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Discerning product benefits through visual

thematic analysis
Abhilash Ponnam
IBS Hyderabad, Hyderabad, India, and
Jagrook Dawra
Goa Institute of Management, Goa, India

Abstract
Purpose – There is a lack of a framework that explicates how to determine the benefits that consumers desire from a product. The purpose of this
article is to formulate a scientific procedure for discerning the benefits that consumers seek from a product. The authors term this procedure as visual
thematic analysis (VTA). VTA procedure is illustrated through discerning the benefits of mainstream (non-financial) English newspapers.
Design/methodology/approach – The focus group method was used to collect data. These data were analyzed using visual thematic analysis which
involves using multiple investigators and multi-dimensional scaling techniques in stages.
Findings – A total of 26 newspaper attributes combined to form eight distinct newspaper benefits namely ease of comprehension, journalistic values,
critical insights, general news, entertainment, well-being, classifieds and offers.
Practical implications – Obtained results may be used further: to segment the newspaper market based upon benefits sought, to position
newspapers within the desired segment(s) and to fashion product mix in a way that appeals to the targeted segment(s).
Originality/value – This paper proposes a new method called “visual thematic analysis” for data reduction. One such application of VTA is
“discerning product benefits” which is discussed in detail. Other applications of this technique that are mentioned in the paper are in the areas of data
reduction when researcher confronts small sample size, data reduction of categorical variables and scale development.

Keywords Newspaper benefits, Thematic analysis, Multi-dimensional scaling, Perceptual maps, Categorical data analysis,
Data reduction of categorical variables, Data analysis, United Kingdom

Paper type Research paper

Introduction The authors of this paper accordingly emphasize that


discerning product benefits should be given the utmost
The importance of benefits is well established in marketing priority and it should be the first question that should be
literature. Benefit segmentation, a popular form of addressed by the marketer before undertaking any marketing
segmentation, operates upon the premise that consumers activity. However, the answer to this primordial question is
perceive products as bundles of benefits, and not as bundles generally assumed a priori based upon the features of the
of features (Haley, 1968). It is suggested that consumer product, or pursued without scientific rigor, as no formal
choice does not happen based on a feature-by-feature guideline or framework for perceiving product benefits is
comparison of alternative brands, but holistically, where the currently laid out. This paper attempts to fill this gap by using
branded product is evaluated for its fit with the desired a modified version of thematic analysis (Braun and Clarke,
benefits (Chernev, 2004). Accordingly, it may be posited that 2006) procedure. The authors term this procedure as visual
consumers selectively attend to product features based upon thematic analysis (VTA). Accordingly, VTA is defined as a
the benefits sought (Huffman and Houston, 1993). Desired “method for ascribing themes from qualitative data using
benefits also influence the “consideration set” formation multiple investigators and statistical graphing techniques in
process. A “consideration set” may contain brands belonging different phases of analysis, thereby enforcing investigator and
to different industry-defined product categories as long as the methodological triangulation within single research design.”
consumer perceives that these brands provide similar desired The visual thematic analysis procedure is illustrated in the
benefit(s) (Ratneshwar et al., 2001). Therefore, knowing what context of mainstream English newspapers. The scope of this
benefits do consumers desire from a product is indispensable study is confined to physically delivered, non-financial dailies
only. A newspaper is a fairly complex product, given its varied
for marketers, since desired benefits have a pivotal role to play
distinguishing features. A newspaper is an experience/
in product perception, product categorization, product
credence product, as objective features of a newspaper like
selection and market segmentation.
the quality of printing and the quality of (physical) paper used
serve very little purpose in evaluating it. A newspaper can be
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at either a high involvement product or a low involvement one,
www.emeraldinsight.com/1061-0421.htm depending upon the amount of time spent on reading it. The
newspaper belongs to one of the few product categories where
one can evidence simultaneous multiple behavioral brand
Journal of Product & Brand Management loyalties. Given these peculiarities of the newspaper, it is both
22/1 (2013) 30– 39
q Emerald Group Publishing Limited [ISSN 1061-0421]
interesting as well as challenging to find out what benefits do
[DOI 10.1108/10610421311298669] consumers desire from this product.

