It’s that time of the year when MSc students around the world start thinking about their marketing dissertation topics. A year ago, I created the post “How to choose a dissertation topic in marketing” to provide some guidance to several students that were asking for some advice on finding a good dissertation topic. I decided to create an updated version of that post to give further advice to those having to write a dissertation in 2017.
1. Keep minding the gaps. One of the best advice that I ever got from my PhD supervisor was to focus on identifying the gaps first. You need to remember that this is an academic piece of work, and academics give significant importance to the contributions that your piece of work will make in terms of theory, context, and practice. To be able to make an excellent contribution, first, you need to identify research gaps in the literature (I’m sure your dissertation supervisor will keep pushing for those at many of your supervisory meetings). This by itself can be a daunting process, and that’s why I created a list of sources that I think can be helpful to get you in the right mindset. Please note that this is not an exhaustive list, and maybe none of the topics mentioned here make you feel particularly passionate about them. That’s completely OK. Hopefully, they will still guide your thinking in the right direction.
So, where to find good dissertation topics?
My first advice would be to look at the research priorities in your field of study. Since I am in the field of marketing, I will give you marketing examples, however, if you’re interested in different areas of management, or science in general, the same principles apply. A good source to find information can be the Marketing Science Institute Research Priorities, which are updated every three years. They just updated theirs in 2016, and they divided them into five broad themes. Within those teams, you will find more detailed topics and even some initial questions that you could develop further. There is even a section with related content within each of the themes that will take you to relevant research articles.
Another place to look at is literature reviews in your field. For those interested in digital marketing or marketing communications, 2017 is your lucky year, as plenty of material has been published in reputable journals that can help you with ideas for your research question and dissertation topic. For example, Lamberton and Stephen (2016) conducted a comprehensive analysis of 15 years of research in digital, social media and mobile marketing; and they came up with a list of question for future research. This is pure gold for a student having to find relevant questions in this field. Below some of the questions that they list in their paper:
- Why do people use social media? How has it affected their lives?
- When is social media marketing preferable to traditional marketing?
- What are the key elements in a successful social media strategy?
- Should marketers still be differentiating among consumers (i.e., doing work to identify influencers and hubs), or is this segmentation irrelevant?
- How important is viral content in driving sales? What is the sales elasticity of social transmission vis-`a-vis, for example, advertising?
- What makes a digital marketing initiative a success for firms or consumers? Are there metrics beyond ROI that matter?
- How has the consumer’s fundamental decision-making process changed due to digital experiences and environments?
- What is the optimal balance between online and offline marketing?
- What is the optimal balance between human and technologically enabled interaction?
2. Don’t get too obsessed with the context of your research, at least not at the beginning when you’re trying to find dissertation ideas. This keeps being one of the most common mistakes of many students. I often hear questions like: “Should I focus my dissertation in the tourism industry or the film industry?” It’s easy to focus too much on the context when you don’t have an idea of where your theoretical research gaps are. And this is understandable, theoretical gaps are hard to find. However, it’s worth spending that extra time finding a good theoretical gap as it will increase your likelihood of having a better mark when your theoretical contributions are clear (assuming you get the other parts of your dissertation right). So once you have identified your theoretical gap, then it is time to think of your context and your contributions in this area.
3. Pair your dissertation with your dream job. To me, this is a no-brainer. You have to do a dissertation, which means that you will spend 2-3 months working on a project that will challenge your cognitive and project management skills. You also are doing a postgraduate degree because you want to find a job after it. Hopefully, one that you really like. Once you have found an interesting theoretical research gap, why not let your search for that dream job guide the context of your dissertation. If you theoretical gap is relevant, chances are that companies in the industries you would like to work at are also interested. So there you have it, your context and the prospect of meeting people that potentially could give you a job after it. Especially if the findings of your research are the result of a well-executed research project.
I hope you find all these tips useful. And good luck with your dissertation journey. Remember, a good dissertation, is a done dissertation.
Rodrigo Perez Vega (@rpvega) is a Lecturer in Marketing at Henley Business School. His research interests are on digital marketing, social media, and online consumer behaviour. Rodrigo received an MRes in Management (2011) by investigating the incidence of positive and negative incidence of electronic word-of-mouth on Twitter, he also has an MSc in Strategic Project Management (2010) and a BA Hons in Marketing (2006). Rodrigo’s PhD looked at how the immediacy of a Facebook Fan page affects the level of customer engagement with that page. Before his PhD, Rodrigo had marketing experience in several digital marketing and brand management roles within FMCG and service industries.
