PROJECT TOPIC- INFLUENCE OF ADVERTISING ON CONSUMER BEHAVIOUR: A STUDY OF PUBLIC TRANSPORT COMPANIES IN EBONYI STATE
1.1 Background to the Study
Public transportation is an essential part of human activities and in many ways form the basis of all social-economic interactions. Basically, it provides mobility to individuals who do not have any private means of transportation. Indeed, no two locations will interact effectively without a viable means of movement. (Ben-Akiva, 1981) In most communities, a large number of people travel daily in one form of vehicle or the other to and from work.
Goods are also shipped over a long distances to provide those materials which are part of the expected standard of living. Advances in transportation have made possible changes in the way we live and the way societies are organized. However, transportation system is expensive to maintain, for example building, maintaining and operating the transport system including construction of roads and bridges and provision of road safety measures are not easy to come by.
These have brought about deficiencies in transportation systems. Since the attainment of independence in 1960, the problem of Nigeria transport systems include bad roads, inadequate fleets of buses or trucks, lack of trained transport managers and planners, ineffective traffic regulation, indiscipline, corruption and poor driving habits. These are some common features of the developing world which the National Bureau of Statistics (2004) described “as a norm rather than exception”.
Several measures have been proposed to improve transportation systems in Nigeria which include: provision of good road networks, public enlightenment on the need for regular maintenance of vehicles, use of appropriate tyres, correct driving habits, eradicate the sale of adulterated and leaded fuel, set up emission standards for imported vehicles, promote research, provision of alternative energies such as solar energy etc. Oni (2002).
“Oni, further stated that the type of available transport and how they are used, tell a great deal about a community and its values.” A good transportation system can enhance the productivity and quality of life of a community if properly planned and managed. (Akinbami and Fadare 1998). We have three major transport systems. They include: water, land, and air. The waterways have been means of transport for people and goods since ancient times; rivers which penetrate deep into the heart of a country and manmade canals have linked the interiors with the coastal parts.
As men ventured farther from their own shores, stable seagoing ships had to be developed to withstand the rigors of long journeys on the open oceans. The land transport on wheels developed rapidly, necessitating the building of surface roads and bridges. These were built by highly sophisticated civil engineering companies. The advent of railways in most parts of the world in early nineteenth century brought a social as well as a commercial revolution.
For most countries, railways provided an efficient, safe and speedy means of transportation. In Nigeria, for instance, these railway networks enabled exports to be brought to the coast for shipment, and imports to be distributed to the hinterland cheaply. Apart from movement of goods, people travelled freely through the railways. In recent times, air transport has brought about a revolution as great as that of the railways several decades ago.
Transport and communications are now possible to previously inaccessible areas. Where great distances have to be covered speedily in remote and difficult terrain, airplanes are the common means of transport (Oluikpe, (2001). “Road transport is the most commonly used mode of transportation in Nigeria and accounts for more than 90% of the sub-sector’s 3% contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) (The New Nigerian 2009)”.
Road transport activities involve the conveyance of passengers in mass or in small numbers, the transportation of animals, farm produce and merchandise and the rendering of mobile services. “Nigeria has the largest road networks in West Africa and the second largest south of the Sahara, with the national network currently estimated to be 194,200km of which 34,120km (17.6%) are federal roads and 129,580km (66.7%) local and rural roads. However, the federal roads network carries 70% of freight in the country (The New Nigeria 2009)”.
In Ebonyi State, road transport is the most commonly used mode of transportation. The roads networks are poorly maintained and overused since alternative modes of transport are poorly developed. That notwithstanding, many transport companies operate in Ebonyi State. The transport companies engage in serious competition irrespective of the poorly developed infrastructure in a bid to attract commuter’s patronage.
These transport companies employ several strategies to influence commuter’s choice and advertising is one of the strategies. Quite a number of these transport companies now advertise their services through various media of communication which include radio, television, newspapers, magazines, bill board and through the internet. Other means of advertisement include mouthpiece, and public address system. Some shout a form of advert in their parks and stations to attract commuter’s patronage to their vehicles.
Most of these companies recognize the need to advertise and the benefit of doing so, and they are willing to pay a price for it. But, knowing the consumer is essential at this point. This is because advertiser’s goal is to get enough relevant market data to develop accurate profile of buyers and this involves the study of consumer behaviour: the mental and emotional processes and the physical activities of people who purchase and use goods and services to satisfy particular needs and wants Arens, (1996).
Transport companies use advertising to make their services known to the public and these services include the needs of a consumer. “Lovelock (1972) noted that some of the principal needs of a commuter in choice of transport line appear to be safety, reliability, time savings, cost, convenience and comfort.” A commuter who is a consumer of a transport services expects his transportation needs to be met for him to continue patronizing.
