Parents to Disabled Children’s Purchasing Motives When Buying Toys

Parents to Disabled Children’s Purchasing
Motives When Buying Toys
An Exploratory Study Using Means-End Chain Analysis
Master Thesis
Master of Science in Marketing
Students: Pia Pawlowski and
Christina Buch Thomsen
Supervisor: Athanasios Krystallis
Department of Business Administration
Business and Social Sciences, Aarhus University
August 2011
We would like to thank our supervisor, Athanasios Krystallis, who has been a big
support throughout the development of the thesis. His commitment and constructive
advice have been of high value to us.
We would also like to thank Klaus G. Grunert, professor at the Department of Business
Administration and director of MAPP, who has been kind to let us use the program
MECanalyst. This software tool was essential for creating our analysis.
Furthermore, our deepest appreciations go to the families, especially the parents, who
participated in our study. We were met with openness and kindness when visiting every
home. Their willingness to speak openly and honestly about their situation and about
the topic of interest was vital for the study.
Finally, valuable information and suggestions were provided to us from the specialists
from the Hammel Neurocenter and from VISO, and therefore we also give our thanks to
Table of Contents
1. Introduction ............................................................................................................. 1
1.1. Research Questions ............................................................................................... 2
1.2. Methodology ......................................................................................................... 3
1.2.1. Structure of Thesis ......................................................................................... 5
1.2.2. Delimitations.................................................................................................. 6
2. Literature Review .................................................................................................... 8
2.1. Definitions ............................................................................................................ 8
2.2. Consumer Purchase Behaviour ........................................................................... 13
2.3. Toys and Disabled Children ............................................................................... 15
2.4. Toy Selection and Purchase ................................................................................ 16
2.4.1. General Trends of Consumption in EU ....................................................... 18
2.5. Special Toy Market in Denmark: A Market Review .......................................... 20
2.6. Expert Interviews ................................................................................................ 22
2.6.1. Interview with Neuropedagogical Consultant at VISO ............................... 23
2.6.2. Interview with Neuropedagogues at Hammel Neurocenter......................... 24
2.7. Discrimination .................................................................................................... 26
2.8. Summary upon Literature Review ...................................................................... 28
3. Conceptual Background ....................................................................................... 29
3.1. Means-End Chain ............................................................................................... 29
3.1.1. What MEC Can Be Used For ...................................................................... 31
3.1.2. ACVs ........................................................................................................... 32 Attributes .............................................................................................. 32 Consequences ....................................................................................... 32 Values ................................................................................................... 33
3.2. Elicitation of Attributes ...................................................................................... 36
3.3. Data Collection through Laddering Technique .................................................. 37
3.3.1. Interview Environment ................................................................................ 38
3.4. Hierarchical Value Maps (HVM) ....................................................................... 38
3.5. Criticism on the MEC Methodology .................................................................. 39
3.6. Summary upon Conceptual Background ............................................................ 40
4. Empirical Study ..................................................................................................... 41
4.1. Research Approach ............................................................................................. 42
4.2. Research Methodology ....................................................................................... 42
4.3. Research Design ................................................................................................. 44
4.4. Discrimination of Respondents........................................................................... 45
4.5. Development of Attributes List .......................................................................... 47
4.6. Ethical Considerations ........................................................................................ 50
4.7. Data Collection ................................................................................................... 51
4.7.1. Implications in the Data Collection Process ................................................ 53
4.8. Research Sample ................................................................................................. 54
4.9. Transcription and Coding of Data ...................................................................... 58
4.10. Reliability and Validity................................................................................ 60
5. Analysis and Discussion of Research Findings ................................................... 62
5.1. Attributes List Evaluation ................................................................................... 62
5.2. HVMs ................................................................................................................. 65
5.2.1. ACVs in the HVM ....................................................................................... 66
5.3. Analysis of the Two Sample Groups .................................................................. 72
5.3.1. Summary of Comparison of HVMs in the Subgroups ................................ 76
5.4. Analysis of Total Sample.................................................................................... 78
5.4.1. Summary of Total Sample ........................................................................... 82
5.5. Supply of Toys In Regard to Respondents ......................................................... 83
5.6. Discussion of Research Findings ........................................................................ 86
6. Conclusion .............................................................................................................. 88
6.1. Managerial Implications ..................................................................................... 89
6.2. Limitations and Further Research ....................................................................... 90
List of Figures
Figure 1: Structure of thesis ..............................................................................................5
Figure 2: Five-Stage Model of the Consumer Buying Process .......................................13
Figure 3: Distribution of Toy Categories in EU ..............................................................18
Figure 4: Six-level Means End Chains ............................................................................31
Figure 5: Discrimination Procedure ................................................................................46
Figure 6: HVM of ―mental + physical‖ group.................................................................69
Figure 7: HVM of ―mental‖ group ..................................................................................70
Figure 8: HVM of total sample........................................................................................71
List of Tables
Table 1: Distribution of Toys in EU ................................................................................19
Table 2: Terminal Values ................................................................................................35
Table 3: List of Attributes ...............................................................................................49
Table 4: Sociodemographic Profile of Respondents .......................................................56
Table 5: Purchase Behaviour in Sample ..........................................................................56
Table 6: Respondents’ Occupation ..................................................................................57
Table 7: List of Diagnoses of Children ...........................................................................58
Table 8: An Overview of the ACVs Represented in the three HVMs ............................67
1. Introduction
In the western society, play is regarded as a tool for development (Brodin, 1999, p.25).
At the same time, play creates joy and happiness to children. Concerning development,
toys can be used to enhance children’s cognitive, physical, motor, language, social, and
emotional skills (Taylor et al., 1997). Children with disabilities can have difficulties in
one or more of the mentioned skills. It is thus of high importance that these children
have the opportunity to play with toys, both to develop and to experience fun.
Brodin states that ―every child has the right to have a childhood and to experience the
joy of playing in a nurturing environment‖ (Brodin, 1999, p.25). In agreement with this
quotation, this thesis is of high importance, as little research has been done regarding
toys for children with disabilities. In order to assure that disabled children experience
the same joy as normally developed children, they need the right products and toys.
Choosing the right toy in today’s world can prove to be a difficult task. Having a child
with a disability will to some extent make this task even more difficult. There exist two
views on choosing toys for disabled children - the professional view by experts,
pedagogues, physiotherapists, etc., and the view of the parents. Professionals may have
one perception on what toys are appropriate for children with disabilities, whereas
parents may be of another opinion. Parents, who to a higher extent know their children,
might have their own belief on toys and the needs of their children. Parents are the main
purchasers of toys for the children, and for this reason, this thesis will investigate the
factors influencing their purchasing decisions when buying toys.
Parents have a broadened opinion on the current market situation and their own
purchase behaviour. Investigating parents’ selection motives can help in providing
valuable knowledge to different stakeholders, such as producers, marketers,
professionals, and retailers. It is explored that little information exist on the topic. Being
able to provide research on the topic will hopefully provide better conditions to the
children and parents, as stakeholders will be more informed regarding needs and
motives for purchasing behaviour.
1.1. Research Questions
To the researchers’ best knowledge, only a limited number of studies exist on parents to
disabled children’s purchase behaviour when purchasing toys. It appears that there is a
lack of research regarding the parents’ view on the purchase and their purchasing
motives and values. The little information available prevents different stakeholders from
valuable information regarding these parents’ and their children’s needs. Consequently,
the present thesis is designed to explore the following problem statement:
What are the motives and values that influence parents to disabled children’s
toy purchase?
The problem formulation is based upon the assumption that consumer motives and
values are influencing consumer selection and choice. As outlined later in the thesis,
several studies have proven that consumer decision making is highly influenced by
personal values and therefore is of high importance.
As it will be discovered throughout the development of this thesis, children with
disabilities are a broad group of children with varying needs regarding toys. Because of
the scarcity of research on this topic, no real assumptions will be made. Furthermore, it
is not obvious if a distinction between the different groups of disabilities will be
necessary or meaningful, and therefore, the present thesis will apply a twofold
approach: one comparison study will be made where the total sample is divided into two
prespecified groups (―mental group‖ vs. ―mental + physical group‖), and a second
analysis will be made by looking at the total sample as one. Thus, to answer the above
standing problem formulation, the thesis seeks to answer the following research
1. What are the important attributes influencing the selection of toys for parents to
children with disabilities?
2. What are the important use-benefits of toys for parents to children with
3. What values are influencing parents’ purchase of toys for children with
4. What are the differences/similarities between the two chosen subgroups:
―mental‖ and ―mental + physical‖?
5. Can an additional or more meaningful segmentation be applied upon the total
sample compared with the two specified subgroups?
Besides the overall problems statement and the investigations questions, the empirical
part will also seek to answer the following question:
6. How is the toy supply in Denmark for children with disabilities?
This question was not added to answer the problem statement, though its relevance must
be found in the limited knowledge of the market situation that to a high extent might
influence parents’ purchase behaviour.
These investigation questions will be answered upon the literature review and the
empirical study.
1.2. Methodology
Worldviews, also called research paradigms, are defined as ―a basic set of beliefs that
guide action‖ (Guba, 1990, p.17). Worldviews are a researcher’s general orientation
towards the world and the nature of research (Cresswell, 2009). The worldview applied
should reflect the chosen research approaches and methods. The worldview underlying
the present study resembles that of pragmatism. Pragmatism has also been called the
―third way‖ out of the paradigm debate and arouse as a rejection on the rather forced
choice researchers had to do between post positivism and constructivism (Armitage,
2007). Traditionally, the worldview of researchers influences the research design and
approach, though in pragmatism the choice of approach is directly linked to the purpose
and the nature of the research (Cresswell, 2009). For this reason, the pragmatic view is
perceived as appropriate for this study.
Based on the problem statement and research questions, the most appropriate
methodological approaches have been chosen. We seek to explore and gain deeper
knowledge about parents to disabled children’s selection motives and values influencing
the selection process when buying toys.
To the researchers’ best knowledge, no other research investigating or addressing
exactly this topic with this particular group of parents to disabled children exists. For
this reason, the thesis is of explorative nature as the purpose of an exploratory research
is to discover new dimensions of a topic (Kvale, 2007, p.100). Because of the scarcity
of research, the present thesis adopted a qualitative research approach. As Cresswell
well defines, a qualitative research is defined as follows:
―Qualitative research is a means for exploring and understanding the
meaning individuals or groups ascribe to a problem.‖ (Cresswell, 2009, p.4)
Furthermore, a qualitative approach is preferable when investigating a new topic or if a
topic never has been addressed with a certain sample of people (Cresswell, 2009), thus
making it the right method to apply in the present thesis, as very little is known on the
The empirical study will apply the Means-end Chain (MEC) methodology, with the
laddering interview technique to explore the motivations of parents’ purchasing
behaviour regarding toys for their disabled children. The analysis is carried out by
discriminating the children into two groups. The first group, counting for children with
only cognitive, intellectual, or mental disabilities, will count for 14 respondents and be
called the ―mental‖ group. The second group is the parents to children with both
―physical‖ and ―mental‖ disabilities. This group will count for 19 respondents and will
be referred to as ―mental + physical‖ group. A definition of these will be elaborated in
section 2.1 and in section 2.7. By using the laddering technique to interview the
respondents, it is possible to retrieve relevant ladders for the Means- End Chains (MEC)
analysis. These two groups will be compared in order to reveal whether and which
differences there may be. In a comparative study, the case is not observed in its
complexity but rather as a multiplicity of cases in respect to the purchase situation
(Flick, 2009) when buying toys. As this study applies a twofold approach, the second
part is to analyse the respondents as one whole sample in order to see if any other
discrimination can be made.
1.2.1. Structure of Thesis
The present thesis seeks to answer the problem statement and is divided into six main
parts. This is illustrated in figure 1.
Figure 1: Structure of thesis
Part 1 of the thesis is the introduction, where problem statement, investigation
questions, methodology, and delimitations of the thesis are described.
Part 2, literature review, is used to frame the target group and to give a short
introduction to the children and parents of interest. Furthermore, it is used to locate and
introduce the reader to existing literature on the topic. As little research is done in the
field, expert interviews with specialists are conducted in order to gain further
knowledge. In addition, a short introduction of the general toy market will be given. The
literature review will also clarify all terms necessary, resulting in an identification and
definition of terms that the readers will need in order to be able to understand the
research (Cresswell, 2009).
Part 3 of the thesis consists of an elaboration of the conceptual background of the
theory. The theory used is MEC with the laddering interviewing technique, and the
empirical study will be based upon this.
The empirical study conducted in the thesis is part 4 and is based upon the literature
review and the theory of MEC. First, the objectives for the empirical study, with
research questions for the analysis are stated. Second, the research approach,
methodology, and design are elaborated. It is also explained here what conditions are
used to discriminate between the two subgroups made. Furthermore, this section
consists of the processes undertaken in the empirical study, including development of
attribute list, data collection, implications, and sampling/coding. At the end, the
sociodemographic evaluation of the research sample is presented together with the
validity and reliability.
Part 5 is the analysis using MEC. One part of the analysis will be a comparative study
where the total sample is divided into two groups, and the final results will be analysed
and compared. The second part will look at the sample as one whole group. This makes
it possible to analyse whether or not more information can be retrieved by pooling the
subgroups together. Furthermore an analysis of how the respondents perceive the
current market situation for toys is elaborated. Finally, part five will round off with a
discussion of research findings.
Part 6 will include a conclusion based upon the empirical study compared with the
literature review. Furthermore, managerial implications, concerning what this thesis can
be used for, will be elaborated. Finally, the thesis will discuss limitations and further
1.2.2. Delimitations
This thesis will not cover parents to children with solely physical disabilities and no
mental disabilities. This has various reasons. First, the physical disability should have
been to such a high degree that the need regarding toys should differ from normally
developed children. Second, they might not be enrolled in special schools but in normal
schools, thus making them hard to find. Third, as it was discovered throughout the
development of this thesis, hardly no child has only a mental or physical disability as
one disability often causes the other. This is in consistency with the interview conducted
with the experts at the neurological clinic mentioned later in the thesis. The expert
interviews furthermore stated that toys for children with exclusively physical disabilities
should not have special-needs toys and should on the contrary have regular toys for
normally developed children.
It is necessary to mention that none of the authors of this thesis have a medical
background in the field. The diagnoses of the children will for that reason not be
elaborated on, except by giving general definitions of the most common in section 2.1.
The discrimination process in section 4.4 is therefore solely dependent on the answers
given by the respondents in regard to the level of physical and mental disability.
It is worth mentioning that because of a very specific analysis using MEC, the
researchers of this thesis are to some extent rather inexperienced. This lack of
experience may result in levels of abstractions not being revealed. This topic is touched
upon in section 3.5.
There are many ways to segment the children, and each researcher has made his/her
own method. According to the expert interviews conducted (see section 2.6), the most
correct method for discriminating among the children would be to do a neurological
examination of the children in order to determine the functional level and diagnosis. As
this is too complex for this study, the discrimination will be simpler and only
discriminate the children into two groups. A more thorough elaboration on this topic is
given in section 2.7.
A convenience sample is being used, because of the complexity in finding respondents
(see section 4.7.1 for further elaboration on this matter). There will not be a distinction
between the genders of the children. Fallon and Harris (1989) state in a study that the
gender of a child has no influence in selecting toys.
The phenomenon investigated in the present thesis, is purchase of toys for children with
disabilities. Toys are a broad group of products with numerous toy categories, and as it
will be outlined throughout the thesis, the children of interest are having very different
needs regarding toys, thus it has not been possible to limit the investigation to one
specific product category. This is making the phenomenon under investigation rather
broad as it is addressing toy purchase in general both when parent’s to children with
disabilities purchase normal and special-needs toys.
2. Literature Review
A literature review shares the results of other studies that are closely related to the one
being undertaken; furthermore, it helps to fill in gaps. It also provides a framework for
establishing the importance of the current study and/or makes it possible to compare
with other studies (Cresswell, 2009).
This part of the thesis will consequently cover definitions of handicaps and disabilities,
diagnoses, market reviews and trends, reasons for discriminating among disabilities, and
previous research done in the field. The discrimination will likewise be based on
previous research and interviews with a number of professionals in the field. As this
topic is of explorative nature, little research is done. It has for that reason been
necessary to conduct expert interviews in order to retrieve information within the field.
The definitions of terms will be included in the literature review to explain terms for
individuals outside the field of research.
2.1. Definitions
The subjects of interest are parents to children with disabilities. As described in the
introduction, this thesis seeks to explore parents’ selection motives when purchasing
toys for their children with disabilities. This special group of children are a broad group,
with varying diagnoses and disabilities. In the following, definitions of the children’s
disabilities will be given. In addition, a short summary of different diagnoses given to
the children will be presented for setting the stage for the thesis.
Handicap: There exists no actual definition of what a handicap is and what it is not.
The general perception of a handicap is therefore relatively accurate. In order to be able
to consider a person as handicapped or disabled, physical, mental, or intellectual
disabilities that deviate from the normal must be present (Det Centrale Handicapråd,
Disability: A disability is a condition or function judged to be significantly impaired
relative to the usual standard of an individual or group. The term is used to refer to
individual functioning, including physical impairment, sensory impairment, cognitive
impairment, intellectual impairment, mental illness, and various types of chronic
diseases (Disabled World, n.d.).
WHO defines disabilities as follows: ―Disabilities is an umbrella term, covering
impairments, activity limitations, and participation restrictions. An impairment is a
problem in body function or structure; an activity limitation is a difficulty encountered
by an individual in executing a task or action; while a participation restriction is a
problem experienced by an individual in involvement in life situation‖ (World Health
Organization, 2011).
Handicap and disabilities are terms with relatively the same meaning; some prefer the
term handicap, whereas others prefer the term disability. This thesis will refer to
handicaps as disabilities and therefore also use children with disabilities instead of
children with handicaps.
The following terms will be defined to clarify the meaning as these will be of
importance for the discrimination in section 4.4.
Cognitive/mental functions are defined as the mental processes in the brain that gives
us the ability to speak, think, solve problems, and argue (Spastikerforeningen, 2010).
When cognitive disabilities are mentioned in this thesis, it means that the child has
problems in one or more of the following areas mentioned below (The Brain Injury
Association, 2009) (Spastikerforeningen, 2010).
Communication skills
Concentration and attention
Slowness of thinking
Limited attention span
Impairments of perception
The ability to orientate oneself in room and direction (spatial relationships)
The ability to understand information in a certain order
The ability to recognize objects, process visual impressions, and evaluate
The ability to plan and process information
Mentally retarded
In this study, the cognitive disabilities are referred to as mental disabilities.
Physical functions are defined as a disability that is caused by physical limitations (The
Brain Injury Association, 2009). Physical disabilities can be caused by cognitive
disabilities and can therefore occur with a cognitive disability. In this thesis, all children
have a mental/cognitive disability, but only some have a physical disability as well.