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Discerning product benefits through VTA Journal of Product & Brand Management
Abhilash Ponnam and Jagrook Dawra Volume 22 · Number 1 · 2013 · 30 –39

Addressing this question within a philosophical paradigm is description (Boyatzis, 1998). The same code name may be
important as each paradigm has its own methodologies assigned to more than one qualitative description as long as
relating to addressing the research question(s) and paradigm- the descriptions convey the same information. Thematic
specific criteria for judging the quality of the research analysis can be undertaken within the Realism paradigm only
undertaken (Hudson and Ozanne, 1988). Such criteria are if the experiences of participants are interpreted in a
discussed under criterology (Seale, 1999). Accordingly, the straightforward manner without ascribing any implicit
next section discusses the meaning of the product benefits, meaning to what is being stated (Roulston, 2001). This
ascribes a relevant paradigm for visual thematic analysis mode of interpretation is called semantic interpretation
procedure and then elaborates upon the criteriology. (Braun and Clarke, 2006). Code names that are ascribed to
qualitative descriptions in this study are not based upon any
Literature review preconceived framework; rather, they are named concurrently
as and when the data arrives. This approach is termed
Features are objective characteristics of the product “inductive approach” to thematic analysis (Braun and Clarke,
(Ratneshwar et al., 1999). Benefit is the meaning that 2006). To summarize, thematic analysis used in this study is
consumers attach to the product’s feature(s) (Keller, 2003) based on a semantic as well as inductive approach,
depending upon their functionality. Through the process of undertaken within the realism paradigm.
cognitive abstraction, consumers map one or more features to Braun and Clarke (2006) devised a six-stage procedure to
a single benefit (Ratneshwar et al., 1999). For example, the conduct thematic analysis. This study will adhere to this
benefit “speed of a laptop” can be inferred using a original six-stage procedure, but will augment it by
combination of one or more features like size of RAM, incorporating multi-dimensional scaling techniques –
speed of processor, version of operating system installed etc. PROXSCAL and multiple-correspondence analysis, in some
Benefits, in short, explain what consumers desire from a of these stages. Multidimensional scaling techniques (MDS)
product (Vriens and ter Hofstede, 2000). The benefit has to enable visualization of data on charts, commonly called
be demarcated from a related construct called motive. perceptual maps. The authors believe that introducing this
Motives explain the reasons for behavior (McClelland, technique will aid in the graphical representation of data and
1985); accordingly, in the case of consumer behavior, thereby foster better analysis. Though quantitative research
purchase motives explain why a consumer wants a product. procedures are introduced, parity will be maintained with the
To illustrate, the motive behind the purchase of a car might be original procedure suggested by Braun and Clarke (2006) in
transportation and social acceptance, whereas benefits that terms of objectives to be met within each stage. Data-coding
are sought could be safety, comfort, economy, luxury, style and methodological aspects relating to thematic analysis and
