This research work was carried out to show that packaging could serve as a promotion tool in the detergent industry, using PZ Cussons Plc Aba as a case study to arrive at a valid study. The researcher made effort to pin point the role, importance, problems and challenges facing as regard to the packaging practices. Three supermarkets were used in Aba to carry out the survey. To better understand the research topic, the researcher views the opinion and contributions of scholar and experts in various fields as regards the subject matter. The research used descriptive research design to answer the research questions. This was done through collecting primary data to determine the research objectives. The information was collected from a study population of three supermarkets with a total sample of 120 respondents.
Descriptive and inferential statistics was utilized in data analysis. This involved frequency, percentages and chi square tests. Tables and figures provided pictorial representation of the data for the research. Microsoft Excel and Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) were used in data analysis.
From the findings, the respondents confirmed that most the visual elements, informational elements and functional are very critical when designing a package. In order to influence consumer choice on buying trends and patterns, these elements were taken into consideration and exercised. This helped gain competitive advantage.
The main conclusion was that consumers must be involved in the process of packaging so that the right decisions made by manufacturers without making any assumption regarding the final packaging of the detergents.
An important recommendation made from the study was that with numerous technologies coming up that enhanced packaging the functionality of the package was the most important element. Better materials should be taken into consideration due to environmental awareness and safe guard the safety and health of the customers and their households.
Undoubtedly, consumer choice; especially for a consumer-centered marketing, is a significant determinant in the adoption of a firm’s marketing strategy and its performance in the competitive and dynamic environment of global market. According to the marketing concept, organizations have to satisfy consumer preferences so as to make profits. In the realization of this concept, companies must understand their customers’ needs and wants to provide products and services that their customers may purchase and use appropriately. The dynamics of consumer choice makes it difficult, because the thinking, feelings, and actions ofconsumersas well as the entire society at large are constantly dynamic and changing. The importance of ongoing consumer behavior research and analysis is highlighted by the growing fact of constant changes in consumers and their environments (Kolb, 2008).
The effects of globalization on consumer behavior have multiple consequences for the market and marketing strategies. The increase in the world tradeand increasing integration of the world’s major economies will mean that decisions on marketing strategies will continue to be an important issue for academic research and marketing practice (Viswanathan and Dickson, 2007). As Zou and Cavusgil (2002) suggest there is a major gap in literature of generally accepted conceptualization of global marketing strategy. Henceforth, the increasing significance of marketing strategies on organizational performance and the growing impact of globalization on consumer choice and their response and attitudes towards it put companies in a dilemma of adopting variant strategies.
Point of purchase buyer decisions increases the potential for the packaging to influence choice product and communicate to consumers (Clement, 2007). It is said that the best way to make the first impression count is through packaging. The attributes in the packaging of tangible products could help protect your goods and impress your clientele. Protection often results in minimal competition whilst impressed consumers only buy more and more of what you are selling. The packaging design is the driver for a firm’s communication of its goods. These attributes influence buying decisions among consumers and their selection of a single brand from various others on display. According to Rettie and Brewer (2000), packaging is an essential part of the selling process.
Packaging is in itself a sales promotion tool for corporations around the world. A consumer’s buying behavior also stimulated by the packaging visual, informational and functional elements amongst other characteristics. Packaging becomes an ultimate selling proposition, which often stimulates impulse buying behavior. Increases in sales and market share and reductions in market and promotional costs can be brought about by successful packaging. According to Rundh (2005), package appeals to the consumer’s attentiveness towards a certain brand, it goes further to increasing the brand’s image, and stimulates consumer’s perceptions about the product. Packaging conveys distinctive value to products (Silayoi and Speece, 2007). It works as an instrument for differentiation and helps consumers to decide on the product from a wide range of parallel products, while stimulating customer’s buying behavior (Wells, Farley and Armstrong, 2007).