Examples of physical disabilities are mentioned below:
Spasticity of muscles
Paresis of paralysis
Seizure disorders
Mobility difficulties
Diagnosis: Children with disabilities might have many different diagnoses, all
depending on symptoms and disabilities; for instance, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy,
epilepsy, and autism. Others have not been given a diagnosis, and others again have two
or more diagnoses. Some disabilities are only mental, whereas others are physical, and
others again are both. A diagnosis can vary a lot, and children with the same diagnosis
might have different disabilities, thus making it hard to state any general disability to a
diagnosis. To provide the reader with an understanding of the children of the group in
focus, a short introduction will be given of the most common diagnoses mentioned in
this thesis. It is worth mentioning that the diagnoses of the children included in this
thesis must be to such severe extent that it is impossible for the child to attend normal
Down syndrome (also called Trisomy 21) is a genetic disorder that occurs in about 1 of
800 live births. It is a condition in which extra genetic material causes delays in the way
the child develops, both physically and mentally. Down syndrome is associated with
mild to moderate learning disabilities, developmental delays, characteristic facial
features, and low muscle tone in early infancy. Furthermore, many individuals with
Down syndrome also have heart defects, leukemia, early-onset Alzheimer’s disease,
gastrointestinal problems, and other health issues. The symptoms of Down syndrome
can vary widely and range from mild to severe (, 2011) (Kids Health,
2011) (National Down Syndrome Society, 2011).
Autism is a developmental disability that affects the ability to communicate in a social
context, meaning with other people and relate to other people. Furthermore, their sense
of the world is affected, and they might have difficulties in understanding other people’s
feelings and thoughts. Autistic children are mostly perfectly normal in appearance but
engage in puzzling and disturbing behaviours. Autism is a spectrum condition; all
people with autism share certain difficulties, though they are affected in different ways
and in different degrees. Autism can range from less severe to severe, and four different
diagnoses can be given within the autism spectrum. According to WHO, one needs to
have difficulties in the following three areas in order to be diagnosed with autism:
difficulties in social interaction, difficulties in social communication, and lack of
flexibility/reduced social imagination. The majority of children with autism are boys;
only 1 out of 4 are girls (Autism Research Institute, 2011) (The National Autistic
Society, 2011) (Servicestyrelsen, n.d.).
Retarded/intellectual disability is, by the AAIDD (American Association on
Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities), characterized by ―significant limitations
both in intellectual functioning and in adaptive behaviour, which covers many everyday
social and practical skills‖. Three skills may cause limitations in their behaviour:
conceptual skills, social skills, and practical skills. The AAIDD also refers to a simple
test to check whether one is considered part of this group. This is done by testing the IQ.
If the score is around 70 or even 75, it may indicate a limitation in the intellectual
functioning (American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities,
Cerebral palsy (spastic paralysis, spastic hemiplegia, spastic diplegia, spastic
quadriplegia): Cerebral palsy is an umbrella term for a group of chronic conditions
affecting the muscle coordination and body movements. Cerebral palsy is caused by
damage to the brain in one or more areas (about cerebral palsy, n.d.). There are, as
mentioned, different types of cerebral palsy, but common for them all is that the area of
the brain that controls muscle tone is damaged, which for instance can lead to
involuntary movements; muscle tightness; abnormal sensation; impairment of sight,
hearing, or speech; and/or seizures (about cerebral palsy, n.d.). People with cerebral
palsy are characterized by the inability to control their motor function, like muscle
control and coordination. There are huge differences in the symptoms of cerebral palsy.
They can range from mild to severe, involve one side of the body or both sides, and it
can be more pronounced in either the legs or arms, or include both the legs and arms
(Hoch et al., 2009).
Multiple disabilities/impairments: A person with two or more impairments/
disabilities at the same time are said to be multiple disabled. This can for instance be
mental retardation with cerebral palsy or learning disabilities with physical
impairments. The number of diagnoses varies between 2 and 10, with an average of 5
diagnoses. The most common diagnoses are cerebral palsy, mental retardation, visual
impairment, epilepsy, and birth defect (Videnscenter for kommunikation for Mulitple
funktionsnedsættelser hos børn og unge uden et talesprog, n.d.). The characteristic of
people with multiple disabilities differs widely, depending on severity and disabilities.
Some characteristic are physical disabilities with mobility difficulties, without any or
limited spoken language or communication, sensory loss, emotional or behavioural
disorder, and a tendency of forgetting skills or difficulty in general skills from one
situation to another (National Dessimination Center for Children with Disabilities, n.d.).
When referring to the children of interest, the term children with disability/ies will be
used. If no diagnosis is stated clearly, this will mean that a child has a disability, either
mentally, physically, or a combination of both. According to the definition, this means
that they somehow differ from normal development. In the literature review section 2.7
and in the empirical study in section 4.4, a clear discrimination of the target group will
be made.
Toys: In this thesis, there are two types of toys: regular toys and special-needs toys.
Regular toys can be purchased in supermarkets, toy stores, online, etc., and are designed
for normally developed children. Special-needs toys are purchased online, in special
stores, or borrowed via (see section 2.5). No definition of special-needs
toys exist, so it is the thesis researchers’ perception of the concept that is the basis of
this term. Special-needs toys are toys that are for children with varying types of
disabilities, made for developing different areas or adapted to help a child with
disabilities to play. Furthermore, it may stimulate the child by appealing to senses.
2.2. Consumer Purchase Behaviour
We seek to explore parents to disabled children’s buying motives when buying toys for
their children. In order to be able to do this, it is necessary to take a look upon the
general consumer purchase behaviour and the processes concerning a purchase decision
from existing literature in marketing.
Buying Decision Process
The buying decision is a longer process and has been found to consist of five stages.
The model is called the ―Five-Stage Model of the Consumer Buying Process‖ (see fig.
2). The first stage is the problem recognition, where the consumer identifies a need or a
problem. The second is information search, where the consumer will gather information
about a product. The third stage is evaluation of alternatives, where different products
are compared. The fourth stage is the purchase decision, and the final one is the postpurchase behaviour. A consumer does not necessarily pass through all of the stages; it
depends on how involved the consumer is in the purchase and with what frequency the
product is bought (Kotler & Keller, 2006).
Figure 2: Five-Stage Model of the Consumer Buying Process (Kotler & Keller, 2006)
The consumer buying process does not have direct influence on our study, but it is
important to bear in mind when interviewing and Analysing the collected data as all
steps have an influence on the purchase of toys.
Consumer Buying Behaviour
Regarding the present thesis, consumer selection and purchase is of interest. Consumer
buying behaviour is influenced by many things. In marketing research, three main
factors are found to influence consumer behaviour. These are cultural, social, and
personal factors (Kotler & Keller, 2006).
Cultural Factors are factors such as culture, subcultures, and social classes. It includes
all factors that influence a person’s wants, behaviours, and values. Culture is a
determinant for building consumers’ perceptions, attitudes, preferences, and behaviours.
Personal factors are influencing the purchase decision and are the personal
characteristics. Factors like occupation, economic circumstances, age, stage in life,
personality, self-concept, lifestyle, and values are all having some influence on the
purchase decision.
Besides the cultural and personal factors, consumer behaviour is influenced by social
factors such as family, reference groups, and social statuses and roles. Reference
groups are referred to as all the groups that have an indirect or direct influence on a
person’s behaviour or attitude. Reference groups can be divided into two groups,
namely the primary group and the secondary group. The primary groups consist of
family, friends, colleagues, and neighbours, meaning all the people that a person interact
with more often and in informal environments, whereas the secondary reference group
consist of professionals, religious, and other groups where the interaction is more
formal and less frequent. Family members are the primary reference group with the
highest influence. Besides that, the family is seen as the most important consumer
buying organization (Kotler & Keller, 2006). In general, reference groups are seen to
have a huge influence on consumer behaviour. In marketing perspectives, it is of
importance to know the influence by the different reference groups (Kotler & Keller,
The present thesis also seeks to find the underlying motives of buying toys, and as
motivation of purchase has been found to be of importance in consumer decision
making, this will shortly be presented in the following.
A need becomes a motive when it is aroused to a sufficient level of intensity. A motive
is a need that is sufficient pressing to drive the person to act (Kotler & Keller, 2006,
p.184). According to Freud, people’s behaviour is to a large extent unconscious, and
people are not aware or do not fully understand their own motivations. When choosing
among different products and brands, product attributes can trigger different
associations and emotions. Knowing consumer motivations and thereby consumers’
deeper motives triggered by a product is of importance to marketers (Kotler & Keller,
2006). If motives are identified, it is possible to produce better products that serve
customers’ needs and in general to develop a better marketing strategy and is therefore
the current study is of importance.
2.3. Toys and Disabled Children
Toys are defined as an object for children to play with (Cambridge Dictionaries Online,
n.d.), and as recognized in previous research, toys and play are important to and for
children’s development, both for children with and without disabilities (Simpson &
Lynch, 2003) (Brodin, 1999).
Regarding play and children with disabilities, it is obvious that compared with children
without disabilities, conditions are to some extent different because of the children’s
cognitive and/or developmental disabilities (Brodin, 1999). Disabled children are often
delayed in their development, and consequently, the child’s developmental level and the
child’s chronological age are often differing (Bøttcher & Dammeyer, n.d.). A child’s
disability will delay the normal developmental processes, speaking in general or in
specific functional areas. Some of the developmental delays might be caused not
because of the disease but as a result of the delayed process that affect other
developmental areas (Bøttcher & Dammeyer, n.d.). Because of the children’s
disabilities, development might not only be delayed but also more problematic
compared with children without disabilities. This is also true when speaking about play,
as some children with disabilities may not be able to interact and manipulate toys in a
meaningful way (Simpson & Lynch, 2003) (Langley, 1985). An example for this can be
an 8-year-old child, with moderate to severe disabilities, that plays like a toddler
because of the developmental delays (Bøttcher & Dammeyer, n.d.).
Subsumed it is discovered that children with disabilities have more difficulties playing
caused by the disabilities, though all depending on disability and severity. Furthermore,
it was explored that play is an important factor for the development of children with
disabilities. Having the above standing in mind, it is clarified that parents to disabled
children have more issues to consider when purchasing toys for their children.
2.4. Toy Selection and Purchase
In regard to the present study and consumer behaviour, the consumer buying behaviour
is concerned with purchase of toys. Compared with other consumer buying behaviours,
toys for children are differing, as the main purchaser is not the user of the product.
Parents are buying toys for their children and not for own usage, though an important
point to remember when speaking about purchasing toys is that parents feel their
children’s feelings; thus, if the child feels pleasure or happiness because of a certain
product, then likewise will the parent feel (Rust, 1994). It is suggested in previous
research that toys are generally purchased by mothers (Diaz, 2008), and that mothers are
mainly the purchasing agents in a household (Flurrya & Burns, 2005). Furthermore,
previous research has shown that children have an influence on purchasing decisions,
though the influence varies by product, with having most influence on products
concerning themselves (Flurrya & Burns, 2005), therefore also toys. The abovementioned findings regarding purchase decisions in regard to toys are all concerning the
general mass toy market and not for children with disabilities.
It has not been possible for the researchers to find specific research in regard to parents’
purchase decisions when buying toys for their disabled children. Most existing research
on toy selection and purchase for children with disabilities includes recommendations
from professionals to parents and/or caregivers of children with disabilities. Researchers
with this view are, for instance, Simpson and Lynch (2003), Langley (1985), and
Schuman (2010).
One study touched upon the same topic as the present thesis, namely, that of Fallon and
Harris (1989), who studied factors influencing the selection of toys for handicapped and
normally developed children. They found that parents to disabled children do not differ
when evaluating important factors influencing the toy selection. Only one factor was
found to be statistically significantly different between the two groups of parents.
Parents to disabled children rated the importance of written information about the toy
more important than parents to normally developed children (Fallon & Harris, 1989).
The most important and significant factors for both groups were safety and learning new
skills. Other important factors were durability, flexibility, length of time a child attends,
physical attractiveness of the toy to child, and age of child. Six other factors were rated
as moderately important by both groups; these were recommendations by others, child
requested toy, written information about the toy, cost, novelty, type/category of toy,
physical attractiveness of toy to adult, and adult simply liked the toy. Gender of child
and picture of the toy were rated as slightly important. The sample in the study
consisted of 11 males and 62 females, and only 17 of the 72 were parents to children
with disabilities, thus making the comparison biased in regard to the number of
respondents (Fallon & Harris, 1989).
When choosing toys for disabled children, more issues are to be considered, caused by
the disability (Brodin, 1999), compared with children without disabilities. The disability
and the limitations caused by it are hence of importance when parents are buying toys
for their children. The purchasing decisions are therefore influenced by additional
aspects than to parents of normally developed children; consequently, choosing toys for
children with disabilities can be challenging (Hammond, 1994). In existing literature, it
is found that reference groups are important for parents to disabled children. They
especially seek guidance by the paediatricians and caregivers surrounding their children
(Schuman, 2010).
Furthermore, it is found that children with disabilities are more dependent upon toys for
learning specific skills (Fallon & Harris, 1989). According to Langley (1985), parents
need to check if the toy can be easily adapted without destroying other qualities such as
durability, aesthetic, and sensory responses. The adaptation should make it possible for
the child to play with the toy just as all other children.
Simpson and Lynch (2003) recommend caregivers to disabled children to select toys
using the following five suggestions:
1. Toys and play materials should be responsive (i.e., toys that produce sound,
movement, or light when activated by the child)
2. Toys and play materials should be age-appropriate. In general, toys and
materials that are appropriate for typically developing infants, toddlers, and
preschoolers are appropriate for young children with disabilities.
3. When necessary, toys and materials should be adapted to increase engagement
and learning.
4. Play materials should include naturally occurring objects such as boxes, kitchen
utensils, and packaging materials.
5. Toys and play materials should be selected to promote learning of important
Generally, when looking at Web sites for special-needs toys and regular toys, not much
information of how to target the toys to a specific disability exist. However, a catalogue
in the United States for children with disabilities, called Let’s Play, has been able to
categorize the toys. In the catalogue, it is written and indicated for which disability the
toy would be most appropriate. They have divided it into physical impairment, hearing
impairment, blind or low vision, and developmental disabilities. Besides that, a picture
of the toy is presented with a description and the suggested age range based on the
developmental age of the child is given (Schuman, 2010).
2.4.1. General Trends of Consumption in EU
As mentioned, very little information is available regarding the toy markets for children
with special needs. There is, however, statistical data regarding the general trend of the
toy consumption in the EU. The toy consumption analysed in the following therefore
only considers regular toys and not toys for special needs. TIE (Toy Industries of
Europe) has published a short report with facts and figures for 2010. Among the figures
analysed is the distribution of the different toy categories. In Europe, there are
approximately 80 million children aged under 14, and approximately 2000 companies in
the toy industry. (Manufacturer, The nordic association of Toy, 2011)
Figure 3: Distribution of toy categories in EU (TIE, Toy Industries of Europe, 2011)
Figure 3 clearly shows the distribution of the different categories, where
infant/preschool toys has the largest market share with nearly 20% of the market (TIE Toy Industries of Europe, 2011). Youth electronics count for the smallest share with
only 2.60%.
The report also highlights the trends for the distribution channels of toys. As Denmark
is a small country in EU, they are not visible in the table. It still gives, however, a
picture of the distribution. furthermore confirms this theory by claiming
that it is the entire Europe that has the trend with larger stores taking over and smaller
stores having only a small market share (Kjær, 2003).
Department stores
Discount/variety stores
Mail order catalogues
Toy shops
Video/computer games shop
Other types of retailers
Table 1. Distribution of toys in EU
Table 1 clearly shows that toy shops and super/hypermarkets are the preferred choice,
with 39.5% and 27.6%, respectively. Later in the thesis, it will be elaborated which
channels the respondents of the analysis primarily use in order to see whether they
match the general trend of distribution.
It is concluded that little information about the toy market in Denmark is retrievable,
and in order to get a picture, trends in the EU must be looked upon instead. Here, it
clearly shows that 20% of the toy industry accounts for toys to infants, which makes
this type of toys the most purchased. It is also concluded that 39.5% is purchased in toy
shops, and that 27.6% is purchased in super/hypermarkets, making these the market
2.5. Special Toy Market in Denmark: A Market Review
As mentioned above in section 2.4.1, there are no data and statistics regarding the
special-needs toy market in Denmark. However, the researchers will provide the reader
an overview of the market and its consumers.
Overall, Denmark is a small country with a limited number of potential toy customers,
thus making the number of potential customers for the special toy market in Denmark
even smaller. Nevertheless, the customers are present and have needs that have to be
A small overview of the special toy market in Denmark will be provided in the
following. It has been very hard to find specific numbers both for Denmark and Europe
in general. However, research on the Internet as well as interviews with experts
(neuropedagogues and consultants; see review in section 2.6) and families to disabled
children have outlined a number of stores that are preferred when purchasing toys. AB
Handic Help was outlined to be one of the most used companies selling special toys.
AB Handic Help is an online store with focus on disabled children and adults. Den
Gamle Skole (selling cognitive-developing toys) and Krea are other toy stores that have
helped families in finding suitable toys for their children.
Another possibility to find toys for children with disabilities is to use the facilities that
the municipality offers. Legeteket (Legeteks foreningen i Danmark, n.d.) is a place
where parents can borrow toys for their children for a month. Legeteket uses the same
concept as a regular library and at the same time gives some advice and guidance on
which toys to choose. Unfortunately, not all municipalities offer Legeteket, and some
have been forced to shut down because of cost savings. Not all parents find it suitable to
use Legeteket as some children have disabilities that don’t fit the toys available.
Furthermore, some parents find it inappropriate for their children to play with used toys.
Compared with other countries, it seems evident that there is little focus on this area in
Denmark. When searching on the Internet, several online stores exist in different
countries, and, in general, in United States, the focus seems to be much bigger than in
Europe (able play, 2009). It was found that there exists a nonprofit organisation called
Able Play, which offers parents and other comprehensive help to choose the right
product for their children with disabilities. They have made a rating system that focuses
on different developmental areas and divided them into four main categories: physical,
sensory, communication, and cognitive (able play, 2009). Furthermore, it was found
that different big toy companies such as TOYS‖R‖US and Fischer Price have
catalogues for children with disabilities (Toy Guide for Differently Abled Children)
(Toys and Playtime Tips for Children with Special Needs), and that these catalogues do
not exist on the European market (TOYS"R"US, n.d.) (Fisher Price, 2011).
Nevertheless, the American market is much bigger than the European market, and
therefore, one consideration can be that they until now have found the European market
too small.
In Denmark, no national register of disabled children exists, and from the Danish
handicap association’s point of view, no register is wanted (Nyt Videnscenter for
handicap og social psykiatri, n.d.). Therefore, it is rather difficult to give an estimation
of potential customers for the special-needs toy market. Furthermore, not all children
with disabilities need special toys.
Some disability groups have registers, such as cerebral palsy. Approximately 3,000
children are diagnosed with cerebral palsy in Denmark (Michelsen et al., 2010). Every
second year, a count of children with multiple disabilities is accomplished, and in 2009,
the number of children with multiple disabilities reached 1,232 (Videnscenter om
Kommunikation og Multiple Funktionsnedsættelser hos Børn og Unge uden et
Talesprog, n.d.), only counting children that are going in the Danish schools and day
cares. It is found that the tendency concerning the number of children with
mental/psychical disabilities is rising. Experts and different studies have found that 10–
15% of all children and young people have psychical disabilities. Furthermore, 10,800
children were under treatment in Denmark for ADHD in 2008; 75% of these are found
to have other diagnoses besides ADHD (Nyt Videnscenter for handicap og social
psykiatri, n.d.) One group that has been decreasing is the group of children with Down
syndrome, though the number has been rather stable since 2005, where the number of
children born with Down syndrome has ranged between 26 and 30 per year
(Landsforeningen Down Syndrom, n.d.).