etc. MDS will be discussed in the methodology section.
Benefits which a product can confer to a consumer exist Akin to reliability and validity, which are hallmarks of good
independent of the consumer. For example, the property of a research within the Positivist paradigm (Hudson and Ozanne,
fur sofa to offer comfortable seating, or a wine to be able to 1988), Realism paradigm has concepts namely auditability
inebriate can exist despite the non-existence of consumer, as and triangulation (Healy and Perry, 2000). Auditability is a
long as the products are functional. This view corresponds to qualitative measure of methodological trustworthiness. A
Popper’s paradigm called realism where the object exists research is auditable if the discussion of the results is
independent of the researcher (Magee, 1985). Proponents of accompanied by appropriate original quotes from the
realism believe that the real world is incompletely and respondents (Healy and Perry, 2000). Triangulation is an
imperfectly comprehensible. For example, if “style” is the appropriate method for validation within the realism
benefit that is sought from the apparel, one person’s account paradigm (Blaikie, 1991). Triangulation deals with
of meaning of style might not project the true picture. combining two or more aspects of research to strengthen
Multiple descriptions may be required to comprehend the the design so as to increase the ability to interpret the findings
phenomenon – style within the context of the apparel. Hence, (Campbell and Fiske, 1959). Methodological triangulation
realists believe in obtaining multiple accounts of description seeks to use multiple methods to analyze data, within a single
of reality to ascribe meaning to the phenomenon or objects research design so as to decrease the “deficiencies and biases
(Guba and Lincoln, 1994). Therefore, focus groups and that stem from any single method” (Mitchell, 1986, p. 19).
depth interviews are considered as legitimate methods for Investigator triangulation seeks for convergence of
data collection as long as the moderator is aware of the precise information when analyzed by different investigators (Duffy,
set of objectives to be accomplished through these procedures 1987). Investigator triangulation reduces the bias in coding
(Healy and Perry, 2000). and analyzing data where as methodological triangulation
Data analysis within the Realism paradigm can be reduces the propensity of rival explanations (Thurmond,
undertaken using thematic analysis (Roulston, 2001). 2001).
Considering VTA is a methodological variant of the
thematic analysis procedure (Braun and Clarke, 2006), it is Research methodology
assumed that all the objectives and methodological
considerations of thematic analysis are applicable for VTA Focus group discussion guide development
also. Thematic analysis involves searching for repetitive Focus groups were considered for the data collection
themes which occur across the data (Boyatzis, 1998). A procedure. The objective of the focus group exercise is to
theme is a patterned response that is relevant to the research unravel benefits desired from English newspapers. Benefits
question (Braun and Clarke, 2006). A theme is identified explain what a consumer desires in the product. Since a
using a code name or set of code names, where the code name straightforward question may not yield a comprehensive
stands for a shorthand name given to a rich qualitative answer, the authors have designed a set of related probes to

