The Use Of Internet As A Communication Tool In International Marketing A Survey Of The Opinion Of Selected Computer –Literates In Enugu Metropolis)
The use of Internet as a communication tool in international marketing; a case study of computer literates in Enugu metropolis x-rayed the way internet is used as a viable tool in international marketing especial by Nigeria international marketers.
The following findings were made in the course of the study.
- Nigeria accepted that Internet promote international marketing
- Nigeria prefers Internet marketing to traditional marketing strategies.
- Nigeria believes that Internet quickens international marketing, that Nigeria international marketing or marketers make use of Internet services and unfortunately, Nigeria is not yet highly connected to Internet.
In this twenty first century it is difficult for marketers to perform their duties efficiently without Internet. It is evident that the impact of ICT on the growth of Marketing, especially
Marketing communication in the past decade has been tremendous. Organizations in developed countries saw the potential that this growth held and found creative ways of using ICT to grow their businesses. In order to remain competitive they continually changed to keep pace with advances in technology.
This research seeks to discover if timber firms in Nigeria are also using this new technology to their advantage; the extent to which the firms are using Internet in their marketing efforts; whether they use them basically or extensively, and what impact the usage is having on the effectiveness and efficiency of their marketing efforts.
In order to understand why organizations rapidly gain and lose market share, why the revenue of many industries increased or decreased rapidly in the latter 1990s and 2000s, many marketers have looked at the development, application and utilization of ICT as a critical factor. There is an argument that ICT represents a new general purpose technology that generates sustained increase in growth through the processes of technological development and innovation. Firms expect that with the deployment of Internet there will be greater efficiency, lower cost and access to new and larger markets. ECORYS (2007)
In the words of Yann, (1996), “Marketing is a very broad ranging discipline which is undergoing radical changes. The approach that should be adopted by marketing management in the 21st century is conditioned by the deep social and cultural changes that we are going through at the end of this century. It is also greatly impacted by the significant alterations of today‟s business practices”.
To respond to these developments, a number of studies have been and are still being carried out to assess the use of ICT in marketing by firms.
ICT usage can be sub-divided into two: e-ICT – Personal Computer (PC) internet and mICT – mobile internet. In this study, ICT is related mainly to the use of internet (email & website) via personal computer (PC).
e-ICT here refers to using email and website to communicate with customers and prospects.
In its broadest sense, the term email covers every e-mail that is sent to a customer, potential customer or public venue. Specifically, it is used to refer to:
- Sending direct promotional e-mails to try and acquire new customers or persuade existing customers to buy again.
- Sending e-mails designed to encourage customer loyalty and enhance customer
- Placing marketing messages or advertisements in mails sent by other people.
(Email Marketing Reports -www.email-marketingreports.com/intro.htm).
A website, is a set of related web pages containing content , including text, video, music, audio, images, etc. which are accessible via a network such as the Internet. All publicly accessible websites collectively constitute the World Wide Web. (Wikipedia)
1.1 Background to the Research
Internet have become indispensable for firms to effectively and efficiently carry out their marketing communications. However, there is a little confusion when marketers decide to use a global medium like the internet for marketing communications. This confusion arises from the fact that marketers may not know how to communicate properly. Oshunloye, (2009).
This research attempts to discover if timber firms in Nigeria in general and Nwoke David Group of companies (NDGC) in particular are using ICT optimally in marketing to achieve desired revenue and profit.
In the past, businesses struggled to accommodate the use of Internet in their integrated marketing communications. Hofacker & Murphy (1998), Dholakia &Rego (1998). Now, marketers who ignore and or fail to incorporate these tools in their marketing functions will find themselves losing significant revenue. It will be worthwhile to discover wheater NDGC is keeping pace with the times and how this is affecting its business.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The use of ICT in international marketing has been examined by many researchers especially in industrialized nations. Unfortunately, not a lot of work has been done in emerging economies like Nigeria. This thesis seeks to close the gap between what is known about the use of ICT in marketing in industrialized nations and emerging economies by focusing on the use of ICT in marketing in the timber industry in an emerging economy like Nigeria with particular reference to NDGC.
1.3 Objective of the Study
- To ascertain if organizations generate more revenue by incorporating email and website in its marketing communication.
- To evaluate what organizations may be doing right or wrong in the use of ICT in marketing communication.
- To evaluate the quality of NDGC‟s website
1.4 Research Questions
In this thesis I empirically answered these questions:
- What is the percentage increase in NDGC‟s revenue since it started using email and website?
- What is NDGC doing right or wrong in the use of ICT in marketing communication?
- What is the quality of NDGC‟s website?
1.5 Significance of the Study
A clear understanding of the application of Internet will help organizations map out an effective strategy for deploying this technology. Individuals will benefit by understanding how marketing with Internet can make their life easier and give value for money. The study builds on previous researches and adds to the understanding of how Internet are used in marketing. Lessons learnt from firms who have used Internet successfully and effectively, can be used to strategize and improve the function of marketing in organizations in emerging economies like Nigeria.
Policy makers who have a clear understanding of the potentials of Internet and the role which ICT can play in economic growth through more effective marketing will make policies that will encourage the extensive use of ICT by individuals and firms in the country. Finally, the findings of this study will motivate researchers to do a more detailed study into the use of Internet in marketing in emerging economies.
1.6 Scope and Nature of the Study
The research was empirical and analytical in that the data collected was analyzed without manipulation. The research is designed to investigate how international companies in Nigeria use ICT in international marketing communication. To discover if timber firms use ICT basically or extensively, properly or improperly, and the positive impact it has on the revenue generated by the firms.
