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1.1 Background of the Study
In developing a marketing strategy for biscuit, the manufacturer has to confront the branding decision. Branding is a major issue in product strategy and has become a potential marketing tool. An increasing number of products are sold on self-service basis, and branding must perform many of these sales tasks. In the past, most products went unbranded. Producers and middlemen sold their goods out of barrels, bins, and cases, without any supplier’s identity. The earliest sign of branding were in the efforts of medieval guilds to require crafts people to put trade marks on their products to protect themselves and consumers against inferior quality. Today, branding is such a strong force that hardly anything goes unbranded. A powerful name is said to have consumer franchise. (Adirika, E. 0, Ebue, B. C, and Nnolim, D. A, 2001:184).
Moreover, a realization of the fact that branding as a marketing tool affects other product management decisions, confronts one with the fact that its impact on marketing activities and consumers cannot be overemphasized. (1995:100), captures the very essence of branding, when he opined that apart from the Herculean task that will be associated with trying to decide what manufacturers product to buy from
all the unbranded products, other product management decisions based on market segmentation, promotion, product positioning, pricing etc, would have been practically impossible”. Marketers consider branding as an integral aspect of the total marketing strategy as well as a vital factor in product planning and development. Sometimes, the way in which a product is perceived by the market by merely hearing the brand name is a good determinant of the product’s success or failure. E.g. Yale cabin biscuit. From the foregoing importance of branding, marketers and producers alike are developing increasing interest in this strategy. The Biscuit Industry in Nigeria is not an exception to this increasing adoption of branding as a strategy for winning the heart of consumers.
Biscuit have acquired a household recognition, such great awareness is further manifested in the fact that some people have problem of controlling their in-take of biscuits on health ground. This is attributed largely to the popularity, which biscuits like cabin, coaster biscuit, short cake bread and chocolate biscuits have acquired in recent times. The most pronounced objective of most business ventures is profit making. This objective is achieved when the goods and services produced get to the final consumers at the right form, right place, right time, and right price. The reason being that firms depend on the consumers for the sale of products. Marketers are no longer in doubt as to whether consumers need the products in the marketplace, but are more interested in knowing why consumers prefer one brand of a product to the other.
Thus, marketers usually design strategies that will facilitate the marketing or selling of their products. However, one of the vital elements in the marketing of any product is branding. Branding is one of the elements in the product planning activities of a firm. A brand is any word, letter, symbol, device, design, term or a combination of any of these that is used by a manufacturer or seller to identify his goods or services and to differentiate them from those of the competitors. (Olakunle K. Olakunor, 1999:185-187).
The Biscuits under study here, Yale cabin biscuits, coaster biscuits, short cake bread biscuit and chocolate biscuit are all brand names which are vocalized and also used to distinguish a particular biscuit from the other. Branding according to Okpara (2002:160), is the imaginative process of creating a unique, relevant and harmonious name, term, sign, symbol or its combination in order to identify a company’s product and to differentiate them from those of the competitors. Branding is the activity used to establish biscuit identity, which is also about providing a means of differentiation. Branding can stir feeling and make connections among consumers. Biscuit branding is all about more than a brand, trademark or slogan. It is based on how the biscuit makes customers or consumers feel. The competitive nature of the biscuit industry has precipitated the need for these firms in the industry to introduce their product in the market through branding.
The importance of branding cannot be overemphasized, especially when one considers the several functions it performs on consumers’ decision and satisfaction. Firms in the biscuit industry, such as Nasco biscuit, Yale biscuit, etc, seem to be typical examples where branding as a marketing device plays an important role.
The fact that all companies aspire to build brands that eventually get etched in the culture of the society and become cultural icon is a sure pointer to the importance of branding (www.brandinqstrategy.com).
1.2 Statement of the Problem
In the contemporary marketing environment, it has always been a difficult task to say exactly which factors motivate the consumer to prefer a particular product to another. Most marketers have paid attention to factors which in their own estimation determine consumers’ preference for their products without giving due consideration to factors which in the consumers’ reckoning influence their buying decision. The result is that marketing plan designed for a particular product may fail to attain the desired and targeted result for reasons that consumers are unpredictable in their behaviour, especially with multiple brands such as those of Biscuits. Consumers of biscuit, in most cases, evaluate the quality of a particular product by the alternatives of its brand name in relation to others. The fact that brand war among the biscuit seemed to have moved on to the shape and size of biscuit, as is the case of Cabin
biscuit in their promotion recently including the brand name, the vitamin and sugar contents, could be considered as a measure of the importance of branding of Biscuit. Branding is one of the elements in the product planning activities of a firm. It has to do with the efforts a firm makes in choosing, developing, projecting and establishing its own brand(s) of products Olakunle (1999:185).
Branding is used to meet needs, such as the description of products, easy identification of products and services, speeds shopping by assuring consistence quality, but its familiarity level leads to brand rejection, non-recognition, recognition, preference and insistence. Often, when asked the non-price reason behind ones choice for a particular brand of product over another, most consumers will readily shout “quality”. However, one would accept this answer with a lot of ambivalence, given the fact that it is only on rare occasions that consumers would have what it takes to make an objective quality differentiation among alternative product brands. This category of consumers is highly informed and enlightened and their percentage quite negligible.
Furthermore, quality statuses ascribed by consumers to certain product brands are not real but perceived. It is only a fragment of their perception. It therefore follows that those marketers who know how best to manipulate consumer perception and therefore better position their brands in the minds of the consumers will definitely emerge winners in
the marketing warfare. In consideration of these factors, the problems of determinants of brand patronages/loyalty in young consumer’s choice of Biscuits become very pertinent as to elicit the following specific problems:
1. What constitutes the secret behind consumer’s preference of a particular Biscuit in favour of another type?
2. What factors influences consumer choice of a particular brand of Biscuit?
3. Could branding be significantly associated with quality or
aesthetic values such as biscuit designs and colour of labels?
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