Chapter 1: Introduction
This is the first chapter of this thesis whereby, the paper presents the preliminary information and discussions regarding the subject matter. Here, the researcher will introduce the topic, discuss the background information that has led to the selection of this given topic in the current times. The chapter will also present a research overview and elaborate how this will be of beneficial to the community at large. A discussion on research problems and research questions shall be defined as well with a clear presentation on the structure of the paper being discussed before the end of the chapter.
In business management and marketing, understanding how consumers behave in terms of how they select the product to purchase, use different products, dispose them off and even evaluate is crucial. This is because it provides insights as to why they would prefer a certain product or service to the other. In any case, for a customer to seek for certain services or products, it is because they feel unfulfilled and the product or service they seek for is likely to offer them the satisfaction they need. Marketers always seek to understand the needs of costumers well so that they are able to effectively implement marketing strategies targeting each customer. Via the marketing strategies, a marketer for a given firm is able to use limited resources to increase their opportunities in the competitive market, increase their sales, and also sustain a competitive advantage despite the presence of a tough market(Smart, 2010).
In carrying out a research on the demographic details regarding their customers and the purchasing habits they have been adopting for a given period of time, a marketer is then able to make crucial decisions regarding the products or services. Case in point, they are able to price these commodities, they are also able to determine how to implement the advertisement plans and value their products. This is because if the customers are low-income earners, selling to them highly priced products is unlikely to go well with them. In addition, selling low quality products to clients who value quality is likely to result in failure of the firm and loses. Hence, in order to remain successful, increase sales margins, receive higher profit margins, and maintain high competitive advantage in the market place, a firm need to ensure that they intertwine the consumer behavior to the marketing strategies implemented by the company. Without understanding consumer behavior well, it would be impossible to create a marketing strategy that is profitable and effective in reaching the correct and targeted clients (Correard & Amrani, 2011).
While consumer behavior has been noted to have direct impact on the marketing strategies implemented by a given comp any, it is also possible that marketing strategies implemented by a certain company can also influence the consumer behavior in a certain region. This is because the current community has been described by numerous sociologists as a consumer driven community. Smart (2010) for instance, calls this phenomenon, consumerism in which people’s way of life is driven by desire, having and wishing to have more and more of products and services presented to them by marketers. Goods and services are characterized as either necessities or luxuries. The difference is that necessities are a must for an individual to have while luxuries are simply commodities individuals acquire in order to feel superior to others, or attain a given class or status(Correard & Amrani, 2011).
Based on the theory on why people will acquire products or services they do not need, it is correct to assume that their decision is partly influenced by the marketing strategies for the given goods or products. Marketing has become part of people’s daily lives to the extent that it highly exposes individuals to it every day and every hour. Advertisement is one main stimuli of marketing that has practically become a part of our daily lives in the recent past. In the televisions, on billboards across the roads, in the clothes people wear, on newspapers, and even in the songs children sing while playing, advertisement is everywhere. Advertisements and promotion lines cost billions and billions of money annually across the world(Pervez, 2009).
While most people might not pay much attention to what the advertisement say or what they were talking about once they come across them during the day, this does not mean the stimuli does not leave an impact on them. Memory traces are always left in the minds of consumers and it is later reflected in their purchasing behavior and patterns. This is regardless of the product or service advertised. In focusing on the influence of marketing strategies on consumer behavior towards selection of products, this paper concentrates on the fast food restaurants located in Saudi Arabia(Smart, 2010).
Background Study on Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia, also known as Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), is an Islamic community that is known to occupy over 59% share of the food and drinks market in the GCC. This is as per a report released in 2016 that further states that the country, in terms of area and population; the approximate size is 2,240,000 sq. kilometers (Al-Rasheed, 2010). As of January 2016, the population of Saudi Arabia was estimated to be 32,248,100 people, and is expected to increase by 462,137 people this year or even more by the end of the year. The report further mentions that while 35% of the total populations are between 15-25 years’ old, 20% are younger than that and the rest and older than 25 years old(Euro Monitor International, 2017).
