1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
These are of marketing orientation or concept has firms to look at customers needs in designing their offer product by market concept, we means that marketing philosophy which holds that the key to achieving organizational goals consist of being more effective and efficient than competitor in integrating marketing activities towards determining and satisfying needs and wants of markets.
This is in contrast with product concept which holds that consumers will value those products that offer the most quality, performance or innovative features. The emphasis is on superior product quality and improvement overtime. Because the consumers have become the central focus in the marketing concept, it becomes pertinent that firms should produce in the embark on marketing research in the tenet of product planning to offer the consumers.
Thus, marketing research is inevitable in product planning process and its effect is highly a positive one, because it is by the use of marketing research a firm knows the each needs of market it intends serve and characteristics of the target consumers. Marketing research is one of the tools used by firm or marketers in improving the quantity and qualify of decision making and been understanding of the market place of dynamic environment. A marketing research model studies who my customers are, where they are what they want and how to get them with what effects. A marketing that builds a product, creates a service and then sits back and wait for thing to be happen and usually discovers that not much happen. They remains that after you have produced the best product packaged it brilliantly, priced it rightly, distributed it magnificently, and positioned it to best meet the need of the customers you would have wasted all these market effort, if nobody knows you have done all these tigs such is the essence of marketing research. This finding will enable the firm to appropriately plan the right price, deliver the products to the right place to reach the consumer and communicate them through the appropriate means as well.
Marketing research is seen as a systematic gathering, recording and analyzing of data about problems, relating to the marketing of goods and services which includes investigation of market segments, product differentiation, channel relationships, effectiveness of salesmen and advertising, pricing practices and so forth. This means that marketing research is a problem solver which ranges from market potentials and market shares studies to assessments of customers satisfaction and purchase behaviours studies of pricing, product, promotion and distribution.
This justifies Kalu?s view about marketing as the process of researching into, and identifying customers needs and wants for the purpose of creating goods and services and facilitating their transfer into the hands of customers through the specialized functions of pricing, promotion and distribution.
In the view of this, product planning refers to all activities involves in setting product goals and means on strategies realize within the firms framework or product policy. It is a careful predetermination of future states of nature (or the environment) and the arrangement of programmes to take advantage of them from this, it means that marketing research is one of the major activities that enables firms determine what product to offer to the market, one can say in this era of marketing concept and as revealed in the above statement that marketing research is a part of product planning process and such a relevant part played that if ignored will render the whole organizations effort useless and the firms objectives will not be realized or achieved.
One more, a little understanding of what marketing and marketing research will again help us appreciate the above statement marketing according to Okafor, A.I. (1995) quoting in the institute of marketing London, is the management process that responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying consumer requirements profitably. Also marketing research in the same Okafor, A.I. (1995) refers to all human activities scientifically directed towards the enhancements of the organizations offerings (products) and the solution to the marketing problems.
From the above definition of marketing we can see that marketing is basically concerned about the future. In order to be able to identify, anticipate and perfectly satisfy the consumers needs profitability, means that the organization needs abundant vital information at regular intervals to be able to produce consumers buying behaviour during the short and long term basis. Supplying this vital information is necessary to aid marketing decisions for effective and efficient satisfaction of consumers needs now and in the future.
Again it has been found that some organizations totally ignored and some paid little attention to marketing research in their product planning process, due to ignorance of the beneficial effects or maybe because of cost associated in running and maintaining the marketing research department. This study is designed to reveal how inevitable marketing research is in product planning process its benefits and as well as the consequences of operating without it or ignoring it especially in consumer marketing oriented firms knowing the rate of competition in the market, the rate of change in consumers tastes and preferences, the nature of the economy and the dynamic nature of the business marketing environment.
Therefore, it is the researchers wish to examine the effectiveness of marketing research in the product planning process in the manufacturing firms, using UNILEVER PLC Aba as a case study.
1.2 STATEMENT OF PROBLEMS
There are a lot of problems which promoted the urge to carry out this study. In the first place, the Nigeria business environment has become highly competitive (especially in soap and detergents industry), for example, major soap industries in Nigeria PZ Nigeria Ltd. Which produces imperial leather soap, orange drugs Ltd producing delta medicated and antiseptic soap, Seville products Ltd. Produces Eva classic complexion care soap and Eko supreme resources Nigeria ltd. Which produces Soklin detergent in Nigeria. This means that in addition to competition from these companies unilever Nigeria plc had faced a new kind of competition with these companies when producing.
Another problem is the fact that some companies have taken marketing research necessary in their company while some never believed that the use of marketing research in product planning process can help them in their business operations. Also some companies do not have marketing research department in their organization and even failed to allocate fund for the researching activities.
Finally, companies believed that marketing research in product planning process is very expensive and consume a lot of time in the cost of running. These entire problems hinders business activities in our country in the development of economy growth and improvements in marketing aid business operations. It is also discovered that management of some firms do not deem it worth while to embark on marketing research as often as it appears necessarily in product planning process.