Previous researches show no consensus on the overall classification of packaging elements and how different types of packaging impact on consumer purchase decision. A few researchers try to examine all potential packaging elements and their effect on consumer choice (Butkeviciene, Stravinskiene, and Rutelione, 2008). Others delve into specific elements of packaging and their effects on buyer decision (Ampuero and Vila, 2006; Madden, Hewett and Roth, 2000; Underwood, Klein and Burke, 2001).
The ability to understand consumer response to packaging in Asia is critical to food companies competing globally. This is due to the huge size of the market with its population estimated in the billions. Thailand is one of the leading markets for such trends with its packaged food industry being highly competitive. The Thai industry is a major player in the world market. Thailand is the world’s fifth largest food exporter; more than half of its exports are made to three major markets namely Japan, North America, and Europe (The Nation, 2003). Packaged food products constitute to part of its massive amounts of exports. The rapid growth of modern retailing in Asian markets, where packaging plays a critical role in communication, merchandising and consumer choice, is akeycatalystfor the competitive environment for fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) (The Nation, 2002).
Packaging, along with marketing and high quality raw materials, is one of the three critical areas where SMEs need to develop more expertise (Asawanipont, 2003). A key to maximizing the overall impact of packaging is by understanding consumer view and response to a package. Many observers, among them AC Nielsen which is a prominent international consumer research company, believe that consumers globally are likely to have a roughly similar response to any FMCG, despite their obvious cultural differences (The Nation, 2002). Understanding consumers in one highly competitive market should provide a useful guide for others, even if some details of execution need to differ across countries. Researchers have found numerous elements of behaviour toward FMCG brands to be similar among middle class consumers across a number of Asian markets (Speece, 1998, 2002, 2003). In many respects, consumer choice and preferences in these markets does not seem far off from how Europeans may view brands (Speece, 2000).
A key issue to note is that, in Asia, many consumers are loyal to a small set of FMCG brands, rather than to a single one. Often, hardly half the consumers have made specific brand choices before they enter the convenience store, as a few brands are acceptable to them. In this case it is evident that the package truly is critical for these shoppers hence, it ought to communicate the advantages of the food product inside. Many consumers are becoming more careful shoppers, paying more attention to information about packaged food products (Speece, 2003). This trend, indubitably, is across the board. For instance, in the UK, the Institute of Grocery Distribution [IGD] (2003), established that up from only 13 per cent in 2000 of consumers surveyed, 61 percent now look for product information on food labels.
Certain trends suggest that the demand for convenience will continue increasing as young consumers take their habits with them into old age and such is why it is a key driver for food choice worldwide (IGD, 2002). Research done by IGD (2002)came to a conclusion that more impulsive and impatient consumers have driven the transition toward more informal dining and a decline in the traditional fixed meal times. The trend is quite predominant in middle class populationsto the extent that some popular restaurant chains have found it beneficial, through modern retail stores, to move into distribution of packaged food as their customers do not always have time for a restaurant meal (Jitpleecheep, 2003).
In the African market, the use packaging elements could offer a means to differentiate products and could have a positive effect on consumer purchase decisions. There is increasing interest in these markets with underprivilegedpopulation. This interest is likely to develophigher as African statesintensify their efforts to fight poverty.Traditional higher income markets in South Africa and Egypt face possible strain as an effect of the global economic slowdown (Eighty20, 2009). Although the low-income market is a viable and highly untapped market, Knowledge Resources (2011) cautions that marketers need to take the time to understand Africa and realities of this market since its consumers display specific and unique needs relatively incomparable to the rest of the world. The purchasing power and preferences within this market necessitates that marketers offer more than just a product or brand.
Understanding the choice of consumers who have limited income and infrastructure and live in rural or urban informal settlements provides unique research challenges. The challenges, among which, include limited access to respondents, low literacy levels and language barrier (Huchzermeyer and Karam, 2006). Consequently, there is inadequate research on low-literate consumer shopping behavior. Actually, the purchase choiceof an illiterate consumer has a higher likelihood of being based on implicit assumptions about literate consumer behavior (Gau and Viswanatha, 2008), disregarding the unique nature of the “poor” consumer.
