Sample of research proposal: Trends in consumer behavior in retail industry in China and implications to the marketing strategies

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Project title: Trends in consumer behavior in retail industry in China and implications to the marketing strategies – Case study of Walmart Stores, Inc in Tianjin City

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Trends in consumer behavior in retail industry in China and implications to marketing strategies- Case study of Walmart Stores, Inc in Tianjin City




1.1    Company background


Walmart Stores, Inc. was founded by American retail legend Mr. Sam Walton in Arkansas in 1962. Over forty years later, it has become the world’s largest private employer and retailer, on the top of the Fortune 500 list and has been among the most valuable brands for many years. As of August 5, 2010, Walmart had 189 units in 101 cities, and created over 50,000 job opportunities across China. And still Wal-Mart’s expansion in China is too slow, compared with that of Carrefour. And in Tianjin City, there are currently only two stores: Xin Kai Road Store and He Ping Road Store and expansion in the city that has a population of 13 million residents is the anticipated strategic direction of the Walmart Stores, Inc in the raising Chinese market.


1.2    Research objectives


How the Tianjin customers perceive the Walmart Stores and is it the best low price choice?

What the new customers behavior trends?


What the key considerations that the Chinese customers will have in purchasing the consumer products?


What are the impacts of the environments on the buying decision making in the retail industry?


What are the implications of the new customers behaviors trends on the marketing strategies in Walmart China?


1.3    Paper structure


The study will first look into the review of the related theories and literature about the consumer decision making; then the study will be followed by a careful environmental analysis of the market, macro environment, industrial environments and internal analysis of Wal-Mart China, and the major component of the study will be to focus on the customer behavior research which is followed by setting objectives of the company in term of the market share and financial objectives in the Tianjin city based on the company’s core value, culture and mission as well as the internal and external environments. And the next part regarding the marketing strategies includes the selection of generic strategies and the marketing mix strategies. And the last part is to provide an implementation and arrangement plan to the group for its future expansion and penetration into the large and fast growing Chinese market.




The field of consumer behavior is the study of individuals, groups, or organizations and the processes they use to select, secure, use, and dispose of products, services, experiences, or ideas to satisfy needs and the impacts that these processes have on the consumer and society (Hawkins 2010, p. 5). And according to Jim Blythe (2008, p. 417), consumers need to balance a number of factors carefully in order to arrive at a final evaluation of the products’ worth which include functional benefits, financial benefits (money saving), personal benefits (self esteem), acquisition costs, internal costs and risk of purchase. And provided the benefits exceed the costs, the consumer will be happy with the outcome and verse visa. Besides these factors, the consumer decision making also follows processes. And according to Eric N. Berkowitz (2011, p. 125), a decision making process of the consumers includes six stages: (1) problem recognition, (2) internal search, (3) external search, (4) alternative evaluation, (5) purchase and (6) post purchase evaluation.




3.1    Research design


One major assumption in this study is that with the development of the economy and rapid social development in China, there are also fast changes in the consumer buying behaviors and decision making process which have great influences over the marketing strategies and company business objectives setting. And case study in Walmart China (Tianjin City) in the retail industry would be adopted as the major research design mothod.


3.2    Source of data


Primary data would be collected in several Walmart Stores in China through interview, observation as well as paper based questionnaire. We will use the paper based questionnaire to research the customers purchasing decision making behaviors and also their thoughts about the supermarkets in China. Secondary data could be from the government reports, company financial reports, books, Internet resource, journals and other publications.


3.3    Sampling


A sample of 120 customers would be surveyed with structured questions to analyze the customer behaviors.




Berkowitz, E. N. 2011, Essentials of Health Care Marketing. Sudbury, MA: Jones and Barlett Learning. p. 125


Blythe, J. 2008, Consumer behaviour. London: Cengage Learning EMEA. p. 417


Hawkins, D. I. 2010. Consumer Behavior, 11E (Sie) With Cd. New Delhi: Tata McGraw Hill. p. 5