Currently, Saudi Arabia as a whole is experiencing a huge expansion in the demand for fast food and the sector in general. In fact, the Saudi market has almost reached USD 4 Billion in 2015 and expected to reach USD 6.9 Billion in 2017. As a result, the fast food market has continued to be the key channel within the food industry in the country(Al-Rasheed, 2010). It is gaining popularity very fast among the younger generation and thus resulting in more benefits for the industry. One of the main reasons why the fast food channel has grown exponentially in Saudi Arabia is because it is perceived to provide quick services, affordable food and services for a society seeking less entertainment and more time to perform their day to day activities with less effort inserted(Euro Monitor International, 2017).
Figure 2: Saudi Arabia Population
In statistics released in 2015, burger fast food broke the record of growth in the fast food channel as it recorded over 11% increase in value. Due to the increase in growth, some big players in the industry recorded higher sales and increased popularity across Saudi Arabia. In addition, other small emerging entrepreneurs in the industry were able to create a brand name of their own by winning a portion of the customers in the market share(Al-Rasheed, 2010). However, the competition in the market has not exactly been easy for these small firms emerging in Saudi Arabia. This is because a large part of the market is dominated by some companies such as MacDonald’s and CAGR that offer wider varieties of fast food products on their menus and other incentives that make people experience leisure while eating out. The company also has more outlets across the country that has made it hard for small enterprises in the industry to compete(Etheredge, 2011).
Purpose of Research Study
For business enterprises, marketing is a managerial as well as a social process that allows the company in question to interact with its customers and potential customers as well as be able to effectively manage these relationships. This is in the sense that the company is able to understand the needs of their customers, what these customers wish to have, and their demands. Hence, the marketing process can be presented in a simple model that presents two distinct parts(Correard & Amrani, 2011). The first part is creating value for customer and building a relationship with them and the second part defines creating value from customers in return. The figure below shows the simple marketing process model.
Figure 1: Adapted from Kotler, 2008
From the figure above, it is clear that value of the product or service is very crucial in the marketing process. In addition, customer value is also very important as it’s the effectiveness of a product or service meeting customer needs and wants, that leads them to procuring the given product or service in the end. In any case, it is from increase in perceived value that the level of customer satisfaction rises and a company gets the chance to create its value via profits and customer loyalty as well as equity. Hence, marketing as a process, seeks to understand the customer, presents them with their needs and wants depending on their environment, their behavior, and psychological nature (Kotler, 2008). However, does marketing always have customer needs and wants in mind? Does it always consider their behavior, environment, or their psychological nature while presenting the material for certain products and services?
In many cases, marketing has been highly criticized in the social media and in their forms of viewing where people get information such as televisions. This is because it has been discovered that various companies use the marketing process to falsely market for a product presenting untrue wants and excessive material content. As a result, these companies and their marketing strategies have been highly criticized in the public domain by various scholars and individuals from different backgrounds. Nevertheless, the situation has not changed nor improved in the current times. According to Kotler (2008), marketing is more of a process of manipulating customers and control how they think and look at different products. This is because via advertisements, a company makes people think that they need a certain product or service, when in reality, they do not need it.
Case in point, Apple as a company has been revolutionizing the telecommunication industry by presentation of new products with new amazing features every year. In their advertisements on these new products, they make people feel that they have to acquire the new expensive devices despite having features they no longer need at the moment. They make essential what people have no idea they need in their daily lives. Can this be referred to as manipulation? In this paper, the researcher focuses on the influence of marketing strategies on customer behavior. In order to be effective in searching for the answers needed to reply to this dilemma, the paper will focus on fast food restaurants located in Saudi Arabia. The main idea is to understand the exact role of marketing strategies on customer behavior in these fast food joints especially in the modern times when the fast food industry has been growing exponentially(Al-Rasheed, 2010).