Therefore, knowing consumer behaviour is very important as the consumer is the one who will ultimately make use of the advertised products and services. Here, the mission of advertising is to reach prospective customers and influence their awareness, attitude and behaviour. Alicia and Gerald (2011) pointed out that advertising is a primary tool for firms to affect the performance of their product and services, especially in markets that satisfy the end user such as consumer goods like cars, and services of transporters.
These are the reasons why consumers are constantly bombarded by messages inducing them to change their attitudes about products, services, brands, producers or suppliers, events etc. These persuasive attempts can range from logical arguments to expressive images. Advertising has been recognized as one of the most efficient and powerful communication tool often deployed as a marketing strategy to outsmart close rivals. Advertising is therefore defined by Arens as:
“The structural and composed non-personal communication of information usually paid for and usually persuasive in nature about products (goods, services and ideas) by identified sponsors through various media”. (Arens 2011:8) This definition of advertising is apt as it identifies communication as the process through which meaning or information is exchanged between individuals using some systems of symbols, signs, or behaviour.
It is usually a very structural form of applied communication, employing both verbal and non-verbal elements that are composed to fill specific space and time formats determined by the sponsor. “Debra, (2009) asserts that one of the significant strengths of the advertising industry lies in its ability to transfer seemingly mundane objects into highly desirable products.” Debra also noted that products and services can transform in values by appreciating once they are placed in advertisement.
Thus the business of advertising covers a wide range of either product or service or even idea or personality ventures with the aim of increasing patronage. For instance, services provided by public transport companies, if well packaged and advertised can increase the rate or level of passenger’s intake by such transport company.
PROJECT TOPIC- INFLUENCE OF ADVERTISING ON CONSUMER BEHAVIOUR: A STUDY OF PUBLIC TRANSPORT COMPANIES IN EBONYI STATE
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Transportation is a measure of relationship between places. As a means of conveying people, goods and information through places, the provision of its facilities is crucial to the economic, political, social and cultural life of any society. Public transportation is a highly competitive business in Ebonyi State. Transport companies apply all kinds of strategies to influence commuters to patronize their company including advertising.
An obvious reason for advertising is simply to inform people of the existence of products or services they might be interested in buying, for no one will buy something he does not know of its existence; there is no doubt about that. When more people know about a product, more of it will be sold. Judging by the extensive use of praise for products in ads, advertisers do expect that people will be influenced by the positive valuation.
So apparently, a significant amount of people do believe the praise is somehow real. Many Transport Companies in Ebonyi State advertise their services through the traditional media of communication and through other means, while others do not advertise their services. This study shall examine the level of influence advertisements have on consumer behaviour in Ebonyi State transport companies.
It is understood that various factors exist that can influence commuter patronage to a transport company such as the quality of service it could render, the cost of service, proximity, managerial skills, including economic, social, psychological and demographic factors. Yet, it is advertising that creates awareness by portraying the good qualities of a company, because no one will buy products (goods, services and ideas) he does not know of its existence.
Transport industry which renders services to the public is passing through a difficult stage, but huge investment by government, wealthy individuals and groups in the provision of better public transport system networks is increasing by the day and every person stands to be a potential beneficiary. These consumers of transport services form an important segment of the transport service market.
“However, if there’s no public enlightenment about the existence of such services by way of advertising, the business may fail (Hauser, 1981).” The overall purpose of this work is to gain deeper understanding of the influence of advertising as it relates to the level of patronage of commuters in transport industries or companies with particular reference to those existing in Ebonyi State.
1.3 Objectives of the Study.
This research work shall be undertaken to generally examine the influence of advertising on consumer behaviour: A study of Public Transport Companies in Ebonyi State. Consequently, the specific objectives are:
- To ascertain the extent to which Transport Companies in Ebonyi State advertise their transport services.
- To find out how advertising the services of transport companies influence the choices of passengers.
- To ascertain the nature of relationship between transport companies and commuters in Ebonyi State.
- To determine the communication medium that makes the greatest impact on the choice of transport in Ebonyi State.
1.4 Research Questions.
The following research questions will be asked by the researcher:
- To what extent do transport companies in Ebonyi State advertise their transport services?
- To what extent does advertising the services of transport companies influence the choices of passengers?
- What nature of relationship exists between transport companies and commuters in Ebonyi State?
- What medium of communication makes the greatest impact on the choice of commuters in Ebonyi?
1.5 Research Hypotheses
The following hypotheses will be formulated to guide the study:
- HO: transport companies in Ebonyi State do not advertise their transport services.