Besides the number of children in the various groups of diagnoses, it is evident that the
number of parents to disabled children getting a compensation for lost earnings (by not
being able to work) and additional expenditures (for instance for aids) are increasing
(Socialministeriet, n.d.). In 2009, the number of parents receiving social benefit reached
52,099 (Socialministeriet, n.d.). The number is not adjusted for parents getting both
compensation for lost earnings and additional expenditures, and therefore, the accurate
number will be slightly lower. Nevertheless, the number gives a good estimate of how
many children are having a such severe disability, that demand the parents to stay home
or need additional help. Thereby, it gives a good estimate over children that might need
special toys.
2.6. Expert Interviews
As little information is available for discriminating children with disabilities in a
suitable approach, and because of the unusual topic, it has been necessary to conduct
two expert interviews in order to retrieve expert knowledge in the field. Their answer
will not be used for analysis but more as a basis for understanding the topic and to make
a better discrimination when grouping the children for further analysis later. It is for this
reason that the interviews are part of the literature review.
The interviews are semistructured expert interviews following an interview guide. In
contrast to other interviews, it is not the respondent who is of interest but their
capabilities of being an expert on a certain field (Flick, 2009) and, in this case, expertise
on children with disabilities. The purpose was to retrieve as much information as
possible. When they answered, questions corresponding to their answer were given. The
interview guide was for that reason only material to lean upon if new questions were to
be asked. The interview guide followed for the interviews can be found in enclosure 1.
The first interview conducted is with a neuropedagogical consultant at VISO 1 who is
primarily working with children and youngsters aged 0–18. She is specialized in
traumatic brain injury but is working with many different kinds of disability groups:
spinal cord damages, cerebral palsy, weak-functioning persons, and autisms. Besides
that, she is also specialized in seldom disabilities.
The second interview is an interview with three neuropedagogues at Hammel
Neurocenter. They work with children aged 0–18 with all types of diagnoses. Their
function is neuropedagogues, which differ from regular pedagogues as they work with
the neurological processes in the brain.
1. Den nationale Videns- og Specialrådgivningsorganisation (Research Center for Pedagogical
Specialists) for among others children and young people with rare handicaps.
In the following, a short summary of each of the two interviews is given, starting with
the neuropedagogical consultant at VISO.
2.6.1. Interview with Neuropedagogical Consultant at VISO
The consultant divides the children according to their cognitive and physical functions,
as the diagnoses are not her main focus. The diagnoses are there to help, but she is
generally using the neuropsychological examination to establish the starting point for
her future work with the individuals. When having done the examination, she makes her
own observations of the child. From this, she chooses toys that are at a slightly higher
level in the developmental zone in order to challenge the child.
Regarding toys for children with physical disabilities and no cognitive malfunctions,
she said that there should be no difference regarding toys than for a normal child. The
toys just need to be adjusted and adapted to the child’s physical disability (motor skills).
For weak-functioning children, on the other hand, the need for toys is within the area of
senses and motor skills development.
In her opinion, toys have the aim of giving joy and pleasure, but it also needs to be
cognitive developing. It is important to train both left and right side of the brain. To
train this, she is using toys and games, as she in this way is securing that the child have
fun while training different functions. The aim of toys is in her opinion both physical
and psychological development. The experiences children make while playing, they
often learn to transfer to everyday things. Therefore, she is also using toys and games
when working with adults.
When asked the question ―what is important for the parents?‖ she says that she is
advising the parents to some homepages where they can buy cognitive-developing toys
and games. She is especially using the homepage, because they provide
you with information on the age group and what function the toy is developing.
Additionally, she is giving the parents some advice on what toys that could be good for
their child. She is stating that often the parents are thinking far too special; according to
her, they don’t need to think that different than with the normal children.
In regard to development of both physical and psychical functions, there is nothing
better than children on the same age. It is very important that a child is not being left
behind by the friends. If that happens, then the development will stop. Therefore, it is
very important that the child can play with the children at the same age. If they are not
able to do that, she is teaching them how to play the different games and with the
different toys. They need to know what to say and what to do in the game, in order for
other children wanting to play with them.
On the other hand, she says that children who have cognitive disabilities or are far
behind in the development are not being under stimulated by playing with younger
children than themselves. She says that one should not think in living age concerning
disabled children but more in the functional age. The toy has to fit the child’s age,
meaning that it needs to have the look that it belongs to that age group even if its
functionality is that of younger children. It does not make sense to give a child that is 9
years old but functionally only 3, a toy for a 9-year-old as the child wouldn’t know what
to do with the toy, and it would instead be used to hit or throw with.
If children are not able to communicate or to move, their needs regarding toys are
concerned with sound and light. They are not able to touch it, but they can follow it with
the eyes and think that it is nice. A special sound can also make the children happy. She
gives an example of a blind autistic girl, who is closing herself out of the society. The
consultant was singing a song to get in touch with the girl. For that reason, sounds are
important, whereas in this case, the looks of the toy is not; the toy just needs to produce
a nice sound.
Regarding the question about what group of children it is most difficult to find toys for,
she said that teenagers who cognitively are on the level of, for example, 8 years old but
on all other areas are on their age. On the question what she would choose for them, she
said that it needs to develop the teenager. If they have problems with overview, then she
would find something that trains overview. Here she is using computer games a lot.
2.6.2. Interview with Neuropedagogues at Hammel Neurocenter
The children that are under their care are children with all types of diagnoses. It can be
from brain injury, blood clots, oxygen deficiency accidents, meningitis, tumours in the
brain, etc. The children can be both mentally or physically impaired.
They divide the children according to disability and the degree of disability by
observing and monitoring them.
Regarding what toys they use, they shortly reply that they don’t use actual special-needs
toys; instead, they adjust regular toys bought in regular toy stores and then fit it to the
child’s disability. This could for example be done by using Velcro. The reason for this
is that special-needs toys, even though it is very useful, are simply too expensive.
Toys have in their opinion several purposes. It needs to rehabilitate and develop.
Development can happen in several areas: perception, concentration, communication,
memory, problem solving, etc. This can happen through games. For an outsider, they
said, the games may just seem like pure enjoyment and amusement, but the truth is that
everything about it is training. It can for instance train strategy and create an overview.
Regarding physical impairments, they mention that with respect to brain damages,
nearly no case exists where they don’t have both a mental and physical disability.
When asking whether there are any groups of children that are difficult to find toys for,
the answer was 14–15-year-old teenage boys. The reason is that they reach the age
where they get the teenage attitude, which can make it hard to motivate them. Girls are
having an easier time, as there are more hobbies for them to enjoy. This could be
fashion, makeup, jewelleries, clothes, etc.
Regarding toys that are age-appropriate, they all agree that it is a problem to find toys
that by the looks correspond to the chronological age but in difficulty corresponds to the
mental age. Pictures suitable for adults on puzzles rather than little kittens and
Teletubbies would, for example, be admirable.
It is important that parents get the right guidance to choose appropriate toys. However,
there is no specific toy they recommend as all children are unique and their level of
development may be different. It is for that reason that they look at each case as a
unique case and look for ways to train the child using toys. Toys need to be developing
yet still fun for the child. Toys furthermore need to be stimulating, which is possible as
it is in the nature of children to be curious.
There are several types of toys they need. First, they need more toys that can be washed.
Second, they need something that has effects, such as light, sound, and movement. And
finally, it needs to be with a motif that corresponds to their chronological age.
Summary upon expert interviews
It can be concluded that in both interviews, there was a need for special-needs toys. It
can also be concluded that children with disabilities can, according to them, to a certain
degree use regular toys. It is important to notice that they all agreed that it was not
possible to divide them by diagnosis as each case is unique. It is a long process to get an
overview of where they belong, with many examinations and observations.
It was also of great importance to notice that toys need to be developing. But in order
for it to be developing, they first need to establish what level the child is at. If the toy is
too difficult to play with, then the motivation will not be present and frustration will
take over. At the same time, if the toy is too easy to play with, then the development
will stop.
Children with solely physical disabilities and no cognitive/mental disabilities do not
need special-needs toys but instead regular toys that need to be adjusted to fit the
Finally, it is concluded that children in the teenage age are the hardest to find toys for.
This especially holds true for boys, where it can be hard to find a hobby or an interest to
devote oneself to.
2.7. Discrimination
Disabilities come in many varieties and different degrees. Because of the great
difference in disabilities, different results in an analysis may appear, and it is therefore
necessary to do a rough discrimination before interviewing. In order to segment the
children correctly, existing literature as well as the conducted expert interviews in
section 2.6 and definitions of disabilities will be used.
Literature in the field concerning disabled children has segmented disabled children in
many ways, and it is clear that there exist no general grouping. Langley (1985) has
segmented handicapped children as either cognitively, motorically, or sensorily
impaired, whereas Tilton et al. (1969) distinguish between normal, retarded and autistic
children. Langley (1985) also refers to other researches done in the field, where the
grouping could be blindness, deafness, Down syndrome, schizophrenic, and multiple
handicapped and immobile children. These researchers thereby group the children
according to diagnosis and not by their disability. This can, however, cause problems, as
mentioned in section 2.1, because a lot of children with disabilities may have several
diagnoses or may not even have one that covers their disability.
A report conducted by Deloitte for the Ministry of Welfare divides disabilities into two
categories: physical impairment and psychological impairment. The group ―physical
impairment‖ covers impaired mobility, impaired vision, impaired hearing, and impaired
communication skills. ―Psychological impairment‖, on the other hand, covers two
overall groups: intellectual/cognitive disorders and mental disorders (Deloitte, 2009).
In order to clarify whether to segment by disease or by impairment, an interview with
an expert in the field was necessary. An interview with a consultant in neurological
pedagogy at VISO was conducted (see section 2.6.1).
After the interview with the consultant at VISO, it was clear that segmentation by
diagnose was not the correct approach to conduct the MEC analysis. The optimal
segmentation approach according to the experts would therefore be to divide the
children according to their different functional levels.
Another interview with neurologically educated pedagogues with specialty in brain
injuries at Regionshospitalet Hammel Neurocenter was made in order to get a deeper
understanding of the topic. The specialists at the center underlined that it rarely happens
that brain injured children/adults have only cognitive disabilities and no physical
disabilities. For that reason, it seems reasonable to include a group with both cognitive
and physical disabilities.
The existing literature and the interviews have made clear to us that discrimination is
rather difficult, all using slightly different approaches and discriminations. As we are
not experts in the field, not having medical knowledge nor the pedagogical knowledge
and point of view, a simple yet useful discrimination will be employed. We discovered
that a diagnosis can differ widely and therefore also the children’s needs regarding toys.
The most meaningful discrimination might probably be to use the functional level of the
individual child, but as this would be a rather specific and difficult task with our lack of
knowledge on the topic, we will discriminate according to disability (see section 1.2.2
for justifications on this matter).
As described under section 1.2.2, we will not elaborate on the group of children with
solely physical disabilities, thus leaving two groups of segments. On the basis of above,
we have discriminated the respondents according to their disability and will distinguish
between two subgroups:
Mental disabilities
Both mental and physical disabilities
The ―mental‖ group will cover all with intellectual, mental, and cognitive disabilities.
The ―mental + physical‖ group will cover all the disabilities in the ―mental‖ group, but
the child must also have a physical disability (see section 2.1 for elaboration). As both
groups contain children with mental disabilities, it is necessary to set up some limits for
when they are to belong in either one of the two groups. Methods for doing so are
elaborated in section 4.4.
2.8. Summary upon Literature Review
The literature review concluded that consumers’ buying behaviour is influenced by
three main factors: cultural, social, and personal factors. Furthermore, having identified
consumer motivations for purchases makes it possible to produce better products fitting
to the consumers’ needs and to develop a better marketing strategy.
Little information is available regarding the Danish markets for toys - both regular and
special-needs toys. For that reason, trends of the EU have been used. Infant/preschool
toys are the primary toy category, counting for 19.40% compared with the smallest
group, ―youth electronics,‖ which counts for 2.60%. It is furthermore concluded that the
biggest distribution channels for regular toys are via toy shops and super/hypermarkets.
In Denmark, the biggest stores for special-needs toys are AB Handic Help, Den Gamle
Skole, and Krea. Furthermore, municipalities offer a facility called Legeteket.
As no national register exists of how many children with disabilities there are in
Denmark, it has been difficult to give an estimation of the market size for toys. In order
to get an estimate, other methods have been taken. Some diagnoses have registers, and it
is furthermore possible to view how many families that receive social benefits. The
number reached 52,099 in 2009, and it is therefore concluded that more than 52,000
families have a child with a disability.
With reference to the two interviews conducted and summarized in section 2.6, it is
important for experts that toys are age-appropriate, fitting to their chronological age
regarding the looks and to the age set by the disability in difficulty. What they see as
important is that the toy needs to be developing and learning.
As diagnoses and disabilities vary greatly, it has been necessary to do a discrimination
of the children in order to get a correct analysis. Literature, previous research in the
field and the expert interviews mentioned above all state different methods for
discriminating among the children. It is concluded that the most convenient and
appropriate method for discriminating was to segment the children into two categories:
―mental‖ and ―mental + physical.‖ The discrimination was made as it was found that
children with mental disabilities have different needs regarding toys than physically
disabled children. They all need developmental toys; however, children with mental
disabilities need toys training different cognitive functions, whereas children with
physical disabilities need toys developing the physical functions or need toys with
effects such as sound, light, and movements. It is not clear whether this has any
influence on parents’ selection of toys or not, caused by the scarcity of research. Two
different Analysing approaches have therefore been applied in the empirical study.
3. Conceptual Background
In the following, an understanding of MEC is provided as well as the different elements
in MEC are explained. MEC is the major method applied in the empirical study and the
analysis that will follow in parts 4 and 5 of the thesis. The chosen interviewing
technique appropriate for this analysis, namely, laddering technique, will also be fully
explained in detail.
3.1. Means-End Chain
The MEC is used to study the underlying motivations of consumer purchasing
decisions. Using MEC makes is possible to uncover consumer preferences - their hidden
motives behind choice. Consumer choice is not only based on product features but also
on psychological components (Skymax DG, n.d.). MEC seeks to uncover just that.
The MEC theory is derived from several studies that have made the attempt to connect
consumers’ values to their behaviour — in this case, their purchasing behaviour.
According to Gutman (1982), these attempts can be subsumed under the rubric of an
MEC. MEC seeks to explain how product preferences and choice is related to achieve
desired end states (Gutman, 1982), such as central life values (Søndergaard, 1995). Said
in a different way; MEC seeks to understand how consumers link specific product
attributes (A) with particular consequences (C) and how the consequences satisfy the
consumers’ personal values (V) (Kaciak & Cullen, 2006). Means are objects or
activities in which people engage. Ends are valued states of being such as happy and
secure (Gutman, 1982, p.60).
MEC consists of elements that represent consumer processes that link values to
behaviour (Gutman, 1982, p.60). These elements (ACVs) will be elaborated more
thoroughly in section 3.1.2.
In order to carry out an MEC, three steps are to be followed (Skymax DG, n.d.):
1. Elicitation of salient attributes
2. Data collection through laddering interview
3. Analysis of results
It is important to conduct all three steps properly, as hastening through a step will end
up in a domino effect, affecting the next steps. If an elicitation of salient attributes is not
done correctly, there will be a high risk of missing out on important factors in the
further analysis. At the same time, if the data collection is not carried out correctly,
ladders, which would be evident, may not appear and the analysis of results would be
The MEC model is, according to Gutman (1982), based upon different assumptions
about consumer behaviour. First of all, one fundamental assumption is that values play a
dominant role in guiding consumer’s choice patterns. Values are here defined as the
desirable end-states. Furthermore, it is assumed that consumers cope with huge
differences in products that potentially satisfy their values. By grouping them into
classes reduces the complexity of choice (Gutman, 1982). Besides the assumptions on
consumer behaviour, there are more general assumptions. These are that all consumer
actions (e.g., consumption or usage of a product) have consequences, and that
consumers learn to associate certain consequences with certain actions (Gutman, 1982).
According to Grunert and Grunert (1995), there exist two basic views on MEC
methodology: either the motivational view or the cognitive structure view. The
motivational view seeks to gain insight into consumers’ buying motives, by Analysing
how basic motives are linked to consumers’ shopping behaviour. If this view is applied,
the research is of motivational research. The cognitive structure view sees MEC as a
model of consumers’ consumption relevant cognitive structures; that is, how
consumption relevant knowledge is stored and organized in the consumers’ memory.
(Grunert et al., 1995) The motivational view is adopted in the present thesis. Thus, the
motivational view is used to obtain insight into parents’ buying motives (i.e., in the way
that basic motives are linked to parents purchase behavior). If possible, the cognitive
structure view will be touched upon.
Figure 4 illustrates how product knowledge is connected to self-knowledge (Walker &
Olsen, 1991). The six-level Means-End Chains has divided attributes, consequence, and
values into two types each. This will be elaborated in the following sections. Concrete
attributes, abstract attributes, and functional consequences are part of the more concrete
part of the figure, namely, what is referred to the product knowledge. The second part of
the figure refers to the consumers’ self-knowledge where the level of abstraction
increases and consists of psychological consequences, instrumental values, and terminal
Figure 4: Six-level Means-End Chains (Walker & Olsen, 1991)
3.1.1. What MEC Can Be Used For
Several studies on MEC have proven that techniques using MEC is suitable in a wide
range of marketing aspects (Kaciak & Cullen, 2006). MEC provides marketers with an
understanding of the meanings that products have for consumers and is a tool for
measuring it. This knowledge makes it possible to position products and brands at a
higher-level constructs, namely, values and benefits, and thereby reach a competitive
advantage (Vriens & Hofstede, 2000).
Furthermore, it can be used for new product development and improvement of existing
ones. Having knowledge about the consumers’ ACVs makes it possible for companies
to develop products that fit the consumers’ desires and the physical characteristics
required (Skymax DG, n.d.).
Finally, existing companies can use MEC to gain knowledge about what factors (values)
influence consumers that in the end may help for a more appropriate communication
strategy (Skymax DG, n.d.).
The MEC analysis uncovers the essential factors influencing consumer perception,
preferences, and choice (Krystallis, 2007) and thereby makes it a good method to use,
when investigating consumer behaviour and motivations.
3.1.2. ACVs
In the following, the elements of MEC are explained in detail. The first level is
attributes, which as mentioned, are the most tangible; the second level are the
consequences, where the level of abstraction increases; and the third level is the values,
where the higher levels of abstraction are present (see fig. 4, Six-level Means-End
Chains). Attributes
A product consists of a bundle of characteristics — attributes, which distinguish the
products from one another.
In marketing literature, products and services are often characterized by a set of
attributes. These can be either concrete or abstract. Concrete attributes represent
tangible, physical characteristics of a product that are direct observable such as colour,
weight, size, etc. Abstract attributes are, on the other hand, more subjective and
intangible. Examples are availability, customer service, delivery, etc. (Krystallis, 2007). Consequences
Jonathan Gutman defines consequences as:
―Any result (physiological or psychological) accruing directly or
indirectly to the consumer (sooner or later) from his/her behaviour.
Consequences can be desirable or undesirable‖ (Gutman, 1982, p.61).
As illustrated in figure 4, consequences are either functional or psychological.
Functional consequences are more concerned with product knowledge and are thereby
more tangible and product related than psychological consequences. Psychological
consequences, on the contrary, are more abstract and are a result of the functional
A consequence from a specific behaviour/act can be physiological in nature, meaning
that it is satisfying e.g., hunger or thirst. The achieved consequence might also be of
psychological or sociological nature, satisfying, for instance, one’s self-esteem or
enhance ones status in a group (Gutman, 1982). The advantages consumers get from
using a product are desirable consequences, often denoted as benefits in the marketing
literature (Gutman, 1982). Benefits are less, or not, directly observable characteristics of
a product or brand. They can be a combination of several attributes and are the result of
a consumer using the product. Examples are ―ease of use‖, ―comfort‖, ―convenience‖
etc. The difference in attributes and benefits is that they differ in the way that products
have attributes, whereas consumers receive benefits (Gutman, 1982).