In order to acquire the results for this given research study, this paper shall focus on the 35 % of the total population that is composed of young people aged between 15 and 25 years. This is because this population of young people is the one that has been noted to be more interested in consumption of fast food, engagement of activities that force one to eat out, and yearn for leisure and luxuries accompanied by eating out (Euro Monitor International, 2017). The goal of this research study is to investigate the relation between marketing strategies and consumer behavior and perception of the brand within the fast food industry. Finally, consumer behaviors in food decision making will be deeply investigated to see what mostly affect the decision-making process and how it can be influenced in the fast food industry. Hence, in order to meet this given research objective, this research study will focus on the research questions that aims at clarifying issues regarding the influence of marketing strategies on customer behavior towards selection of fast food restaurants in Saudi Arabia (Euromonitor International, 2017). These research questions include:
- How can marketing strategies implemented by fast food restaurants influence consumer decision-making process?
- Can marketing of the fast food restaurants affect the brand in a negative way?
- What usually attracts consumer to newly established brands within the fast food industry?
- How to meet customer’s expectation and preserve their loyalty for a fast food company?
- How health, price, convenience, and sensory appeal can influence consumer’s decision when buying food from a fast food restaurant?
Structure of the Paper
In carrying out this research study, this paper is divided into distinct chapters and sub-chapters that discuss the various parts of the research study. The initial chapter is the introduction that prepares the readers and allows them to understand the purpose of the study, its goals, the research questions and the main concept adopted for the paper. The second chapter presented the literature review in which theories, highlights and a discussion from other scholars regarding a related subject is brought out. The third chapter presents the methodology section that explains the techniques, materials and concepts adopted in carrying out the research study. The results from the data collection process are presented in the fourth chapter where a discussion is also presented. The last chapter offers recommendations, and the conclusion of the study. It also discusses the implications the findings of the research study have on the readers, the community, and more so, on the Saudi Arabians.
This chapter has highlighted the research problem and even justified the significance of this given research study in the current times. It has also discussed the background of the region under study, that is, Saudi Arabia. By offering a brief overview of the region under study, the researcher enables the reader understand the framework and clear overview of why the region is of interest to them and to the world at large. A discussion on the research objective and research question is also presented in this chapter. This enables the reader understand the focus and what to expected while data is collected. The next chapter presented the literature review section. Here, the researcher will explore various texts, documents from the website, articles from periodicals, and journal articles that have been published after 2007. The idea is to enable the researcher highlight theories adopted by earlier scholars, identify the gap of information presented and the link needed to carry out the study. The framework for the research is identified in this section.
Chapter 2: Literature Review
In this chapter, the researcher discusses the views and findings revealed by various scholars in the past who have explored marketing strategies and its influence on customer behavior in the past. Textbooks, journal articles, documents from websites and articles in periodicals identified from Google search database and ProQuest shall be identified using keywords such as ‘marketing strategies’, ‘customer behavior’, ‘food industry in Saudi Arabia’, ‘influence of marketing strategies’ and ‘impact of advertisement on customer behavior’. While over 1000 resources were identified using these keywords, only a few with strong points and arguments were used in this review. In addition, only those published after 2007 were included as well.
Definition of Terms
The business dictionary defines marketing strategy as a combination of all goals a company has for its marketing program, into a single comprehensive process. For a marketing strategy to be effective, it has to be derived from results of a successful market research, focus on the correct type of product or service, and created with the purpose of achieving the highest profit for the company and sustaining the business despite the presence of competition(Ferrell & Hartline, 2014).
It is the creation of a marketing strategy that a marketing plan is developed(Fifield, 2012). In the fast food industry, proper implementation of the marketing strategies determines how well a company performs considering the market saturation of the restaurants in the modern times. The strategy that works for a company has to be focused on meeting the needs of the customers, their preferences, and depending on their age, their demand for given products. In addition, the marketing strategy for a fast food restaurant has to be one that enables the company convince the consumers of their products that they can still enjoy the products offered at these stalls without affecting their health, ruining the environment, and risking degrading the community we live in. This is because for ages the fast food industry has been criticized as one that deals in production of food products that have high levels of calories and that they package these products in papers that generate waste in large quantities (Ferrell & Hartline, 2014).
