Research Proposal Example on Online Shopping and Consumers' Privacy Concerns

Paper Type:  Research proposal
Pages:  7
Wordcount:  1734 Words
Date:  2021-06-21


The Internet provides a fundamentally unique environment for online shopping compared to traditional shopping environment. The global proliferation of social media has given the marketers an avenue for advertising and marketing their goods and services. The consumer has also had a chance to sample different products and buy them at a click of a button.' Past studies have shown that social media benefits businesses due to its relatively low cost of marketing compared to other traditional media marketing approaches. It has also been found to promote effective social interaction between consumers and businesses as well as between one business and another. Additionally, it has been reported to promote excellent customer care.

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Despite its benefits to businesses, researchers have identified privacy issues as one of the disadvantages of social media use in business. However, there still exist a gap in the literature concerning the effects of consumers privacy concerns on consumers brand trust and purchase behavior. To address this research gap, the current study will use the following primary and secondary research questions: (i) Do social media users information privacy concerns influence their brand trust? and (ii) Does brand trust affect future online purchase intention?

The proposed study will contribute to an understanding of online shopping behavior of consumers by examining consumers privacy concerns and by also determining whether a relationship between the privacy concerns and the trust beliefs, particularly brand trust, exist. The research is highly relevant because most of the past studies have only examined customer-related concerns, but few studies have investigated the role of customers online privacy issues in brand trust. This study will also help to further understand if brand trust predicts consumers online buying behavior. Some of the practical implications of the proposed study include an understanding of how to improve customers brand trust through addressing their privacy concerns and how consumers online buying can be improved by addressing their privacy concerns.

Research Methodology

Research Design

To examine the relationship between various variables in the study, a correlational research design will be used. This is a type of quantitative non-experimental research design used to explain whether a relationship exists between two or more variables (Mertler, 2017). Being a non-experimental design, it does not involve manipulation of variables (Kassin, Fein, & Markus, 2017). This design is the most appropriate for this study because the variables, such as privacy concerns and trust, cannot be experimentally manipulated. Correlational research design gives empirical evidence showing two variables are related or not. However, it does not explain causation (Rubin & Babbie, 2014). Hence, it does not yield an in-depth understanding of the variables under study and their relationship.

Research Instruments

Demographic Questionnaire. Participants will complete a short demographic questionnaire aimed at collecting data on their gender, age, year of study, and faculty.

Internet Users Information Privacy Concerns (IUIPC) Scale. Consumers privacy concerns will be measured using IUIPC scale developed by Malhotra et al. (2004). IUIPC is a multidimensional scale which was adapted from Concern for Information Privacy (CFIP) scale and modified from CFIP original offline direct marketing form to the current internet form. IUIPC focuses on consumers perceptions of fairness regarding information privacy and consists of three aspects of privacy concerns: gathering of personal data, control over personal data, and awareness of organizations privacy policies. IUIPC has been empirically found to a better predictor of customers online privacy concerns compared to CFIP (Malhotra et al., 2004).

Brand trust: Perceived Brand Trust Scale (Hess, 1995). Hess (1995) Brand Trust Scale (BTS) is based on the belief that a brand is trusted by the customer to the extent that the brand is seen as being honest, altruistic, competent, and reliable and that the customer understands what to expect from the brand. BTS measures brands reliability, honesty, and altruism and consist of 11 items covering the three dimensions. Item scoring is based on 1 to 5 Likert scale, ranging from totally disagree to totally agree. Responses to all the 11 items are summed up to produce the final composite brand trust score ranging from 11 to 55. The scale has been reported to have high reliability and validity. Specifically, its internal consistency alpha coefficients range from .78 to .86, while its validity ranges from .46 to .57. Therefore, it is a valid and reliable measure of the variable.

Purchase Intention Scale (Moran & Juster, 1968). Consumers purchase intention will be assessed using purchase intention scale developed by Thomas Juster. This is a 11-point probability scale having a high accuracy in predicting purchase intention of consumers. On this scale, every description is directly correlated to a number ranging from 0 to 10. The scores predict the probability of buying a particular item. For instance, an individual with a score of 6 has a 60% chance of using the product. In general, the higher the score, the higher the probability of purchase intention and vice versa.

Data Collection Procedure

After informed consent is sought from the faculty, universitys ethics review board, and participants, data collection will be conducted. Data will be collected using four data collection instruments: Demographic Questionnaire, Internet Users Information Privacy Concerns (IUIPC) Scale, Perceived Brand Trust Scale (Hess, 1995) Purchase Intention Scale (Moran & Juster, 1968). These instruments will be used to collect participants demographic, privacy concerns, brand trust, and purchase intention data. The participants will be instructed on how to fill each of these measures.

