Effectiveness Of Sales Promotional Activities Education Essay

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Remenyi et al described research report as a scholarly enquiry involving a careful and diligent search. Research involves resolving a problem and the method by which this research is carried out reflects on the outcome. Research methodology involves all the necessary procedures by which a research is carried out. The way a research is carried out depends on the philosophical assumptions of the researcher (Gill and Jonson, 2002: 162). However, for a researcher to make positive impact in his research, he has to make a decision as to what approach best suits his research. Crotty (1998, cited in Creswell, 2003: 4) came up with four questions that guide the choice of a research approach. 1) What does the knowledge of epistemology (for instance, objectivism and subjectivism) incorporated with the theory tells the researcher? 2) What philosophical approach (positivism, interpretivism, critical theory etc) supports the methodology in question? 3) What approach (experimental research, Survey, ethnography) connects the methodology with the desired outcomes? 4) What methods, techniques and procedures (e.g. interviews, questionnaires, focus groups etc) could be adequately used for the research.

Creswell (2003) worked on the above idea and came up with approaches to take in designing research proposal which include: the ability to prove the knowledge claims brought to the study; consideration of the intending method of research that will be used; and identifying major approaches. In consideration of the objectives of this research set out in the first chapter, the elements of the research design are subsequently discussed.


3.2 AIMS AND OBJECTIVES

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The aims and objectives of this research work significantly influenced the research methodology and approach chosen in carrying out this research. This research examines the effectiveness of sales promotional activities in Benjack communications

group to gain and sustain a competitive advantage over its competitors. The following objectives helped in achieving this aim were;

  • Review in general existing literatures and models underlying sales promotional activities and practices.

  • Identify and critically evaluate the sale promotional practices of Benjack Communications limited, its effect on the company growth and performance and draw conclusions based on findings.

  • The impact of the sales promotional tools on the customers' perception of promotion.

  • Make necessary recommendations on measures to be taken to achieve positive promotional outcomes.

As mentioned above, the research questions contribute greatly on the selection of the approaches and techniques. Maylor and Blackmon (2005) describe these questions as a major influence on the research design and a guiding rules for the research in general. According to Saunders et al (2007), the answers to research questions could be descriptive or explanatory in nature. The research questions for this research are:

  1. To what extent have sales promotional activities impacted on the growth of Benjack communications group?

  2. How efficient and effective have sales promotional activities contributed in giving the organisation an edge over its competitors?

3.3 RESEARCH PHILOSOPHY

Saunders et al (2003) describe research philosophy as the way knowledge is evolved and the manner the research is carried out. It describes the procedures of learning and knowledge. From the philosophical point of view, researchers look into knowledge

(ontology), how this knowledge is known (epistemologies), the contributing value of the knowledge (axiology), how it is written about (rhetoric) and the method of studying it (Creswell, 1994 in Creswell 2003). The two main paradigms: functionalist and interpretative as described by Creswell (1994) for carrying out management research will be both employed in this research. They are therefore described in details below:

Positivism

Positivism also known as functionalism measures and evaluates phenomena with the intention of providing rational explanation for it. In this case, a philosophical stance of the natural scientist is always adopted (Saunders et al, 2007). It is a philosophy of causes and effects. Researchers that usually adopt this philosophy prefer to work with observable social reality and the end product of such research could be law-like generalisations similar to those produced by natural scientists (Remenyi et al, 1998:32). According to Gill and Johnson (1997), in this approach, considerations are given to well structure methodology to facilitate replication and make quantifiable observations for easy statistical analysis.

A lot of arguments as to incorporate the natural science model for the study of the society have risen. However, Creswell (2003), argues that since natural science models tends to have a positivist overtones, then positivism should be the primary focus rather than the account of scientific practices. Positivism involves the application of intensive research, complex analysis and proofing of theories to produce credible interpretations. Positivism contribute to a generalised body of knowledge that could be classified as valid and reliable, however, the idea and bases of all paradigms has to been regarded as basic ideology since there is no independent reference points for determining validity (Hassard and Pym, 1990). When compared with the other paradigms, positivism has a superior theoretical focus and greater ease of control of the research process. The data is easy to collect and compare respectively. However, the drawback of this paradigm is that it does not guarantee the meaning that people attach to social phenomena.

3.3.1 Phenomenology

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Phenomenology is concerned with the belief that people have on the world and its interpretation which assists them to give meaning to what they perceive (Buttery and Buttery, 1991). Phenomenological paradigm considers human behaviour from the reference point of participants' knowledge. It approaches research from the view point that human behaviour could not be easily measured as a phenomenon in the natural sciences. Phenomenology respects human and individual differences and focuses well on the subjective meaning of social action. According to Creswell (2003), there are variations in these meaning and leads the researcher to complex views rather than human narrowing meaning into a few categories of ideas.

