Background to the Study
Before the deregulation of
Global System of Mobile Communication (GSM) in Nigeria only a few Nigerians
could boast of using telephone services. The introduction of phone booth system
in the late 1990s on some major streets in the country gave little respite to
telephone users as it affords them the opportunity to make calls even though
they had to leave their houses to where the booths are.
However, the deregulation
of Nigeria’s telecommunication sector in 2001 was a major landmark in the
telecom industry. This marked a turning point in the industry and broke the
monopoly hitherto enjoyed by the defunct Nigeria Telecommunications Limited
(NITEL) paving way for service providers like MTN, Vodafone which had now
metamorphosed over the years to AIRTEL, GLO and ETISALAT into the market. This
phenomenon witnessed an increase in the number of GSM subscribers and gave rise
to the four major players (MTN, GLO, AIRTEL and ETISALAT) to dominate the
market and also gave Nigerians access GSM services
According to Akinkuotu,
(2008) there were about 800,000 subscribers base for a country that had over a
100 million people when the pioneer GSM networks began operation in Nigeria.
However, within the first seven years of GSM operation in Nigeria, the number
increased from less than a million subscribers’ base to over 60 million in 2008
and by 2012, the number of active lines had reached 90 million. However by 2013
the number of active subscriber base was over 113 million (NCC: GSM subscribers
now over 113 million, 2013) and by October, 2014, the number has hit 130
million subscriber base (GSM subscriber base hit 130 million-NCC, 2014).
With the number of
subscribers growing at a geometrical rate giving the level at which service
providers strive to dominate the market, the number of active lines may well be
above 140 million by the end of 2015. The push and pull in the
telecom industry and the desire to assert dominance over rivalry brands
compelled operators to review their billing system from per minute to per second
billing system and charges per short messages (SMS) from what used to be 15
naira per page of a text message to 4 naira today. Also, the high cost of
acquiring a mobile line from what used to be about 10,000 naira to as low as a
100 naira in most cases.
The scrambling for
subscribers in the market place equally led to development of products to meet
their different needs. Service providers have within their years of operations
in Nigeria developed different products to meet specific needs of their teeming
subscribers and charged different tariff for these plans. For example MTN
developed product like super saver, family and friends among other prepaid
packages. GLO for instance has infinito, G-bam, Bounce among others. ETISALAT
on the other hand has the easy cliq, easy starter and the easy life packages
while AIRTEL has the 2good plan and AIRTEL come alive package. All these
variety of products are in attempt to lure subscribers to the brand given the
lowest possible call tariff as advertised.
Beside the downward review
of call tariff and development of GSM packages, service providers equally
employ other marketing communication strategies such promotion and advertising
to lure subscribers. Some give bonuses on recharge, free SMS, and data and as
well advertise their products and services using different advertising
platforms like mass media (television, radio, newspaper/magazine), internet,
outdoor, mobile advert, bill board, Interactive Voice Recorder (IVR) and on
campus show (for students) to reach targets.
Despite the laudable feat
in the telecommunication sector, the quality of service delivery by network
providers has remained questionable given their inability to deliver a
hitch-free service that is devoid of complain by subscribers. These complaints range
from occasional network failure, card recharging problems, checking of balance
difficulty, wrongful deduction of credit among others. The persistent network
failure resulted to the NCC in January 2008 ordering some service providers to
offer compensation to all subscribers who were active in their network
Even though service
providers were made to pay compensation, these problems which hitherto have
continue to hinder smooth operation of GSM in Nigeria are yet to be resolved.
Coincidentally, the youths are active users of GSM services who are always
willing to take advantage of the competitive market situation. Apart from
making calls or sending text messages, most of them download applications that
enable them to interact on any of the social media platform. However, the
persistent network problem associated with GSM services leaves them in a
dilemma of the network to choose. Most often than not, they are left with no
option but to subscribe to more than one GSM network as this gives them the
opportunity to explore, analyse and compare services of the different networks
before making their choice.
Therefore, given the
persistent complaints about poor service quality of GSM in Nigeria and the
assumption that advertising could help in shaping perception and choices of GSM
networks among users, created the need to study the relationship between
advertising and preference of GSM services among tertiary institutions students
in Kogi state. The aim is to know the level of influence advertising has on the
choices of GSM network they use.
