This research work examine the relevance of marketing research in enhancing the service level of manufacturing firms and to achieve the purpose of the study, past contributions and opinions of experts were reviewed. The research design adopted in carrying out this research work is Quasi-Experimental design and the primary data was collected with the aid of questionnaire from (13) respondents drawn from three small scale firms in Owerri. The data was subsequently analysed using frequency table, percentages and hypotheses tested via Analysis of variance (ANOVA) with the help of statistical product solution software package (SPSS). After critically analysing the data, the following were the findings; that there is a significant relationship between marketing research and the service level of manufacturing firms and secondly, moderating factors do interfere in the relationship between marketing research and the service level of manufacturing firms and recommendations were made; that firms should be enlightened on the relevance of marketing research and how it affects marketing performance positively, adapt modern technology, improve the quality of services in other to have an edge over competitors and finally, they should update technological tools to suit current market situation.
1.1 OVERVIEW OF THE STUDY
The Nigerian economy for long has been characterized with little manufacturing and more of resale activities. Little wonder Nigeria is often known as a reseller market. The few manufacturing firms still operating are either multinational corporations or government establishments. This scenario has adversely affected the Nigerian economy to an extent it has become a dumping ground for other countries.
Although, a lot of economic reforms programmes were initiated in Nigeria to make the manufacturing industry vibrant and allow infant industries to grow, such programmes were never sustained to the latter due to political instability and mismanagement of funds by stakeholders. Nevertheless, the recent reforms programmes of the Federal Government has given hope to the manufacturing firms or industry as small and medium scale manufacturing firms are gradually emerging everywhere.
However, due to the mildness and inexperience of the infant manufacturing firms, there has been a continuous cry out by consumers of low quality products and services. The major reason for this poor performance has been attributed to the lack of marketing research by the small and medium scale manufacturers.
Marketing research plays a vital role in the success of every business entity. The recognition of marketing research by large corporations in Nigeria earned them their present status. Experts believe that marketing research is the main pilot to commercialization.
Kotler (2000) defined marketing research as the systematic and objective identification, collection, analysis and dissemination of information for the purpose of assisting management in decision making related to the identification and solution of problems and opportunities in marketing. Armstrong (2004) defined marketing research as the function that links the marketer to consumer and the public through information. He further said that marketing research is used to identify and define marketing opportunities and problems, to generate, refine, and evaluate marketing actions; to monitor marketing performance, and to improve understanding of the marketing process. From the above definitions of marketing research, the experts found-out that marketing research is a discipline approach to problems and prospects of ensuring efficiency and profitability in any firm. So conclusively, the major problem in the marketing of manufactured goods and services rendered in developing countries is that, very little attention is paid to marketing research, thereby bringing out the purpose of this project which is to clearly show the relevance of marketing research in enhancing the service level of manufacturing firms.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
With the recent proliferation of small and medium scale enterprises in major cities, Nigeria is sure to become an industrialized economy in the next decade if these enterprises are given the necessary support (security, funds, expertist, conducive environment and industry protection) by the government.
Nevertheless, the manufacturing industry just as the financial sector has suffered enough economic crisis and the result is evident in the quality of services provided by firms in this sector. Inspite the presence of regulatory bodies such as Nigerian Standard Organization (NSO), National Agency for Food and Drug Administration Control (NAFDAC) and consumerists, the quality of products and services rendered by manufacturers is on the decline. This decline is an evidence of the negligence of firms to properly determine and fill in the needs and wants of consumers.
This shows that marketing research has not been properly embraced in this industry or by manufacturers despite valuable studies and write-ups of experts, all shows that the contributions/benefits of marketing research to the success of business organization is immense. Infact, most managers and elites nurse the notion that marketing research has no value in developing economy like Nigeria, and that has been one major reason for this negligence.
As a result, this study was embarked upon to investigate the extent of relationship between marketing research and the service level delivered by small and medium scale manufacturing firms in Imo State.
1.3 PURPOSE OF THE STUDY
This study has its main purpose of investigating the extent of relationship between marketing research and the service level of manufacturing firms. The study also examines the following specific objectives:
1. Whether marketing research is conducted in the manufacturing industry.
2. The extent to which marketing research is conducted.
3. To extent of qualification of the personnel.
4. The extent marketing research tools (research plan, data collection and analysis instruments) are validated.
5. How frequently is marketing research conducted by manufacturers?
6. The extent to which manufacturers (management) implement their research findings.
7. Whether marketing research contributes significantly to the performance/growth of the manufacturing industry.
8. How frequently are the marketing research personnel exposed to training and motivation?
9. Whether moderating variables interfere in the relationship between marketing research and service level desired by manufacturers.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
Based on the statement of problems and the purpose of the study, the following research questions were therefore framed;
1. What is the extent of relationship between marketing research and the service level of manufacturing firms in Imo State?