- HO: advertising the services of transport companies in Ebonyi State do not significantly influence the choices of passengers.
- HO: significant positive relationship does not exist between transport companies and commuters in Ebonyi State.
- HO: there is no marked differences in the impact of medium of communication in the choice of transport in Ebonyi State.
1.6 Significance of the Study
This study will offere basis for understanding the motivating factors behind commuter’s patronage of transport companies in Ebonyi State. It is therefore the mandate of this work to serve an immense useful purpose to its potential and prospective users. For instance, this research work is an eye opener and a reminder to a commuter who is a consumer of public transport services of his needs requirement which must be met by transport managers. He should get all the information and inquiries from the company and ensure he is satisfied before patronizing the company. Transport companies also stand to gain in this study as they require managerial skills in order to operate effectively. According to Mfonobong,(2002:27),
“Strategic management is considered as a dynamic process that involves a complex pattern of actions and reactions. It involves planning for the present and pre-empting the future.” Mfonobong also stated that most business organisations fail because of defective and dysfunctional strategic planning, rational decision-making and improper management. Without strategic planning, organizations are incapacitated, lack focus, new direction and vision to be in consonance with changing global business environment. Moreover, transporters should ensure that vehicles for the conveyance of commuters are in order before taking off, because passengers’ lives have to be protected at all cost.
National policy makers, also stand to gain in this study as they have obligations which they must fulfil in order to satisfy both transporters and commuters. Some of the obligations required from policy makers include: construction of good road networks and regular provision of safety measures to ensure protection of life and property on the road. Advertisers on the other hand should learn a lot from this study, by avoiding deceptive advertising to deceive the public.
They should always give useful and truthful information about products. Another argument levelled against advertising which must be discouraged is its effect on competition. Aghonifoh in Makata (2012) states: “advertising encourages monopoly since large firms use it as a weapon for competing smaller ones out of business.” In transport industries for instance, advertising is everywhere, especially for those of them who are rich enough to advertise.
The resultant effect is that some transport companies do not advertise at all or at best they shout out their services in their packs and stations or make use of mouthpiece or public address systems. Moreover, advertisers have a lot to learn in this study regarding the behaviour of consumers. The knowledge of consumer behaviour will help public transport advertisers develop accurate marketing strategy which will help increase consumer patronage.
1.7 Scope of the Study
The scope of this work is restricted to land transportation whereby transport vehicles are used to convey people and goods. Thus the population is bifurcated to include all registered transport companies in Ebonyi State and commuters who ply the transport vehicles. But the fact is that there are inadequate resources to extend the survey to all local government areas in the state, therefore, ten communities in five local government areas of the state will be targeted for investigation as the sample areas. This research work shall be carried out in the year 2015.
1.8 Limitations of the study
Studying the influence of advertising on consumer behaviour with reference to transport companies in Ebonyi State will be tedious and tasking for a single researcher. The researcher will tour the ten communities in five selected LGAs and collect information for the study, despite bad roads in the communities. Another constraint is that some of the respondents are assumed to be illiterates. The enumerators will therefore be compelled to interpret the questions and complete the questionnaires on their behalf. Moreover, some few cases may come up, where some of the respondents will display a nonchalant attitude in their responses to the questionnaires in spite of the entreaties of the enumerators. The difficulties could emanate from the fact that, research work in a well competitive transport sector of Ebonyi State is a rarity, a situation accentuated by tribal concerns associated with divulging of information.
1.9 Operational Definition
Effect– In this study, effect means a change that results after a commuter received advertising messages. This result could change the commuter’s view positively or even negatively towards the transport company by patronizing or not to patronize.
Advertising– Here, advertising means information from transportation companies, making their transportation services known to the public. The aim of this advertisement is to attract commuters to the company. These adverts are paid for by the management of the transport company. It is expected that most commuters will be attracted to the company as a result of the advertisement. Advertising can get to commuters through various organs of communication such as radio, television, the internet, cinema, newspapers, magazines, billboards, posters, mouthpiece, Public address system, etc.
Consumer– The consumer in this study is the person who ultimately makes use of the services of a transportation company. The commuter otherwise known as the consumer pay the management of a transport company for their services and at the same time expect maximum satisfaction for their money in order to continue patronizing the company.
Behaviour– Behaviour is a response of a commuter towards a commercial transport company. Many factors could be responsible for a consumer’s behavioural change, e.g. the quality of services which may include comfort or discomfort in the buses or vehicles, increase or decrease in transport fare, attitude of drivers and conductors to commuters, general receptiveness of the management of the transport company, and most importantly the social, economical, biological, psychological and psychographical variables.