Interpersonal communication as an alternative marketing tool: A study of consumers' response to face-to-face marketing activities of Telecommunication firms in South-Eastern Nigeria

Nelson Obinna Omenugha

Abstract


This study comes against the backdrop of a trend that has seen telecommunications service providers in Nigeria prominently employing face-to-face marketing alongside other marketing platforms as they compete for customer patronage in the country. Thus, placed within the framework of the media richness theory, the research investigates interpersonal communication as an alternative marketing tool with particular reference to the face-to-face marketing activities of telecoms firms in the South-Eastern Nigeria. The objectives of the study are as follows: to find out how much the face-to-face marketing activities of telecommunications firms reach the consumers in South-Eastern Nigeria; to assess the extent to which the telecommunications firms may have succeeded in enlarging their customer base in the South-Eastern Nigeria via face-to-face marketing; and to find out how much role face-to-face marketing may have played in strengthening loyalty to the telecommunications brands among consumers in South-Eastern Nigeria. These objectives yielded three research questions. The study was designed as a qualitative research and two focus group discussion (FGD) sessions were conducted each in two states of Anambra and Enugu within the South-East Nigeria. Findings showed that there is a significant degree of exposure to face-to-face marketing communication of the telecoms firms in the South-Eastern Nigeria; but that this communication appears to have been more effective in strengthening the loyalty of existing customers than it has been in attracting new customers for the telecoms firms. It is concluded that face-to-face marketing would be a viable alternative for customer base building and maintaining customer relations. However, just like in other forms of marketing communication, this would not occur in a vacuum – as there are intervening variables that might enhance or undermine the strength of face-to-face communication in serving this purpose. Nevertheless, it would remain a worthwhile strategy for the telecoms companies in Nigeria to continue to integrate it to serve as a complement to other marketing forms; which will produce a synergy that will boost their effort towards consolidating and enhancing their market presence. The study recommended, among others, that telecoms firms in the South-Eastern Nigeria should make effort to address their shortcomings particularly in the areas of quality of service, this way, they would be able to gain the credibility required for optimising the potentials of face-to-face marketing; and that a quantitative study to complement this research should be conducted with the view to generating statistics that would give precise picture of the role face-to-face marketing might have played in the telecoms sector in the South-Eastern Nigeria. Such statistical data would offer more definite insight that would be of help to both the telecoms players and scholarship.

 

Keywords: Face-to-face communication, machine-mediated communication, marketing,

Nigeria telecommunications, customer satisfaction, customer trust and loyalty, customer retention, credibility and brand attachment/brand profitability.


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