A consequence can be direct or indirect. A direct consequence comes directly from
consumption or usage of a product, whereas the indirect consequence occurs when other
people react positively or negatively toward a person’s consumption of a product. Values
Values are believed to play an important role in people’s life. In consumer behaviour
research, values are an important concept (Grunert & Juhl, 1995) and therefore
important when studying consumer motivation and behaviour. The term value is
however not easy to define as it seems to have different meanings. Furthermore, there
exist many definitions of values in the literature, for instance, Maslow, Rokeach, and
Schwartz (Rohan, 2000).
Rokeach defines a value as an enduring belief that a specific mode of conduct or endstate of existence is personally or socially preferable to an opposite or converse mode of
conduct or end-state of existence (Rokeach, 1973, p.5). Schwartz and Bilsky, on the
other hand, subsume the most common features of values found in the literature as the
following: Values are (a) concepts or beliefs, (b) about desirable end-states or
behaviours, (c) that transcend specific situations, (d) guide selection or evaluation of
behaviour and events, and (e) are ordered by relative importance (Schwartz & Bilsky,
1987, p.551). Schwartz also defines values as desirable trans-situational goals, varying
in importance, that serve as guiding principles in the life of a person or other social
entities. (Schwartz, 1994, p.21).
Said in a different way, values are cognitive representations of goals or motivations and
can be seen as emotionally and cognitively principles that are guiding a person’s life
(Fegg et al., 2005).
Schwartz and Bilsky (1987, 1990) have outlined a comprehensive typology of the
content domains of values, and they are believed to be culturally universal in their
content and structure. These values are based on the assumption that values are
cognitive representations of three types of universal human requirements. These are the
biologically based needs of the organism, social interaction, and social institutional
demand for group welfare and survival (Schwartz & Bilsky, 1987). Individuals
represent requirements as conscious goals and values (Schwarz & Bilsky, 1990).
Values are, as illustrated in figure 4, divided into two types: terminal and instrumental
values. These have been defined by Rokeach. Terminal values are referred to as
idealized end-states of existence, whereas instrumental values are referred to as
idealized modes of behaviour. Terminal values may be self-centered or societycentered, intrapersonal or interpersonal, and can be end-states such as salvation, peace
in mind, world peace, or brotherhood. Instrumental values can be moral and competence
and refers to modes of behaviour (Rokeach, 1973). Rokeach (1973) identified 36
terminal and instrumental values (see enclosure 4).
The typology outlined by Schwartz and Bilsky contains ten motivational types of
values, and each type is defined by their motivational goal (Schwartz, 1994). The
typology is among others based upon Rokeach’s terminal and instrumental values. See
table 2, with the definitions of value domains that are specifying the goal that each
domain represents.
Self-direction: need for mastery and control through choosing, creating, and exploring,
and interactional requirements of interdependence and autonomy. To be unconstrained
by externally imposed limits.
Stimulation: this value is derived from the need for variety to maintain the optimal
level of activation. The motivations are excitement, novelty, and challenge in life.
Hedonism: as a value is representing pleasure and sensuous gratification for oneself.
Achievement: the goal is personal success that is obtained by social approval through
demonstrating competence according to social standards.
Power: the goal of power is to attain social status and prestige, by having control or
dominance over people and resources.
Security: the goal is safety, harmony, and stability of society, of relationships, and of
self. In other words, the goal is to protect oneself and others against threats to their
Conformity: restrain of actions, inclinations, and impulses likely to upset or harm
others and violate social expectations and norms.
Tradition: consists of respect, commitment, and acceptance of the customs and ideas
that one’s culture or religion impose on the individual
Benevolence: the goal is to preserve and enhance the welfare of those people with
whom one is in frequent personal contact
Universalism: consists of the understanding, appreciation, tolerance, and protection for
the welfare of all people and nature.
Table 2. Terminal values, derived from (Schwartz & Bilsky, 1987) and (Schwartz,
Personal values are, in general, defined as relatively stable cognitions and beliefs that
are assumed to have a strong motivational impact. Examples are ―security,‖
―happiness,‖ and ―fun and enjoyment‖ (Vriens & Hofstede, 2000).
Knowing consumer values has shown to be a valuable asset for companies and
marketers. It is possible to position ones product and to develop new products using
knowledge about values. If values lead behaviour, then studying values are of high
importance when Analysing consumer behaviour and motivations and therefore also of
importance for this study..
Having established the ground of MEC and the different elements in it, the next step is
to look at the attribute selection for further analysis.
3.2. Elicitation of Attributes
The first step in the laddering interviewing technique is to elicit the product attributes
that are important to the respondent in the purchase situation. Different elicitation
methods exist to choose the attributes necessary to conduct the laddering interviews.
Among others, the following methods are widely used in existing research: free
elicitation/direct elicitation, triadic sorting, free sorting, preference-consumption
differences, and attribute selection / prespecified list (Grunert et al., 1995) (Reynolds &
Gutman, 1988) (Bech-Larsen et al., 1997).
A short summary of each will be given in the following section. The techniques are
different as the respondent is provided with different retrieval cues in the interview
Free elicitation/direct elicitation technique: Using this type of elicitation, the only
retrieval cue given to the respondent is a certain product class that might be
supplemented with a usage situation and the respondent has to come up with the most
important attributes.
Triadic sorting: Here, the respondent is shown triple combinations of the product and
then has to tell the important attributes for which the one product is alike and different
from the two others.
Free sorting: Is an elicitation technique where various products are provided as cues
and the respondent has to form groups of the products by stating the equalities and
Preference-Consumption: Here, the preference differences of the respondent are being
used as a cue. The respondents have to present a preference order of, for instance
brands, and then they are asked why they prefer one brand over another or less than
Attribute selection / prespecified list: Here, the cue is a list of possible attributes that
is presented to the respondent. Using a list of attributes is perceived as the method to
reveal more important attributes than the other methods available (Bech-Larsen et al.,
1997). Furthermore, it is a less time-consuming and is a more simple method for the
respondents (Fotopoulos et al., 2002).
Which method to choose is a critical point in the MEC, as different elicitation methods
might reveal different attributes (Grunert et al., 1995). The chosen method should be
based on the purpose of research (Bech-Larsen et al., 1997). In this case, an attributes
list is developed. A prespecified list is used because this thesis is not concerned with
one specific toy, but toys in general. For that reason, it can be rather difficult for
respondents to elicit attributes, and a list was chosen as being most appropriate for the
current study. After the attribute list is elicited, data collection is then carried out using
laddering interviews (see section 3.3). With the use of a prespecified list, the respondent
is shown a list of attributes and is then asked to rank each attribute from 1 to 3 by
importance. All the attributes that the respondent has categorized as being important (by
numbering them 1) will be used for more in-depth questioning. This will be elaborated
more thoroughly in the following section.
3.3. Data Collection through Laddering Technique
To obtain an understanding of how consumers translate product attributes into
meaningful associations when applying the MEC theory, a specific interviewing
technique termed laddering has proved to be very useful.
There exist two different approaches in laddering, namely, ―soft‖ laddering and ―hard‖
laddering. ―Soft‖ laddering is an approach that leads the respondent to have a natural
flow of speech and is restricted as little as possible, whereas ―hard‖ laddering is an
approach that forces the respondent to give answers and is forced to produce ladders one
by one (Grunert et al., 1995). In the following, only ―soft‖ laddering will be explained
and used in the empirical study.
Laddering is an in-depth, one-to-one interviewing technique used to understand how the
consumers translate the attributes into meaningful associations. By asking ―why is this
important to you?‖ for each of the important attributes, linkages or ladders will appear
between attributes (A), consequences (C), and values (V), and it will thereby be
possible to see the A-C-V associations consumers have with respect to a product class.
The laddering technique causes the respondent to think critically about the product’s
attributes and his/her personal motivations (Reynolds & Gutman, 1988). The
questioning stops when the respondent starts to give the same answers, or when the
respondent is unwilling to give an answer. By constantly probing, the respondent is
forced up on the latter of abstractness until the value level is reached, or until the
respondent is unable to come up with an answer or reason (Krystallis, 2007).
The purpose of this interviewing technique is to elicit the attributes-consequences-value
associations that consumers have with a product class (Reynolds & Gutman, 1988).
3.3.1. Interview Environment
When interviewing, some general guidelines are suggested by Reynolds and Gutman
(1988). It is important to create a nice atmosphere that is to no threat for the respondent
and that furthermore has a relaxing effect on the respondents. In the beginning of the
interview, it is important to make clear for the respondent that there are no right or
wrong answers and to tell that the purpose is to understand the ways in which the
respondent sees the products. Furthermore, it is of importance to make the respondent
understand that questions might seem obvious and simple and associate it with the
interviewing technique (Reynolds & Gutman, 1988).
3.4. Hierarchical Value Maps (HVM)
After the laddering interviews have been carried out, one needs to content analyse the
interviews, which means all ladders obtained in the interviews. This also includes
coding all elements into A, C, and Vs. The hierarchical value map (HVM) is the main
output in MEC. Using a software tool, MECanalyst, especially designed for MEC
analysis, the HVMs are created. The HVM is a characterization of a group of
respondents (Grunert et al., 1995) that graphically represent the dominant connections
between elements, meaning the As, Cs, and Vs revealed in the interviews. HVM is
hierarchical as it is structural in nature and represents the dominant associations across
levels of abstraction (Reynolds & Gutman, 1988). In order to get a useful HVM, it is
necessary to set a cut-off level. A cut-off level is the minimum amount of entries to be
represented as a link in the HVM. If the cut-off level is 4, then a minimum of 4
respondents will have had to mention the same ladder for it to appear as a link in the
The possibility to set multiple cut-offs gives the researcher an opportunity to compare
different HVMs, choosing the one that appears most informative (Reynolds & Gutman,
1988). The cut-off level varies though usually a cut-off level of 3-5 is used in a sample
with 50 to 60 respondents (Reynolds & Gutman, 1988). The cut-off level is a powerful
way to reduce the complexity in the HVM, thus making it easier to analyse and compare
the results (Grunert et al., 1995).
3.5. Criticism on the MEC Methodology
Many researchers have recognized the MEC methodology as a great tool for studying
consumer motives and cognitive structures. However, there exist some criticism and
areas where more elaboration and clarification is needed, and especially Grunert and
Grunert (1995), have recognized and highlighted some of these critical areas.
There exist different ways to select the attributes for the laddering interview. If these
techniques provide different sets of attributes, then the task is to choose the right
technique. What technique to choose and what technique that will emerge the ―right‖
result is a critical point as no general guideline is available. Therefore, this part is very
dependent upon the researcher’s individual choice. Furthermore, some elicitation
techniques might reveal irrelevant attributes that the respondent would not otherwise
come up with.
Laddering, especially ―soft‖ laddering, gives the interviewer a high degree of freedom
and thereby a potential for bias. The interviewer has to generalize and interpret the
answers given. Furthermore, the interviewer needs to make sense and sort out levels of
abstractions, which can be difficult as the respondents jump back and forth in levels of
abstraction. ―Hard‖ laddering avoids this bias, but, on the other hand, it forces the
respondent to answer in a strict way, without having the opportunity to elaborate on an
Concerning the probing process, another difficult task is present in the use of laddering,
namely, when to stop and when to continue probing the respondents. The optimal ladder
stops when the value level is reached, but the respondent may have difficulties in
reaching the level and/or answering the questions. There exist different ways of trying
to make the respondent continue to speak, but the difficult part is to know how far the
interviewer should go and press the respondent for an answer. This has been recognized
as one of the most difficult problems in conducting laddering interviews (Grunert et al.,
Other areas such as the content analysis and the distinction between attributes,
consequences, and values also have critical issues. It can be difficult to distinct between
for instance attributes and consequences as one might be an attribute in one time but at
another time prove to be a consequence. Another problem is the content analysis of the
interviews where a low degree of intersubjectivity is present, caused by the lack of
transparency in the coding process. The methodology concerning MEC does not
provide a clear criterion for the cut-off level in the construction of the HVM, again
leaving the task to the researcher choosing the level for the specific research. In
qualitative laddering, no real quantitative validation exists that validates the external
validity of the research (Grunert et al., 1995), meaning the ability to generalize the
findings to other settings and persons (Cresswell, 2009).
In general, it must be said that the better and more experienced the interviewer is, the
better and less biased the output will be. This is specially caused by the fact that in the
general literature concerning MEC and laddering, some clear criterions are missing on
various processes, making the interviewer/coder an important and influential factor of
the result of the research.
3.6. Summary upon Conceptual Background
As this thesis seeks to investigate parents to children with disabilities’ motivations and
values concerning their selection of toys, it was found that the most appropriate method
is the MEC. This method is used to study the underlying motivations of consumer
purchasing decisions. MEC consists of elements that represent consumer processes that
link values to behaviours. These elements are attributes (concrete or abstract),
consequences (functional or psychological), and values (instrumental or terminal),
together referred to as ACVs.
When carrying out a MEC, three steps are to be followed. First, an elicitation of salient
attributes is needed. This happens through a prespecified list made from previous
literature in the field, expert interviews, and own reflections on the topic. The second
step is to collect data through laddering interviews. Laddering technique is a special indepth interview, with the purpose of obtaining an understanding of how consumers
translate product attributes into meaningful associations. By asking the question ―why is
this important to you?‖ for each of the attributes ranked important, consequences and
values are discovered, and ladders are created. The third step is to analyse the results. A
content table is listed for further analysis and the main output, HVM, is constructed.
From the HVM, it is possible to see what chains are more used than others.
There are, however, criticism of the MEC methodology that is worth to mention. This is
especially concerning the lack of specific guidelines and procedures to follow as many
steps in the processes are depending on the individual researcher. Thus, the more
experience the interviewer has, the less is the risk of getting ―bad‖ or biased data.
Furthermore, there is to some extent intersubjectivity in the transcription process, as the
interviewer decides how to interpret the answers given.
4. Empirical Study
The theoretical fundament was given in the previous part of the thesis and will, together
with the literature review, serve as the foundation of the empirical study. The main
objective of the empirical study is to answer the overall problem statement and the
research questions.
These were as follows:
1. What are the important attributes influencing the selection of toys for parents to
children with disabilities?
2. What are the important use-benefits of toys for parents to children with
3. What values are influencing parents’ purchase of toys for children with
4. What are the differences/similarities between the two chosen subgroups
―mental‖ and ―mental + physical‖?
5. Can an additional or more meaningful segmentation be applied upon the total
sample compared to the two specified sub-groups?
A secondary objective of the empirical study is to investigate the market situation from
the parent’s perspective. The secondary objective had the following research question
6. How is the toy supply in Denmark for children with disabilities?
The secondary objective was found interesting because of the information found in the
literature review, where it was evident that very few special stores exist in Denmark
compared with other nations, that have more focus on toys for special-needs children.
This made the authors of the thesis curious about the parents’ view on the toy selection.
For instance, whether they are satisfied with the selection of toys in Denmark and
whether they have experienced any missing needs and the like.
4.1. Research Approach
There exist various research approaches for qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods
researches. As this thesis, described in section 1, is approaching a qualitative research
approach, the following will mainly focus on the qualitative research approaches as it is
the one applied in the data collection. Though, the data analysis will be attempting a
quantitative research approach combined with the qualitative part. According to
Cresswell (2009) pragmatism provides a philosophical basis for the individual
researchers to have freedom of choice regarding methods, techniques and procedures.
Data collection and analysis does not have to be either qualitative or quantitative.
There has been a secondary objective with the thesis and the adopted approach for this
part is a mix-method approach where both qualitative and quantitative data is combined.
The data collection for this objective is both qualitative in form of the interviews and
qualitative in form of numbers. The chosen method is not a ―true‖ mix-method as the
number of respondents is not sufficient to complete a reliable quantitative study, though
combined with the qualitative research it will provide some indications of the current
market situation.
4.2. Research Methodology
The purpose of the empirical study is to analyse and answer the research questions
stated above in section 4. As we seek to explore and understand consumer motives
when buying toys, the employed research method was of qualitative nature. This
method was applied because of the rather special and unstudied topic and because of the
advantages that this method holds compared with a quantitative method. Using a
qualitative research method has the advantage that it can provide a deeper understanding
of phenomena compared with a purely quantitative method (Silverman, 2000).
Qualitative methods are characterized by different features. Qualitative research uses
text and speech as empirical material instead of numbers. The starting point is the social
construction of reality under study and, additionally, a researcher applying a qualitative
method is interested in the perspectives, knowledge, and practices of the participant in
regard to the issue under study (Flick, 2007). Additionally, in qualitative research, the
researcher is making interpretation of the meaning of the data collected (Cresswell,
Several data collection methods exist in qualitative research, such as different kinds of
interviews, observations, recording interactions, audiovisual data, and document data
(Cresswell, 2009) (Flick, 2007). In regard to the problem statement, the chosen data
collection method for this thesis was the interview. As Kvale perfectly states,
―Interviews are especially suited for studying people’s understanding of meanings in
their lived world, describing their experience and self-understanding, and clarifying and
elaborating their own perspective on the world.‖ (Kvale, 2007, p.46)
Furthermore, interviews allow subjects to extend and alter their understanding of the
phenomena investigated (Kvale, 2007), giving the researcher a great opportunity to
obtain deeper knowledge of a topic. As the researchers of this thesis want to obtain
insight into parents’ selection motives when buying toys, interviews were seen as the
right method to apply.
The empirical study is based upon the MEC methodology, which was outlined in
section 3.1, and will follow the laddering interviewing technique (also outlined in
section 2), as this method is especially suited to reveal consumer motivations. These are
often hidden motives that the consumer is not aware of.
Even though the chosen method is qualitative and the study was conducted doing
interviews, the analysis carried out and the output from it, namely, the HVMs, are dealt
with in a quantitative way by constructing a summary table; and from that the graphical
display of the strongest chains were made. This is however in line with the chosen
pragmatic paradigm, where the appropriate methods to collect and analyse data should
be employed, not limited by either qualitative or quantitative research, but according to
the usefulness for the research (Cresswell, 2009). Thus, data collection is carried out
using solely a qualitative approach and the coding and analysis is rather quantitative
though the analysis is influenced by the subjective meaning of the respondents (which
originate from the qualitative laddering interviews).
4.3. Research Design
The empirical research is designed according to the methodological elements of MEC
and in particular the laddering interviewing technique, which is specially designed to
reveal the underlying reasons for purchase. The analysis will consist of two parts: an
analysis comparing the two subgroups of parents and an analysis of the total sample.
The secondary objective has its own part and will be analysed after the main empirical
In order to make a clearly designed study, the target group needs to be set and the
interview subjects needs to be discriminated. As a result, the first part of the research
will define the target group and the discrimination. The research was designed
according to the laddering interviewing technique, and the starting point for the
interviews was to develop an appropriate list of attributes that is the secondary point.
Ethical issues are of high importance in this study and will be outlined third and before
conducting the final research. The following steps are data collection and evaluation of
the research sample by looking at the sociodemographic conditions. The research
sample will be followed by a description of the transcription and coding of data process.
Finally, an analysis of the findings will be carried out in part 5 of the thesis.