Consumers’ perception over
the years suggests that attitudes toward advertising have become more and more
unfavourable (Cheung, Harker and Harker, 2008). Various studies (Calfee and
Ringold, 1994; Elliot and Speck, 1998; Coulter, Zaltman and Coulter, 2001;
Cheung, Harker and Harker 2008) attempt to explain consumers’ perception
towards advertising in order to understand how it influences them in making
purchase. Cafee and Ringold (1994) found that on average, two third of
consumers think that advertising is untruthful and it persuades people to buy
things that they do not necessarily need or want. On their part, Coulter,
Zaltman and Coulter, (2001) found out that advertising is manipulative and
unrealistic because it encourages excessive compulsive shopping and unrealistic
According to Okeyere,
Agyapong and Nyarku (2011) every advertising message need to speak the
consumer’s language, and provide convincing evidence of product’s attributes.
This is because people may express skepticism towards the product if it fails
to meet their expectations as advertised. Given the frequency at which GSM
service providers advertise their products and services, subscribers have
occasionally express doubt over the services offered. This is because they
often complain of occasional network failure among GSM networks in the country
when trying to use the services. At some point, subscribers experience
persistent problems like drop calls, call set up, connection problem and
inability to sometimes recharge the mobile line. When this happens, it often
leaves subscribers in dilemma of choice of service providers.
Students of tertiary
institutions are mainly youths who are active users of GSM services. Apart from
calls, they surf the internet, sometimes chat with friends or download
materials for assignments using the services of any of the GSM networks. They
may be discouraged to continue patronizing a service provider when they
experience any of the service shortcomings. The service providers therefore
tend to influence consumers’ perceptions and choices through frequent
advertisement. This leaves an agitation for investigating the links between
telecommunication advertisement and consumers’ perceptions and preferences of
The principal aim of this
study is to make an empirical contribution to existing understanding of the
influences of advertising on consumer behaviour in the Nigeria’s
Objectives of the Study
To find out the level of advertising influence
on students’ GSM service preference
To determine the element of advertisement that
appeals the most to students’ GSM service patronage.
To determine user approval (perception) rate of
GSM prepaid package advertisements among students.
To examine the extra-advertorial factors that
intervenes in students’ choice of GSM service provider.
To determine if an association exist between the
level of advertising influence and students’ GSM preference.
To achieve the objectives
of the study, the study aims at providing answers to the following research
What is the level of advertising influence on
students’ preference of GSM service?
Which element of advertisement appeals most to
students’ GSM service patronage?
What is the user approval (perception) rate of
GSM prepaid package advertisements among students?
Are there extra advertorial intervening factors
that influence students’ choice of GSM network?
What association exists between the level of
advertising influence and students’ preference of GSM services?
The central focus of most
studies on mobile phone service providers is that researchers focused more on factors
that influence the choice of service provider by consumers without emphasis on the influence
of advertising. These studies give attention to promotional elements like price,
service quality, and service availability. On the other hand, most studies on advertising
research centre on consumers’ attitude (Van der Wald, Rebello and Brown 2009) or the
language use in advertising (Dada, 2010). Unfortunately, the influence of advertising in most of
these studies has, is not clearly stated.
This study is significant in that it explores the
influence of advertising on consumers’ perception and
preference of GSM services among subscribers. Its findings will also assist service
providers in Nigeria to know how subscribers perceive their brand, thereby enabling them to
improve where necessary.
Furthermore, the study contributes to the quantitative
understanding of the association that exists between advertising and consumer
behaviour in the telecommunication industry in Nigeria.
Kogi state tertiary
institutions are the data location for this study. This is because base on
available literatures, there are limited studies done in the area GSM and
advertising influence in the state, and hence the need to carry out a study
using students of selected tertiary institutions in the state. Furthermore,
students as active users of GSM can provide the required information and also,
tertiary institutions are cosmopolitans, with people from all the major ethnic
groups in Nigeria, thus represent the Nigeria ethnic composition. The study
focuses only on prepaid services of GSM networks advertisements in Nigeria.
This is because most GSM users subscribe to prepaid services. And it covers
only the four major players of GSM services in the Nigeria’s telecommunication