As a subject, customer behavior is a branch that deals with the exploration of how a customer goes through various steps before they make a decision on what to buy for their use(Funk, 2008). Hence, it is the pattern the customers depict when they consider various factors that potentially influence their decision to buy a certain products/service, not to buy a certain product/service or when, and how to buy the given product/service. In simple terms, this is the study of how consumers act when procuring certain products or services(Wright, 2006). In the fast food industry, the behavior of customers when procuring various products is highly influenced by the marketing strategies implemented, their schedules, and need for the named product. This is because a funk (2008) notes, many individuals across the world have embraced fast food because of the kind of lifestyle that they live, their tight schedules all day long, and the sweet taste/ aroma from these restaurants that makes individuals salivate as they are passing by the stores. Customer behavior could also be influenced by the social responsibility depicted in the ads by the companies and in the way they convince customers that they care for their well-being and the environment.
Fast Food Restaurant
As the name suggests, fast food restaurants are the outlets from which individuals are able to get food quickly, conveniently, and usually at cheap prices. Most of these restaurants are take-out outlets and they sell food that is always high in calories, sodium, cholesterol, and fat. Currently, there are so many such restaurants and outlets present all over the world(Freymann, 2011). Some of the foods sold in these outlets include pizza, French fries, fried chicken, and hamburgers, among others. They are prepared in large quantities using a standardized formula and thus making it easier for the food to be sold out to the customers quickly in inexpensive ways(Jakle & Sculle, 2012).
Presence of Fast Food Restaurants in Saudi Arabia
The fast food industry is a bit young in Saudi Arabia; actually, it is about three decades old. However, according to Scheibehenne, Miesler, and Todd (2007), people have not had a tough time accepting the delicacies presented at these outlets and enjoying them on a daily basis. In fact, Scheibehenne, Miesler, and Toddexplain that currently, fast food outlets and restaurants have become highly preferred dining spots for many Saudi Arabian citizens when they are eating outside their homes(Bhattachrya, Sengupta, & Mishra, 2011). This is during official picnics, when alone, and just for fun. Fast food restaurants and outlets have been highly preferred by numerous people because more people are becoming busier by the day. In fact, even housewives have started working in the modern times and thus making it hard for them to make homemade meals always. In addition, the current community has more and more people whose income has increased in the last few years. As a result, more people can be able to afford food at these fast food restaurants whenever they go out and thus, they find themselves making the decision to dine out more often than people did in the 1990s(Zia-ur-Rehman & Akhtar, 2011).
In agreement with the views by Scheibehenne, Miesler, and Todd, Nezakati, Kuan, and Asgari (2011)explain that in the current times, the youth population has grown exponentially in the last few decades. Most of these young people enjoy eating out at fast food restaurants a lot and therefore, in order to be able to meet the demand presented by the growth of this population, more fast food diners have been opened in cities and towns in the current times. However, this is not the only reason for continued success of fast food restaurants in the current times, especially in Saudi Arabia. According to Zia-ur-Rehman and Akhtar (2011), there are few gathering places in Saudi Arabia where young people, aged between 15 and 35 can meet, socialize and have fun. Therefore, fast food restaurants have become their meeting and gathering places a strategy that makes the food at these outlets attractive and irresistible(Bhattachrya, Sengupta, & Mishra, 2011).
Moreover, the lifestyle of people in Saudi Arabia has changed quite immensely in the last few decades. This is according to Triadis and Gelfand (2012), who explain that in addition to the fact that more women have joined the working community; more Saudis have taken to travelling out of their homes and towns more frequently than they did a few decades ago. As a result, they have been highly exposed to the western way of life, feeding and lifestyle in general. This has led them to getting accustomed to fast foods sold in fast food restaurants and avoiding the traditional meals sold in Saudi Arabian local restaurants(Nezakati, Kuan, & Asgari, 2011).
