1.0 Background of the study
The Nigerian mobile telecommunication sub-sector of the economy has often been referred to as the fastest growing market in Africa in many for a. The telecommunication market in the country became very active in 2001 when the Federal Government deregulated the sector. Thus, the telecommunication system which was previously monopolized by the government owned NITEL was opened up with the issuance of Global System for Mobile Communication (GSM) unified license in that year. The deregulation ushered in major telecommunication players like the MTN, AIRTEL (formerly Econet, Vodacom, V-mobile, Zain and Celtel), Glomobile, Etisalat, Visafone, Multilinks, Starcomms and Zoom. Furthermore, the government took steps to regulate the activities of the companies by establishing the Nigeria Communication Commission through the NCC Act of 2003.
With this development, majority of Nigerians today have access to telephony. Available records between October 2011 and September 2012 show a monthly data of 129,088,295 million active subscribers. However, the NCC quarterly reports of September 2012 show active subscribers 0f 103,653,380 million. Of this figure, MTN was said to be leading with 45,639,749 million subscribers followed by Globacom with 22,360,822 million, Airtel, ETISALAT AandMTEL have 21,101,758 and 14,392,531 million and MTEL 258,520 subscribers, GSM network providers have continued to use different advertising tools especially Radio, deploying both English and local languages to persuade prospects to choose their networks.
Notwithstanding, lack of the visuals and the transient nature of radio advertising for instance, experts in the field of advertising see radio as pervasive and a veritable tool in reaching the target audience with advertising messages. This is because radio can entertain people who are driving, walking, working at home and away from home which makes it a medium to reach people who commute by car and adaptable to modes (Arens, Weigold and Arens, 2008). Radio has also continued to play a pivotal role in the dissemination of information about promotional activities of the GSM network providers. Subscribers have also come to associate the networks with their payoffs through advertisement on radio. For instance, MTN goes with the slogan: ʽeverywhere you goʼ, EtisalatʽNow you are talkingʼ, Airtel,ʽfeelfreeʼ, and Gloinfinito advertisement of 25k per second call by Glo for subscribers on its network and Etisalat’sHomezoneare often heard more frequently on radio than any other medium of advertising.
Hawkings, Best and Conney (2001), Belch and Belch (2004), Arens, Weigold and Arens (2008) have also identified reference groups as a major influence on consumer behaviour in making decision.
According to Belch (2004), the presumed perspectives or values of this group are being used by an individual as the basis for his or her judgements, opinions and actions. Reference groups can be personal, that is (family, friends, coworkers) or impersonal (political parties, religious denominations and professional associations) etc.
Notwithstanding, the influence that both advertising and reference groups exert on consumers in making purchase decisions, Perreault, William and McCarthy (2005) argued that economic needs such as: Economy of purchase or use, convenience, efficiency in operation or use, dependability in use and improvement of earnings often also influenced consumers’ behaviour in making purchase decisions. They explained further that physiological variables (motivation, perception, learning, social class, attitude, personality and life style), social influence(family, social class, reference groups and culture) and purchase situations (purchase reason, time and surroundings) all exert influences on behavioural disposition of the consumer when making purchase decisions. Nevertheless, the concern of this study is whether radio advertising and reference groups influence consumers in their choice of GSM network.
1.1 Statement of the Problem
GSM Network providers stepped up the advertisement of their various products and services in their fight to win more costumers and make more profit. They target various consumer groups such as students, bankers, chief executive officers of companies, politicians, traders, artisans and professionals of different fields of endeavour etc. This is not entirely surprising. Studies in the field of advertising suggests that advertising either by above -the-line or below-the-line media and reference groups do exert some influence on consumer purchase decisions (Arens et al,2008; Hawkings et al.2001). However, what is not known in Nigeria is the extent which radio advertising and reference groups influence consumers’ choice of the GSM networks. Thus, the key problem which underlies this study is the extent to which radio advertising and reference groups influence consumers’ choice of GSM networks.
1.2 Objectives of the Study
The objectives of this study are:
1. Ascertain the extent that radio advertising influences consumers’ choice of GSM networks.
2. Identify aspects of radio advertising which appeal more to consumers.
3. Ascertain the extent to which Reference groups influence consumers’ choice f GSM network.
4. Identify which reference groups exert more influence on consumers’ choice of GSM network.
5. Identify factors other than radio advertising and reference groups that influence consumers’ choice of GSM network.
6. Compare the level of influence of radio advertising to reference groups on consumers’ choice of GSM network.
1.3 Research Questions
The study sought to find answers to the following research questions:
1. What is the extent of influence of radio advertising on consumers’ choice of GSM network?
2. What aspect of radio advertising appeals to consumers in their choice of GSM networks?
3. To what extent do reference group influence consumers’ choice of GSM networks?
4. Which reference group exert more influence on consumers’ choice of GSM networks?
5. What factors other than radio advertising and reference group influence consumers’ choice of GSM networks?
6. What is the level of radio advertising compared with reference groups’ influence on consumers’ choice of GSM networks?
The research comparatively assessed radio advertising and reference groups influence on consumers’ choice of GSM networks. The researcher studied the following reference groups: post graduate students in the University of Uyo, lecturers in the University and journalists who, besides practicing in Uyo are members of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), AkwaIbom State Council. These groups are among the known patrons of the GSM networks.
However, this study does not attempt to appraise the reasons behind consumers’ preference for a particular brand choice but a general assessment of how radio advertising and reference group influence consumers’ choice of GSM networks.
1.5 Significance 0f the Study
The relevance of any academic exercise comes from the benefit which other readers and researchers may derive from the work. This research is important because it would add to the local content of any work on the influence of radio advertising and reference groups on consumers’ purchase decision with particulars emphasis on GSM network. Moreover, it is focusing on an emerging area in the field of advertising with regards to to the growing popularity of GSM services.
1.6 Operational Definition of Terms
The researcher intends to define the following terms as would be used in the work.
GSM Networks: This refers to the various licensed companies providing Global System for Mobile Communication Service in Nigeria e.g. Airtel, Etisalat, MTN and Glo. This would be used interchangeably with GSM service providers, network service providers and GSM network service operators.
Reference Groups: These are groups whose presumed perspectives or values are being affected to buy GSM networks. For the purpose of this study, this refers to postgraduate students in the University of Uyo, lecturers in the University of Uyo and journalists who are practicing in Uyo and are members of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), AkwaIbom State Council.
Radio Advertising: This refers to non-personal but paid for communication of information on the products and services of GSM network on radio.