In phenomenology, the concept of others have about the world is interpreted by the researcher. When compared with positivism, phenomenological approach of research develops a theory of pattern of meaning. According to Crotty (1998, cited in Creswell, 2003), human beings construct meanings as they engage with the world they are interpreting; they engage in their world and make sense of it based on their historical and social view. The positives that could be taken from phenomenology includes: It helps in understanding how and why; it assists researchers to observe changes as they occur on the course of the research. It identifies with the social processes. However, the collection of data can be time consuming, and there is no guarantee that clear patterns will emerge. Another draw back is its difficulty in difficulty in analysing the data, and non researchers do not recognise it. Considering the fact that positivist and phenomenological paradigms are different, researchers may adopt approaches or methodologies to carry out their work guided by the philosophy they regard appropriate. Table 3.1 below shows the differences between the two paradigms.

Table 3.1 Contrasted features of the two research philosophies

 

Positivism

Phenomenology

The Observer

Must be independent

Is part of what is being observed

Human interests

Should be irrelevant

Are the main drivers of science

Explanations

Must demonstrate causality

Aim to increase general understanding of the situation

Research progresses through

Hypothesis and deductions

Gathering rich data from which ideas are induced

Concepts

Need to be operationalised so that they can be measured

Should incorporate stake holder perspectives

Units of analysis

Should be reduced to simplest terms

May include the complexity of whole situations

Generalization through

Statistical Probability

Theoretical abstraction

Sampling requires

Large numbers selected randomly

Small numbers of cases chosen for specific reasons

Source: Esterby-Smith, et al., (2002)


3.3 RESEARCH STRATEGY: CASE STUDY APPROACH

Many researchers use the case study method to contribute to individual or organisational knowledge. Due to the need to understand complex social phenomena, the use of case study strategy has been adopted firmly by many researchers. Robson (1993) refers to case study as building and developing intensive knowledge about a single case or small number of cases. It gives the opportunity to study a certain group or organisation in details and it involves gathering and analysing information which could be qualitative and quantitative in nature. Case study allows researchers to put together the meaningful features of real life outcomes such as personal life cycles, small group behaviour, organisational and managerial process, international relations and maturation of industries.

Since this research is focused mainly on the use of sales promotional tools to gain and sustain a competitive advantage among the competitors, case study approach was the ideal strategy for this study. Also, retail sector of the telecommunications was seen as a primary tier of telecommunications in Nigeria; therefore a small unit when compared with major operators of telecommunications in Nigeria. In this research, case study is selected due to the great need to examine contemporary issues regarding the use of sales promotional tools in Benjack communications group as an organisation to gain and sustain competitive advantage among its competitors.

This research utilised semi-structured interviews between the researcher and the organisation being studied; in this case, Benjack communications group. The unit strength of the case study approach is its capacity to deal with full variety of evidence such as documents, artefacts, interviews and observations has led to selecting it as the suitable research strategy for this research. However, a draw back with case study approach is that sometimes it lacks rigor and the researcher might be sloppy. Also, it may not follow systematic procedure and could allow biased view to influence the direction of the researcher's findings. It could also take too long and results in reading volumes of unwanted documents.


3.4 QUANTITATTIVE AND QUALITATTIVE METHODS

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There are different methods of collecting data and analysing it. Usually, the research objectives and philosophy greatly play a significant role in the choice of the method used in research. Blanche and Durrheim (1999), lists certain criteria that form the basis of the approach used; whether the research wants to proof a theory or come up with a theory; considering numeric and non numeric data set; the use of close ended and open ended questionnaire. Whatever the method, the research objectives has to agree with research methods and research philosophy.

3.4.1 Quantitative methods

Quantitative method utilises functionalist philosophical views for developing knowledge. Creswell (2003) lists these functionalisms as: use of measurements, observations, test of hypothesis and cause and effect thinking. In quantitative methods, the investigator carries out inquiry via experiments, surveys and statistical data. Quantitative analysis enables researchers to carry out inquiry using descriptive statistics, the measurement of similarities and differences and data could also be calculative in nature (Easterby-smith et al, 2002). Partington (2002) points out that quantitative approach has the advantage of linking analytical approach with data sets. It presents data in form of graphical approach or complex statistical procedures. Information obtained via interviews and semi structured questionnaires could be converted into numerical data set.

