, is considering entering the coffee shop business




 Joe Brown, a former marketing researcher, is considering entering the coffee shop business. His dream is to build a national coffee shop chain that is as well-known and successful as Starbucks. 


After a great deal of deliberation over the location of his first “Cup of Joe” coffee shop, he decides that the Greater Houston area might be a very convenient location. As a resident of Sugar Land, Joe thinks that a nearby location would make it easier for him to set up and supervise the daily operations of his shop, allowing him to gain the experience and the confidence to expand nationally.


However, Joe realizes that a considerable amount of marketing research is needed before he commits to investing his savings into the first “Cup of Joe” shop. While his attempts to use information from existing marketing research studies to inform his decisions were not very fruitful[1], his efforts yielded the following information:

  1. As a national chain, Cup of Joe will be competing against 4 main competitors: Starbucks, McDonalds, Burger King and Dunkin’ Donuts. 
  2. American consumer preferences are very different across various locations in the United States. Joe needs to learn a lot more about the preferences and behaviors of coffee drinkers in the Greater Houston area.

Joe wants to hire a consultant to do a preliminary marketing research study and help him decide whether he should open a coffee shop in the Houston area, and if so, what type of coffee shop is likely to be more successful. 

Given his experience in the marketing research industry, Joe is able to express his research needs in the form of the following 4 specific marketing research questions:

  1. What consumer segments can be identified in the Houston area coffee-drinkers market?
  2. What are the attitudes and behaviors of each segment with respect to coffee and coffee shop visits?

Joe thinks that one useful way to segment the market might be based on consumers’ attitudes towards coffee and on their reasons to visit coffee shops. For example, Joe, personally, views coffee as a way to get a quick energy boost. He usually stops by the first shop that sells coffee on his way to work (a Dunkin’ Donuts), and he always takes his coffee “to go”. While he cares somewhat about the taste of the coffee, the shop’s atmosphere, look and feel is not very important to him. However, Joe’s daughter, who is a college student, considers coffee shop visits as part of her daily “ritual”; that is a place where she meets with her friends, or with her classmates to work on various group projects. She thinks that the coffee shop atmosphere is very important and she strongly prefers Starbucks over other coffee sellers. Joe thinks that there might be other types of consumers - maybe “gourmet” coffee drinkers who would care about the taste above all else, or maybe people who mostly walk in for a snack, but happen to also buy a coffee. Joe expects that each of these potential segments would have different demographic profiles (which would relate to how much time they have to enjoy a coffee beverage, how much they are willing to pay for a cup of coffee, how easy they can discriminate between a premium and a lower quality drink, and so forth).

  1. How do the segments identified above evaluate the 4 potential competitors (Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, McDonalds and Burger Kind)? 
  2. Is there a segment that is currently underserved by the existing 4 competitors, and what type of coffee shop would this segment most likely demand?

Joe believes that a good starting point for deciding what type of coffee shop to open is finding out what consumers think about the existing competitors. How do consumers evaluate the taste of coffee, the variety of options, price, atmosphere, etc. for each of the 4 chains? Joe hopes that the marketing research study can identify a consumer segment with needs and preferences not currently met by the competitors. Such a segment, if large enough, might be eventually targeted by Cup of Joe.

Joe plans to use the results of this preliminary research study to design a more detailed follow up project. The follow-up project will explore in depth the behavior and preferences of the most promising segments identified by the current preliminary research project. 


Your Tasks: Overview


During the semester you will develop a preliminary research project that addresses Joe’s 4 specific research questions. For the project you will conduct both secondary research and primary research (qualitative, in the form of interviews and quantitative, in the form of surveys). The timing of your tasks goes as follows:


Step 1) Research Design: Describe your research design.

Step 2) Secondary research: you will conduct secondary research, using information already available (Internet, magazines, journals, etc.). 

Step 3) Qualitative research: Interviews. 

Step 4) Questionnaire development: Develop your Preliminary Questionnaire.


Deliverable: REPORT 1.


Based on your input (i.e., the Preliminary Questionnaires developed by each student in the class) I will build a Final Questionnaire. All students will use the Final Questionnaire for the next steps of the project.


Step 5) Data Collection: Using the Final Questionnaire, collect survey data.


I will merge and post the data collected by all students into an Analysis Dataset. 


Step 6) Data Analysis: Perform data analysis using the Analysis Dataset. Interpret the results. 

Step 7) Limitations of the study.

Step 8) Conclusions and Recommendations.


Deliverable: REPORT 2 (FINAL REPORT).
















  • Doublespaced; 11 point font.  
  • Recommended length/number of pages for the sections (see next pages) is only a guideline, not a requirement.
  • Chapter 16 in the textbook provides more information on report formats, which might be useful to read as you start working on the report.
  • DO ASK ME FOR HELP when you need it.






  1. Title page. It includes: title of the report; for whom the report was prepared; your name; date of report submission.


  1. Table of Contents. List all sections included in the report with the corresponding page numbers.


  1. List of Tables and Figures. List tables/figures numbers and titles, with the corresponding page numbers. (Note: most of your tables and figures should be delegated to the Appendix).