The structure of the empirical study looks as follows:
Discrimination of respondents
Development of attribute list
Ethical considerations
Data collection
Research sample
Transcription and coding of data
Analysis (part 5 in thesis)
The above standing was the structure of the main empirical study, though as outlined
previously, this study has a secondary objective, namely, that of providing the reader
with an overview of the current market situation from the perspectives of the parents.
At the end of the interviews, the respondents were asked to answer a second
questionnaire. They had to rate the different statements regarding the market for toys on
a five-point Likert scale. This information was combined with the findings during the
interviews. After conducting the laddering interviews, we asked the respondents about
their view on the current market. The questions here were asked in an unstructured way,
and findings were elaborated throughout the interview. The results of this secondary
study will be presented after the analysis of the main objective.
4.4. Discrimination of Respondents
As elaborated in section 2.7, the sample will be discriminated in two groups, depending
on the children’s disability and degree of disability. This is because of the fact that
disabilities come in many degrees and varieties and furthermore labelled with different
diagnoses. The two groups are called ―mental‖ disabilities and ―mental + physical‖
The children’s disability is the critical point for the discrimination, as they determine in
which of the two groups they belong. The first part of the questionnaire given to the
parents contained ten questions concerning the child and the child’s disability (see
enclosure 2). The respondents were asked about the diagnosis of the child, not for the
purposes of discrimination but only to determine the sociodemographic profile of the
children. The next questions were for the purpose of discriminating among respondents
(see questions below):
Does your child have a mental disability? (This covers intellectual/cognitive
If your child has a mental disability, to what extent does it have an influence on
your child’s play? (Answers could be given on a scale from 1 to 5 from ―to a
very high extent‖ to ―not at all.‖)
Does your child have a physical disability? (This covers both motor and physical
disabilities as well as physical development that deviates from the normal.)
If your child has a physical disability, to what extent does it have an influence
on your child’s play? (Answers could be given on a scale from 1 to 5 from ―to a
very high extent‖ to ―not at all.‖)
The discrimination followed the model indicated below:
Figure 5: Discrimination procedure
As we have chosen to eliminate the group of solely physical disabilities because of
various reasons discussed previously in section 1.2.2, the model starts with the question
on whether the child has a mental disability (see fig. 5). If they answered ―no,‖ they
were excluded. If they answered ―yes,‖ the next question was concerned with whether
the child had a physical disability. If this question was answered with a ―no,‖ they were
included in the group labelled as ―mental.‖ If the answer was ―yes‖ to having a physical
disability, the next question was to what extent. Parents who rated the influence of
disability on play as 1, 2, or 3 (to a very high extent, to a high extent, or to some extend)
were included in the group labelled as ―mental + physical,‖ whereas parents rating the
influence on play as 4 or 5 (less extent and not at all) were included in the group
labelled ―mental.‖ The reason why we allowed us to gather the parents who rated the
question about the physical disability as having influence on play ―to a less extent‖ (4)
in the ―mental‖ group is caused by the fact that the mental disability can cause some
difficulties in the physical areas. This was found to be true in the literature study and the
expert interviews in section 2.6. Furthermore, if it only has less influence on the play, it
probably would bias the sample as the physical disability would be of minor importance
compared with the other children with a severe physical disability having high influence
on play.
The discrimination is rather broad and has some limitations. The rating of ―to what
extent does the disability have influence on the child’s play?‖ is dependent upon the
parent’s view, who might neglect or somehow bias the ratings as they underestimate or
overestimate the real influence. Nevertheless, with our inexperience and the chosen
topic, a different segmentation was difficult as the number of needed respondents
preferable should be about 40 respondents because of the chosen research method.
Section 1.2.2 justifies for our rough segmentation, whereas section 4.7.1 discuss the
difficulty in finding respondents.
4.5. Development of Attributes List
There exist several techniques to select the important attributes as mentioned in section
3.2. The prespecified list technique has been applied in this thesis, where subjects had to
rate the importance of each attribute from the list. This method is perceived to generate
more important attributes than in the more complex methods (Fotopoulos et al., 2002).
Furthermore, this method is less time-consuming for the subjects, as they just need to
rate the importance of each attribute on the list (Fotopoulos et al., 2002).
As this thesis is not focusing on one specific product, but rather a whole product group,
a prespecified list would be the preferred method. Having a specific product would not
make sense for this thesis, as we seek to investigate the purchase motivations in general.
It would furthermore not be possible to find a product, which would satisfy the needs
for all children.
Choosing the right attributes for the laddering interviews is a focal point, as the list must
contain all important attributes. If not, important elements of toys may be overlooked,
and the analysis will prove to be insufficient.
The attributes on the list have been carefully selected and has worked as the starting
point for the interviews with the respondents. As mentioned before, the list was formed
as a questionnaire where the respondents were to rank the attributes from 1 to 3, where
1 is being ―important‖, 2 being ―less important‖, and 3 being ―not important‖. The
interview was then based on the attributes stated as being ―important‖.
The elicitation of the important and relevant attributes has been based on earlier
research and literature. Most of the existing research and literature has been focusing on
guidelines and recommendation developed by professionals for parents and caregivers
in order to help these to choose the right toy for disabled children (e.g., (Schriver,
1956), (KILIÇ, 2007), (Simpson & Lynch, 2003), (Langley, 1985)). Furthermore, one
study of Fallon and Harris (1989) was of importance to us when developing the list of
attributes, as they studied factors influencing parents’ purchase decision both for
―normal‖ children and disabled children, thus making it highly relevant to us.
Besides the existing literature in the field, expert interviews were conducted to confirm
the chosen attributes and to explore missing attributes. The experts were neurologically
educated pedagogues with specialty in brain injuries and a consultant with specialty in
all kind of disabilities. Furthermore, interviews with parents to disabled children were
conducted with the same purpose as the expert interviews, to confirm and/or to come up
with new attributes influencing the selection of toys.
When the attributes list had been formed using inputs from existing literature, expert
interviews, interviews with parents to disabled children, and own ideas, the attributes
list was tested in order to be completely certain that no additional attributes were
missing. The questionnaire containing all of the attributes was put on Dansk Handicap
Forbund’s (The Danish Handicap Association) Web site and was furthermore sent in a
newsletter to their members; 6,500 people were signed up for the newsletter. The
respondents of the questionnaire had the option to write any additional attributes that
were not present and furthermore comment if any should be changed. No additional
attributes were elicited, and all of the attributes had an importance for some. From this,
it was concluded that the list of attributes was satisfactory, and the laddering interviews
could now take place.
The lists of attributes consisted of 105 attributes, which was further grouped into 50
groups of attributes. The reason for grouping and gathering into further groups is that
they are so alike, that ladders may be the same and will for that reason not tell us
enough thus making the HVM too complex. Questioning the respondents with 105
attributes will furthermore make the interview last longer, and the respondent may feel
reluctant to answer in the end. Grouping it to 50 is a manageable number for the
respondents. The attributes are listed in the following table (table 3).
Concrete attributes
Abstract attributes
1. Action concept
19. Age appropriate
2. Adjustable
20. Availability
3. category
21. Child requested toy
4. Colour
22. Customer service
5. Content
23. Delivery
6. Description of possibilities according to dissability
24. Durability
7. Effects
25. Easy to hold
8. Information about toy and content on wrapping
26. Expected playing time
9. Looks
27. Gender appropriate
10. M aterial
28. Guidance by shop assistant
11. Packaging material
29. Independent play
12. Picture on wrapping
30. Knowledge of brand
13. Price
31. Known producer
14. Shape
32. Online shop
15. Size
33. Physical store
16. User guide
34. Physical environment for usage
17. Washable
35. Previous experience with buying place
18. Weight
36. Previous experience with toy
37. Quality
38. Recommended by friends/family
39. Recommended by professionals
40. Recommended by others in same situation
41. Secure toy
42. Seen in commercials
43. stays within reach
44. Storable
45. Store brand
46. Store location
47. Transportable
48. Trust in brand
49. Value for money
50. Warranty
Table 3. List of attributes
Because of the fact that toys are an overall group of products, and not one specific
product, and furthermore that toys differ widely in every aspect, the attributes list
formed is developed on an overall basis.
The attributes list is divided into two parts: concrete attributes and tangible attributes.
The definition of these is defined in section Products have both tangible and
intangible attributes, and it is therefore only natural that the attributes should be
discriminated between these two.
The chosen attributes needs to be neutral meaning that we should not influence or come
up with attributes that the respondent would not otherwise think of or mention.
Furthermore, we have chosen only the overall group of attributes except when the
subgroups were of importance or having different importance. This has resulted in
subgroups of the recommendation attribute and distribution place attribute. According
to existing literature and the interviews, it is of different importance to the parents who
recommended a toy to them, for example, if it was recommended by professionals, by
parents in the same situation, or by family and friends. The reference group is therefore
of importance, and we have therefore chosen to distinguish between those three. The
second subgroup is distribution place as the toy stores in Denmark targeting specialneeds children are mainly/only online. A distinction was for that reason necessary.
4.6. Ethical Considerations
An interview study is saturated with ethical and moral issues, because of the
complexities of researching ―private lives‖ (Kvale, 2007). In this paper, the topic of
research is rather sensitive as the respondents’ children have a disability, thus being a
sometimes hard and delicate topic to talk to with strangers. Therefore, it has been of
high importance to us when interviewing to act in the right way during the interview.
Data concerning children’s health are seen as being sensitive and personal. As we are
addressing disabilities and asking about the diagnosis and degree of disability in this
thesis, a sanction was needed to collect data about the children. The study had to be
submitted to Datatilsynet, which is the Danish Data Protection Agency. According to
the permission, all personal data in the study have to be treated in consistency with the
paragraphs in the ―Persondataloven‖ § 70, 1 to 25. See enclosure 6 for permission and
for precision. The personal data have to be collected and stored according to the
mentioned paragraph.
Through the interview study, the following ethical guidelines were followed: the
respondents were informed about consent and about their confidentiality, anonymity
(Kvale, 2007), and they were told about the interview technique though without
revealing the context of the interview.
It was of high significance that the interviews would not, in any way, harm the
respondents, meaning the parents. It was also of importance to us to make clear for the
parents what the interview was about, and that they could not give any wrong answers.
Furthermore, the way the children were spoken about was of high importance, as
explored in our pilot study and in previous literature, that it is very important to be
respectful and sensitive toward the parents when addressing their children. The child
should not be defined as a disabled child but as a child with a disability, meaning that
the disability should not define who the individual child is (mothering, n.d.). These
considerations were of main importance to the interviewers throughout the interviews.
4.7. Data Collection
A questionnaire was developed to serve as the starting point for the interviews. The
questionnaire consisted of two parts. In the first part, the parents were asked to answer
questions regarding their child. These were questions pertain to age of child, gender of
child, diagnosis, and degree of disability (see enclosure 2). The second part of the
questionnaire consisted of the list of attributes developed previously. Respondents were
then asked to fill out the questionnaire. The reason why we chose to make the
respondents answer the questionnaire while we were present was to assure that the
respondent had the opportunity to ask questions about any uncertainties that might
occur. Thereby, it was assured that the attributes were ascribed the same meaning across
The interview was started by asking the respondent about demographic variables, such
as age, number of children, occupation, civil status, and the area where they lived. The
next step was to use the attributes that was rated as important for the following
interview. During the interview, the respondents were constantly probed with the
question ―why is this important to you‖ until the respondent was either not able to come
up with an answer or the value level was reached.
At the end, a second questionnaire was given to the respondents. This contained
questions about how they perceive the market situation for toys for disabled children
and general questions concerning purchase of toys (see enclosure 3).
For the data collection, a convenience sample is being used as it is the least rigorous
technique where the most accessible subjects are being recruited. Furthermore, it is the
least costly, in terms of effort, money, and time (Marschall, 1996). This method was
preferred because of the rather difficult target group with a limited number of potential
respondents. When recruiting respondents, other issues needed to be considered because
of the special target group. Especially ethical considerations were important. Ethical
issues are elaborated above in section 4.6. Even though we recruited the most accessible
subjects, other criteria had to be met before a subject was included in the empirical
The subjects should have a child with a disability, either mental or both physical and
mental. Besides that, they should be the main purchaser of toys in the household, and it
had to be assured that the children were still playing with toys. As opposed to normally
developed children (children without any disability), it does not make any sense to
discriminate according to age. In this setting, the age of the children does not tell
anything as both the mental and physical ages most often differ widely from the real age
of the child. There will, for this reason, be no distinction between the ages of the
Data were collected through 35 interviews in the time period from May 17 to July 6,
2011. Two interviews were not usable as the children only had a physical disability,
leaving 33 included interviews. Recruitment took place in special schools, day cares,
and through personal contact. In total, more than 550 papers with invitations were
distributed on 9 schools and day cares in the area of Jutland, especially Djursland,
Århus, Silkeborg, Frederica, and Kolding, and one school on Sealand was furthermore
contacted. Eight parents answered our paper, and 18 parents were recruited through
personal contact with parents already interviewed. The remaining 7 were through
personal contacts to the writers of the thesis.
As there were such a low number of respondents replying to the paper sent home with
the children, the process of interviewing has been rather slow as recruiting respondents
was an ongoing process. This situation was not desirable as it extends and complicates
the data collection phase. The complexity of collecting data has resulted in a rather
time-consuming process, and the number of respondents in each of the two samples is
for this reason not the same size. As it has been such a complex process of getting
respondents, it has been necessary to reflect on what the reasons for this may be. This is
evaluated in section 4.7.1.
Returning to the interviews, the respondents were introduced by a briefing in which the
interviewer defined the situation for the subject; briefly told about the purpose, the use
of a recorder, and so on; and asked if the subject had any questions. After the interview,
a debriefing of the purpose and interview technique was made.
During the interviews, the respondents were not always able to answer the questions, or
they got stuck. In these situations, we used various techniques to make the respondents
come up with an answer. The most successful technique was to use negative laddering.
Negative laddering is a way of inquiring why respondents do not want to feel in a
certain way or are not doing certain things (Reynolds & Gutman, 1988). For example,
we asked the respondent the following: ―If you would not have this attribute or
consequence, what would you then feel or think?‖ This made the respondent speak, and
the interview could continue.
When answering the questions, some parents got very emotional because the topic in an
indirect way addresses their child’s disability. Many of the answers given were caused
by the disability of their child and therefore made them think about it. When it occurred,
we tried to make the respondents feel as comfortable and relaxed as possible.
4.7.1. Implications in the Data Collection Process
During our process of collecting data, we have met several obstacles and barriers that
we needed to overcome. First of all, our target group, namely, parents to disabled
children, have much more things to deal with compared with normal children (Venn,
2009). In the beginning, they have to overcome the sorrow, the sadness, and the new
family situation they are put in when they realize that their child has a disability, of
course, depending on the severity of the disability. Second, the parents have to fight
with the Danish social system/public sector about achieving their rights.2 Disabled
children have, according to the Danish law, the right to equal education and in general
equality in all aspects of life (, 2006). Often, the families are put in
difficult situations where they have to fight to achieve their rights and the social offers.
Parents to disabled children might be vulnerable. According to VIKOM,3 this is in
particular when they get in doubt about their own importance for the child and their
ability to take care of their child. This is for instance when they have difficulties in
feeding, consoling, or making their child feel fine. They might also feel vulnerable
when they do not have the feeling of contact and reciprocity when being together with
their child and if others that know the child well sees the child in a different way than
2. These aspects were concluded after interviews with the respondents who listed up possible reasons for
the complexity in finding willing respondents.
3. Videnscenter om Kommunikation og Multiple Funktionsnedsættelser hos Børn og Unge uden
Talesprog (Research Centre of Communication and Multiple Disabilities among Children and Teenagers
without spoken language).
themselves. Furthermore, this holds true when they cannot come up with a creative and
challenging play (Videnscenter for Kommunikation og mulitiple funktionsnedsættelser
hos børn og unge uden et talesprog, n.d.).
In addition, in previous research, it is found that parents to disabled children are more
likely to become stressed, to get sick, to get unemployed, to get depressed, to get the
feeling of guiltiness, and to become sorrowful (Venn, 2009). These facts are of high
importance when interacting with the target group and preparing the research.
The first respondent in our empirical analysis was also the one who broadened our view
on the target group. She provided us with valuable knowledge about the parents and
their everyday life and challenges. In addition, she also told us about the barriers and
challenges that we should aspect to meet and overcome during our research process.
According to her, many parents have, because of their family situation, a lack of energy,
less time, and some parents even get depressed. Some parents don’t want to talk about
their children and the situation, and some also think that it is overwhelming to speak
about their children with other persons, especially strangers.
Besides the family situation, another factor has made it difficult to get in contact with
the parents. Disabled children are mostly attending special schools and day cares, where
one of the services is a transportation service bringing children to and from school. This
transportation service has made it impossible for us to take personal contact to the
parents in the schools and day cares. All of these aspects combined, made the data
collection more time consuming and challenging.
4.8. Research Sample
The personal background of the respondents is summarized in the following section and
represents both the subgroups and the total sample.
The respondents were recruited using a convenience sample as mentioned above in
section 3.3. As it can be seen in table 4, the research sample consisted of 33
respondents, of whom 31 were women and 2 were men. This corresponds well with
previous research that concluded that women are the main purchaser of toys. The focus
has been on interviewing the person in the household who is the main purchaser of toys.
This is of importance, as this person will have most knowledge and has done the
majority of toy purchases.
The complexity of finding respondents willing to participate in the interviews and the
use of a convenience sample made it hard to discriminate with an equal number of
respondents in the two subgroups. This resulted in 14 respondents in the ―mental‖ group
and 19 in the ―mental + physical‖ group. It was easier to find parents to children having
both a mental and a physical disability, which was no surprise, as it was discovered in
the literature review that one disability often causes another. The children’s genders are
more adjusted, as 17 are girls and 16 are boys. This is however, completely random and
not of importance in the study as outlined in section 1.2.2.
The two subgroups are, despite the different number of respondents, fairly homogenous
in their sociodemographic profile, which is important in order to be able to compare and
detect differences in the HVMs of the two groups. The age range of the respondents is
approximately the same and so are the children’s. This implies that the differences that
might be found between the two groups are not caused by any sociodemographic
imbalance between the groups (Fotopoulos et al., 2002), which is an important factor in
a comparison study.
Taking a closer look at the sociodemographic profile (table 4), it is noteworthy that
none of the respondents were single parents, 85% were married, and the last 15% were
cohabiting. The number of children in the household ranges from 1 to 5 in both
subgroups, with an average of 2.43 children and 2.53 children (for the ―mental‖ and
―mental + physical‖ group respectively). The children’s age range is also the same in
the subgroups, ranging from 6 to 15 years, though one child aged 22 was included in the
sample. This choice was very well considered and only accomplished because the
―child‖ was still playing with toys, living at home, and was multiple disabled.
Furthermore, it was found in the literature review that the age of a child does not
articulate anything. The parent was thus still buying toys and was therefore included in
the sample. The complexity of finding the respondents willing to participate in
interviews made it hard to exclude parents willing to participate.
