Understanding consumer behaviour in the less developed countries : an empirical investigation of brand loyalty in Zambia
The objectives of this study are to contribute to the understanding of consumer behaviour, and to investigate the existence of brand loyalty in the less developed countries. The study attempts to fill the gap in literature on consumer behaviour and consumer characteristics in the less developed countries. The significance of the study is that while the existing studies focus on Latin American markets, it investigates consumer behaviour in Africa: Zambia. A further contribution lies in its attempts to understand consumer behaviour in markets where there is a common notion that marketing is not important because the existence of shortages creates demand. This study regards such attitudes as myopic because marketing should be understood as more than a demand creating tool. It should be viewed as a discpline that can enable a manager to match organizational capabilities and resources to the needs of a society. Moreover, at the micro level, companies are in competition for the occupation of the largest segment in the consumers mind. The need for marketing during shortages is in conformity with Kotlers argument that: 'Marketing is as critical a strategic concept and an operating philosophy during shortages as it is during surpluses. The seller (Marketer) who abandons the marketing mode of thinking during shortages is playing Russian roulette with his market franchise. He is risking long-term marriage to a set of customers for the temporary charms of a seductress.' (Quoted in Nekvasil, 1975, p.57). Hence, studying brand loyalty and the factors related to it has particular relevance in the less developed countries. The results of a consumer survey conducted among 1289 respondents in Zambia reveals that women, who were mostly involved in the purchase of the products, were very aware of brands on the market, used informal (personal sources) of information, identified brands by name and as expected, the frequency of purchases were low and quantities bought quite large, reflecting the product shortage situation. The cross-tabulations and log-linear analysis further indicated that brand loyal consumers tended to be mostly men, educated, from middle and high income classes, store loyal, heavy users, not price sensitive, influenced by family and friends, who lived in urban areas where distribution is extensive and many brands available. However, some interbrand differences were evident. These results suggest a profile of brand loyal consumers, and this can be used to segment the market for frequently purchased products. More significantly, the possibility of market segmentation would indicate appropriate marketing and advertising strategies for companies selling these products in the less developed countries.