Sampling Approach and Sample Size

The statistical population of the proposed study consist of all students of the university who are knowledgeable in the use of the internet, particularly those active in social networks (such as Facebook and Twitter). Participants will be sought using flyers posted around the universitys campus. Participants will also be recruited via Facebook through snowball sampling. This approach will involve convincing Facebook users to pick their friends to be part of the study. In snowball sampling, subjects are chosen for the study based on referral from other respondents (Bajpai, 2011). Some of the advantages of snowball sampling include low costs and ability to obtain large sample sizes. However, being a non-random sampling approach, the subjects may be non-representative of the population (Black, 2011).

All the participants will be required to be at least 18 years of age during the time of the study, and are experienced in online shopping. A total of 300 participants is targeted for the study. All the participants who will be interested in the study will be further subjected to further screening, with the aim of recruiting only those with the needed characteristics: those who are concerned with online privacy and those with experience in online shopping. In screening the interested participants, the exclusion criteria will be those individuals who are below 18 years of age, those without online privacy concerns, and those without a history of online shopping. A screening survey will be used to identify relevant individuals meeting these criteria, and screen out respondents who meet these criteria. Participants who meet the criteria for the study will be contacted via email three weeks later for the actual study.

Research Location and Schedule

The study will be conducted on the universitys main campus over a period of 14 weeks. The first phase of the study involves development and refinement of the research questions through a thorough review of past literature. The first phase will also include figuring out of the research setting. This phase is expected to take one week. The second phase involves obtaining of clearances from faculty and universitys ethical clearance department, a procedure which is estimated to take a week to complete. The third step, conducting the real study, will take about 6 weeks. This is followed by analysis of the data or making sense of the data, which will take about 3 weeks. The last phase will involve writing of the research report. This will take approximately 3 weeks.

Limitations of the Methodology

The research design chosen for the proposed study has some limitations. First, correlation research design cannot be used to explain causality between the variables being studied (Rovai, Baker, & Ponton, 2014). An observed correlation between variables does not imply that either of the two or more variables causes the other. Therefore, in such instances, reverse causation cannot be ruled out (Stangor, 2016). Moreover, the observed correlation between variables in this design may be due to a third variable that was not measured in the research (Stangor, 2016).

The second limitation of the study is the proposed sampling approach. Due to time and monetary constraints, non-random sampling approach will be employed in the recruitment of the subjects. Specifically, flyers and snowball sampling will be utilized in participant recruitment. Because non-random sampling techniques are non-representative, external validity is reduced (Streiner & Norman, 2009). Therefore, findings from the study cannot be generalized to the general population.

The third limitation of the proposed study concerns the validity and reliability of the research instruments that will be used to collect data on the variables being studied. Specifically, no information regarding reliability and validity of Internet Users Information Privacy Concerns (IUIPC) Scale and Purchase Intention Scale was found in the literature.

Expected Outcome of the Research Project

Based on the first research question, the researcher expects to find a negative relationship between social media users information privacy concerns and brand trust. This means that increased consumers privacy concerns are expected to lead to decreased trust in a particular brand (goods or services). On the other hand, if consumers do not have online privacy concerns, it is expected that trust in the brand will be enhanced. Based on the second research question, it is expected that increased brand trust will lead to enhanced future online purchase intention. This means that if a consumer develops a trust in a particular product marketed online, he or she is expected to buy the product more. Conversely, low trust in a specific brand is expected to lead to decreased intention of online shopping of the brand.


Bajpai, N. (2011). Business research methods. Delhi: Pearson.

Bearden, W. O., Netemeyer, R. G., & Haws, K. L. (2011). Handbook of marketing scales: multi-item measures for marketing and consumer behavior research. Los Angeles: Sage.

Black, K. (2011). Business statistics: contemporary decision making. Cincinnati, OH: South-Western College Pub.

Kassin, S. M., Fein, S., & Markus, H. R. (2017). Social psychology. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.

Malhotra, N. K., Kim, S. S., & Agarwal, J. (2004). Internet users information privacy concerns (IUIPC): the construct, the scale, and a causal model. Information Systems Research, 15(4), 336-355. doi:10.1287/isre.1040.0032

Mertler, C. A. (2017). Action research: improving schools and empowering educators. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.

Moran, P., & Juster, F. T. (1968). Consumer buying intentions and purchase probability, an experiment in survey design. Revue economique, 19(4), 694. doi:10.2307/3498854

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