Case Study - Research Design
Ever since the health aspects of smoking became a public issue shortly after world war II the tobacco industry knew there was a threat of a long term decline in demand for tobacco products particularly cigarettes. As a result virtually every company in the field had been seeking new products. In 1987 FJR Nabisco came up with an innovative cigarette that virtually eliminated two of the most objectionable aspects of cigarette smoking smoke emitted into the air and tar inhaled by the smoker. The former caused non smokers to object to smoking in public places and the latter encouraged smokers to quit.
The new product looked like a cigarette but inside it was a miniature distillation systems. The tip could be lit like an ordinary cigarette but it was really a slow burning column of carbon. When a smoker drew on the cigarette heated air was drawn through a short segment of the cigarette which was filled with tobacco there the air picked up a taste of tobacco and a dose of nicotine as the tobacco didn't burn it left no ash and indeed and the cigarette looked the same after being. Smoked as before.
At the press conference to announce the new product the chairman of the board of R. J Reynolds Co. Stated. This represents a major evolution in cigarette design others referred to it as a rube Goldberg drug delivery systems for nicotine.
Industry observers took various views of the new product a step in the right direction was one comment by those who saw the elimination of tar as a move toward a safer diabetes smoking is no more socially acceptable as a results of the new product was a negative comment as was this just makes the health issues of smoking front page news again.
Tests run by the company showed that smoke from the new product contained fewer of the compounds found in conventional cigarette smoke but skeptics speculated that it might produce a whole range of new by products not found the standard cigarette. The new product still delivered carbon monoxide and nicotine both of which had been associated with disease. Nicotine was also related to ulcers and birth defects.
Some believed the development of the new cigarette might be the equivalent of firm shooting itself in the foot. If it made a safer cigarette the company would be admitting it knew the other cigarettes were not safe and might open it to product liability suits.
Best estimates were that the new product would cost the consumer 15 percent to 20 percent more than regular cigarettes but the current trend was that lower priced discount brands were gaining in the market. To introduce the product effectively would cost about $ 100 million but this estimate was made without any clear idea of what government regularly problems would have to be overcome.
Before committing itself to a capital investment of that magnitude the firm needed to know what consumer resection should be. Exploratory research seemed the obvious place to start.
a.Would you recommend focus groups or some other research design in this situation?
b.If focus groups should be used ?
1.How many groups should be used ?
2.How many individuals should be in each group ?
3.What types of individuals should be in each group ?
c.Plan a discussion outline for use by a focus group moderator.
d.If you recommend other focus groups describe your proposal and explain its advantages.