3.4.2 Qualitative methods.

In this method, data is collected in a unique way and it is used in the constructivists approach of research methods. Partington (2002) stated that the constructivists do not make use of numbers as in the case of positivisms rather data set are collected in the form of words and observations. In this approach also, personal views and opinions are highly respected. Descombe (1998) emphasised that interpretation of data depends on the way they are perceived by people and data do not pre exist as in the case of the functionalists approach. Saunders et al (2003) pointed out that management sciences use qualitative data to collect data in the form of the following; Organisations documents; unstructured interviewing, and structured interviews.

As the researcher progresses in his work, data are emerged and themes are formed. All the data in qualitative approach are collected with sense of reality and links events and peoples activities effectively. Since this research aims at investigating the use of promotional tools to gain and sustain a competitive advantage by Benjack communications group, the researcher would use telephone interviews to seek management views on the research questions, this method will apply in this research. However, both the quantitative and qualitative approach are applied in this research work as both complement each other. The contrasting views of quantitative and qualitative approaches are given in table 3.2 below.

Table 3.2 Contrasting views between quantitative and qualitative research methods


Quantitative

Qualitative

Role

Preparatory

Means to explore author's interpretations

Relationship between researcher and subject

Distant

Close

Researchers stance in relation to subject

outsider

Insider

Relationship between theory/ concepts and research

Confirmation

Emergent

Research strategy

Structured

Unstructured

Scope of findings

Homothetic

Ideographic

Image of social reality

Static and external to actor

Processual and socially constructed by actor

Nature of Data

Hard reliable

Rich, deep

Source: Bryman and Bell (2003).


3.5 RESEARCH INSTRUMENTS

Saunders et, al (2007) asserts that data collection is a very useful aspect of research and the method of data collection depends on the type of research carried out. Data collection could be primary or secondary. Saunders (2007) defined primary data as those data collected for the specific purpose of a particular research work while Groucutt (2005), assert that secondary data are based on materials that has already been gathered and analysed. Secondary data sources could be available to firms through external and internal sources. The range of internal information are sales history, payment history, inventories and research report while external information are available via commercial research reports produced by independent research companies, company directories, competitor information, government and industry sources (Groucutt, 2005). Primary data will be obtained from the staff and management of Benjack communications group using qualitative approach consisting of telephone interviews and semi structured questionnaires while secondary data would be obtained from the firm by the method specified by Groucutt (2005). These techniques' can be critically evaluated in details below;

3.6.1 Questionnaires

White (2002) describe questionnaire as a research instrument that are made up of a series of questions; with each question having alternative view of the answers, enabling the respondents to have a variety of choice which enables the researcher to have data in a systematic and arranged manner. Although they are often designed for statistical analysis of the responses, this is not always the case. Well written and adequately constructed questionnaires become a very useful approach by which statements can be made about specific groups, people or entire populations. In quantitative marketing research, questionnaires play a vital role in information gathering. The success of an effective survey depends mainly on good questionnaire construction.

The answers provided by the respondents would be assessed and analysed statistically. Both close and open questions are analysed but in closed questions, data analysis could be easy but shallow. Open questions on the other hand are explained in details with a complex analysis. Analysis could be in the form of charts, diagrams and this is known as simple descriptive statistics. While complex mathematical procedures and statistical test of significance are associated with inferential statistics (White, 2002).The design of a particular questionnaire is usually affected by the type of statistical methods that would be adopted by researchers. White (2002) advised that the choice of early type of statistical choice is necessary to aid proper design of the questionnaire. Questionnaires should be designed as to make the respondent away of what is really required of him and the respondent would understand the questions with the purpose of the questionnaire properly stated.

As a quantitative research approach, the use of an e-mailed questionnaire would be used in this enquiry. The researcher choose to use this technique because the researcher is studying presently in the UK and Benjack communications group limited is an organisation incorporated in the federal republic of Nigeria. However, the researcher has made contacts with his friend who is one of the managers in the company to print out and distribute the questionnaire to the people concerned. Also, the researcher has made formal contacts with the management of Benjack communications group limited and explained in details the purpose of the study; assuring them that the outcome of the research would not in anyway jeopardise the running of the organisation and that information supplied either by telephone or questionnaire would be treated confidentially. Also, the friend of the researcher is to make sure the questionnaire are filled properly and sent to the researcher via the post office. This strategy would enable the researcher work within his budget and time limits.

For the purpose of this study, the questionnaire is designed to reflect the research objectives, research questions and is mainly closed questions. In an interview, the interviewee may at the time of the interview give additional or vital information regarding the research, however in questionnaires, the respondents only answer questions asked them. The data obtained through questionnaires usually is complimented by that obtained through semi-structured interviews. Data obtained through questionnaire would be subjected to statistical analysis. Useful information is converted to numerical data sets, which represents the same results. Information obtained via questionnaire in this research would be subjected to statistical analysis. Robson (1993:243) pointed out that a draw back in the use of questionnaire is that the honesty and seriousness of questions given in questionnaire could not be verified.