The purpose of a dissertation is to add to the existing body of literature by keeping a narrow focus of research so that the encompassing research is not only manageable but also addresses various limitations including time constraints. The title of the dissertation should be able to highlight the basic focus and objective of the research while drawing attention to the setting of the research for conducting analysis. In order to help and guide students in choosing a concise and focused research topic for their dissertations, the below list draws a distinction between various facets of marketing such as relationship marketing, branding, cultural marketing, psychology of the consumers and online marketing amongst others and allows the students to choose a topic based on their own interests.
Marketing Dissertation Topics for 2018
Impact of product packaging on organizational sales: case study of UK retail sector
Purpose: Due to intense completion on retail sector, product packaging has gained significant importance with respect to consumer purchase decision. This research will be focusing on how product packaging (color, shape and other attributes) influences consumer purchase decision which in return increases or decreases the sales of the organization
Impact of e-marketing on influencing consumer purchase decision: case of UK luxury industry
Purpose: The main purpose of the research is to analyze the impact of electronic marketing on consumer purchase decision. The focus of the research will be on UK luxury industry.
Analyzing the customer-centric marketing strategies in attaining competitive advantage for the firm and sustaining business success
Purpose: In this intensive competitive market, organizations are striving hard to maintain and increase their market share. Due to this reason, many organizations are devising effective marketing strategies in order to attract large customer inflow. Thus, this research will be focusing on assessing the customer-centric marketing strategies and how it helps organization in achieving competitive advantage and business success.
The role of information technology in revolutionizing marketer’s approach towards manipulative advertisement
Purpose: The digital media or the digital world has provided a very effective and large platform for the marketers to market or advertise their products. However, this platform can also be used to manipulate customers through deceptive marketing techniques. The main purpose of the research is to analyze the role of information technology in revolutionizing marketer’s approach towards manipulative advertisements.
Assessing the impact of integrated marketing communication on consumer impulsive buying behavior
Purpose: Consumer impulsive buying behavior has become an important phenomenon in today’s global world. Companies have been able to acquire high market share through impulsive buying behavior of the consumer. Therefore, this research focuses on the analyzing the impact of integrated marketing communication on consumer impulsive buying behavior.
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Relationship Marketing Dissertation Topics
In relationship marketing, products are provided on the basis of relationships and not traditional marketing. In this type of marketing, firms acquire more customers as well as more loyalty. The loyal and satisfied customer makes repeat purchases. Under relationship marketing; the purchasing pattern, the contact details and the entire profile of customers are maintained. Normally, firms assign executives to one or more major customers to maintain relationships and to satisfy their needs. It is a very useful marketing tool and also an excellent topic to base your dissertation on. You can choose topic for your relationship marketing dissertation topic from any of the topics listed below:
- Loyalty: behaviour or an attitude.
- The Usefulness of Relationship Marketing: To what extent have organizations incorporated the club style membership schemes for their customer?
- Customer loyalty: An Analysis of the Honda Motor Company.
- Loyalty schemes vs. customer satisfaction.
- The interrelationship between switching costs and resistance of consumers to switch brand loyalty.
- Loyalty schemes and their relationship with sales.
- Maintaining Customer Relations through Relationship Marketing. A case of ASDA.
- How is customer loyalty affected if the customer goes for online shopping rather than visiting the store?
- How can stores increase loyalty through relationships?
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Branding Dissertation Topics
Branding entails creating a unique logo and name for a distinguished product. Branding can also be said to create a special product image in consumer’s mind. Some consumers compare prices before purchasing a product but mostly a purchase is made by focusing on quality of goods and brand loyalty. There is a misconception that branding is the same as marketing, but it can be distinguished on the basis of the former being one of the fundamentals of marketing strategy. For successful branding, there should be truthfulness and clarity in every phase through interaction with customers, which will in turn help to improve the value and brand perception of a company. Branding provides companies a competitive edge over the rest of the organizations and has proved to be a very popular topic for research among both undergraduate and postgraduate students.
- How can brand equity be maintained?
- Do customers trust brands blindly?
- Conventional banks and rebranding.
- What are the ethics of brand marketing strategies?
- Effect of branding on consumers of Coke and Pepsi. A comparative analysis.