2. Do small scale firms carryout marketing research?
3. How frequent is marketing research conducted by manufacturers?
4. To what extent do manufacturers validates their marketing research tools before conducting a research?
5. To what extent do manufacturers execute the findings of a research study?
6. Does marketing research contribute significantly to the performance of the manufacturing industry in Imo State?
7. Do moderating variables interfere in the relationship between marketing research and service level of manufacturers?
1.5 STATEMENT OF HYPOTHESES
H01: There is no significant relationship between marketing research and the service level of manufacturing firms.
H02: Moderating factors do not interfere in the relationship between marketing research and the service level of manufacturing firms.
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
This study has its main significance to enhancing the service level of manufacturing firms among which are the benefits derived by the sponsoring companies and its customers when marketing research is properly used.
Secondly, it helps the firm to make better marketing decisions, which inturn results in products and services that better meet the needs of the consumer. Marketing research also provides the information that links marketers with their customers, and the background needed to make effective decision on a wide range of issues.
Also, marketing research is very vital in the aspect of the employment opportunity. That is, it serves as a means of employment opportunity thereby improving or enhancing the economic standard of a country.
Finally, through marketing research, companies learn more about consumers’ needs resulting in more satisfying products and services.
1.7 SCOPE AND LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
The research work covers the goals, strategies and implementations of marketing research in enhancing the service level of manufacturing firms.
This research work encountered some short comings in trying to get the necessary information and materials for successful completion of the project. Some of which are;
TIME CONSTRAINT: The time that was given for the research work was not sufficient enough for a thorough work to be carried out.
FINANCIAL CONSTRAINT: The short of fund limited the researcher to only three (3) small manufacturing firms in Owerri-metropolis and also restriction to printing and administering questions to selected few among which are the whosalers and customers of the firm.
ORGANIZATIONAL BUREAUCRACY: The effort to collect all the needed data from the management and staff of the small manufacturing firms in Owerri metropolis was not very easy because of their official protocol and organizational bureaucracy.
1.8 OPERATIONAL DEFINITION OF TERMS
It is a systematic formal process of obtaining, collating, analyzing, interpretating and reporting the findings relevant to specific marketing problems.
It is the human activity which involves identifying and satisfying human wants and needs through the exchange process.
This is a systematic orderly service for solution to a problem. It is finding out about something so as to sort out a solution.
It is the study on itself in a particular service market or a study on a particular service advertisement to determine its effectiveness on a target audience.
It is an organization acting on its belief on a particular business that can be started with less than 100 employee and the minimum of N750, 000 and a maximum of 5 million naira.
It is any activity or benefit that one party can offer to another, it is essentially intangible and does not result in the ownership of anything.
A product is anything that can be offered to a market for attention, acquisition, use or consumption that can satisfy a want or need.
It is one of the marketing mix (4p’s). This is the value agreed upon by the members in the exchange process. It is the means that allows products or services to get value in the eyes of both buyers and the sellers.
Generic benefit or pleasure someone derives from consuming a given product or service.
These are segments of the economy that engage in the production and distribution of goods for human consumption.
A conceptual framework is a moderation technique in which participants are asked to place the names of products or services on a grid. It also means how items are grouped on diagram to stimulate discussion or use.
1.9 ORGANIZATION OF THE STUDY
In chapter one of this project, the study centres around the overview of the study like the meaning of marketing research and importance of research, that is, the relevance of marketing research in enhancing the service level, implications of not using this vital tool (marketing research), scope and limitation of the study resulting to research questions and as well statement of the hypotheses, then finally knowing the reason why marketing research must and should be carried out to help improve the service level of any small manufacturing firms.
In chapter two, this consist of an overview of small scale manufacturing firm, types of small scale manufacturing firms, its characteristics, formation and functions. Furthermore, this chapter consist of marketing research definitions, types of marketing research, processes involved in marketing research, its importance, problems and the summary of the chapter with references.
Chapter three explains the research methodology like the research design, population of the study, data collection method, questionnaires and techniques used during the research work for proper statistical formation.
Chapter four is about the presentation and interpretation of the data collected and hypotheses testing resulting to the discussion of the findings.
Finally, chapter five explains the summary of the findings, conclusions, implication of the study, recommendation and lastly suggestions for further study
1.10 CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK
This research work is based on the marketing research attributes, moderating factors and the service level of the manufacturing firms.
Kotler P. (2000): Principles of Marketing and Practice. Prentice-Hall Int’l, Inc Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey.
Joseph M. (2002): Sales management and Marketing Research principles, Journal of Marketing (1-19).
Armstrong G. (2004): Fundamental Attributes and Functions of Marketing Research-University of North Carolina.
Henry A. (2004): Consumer Behaviour and Marketing Action Kent Publisher Boston.
Keith B. (2004): “A Test of Service Marketing-Theory: Consumer Information Acquisition Theory”, Journal of Marketing Research, January pp. 10-25.
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Kotler P. (2007): Marketing Research-Tools and Techniques. Northwestern University. Routledge Publishers.