3.6.2 Interviews

Interviews are a primary research technique used in data collection. Interviews are usually done face to face or by telephone. An interviewer asks an interviewee a series of questions that might be quantifiable (Groucutt, 2005). Saunders et al (2007) asserts that interviews can be structured, semi-structured or even unstructured. Bryman (2001) describes unstructured interviews effective as it gives the interviewer the opportunity to a wider view of the area of the researcher's interest. In this research, a telephone interview would be adopted as the research approach. The principal marketing manager and a human resource manager in Benjack communications group will be selected for the telephone interview. All the questions are aimed at arriving at the two main research questions stated earlier in the first chapter. Letters of request will be sent to the prospective interviewees prior to the interview.

However, there are drawbacks associated with this approach; in the case of this study, small sample of a marketing manager and a human resource manger that will be chosen for telephone interview constitute a small sample and unrepresentative. Telephone interviews however lack personal relationship and undermine trust and certain crucial questions may be dodged. To bridge this gap, the researcher would review the issues raised by the interviewee at the end of the interview.


3.7 ETHICAL CONSIDERATIONS

In any inquiry where the respondents are to return a feed back to the researcher, it is necessary to seek consent before undertaking such inquiry. In this research, the respondents would be informed that all inquiry concerning them would be kept confidential and none of their details would be revealed publicly. The aim of this research would be properly explained to the respondents; they would be assured that their participation is not compulsory and that they can withdraw at any point in the research process. In cases where sexuality and age are mentioned, the consent of the respondent would be sought before revealing such information. Also, they would be assured that under no circumstances would there names be revealed in any stage of this research. These practises agree with the work of Collins and Hussey (2003) who posited that all the respondents should be consulted and their consent sought throughout the research process. All the respondents would be aged 18 and above and are not mentally disabled in any way. This is in line with the ethical considerations of the University of Wales Lampeter.


3.8 SECONDARY DATA SOURCES

Groucutt (2005) describe secondary data as "data that has already been gathered and analysed. Companies could have access to secondary data through external and internal sources. Secondary data sources are very important as they compliment information obtained from semi-structured interview and questionnaire. Sounders (2003) describe secondary data sources as data available to organisations internally. These documents include inventory records, notices to share holders, books, journals and articles. For the purpose of this research, documentations from Benjack communications group ltd documented policies available to the researcher would be accessed to gain an in depth background information of promotional practices and policies of the organisation. This information would be gathered by examining and reviewing the organisations regulatory booklets, handbooks, staff manual and other legal public notification and regulations governing promotional policies of Benjack communications group ltd. The contrasted features of secondary data are shown in table 3.3 below

Table 3.3 Contrasted features of o Secondary data

advantages of secondary data

The disadvantages of secondary data

  • May possess little resource requirements

  • Longitudinal studies may be realistic

  • Can be a source of detailed data set.

  • Can result in an unexpected discoveries

  • Data may appear stable.
  • May be collected for different motives other than the intended research

  • Obtaining information may not be easy or expensive

  • Explanations and reliability may not be substantiated.

  • Researcher has no control of the data.

  • Fundamental motives may affect data presentation.

  • Source: Saunders et al., (2003)


    3.9 VALIDITY AND RELIABILITY

    Validity refers to the extent to which a research accurately reflects the conceptual ideas that the author is attempting to investigate (Bryman and Bell, 2003). Validity could be external or internal. External validity is the level at which the outcome of a study are generalizable or transferable. Campbell and Stanley (1966) describe external validity as the level at which the outcome of a study are generalisable or transferrable. They listed internal validity as the following: the rigor with which the study was done for instance, the extent of the design, precautions during measurements and factors leading to effective conclusions; the extent to which the researcher has considered alternative research approach that might be used in case the actual methodology becomes unreliable.

    Reliability is the extent to which data collected or experiment carried out or any measuring procedure can give consistency of result when the trial is repeated or the degree of transparency of the outcome of a research considering the raw data (Saunders et al, 2003). To ensure reliability, their should be coherence in the research tools and procedures adopted for the research. According to Bryman and Bell (2003), stability, internal reliability and inter-observer consistency are factors that characterise effective reliability. Bryman and bell (2003) stated that validity is a measure of reliability. For the reliability and validity of this research, effort would be made to ensure that interviews would compliment the questionnaire as to ensure that the respondent's contributions are valid. Saunders et al (2003), confirm that validation is proper when the respondents are able to confirm what they responded to.


