Technical Business Research
Initial Research Proposal
M. Koby, M. Seeliger, S. Peterson, C. Walker
I. Background: According to a recent study convenience store retailers in the Houston area such as those owned by Royal Dutch Shell (Shell) are losing market share in gasoline sales to a new breed of hypermarkets (supermarkets also selling gasoline) run by such companies as Sams Club, Wal-Mart and Albertsons.
II. Defining Problem or Opportunity: We will determine how Shell can halt this trend of decreasing market share by identifying potential reasons it is occurring. By identifying the causes of this decrease in market share we will attempt to identify potential opportunities where Shell can refocus its efforts to better compete with the hypermarkets in the Houston area.
III. Research Objectives: Determine what qualities are most important to consumers when making fuel purchasing location decisions, focusing on the following categories.
A. Convenience of Location
B. Fuel Price
C. Method of Payment Options, Retailer credit card preference
D. Availability of other Consumer Commodities
E. Frequent Purchaser Benefits
F. Availability of Mechanic Services
G. Availability of Car Cleaning Facilities
I. Brand Loyalty
J. Diesel Availability
IV. Research Methodology:
A. Sample: Our sample will consist of 100 responses from Houstonians who are consumers of automobile fuel.
B. Procedures: Nonprobability sampling in the form of convenience sampling will be used, and group members living in Houston will send e-mails to 100 150 Houstonians out of their respective contact databases. This e-mail will contain a link that takes them to the questionnaire, where they can complete it anonymously. Topical areas:
1. To determine the purchasing habits of consumers (when, where, how often they purchase fuel, method of payment used, if they generally purchase from a single location, single brand, or no preference)
2. To determine the aspects of a gas station that people deem important when selecting where to get fuel (cost, proximity to work or home, benefits such as credit card or frequent shopper card rebates, secondary features such as products or services offered besides fuel, cleanliness, safety)
3. To determine the perceived strengths and weaknesses of Shells operations, how they compare to other convenience stores and how they compare with hypermarkets in Houston
4. To determine the demographics of the respondents (age, number of cars in household, number of people in household, income bracket, etc).
V. Time Estimate:
A. Design of Instrument: We expect the design of the survey to take three weeks (completion by June 23rd)
B. Data Collection: We expect the collection of data to take 7-10 days (completion by July 3rd)
C. Data Entry: We expect data entry to take 7-10 days (completion by July 13th)
D. Research Report: We expect to complete the research report by July 23rd.
VI. Proposed Data Analysis: We will use SPSS software for relevant statistical analyses of our data.
VII. Potential Benefits of our Study: By conducting research on the attitudes and behaviors of Houstonians regarding the purchase of gasoline, we hope to gain insight into whether Royal Dutch Shell can adapt their current marketing and operational strategies to gain back some market share from hypermarkets in gasoline sales.