According to Prahalad (2010), “emerging consumers”, those at the “bottom of the pyramid” should not be discredited since they constitute a significant market. Ironically, this market is often either seen as unimportant due to their limited income or exploited by availing to them low cost substandard products (Prahalad, 2010). In addition, in this market, little effort is made to comprehend the consumers’ needs and expectations. The result is a consistently under-served market by the organized private sector. Nonetheless, businesses that have overcome thisskepticism realize that the African market offers viable business opportunities (Prahalad, 2010). A similar opportunity is found in the food industrywherebythe food expenditure of the average household income of consumers in the lower living standard measure (LSM) groups can amount up to 70% (Schönfeldt et al., 2010).
According to Kariuki and Karugu (2014), a successful shopper feels a sense of satisfaction, execution and fulfillment. Emotional and psychological shopping reasons have become the new wave of modern society (Keller, Aperia and Georgeson, 2008). In today’s dynamic and competitive environment, manufacturers are compelled to maintain the products and services up to standard quality in order to satisfy the consumer’s needs and wants and repeat purchase practices in the future especially for the first time buyers. Functional packaging may require necessary development of a nice package design of the product. Previous research evidence has shown that many consumers purchase product based on attractiveness of the product’s origin whereby it satisfies the consumers’ needs (Prahalad, 2006).
The consumer’s decision making process is influenced by internal and external environmental variables. Marketers have to understand these variables so that they know why consumers behave in the manner they do and how theirmindsareinfluenced and conditioned (Subrahmanyan and Gomez, 2008). With more than 900 million consumers in over 54 countries, speaking over 2000 languages, Africa is not a homogenous market where companies can merely import or manufacture products and try to sell to without considering the diversity and complexity of the consumers’ preferences, needs, aspirations and challenges (Mahajan, 2008). Conversely, there has been a paradigm shift, with fresh focus on strategies to serve this market better. Many local and international companies have begun to operate in emerging markets such as Africa (Mahajan, 2008). As African consumer’s progress up the economic pyramid, corporates are increasingly being attracted to this market.
Functionality factors in clearly displaying directions of use, environmentally friendliness as well as safety measures help boost sales of some products in the line of cosmetics, games, aerosol sprays and detergents. Consumers find it important when the product they choose from the counter answers all the questions they have on its ability and degree to satisfy. According to Rettie and Brewer (2004), packaging design and its use as a vehicle for communication and branding is developing as it takes the role of an element of marketing communication. Consumers often look at packaging before they identify the brand especially with FCMGs. This has kept true to a study carried out revealing that approximately 73% of buyer buying decisions are made at the point of sale (Connolly and Davidson, 1996).
It is against the backdrop of this study that the researcher aimed at assessing the influence of packaging as a promotional tool in the detergent industry.
In their study on key factors that influence brand loyalty among soft drink consumers Kirwa, Chandrasekeran, Odera and Ogutu(2013) revealed that product price, customer satisfaction, promotion, cultural background, brand name, promotion, and brand quality were the strongest influencing factors among consumers. According to Kola and Akinyele (2010) creating effective communication with customers was concluded to be the most important aspect in services marketingduring their study of effectiveness of advertising and personal selling in the services sectors. In that respect, the researcher intended to focus on the effect of packaging on consumer choice of washing detergents and mainly concentrateonAba.
Packaging was important as a tool for branding and communication with the target market in the emerging competitive business environment. It was important to have an understanding of consumer behavior toward various products and how packaging came to light as a basis for their buying decisions. The Nigerian market was consistently underserved by the organized private sector owing to little effort made to comprehend the consumers’ needs and expectations especially through packaging. In his study on the fortune at the bottom of the pyramid, Prahalad (2010) advised businesses to overcome this skepticism and realize that the African market offers viable business opportunities.