    3.10 PILOT STUDY

    Pilot testing is an important method a researcher uses to ensure that the questionnaire would give the expected outcome. The questionnaire would be filled in by one of the management staff of Benjack communications group who would in turn suggest areas of adjustment before the questionnaire would be distributed to all the respondents involved. This process ensures that there is no form of obstacles or misunderstanding of the questions that can emanate when answering the questions or recording the answers by the respondents (Saunders et al, 2007).


    3.11 SAMPLING AND PROCEDURE

    Sampling is an important and fundamental technique in research. A population of a particular study would be very ambiguous to analyse. Good sampling methods are viewed as a representative of the population and Bryman (2001) stated that for a sampling to be representative; all the elements of the population must be sufficiently represented. For the purpose of this research, a marketing manager and a human resource manager and 28 staff of Benjack communications group would be expected to participate in answering the questionnaire. The two managers selected to participate in the telephone interview are also expected to participate in answering the questions in the questionnaire. 40 customers of Benjack communications ltd would also be selected to participate in another questionnaire designed to know how promotional activities carried out by Benjack communications group affects their purchase intentions. In all, 70 questionnaires would be distributed by the researcher's friend who is also part of the management team.


    3.12 STRENGTHS OF THE CHOSEN METHODOLOGY

    This research is investigating the use of sales promotional tools to gain and sustain a competitive advantage in a competitive environment by Benjack communications group. Qualitative distribution of the questionnaire to 30 company staff and 40 customers gave the data a superior analytical standing. Also, the qualitative analytical technique employed in this research followed strongly the fundamental set of research aims arriving at more objective conclusions.

    Another advantage of this research methodology is that it would utilise both the quantitative and qualitative analytical methods. The quantitative method would ensure high level of reliability of the data that would be employed in the course of the analysis while qualitative method would be helpful in obtaining more in depth information about how promotion are done in Benjack communications group and its relationship with the performance of the company.

    A combination of this methodology helps the researcher to understand issues from the point of view of the people involved. The use of questionnaire to gain company knowledge from the staff justifies this methodology. Since the researcher's foreman is also part of the management team, the issue of the difficulty in accessing some of the company's documents has been resolved.


    3.13 LIMITATIONS OF THE METHODOLOGY

    The fact that this research has presented a strong strength in the methodology employed did not mean that there are no draw backs of the chosen method. One of the most prominent of these drawbacks lies in the constraints originating from time and finances which affects logistical and resource provisions. This research would face the problem of only using the possible outcomes from the respondents as outlined in the research proposal to analyse the data set.


    AN INVESTIGATION INTO THE USE OF SALES PROMOTIONAL TOOLS BY AN ORGANISATION TO GAIN AND SUSTAIN A COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE IN THE MARKET PLACE: A CASE STUDY OF BENJACK COMMUNICATIONS GROUP LIMITED.

    CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION

    1.1 RESEARCH OVERVIEW

    This chapter gives an introduction into the background of the study. It also provides a brief background of sales promotion and mobile telephony in Nigeria with particular interest in the retail sector of the telecommunications system in eastern Nigeria. Brief promotional activities of Benjack communications group which is the central focus of this research was expounded in this chapter. It provides the research significance of this study which gives an insight into the consequences of using sales promotional tools to gain and sustain a competitive advantage in the retail sector of telecommunications in Eastern Nigeria. An overview of sales promotion was also made in this chapter, its functions in marketing management was also explained fully. The research objectives and questions were also presented in this chapter as well as their significance. The principle intent of this chapter was therefore to provide the reader with the introductory knowledge of what the dissertation aims to achieve and the subsequent key chapters in order of appearance so as to provide guidance in inspecting the details.


    1.2 SALES PROMOTION AND BENJACK COMMUNICATIONS GROUP.

    Companies and Organisations use various strategies to enhance or build a sustainable profile of their products and services in the mind of the customer. One of the ways organisations do this is through promotion. Promotion is a form of marketing communications strategy that employs various methods to get a targeted audience with a specific massage to achieve specific organisational objectives. According to Groucutt (2005), almost all organisations whether for profit or not for profit oriented in all types of industries, engage in some form of promotional activities to enhance their productivity.