However, it is not only Saudi Arabians that have caused the fast food industry to prosper in the country over the last three decades. According to Min and Min (2013), there are many foreigners and expatriates living and working in Saudi Arabia who are single and alone in that country without their families. These people are unfamiliar with the traditional Saudi Arabian meals sold in the Saudi Arabian restaurants and as a result, they prefer visiting the fast food restaurants that sell meals that are more familiar to them(Bhattachrya, Sengupta, & Mishra, 2011). The expatriates and foreigners also prefer these fast food outlets because the food in these places is less expensive and quick to access considering their busy schedules(Triadis & Gelfand, 2012). It is due to the above reasons and more that have not been discussed, that the fast food industry has grown exponentially in the last few years in Saudi Arabia.
This is because as earlier mentioned, the sales in these restaurants have increased largely in the past and as a result, many business men and women as well as investors have been encouraged to devote more of their time and money into the industry to meet the increasing demand for more outlets and more fast food for the Saudi Arabians(Nezakati, Kuan, & Asgari, 2011).
In any case, there are two main categories of fast food outlets in Saudi Arabia. Case in point, there are those dealing in hamburgers and those dealing in chicken. They however, include McDonalds’s, Wendy’s, Kentucky Fried chicken, Burger King and Al-Baik among others. As observed all over the world, these restaurants and outlets remain open for long hours compared to the other Saudi Arabian restaurants selling traditional meals and they serve a huge number of customers on a daily basis. This is considering the fact that most of their customers buy take-outs and their stay in the premises is always shorter (Bhattachrya, Sengupta, & Mishra, 2011).
Various marketing strategies and how they influence customer behavior
As Gaski and Etzel (2008)explain, there are numerous marketing strategies available in the modern times; the two main types include the business to business marketing strategy and the business to consumer marketing strategy. While both types of marketing strategies are considered to help a business enterprise meet its needs, that of their target, and be specific to the company’s products, the common form of marketing strategy implemented in the current times is the business to consumer (B2C) marketing strategy. Hoyer and Macinnis (2009)agree with the above views by stating that other forms of marketing strategy include paid advertising, cause marketing, relationship marketing, undercover marketing and word of mouth among others.
Paid advertising involves some of the traditional marketing approaches such as television, radios, and print media advertising that dominated the 1900’s and the early 2000’s. This form of advertising is referred to as paid advertising because the company has to pay to have their advertisement aired for the viewers to see. On television, print media, and radio stations, there are representatives tasked with contacting these companies and charging them for every time the advertisement is aired on their channels or space. In agreement with this explanation by Hoyer and Macinnis, Gaski and Etzel (2008)reveal that paid advertisement is not limited to the traditional approaches only. It also includes the internet form of advertisement that has been introduced in the recent past. Case in point, the advertisement seen on various websites called the Pay per Click (PPC) advertisements, the ones on emails banners, on social media sites, and other forms of paid advertisements on mobile applications(Hoyer & Macinnis, 2009).
Another strategy is the Cause Marketing that involves advertising a service or product by linking it to a social cause, activity or issue. This is in the sense that is related to a social cause. A company like one in the banking industry will sponsor a marathon or any other sporting activity or take part in a social activity like a fund-raising activity for heart patients. During this activity, they will hang their banners advertising their products, services, and facilities to the attendants. They will also present gifts, vouchers, and cards or other accessories like umbrellas and t-shirts with their product-imprints on them. This way, they get to market their products and services, via the social event(Hoyer & Macinnis, 2009).