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Discerning product benefits through VTA Journal of Product & Brand Management
Abhilash Ponnam and Jagrook Dawra Volume 22 · Number 1 · 2013 · 30 –39

indirectly tap into this issue. Probes on participants’ favorite themes were captured into a data extract file. No conscious
brands, least sought-after brands, and the corresponding endeavor was made to find out the number of themes or give
reasons; participants’ sharing of experiences of delight and plausible names to the themes at this stage.
disappointment with relation to brands and their competition; The second stage involves “code generation”. Data extracts
probes on improvements, modifications that participants’ identified from the data extract file were analyzed during this
desire from a product; probes on elicitation of alternative stage. Each data extract was carefully read for its semantic
product categories that could satisfy the same need and why meaning and given an appropriate code name that best reflect
participants consider these as substitutes, etc. were framed the essence of the extract. Data extracts which shared the
and incorporated into the discussion guide. To check validity same semantic meaning were assigned same code name. This
of these questions, written descriptive answers to these exercise resulted in generation of 26 distinct code names (see
questions were sought from five graduate-level students. Table II). Data collection and data analysis until this stage
Answers were checked for their ability to lead to desired happened in parallel, i.e. at the end of every focus group, first
benefits. To remove bias, a senior professor in marketing was and second stage of analysis were carried out. Data analysis of
given the definition of consumer benefit and he was requested fifth focus group did not yield any new code names; hence,
to spot benefits from each answer. The authors could the focus group exercise was terminated. Data from original
evidence benefits being spotted for all these questions from all data extract file was rearranged in such a way that all data
the answer scripts. extracts which shared common code names were grouped
together; this file was named as sorted data extract file. From
Data collection modalities this file, data extracts which best represented individual code
All focus-groups were recorded using a recording device. The names were identified in consensus by both the authors. A
consent of all the participants regarding audio taping was
total of 26 code names along with representative data extracts
taken prior to the conduct of discussion. The anonymity of
were then furnished into a code definition file.
the participants was assured. Participants were screened a
The third stage of the analysis deals with “searching for
priori for their eligibility to participate. Participants who had
themes”. Five media experts were recruited for data analysis
expressed interest to participate but had not read newspapers
from this stage onwards. The original procedure suggested using
since last six months and those participants who were directly
visual representations to group code names into themes.
or indirectly associated with the newspaper industry in any
However, two modifications were made, though the objectives
capacity were considered ineligible for participation. One of
of using visual representations and grouping code names were
the authors played the role of moderator during the conduct
adhered to. Instead of authors, two out of these five experts were
of focus groups. Each focus-group consisted of at least five
requested to participate in this phase of analysis. Instead of
members as suggested by Goldman and McDonald (1987).
manual visual representations, PROXSCAL module of SPSS 16
Diversity in age, gender and profession was also taken into
consideration, by inviting participants belonging to different (Meulman and Heiser, 2005) was used to obtain visual
demographic profiles. All focus group discussions were representations. Before explaining PROXSCAL data collection
conducted in accordance with guidelines laid by Goldman and analysis procedure, it is imperative to explain the need for
and McDonald (1987). By the end of the fifth focus-group, modifications in the stated procedure. Bringing in different
repetition of information was evidenced. At this point, focus investigators during this phase of analysis generates validity for
group exercise was terminated following the guide rule of the research through investigator-triangulation. Investigator-
information saturation principle (Glaser and Strauss, 1967). triangulation reduces the researcher bias in analyzing data.
The demographic profile of the participants is listed in Table I. Using a statistical tool instead of qualitative analysis also endows
methodological advantage. PROXSCAL analysis will result in
Data analysis perspicaciously and objectively representing the combined
Both the authors together carried out the data analysis opinion of both the participants in a single visual chart.
process. In accordance with thematic analysis (Braun and Two of the five experts were contacted independently, and
Clarke, 2006) procedure, the first stage of VTA also requires were introduced to each other only towards the end of this
the researchers to involve themselves in “data immersion”. phase. Code definition file along with the sorted data extract
Accordingly, the data were transcribed verbatim, checked for file were provided to the experts (hereafter called
accuracy and were read and further re-read by both the participants). Participants were asked to carefully go
authors. The objective behind the initial reading was to find through the code definition file and in case of ambiguity in
out repeated patterns in the data that could lead to formation comprehension; they were suggested to refer the sorted data
of themes. Towards the end of the first stage, all those data extract file for corresponding code. Subsequent to finishing
extracts (quotes) which could serve to represent underlying this “code name familiarity process”, participants were given

Table I Demographic profile of FGD participants


Gender composition Monthly household income (Indian Rupees)
Focus group number Male Female Mean age < 20,000 20,000-35,000 >35,000
1 3 3 21 4 1 1
2 4 3 26 3 3 1
3 3 4 32 1 3 3
4 4 3 37 2 3 2
5 3 3 42 1 2 3

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Table II Code name, benefit association


Code_name/attribute (representation on graph) Theme/benefit
Local news General news
Non-local news
Sports
Stock market listings (stock listings)
Easy language Ease of comprehension
Error-free English
Easy-to-read print
Presence of photographs (presence of photos)
Has social responsibility Journalistic values
Unbiased coverage
Non-exaggeration of news
Expert opinions Critical insights
In-depth detailing
Insightful editorials
Movie industry related information (movie info) Entertainment
Leisure
Movie screening information (movie screening info)
TV schedule
Parenting related information (parenting info) Well-being
Lifestyle-related information (lifestyle info)
Legal and personal finance-related advice (economic advice)
Special supplements Classifieds
Advertisements
Career-related information (career info)
Contests Offers
Subscription-related incentives (free gifts)