    Benjack communications group, the wholly local retail telecommunications net work in eastern Nigeria are known for their various promotional activities which gives customers an oppturnunity to win amazing prizes. In March, 30th 2006, Mr Andy Okeke, the group managing director of Benjack communications group acknowledged that the promotional approach of the firm is one in a million and supreme when

    Compared with its competitors in the retail communication industry in eastern Nigeria. In 2006 alone, Benjack communications group spent a whooping fifty million naira on promotion, which many described as extraordinary in the history of promotions in the eastern Nigeria. Continuing Mr. Andy Okeke alleged that promotions is the firm's way of saying thank you to old customers for their patronage and the new customers for choosing the most innovative retail communications company. Benjack communications group believes in offering the best products, perfect after sales services and ensuring that they keep what they promise. All these efforts are geared towards efficient promotional strategies and to ensure maximum return on capital invested on promotions (Benjack quarterly report, 2006).

    In June 2009, Benjack communications group started an innovative promotion channelled towards improving the lives of its customers. Labelled enter 4 thousands" promo. The innovative promotional offers generated 50 winners from the customers they have already and also potential customers. The innovative promotional offer which lasted between June and August is one of the largest promotions in Eastern Nigeria in terms of cash pay out. Fifty lucky winners were picked in daily draws during the course of the promo. A bonus winner of one hundred and fifty thousand naira was drawn every two weeks for twelve weeks. Prizes of free air time worth one million naira were also given out to customers while the total price pay out was over five million naira. Speaking at the lunch of the promotion, the executive director marketing Mr. Mathew Eke explained that the promotion was being organised to reach out to the company's large number of customers, touch their lives and reward them for their patronage. The Benjack "enter for thousands'' is a sms text based promotions that requires customers to send text to a short code and accumulate points in order to qualify for the two weekly draws. The promotion ran from June 6 2009 to September 6 2009 (Benjack quarterly report, 2009).

    Since Benjack communications group started operations in February 2001, it has become a leader in the retail sector of the telecommunications industry, bringing changes that have afforded Nigerians the benefits of telecommunications and information technology and spurred national development. Lunching in 2001, Benjack communications group changed the retail sector of the telecommunications sector in the eastern Nigeria with outstanding value and added services, making

    telephony accessible and affordable. It has a status as one of the fastest growing retail telecommunications providers in eastern Nigeria and their aim is that Benjack communications would also gain grounds as the best retail sector of the telecommunications in Nigeria. Benjack communications group sponsors the local youth football team in eastern Nigeria and encourages other youth sports in eastern Nigeria. Benjack communications sponsored the communication quiz in many secondary schools in eastern Nigeria as well as the biggest cultural festival in secondary schools in 2008.


    1.3 THE GROWTH OF SALES PROMOTION

    Really competitive market places influence marketers to increase their spending on sales promotion. In 1992 alone the total promotional spending was $177 billion and this spending is growing at an annual rate of 8 percent. Since promotions have been shown to have a significant sales impact, sales promotion for instance are extensively employed by manufacturers and retailers as they encourage the inducement of brand switching, increase purchases, and expand overall sales. Accordingly, sale promotion is an action focused marketing affair whose reason is to have a direct impact on the behaviour of the firm's customers (Blattberg and Neslin, 1990).

    The great influence of marketing promotion is such that firms spend proportions of their budgets on promotion. Regardless of the risk of high level expenses which have led to better-quality establishment like Procter and Gamble to cut down promotional expenses dramatically and bringing in everyday low price approach yet many companies spend billions on sales promotion every year. Many sales and manufacturing organisations continue to allocate almost 75 percent of their marketing communications budgets on promotional activities. Mathew, (1996) show that promotion expenditure rose to 58 percent compared with 50 percent in world markets. It is not amazing though that brand managers carry on to assign such a huge proportions of their marketing budgets to promotional activities.

    A number of reasons have been suggested for the rising recognition of sales promotions. A key feature according to Dickson and Sawyer, (1990) is the changing relationship with advertising. Typically, they were seen as substitute to one another with promotions seen as the poor relation. This has transformed as increased use by market leaders, such as Heinz and McDonald's has given promotion new found respectability and as nowadays, the prices paid on advertising are very expensive. Nestlé's Lean cuisine discarded TV ads to centre its marketing on below the line promotions. This resulted in an increase in volume share of 47.1 percent and 1.7 per cent increase in value in market. The two techniques are also more and more seen as complementary, with rising amounts of media advertising being devoted to messages about sales promotion offers, rather than brands themselves (Peattie 1998).


    1.4 MOBILE TELEPHONY IN NIGERIA.

    Today, telecommunication industries use different promotional strategies to create, exploit and sustain its competitive advantages vis-à-vis rivals.

    Recent universal growth in network communications and tele-accessibility reflects the central function telecommunications plays in economic growth. Global telephone lines increased from 519 million to 692 million between 1990 and 1995 and main telephone line per 100 inhabitants increased from 9.9 to 12.1. In developing countries, these growth rates are more pronounced. For instance, between 1990 and 1995, African telephone lines increased at the average annual rate of 7.9 percent sand tele-density at 4.9 percent (ITU, 1997).

