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Students studied the motivation behind the purchase of affordable food products

‘The students could set up a two-person consultancy firm right away.’
Kaksi naista K-ryhmän kaupan hevi-osastolla.
Photo: K Group, material bank

The competition in food sales is fierce in Finland, and the operators in the sector have been bringing their prices down one after another. K Group, traditionally known for its high quality and independent retailers, wanted to find out about customers' motives for favouring affordable food products, since other actors in the sector are not only giving discounts but they have succeeded in improving, for example, consumers' perceptions of the quality of their offering. The research project assigned by the K group was implemented as part of the Customised student business projects concept.

The purpose of the research project was to examine the motives and drivers explaining the purchase of affordable food and to quantify their significance in K Group's different customer segments. The K Group was particularly interested in customer motives other than those related to the money available for purchases alone.

Case K-ryhmä, opiskelijat Camilla Karlsson ja Suvi Pättikangas
Camilla Karlsson and Suvi Pättikangas

Excellent choice of students

In the project, Camilla Karlsson and Suvi Pättikangas, Master's students in marketing at the School of Business, acted as project researchers.

‘All in all, the subject of the research project is extremely topical, and that is probably why an exceptionally high number of students were interested in the opportunity to implement the study. We received a lot of really good applications, and we succeeded in recruiting a top team from among them to implement the project,’ says Lauri Paavola, who acted as academic advisor in the project.

K Group was also very satisfied with the students selected. ‘The way Camilla and Suvi worked and their attitude were just what the project needed. The project got off to a quick start, and they were able to fathom large entities,’ says Heidi Jungar, Insight, Brand and Content Director from the K Group, who was involved in the project.                         

Three stages of research

The project was implemented in three stages. In the first stage, the students interviewed ten experts specialised in consumption, food or trade. The purpose of the expert interviews was to find the right questions for the next stage of the project and to come up with possible motives for purchasing affordable food products. 

In the second stage of the project, the students carried out a qualitative study, in which they interviewed K Group customers. Based on the interviews, they created hypotheses on factors that contribute to the purchase of affordable products.

In the third stage, the students created a quantitative set of questions to determine the accuracy of the hypotheses in consumer behaviour. ‘It was interesting to monitor how the results of the qualitative section were scaled in the actual study. Different reasons were emphasised in the qualitative section than in the quantitative interviews. This taught us that the results should be quantified using a large sample to determine the actual scales,’ Camilla and Suvi say.

A successful and rewarding project for all parties involved

The project gave the student pair an opportunity to develop their skills in expert work. ‘It gave us concrete experience from project management and the food retail sector, and about how its operations are developed. We also learned a lot about consumer behaviour and research. In addition, the project allowed us to deepen our expertise in price awareness, price images and hybrid consumers. It was also fun to figure out how to communicate the results effectively.’

According to Lauri Paavola, Camilla and Suvi did an excellent job. ‘It was easy to see that they were both excited about the project. In addition, they both have very good problem-solving skills. The implementation of the work was well under control from start to finish, and I think the results were excellent,’ he says.

Heidi Jungar was also pleased with the outcome. ‘It is part of a successful project how the conclusions are crystallised and visualised, and Suvi and Camilla did outstanding work. The results inspired us to implement a specific practical change in our organisation. Camilla and Suvi could set up a two-person consultancy firm and sell their services to major companies. I would give them the best grade for the project,’ she says in summary.

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