While paid advertisement and cause marketing aim at attracting new customers, the relationship form of marketing focuses on building the relationship a company has already established with their existing customers. According toLoudon (2011), this form of marketing aims at enhancing the already existing relationships and improving the connection a customer feels when it comes to the company services and products. As a result, this strategy is likely to improve customer loyalty and maintain the already existing customers. Sometimes a company can market their products or services to the public without the customers realizing that it is a marketing strategy implemented by the company. According to Gaski and Etzel (2008), this form of marketing strategy is mostly known as the undercover marketing but it is also called stealth marketing. A company sets on making the public aware of the existence of their services and products in the market without raising eyebrows and without attracting so much attention to themselves. It works in most cases, but it can also backfire on a company(Loudon, 2011).
In agreement with the views by Loudon, Gaski and Etzel (2008)explain that a company does not always have to do the marketing for their products or services themselves. The word of mouth from the satisfied customers can be a pretty great form of advertising and marketing. In fact, according to Loudon (2011), word of mouth is the best form of marketing if not the most important one. A satisfied customer will tell a friend of the quality of services or products they procured from a given company and this promotes a company without costing them any money to market(Gaski & Etzel, 2008).
Transactional marketing involves placing products on promotion and encouraging customers to purchase the promoted item due to its discounted prices, or gifts attached to it. This is another form of marketing that helps customers use shopping coupons and other huge events to purchase certain products. It motivates customers and in most cases, big retail shops in the business industry makes use of this form of marketing to promote some items not moving as quickly as they should in the market. In addition to these forms of marketing, there are others that include diversity marketing, and internet marketing among others. Whichever the strategy it is a company chooses to use in the current times, Hoyer and Macinnis (2009)state that a marketing strategy is supposed to make it much easier for a firm to promote its products and services. The strategy should also be specific to the targeted audience and ensure that a firm manages to advance its business and gain competitive advantage(Loudon, 2011).
Regardless of the type or form of marketing strategy used, Gaski and Etzel (2008)believe that they have an impact on the daily lives of the customers targeted by the companies. This is because they provide information for the customers to learn about new products and services that various companies have been able to present to the market.
In addition, the strategies influence the way the customers think, behave and perceive different products and services. This is mostly before they buy them and at times, the marketing strategy influence their attitude and beliefs towards certain products and services available in the market(Loudon, 2011).
In agreement with the above assertions, Mooij ( 2009)reveals that marketing strategies, like a life cycle process has stages via which it influences the behavior of customers. The first stage starts when a company introduces a new product/service to the market. At this stage, many people are enticed by the new items and services and they all run to procure it and try it out for their personal use.
At this point, the sales of the company hit the roof. As time goes by, the life cycle process enters its growth stage and the customers, who have already purchased the product or tried the services and they have liked it, continue using it and recommending it to their friends and relatives. The sales for the company are stable at this stage and they are likely to push forward in growth(Gaski & Etzel, 2008). As a product/service reaches its optimum level, so does the sales and here, the life cycle process enters the maturity stage. The sales remain the same, no increase and no decrease. Soon after, the life cycle enters its decline stage and finally, the sales of the product or service starts to decrease rapidly. The cause of this is usually introduction of competition in the market, presence of substitute products, or more improved form of the product in the market among others. Either way, at this stage, the company needs to renovate their plans and change their products to compete in the market against all others(Loudon, 2011).
Customer behavior and their Selection of fast food restaurants
As earlier mentioned in the first chapter, in the later 2000’s, the international fast food industry recorded an exponential growth in almost all the restaurants operating worldwide. Researcher studying this phenomenon concluded that the growth and rapid expansion was highly attributed to the changes in human lifestyle in the recent times where more and more people are becoming busier, working long hours and living in a fast paced environment. There are lesser idle people in the community today. In fact, even housewives have slowly joined the workforce thus there is less and less time for them to cook homemade dishes every day. As a result, they spend more time dining with their children out in restaurants and during the day, at fast food joints buying fast foods for their lunch time snacks(Mooij, 2009).
