THE IMPACT OF BRANDING ON CONSUMER BUYING BEHAVIOR IN MOBILE NETWORK OPERATORS
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Background to the study
The telecom industry in Cameroon is growing as more mobile network operators are entering the country and the future looks even more prospective since we have over five mobile network operators in Buea. Customers have a choice on which mobile network operator to subscribe. The endurance of companies is now dependent on the amount of information that is carefully assembled by the mobile network operators with regards to the buying behaviors exhibited by consumers. In order to withstand in the market, companies are intensely interested in developing strong brands that leads to long term and customer relationships (Hess, 2011).
The swift progress in technology and information sharing has boost owners and management of business organizations to redefine customer attraction and retention strategy. The effect of branding on customer behavior had been invested by expert’s writers (Zhang, 2015) the perceived and real satisfaction of customers has been long linked with the brand image of a product or an organization.
Branding and particularly, company branding should be sensitive to three key elements; organizational culture, organizational vision and most importantly the image of the organization. There should be a proper coordination between stakeholders, management, and the employees of the organization to have a wider scope and deliberations about company branding and image (Hatch, 2001).
A very good company brand stimulates assurance on employees, stakeholders who develop association with the organization and glues customers to the brand when they come in contact with it. (Knox, 2003) Investigated corporate branding, corporate identity and branding marketing are reported as follows; top managements of organizations never understood the power of branding until recently where organizations have incorporated branding into their strategic goals and due to competition within the market, individual organizations use branding to distinguish itself from other competitors.
Today’s consumers live in a world where the purchase of products and services is massive and unceasing (Rindell, 2008).Companies pump in resources and time into the study of behavioral and sociological factors in order to gain much insight and to understand consumer purchasing patterns this prevents wastage of resources. Brands symbolize key assets to companies. Branding has emerged as part and parcel of the company’s operations. This has made the Organizations to shift their production of goods and services to customer focus which reflect the evolution of marketing modern day. Marketing strategies are now considered a key organizational asset (Kotler A, 2012).As an implication to this shift, companies are persistently injecting huge resources into understanding their consumers in relation to the 4 P’s ( product, price, place and promotion) and the additional 3 P’s (people, process and physical evidence), (Kotler, 1998).
In today’s raging market place where consumers have a vast amount of information with regards to products and services at their disposal, yelling louder is not a solution to making you heard or recognized in the market place. Instead, creating an outstanding brand that appeal to consumers (Ahuvia, 2005).
The mobile network operators in Buea, although slow has experienced some growth in recent years. Apart from the three networks Camtel ,Orange and MTN that has been in the country since 2003, a new network Vietnam’s mobile phone company (Viettel) came in with the name Nexttel Cameroon in 2014. In 2016, another network also came into the country known as Vodafone. Vodafone started operations only in two cities in the country which are Yaoundé and Douala but was suspended from the Cameroon business environment alleged to have been operating without authorized license from Telecom (Mbodiam, 2017) presently, we have Yoomee operational in Buea. As a result, the mobile network operators in Buea has opened up new prospects of business opportunities.
These mobile network operator are working hard at appealing to their customers through branding. Therefore, this study seeks to assess the impact of branding on consumer buying behavior in mobile network operators in Buea.
Statement of the Problem
It is no doubt that the mobile network operators in Buea is fast growing. This is evident with the presence of five networks in Buea which are CAMTEL, MTN, ORANGE, NEXTTEL and YOOMEE. Customer confusion has become the order of the day as they try to choose between the network operators and as such, branding is the tool being used by these mobile network operators giants either through publicity of advertisement to cajole customers to make a choice. Branding involves creating a unique name and image for a product in a consumer’s mind which can be through some form of advertisement, campaigning word of mouth, celebrities. Brands perform valuable functions for firm, thus function of a brand is a consumer being able to distinguish two different products and being able to make a choice out of the two products (Ghodeswar, 2008). Lack of this distinction causes customers to pass through difficult times in selecting a mobile network this therefore raises a research interest into why mobile network operators have chosen branding as a tool to differentiate their products and how it affects their target consumer’s buying behavior in comparison with their other competing brands. In order to set up such a framework, the following research questions guides the study.
Objectives of the Study
- The general objective of this study is to assess the impact of branding on consumer buying behavior in the mobile network operators in Buea.
- To examine the branding strategies employed by mobile network operators in Buea.
- To investigate customers view on branding in the mobile network operators in Buea.
- To evaluate the impact of branding on the behaviour of mobile network operators in Buea.
- What is the impact of branding on consumer buying behaviour in the mobile network operators in Buea?
- What are the branding strategies employed by mobile network operators in Buea?
- What are customers’ views on branding in mobile network operators in Buea?
- What is the mobile network operator’s view on branding on consumer buying behaviour?