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Marketing Research Project

Executive Summary
Current problems and solution
Customers today want cheap and comfortable travelling means which are safe at the same
time. The huge number of vehicles has increased traffic a lot and it has become one of the
major issues in the metro cities. This in particular is a trouble for working class people and
students who have to reach their destinations on time. The increased traffic has also led to the
issue of pollution affecting all the citizens and the natural environment in the metro cities.
The proposed carpooling service has a high potential to serve the purpose of cheap and
comfortable travel for more than a million commuters in each metro city. It can become a
source of income for the people willing to share their vehicle in the carpooling service.
Besides the traffic and pollution issues can also be addressed by this proposal.
Technology used and uniqueness of the solution
The underlying technology for this new business idea is GPS. The differentiating factor from
the conventional pooling is that the pooling here is real time enabled by GPS. In
conventional pooling there are several problems like coordination, waiting time,
inconsistency which are solved here. By making pooling real time, one can find the pooling
partners as per his/her convenience. This helps in reducing the dependency on pooling
partners and thereby improving the pooling experience.
Also the transactions will all be cashless. The users would be required to maintain prepaid
accounts from which the amounts can be debited or credited based on the distance travelled.
Innovative service
The offering is really an innovative one. Although there have been initiatives on promoting
pooling but none have been able to convert into a sustainable business model. The idea here
is to add value for the users by providing them cheap, timely and safe pooling, and at the
same time generate revenue out of it. This leads to an overall benefit to all the stakeholders.
The cashless transactions concept makes this service even more innovative. This also ensures
that the number of defaults would be less. Charging a passenger 3.5per km & transferring
3 to the driver while keeping 0.5 as service charge makes this business economically
viable.
Legal considerations and risks
The current proposal requires the car sharing by a customer willing to do so. Besides the
service is based on real time scale and the customers will come to know about their pick up
car only minutes before the journey. Under such situation safety will be a concern for both us
and the customers also. This issue will be in particular very important when travelling with a
person of opposite gender. The registration and verification of the person offering to share
his/her vehicle will be extremely necessary for the service to be successful and comfortable to
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the commuters. It is recommended to have the best international practices in the proposed
service just as we have in our current radio cab service.

CONTENTS
Page no
Title page

Acknowledgement

Declaration

Executive Summary (major findings, conclusion and recommendations)

Contents

Chapter 1

Introduction

1.1. Problem definition (Background to the problem and statement to the problem)
Chapter 2
2.1
Chapter 3

Approach to the problem/Research Objectives

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RQ/Hypothesis/conceptual framework

Research Design

3.1. Nature/design of research

3.2. Data (types of data) and Data collection tools (describe


questionnaire/experimental design or other tools)

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3.3. Population and Sample (define population, sample, sample size, and
sampling technique)

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Chapter 4

Fieldwork/Data Collection (Describe how did you collect data)

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Chapter 5

Data Analysis, Results and Discussion

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5.1. Sample profile (demographic profile of your sample)

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5.2. Statistical analysis techniques (Descriptive/Inferential).

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Chapter 6

Implications of the results and Recommendations

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Chapter 7

Limitations and Caveats

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Chapter 8

Conclusion

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References

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Chapter 1

INTRODUCTION
The Mahapool Auto pooling application helps to bring together drivers and passengers,
regardless of the geographical limitation to remote destinations and for short distances in real
time anytime, irrespective of the distance. To use the application one needs to register either
as a driver or passenger. The application then maps the drivers and passengers in real time on
a particular route using GPS. The users also maintain a prepaid account from which the
charge based on the distance is transferred from the passengers account to the drivers. The
application is not for the commercial purposes which means that it is purely for pooling. For
effective pooling, it is desirable that there be a sufficiently large number of passengers &
drivers plying on particular routes. The source of revenue of the company is the commission
charged on each successful pooling transaction.

1.1 Problem identification


From the beginning Mahapool is facing challenges in sustaining itself due to difficulties to
increase revenue. The initial discussions with the CEO of Mahapool suggest that potential/
possible reason is lack of critical mass of active users. This research aims to identify the
reasons to find why revenues are not picking up. We have identified difficulty in achieving
critical mass as the potential problem and through this research we try to find factors
influencing critical mass to solve the Management decision problem of increasing revenue to
sufficient level. The marketing research problem is to determine the relative strength and
weakness of Mahapool with respect to factors that influence critical mass.