- Branding Strategies: Impact and application.
- Analysis of the consumer: Comparative analysis between good quality products and brand loyalty.
- How does the behaviour of management harm brand equity?
- What is role of innovations in managing brand equity?
- Investigation of importance of brand and reliability in automotive industry, with specific focus on Toyota.
- Do leading brands need to introduce innovative products?
- How can consumers understand the brand image of an organization?
- Corporate Social Responsibility and Brand Management: A case of Nestle.
Direct Marketing Dissertation Topics
Direct marketing is a tool that allows businesses and non-profit organizations to directly communicate with customers. It doesn’t involve bill board placements but relies on advertisement on the internet, television or radio. Below is a list of topics that you can base your dissertation on under the direct marketing theme.
- How loyalty schemes help businesses to sell directly to customers?
- Response of consumers to audio guided telemarketer: An analysis of biasness.
- How customers can protect themselves from deceitful direct marketing techniques?
- Direct Marketing: Effect and implications on consumers.
- Do customers respond differently to direct and digital marketing?
- The relationship between the duration of a voice message on the success of tele-marketing? A case of mobile industry.
- How direct marketing help the organisations in maintaining good relationship with customers?
Marketing across Cultures Dissertation Topics
Firms have to adopt different techniques while operating in different cultures. Before introducing any product, it is vitally important for companies to analyse the cultural aspect of the market. This has become a very important and deciding factor for the successful operation of a business. Cultures have deep impact on consumer behaviour, and play a key role in shaping the buying behaviour as well as the attitude of customer. Some intriguing and current dissertation topics in the field of cultures and marketing are given below:
- Impact of culture on the trading market. A case of General Motors through an analysis of the imports and exports.
- What is impact of language on the identity of a brand? A case of Coca-Cola.
- Amalgamating regional differences within the national culture of marketing.
- The impact of collectivism and individualism on purchasing of mobile phones.
- A cross cultural analysis of marketing techniques across cultures.
- Cross-cultural marketing with specific focus on FMCG.
- Impact of belief, religion and values upon business across the world.
- Application of marketing mix in a culturally diverse society.
- Disadvantages of using same marketing tact in different markets.
- Cultural difference and the subsequent effect on super markets across United Kingdom.
- Critical analysis of cultural differences and marketing.
Online Marketing Dissertation Topics
When marketing evolved from traditional to online or digital marketing, it was observed that all the rules that had been intrinsic to traditional marketing had to be bent to accommodate the needs and demands of the new marketing platform. Online marketing helps business organizations to know and evaluate customer’s response to a particular marketing strategy very efficiently. However, organizations need to ensure privacy of their consumers on the internet to avoid losing their trust. Companies are now in an era where they can interact with the consumers and their demands and devise subsequent marketing strategies. Online marketing is now a powerful marketing tool; and allows organizations to develop specific strategies to suit the needs of their consumers. Some interesting topic suggestions are given below if you want to base your dissertation on online marketing.
- Organizations and their use of personalized products.
- The role of online marketing in sales.
- An analysis of the perception of consumers through customized products.
- Implications and Application of Online Marketing.
- How can companies overcome the hate speech of dissatisfied customers?
- What attributes are preferred by customers for online search, purchasing and comparison?
- Relationship between brand equity and consumer perception of products.
- Analysis of change in behaviour of customers in offline and online marketing.
- Impact of appearance and visual effects for online marketing.
The 4Ps (Price, Product, Promotion, Place) of Marketing Mix Dissertation Topics
Price, product, promotion and place are also known as the four pillars of marketing. These four factors (4Ps) are the key ingredients of a successful marketing strategy since they allow for an in depth analysis of both the market and marketing strategies concerning any particular product. The companies analyse the culture, the product itself and the pricing of other similar products to gain a competitive edge for their business and production processes. Some relevant topics in this area of marketing are listed below for you to base your dissertation on:
- Importance of location for customers.
- Pricing war between competitors.
- Impact of effective promotion on sales.
- Analysis of packaging of product on buying decision.
- Consequences of wrong placement of products.
- Critically analysing pricing strategies.
- Advantage of strong marketing mix to firms.
- Difference between online and offline promotions.
- Impact of traditional promotions vs social media promotions.
- Effect of premium pricing strategies adopted by good brand. A case of Apple products.
- Equality between charged prices and value provided to customers.