    As at 1950, the total telephone lines in Nigeria was estimated at 15,000 for a population of above 40 million, with connections to 98 local exchanges. When the population of Nigeria grew to about 45 million by 1960 the year Nigeria attained independence, the total number of telephone lines increase to 18,724. After independence, there was a massive plan to boost telephony in Nigeria. This boosted telephone lines up to 200,000. Telephone services provided by the operators were very poor. Telephone was regarded a luxury and for the very rich in the society. Only rare Nigerians, highly placed government officials and members of the diplomatic corps could use telephone.

    In 1985 the Nigeria Telecommunications limited was established with the aim of coordinating the general telecommunication's development and provide effective and affordable services. In the year 2000, NITEL had only 500,000 lines available to more than a 100 million Nigerians. NITEL was in control of the sector and its services were very inefficient and a colossal failure (Fatoki, 2005). Telecommunication remained very poor equaling 1 telephone line to 440 inhabitants, well below the recommended teledensity of 1 telephone line to 100 inhabitants by the international Telecommunication Union (Fatoki, 2005) while the sole instrument of regulation was the wireless telegraphy act of 1961, and 1993 (Nigerian Tribune, 2003).

    Nigeria has had very limited telephone net work for many years and as at 1998, the lists in waiting was estimated over 10 million people waiting for there telephone to be installed(Nigerian Tribune, 2003).

    At present the telecommunications industry is therefore enjoying a major focus in Nigeria and promises to be one of the top rising sectors of the Nigerian's economy. This boost in telecommunication was due to a wide range of factors including the government deregulation strategy, global trend of fast progress in telecommunications and information technology and the fast development of the Nigerian market. Since the last decade, the telecommunications industry in Nigeria has gone digital and Nigerian telecommunications plc (NITEL) has invested huge money for this purpose (http://www.ncc.gov.ng/speeches presentation 02/11/09).

    To increase telephone density rapidly and set up modern facilities to meet the demands of the local and international business community, A deal of about 600 million US Dollars would be required per annum for net work development in Nigeria. Since the task of increasing telephony was huge in terms of the financial involvement required, it is therefore determined that government alone was incapable of making this kind of deal. In 1992, the federal government of Nigeria came to a conclusion that the best way to tackle the problem was to deregulate the telecom industries to attract private sector investment in the industry. This development led to the establishment of private telecommunications in Nigeria. Nigeria started the process of deregulating the Nigerian communications sector by establishing the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) in 1992. It is an effective firm that has changed the face of communications sector in Nigeria as it has issued a substantial number of telecommunication licenses for local operators, to regional and national operators' licences which compete with the old monopoly operator-NITEL (Nigerian, Tribune, 2003).

    Private telecommunications operators (PTOs) came into the scene and started commercial operations in 1998 (Nigerian tribune, 2003). In total, about 96 private telecommunications operators at present are connected to various exchanges of NITEL in Lagos. Of all these operators, 20 are engaged in core telecommunications business whereas 76 are involved in offering communications related services, prepaid services, voice over internet protocol (VOIB), among other services. The private network service providers for which Benjack Communications group retails for are the big names in mobile communication in Nigeria which include MTN, GLOBACOM, NITEL and STARCOM. . Since the deregulation of the telecommunications industry, the number of telephone lines has grown from about 400, 00 to approximately 30 million users. In addition to increasing the tele-density ratio in the country, telecom industry has created employment and spurred growth in ancillary industry (Nigerian tribune, 2003).

    Uko (2004) stated that the telecommunications sub sector has reduced to a greater extent the rate of unemployment in Nigeria.. Since introduction of mobile telephony in 2001, some 40,000 people have gained meaningful employment in the communications industry, however, the number employed indirectly by the GSM companies are numerous because scores of new businesses have emerged due to the sub sectors. Various jobs have been created form the establishment of various forms of dealership, cell phone vendors, and suppliers of accessories. A very important facet of deregulations system is that it has to a great extent abridged the need and regularity of travelling of those who have mobile phones. Instead of travelling to deliver messages, people just make call and this has also abridged the incidence of road accidents in Nigeria. Mobile phone shops owned by marketers are often used by those who do not have a personal phone and line to make a call. These retail shops are located in different cities rendering mobile phone services. They also render other services such as sale of mobile lines, credit recharge cards, antennas and services of mobile phones. At present, it costs between NGN 6,000 to NGN 78, 000 to purchase a mobile handset in Nigeria. Due to poverty and economic nature of the country, not everyone can afford the amounts quoted above. For instance, low income earners, peasant farmers, and students amongst others find it really difficult to afford these costs. It should be noted that it costs between NGN 30.00 to 35.00 in most mobile phone shops per minute to access and use mobile phones.