Chapter 2

APPROACH TO THE PROBLEM


2.1 Hypothesis
Critical mass
Critical mass is the point at which a growing company becomes self-sustaining, and no
longer needs additional investment or resources to remain economically viable.
Critical mass accomplishment is a very important stage in the development of a growing
company like Mahapool. In case of Mahapool, the revenues of the company depend upon the
number of successful pooling transactions which in turn heavily depend upon the number of
active users. Until this number of users is not about the critical mass, the users will abandon
using the application because of ineffective pooling brought about by small pool of users. As
such, critical mass is a crucial stage in a company's development.
H1: An increase in the critical mass will have a positive impact on revenue of the company
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Pricing
Pricing is an important component of cash flow and profitability, as well as marketing and
branding. In general, the price of the service should be competitive and setting of right price
is extremely crucial. It should neither be very high which is a deterrent to the customers nor
should it be low enough that reduces the profits for the company. A decrease in the price
charged from the passengers of Mahapool led to an increase in the number of the users.
Currently the price charged from the customers is 3.5 Rs per km & the company charges Re 1
per km.
H2: An increase in price has a negative impact on critical mass.
Timing
Timing is important factor in this organization for getting the critical mass and hence the
revenues. The most frequent users of the service is the working population. The probability of
getting the customers is high during morning when people are leaving for job and during the
evening when people are returning home. Since the organization is not getting critical mass
timing becomes even more crucial.
H3: Timing has a positive impact on critical mass.
Security and safety:
Customer have a perception that carpooling is susceptible to security risks, primarily
questioning on the background checks to validate the credentials of a driver who initiates a
journey and its passengers. Secondly there is no regulation or oversight to ensure standards or
safety. If you're travelling with a stranger, you carry the entire burden of risk as there are no
regulations on car-pooling companies in India as of now. Hence people show reluctance in
registering for carpooling. Thirdly the biggest challenge in India is to convince women
passengers to travel in a car with a stranger. Its very difficult to persuade women passengers
or drivers to register and stay as an active user. Therefore provide better security and safety
measure will ensure increase in the number of registered and active user.
H4: Security and safety have positive relationship with the critical mass
Advertisements:
Advertisements do have a substantial impact on the customer acquisition. As per the
discussion CEO, earlier the online platforms like Google Ads, Facebook etc. charged very
nominal amounts for customer acquisition. With the proliferation in the number of
applications coming into action, the customer acquisition charges have increased to almost
1.5$ per customer from 0.5$ earlier.
H5: Cost of advertisements has a negative impact on revenue

Price
Advertiseme
Security
Timing &
Safety
nt

Critical
Mass
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Sales

H2(+

H3(
H1(

H4(

H5(-

Chapter 3

RESEARCH METHOD/RESEARCH DESIGN


3.1 Nature of study
The research method followed for this project would be exploratory cum conclusive research.
As mentioned above, we have identified several factors which seem to be potentially
affecting the critical mass of the users & thereby the sales for the company. We plan to
conduct the exploratory research through:
1) Focus Group Interviews
2) In-Depth Interviews
Following these we ascertained those factors which would be quite crucial for reaching the
critical mass of customers.
We then proceeded with the conclusive research methods increasing the sample size &
conducting survey on the sample to conclude the results of the exploratory research & the
hypothesis testing.
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The reason why we chose this research method is that we have to focus on the reasons why
customers would be or not be willing to use this service. To do this we designed our research
primarily first to explore such factors & then to conclude most probable of these factors. This
was done through exploratory cum conclusive research.

Measures
Keeping in mind our study context we were very careful in adoption of constructs to be
studied. For the exploratory study that we were planning to conduct we used close ended
questions that would provide useful information in determining the factors that are critical
amongst the listed ones. Once identified the critical factors were then evaluated using 7-point
Likert-type scale to get conclusive data. The interpretation of the rating on the scale might
vary for each of the factors under discussion. The factors such as critical mass, price, timing,
security and safety and advertisement were measured using different items. The number of
items under each factor were decided based on the relevant literature available or from the
existing studies in the industry under discussion.

3.2 Data collection instruments


The population of this study was all the travelling crowd consisting of students, business
professionals and corporates who are looking for comfortable means of transport and those
who have spare capacity in their vehicle.
PRIMARY DATA COLLECTION: We used online survey technique with structured
questionnaire to collect data from the users of Mahapool and the sampled population of the
city where Mahapool is operating or planning to operate and the general population. The
questionnaire comprised of question related to constructs needed for this study and
demographics of the respondents.
Secondly we conducted unstructured interview of the potential users of Mahapool in NCR
using either telephonic interview or video conferencing to gather in depth knowledge of the
factors affecting the critical mass.
SECONDARY DATA COLLECTION: For secondary data we looked for any previous
studies or research conducted by the management of Mahapool. This process included
interactions with the industry experts and online study of reference papers and company
websites.

3.3 Population and sample


Before defining population, we defined our target segment. In the case of Mahapool, the
consumer segment was chosen on the basis of income groups. The reason behind this
assumption is ready availability of Smartphones as well as capacity to pay for one side
charges of a cab (which may amount from Rs 400 to 1000). Hence our target segment in this
case is middle class with income level > Rs 6 Lakhs. On a web search, the actual number of
Indian population satisfying our criteria amounts to 40 Lakh approximately.
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Now for defining sample size, we required Sample Mean and Standard deviation for different
variables we have formed hypothesis about. Since there is no prior availability of any such
data, the task in front of us was to estimate mean and standard deviation of the population.
For this, we first took a sample of over 100 people. Any number greater than 40 generally
helped in satisfying the assumption of Normal Distribution.