Currently, many business owners have noted this demand for fast food by the current society and as a result, the industry has been saturated as more restaurants and joints open up at all corners of the cities every day. In addition, the wholesale traders for the products needed by fast food restaurants have also noted the increase in demand thus increasing the wholesale prices for their products. As a result, these restaurants have been faced with a challenge on how to maintain high profit margins, maintain their loyal customers, and beat competition presented by the new restaurants launched every now and then. Customers of fast food in many countries are price sensitive and therefore, the success of a fast food restaurant is highly dependent on the ability of the restaurant to retain its customers and gain eternal loyalty. This is because the low profit margin cannot sustain a business that has no constant flow of customers(Mooij, 2009).
In developing nations, the success of fast food restaurants has been highly attributed to the prices for their products, quality of the products and services, the brand trust and level of customer satisfaction. This is according to Hoyer and Macinnis (2009)who state that in Malaysia, Pakistan, Africa, and India, the situation is the same. Customers have been known to revisit the fast food restaurants and joints very now and then, because they value the quality of food presented to them, the quality of service, and the prices are pocket-friendly, as well as they are satisfied completely with the company or rather, with the restaurant in question. These customers are also more likely to recommend their friends and relatives to the same restaurant in the future(Loudon, 2011).
However, the customer for fast food in various countries especially the developing countries, they are likely to shun some brands in the fast food industry because of lack of trust, unfamiliarity with the brand name, and social responsibility of the company to the region. This is according to Gaski and Etzel (2008)who explain that for instance in Saudi Arabia, gaining customer loyalty for fast food restaurants is not a tough task at all. Customers will be able to select certain fast food restaurants more often than others because they are likely to receive high quality service in these restaurants than anywhere else where a similar type of meal might be offered to them. Hence, what motivates customers to select certain fast food restaurants is great service quality, pocket-friendly prices, high level of customer satisfaction, trust in the brand, knowledge of the restaurant name, and indirect connection between the customers and the brand name(Hoyer & Macinnis, 2009).
One of the reasons why many restaurants in Saudi Arabia and in the fast food industry have been able to master the art of retaining customers is because they have noted that more customers result in higher profits despite the low profit margin. As a result, Loudon (2011)explains that they have devised innovative techniques via which they offer services to their customers, and make the customers feel valued while enjoying meals out with friend, alone, or with their families. Gaski and Etzel (2008)agree with these assertions by stating that in business, an increase of about 2% in level of retaining the existing customers for any firm operating in the current times is more or equal to a reduction of about 5% of total cost in the firm operations. In addition, by reducing the loss of existing customers by 5%, a company is able to increase its profit by between 25 and 125%(Hoyer & Macinnis, 2009).
Influencing Customer Behavior by Using Marketing Strategies
For any company across the world seeking to succeed and remain prosperous in this harsh times, it is important for it to consider investing in projects that study customer psychology, interests and purchase patterns as well as behavior. Thus, it is no surprise when scholars discover that billions and billions of dollars each year are investment by marketers for this specific purpose. According to Pervez (2009), in order to understand customer behavior, marketers invest in projects that survey the customer environment, interview them, observe their behavior and report their findings. The results always enables the marketers know what the customer wants and what they need. This information also highlights the plans that the managers can put in place in order to persuade the customer procure their products and not the ones from their competitors. Hence, based on the findings, a company is able to control the market and dominate its customers(Loudon, 2011).
In further elaborating on the need to study the behavior of customers and understanding what they want or need, Pervez (2009) further explains that the research from the field is likely to make marketers come up with new products that clients did not know they needed or wanted. It also gives birth to products not asked for or thought about by the clients. When a company presents such a product to the customers, they are able to control the customers, a factor that offers them an advantage over the general market. In fact, this grants the company a chance to manipulate the customer and their needs. However, does this happen always? This is because the presentation of mobile phones and use of mobile money to the modern community was something customers never dreamt of in the past. The innovation of technology and internet has really revolution the way individuals view transferring money, performing transactions, and communicating(Pervez, 2009). Since they never expected this, does its continued use and continued modification for the uses of the general public mean that they have been constantly manipulated or that they continue to be manipulated in the current times?
