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Study of Customer Needs and Desires in the Airline Industry

Essay Topic: ,


As quoted by Kotler et al 2007:324 “Almost 28% of all production ideas come from watching and listening to customers”. In the airline industry, customer’s needs and wants are two of the three prime elements to be considered for its development. Other element being desires or demands, which is equally important but not everyone can afford it as it is backed by buying power which is not similar for all.

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The two prime elements endeavours to enhance the marketing decisions by selecting various methods such as addressing questions as to what are the currents needs and wants of customers, setting the decision making agenda, etc. Enhancing the flow of goods, services and ideas from its creators to the consumers wants and needs, is an activity known as Marketing. Everyone have their own needs, wants and desires, and in order to fulfil these everlasting desires, goods and services are required. Marketing concepts can only be applied if the basic needs, wants and desires of the customers are known. In order to satisfy the customers, promote and sell the products, services and ideas in an effective and more efficient way, marketing strategies like advertisements, campaigning, etc. are being incorporated. Organisations, through effective use of marketing research, should be able to ascertain the needs and wants of the customers and endeavour to deliver benefits that will amplify customer’s lifestyle ensuring a healthy turnover for business.

When undertaking to meet the requirements of its customers, an organisation has to consider the four key factors also known as the 4P’s of the marketing mix. The 4P’s consist of product, price, place and promotion. Further to this, in order to serve the customers more effectively and efficiently, additional 3Ps were introduced; people, process and physical evidence respectively. Briefly explaining these,


According to Holloway 2004, is anything that is offered to the market to satisfy a want or need. Kotler suggests that a product should be viewed at three levels; core product, actual product and augmented product respectively.


Must be conflicting and must bring about profits. The pricing strategy can consist of discounts, offers and the like.


Is an area where the products are made available through different channels for the customers to buy.


Includes the methods of communicating to the customers of what the company has to offer and to make them aware of product’s benefits rather than just talking about it.


Expand to customers, management and everyone who is involved in it. It should be realized that the reputation of the brand remains in people’s hand.


Is a procedure of providing service and thoroughly knowing whether it is helpful to the customer, if they are made available in time and many such things.

Physical evidence

Refers to such things which aid the customer in what he is buying. For instance, brochures, pamphlets, etc.

If properly conducted and implicated, marketing research could have a positive impact in an industry. Therefore, qualitative and quantitative methods, which are frequently used in airline industry, will be appraised in this essay. Over to that, their strengths and weaknesses will be explored while comparing and contrasting these methods, as they apply in airline industry. There is a need to apply qualitative and quantitative research methods, taking into consideration above Kotler’s 2007:324 quotes, to ascertain customer’s needs and wants.

According to Alan Bryman and Emma Bell, “By contrast, qualitative research can be constructed as a research strategy that usually emphasized words rather than quantification in the collection and analysis of data…” Helle neergaard, John P. Ulhoi 2007:5 suggest that definition of qualitative research provided by Denzin and Lincoln (1994) is considered by many which say that “it is a multi method in focus, interpretive, naturalistic approach to its subject matter. This means that qualitative researchers study things in their natural settings, attempting to make sense of or interpreting phenomena in terms of meanings people bring to them.” Denzin and Lincoln 1994 suggests the basic characteristics of qualitative research are case study, personal experience, introspective, life story interview, observational, historical, interactional, and visual texts.

Application of wide range statistical methods to quantify or measure data in terms of value or volume is known as quantitative research. “Quantitative research uses numerical data, and it characteristically has structured and predetermined research questions, conceptual; frameworks and designs.” (Punch, 2005, 28). According to Lamnek 2005 quantitative research characterises a rather inflexible procedure that is best suited to explanatory, statistical and theory testing purposes. Paul N. Hague (2002) points out that quantitative research is related to the measuring aspects of number of consumers constituting the market. This includes soft phenomena as well as hard phenomena such as consumer’s attitudes and market size, purchase frequencies, brand shares, etc. The elementary characteristics of quantitative research are heart of the research, defined objectives that include hypothesis and focused research design identifies who, how, what, why and when, large enough sample to allow for generalisation.

In an airline industry, a large scale survey design i.e. quantitative research method would only allow a narrow and restricted view on innovation because such approaches lack depth due to focus shifting on large sample offers only. Besides, within the service sector there is relatively poor data collection and low availability of statistical data on innovation activity (Howells, 2009, 9; Richter & Theile, 2007). It is unlikely that senior executives will choose to answer a fairly anonymous survey, as typical percentage for response in surveys on innovation in airline industry are in the low single digits (Maximilian, 2002, 47). As the airline industry is a global industry with a large number of small carriers, it would yield no statistically substantiated results and depth would be missing. Example of such an approach would be a likert scale; all the answers to the questions are numbered as: 1) strongly agree, 2) agree, 3) neither agree nor disagree, 4) disagree, 5) strongly disagree. The strength of such a survey is that consecutively a large number of people can be surveyed all at a time and the questions are close-end. All together they do have a weakness as well which is that interaction, feelings and thoughts will not be expressed freely as needed.

Qualitative research, on the other hand, besides using non-numerical and unstructured data, alsy typically has research procedures and questions which are basic at the beginning and become more focused and perspective as the study progresses (Punch, 2005, 28). Qualitative methods permit the analyzer to analyse selected issues in detail and depth (Patton, 1990, 13-14) as they generate detailed information. By contrast, qualitative data are rich while also having a strong handle on “real life” (Miles & Huberman, 1994). As the airline industry is unstructured from a practical point of view and is largely unexplored, therefore that method is applicable which would take advantage of rich empirical data. Consequently, this essay pursues a qualitative approach. The strengths of such an approach are that they encourage greater intensity of ideas and participation of participants in an interactive way where deep feelings and thoughts are considered. Therefore, findings can be turned into creativity portraying the reality of research population (Masterson & Pickton, 2004). The weaknesses of such an approach are that they can be time consuming, difficult to get participants or volunteers to be open with their views depending on the questions asked and, participants are viewed as a small group representing a whole population )Baker, 2007).

The purpose of this essay, to compare and contrast the two different approaches (research methods) of which one was quantitative and the other qualitative using surveys and other methods to meet the needs and wants of customers, is now explored. It can be understood from the above that both the procedures (qualitative and quantitative), praise and strengthen each other and aid to build strong and healthy procedures to help meet customers’ desires. Hence marketing research methods are necessary for airline industry to continue to deliver optimal services to customers.


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