the comprehensive list of 26 code names and were asked to perceptual map generated using this procedure is shown to
group code names which represent a common underlying both the participants together (see Figure 1). They were asked
phenomenon into distinct groups. Participants were told that to identify the number of benefits (themes) based upon the
they may form as many groups as possible but were requested clustering of code names on the map. Eight benefits were
to assign one code name to only one group; participants were identified and named in consensus with both the participants
asked not to name the groups during this exercise. This on the basis of codes that were grouped together (see
process, according to Braun and Clarke (2006) is called as Figure 1).
theme piling. The fourth stage deals with “refining the themes”. Braun
The theme pile of each participant was coded into a and Clarke (2006) suggested the possibility of collapsing of
similarity matrix. Similarity matrix is a (lower triangular) distinct themes into a single theme, and also cited the
square matrix where rows and columns represent variables possibility of misconstruing some code names to represent a
(here variables are code names) and elements of this matrix theme while they actually might not. These phenomena were
represent the extent of association between the row variable visually tested for in VTA using multi-dimensional scaling
and column variables. For the purpose of this analysis, data procedure called multiple-correspondence analysis (MCA).
are dichotomously coded. If two code names are classified in Subsequent to undergoing “code name familiarity process”,
the same group by a participant, the element corresponding to three remaining experts individually had to match each code
these variables will be coded as 1, or else 0. As each code name with a distinct theme. In order to reduce the complexity
name shares the same themes with itself, all principal diagonal in data analysis, it was suggested that each code name could
elements were coded as 1 (see appendix A for example data be at the most matched with two themes; it was also specified
coding of similarity matrix). Similarity matrices of both the that if a code name did not match with any of the themes
participants were simultaneously subjected to the specified in the list, it must be matched with a miscellaneous
PROXSCAL procedure in SPSS 16.0 to obtain a perceptual theme that is a-priori specified in the list (see Appendix B for
map. Perceptual map obtained, visually represents the example data coding for MCA). Data, thus collected from
similarities and differences between the variables on a low individual respondents was simultaneously subjected to
dimensional space (Malhotra, 1999). It may be accordingly MCA.
inferred that all those code names which appear very near to Multiple-correspondence (MCA) analysis is akin to
each other or overlap on each other share a similar underlying principal component analysis for nominal data (Mazzarol
theme. To generate a perceptual map, ordinal proximity and Soutar, 2008). The joint space map generated from MCA
transformation was selected considering the simplicity in data graphically illustrates the relationships among and between
coding. Initial configuration was set to Torgerson. The the elements of row and column categories whereas individual

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Discerning product benefits through VTA Journal of Product & Brand Management
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Figure 1 Proximity scaling chart

category plots generated from MCA only illustrate the be related to any code in this phase of analysis leading to its
similarities and differences between the elements of the non-existence in the category plot.
same category (Malhotra, 1999). For the purpose of this The fifth stage of thematic analysis dealt with “defining and
analysis, row category is selected as themes and column naming themes”. To understand the composition of the
category is selected as code names. MCA within SPSS 16.0 is theme, joint space map of MCA was analyzed (see Figure 3).
invoked using optimal scaling procedure (Meulman and All the code names points which were in proximity to theme
Heiser, 2005). Joint space map and category plot of themes point described that theme. All theme points in this joint plot
were obtained from this procedure. were adequately surrounded within proximity by one or more
For this phase of the analysis, only category plot of themes code points. The joint space map was shown to three
was analyzed (see Figure 2). If two or more points on the participants together and they were asked whether the theme
category plot (points represent individual themes) were found points could be adequately described by the code name points
to overlap upon each other, it must be inferred that, there which were present in their vicinity. After deliberation
exists a single underlying theme corresponding to such points. amongst experts (retained from fourth phase), an affirmative
This phenomenon was not evidenced, which suggests that no answer was obtained. When inquired about the suitability of
two candidate themes are similar. Also miscellaneous theme theme name, they expressed their consent with the existing
was not evidenced on the category plot. Nonexistence of theme names and hence the same theme names were retained.
miscellaneous theme signifies that themes specified were This exercise concludes the analysis phase of the current
adequate; because if the themes were inadequately specified, research. The sixth stage of reporting the findings would be
participants would have related at least one code name with detailed in the results section.
miscellaneous theme, leading to its presence in the category
plot. All eight points each representing individual themes were
Results and discussion
evidenced on the category plot. This phenomenon suggests
that none of the themes were misconstrued because if a theme Tabular depiction of the joint space map is offered in Table II.
was misconstrued in the earlier phase of analysis, it would not In this table 26 newspaper attributes (code names) combine