Chapter 4

Fieldwork/Data Collection
Primary Data Collection
For primary data collection we floated an online survey questionnaire, which had 13
questions. The target population of our survey was the travelling crowd consisting of
students, business professionals and corporates who were in need for comfortable means of
transport and those who had spare capacity in their vehicle. The items of the factors
consisting of safety & security, timing, advertisement and critical mass were measured with
7- point Likert type scale. The items of pricing factor was separately measured using a range
of values. We had a total of 114 respondents.
We also conducted unstructured telephonic interview of the potential users of Mahapool in
NCR and gathered in depth and valuable inputs of the factors affecting the critical mass.
Questions regarding the concerns and issues such as safety and timing were asked to the
interviewees. We interviewed a total of 13 users.
Secondary Data Collection
For secondary data we gathered data from previous studies or research conducted by the
management of Mahapool and other player in the same industry containing useful
information. This process included interactions with the industry experts and online study of
reference papers and company websites. The management of Mahapool had done a prior
research on the demand of the car-pooling service through interviews and surveys. This data
helped us analyze the factors affecting the critical mass.

Chapter 5

Data analysis, results and discussions


5.1. Sample profile (demographic profile of your sample)
The socio-demographic profile of the sample/respondents is shown below.

It can be seen that more than 50% of the respondents are male and nearly 85% of the
respondents are between age groups 20-40 years.
5.2. Statistical analysis techniques (Descriptive/Inferential)
Descriptive/Inferential:
The constructs and their items are as follows:
Constructs and their items
Critical Mass
CM1
CM2
Timing
TM1
TM2
Safety and Security
SS1
SS2
SS3
Advertisement
ADV1
ADV2
ADV3

Mean

SD

5.66
5.25

1.37
1.35

5.41
5.29

1.33
1.22

4.96
4.93
4.75

1.44
1.41
1.32

4.84
5.5
5.68

1.72
1.28
1.17

The mean score and standard deviations for critical mass range from 5.25 to 5.66 and from
1.35 to 1.37.The mean and standard deviations for timing range from 5.29 to 5.41 and from
1.22 to 1.33.The same for safety and security range from 4.75 to 4.96 and from 1.32 to 1.44.
Finally the mean score and standard deviations for advertisement from 4.84 to 5.68 and from
1.17 and 1.72 respectively.

The data analysis was done using SPSS software version 21.To explore the impact of the
factors timing, safety security and advertising on critical mass we used the regression
analysis. For determining the impact of pricing on critical mass we performed the one way
ANOVA test. The results obtained for the above factors are as follows. 95% confidence
interval was taken while taking into consideration the results.
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Results:
Factor analysis:

For factor analysis the KMO value was found to be 0.579 which is above the accepted value
of 0.5. Also significance value was found to be 0.000 for the Bartletts test of sphericity
which indicates the data is fit and appropriate for factor analysis. As observed in the above
chart of rotated component matrix the variables have been grouped based on the
interdependence (at a factor score of 0.6). The variable S3 and A3 do not fall under any group
but based on our managerial judgement we have included them in the factors safety and
security and advertising respectively.

The impacts of factors timing, safety and security and advertising on critical mass were
examined with standardized regression coefficients ( values), t-values and p-values. Results
show that timing (=0.214, t=2.804, p=0.006), safety and security (=0.482, t=6.436,
p=0.000) and advertising (=0.211, t=2.774, p=0.007) positively impact critical mass. The
results for pricing (=0.482, t=6.436, p=0.373) show that the factor does not have significant
impact on the critical mass at 95% confidence interval.

Chapter 6

Implications of the results and recommendations


The Implications of the research & results are quite significant. Using previous literature &
our understanding we identified certain variables which affected the critical mass for pooling.
Further we divided those variables into certain factors which were even corroborated with the
Factor Analysis.
Based on the results from the regression analysis & the ANOVA, we found that pricing
doesnt influence the critical mass much whereas safety & security concerns, advertisement,
time are important factors affecting critical mass. Based on these results, managers can put
their efforts and resources into those factors which are important.
So the company should invest more into finding new ways to enhance the safety measures,
invest into proper channels for advertising & reduce the time tags in pooling transactions.

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Chapter 7

Limitations and caveats


The limitations were in the scope of the project where we considered the NCR region only.
Also the number of samples is small as compared to the target population.
The results which are intended to be representative might also vary due to varied user
preferences & choices.

Chapter 8

Conclusion
Based on our research & interactions with the users, we could realize that the App meets the
requirement of the users to a large extent and therefore has a huge potential to grow. The
insights provided by the market research if utilized properly can help the company in gaining
that required critical mass & thereby increase the revenues.
References:

https://www.mahapool.com/
Secondary sources were obtained from the management of the Mahapool directly

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