This research work was aimed at studding the major factors which determine the consumer preference for Malt – Guinness, Maltina and Vitar Malt brands of Malt drinks, using consumers in Enugu urban. The study also examined how consumers respond to the various marketing variables such as price, promotion, product, and place so as to verify which tool to concentrate mostly by firms and executives who produces and market Malt drinks. To accomplish these, the researcher generated primary data. The data were generated using questionnaire as the research instrument. The questionnaire were administered to various consumers in Enugu urban. After a detailed analysis of the data generated, it was discovered that malt drinks consumption cuts across various age groups in Nigeria, and also that business people and civil servant consume more than any other professional groups in Nigeria. Other findings made from this study are that malta guinness is the most preferred brand out of the six studied brands. This was followed by maltina and vita – malt. Amstel malta has the lowest consumer brand loyalty followed by Royal malt. Also, the study showed that while quality and availability or place were accepted as major factors which influence their preference of a particular brand by consumers, promotion and price were regarded as having very insignificant effect. Following the above findings, the researcher made the following recommendations. First, it was recommended that more marketing efforts be directed to business people and civil servant by malt drinks firms. Another recommendation was that firms with low brand loyalty should re-examine their products to improve their quality. Again, marketers of malt drinks are advised to reduce their budget share to promotion and engage more in product modification and development. Finally, it was recommended that malt drink firms see their consumers as price insensitive, but quality conscious which will enable them pay less attention to price – cutting as an effective strategy.
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
The introduction of Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) in Nigeria has resulted in so many changes. Among these changes are those that occurred in the food and beverage industry. In this industry, some of the major raw materials formally used in the production of drinks like wheat, malt barley and yeast were banned from being imported. Consequently, the taste and quality of been which are produced with locally sourced raw materials changed and as a result, many firms turned to a new product (Malt) in order to reach their business objective. With this new changes, many and various different brands of malt drinks arrived in the market. The implication was a cut – throat competition in malt drinks market among the producing firms thus calling for only the most marketing oriented firms i.e. firms who know the customers physically and psychologically to survive.
The wide spread in the brands of malt drinks and proliferation of firms that manufacture malt drinks market. Many consumers who could no longer afford to taste the been which was 100% locally sourced turned to malt drinks. But there are so many brands of malt drinks that it became imperative for the marketing managers to determine those factors which push consumers to bend toward a particular brand. Some of these competing brands are Maltina, Amstel Malta, Vita – Malt, Hi – Malt and Royal Malt, Malta Guinnness.
Also, the prevailing economic situation is another factors which compels companies that manufacture malt drinks to uphold the term effectiveness in all their actions. Unlike the yesterday’s Nigerian buoyant economy when consumers complaining less about the proportionality of the price they pay and the value of their purchased goods or services, consumers become more cautious of their spending. As a result of existing stagflation i.e. combination of recession and inflation, consumers are very cautious about spending.
They ensure that their every kobo spent is worth it, thus making it difficult for an arm – chair marketer to win consumer loyalty. The situation calls for an in depth under standing of the consumer to understand those factors which push them to prefer a particular brand of malt drink to another. Only adequate knowledge which can gained through findings from studies of this nature will enable the marketers and manufacturers to develop products and services tailored to their target market needs.
A consumers purchase decision and brand choice are some times seen as being erratic. Consumers are not always right in their decision but this only makes the marketers task more challenging. There are many factors and motives which play significant role in consumers purchase decision such that it is an uphill task to designate accurately which factors that determine consumer brand preference.
When a consumer is presented with different brands of malt drinks to choose from, there is a gamut of marketing and environmental stimuli: which come into play to determine his brand choice. The pressing need and task facing the brewers and marketers of malt drinks is to find out which of these stimuli or variables that exert greater influence on consumer brand preference. The central interest of the marketer is to know how consumers respond to various marketer – controlled stimuli. A marketer who understands how consumers respond to these stimuli have an enormous advantage over his competitors. The only way to be one of the fittest who survived in this competitive environment is to have an insight into the consumers buying behaviour as elicited by their preferences for particular brand so as to give marketers in the food and beverage industries who deal on malt drinks guide in tailoring their marketing programmes and efforts in line with the expectation of their target market.