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Discerning product benefits through VTA Journal of Product & Brand Management
Abhilash Ponnam and Jagrook Dawra Volume 22 · Number 1 · 2013 · 30 –39

Figure 2 Category plot

to form eight benefits (themes). This section presents to. Analysis of focus groups suggested that participants
accompanying verbal description of each theme based upon preferred reading those newspapers which use relatively
focus group participants’ experiences. All newspaper names simple and grammatically correct English. Focus groups
are expurgated for the sake of anonymity, accordingly suggested that clarity in the presentation can be attained by
replaced with XXXX. Description of each of the eight printing news in an easily readable font (size) and by
themes is offered below. including photographs wherever appropriate. Some
participants felt that accompanying photographs also
General news enhanced credibility to the news content:
According to the (focus group) participants, coverage related I am from Telugu Medium [. . .] I wanted to improve English [. . .] I started
to local, sports and financial news was regarded as general reading XXXX because it is written in basic English [. . .] but now that I have
news. The name general news was suggested for the theme a good grasp of English, I find a lot of grammatical mistakes in XXXX and I
don’t like it any longer.
because this news coverage is common to all major
mainstream English newspapers. Stock market listings and You can hardly make sense of articles from XXXX. The language used is
sports form part of general news since they form daily very vague and even the printing quality is bad [. . .] sometimes I feel they
don’t know what they are writing.
composition of the majority of English newspapers available
in India. Amongst general news, many participants expressed
local news coverage to be of higher priority. To the question
why local news was considered to be an important content in Journalistic values
the newspaper, they felt it gave information relating to the Participants in some focus groups gave importance to
latest happenings in the city that could be related to their unbiased coverage, non-association with any political party
personal interests. One participant felt that unlike other or religion as hallmarks of good reporting. Some participants
general news, local news was not easily accessible on the who had kids expressed their discontent with the presence of
internet: photographs in newspapers depicting Page 3 People (P3P)
I am always half the time on the internet, the main reason why I need to read and celebrities in “inappropriate” wear. Such content,
the newspaper is to catch up with local news, XXXX effectively serves the according to these parents, is not suitable for consumption
purpose. for kids in their families. Almost all focus groups reiterated
If something’s happening in the city, like exhibitions and related stuff [. . .] I that most of the Indian newspapers sensationalize news and
would want that to see about it in the newspaper. give more priority to reporting uncomplimentary news on the
first page. Almost all focus groups discussed the increasing
emphasis being given to those news contents which are trivial
Ease of comprehension and culturally demoralizing:
Newspapers primarily are a source of information, hence,
In XXXX, everything is decent, I don’t know how to define decent, but I
content needs to be presented in such a way that it can be think if there is one newspaper that all members of family can read, I think
easily comprehended by the audience they (intend to) cater that’s XXXX. XXXX has something to offer to everybody in the family.

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Discerning product benefits through VTA Journal of Product & Brand Management
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Figure 3 Joint space map

XXXX supports DMK (political) party openly, then why should I read it detailing, – whether the profile of the writers who contribute
knowing the fact that news is not accurate?
to the editorial page is important or not, should newspapers
In the pullout of XXXX generally contains film stars and P3 people posing in provide reasons for the reported phenomenon – add to the
inappropriate ways, the same pull-out also contains a section for kids. XXXX fact that, apart from content, clarity and credibility of news,
doesn’t have classification of information.
critical insight might also be a contributing factor in building
favorable newspaper image:
For deep readers, XXXX is preferable, but for light readers, I suggest
Critical insights XXXX.
Some focus-group participants differentiated between Moderator: “Explain deep reading and light reading”.
awareness and insights. Presenting news in the way they
Deep reading is looking for comprehensive information and analysis,
occurred, according to them, corresponds to building whereas light reading as I understand it is about having awareness about the
awareness whereas seeking to answer the why and how issue.
related to the news item lead to insights. Some participants I regularly read the XXXX, it has good editorials and the editorial page also
opined that expert views on a particular event or topic would has columns from prolific writers and eminent personalities and I think this
add insight to that topic. A few others cited that the editorial is what makes this newspaper worth reading.
page of a newspaper might exclusively cater to the purpose of
providing insights and that the quality of the editorial page,
therefore, might actually have a significant impact on the Entertainment
preference for a newspaper. Some participants stated that Relatively younger focus-group participants cited reasons
discussing a topic from multiple perspectives could also lead behind newspaper reading which were not related to news at
to critical insights. Discussions on the appropriate level of all. Some participants said that they referred to newspapers