  1. Executive Summary. This section should be about 1 page long and give an overview of your entire project. It will include a brief description of the research objectives, and a summary description of your findings from the secondary research, the interviews and the survey research.


  1. Introduction and Research Design. This section should be about 2 pages long and include:
    • Brief description of the research background and need (why is this project needed; what are the research questions; why the questions can not be answered based on information already available and require a dedicated research project);

-The Research Design (from Step 1): How are you planning to attempt answering the research questions? We will use 3 different methods: secondary research, qualitative research (interviews) and survey research. Here you should discuss what you are planning to accomplish with each of these methods (what are the expected outcomes?). It is useful to think of each method in the research design as a “building block”: the output of your Secondary Research step will be used as input in developing the Qualitative Interview step; the output of your Qualitative/Interview step will be used as input for developing the Preliminary Questionnaire. 


  1. Secondary research (from Step 2). Secondary research can come from sources such as: Internet, journals, newspapers, TV/radio, etc. The secondary research provides the framework for the interview stage of the project and helps further justify your research questions. See Case 3.1., page 68 in the textbook for examples of what type of information might be found in already existing studies (which are secondary sources of information). This section should be about 2-3 pages long. 



  1. Qualitative Research: Interviews (from Step 3). You will interview at least 3 consumers in the relevant target group. This section should contain information about: how the interview guide was developed; description of the participants (in terms of demographics – do not include information that reveals the identity of the participants); what main points emerged from the interviews (you should include the most relevant quotes in the Appendix); what did you conclude/learn from the interviews and how you will use the information for building the Preliminary Questionnaire.


  1. Survey research. This part includes your Preliminary Questionnaire (from Step 4). The questionnaire should not include more than 20 questions in total (including information about the respondents, such as demographic questions). You may include both closed-ended and open-ended questions, as you see fit. Attach a copy of your Preliminary Questionnaire in the Appendix. In this section make sure you discuss: 
    • The purpose of each question included in the questionnaire, i.e., what construct are you trying to measure (unless the question is selfexplanatory, such as demographic questions, or willingness to pay questions); 
    • Your planned sampling strategy, with a brief explanation of your sampling scheme (for example, if you have to use convenience sampling, include an explanation of the expected effect of your sampling on the quality of information you will obtain).


After collecting all your Preliminary Questionnaires, I will create a Final Questionnaire based on the Preliminary Questionnaires developed by all students in the class. I will post the Final Questionnaire and send you a web link to an electronic version of the questionnaire, which you can use for data collection.

Every student will collect answers from a minimum of 5 respondents. (This is Step 5: Data Collection).  I will merge all the data collected by the entire class into an Analysis Dataset to be used in the next section of the report.


Note: I have decided to use a common Final Questionnaire (as opposed to your individual Preliminary Questionnaires) in order to lower your data collection burden. This way, we can have a data set large enough for statistical analyses with only about 5 respondents per student; otherwise, I would have to require each of you to collect answers from 100+ respondents, which would not be a very efficient use of your study time.




  1. Data Analysis (from Step 6). This section contains the data analyses performed on the Analysis

Dataset, together with the interpretation of your results. All data analyses for this course will be using Excel. Specific guidelines on what types of analysis are required will be posted at the same time with the Analysis dataset. Excel tutorials will be available for all types of analyses we will be using.


  1. Limitations (from Step 7). No research project is perfect; there are always factors outside the researcher’s control that might have a negative effect on a research study. Any limitations or problems need to be explicitly acknowledged, since they might impact the generality of reliability of the research findings. You may list here anything that was a problem during the study (for instance, time constraints, difficulties in obtaining a truly representative sample, etc.). 


  1. Conclusions and Recommendations. This section summarizes all the findings of your research. Make sure to explicitly relate your findings to each of the 4 research questions. 

Here, be careful and DO NOT SPECULATE, guess, or otherwise try to draw a conclusion that is not entirely testable by your research design (or supported by your results). Generally most research studies are incremental, in the sense that a given research question can almost never be answered by a single research project. Do not worry about “closing the book” on Joe’s questions – just try to be as precise, accurate and true to your results as possible.

(For instance, this study will not give a conclusive answer as to whether Joe should open the Houston area shop. There are many other factors that would have to enter that decision, such as cost, competitive threats and reaction, brand building, etc.). However, your findings should allow you to uncover a potential segment with unmet needs; in turn, those needs might allow you to infer that a certain type of coffee shop might be more successful than another. Any other more specific directions would have to be explored with another, more focused, follow-up research project). 

You might also include in this section some suggestions about what needs to be done in the follow up study.


  1. References. Cite all the sources of information used.


Appendix. This will include all the supporting information used in the project (quotes from interviews, questionnaires, output from the d


[1] See Case 3.1. A New Joe on the Block, page 68 in your textbook.

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