The major emphasis in this study will be focused on the identification of the major variables like product attributes, price, distribution factor, or promotional activities which exert greatest influence on consumers brand preference for malt drinks.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
The problem which prompted this study stemmed from four cardinal points. Firstly, the introduction of structural adjustment programme (SAP) has proliferated the number of firms which produce malt drinks and consequently, there have been so many competing brands of malt drinks in the market. This cut – throat competition calls for a highly coordinated marketing programme which is tailored toward the satisfaction of consumers needs and wants to be able to remain in business. However, no company can create an effective marketing plan without an adequate understanding of the variables which exert influences on the consumers purchasing decision.
Secondly, there has been a rapid expansion in the malt drinks market. A reliable source has shown that a significant proportion of Nigerian population who hither to consumers alcoholic drinks has turned to malt drinks. This gives rise to the need for the firms who produce malt drinks to check on customer satisfaction for their products. But these firms cannot just rely on customers voluntarily complaints. It has been found that 96% of unhappy customers never tell the company. The only way is to study consumers and their behaviour.
Thirdly, it has always been difficult to pin – point exactly what factors that have motivated consumers to prefer a particular brand of product to another. Most often marketers have fallaciously being marketing myopic. They have in several occasions paid attention to only those factor which are salient as the determinant of consumers preference for their brand, while that the many other factors which play significant role are completely ignored and consequently the penalty is for the marketing programme to fail. There is therefore the need for a study which will help the management and marketer in the brewery industry to identify the various factors which exert influence on consumer preference for a particular brand.
1.3 RESEARCH OBJECTIVES
This study is primarily aimed at examining the consumers behaviour in respect of their preferences for brands of malt drinks. This study seeks to identify those factors that exert influence on consumer preference of one brand of malt over many other brands.
Specifically the objectives of this study are:
1) To find out those factors which determine consumer preference of one brand of malt drink to others
2) To find out consumers perception of different brands of malt drinks and see how their perceptions and brand preferences are related.
3) To determine how consumers respond to the various marketing mix elements and find out which of the elements to concentrate most on for consumers loyalty.
4) To provide a reference source to firms in this highly competitive industry on how to understand their market very well to enable them serve the market better.
5) To provide vital information and make suggestions on how to improve consumers loyalty to firms producing malt drinks with low consumer loyalty.
6) To make recommendation to companies and marketers about consumers behaviour and factors influencing their product brand preferences.
1.4 STATEMENT OF HYPOTHESES
Based on the problems which prompted the researcher to carry out this study and the above stated objectives set out to accomplish, the following hypotheses are held and will be tested.
1) Quality is a major factor which affect brand preference for malt drinks.
2) Availability and convenience of accessibility constitute a major factor in brand preference for malt drinks.
3) Consumers loyalty to a brand of malt drink is influenced by the strength of promotions carried on the brand.
1.5 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
From the problems stated as what prompted the need for this study, it is obvious that this study is worth while. The core issues of modern marketing concept lies centrally on the understanding the customer and making every effort to satisfy him.
Barry Bayes once noted that whereas a satisfied customer tells three people about a good product experience, a dissatisfied customer gripes to eleven people. Only an adequate understanding of consumers behaviour and factors influencing of marketing programmes and plans that can ensure the development of goods and services which can satisfy their needs and wants.
Precisely, this study will enable companies and marketers of different brands of malt drinks to understand the relative influences exerted by those marketer controlled stimuli as product attributes, price, distribution, and promotion on consumer preference for malt drink brands.
This research work will not only help manufacturers and marketers of malt drinks to maintain their guard against their numerous competitors, but will help the firms to come up with an effective, well – designed and up – to – date marketing programmes capable of keeping the companies afloat and enabling them to survive in this stagflation economic condition that a significant proportion of the population regards malt drinks as a product meant not for the have – notes.
The study will give natal guides to firms in this industry who have low customer loyalty on how to improve and win more customer in order to remain in the business.
1.6 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
Different brands of malt drinks are consumed in all the thirty – six states of Nigeria, but this study is directed only on consumers in Enugu Urban, in Enugu state. It is believed that these consumers in Enugu urban will make a true representation of the consumer of malt drinks.
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