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Discerning product benefits through VTA Journal of Product & Brand Management
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solely to know their horoscopes for the day; a few others prices on bundling with financial newspapers, gift hampers,
stated that they read the newspaper to find out gossips and incentives for subscribed members etc. Some participants
the latest happenings about their favorite film stars. Some opined that the other form of ensuring continuous readership
participants who were housewives stated that they read a was by promoting contests on a continual basis:
newspaper to know television schedules, movie shows and XXXX started Tambola which gave away hefty prizes to winners and thus it
timings. A few participants opined that they would never go became popular.
out to watch a movie until they had read favorable reviews One reason why I subscribed to the XXXX is because it offered 6 months
about it in newspapers. Some participants said that they subscription for 300 Rupees and they gave gifts also.
bought novels and books only on the basis of excerpts or
reviews appearing in newspapers. There were a few who said
that they liked reading cartoon strips and solving puzzles Implications to management theory and practice
appearing in newspapers. These comments indicate the
entertainment-related value sought from newspapers: This paper has made a two-pronged contribution to the body
When we were in our teens, we used to check our horoscopes and of knowledge, one corresponding to theory and the other
horoscopes of our loved ones, try to match them up and imagine stuff, which corresponding to practice. On the managerial front, an
was fun. attempt is made to scientifically conceive the benefits that
XXXX is all about fun. You’ve got games, Sudoku, comic strips and lots of consumers desire from a newspaper, their composition as well
other fun stuff. I don’t read XXXX for news, I read it for entertainment. as their description. The procedure suggested here might
Today’s youth want spicy news. seem elaborate but it has far-reaching implications. For
Moderator: “What do you mean by spicy news?” example, the “results-section” of this paper might give richer
insights to newspaper marketers regarding consumers’
Bollywood, P3P etc [. . .] something that is interesting to read but has no real
news value [. . .].
perception about general English newspapers. This
understanding can be used further in formulating product
Well-being and promotion strategies.
Some newspapers offer content related to personal and family The research on benefit elicitation can serve as a foundation
well-being. The discussions surrounding this issue were for further empirical research. To obtain further insights, data
related to fashion, women, parenting, education, personal relating to the importance of newspaper benefits, newspaper
finance, money management, health-related aspects and legal choice, reader involvement, and reader demographics can be
advice pertaining to individuals and families. Discussions on sought through questionnaire administration. The data thus
this topic had contributions from older participants in the obtained can be subjected to statistical analysis to classify the
group, women in particular. The common consensus was that broad newspaper reader-base into distinct benefit-based
this content should not be classified as news content as it segments and then find out which benefits have significant
relates to well-being of individuals and families: impact on the choice of general English newspapers in each
In XXXX, we get career chronicle, and they give a lot of advice to teens on segment. The results of this study can be used to position
job avenues. newspapers within the desired segment(s) and also to fashion
I like to read pieces of advice given in newspapers [. . .] be it career-based
product mix in a way that appeals to the targeted segment(s).
advice or dating-based advice. On a theoretical platform, this paper attempts to enhance
the original procedure of thematic analysis by incorporating
graphical scaling procedures namely PROXSCAL and
Classifieds multiple – correspondence analysis. These techniques
Advertisements are the secondary source of revenue for objectively put forth the combined perspective of individual
newspapers. A considerable portion of newspapers is generally experts in a single graphical chart. The authors opine that
filled with advertisements. Some participants stated that they introducing these statistical techniques in no form will
carefully pursued the ads to buy and sell stuff. Some derogate the qualitative rigor as procedural aspects relating
participants said that apart from regular classified ads, to thematic analysis have remained intact. The only changes
newspapers also undertake a surrogate form of advertising that were brought about relate to introducing multiple coders
by releasing special supplements and career-related (experts) and subjecting the individual expert opinions to
supplements. Special supplements according to participants analysis through software for developing thematic pile charts
typically have advertisements relating to a particular industry rather than seeking manual representations. Subjecting expert
interspersed with columns pertaining to that industry. One opinions to software analysis could be legitimate because all
focus group participant remarked that newspaper editors expert opinions will deserve equal weightage in this case; an
generally couple career-related supplements with related ads assurance that cannot be made in case of manual theme-piling
on overseas educational opportunities, placements and job exercise. Apart from better comprehension, visual thematic
vacancies: procedure illustrated here also envisages investigator and
XXXX gives information about career opportunities through career methodological triangulation by introducing variations in
chronicle: there is a separate section for real estate classifieds also. methods and experts in each stage.
I follow ads in XXXX to buy and sell stuff.