Mental Total
Respondents gender
Respodents age
Average age
Age range
Respondents civil status
Number of children
Average # children 2,43
1 child
2 children
3 children
4 children
5 children
Gender of child
Age of child
Avg. age children:
Age range children 6-15
6-15 (22) 6-15 (22)
Central Jutland
South Denmark
0-199 DKK
200-399 DKK
400-599 DKK
600-799 DKK
800-999 DKK
>1000 DKK
Mental and Total
Mental physical sample
Money spent per purchase
Purchase times a year
Annual avg
Table 4 (left). Sociodemographic profile of respondents
Table 5 (right). Purchase behaviour in sample
Table 5 shows that the buying behaviour of the two groups are also very similar. When
asked about the average money spent per purchase, 50% of the parents said that they
purchase for 200–399 DKK per purchase, and 25% said they spend 400–599 DKK; only
a few spend more or less than that. In both groups, at least one parent bought for more
than 1,000 DKK per purchase.
The purchase frequencies in the two groups appear to be similar, though the group of
parents to mentally disabled children have a slightly higher purchase frequency than the
―mental + physical‖ group (11.08 and 9.58 annually, respectively). In the total sample,
44% of the parents are purchasing toys 1 to 5 times a year and 25% 6 to 10 times a year.
The rest, only counting for a few, are purchasing toys more frequently.
In general, it must be said that it was evident to us that the respondents of the sample
were relatively equal in their personal profile. In section 2.2, the personal, cultural, and
social factors were found to be of importance and influencing purchase behavior. To
assure an equal sample and to compare the two subgroups, it is important that the
differences are not influenced by the different personal, social, or cultural factors. In the
sociodemographic profile, it was clear that the two groups were fairly equal.
Furthermore, we can see in table 6 that the respondents had several different jobs and
descriptions, though all were employed, except two parents who were housewives
taking care of the disabled children. Having been nearly in all homes, combined with
the social status and occupation, it is evident to us that the respondents participating in
this study were all strong socioeconomically advantaged families with energy to
participate and share their experience.
Social and health care assistant
House wife
Sales consultant
Managing director
Foster care
Office assistant
After school care manager
Flower decorator
Dental technician
Sales and purchasing manager
Legal secretary
Deputy manager at temp agency
Sales manager
Table 6. Respondents’ occupation
In table 7, the different diagnoses that the children of the respondents had are presented
to provide the reader with an overview. Five diagnoses were dominant, namely, Down
syndrome, cerebral palsy, multiple disabled (more than one diagnosis), autism, and
stunted development. Consistent with the findings in the literature review, the
symptoms of a diagnosis can differ widely, resulting in some of the children from our
study having the same diagnosis being discriminated into either group. It is worth to
mention also that all children diagnosed with autism in the current study are boys. This
is a coincidence, though it corresponds well with the findings in the literature review,
concluding that the majority of children with autism are boys.
Down syndrome
Cerebral palsy
More than 1 diagnosis
Stunted development
Angelman syndrome
Rett syndrome
Alternating Hemiplegia
of childhood
Variant of Dandy-Walker
No diagnosis
Physical and
Table 7. List of diagnoses of children
4.9. Transcription and Coding of Data
All interviews were recorded to have the full context available for the analysis. Besides
that, one interviewer wrote notes on the computer during the interviews. The notes on
the computer were a good method to ensure that the interviewers followed up upon all
important factors being said.
Having collected the data, transcription and coding were necessary. All the elements
from the ladders in the interviews had to be content analysed in order to find a common
meaning among the patterns in the interviews and to reduce the complexity of the data
(Krystallis, 2007). The difficult part was to make the right coding of elements. The task
was to find the right level of coding without being neither too broad nor too specific as
much meaning will be lost (Krystallis, 2007).
The program MECanalyst was used, and the coding was made directly in the program.
We used the six-level Means-End Chains, where we divided the ACVs according to
figure 4. We strived at reaching transparency by developing lists with keywords in
content lists for each consequence and values as recommended by Grunert and Grunert
(1995) and by writing the meaning as a note. The notes were gathered at the end of the
coding, and they were compared, to assure that they were all classified in the right
We have chosen to classify the values derived in this thesis according to Rokeach and
Schwartz’s value theories. According to section, Schwartz has identified ten
types of values that are distinguished by their motivational goals (Schwartz, 1994).
These are all terminal values. Furthermore, the instrumental values defined by Rokeach
(1973) will be used when stating instrumental values in the HVMs. The taxonomy of
Schwartz and Rokeach has been applied as it is very accepted in the research of values.
Thus, applying it to this specific context of selection motive can be rather difficult, as
the domains of values are rather broad in context and meaning. Furthermore, they are
used to place the overall human beings in a value dimension and not to place single
values. However, in this paper, clear clarification for each value will be made to assure
that no meaning will be lost and to assure the usefulness of the chosen values to this
study. See table 2 for a thorough explanation of each reached value in the HVM.
Besides the terminal and instrumental values defined by Schwartz and Rokeach, it has
been necessary to include other values that are more specific and more adapted to this
specific context, though it has been of high importance to us that all the included values
have their theoretical founding’s from previous research. The following values are
included, which were not contained in the list by Schwartz: ―Quality of life‖
(Søndergaard, 1995) (Fotopoulos et al., 2002); ―Environmental consciousness‖
(Fotopoulos et al., 2002); ―Pleasure‖ (Fotopoulos et al., 2002); and ―Time for other
things‖ (Søndergaard, 1995). Enclosure 7 represents explanations of values in regard to
this study. The explanations are summarized upon answers given by the respondents
and will together with table 2 represent what is meant by each value. As shown in
enclosure 7, not all values mentioned by Schwartz and Rokeach are represented – only
the ones referred to by the respondents.
The consequences and values were at the end grouped into 34 functional consequences
(28 and 32 for the ―mental‖ group and the ―mental + physical‖ group respectively), 22
psychological consequences (18 and 22, respectively), 11 instrumental values (10 and
10 respectively) and 9 terminal values (8 and 7, respectively). The use-benefits and
values have been relative equal both in regard to number and types between the two
To the researchers’ best ability, the procedures to achieve reliability and validity
suggested by Gibbs (2007) and described in section 4.10 was tried to be followed
throughout the development of the empirical study. After the final coding, the HVMs
could be made. Redundant links are not included in the development of the HVM.
In this case, different cut-offs will be used, as the sample sizes are not homogeneous.
The cut-off level for the ―mental‖ group will be 4; ―mental + physical‖ group will have
a cut-off level of 5, and the total sample will have a cut-off level of 6. These cut-offs
were used, as they revealed the most useful information without making the HVM too
complex and confusing.
The structure and size of the total sample and the subgroups were tried to be consistent
with other work undertaken in the field of MEC, though because of the rather difficult
recruitment process (see section 4.7 for further elaboration on the topic concerning the
elicitation process), the preferred number of respondents for a comparison study was not
met. The desired sample size was 40 and with equal-sized subgroups.
4.10. Reliability and Validity
Reliability and validity have different connotations, depending on the chosen method
(Cresswell, 2009). In a qualitative study, reliability indicates that a researcher’s
approach is consistent across different projects and researches (Gibbs, 2007). To assure
consistency and reliability, researchers should document the procedures of the study, by
documenting as many steps of the research process as possible (Yin, 2003).
Gibbs (2007) suggested the following procedures to secure reliability:
Check transcripts to check obvious mistakes made in the transcription.
Secure that the definitions and meanings of codes are constant during the whole
process (constantly comparing data with the codes).
Secure communication and coordination among the coders.
Cross-check codes that are developed by different researchers and compare if
they are derived independently.
Transcribing 33 interviews call for mistakes to happen in the process. The answers
given can have different meanings, depending on who is transcribing. In order to make
sure that the consequences and values have the same meaning, both authors of the thesis
were to listen to the interviews together. While transcribing, MECanalyst allowed for an
answer to be written for each of the ACVs stated. Afterward, a list gathering all answers
to each of the Cs and Vs was created. By checking that all answers on the list
corresponded to the given Cs and Vs, it was secured that no mistakes were made in the
transcription process. A more thorough evaluation of the coding of data is made in
section 4.9. All definitions of the ACVs were furthermore discussed among the authors
of the thesis.
Validity of a qualitative study means that the researcher needs to check for the accuracy
of the findings in the study by employing certain procedures (Cresswell, 2009). In other
words, the researcher should assure trustworthiness, authenticity, and credibility
(Cresswell, 2009).
Cresswell (2009) has outlined eight strategies to access accuracy and thereby the
validity of the study. He suggest researcher to use multiple of the following strategies:
Triangulate different data sources of information.
Use member checking to determine accuracy of the qualitative findings.
Use rich, thick description to convey the findings.
Clarify the bias the researchers bring to the study.
Present negative or discrepant information that runs counter to the themes.
Spend prolonged time in the field.
Use peer debriefing.
Use an external auditor.
In the current study, the researchers have tried to achieve validity by spending time in
the field, which to some extent have created a deeper understanding of the topic.
Meeting the families and children, seeing their toys and everyday struggles, has
provided us with deeper understanding of the provided answers. The expert interviews
conducted prior to the data collection furthermore helped to gain an understanding of
the complexity in the topic. Describing most of the processes undertaken in the study is
also a way to reach upon validity. To the researchers’ best ability, it was tried to reach
as much trustworthiness and credibility as possible throughout the development of the
5. Analysis and Discussion of Research Findings
The following contains an attributes list evaluation, where the two subgroups are
compared in regard to the answers given in the questionnaire. Second, this part contains
an analysis of the HVMs of the two subgroups, starting with a short analysis of the
frequency of mentioned ACVs in the two groups as well as the total sample. The three
HVMs are illustrated in figures 6, 7, and 8(―physical + mental‖ group, ―mental‖ group,
and total sample), following with an analysis comparing the subgroups and an analysis
of the total sample.
Finally, an additional analysis is conducted regarding the market situation for toys for
children with disabilities. This analysis is based upon answers given by the respondents
in the second questionnaire (enclosure 3).
5.1. Attributes List Evaluation
The following will evaluate how the respondents in the two groups have rated the
importance of the attributes from the prespecified list given. As mentioned, they were to
rate the importance of attributes from 1 to 3 (1 = important, 2 = less important, and 3 =
not important). Even though there is not sufficient statistical evidence to draw
conclusions, because of the small sample sizes, it still gives a picture on how our
respondents differ among the two groups and how they differ in some cases from
parents to normally developed children. The table for this analysis is listed in enclosure
5. The numbers of respondents are also represented in percentages as the sample sizes
are unequal. For that reason, this evaluation will be based on percentages within each
disability group and the total group, and not the actual number of respondents.
There were great differences in the attributes ―washable‖ and ―adjustable,‖ which came
as no surprise. In the ―physical + mental‖ group, it was rated a lot higher (26% and
79%, respectively) than for the ―mental‖ group (7% and 29%, respectively). It is
specially worth noticing that 0% had marked ―washable‖ as not important in the
―physical + mental‖ group, whereas in the ―mental‖ group, 50% had marked it as ―not
important‖. When looking at the answers given by the respondents, it is seems very
obvious that these differences are caused by the children’s physical disability, because
of the fact that some of the children may have uncontrollable saliva, which is most
common among children with a physical disability. The attribute ―adjustable‖ is also a
result of a demand for adjusting it to a physical disability.
When looking at the attributes ―gender-appropriate‖ and ―age-appropriate‖, only a few
have ranked them as being important (6% and 15% of total sample, respectively). The
majority of respondents have written either ―not important‖ or ―less important‖. This
result was surprising compared with earlier studies in the field that have concluded that
age- and gender-appropriate toys was of high importance for parents to normally
developed children when purchasing toys. When looking at previous research
concerning disabled children’s development, it seems evident that many disabled
children have a different functional age than their chronological age (see section 2.6 for
elaboration), which is corresponding well with our findings that the attribute ―ageappropriate‖ is less important to parents with disabled children. Therefore, the
unimportance of the attribute ―age-appropriate‖ can be explained by the fact that a lot of
the children have a mental disability that makes them mentally and physically younger
than their actual age. Reasons for why ―gender-appropriate‖ is not important in any of
the groups might be that the child may be indifferent or that special toys are generally
not gender-appropriate.
―Independent play‖ was of great importance in both groups, with 71% in the ―mental‖
group and 79% in the ―mental + physical‖ group. It is, however, worth noticing that this
attribute will not appear in the HVM for the ―mental‖ group (fig. 7). This is because of
the fact that there are not sufficient respondents that have made the same ladders in
order to make the cut-off level at 4. Reasons for why independent play is important in
the ―mental + physical‖ group will be elaborated in section 5.3.
―Quality‖ and ―secure toy‖ were also of great importance to both groups. 79% of the
total sample thought that ―quality‖ was of importance, and 85% of the total sample
thought that the attribute ―secure toy‖ was important. The most apparent factor is that in
both cases, 0% thought of these two attributes as unimportant.
―Recommended by professionals‖ and ―recommended by others in same situation‖ were
furthermore of importance to both groups, counting for 67% and 82% of the total
sample, respectively. These two also had nearly 0% who thought of these as being
Both ―effects‖ and ―action concept‖ are of high importance to the ―mental + physical‖
group (79% and 68%, respectively) relative to the ―mental‖ group (21% and 14%,
respectively). Both attributes are represented in the HVM of the ―mental + physical‖
group, whereas none of them are mentioned in the HVM of the ―mental‖ group.
―Description of possibilities according to disability‖ is rated as important by 19 parents
(58% of total sample), 10 (30%) rate it as less important, and only 4 (12%) as not
important. The attribute is viewed as more important for the ―mental + physical‖ group
than for the ―mental‖ group (68% vs. 42%). This attribute was very interesting to us;
during the interviews many parents’ stated that they would be happy if an attribute like
that existed, as it could give valuable information on the products and the usability for
the children. As it will be evident later in the analysis of the HVM’s this attribute is not
present in any of them, even though it was mentioned by 19 in the total sample. The
parents must therefore have stated different use-benefits. Another reason for why it
might not have been important to more parents, can be caused by the fact that the
attribute does not exist on the current market and therefore many parents said that it was
an unmet need. However, as it is not present, they rated it as rather important or not
important, because it has not influenced their purchase decision yet. Parents, who rated
this attribute as important, said that it was very valuable information for them as it could
eliminate wrong purchases. Therefore, even though it is not evident in the HVM’s this
attribute is interesting for stakeholders to have in mind and be conscious about when
producing, selling or to market special-needs toys in Denmark.
One of the most important attributes where it is rated more important in the ―mental‖
group than in the ―mental + physical‖ group is ―user guide.‖ 64 % thinks this is
important compared with 31% respectively. This attribute is only represented in the
HVM with the ―mental‖ group.
Two of the attributes on the attributes list were rated important by 0%, indicating that
they should not have been included in the list at all. These were ―packaging material‖
and ―store brand.‖ This was sought to be eliminated by pretesting the list before
interviewing. The pretesting phase is mentioned in section 4.5 and concludes that all of
the attributes on the list was regarded as relevant, and none was for that reason
It can be concluded that there exist some differences among the two groups. Not
surprisingly, ―washable‖ and ―adjustable‖ were of high importance to the ―mental +
physical‖ group, whereas ―gender-appropriate‖ and ―age-appropriate‖ were not of
importance to any of the two groups. ―Independent play‖ was of very high importance
to both groups but is only represented in HVM for the ―mental + physical‖ group.
―Quality‖, ―secure toy‖, ―recommended by professionals‖, and ―recommended by others
in same situation‖ were of very high importance to both groups, and nearly 0% had
ranked either one of them as ―not important.‖ It was also worth noticing that ―action
concept‖, ―effects‖, and ―description of possibilities according to disabilities‖ were of
high importance to the ―mental + physical‖ group compared with the other. The
attribute ―user guide‖ was more important to the ―mental‖ group than to the other group.
Finally, there were two attributes that were not rated ―important‖ by any of the groups.
This happened in despite of the attempt made to elicit unimportant attributes by
pretesting the list. These were ―packaging material‖ and ―store brand.‖
5.2. HVMs
In the following, an analysis of the HVMs for the two groups as well as an analysis of
the total sample will be carried out. First, a short summary of the ACVs contained in the
HVMs will be elaborated. This is done in order to see where there are some major
differences. Afterwards, the HVMs are illustrated. The first HVM (fig. 6) is the ―mental
+ physical‖ group, the second HVM (fig. 7) belongs to the ―mental‖ group, and the
latter (fig. 8) is a HVM of the total sample, meaning all 33 respondents.
After the summary of the ACVs contained in the HVMs, an analysis of the HVMs
regarding differences and similarities of the two subgroups, ―mental‖ and ―mental +
physical‖, is carried out. Afterwards, an analysis of the total sample is completed in
order to see whether the total sample can reveal new and useful information.
As mentioned before, the samples are not the same size, which has meant different cutoffs in order to get a useful and understandable HVM. The ―mental‖ group has a sample
size of 14 with a cut-off at 4, whereas the ―mental + physical‖ group has a sample of 19
with a cut-off level at 5. The total sample has a cut-off level at 6.
When looking at the HVMs, it is important to look at the chains connecting the
attributes with the consequences and values. The thicker the chain (arrow), the stronger
the link is between the ACVs. Some links may be direct (A-B-C-D), whereas others
may be indirect (A-C-D). The HVMs are furthermore corrected for redundant links,
meaning that links going from A to C is removed if there is a corresponding link going
from A to B to C. It is removed, as it is already represented, and because redundant
links may cause the HVMs to look too complex.
5.2.1. ACVs in the HVM
Table 8 summarizes the ACVs in the different HVMs, starting with the highest
mentioned. From this table, it is also possible to see whether there are any major
differences in the number of times the ACVs are referred to in the different subgroups.
Concrete Attributes
Concrete Attributes
Concrete Attributes
Action concept
User guide
Info on wrapping
Action concept
Secure toy
RCMD by others in same sit.
independent play
RCMD by professionals
Easy to hold
Guidance by shop assistant
Stays within reach
Online shop
Withstand rough handling
Limitations caused by disability
Professional guidance
Maximizing utilization
Adjust to child's needs
No supervision
Avoid negative emotions
Enjoyment for child
Broaden view on toy possibilities
Quality of play
Abstract attributes
Secure toy
RCMD by others in same sit.
Independent play
RCMD by professionals
Easy to hold
Child requested toy
Customer service
Physical environment for usage
Guidance by shop assistant
Online shop
Trust in brand
Psychological consequences
Secure toy
RCMD by others in same sit.
Child requested toy
RCMD by professionals
Customer service
Trust in brand
Professional guidance
Maximizing utilization
Withstand rough handling
Avoid negative emotions
Broaden view on toy possibilities
Enjoyment for child
Economic consciousness
Family care
Time for other things
52% Capable
52% Economic consciousness
52% Time for other things
Terminal values
Abstract attributes
Functional consequences
Psychological consequences
Functional consequences
Avoid negative emotions
Enjoyment for child
Broaden view on toy possibilities
Instrumental values
79% User guide
79% Category
Abstract attributes
Functional consequences
Professional guidance
Withstand rough handling
Maximizing utilization
No supervision
Limitations caused by disability
Good quality
Adjust to child's needs
Save time
Instrumental values
Psychological consequences
Instrumental values
74% Family care
Terminal values
Terminal values
Table 8. An overview of the ACVs represented in the three HVMs
The HVM of the total sample contains almost all the ACVs mentioned in the two
subgroups, with only a few exceptions. Regarding the concrete attributes and the
abstract attributes, the total sample contains one attribute ―info on wrapping‖ that is not
listed in the two subgroups. Regarding both consequences — functional and
psychological — there are four consequences not mentioned in the other HVMs: save
time, portable, stimulation, and good quality. The values are a total of the values
mentioned in the two subgroups and are therefore represented in both.