1.3 OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY
The primary objective of study is to analyse the comparative use and effectiveness of marketing research in product planning process using unilever Nigeria plc, Aba as a case study, the study is to determine and establish the following objectives:
i. The necessity of effective marketing research in new product planning and development
ii. The importance and benefits of monitoring the change in consumers tasks and preference well as other environmental variables such competitors activities.
iii. How marketing research can be helpful in management of product mix and line a firm offers to the market
iv. The fact that marketing research is in agreement with marketing concept is the chief determinant of a firms survival in this competitive environment
v. The positive contribution of marketing research to the success of a new product planning and product development.
vi. The consequence of ignoring marketing research in product planning process.
vii. The importance of marketing research in goods product packaging and brand design.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
The main research questions of this study are:
? Does marketing research have any positive contribution to the success of a new product planning and development?
? It there any need for marketing research in product line and mix decision and management?
? Is marketing research of any importance in product life cycle as regards to the strategies to adopt at each stage?
? Does marketing research help in good packaging and brand design of a product?
? Is there any benefit of monitoring the changes in consumers tastes and preferences, and the marketing environment (among which are competitors activities technological change etc) in order to know the best to them?
? Does marketing research have any benefit to organizations if applied as often as the need arises in the product planning process?
? What things impede firms for embarking on marketing effectively as often as it appears necessary in the product planning process?
1.5 STATEMENT OF HYPOTEHSIS
The following research hypothesis formed the basis of study.
HO: Marketing research does not have positive contribution to the success of new product planning and development
HA: Marketing research has positive contribution to the success of a new product planning and development.
HO: Marketing research does not help in good packaging and brand design of a new product.
HA: Marketing research helps in good packaging and brand design of new product.
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
A study of this nature is of immense significance. It is of great importance to all business organizations whose objectives are to grow and survive by critically identifying consumers needs and tailoring her product to meet such needs. Since the Nigerian market is highly competitive, it helps in place each producer in a position to seek and gain a high market share that belongs to its arrivals. Effective marketing research in product planning process ensures this. Therefore, this study will actually be of great benefits to all firms who have the above as their objectives, also to all students in the field of marketing and business management, possibly enter entrepreneurs. It is hoped to awake firms who are still sleeping in the dark room of trail and error methods of operation.
Finally, apart from these above, marketing executives in various companies in Nigeria have problems in electing the right research technique and most often those managers relied on the guess works or they simply follow their competitors foolishly without the considerations to their research objective their product life cycle positive in the industry or the target marketing which they are aiming at. This study will provide insights to those manager who are having these problems and serve as source of reference.
1.7 THE SCOPE AND LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
Due to financial and time constraint, the researcher would have covered he entire plc in the entire unilever plc in the country and order firms that are relevant for the study. So ,this study was limited to the firm used as a case in this research work that is unilever plc Aba in Abia State.
Although, the study was limited to unilever plc Aba but the results will benefit as many firms as are marketing oriented companies and all consumers, which are made up of all households in Nigeria.
However, many problems hindered the researcher from attaining the peak of this research. Therefore, the researcher encountered the following problems in the course of study, which affected the research work not quite favourable among them are:
? Academic programme at the time of study: At this study, there were a lot of disruption more than what have been ever experienced by the researcher before. As a result of this, the researcher never stayed at a place while writing this project.
? Time: Time has always been a constraint to any project work both academic and non-academic projects. As a student with a lot of academic works, the researcher did not have enough time to source for information. At the end there were conflict interests on whether to abandon academic works and face project or vice visa.
? Costs/financial involvement: The total accomplishment of the objectives of researcher had at her disposal the researcher as a student, have limited of this, she was not able to travel to the company of the study as many times as supposed. However, she was able to utilize the much she can do to carryout a meaningful research in this project works.
? Attitude of respondents: The general attitude of Nigerians towards researchers is a discouraging one. In the course of gathering information of this study, many of the selected respondents (both company staff and individual) with held information about themselves while some gave wrong information. Therefore, the company under study which is the main source of primary data did not give sufficient information as desired and required through the survey study due to nature of activities going on in the company which did not allow the respondents give the desired contribution to the research work. Even the secondary data used were not sufficient, through the researcher tried to elicit the appropriate information from the available ones. All these factors acted as limitation to the study.
1.8 DEFINITION OF TERMS
To enhance the understanding of this project, the researcher has taken her time to explain the following terms as they related to marketing.
ANALYSIS: Means to get meaning of a data.
CONSUMERS: An individual who is the final uses of a product or service. He may or may not buy but has the capacity to consume.
CONCEPT: An idea or a principles relating to something.
INEVITABLE: Impossible to avoid
MARKETNG: Marketing is any human activity directed at satisfying needs and wants through exchange process.
MARKETING CONCEPT/ORIENTATION: A managerial philosophy that an organization should try to satisfy customers needs through a coordinated set of activities, more effectively than its competitors at the same time allows the organization to achieve its goals.
PERTINENT: Relevant to something
PHILOSPHY: A particular set or system of beliefs resulting from this research for knowledge on a set of belief or an attribute to life that is a guiding principle for behaviour.
SYSTEMATIC: This is a step by step method of finding solution to a problem. It is scientific.
RESEARCH: This is serious study of a subject that is intended to discover or belief help by a person or group an forming part of a large system of belief.