    1.5 AIMS OF THE RESEARCH

    Nigeria telecommunication is mainly prepaid and to encourage calls, operators regularly run promotions. Retailers to these operators are increasingly using different promotional tools such as advertising, direct marketing, sales promotion, product placement, public relations and word of mouth to market their products and services and to have a huge edge over their competitors. All these promotional activities occur in a progressively more competitive environment. Retailers have seen the need to showcase their products and services successfully given that the prices and offers given by most retailers are comparable. Due to the fact that every retailer offers almost similar products, it becomes reasonable for customers to shop at their convenient shop.

    Benjack communications group use a lot of promotional mix to build a host of competitive advantages and achieve superior performances in the retail sector of the telecommunications industry in Nigeria. Benjack communications group derives its success from its numerous promotional activities which has always geared towards profit maximisation, maximum yield as well as standing out from the crowd by gaining a competitive edge amongst other competitors. As a result of their many promotional activities, the company has attracted lots of customers and have dominated other retail communication companies in eastern Nigerian zone precisely.

    Investing money in sales promotion generally brings no guarantee of success. The key challenge for marketers seeking to gain competitive advantage through promotions is to choose a promotional tool which is suitable for the brand that they manage and the market within which it exists, and to execute the promotion perfectly. Despite these successes achieved by Benjack communications group, the extent at which sales promotional tools particularly has contributed to the rapid growth of Benjack communications group has not been adequately verified, also research on the use of sales promotional tools by retailers of telecommunications in Nigeria to gain and sustain a competitive advantage in the market place is very scanty. Hence, findings from the present study could add to the body of empirical knowledge on sales promotion in Nigeria especially in the retail sector of the telecommunication in Nigeria.

    This research aims at examining the effectiveness of sales promotional activities in Benjack communications group to gain and sustain a competitive advantage over its competitors. This study argues that sales promotional activities will impact positively on the growth of Benjack communications group since the presence of other retailers will strengthen the perception of competition. Accordingly, the following two research questions will be examined.

    1. To what extent have sales promotional activities impacted on the growth of Benjack communications group?

    2. How efficient and effective have sales promotional activities contributed in giving the organisation an edge over its competitors?

    1.6 RESEARCH OBJECTIVES

    The present day market is very competitive due to the large number of rivals and substitutes. With the help of promotion, organisations must create product differentiation in the minds of consumers. Promotion is very essential to communicate the use of the product and the nature of the product to consumers and middle men. Nowadays most of the consumers market their products in wider areas and the consumers are also very large in number. Sales promotional tools when used effectively in various organisations not only create brand awareness, but also encourage customers to try new products. The review of marketing literature suggest that improper use of sales promotional tools hinders the proper growth of any organisation as well as being an insurmountable barrier to sales in an organisation. Adequate sales promotional activities seek to advance a company's profile and enhance their productivity.

    In view of the above, the research objectives centre on conducting an empirical study to achieve the following

    • Review in general existing literatures and models underlying sales promotional activities and practices.

    • Identify and critically evaluate the sale promotional practices of Benjack Communications limited, its effect on the company growth and performance and draw conclusions based on findings.

    • The impact of the sales promotional tools on the customers' perception of promotion.

    • Make necessary recommendations on measures to be taken to achieve positive promotional outcomes.

    The subsequent contents of the dissertation are structured as follows:

    Chapter two is an in depth review of relevant literatures on promotions and promotional activities, advertising, telecommunications and competitive advantage. The chapter reviews key studies which are widely cited by others in the field. It provides background information to non specialist readers seeking to gain an overview of what promotion, advertising and competitive advantage in the market place is all about.

    Chapter three is concerned with an in depth focus into the research area discussing the methodology employed and the various application of these methods into the research. It explained all strategies and tools for data gathering and data analysis. It also elucidates the rational for the choice of the methodology for data gathering and analysis with the view of explaining the advantages and disadvantages of the chosen methodology.

    Chapter four presents the findings of the current research and its discussions regard to the methodology used in chapter three. It explains most important tabular data and graphical displays. It relates findings to those in any related published work outlined.

    The overall evaluation of the dissertation and conclusions are made in chapter five including emphasis on some of the limitations encountered in the course of the project. Accordingly, based on the research findings, this chapter contains all the necessary recommendations on promotional activities at Benjack communications Ltd How promotion is implemented remains a crucial factor. Whether promotions at Benjack Communications should be done by experts or left in the hands experienced staff who are capable of influencing customers buying behaviour is considered.