The two subgroups, on the other hand, contain one attribute and two consequences,
which are not retrieved in the total sample HVM. These are ―stays within reach‖,
―quality of play‖, and ―relax‖, respectively. The reason for this may be that the cut-off
levels differ according to the sample sizes in the groups. The total sample HVM has a
higher cut-off and therefore leaves out some chains that are mentioned less than 6 times.
It is worth mentioning, once again, that even though the ACVs are mentioned many
times (e.g., the concrete attribute ―description of possibilities according to disability‖
mentioned by 19 respondents equalling to 58%), it does not necessarily mean that it is
mentioned in the HVM. It all depends on the ladders and whether they are mentioned
more than the cut-off level set. This can explain why only one or two values are visible
in the HVMs of the subgroups. Only the ones with a strong ladder are mentioned. This
unfortunately leaves out important values mentioned by many, but if the links (ladders)
are not visible and strong enough, it will not be possible to conclude anything on those
ladders and the reasons for why these values might be important.
It is evident that the difference between the two subgroups is great, and it will be
elaborated more thoroughly in the analysis of the HVMs.
In the following, the three HVMs are presented.
Fig. 6: HVM of “mental + physical” group
Fig. 7: HVM of ”mental” group
Fig. 8: HVM of total sample
5.3. Analysis of the Two Sample Groups
By comparing the two sub samples, it is evident that there are great differences. First of
all, the ―mental‖ group only has 13 attributes (of which 2 are concrete and 11 are
abstract) compared with the other group, which has 18 attributes (6 concrete and 12
abstract). The consequences are more similar in number; the ―mental‖ group has 14 (of
which 6 are functional) compared with 16 (9 of them being functional) in the other
group. The ―mental‖ group has reached 2 values — 1 instrumental and 1 terminal —
compared with the ―mental + physical‖ group, which has reached 3 values, all
The next step is to see where the strongest links are in the two HVMs. In both HVMs,
there is a very strong chain linking ―secure toy‖ to ―safety.‖ As mentioned in section
5.1, all of the respondents ranked ―secure toy‖ as either important or less important, and
it is therefore only natural that this attribute will occur in the HVMs. In both groups,
―secure toy‖ links to ―safety,‖ but in the ―mental‖ group, safety links to the terminal
value ―security‖ together with the consequence ―healthiness.‖ Healthiness is in this term
meant as being without toxic substances that may result in bad health of the child.
Safety is also a consequence of the attribute ―content‖ in the group of both mental and
physical disabilities. This is because of the fact that many of the parents are alert about
the contents in toys. If there are small bits, then there is a risk of the child putting it in
the mouth and swallowing it. That brings forward some safety issues and is the reason
for the ladder between these two.
Mentioning safety as important is no surprise as Taylor et al. (1997) suggest that safety
as well as developmental issues is of the upmost importance when selecting toys for
children. This corresponds well with our HVM, which has a high mention of these two
consequences. In the HVMs, the developmental issues mentioned by Taylor et al. are
referred to as the psychological consequence ―learning‖. This consequence has a high
mentioning in both cases (86% for ―mental‖ group and 79% for the ―mental + physical‖
group) and is in both cases strongly linked. The expert interviews in the literature also
stated that these two factors were of great importance.
Both HVMs link ―interesting‖ to ―learning‖, and when looking at the answers given, it
is evident that in order for their children to learn, they must first find the toy interesting
to play with. In the ―mental + physical‖ group, ―interesting‖ plays the most central role
as many attributes and other consequences, both functional and psychological, are
related to this consequence. This also corresponds well with the answer given by the
experts in the literature review. The child needs to find the toy interesting in order to be
able to play with it.
The attribute that according to the parents makes the children in the ―mental‖ group find
the toys interesting is ―category.‖ This means that it has to be a specific toy category,
for example, puzzles, action figures, LEGO, games, etc. This is not important when
linking it to interesting in the ―mental + physical‖ group. Here, ―looks‖, ―action
concept‖, ―easy to hold‖, ―stays within reach‖, and ―effects‖ are important. The last
three mentioned goes through the functional consequence ―limitations caused by
disability‖, before continuing to ―interesting‖. This means that the handicap can limit
them, and if for example the toy is not staying within reach, the child will, as a
consequence of their disability, not be able to play with it and will lose interest. The
same goes for the attribute ―easy to hold‖, by reversing it: if it is not easy to hold
because of a disability, then the child can’t play with it, and the child will then not find
it interesting. Reasons for why ―effects‖ goes through ―limitations caused by disability‖
could be that some of the children are for instance visually impaired, deaf, or paralyzed,
and in order to get their attention and make them find it interesting, the toy needs effects
such as lights, bright colours, movements, and sounds.
Going back to ―learning‖, which is a focal point on both HVMs, it is interesting to
investigate what they perceive as important in order for their child to learn. As
mentioned already, both groups state it is necessary that the toy is interesting in order
for the child to learn. However, other consequences play an important role as well.
These are (in the ―mental‖ group) ―broaden view on toy possibilities‖ and ―professional
guidance‖ with chains from the attributes ―recommended by professionals‖,
―recommended by others in same situation‖, and ―customer service‖. It is clear that
reference groups, and thereby word of mouth, play a very important role, and those
families rely on each other as well as on professionals in order to get the best toys that
will develop their children.
―Learning‖ is very different in the situation of the children with both mental and
physical disabilities. Apart from the consequence ―interesting‖ linking to it, the attribute
―independent play‖ also links to ―learning‖. 79% have rated this attribute as being
important. It is very interesting that it is important for parents to buy toys that can be
played with independently and that that may result in learning. Furthermore, learning
links to an instrumental value: capable. This value means that it is important, that they
want to teach their children that they are capable of doing different things and to get
ahead in life. 74 % have rated capable as important and with a very strong link from
learning, being the main reason.
Returning to the subject of recommendations by others and word of mouth, it is
important in both groups to have these forms of recommendations. The attributes list
had three different kinds of recommendations: ―recommended by others in same
situation‖, ―recommended by professionals‖ and ―recommended by friends/families‖. It
is worth noticing that it is only the first two attributes that are mentioned in the HVMs.
These both link to the psychological consequence ―broaden view on toy possibilities‖
though with a functional consequence ―professional guidance‖ between ―recommended
by professionals‖ and the consequence. In section 2.2, it was found that different
reference groups are influencing consumer purchase and that the main reference group
often is the family. It is very evident that reference groups are playing a huge role also
in the current study as both groups heavily rely on recommendations by others. Though
compared with the findings in the literature review, it was found that the most important
reference group for these parents are other families in the same situation. They heavily
rely on other parents that have the same everyday issues to fight with and the same
troubles finding the right toys. Many parents said that if other parents have tried it and it
worked, then it is more likely to become a success to them and their child. The second
most important reference group are professionals in institutions, in stores, doctors, and
therapists. The recommendations from the professionals are also very important because
they can provide the parents with new aspects on toys and development and they might
broaden the parents’ views on different toys.
―Independent play‖ is linked to the functional consequence ―no supervision‖, which
links to the instrumental value ―time for other things‖. Having a physically + mentally
impaired child demands extra attention than a child with only mental disabilities. If toys
facilitate independent play, it creates time for the parents to do other things, which is
very important for some parents. Furthermore, if the toy at the same time is developing,
the importance is even higher.
Another important factor in both HVMs is the consequence ―waste‖. This covers for
both wastes of resources: waste of money and waste of time. It was evident from the
interviews that having a child with a disability makes the everyday life busy. A lot of
parents have scarce time resources, and as special-needs toys are very expensive, they
also have scarce economic resources. In the ―mental‖ group, waste is a consequence of
the attribute ―quality‖ and of the consequence ―interesting‖. This makes perfect sense as
well. If the child doesn’t find the toy interesting, then he/she will not play with it, and it
will be seen as a waste. At the same time, if the quality is bad, and it breaks, then it is
perceived as waste as well.
―Waste‖ is in the group with both mental and physical a consequence of both attributes
and consequences. ―Recommended by others in same situation‖ and ―guidance by shop
assistant‖ both link directly to waste. This is because parents feel that these
recommendations are important, and that they hereby get an insurance of avoiding
waste. Furthermore, ―interesting‖ and ―maximizing utilization‖ link to waste. It is
perceived by the respondents to be waste (waste of money and resources) if the child
doesn’t find it interesting and will for that reason not play with it. In the case of both
physical and mental disabilities, waste links to the instrumental value ―economic
―Avoid negative emotions‖ is an important psychological consequence in both groups.
They are fairly equal, as both are a consequence of the functional consequence
―withstand rough handling‖. In the ―mental‖ group, ―avoid negative emotions‖ even
link to the instrumental value ―family care‖. Important attributes that has a consequence
of withstanding rough handling are ―warranty‖, ―durability‖, and ―quality‖. In both
groups, it is important that the toy can survive being thrown to the floor and other rough
handlings without breaking. This is a problem for a large group of the respondents, as
toys fitting to their child’s needs are often toys that are made for infants who are not as
strong as children in the age of, for example, 14.
As mentioned in section 5.1, the attributes ―adjustable‖ and ―washable‖ were of high
importance in the ―mental + physical‖ group compared with the other. This is also
illustrated in the HVMs where it is only represented in the first group. ―Adjustable‖
links to the consequence ―adjust to child’s needs‖ as they need to adjust it to the
physical impairment. Sometimes the respondents answered that the children have
different levels depending on the day. Not always are they as capable as they can be
because of their disability, and it is for that reason necessary to adjust the toys to fit the
child’s needs. ―Washable‖ links to the functional consequence ―hygiene‖ as the reason
for why it needs to be washable is because of the hygiene. A lot of the children with
physical impairments have uncontrollable saliva, and this results in the high ranking of
the attribute.
It is also of great importance for both groups that the purchasing of toys and the actual
toys are practical. ―Practical‖ is a consequence stemming from the attributes ―delivery‖
and ―online shop‖ in the ―mental + physical‖ group, whereas the attributes ―storable‖,
―transportable‖ and ―delivery‖ are important for the ―mental‖ group.
Three attributes are represented in the HVM of the ―mental‖ group and not in the other.
One of them is ―child requested toy‖, which leads to the consequence ―enjoyment for
child‖. The link to this consequence is normal, as a child may have a higher enjoyment
with the toy if he/she has requested it. The second attribute is ―user guide‖, leading to
―maximizing utilization‖. Parents’ answers were that some toys can be very complex,
and a user guide may be necessary in order to get full maximization of the toy. This is
especially the case with technological toys. The third attribute is ―trust in brand‖ linking
to ―trust‖.
5.3.1. Summary of Comparison of HVMs in the Subgroups
Many similarities and differences exist between the two HVMs as stated above. It is
interesting to compare it with the previous research done in the field, described in the
literature review in section 2.4. The literature review had stated that only one factor was
different from parents to normally developed children to disabled: ―written information
about toy‖. What is of high interest is that this attribute is not visible in any of the two
HVMs. It is, however, a relatively highly mentioned attribute as stated in section 5.1,
where 58% of the total sample views it as important. The ladders are not similar enough
to be represented on the HVMs of the subgroups.
Learning and safety are two very important factors in both previous literature and in the
present HVMs. In existing literature, it is of high importance for both normally
developed children as well as for disabled children. Learning is here a consequence of
several consequences and attributes. Most important consequences linked to learning
are ―interesting‖ and ―broaden view on toy possibilities‖, so it is very important that the
child finds the toy interesting in order to be able to learn. This corresponds well with the
two expert interviews conducted, stating that if there is a motivation for playing with the
toy, then learning will emerge.
Besides ―learning‖ and ―interesting‖ as one of the most central consequences, ―waste‖ is
also of great importance. This concept covers avoiding waste of time, money, and
resources. It is a consequence of ―interesting‖, ―quality‖, and ―recommendations‖. If the
child doesn’t find it interesting, or if it breaks, then it will be a waste. Recommendations
are included because it is an attempt to ensure that it is not a waste. It is also interesting
to see that learning has a very strong chain to the instrumental value ―capable‖ in the
―mental + physical‖ group. Capable is meant by parents wanting their children to be
able to do things and be capable of doing as many things as normally developed
For children with mental and physical disabilities, it is very important that the toys must
have ―action concept‖, ―effects‖, and ―looks‖. If not, then the child will not find it
interesting to play with. This is caused by their physical disability; for instance, a child
that is not able to move will find pleasure in sounds and toys with lights and movement.
It is very evident that both groups rely on recommendations of others.
Recommendations are both professional as well as recommendations from other
families in same situation. Regarding purchase of toys, parents to disabled children, to a
high extent, listen to other parents that have a child with disabilities or to professionals
in order to not only maximize the learning and development but also to avoid waste by
purchasing wrong toys.
Neither ―age-appropriate‖ nor ―gender-appropriate‖ is mentioned in the HVMs. This is
already elaborated in section 5.1, where it is also concluded that both attributes have
very low ranks of importance. This is surprising as both previous studies in the field as
well as expert interviews state these as important attributes, though depending on
Two other values are represented in the HVM of the ―mental + physical‖ group besides
―capable‖. These are ―economic consciousness‖ and ―time for other things‖. ―Economic
consciousness‖ stems from the psychological consequence ―waste‖ and is a result of
wrong purchases and money spent on wrong toys. As mentioned earlier in the thesis,
special-needs toys are very expensive, and it may result in some respondents to be
economically conscious. ―Time for other things‖ stems from the consequence ―no
supervision‖, which again stems from the attribute ―independent play‖. Having a
disabled child demand for extra attention and makes the everyday life more busy than
with normally developed children. So if a toy makes the child play independently, then
the parents will have time for other things.
In the ―mental‖ group, there are two values represented in the HVM: ―security‖
stemming from ―safety‖ and ―healthiness‖ and the instrumental value ―family care‖
stemming from ―avoid negative emotions‖. Regarding ―security‖, strong chains exist
from especially ―safety‖. Secure toy is obviously of high importance. Sharp edges,
small pieces, and toxic material are of high importance for parents, and it is clear that
they want their family to be safe and not get injured or sick. The other value ―family
care‖ is because they want their children to be happy and care for their well-being.
When the children are all right, the rest of the family is in balance.
5.4. Analysis of Total Sample
By looking at the total sample, it is evident that the HVM is more complex compared
with the other two HVMs from the subgroups, even though the cut-off level is 6 in the
total sample and 4 and 5, respectively, in the subgroups.
26 attributes are included in the HVM of the total sample; they consist of 9 concrete
attributes and 17 abstract attributes. From that 21 consequences are derived of which 13
are functional consequences and 8 are psychological consequences. Five values are
reached, of which four are instrumental and one is terminal.
Compared with the HVMs of the two subgroups, it can be seen that the HVM from the
total group is almost a summary of the two, with only limited additional information
added. The only concrete attribute that was not present in either of the two other HVM
is ―info on wrapping‖, which was mentioned by 39% with a weak link to ―waste‖. In the
literature study, it was found that this attribute was the only factor that distinguished
parents to ―normal‖ children to parents with disabled children when purchasing toys.
Therefore, it was surprising that it was only present in the total HVM and not in the
Information on wrapping was important to the parents because it made them surer about
a product. For example, they were able to see if their child would be able to play with
and gain something out of the product. Consequently, it helped the parents avoiding a
wrong purchase and thereby avoiding waste of money and time and at the end avoiding
negative feelings. The negative feelings could be if the toy was for instance too difficult
for the child, and the child would get sad or frustrated, thereby leaving the parents sad
and frustrated. Furthermore, many parents would get the feeling that the product was
waste of money and a defeat. Many parents commented that buying toys could often
end with a defeat because of the difficulties in buying toys caused by the disabilities that
made it difficult to determine the right developmental age and ability, especially with
the existing toys.
The abstract attribute ―physical environment for usage‖ was also added in the total
HVM and mentioned by 39% weakly linked to ―portable‖, which is a new functional
consequence also added in the total HVM. This attribute was important to the parents
because of the children’s disability that bound the children, for instance, to a wheelchair
or to a working chair. They have the option to use it were the child needs it, which is
also why the link to ―portable‖ is present as it was of high importance to the parents,
that they could take the toy with them when they went somewhere. This was especially
the case when they had to go with the car and to visit friends and the like, as the toy
made the child comfortable and reduced waiting time.
Additionally, the functional consequences ―good quality‖ and ―save time‖ were
included in the total sample, though with weak links. ―Good quality‖ came from the
abstract attribute ―quality‖, whereas ―save time‖ came from the consequence
Compared with the other levels of the HVM, the psychological consequences are
reduced in the total sample with the consequences ―quality of play‖ and ―relax‖ omitted.
In the psychological consequence, ―stimulation‖ is added and has a weak link to
―learning‖. The psychological consequence ―learning‖ and the link from ―stimulation‖
to ―learning‖ will be elaborated later on.
Like in the subgroups, the next step is to look at the strongest links in the HVM. Not
surprisingly, the strongest links in the two subgroups are also the strongest links in the
total sample HVM. The strongest link in the overall sample is that from ―interesting‖ to
―learning‖, leading to the instrumental value ―capable‖. It seems evident that parents
think that it is very important that a toy is interesting for the child, so the child catches
the interest, and this interest will affect the learning because it is stimulating the child to
learn and improve skills and development. Teaching new skills was found to be of
importance both in the literature study and in the current analysis. Learning has the link
to the value ―capable‖. This value means that parents want to provide their children with
the best capabilities as possible, making them able to live the best life with as much
development and social interaction as possible. Furthermore, they want that their
children come forward in life and achieve success and as much interdependence as
achievable (see enclosure 7).
Another strong chain is from ―secure toy‖ and ―content‖ to ―safety‖, with 91% of the
respondents mentioning this consequence, which leads to the terminal value ―security‖
and the instrumental value ―family care‖. Safety is the most mentioned consequence
referring to the health of the child, that the toy does not in any way harm the child or
expose the child to any danger. The value ―security‖ is an umbrella term meaning that
parents want their children the best possible, that they are not getting sick, injured, or in
any way harmed. Parents feel, not surprisingly, that it is their responsibility to protect
the child and in general the whole family from these things.
Another strong link can be seen from the attributes ―durability‖ and ―quality‖ to
―withstand rough handling of toys‖ to ―waste‖ and to ―avoid negative emotions‖.
Through the interviews, it was found that the attributes ―durability‖, ―quality‖, and
―warranty‖ were important to the parents because of the child’s disability that made the
children have unwanted movements like spasticity, or the children handled the toy in an
improper way either because they lack the understanding of what toys can handle or
because they chronologically are much bigger than the recommend age of a toy. That
toys are able to handle the roughness of the child is important to the parents because
they want to avoid waste, of time, effort, and money but also because they want to avoid
negative feelings (when a toy breaks) such as the child getting sad, disappointed, or
angry. Again, one of the important things here is that some of these children are not able
to understand that a toy broke because, for instance, it was handled too roughly. If the
child lacks the understanding, it is difficult for the parents to explain it and difficult to
avoid negative feelings that will affect the whole family. Many parents are also saying
that the toy should create happiness instead of negative feelings
Other strong links exist from the attributes ―RCMD by professionals‖ through
―professional guidance‖ to ―broaden view on toy possibilities‖. ―RCMD by others in the
same situation‖ also links to ―broaden view on toy possibilities‖, which is leading to
―learning‖. This ladder is of special interest. First of all, because it shows that the main
reference group for parents to disabled children is not family and friends like in normal
consumer behaviour, but in this case, other parents in the same situation with 82% of
the parents rating this attribute important besides that the attribute ―recommended by
professionals‖ was important to 61%. Not surprisingly, these attributes both linked to
―broaden view on toy possibilities‖, which was important to the parents because of the
complexity of buying toys. Having other parents with the same issue and professionals
helping with the purchasing decision was of importance also as they were assured that
the toy was able to teach the child some skills and thereby develop the child. For that
reason, this attribute also links to ―learning‖, which is, as previously discussed, of high
importance to the parents. Knowing what has been a success for other parents in the
same situation was very important to the parents, and getting the inputs from the
professionals was especially important because of the element of learning and the value
of being capable as discussed previously.