- Analysis of sales of customized and personalised products.
- Impact of cultural values in promotional activities.
- Relationship between sales and promotional campaigns.
- Effect of central location and ease of access on customers.
- Analysis of change in sales due to location and environment.
- Importance of marketing mix for companies.
- Influence of celebrity endorsement on sale of specific product.
- Impact of promotions upon customer’s perception.
- Analysis of 4P’s on customer’s attitude.
- Impact on purchasing by introducing cartoon character for children.
Marketing and Consumer Psychology Dissertation Topics
Studying consumer behaviour helps businesses to improve their marketing strategies by understanding the problems of a consumer with specific focus on their perception of products. It is very important to understand the psychology of consumers and the various influences that the environment may have on their psychology. Study of consumer behaviour is very interesting, and therefore provides anideal topic for dissertations.
- An investigation of consumer psychology and perceptions.
- Analysis of cultural effect on consumer’s decision.
- The family biasness, customer loyalty and marketing,
- How does the knowledge of consumer effect the purchase of products
- Strategies to motivate people to buy your products.
- Selection between substitutes of product with focus on mobile industry.
- The impact of negative publicity on consumer behaviour.
- Does brand effect purchase behaviour.
- Pattern of shopping by customers in ASDA.
- Consumer attitude towards in-store shopping and online shopping in Wall-Mart.
- Effect of unconscious mind on consumer’s shopping style.
- Understanding psychology of consumers to develop marketing strategies.
- Customer’s attitude towards a specific brand.
- Effects of luxury good on buying behaviour and perceptions.
- Consumer response to new products.
- Reaction of consumer while accepting innovative product.
- Influence of social media campaigns upon buying pattern of customers.
- The role of marketing in purified water.
- Consumer perceptions in saving money when purchasing products.
- How to create profitable relationships with consumers.
- How low income households look at luxury brands.
- The factors shaping customer’s wants.
- How consumer thinks about switching cost while leaving a brand
- The consumer psychology behind reusing old products: a case of an Asian consumer market.
- The impact of strong brands on consumers.
- How middle class households perceive luxury goods range.
- Response of consumer to loyalty schemes vs. customer satisfaction.
- Effect of advertising of alcohol on youngsters.
- Analysis of customer’s attitude towards laptops brands.
- Analysis of change in purchasing by introducing celebrity endorsements.
- Effect of internal marketing on customers.
- Customer loyalty: a habit, behaviour or an attitude?
- Customer satisfaction: the key to success.
- Marketing methods & techniques which changes buying behaviour.
Marketing and Social Networks Dissertation Topics
Social networks (Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter) have played a decisive role towards how people use the internet and make online purchases. However, it should be noted that there are a variety of challenges which are being faced by organizations using social media as a tool to market their products and services. According to a recent survey conducted in the UK, around 80% of people use social media directly or indirectly and therefore they are susceptible to be influenced by the same. The following is a list of topics that can be undertaken as a part of social networks and marketing dissertation:
- The role of Face book as a marketing tool.
- Social media marketing vs. traditional marketing.
- How Facebook pages turn into cash inflows for businesses.
- Building relationship with customers through social media.
- How social media marketing helps in acquiring new businesses.
- The role of LinkedIn in connecting businesses and people.
- Impact of social marketing on purchases.
- Analysis of social media marketing policies.
- How businesses gather information from social media.
- Consumer perception of social media marketing.
- The response of organizations to negative marketing on social media.
- Is banner advertisement a good idea in social media marketing? A global comparative analysis.
- The role of online stores in traditional marketing mix.
- Why is there a focus on the use of Face book for marketing rather than other platforms for social media marketing?
Marketing Ethics Dissertation Topics
The continuous evolution of customer’s attitude and power of media has significant impact on businesses throughout the world. People nowadays are more concerned about the firm behaviour and use of ethics employed by their marketing experts. Organisations are more concerned about their corporate social responsibility programmes and the values of the society. There are various ethical concerns which organisations must abide by in order to have a successful operating and marketing campaign. Adissertation on marketing ethics can be based on any of the following topics:
- Ethics and consumer perception.
- Impact of un-ethical behaviour of organisation on sales.
- How firms mislead people to enhance product sales.
- How country laws shape ethics of businesses.
- The impact of ethics on the general public with regard to product.
- Ethical considerations and brand loyalty.
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