Findings from a case study of a timber firm – NDGC was used for generalization.
The focus was on Marketing and IT personnel.
Time constraints of the semester afforded less time than was ideal for an extensive study involving travelling to companies of interest. Finance also imposed a limitation on the number of firms that were sampled.
The sample size was left small to avoid the analysis of vast data that may obstruct other form of studies on the course and also because of the difficulty of getting large or small companies to answer surveys.
Summary, Conclusions and Recommendation
This chapter offers a summary of the main findings,draws conclusionsand offers recommendation for further studies.
This study was conducted to find out how companies in Nigeria use ICT in international marketing communication. NDGC was used as a case study. ICT (internet) has become intertwined with life. It is ubiquitous and its impact on all aspects of life cannot be overemphasized. Organisations have found creative ways of using Internet to reach their customer and boost their position in the market.
Empirical evidence has shown that the internet and e-mail offers organization the cheapest and fastest way to reach a targeted audience. The cost of communicating with a targeted audience via email is a mere fraction of a telemarketing cost. The internet lends itself to various interactive uses. Marketers all over the world have tried to exploit this unique ability that ICT offers.
A very high percentage of people in developed countries have access to the internet. This high penetration rate has motivated organizations in these parts of the world to look to the internet as a very viable option to reach a targeted audience. Most of the research that has been conducted so far has been on ICT usage in developed countries in America and Europe. These studies have shown that people are moving away from print to electronic medium. The advent of social network has given rise to new forms of marketing like gorilla marketing and viral marketing. These are tools that can be exploited by marketers to their advantage at very little cost.
An extensive literature review was undertaken in this study. The review showed that there are different levels of ICT usage in marketing communication. They range from very basic uses like a mere presence on the web and very sophisticated uses like on line purchase and payment, CRM, SFA and product design and customization. Organizations found creative ways to exploit these uses.
It became necessary therefore to find out if organizations in emerging economies are also using this technology to their benefit. This was necessitated by the fact that there is little literature available on the use of Internet in marketing communication by organizations in emerging markets like Nigeria. The focus of the research was on the Timber industry. NDGC was used as a case study. NDGC is the biggest international company in Nigeria with three subsidiaries. The researcher believes that a company of that size whose revenue is mostly through export will be one of the first to adopt these tools and try to exploit its most sophisticated uses.
The study was designed to be a survey. Primary empirical data was gathered through the use of questionnaire targeted at the Marketing and IT Department. Data collected was analysed using SPSS and simple percentages in a descriptive manner. The findings of the research showed that NDGC commenced the use of ICT in marketing communication in 2001. The company has a working website and has over the years built a mailing list. The website is a basic website with light graphics and offers opportunity for clients to sign up on line to receive correspondence from the company.
Unfortunately, it seems that this particular feature has not been used by clients as NDGC resorts to coping e-mails. This violates the CAM-SPAM law and could open up NDGC to spamming complaints. A complaint like that by a client could cause all ISPs to block all mails coming from the domain of NDGC.
Findings also indicate that the organization has made effort to maximize the use of e-mail marketing. They often change the e-mail marketing message, update the content of the website and constantly update software and hardware. This will keep vibrant its communication and offer clients something to come back to and perhaps motivate them to refer others to the company. There was a two hundred percent increase in the revenue earned by NDGC when revenue earned before the company started using ICT is compared with revenue earned in 2009. This may be attributed to greater reach and efficiency due to ICT usage.
ICT is a very viable tool in marketing communication. Effective and proper use of this tool has become very vital for an organization to gain competitive advantage. Any organization that ignores this fact is handing the edge over to its competitors.
The survey results and analysis show that the company under study use ICT in marketing communication. The company makes every effort to maximize the use of this channel as they communicate with clients and potential clients. Unfortunately the full potential of this medium is not beinn exploited. The website is very light. NDGC is a international company involved in manufacture of timber products and furniture. The company could use all their products to create heavy graphics that woul showcase the products in very advantageous points and add a spin to the site making it the destination of choice.
The site however ranks very high on search engines. The organization performs web analytics and incorporates their finding into their text. This brings up the site every time the words are typed into search engines. In every endeavour of man there are acceptable and unacceptable practices. In the case of using ICT in marketing communication that law is to respect the privacy of others. But, in this case that law has somewhat been violated. Copying e- mail of clients violates their privacy.
5.3 Recommendation For Future Practice
ICT in marketing must be brought to a new paradigm, where the tools of ICT will be used maximally, effectively and efficiently to gain business value and competitive advantage. Countries already advanced in ICT usage have been able to achieve this and companies in emerging economies like Nigeria can also aspire to achieve the same. NDGC is using ICT in various ways in marketing communication. But, there are more ways to apply it and best practices to be adhered to.
It is recommended that NDGC build a website that is heavier in pictures and graphics while not reducing the text. This will show the products off better and be interesting enough to keep bringing traffic to the website.
The method the company used to build a mailing list is not the right method. The company must protect itself from spam complaints by ensuring that only consented clients are sent email. They should advertise their website and encourage people to sign up to receive e-mail from the company.
However, when all is considered NDGC is using Internet in marketing communication and it does appear that its use is impacting positively on its performance.
5.4 Recommendation For Future Research
Based on this study, further inferential studies should be carried out where hypothesis will be tested on a larger sample size with focus on quantitative techniques of data analysis. Studies should be conducted into other industries, other uses of Internet like short message services and multimedia media message services can also be investigated.
This research is in no way exhaustive and it opens a window into various areas in which further researches into how companies in emerging economies can use Internet in marketing communication cold be carried out.
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