The attributes rated to be important by most of the respondents are ―secure toy‖,
―recommend by others in the same situation‖, and ―independent play‖. The scores were
respectively 85%, 82%, and 76%. In other studies concerning children without
disabilities, it was also found that secure toy is of importance, though parents to
disabled children already have vulnerable children, thus making this attribute to a
probably even more important attribute. Recommended by others in the same situation
was discussed previously and must be said to be the main reference group of parents to
disabled children. The attribute independent play was also of importance to many
parents; this attribute was included in the ―mental + physical‖ group but not included in
the ―mental‖ group. This could lead to the conclusion that it is more important to
parents to a child that also has a physical disability that the child is able to play
independently. This could be caused by the limitations the child already has, and
therefore, the parents rate this attribute even higher than the other group of parents.
One noticeable observation is the clusters in the total HVM, where more attributes are
linking to one use-benefit. This can for instance be seen from the attributes ―delivery‖,
―online shop‖, ―transportable‖, and ―storable‖ that all are linking to the consequence
―practical‖ with a link to ―save time‖. All the attributes have an influence on how easy
and practical it is to buy a toy and how practical it is to have a certain toy.
Another cluster can be seen from ―effects‖, ―action concept‖, ―category‖, ―looks‖, and
―easy to hold‖, all with a link to ―interesting‖, and again they all have importance on
how interesting and catching a toy is. The cluster from ―warranty‖, ―durability‖, and
―quality‖ links to ―withstand rough handling of toy‖, which also makes much sense as
they are all influencing if the toy can withstand rough handling or not, except the
warranty but if there is a warranty parents said they felt more secure that the toy could
withstand rough handling. The last cluster is ―recommended by professionals‖,
―guidance by shop assistant‖, and ―customer service‖, which are all linking to
―professional guidance‖ stemming from ―broaden view on toy possibilities‖ that also
has the attribute ―recommended by others in same situation‖ linking to it. These are all
service elements if one could say so, as they are helping the parents in choosing a
product and more importantly in being aware of the existing toys and the possibilities in
relation to their child. Many parents claimed that it could be difficult to gain an
overview of the toys and also knowing which toy to use for their child; therefore,
especially, the recommendation from other parents and professionals was of high
importance to the parents.
5.4.1. Summary of Total Sample
It is interesting to compare the findings with the previous research done in the field,
described in the literature review in section 2.4. As it was discussed previously, the
factor ―written information about toy‖ was found to be more important to parents to
children with disabilities than to parents to children without disabilities, though this was
not evident in the two subgroups. However, this attribute called ―info on wrapping‖ in
our study is included in the total sample HVM. The chain goes from ―info on wrapping‖
to ―avoid waste‖ and splits in two: ―avoid negative feeling‖ and ―economic
consciousness‖. This chain was found to be of importance for the parents to avoid
waste, meaning that they want to avoid a wrong purchase leading to waste of money,
time, and effort and to avoid negative feelings such as sadness, angriness, or defeats
caused by a not usable product. The strongest chains were the ones from ―interesting‖ to
―learning‖ to ―capable‖, which seemed to be very important to nearly all the parents in
the sample, with 88% and 82% mentioning interesting and learning and with 52%
mentioning the value ―capable‖. The two different reference groups, ―RCMD by
professionals‖ and ―RCMD by others in the same situation‖, were all found to be very
important to the total sample of parents; they are both leading to ―broaden view on toy
possibilities‖ and from that to ―learning‖.
Another strong chain exists from ―secure toy‖ and ―content‖ to ―safety‖, which leads to
the terminal value ―security‖. All these elements are important to the parents because of
the safety and health of their children and their feeling of responsibility concerning their
children. Regarding attributes, except the ones already mentioned, the attributes
―durability‖ and ―quality‖ both have strong links to ―withstand rough handling‖, which
have a strong link to ―waste‖. These attributes are important because of the children’s
disability. For instance, that they are delayed in their development and therefore playing
with toys for younger children that are not suitable for bigger children and their
strength, or because they are not able to control their body, their movements, or the like,
which results in rough handling of the toy. The parents want a toy that can withstand
handling in order to avoid waste or negative feelings as discussed previously.
Besides the already mentioned things, the HVM of the total sample showed four
clusters of attributes going to the same consequence.
Having analysed the three HVMs, the following section will address and analyse the
second objective.
5.5. Supply of Toys In Regard to Respondents
After having interviewed the respondents using the laddering technique, they were
asked to fill out a short questionnaire regarding the selection of toys in Denmark (see
enclosure 3). This was done to get an indication of how they viewed the supply of
products. The research done here is by no means representative enough to conclude
anything as the sample was only 33. It may, however, give an indication of how these
parents view the toy selection and the supply in Denmark.
The following questions were asked and ranked from 1 to 5 (1 = to a very high extent, 5
= not at all):
1. To what extent do you feel that your child’s needs in regard to toys are fulfilled?
2. To what extent can regular toy fulfil your child’s need? (meaning toys available
in all regular toy stores)
3. How satisfied are you with the selection of toys in Denmark with regard to your
child’s needs?
4. To what extent does your child have an influence on the toy being purchased?
5. To what extent do others have an influence on the toy being purchased?
6. To what extent does the child’s disability have on the influence on what toy gets
The respondents were also asked to state whether they purchase toys online, in physical
stores, or both. Furthermore, they were asked to note who had an impact on the toys
being purchased, the number of purchases a year, and how much they were spending a
year approximately.
The questionnaire is short and only contains a few simple questions. This is done
because of the importance of the laddering interview conducted just before. The
laddering interview is the main focus and takes a lot of time and energy for the
respondents. The questionnaire is only to get some more in-depth knowledge, and, as
mentioned, the statistical validity concerning sample size is not met.
The questions mentioned above were asked in order to reveal their opinions about the
supply in Denmark. It also made them talk about the selection and where they bought
toys. In section 2.4.1, it was found that only 6.1 % of the general consumers in the EU
purchase toys online. Parents from the analysis in the study are both purchasing toys in
physical stores and in online shops. 91 % are purchasing in physical stores, 69 %
purchases online and nearly 60 % are purchasing both online and in physical stores. 31
% are never buying online while nearly 10 % are never buying in physical stores.
Throughout the development of the thesis, it became evident to us that many of the
parents’ are purchasing toys online. Firstly because many special stores are only online
and secondly because it is less time consuming. It can for that reason be concluded that
in regard to the general trends of the EU, the respondents of this thesis to a higher extent
purchase toys online. A high number of parents buying on the Internet preferred AB
Handic Help (, whereas parents purchasing toys in physical stores
preferred small special stores such as Krea and other special shops with high-quality
products and larger stores with regular toys such as Toys R’ Us, Fætter BR, and Bilka.
A lot of the parents felt they were forced to buy toys in regular stores, even though the
supply fitting their need was limited. Toys purchased in regular stores could often end
up in wrong purchases as the products could be too complex for their child’s level or
because it didn’t fulfil the need of the child. Furthermore, the possibility to take the
children to the stores is limited as some of the children would be overstimulated or not
be able to handle all the people present in the shop. However, purchasing in special
stores (both physical and online) gave them a professional guidance that made them
more confident of their purchase, but the prices were that much higher. It is worth
referring to section 4.8, where the frequency of purchases as well as money spent are
elaborated. It is therefore our clear impression that a high number of parents had to find
a balance between compromising products and high costs. As mentioned in section 4.8,
50% of the total sample spend between 200-399 DKK on every toy purchase, and shops
for toys 10 times a year on average.
To calculate subjects’ satisfaction with the current supply of toys in Denmark, a Likert
scale was used. The questions were ranked from 1 to 5 (1 = to a very high extent, 5 =
not at all). To be able to calculate a means, this scale was preferred as it can be assumed
to be interval scaled.
As previously mentioned, such a small sample size does not represent the whole
population, and thus it is difficult to, conclude anything, though combining it with our
qualitative interview study and the fact that we indeed had a thorough conversation with
nearly all of the respondents, gives us the opportunity to come with an overall
When looking at enclosure 8, the six questions are compared by means between the two
groups. It would give no meaning to check whether there are any statistical significant
differences as the samples are not big enough. Instead, a table over the means of the two
groups is used.
Regarding question 1 (if the child’s needs are fulfilled), the total average of 2.38, which
must then be concluded that the child’s need is fulfilled to an acceptable level. Whether
regular toys fulfil the child’s need (question 2) there is a slight difference, as the
―mental + physical‖ group has an average of 3.11 compared with the ―mental‖ group,
with an average of 2.15. From the compared means, it is concluded that the ―mental +
physical‖ group to a less extent is satisfied regarding the fulfilment of children’s needs.
The question regarding the selection of toys is on a total average of 3.16 and is the score
with the lowest extent on the rating scale. For that reason, there could be suspicion that
the demand for a better selection is high. With regard to the question ―to what extent
does your child have an influence on the toy being purchased‖, the answers were a bit
different, counting for 1.77 in the ―mental‖ group and 3.00 in the ―mental + physical‖
group. This makes sense as some of the physically challenged children had no language
communication and thereby had difficulty in stating their wants and needs.
5.6. Discussion of Research Findings
Based upon the analyses of the HVMs, it can be concluded that little new information is
retrievable by viewing the respondents in one group. The only concrete attribute visible
in the total HVM compared with the HVMs in the two subgroups was ―info on
wrapping.‖ One abstract attribute was added in the total sample compared with the two
subgroups. This was ―physical environment for usage‖ with a weak link to the only
added consequence, namely, ―portable‖. The HVM was more complex, even though the
cut-off level was set to be higher. The complexity was because of the fact that the
HVM, to a high extent, was a summary of the two subsamples in one.
The two subgroups differed from one another in several areas as analysed in section 5.3.
Neither subgroups had the same values nor, to a large extent, the same consequences.
However, some use-benefits were of high importance in both groups. The main usebenefits common for both HVMs are learning and interesting. Other important
consequences relevant for both groups are avoid negative emotions, waste, safety, and
broaden view on toy possibilities.
As regards the consequence ―interesting‖, the group ―mental + physical‖ had a large
variety of attributes leading to it (such as stays within reach, effects, easy to hold, looks,
and action concept). The other group (―mental‖) only had the attribute ―category‖
leading to it. The consequence ―interesting‖ was for the ―mental + physical‖ group the
most important and central use-benefit.
Learning and avoid negative emotions were, on the other hand, the most important
consequences for the group ―mental‖. These were both derived from other
consequences. Learning was a consequence of ―broaden view on toy possibilities‖ and
the already mentioned ―interesting‖. Avoid negative emotions were derived from
―waste‖ and ―withstand rough handling‖.
For that reason, it can be concluded that even though a large number of the
consequences were the same in the two groups, they were still derived from different
Besides that, the group ―mental + physical‖ has the benefits ―no supervision‖, ―adjust to
child’s needs‖, and ―limitations caused by disability‖ as the most important and
differing from the group ―mental‖. The majority of consequences mentioned in the
group ―mental‖ are also represented in the other group. Only trust and relax are added.
It is worth mentioning, though, that the attributes underlying the consequences are
differing. Values reached in the total sample are, as mentioned, a summary of the two
subgroups, and it is only logical that these will be used when evaluating the reached
values. The group ―mental‖ reaches the terminal value ―security‖ and the instrumental
value ―family care‖. It is clear that the parents value the safety of their children highly,
as well as the well-being of the whole family. The other group (mental + physical)
reaches ―economic consciousness‖, ―capable‖, and ―time for other things‖. These
families regard waste as the source for their economic consciousness. Capable is already
mentioned in 5.3 and is caused by the parents’ eagerness to learn their children
capabilities, which will help the children to move forward in life. Finally, the mention
of ―time for other things‖ is because the difficulty of having a child with impairments
requires extra attention. This makes them value time for other things as important and
Whether a more meaningful segmentation, based upon the total samples’ HVM, is
possible would depend on how different it is from the two subgroups. As mentioned, the
total sample HVM is close to become a summary of the two subgroups combined in one
HVM, and for that reason, it would not make sense to discriminate in a different
manner. It can therefore be concluded that the two subgroups are discriminated in an
appropriate manner for the purpose of this study. The differences in results among the
two subgroups are great enough to conclude that the discrimination is meaningful and
necessary in order to get useful data. However, as there were indications that the
physical disabilities in some cases had a great impact on their use-benefits, including a
subgroup with solely physical disabilities, would have been of interest for this study.
Regarding the second objective for the empirical study, the following conclusions could
be made. The respondents of this thesis to a higher extent purchase toys online than the
general trend of EU. The supply of toys in regular stores was only to some extent
satisfactory, but as the special-needs toys was significantly more expensive, they were
forced to find a compromise balancing between high costs of special-needs toys and
purchasing toys in regular stores.
6. Conclusion
Based on the literature review and the empirical study conducted, this thesis offered an
insight on values and motivations regarding parents to children with disabilities’
purchasing behaviours when buying toys. A twofold approach was applied: one
comparison study where the two subgroups were defined, ―mental‖ and ―mental +
physical‖, and one with the total sample as one group.
It can be concluded that the major research findings of this thesis is to some extent
consistent with previous research done in the field. Two major consequences were in the
literature found to be of great importance: safety and development (learning). These
were also of high importance for the respondents in both subsamples. Surprisingly, the
attribute ―info on wrapping‖ that in the literature review was found to be of importance
for parents to children with disabilities and not for parents to children without
disabilities, was not included in either of the two HVMs of the subgroups, though it was
present in the total sample HVM.
It can also be concluded that differences in motives and values between the two
subgroups exist and that viewing the total sample as one big group would prove to
reveal little additional information. No further knowledge, except the consequence
―portable‖, could be retrieved by viewing the respondents as one sample. Compared
with the two subgroups, the segmentation based on the whole sample would for that
reason be less useful.
Besides learning and safety, other use-benefits were also important. Interesting, avoid
negative emotions, withstand rough handling, and waste were all strongly linked in both
groups. The majority of consequences mentioned in the group ―mental‖ are also
represented in the other group. The biggest difference regarding motives is that a
number of consequences are present in the group ―mental + physical‖ and not in the
group ―mental‖. These are adjust to child’s needs, no supervision, and hygiene, which
can all be connected to the physical handicap of the child.
The main difference between the two subgroups is at the value level, where none of the
same values is reached. The HVM for ―mental‖ reached the instrumental value ―family
care‖ and the terminal value ―security‖, whereas the group of ―mental + physical‖
reached the instrumental values ―capable‖, ―economic consciousness‖, and ―time for
other things‖.
It is furthermore concluded, that reference groups are of great importance for both
groups when purchasing toys. The main reference groups are parents in the same
situation and professionals in the field.
The most important abstract attributes in the total sample were found to be (listed
according to importance) as follows: secure toy, recommended by others in same
situation, independent play, quality, durability, recommend by professionals, and easy
to hold. The concrete attributes were adjustable, effects, action concept, content, and
user guide.
The major differences between the two subgroups in the important attributes can be
found in the concrete attributes where effects, action concept, and adjustable are more
important for the group of ―mental + physical‖, caused by the physical disability of the
children. In the group ―mental‖, user guide is more important, which can be ascribed to
the parents who want to be able to guide their children to use the toy correctly. The
attribute ―description of possibilities according to disability‖ was rated as important by
many parents, though it was not evident in any of the HVMs. This attribute was,
however, proven to be an unmet need, as it was not available on any of the current toys.
6.1. Managerial Implications
As concluded, the total HVM did not provide much additional information, and
therefore, the HVMs of the subgroups will be used for the further elaboration. The
HVM’s perceptual orientation/direction could each be seen as a potential positioning
strategy for marketers, both by using the use-benefits and values derived and by looking
at the attribute level. This could be done by pinpointing the strengths and weaknesses of
the product’s attributes and use-benefits.
The main motives for toy purchase in the ―mental‖ group are ―avoid negative
emotions‖, ―waste‖, ―safety‖, ―learning‖, and ―broaden view on toy possibilities‖.
Producers/marketers could therefore use these benefits for positioning. Toy producers
are already very conscious about the safety issues and learning issues of toys, which has
been devoted a lot of attention both on the mass market and the special-needs market.
Therefore, this is no new and usable information regarding the positioning strategy.
Instead, the use-benefits ―avoid negative emotions‖ and ―waste‖ could be used by
linking it to the value of family care. Another possibility would be to take a look on the
more weak links in the HVM and try to build a stronger link, for instance, the usebenefit practical that has a link to the psychological use-benefit of relax, which is the
parents’ ability to relax, which is caused by the toy. Therefore, one should try to link the
product and its attributes to the use-benefit of relaxation by communicating it to the
The main motives for toy purchase in the group of ―mental + physical‖ are
―interesting‖, ―learning‖, ―waste‖, and ―avoid negative emotions‖. Again, one should
not only focus on the use-benefits already in focus of current products but should also
try to find new ways.
One interesting positioning strategy or idea for product development could be to focus
on the products that promote independent play. Independent play leads to the motive of
no supervision, which is influenced by the value of having time for other things.
When looking only at the attributes, the attribute ―description of possibilities according
to disability‖, is important and producers should put more emphasis on this, as it seems
to be an unmet need.
6.2. Limitations and Further Research
Despite the rather sensitive topic, the parents were willing to speak up and express
themselves, though it could sometimes be hard for the interviewers to continue to ask
about a sensitive topic, and therefore, the level of abstraction was not always reached.
A huge limitation was the inability to produce generalizable results, caused by the
relatively small sample sizes and the use of a convenience sample. The sample consists
of rather strong socioeconomically advantaged parents. Therefore, this sample does not
reflect the total group of parents to children with disabilities. Some parents are not
strong enough, willing, or they may have too many issues to deal with in their everyday
life in order to participate in a study like this.
The weaknesses of the qualitative approach must also be mentioned here. It was tried to
reach as much objectivity as possible, though the researchers had to interpret and code
the interviews, and therefore, the study at hand will have some subjectivity.
Not having a specific toy but a whole range of toys makes the analysis more difficult as
more attributes have been rated as important. More attributes lead to more content codes
and so on. Nevertheless, it would not have been an option to use specific toys as the
children’s needs regarding toys are so different, primarily depending on the individual
child’s disability.
To the researchers’ best knowledge, the study at hand is the first study on parents’
selection motives when purchasing toys for children with disabilities and might
therefore be the starting point for more profound knowledge of the special-needs toy
market in Denmark. The findings are the first insight into parents’ motives and values,
providing usable knowledge for different stakeholders. This knowledge can help them
produce better and needed products and to improve the marketing strategy.
The sample sizes of the two subgroups are rather small and therefore have some
limitations. New research with larger samples is for that reason desirable in order to test
and extend the current research. The research could also be extended by including a
third group, namely, parents to solely physically disabled children. It could also be
extended to a broader and more heterogeneous group of parents.
The discrimination employed in the study was found to be usable as many differences
were discovered between the two groups. However, it could be interesting to see other
researchers discriminating in a different way, to see if more valuable information can be
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2. Questionnaire for Laddering Interview
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