Future research directions


Offers and contests The scope of this VTA spans beyond discerning product
Some participants stated that they were positively influenced attributes. VTA can be used as an alternative to traditional
by marketing activities undertaken by newspapers. These data reduction techniques like factor analysis especially when
activities typically included low subscription price, reduced the researcher confronts scarce sample sizes or categorical

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Discerning product benefits through VTA Journal of Product & Brand Management
Abhilash Ponnam and Jagrook Dawra Volume 22 · Number 1 · 2013 · 30 –39

variables. If data reduction is the objective, third, fourth and Haley, R. (1968), “Benefit segmentation: a decision oriented
fifth stages of visual thematic analysis can be used in place of research tool”, Journal of Marketing, Vol. 32, July, pp. 30-5.
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can be generated even with a single response. Hence this VTA seeking knowledge in consumer research”, Journal of
may be used in place of traditional factor analysis to reduce Consumer Research, Vol. 14 No. 4, pp. 508-21.
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data that are interval or ratio scaled, however when the data is Keller, K.L. (2003), “Brand synthesis: the
categorical in nature, factor analysis cannot be used, in such multidimensionality of brand knowledge”, Journal of
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Nos 1/2, pp. 141-50. About the authors
Duffy, M.E. (1987), “Methodological triangulation: a vehicle
for merging quantitative and qualitative research methods”, Abhilash Ponnam is the faculty Member of Marketing and
Journal of Nursing Scholarship, Vol. 19 No. 3, pp. 130-3. Research Methods at IBS – Hyderabad. His research interests
Glaser, B.G. and Strauss, A.L. (1967), The Discovery of are in the areas of mixed method research design, product
Grounded Theory: Strategies for Qualitative Research, Aldine management and brand equity measurement. Abhilash
Publishing, New York, NY. Ponnam is the corresponding author and can be contacted
Goldman, A.E. and McDonald, S.S. (1987), The Group Depth at: abhilashponnam@gmail.com
Interview: Principles and Practice, Prentice Hall, Upper Jagrook Dawra works as an Associate Professor with the
Saddle River, NJ. Goa Institute of Management, India. He has worked both in
Guba, E. and Lincoln, Y. (1994), “Competing paradigms in the industry and academics and has a total experience of
qualitative research”, in Denzin, N.K. and Lincoln, Y. around 15 years. His research interest includes areas like
(Eds), Handbook of Qualitative Research, Sage Publications, brand management, modeling of joint choice behavior and
Newbury Park, CA, pp. 105-17. pricing.

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Discerning product benefits through VTA Journal of Product & Brand Management
Abhilash Ponnam and Jagrook Dawra Volume 22 · Number 1 · 2013 · 30 –39

Appendix

Figure A1 Data coding for PROXSCAL and optimal scaling procedures in SPSS

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