The main purpose of this research is to determine the effect of packaging on consumer choice of washing detergents in Aba.
The following research hypothesis were used in carrying out the research
- To examine the effect of visual elements of packaging on consumer choice.
- To assess the ways informational elements of packaging affect consumer choice.
- To examine the effect of functional elements of packaging on consumer choice.
- What is the effect of visual elements of packaging on consumer choice?
- How do informational elements of packaging affect consumer choice?
- What is the effect of functional elements of packaging on consumer choice?
1.5 Significance of the Study
In Nigeria, companies like Unilever covering a whole range of household products including detergents, packaging is imperative. The idea is to sell to their diverse clientele from different cultures. Consequently, for the company, the visual, informational and functional elements of the package can help them have a competitive advantage over Proctor and Gamble, Bidco Oil and other manufacturers.
This study provides proper guidelines for marketers in packaging their products. The research gives an intense understanding of the effect of informational, visual and functional elements on consumer choice. This will help marketers arrive at decisions on the marketing communications tools they could use on the packaging of their products to create the intended influence on their target consumers. The study is designed to appreciate packaging as a vital marketing promotional tool.
The research will help in the assessment of the effect of packaging on consumer choice. More specifically, the research will investigate the influence of informational packaging on consumer choice, the effect of packaging according to functionality and finally assess the influence visual packaging had on consumer choice. These three elements of packaging were typified each into two groups to examine their effect on product choices made by the end user.
The study was meant to understand the effect of packaging on consumer choice. The specific area of study was the choice of washing detergents by consumers in Aba. The research reviewed responses from shoppers in three major supermarkets in the Central Business District; namely Central, Metropolitan and Landmark supermarkets using PZ Cussons plc detergent products. In each supermarket, forty respondents were sampled for the questionnaire, giving a total of 120 respondents used for data collection. The research was carried out in the month of September to December.
This survey experienced limitations in non-cooperative respondents that were not willing to take the questionnaire while others experienced difficulty understanding the questions. These shortcomings were mitigated by offering incentives to respondents who took part in the survey. The researcher bought a 50g packet of additional detergent that the consumer purchased. The questionnaires underwent validation by pretesting so as to reduce ambiguity of the questions and ensure the respondents easily comprehended and responded with ease.
Packaging includes any package or container by which necessary information about a product is communicated to consumers or marketed for sale (Rousta, Venus, Davar and Ebahimi, 2006).
1.7.2 Visual Elements
Visual elements are the properties that affect the emotions of consumer the way they transmit the information which include color and material quality (Silayoi and Speece, 2007).
1.7.3 Informational Elements
Informational elements can be defined asdata that is accurate forms the basis of the product in the packaging (Lamela and Krigen, 2001)
A consumer is a person that acquires goods or services for direct use or ownership rather than for resale or use in production and manufacturing as defined by Silayoi and Speece (2007).
1.7.5 Functional Elements
Functional elements includes the particular purpose of the packaging as opposed to the product itself in terms of the quality and structure (Orth and Malkewitz, 2008)
The decision to package enabled corporates create the right clout leading to profitability and a competitive brand presence in the dynamic business environment. At the same time the wrong package for tangible goods could have led to negative balance sheets and a landslide plunge into bankruptcy due to cash flow problems. However, studies on packaging concentrated more on visual elements in relation to the finances and performance of the corporate rather than the effect packaging had on the consumer choosing the product. In spite of the uncertainty, marketers and corporate owners packaged their products without doing proper research on consumer choice.
Chapter Two went through previous studies done by researchers on the subject of packaging. The relationship between consumer choice and packaging was reviewed in detail through data collection in Chapter Three. Thereafter data analysis was carried out in Chapter four whereby the data that was collected was presented in tables and figures. Chapter Five was important in discussing the data and making conclusion sand recommendations for future research.
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