From the English dictionary, manipulation is basically taking unwarranted control of something, or influencing someone to do something that only benefits you. It is usually dishonest and unfairly carried out. It thus becomes a way an individual acts towards another individual in order to influence them towards doing something that the second individual would not do under different circumstances. Does this happen in marketing? In efforts to understand the psychology behind marketing, Petre (2007) explains that commercial advertisements and other marketing strategies have an impact on the subconscious minds of the customers. This is despite the fact that many people are never aware of the situation and they remain ignorant towards neuro-marketing.
Corneille (2010) agrees with the views by Petre by stating that if a person is exposed to the advertisements of a certain brand more often than they are exposed to the advertisement of other products, this information that was frequently repeated to them sticks on their minds. Hence, when they go to do their shopping, the chances of them procuring the frequently repeated brand are much higher compared to the chances of purchasing the other unknown products. This decision is never done consciously by the customers, but rather subconsciously. This thus reveals that an advertisement, as part of commercial stimuli, has an influence on customer behavior(Petre, 2007).
In any case, despite the fact that advertisement have an effect on customer behavior, in the current times, the competition is very stiff and it has become an aggressive environment due to the increased number of fast food restaurants, rapidly changing customer needs, and short product life cycle(Corneille, 2010). This is according to Athanasopoulou, Giovanis, and Avlonitis (2015) who further state that is due to this that successful organizations resort to marketing to distinguish their products from the ones their competitors have, and to introduce new products to meet and even exceed customer needs. However, what exactly is marketing?
Generally, marketing can be referred to as the function of an organization that involves implementation of a set of processes for creating, communicating and delivering value to customers. It also involves managing customer relationships in ways that benefit the organization and its stakeholders (Varadarajan, 2010). While marketing is applicable across all industries, it is more practiced in service industries compared to product industries. This is because the product industry involves presentation of more tangible commodities that can act as evidence to the customers and influence them to procure it by observing it. However, services are mostly an experience that varies from firm to firm. Attracting customers and helping them note the outstanding benefits associated with a certain compared to another, is not easy and thus, these companies have to ensure that they advertise and market their services perfectly(Smart, 2010).
With regards to food industry, the situation is not different as this qualifies as a sector within the service industry.
In the current times, there are many restaurants that consumer can choose from, and these choices are increasing from day to day. However, according to studies on consumer behavior carried out by Sheibehenne, Miesler and Todd (2007), consumers make around 200 food decisions a day. They also argue that consumer usually takes his final food decision with less than a second(Corneille, 2010).
In agreement with these views by Sheibehenne, Miesler and Todd, Tran and Fabrize (2013) argue that customers have several ways of determining their choices about a restaurant. This is because they consider the brand first, the country of origin, the food itself in terms of quality and value for money and the price. According to Yong and his colleagues (2012), brand logo is an interesting aspect in which customers rely on while selecting their restaurant. This is because the brand logo inspires customers to believe the service or product provided by this restaurant is trustworthy. From this, they also claimed that branding strategy can positively influence consumer behavior(Corneille, 2010).
In support of these views, Bo (2012) revealed that packaging design can be considered as another important marketing tool to influence customers. This is because packaging design contributes to increase product performance and differentiate it from other competitors. In any case, according to the argument by Phillips, and Hallman (2013), food choices are very personal issue and have a huge effect on health. Hence, it cannot be compared with other industries such as technology; also, food requires a slight financial investment to change the purchasing behavior than other industries. Since food is related to health, requires low financial investment to change, and have a lot of choices; food customers are considered one of the toughest customers to gain and preserve their loyalty. From this, it is clear to infer that for a firm within this food industry, developing a competitive marketing strategy is very crucial to company’s success and survival(Corneille, 2010).
In discussing the significance of developing marketing strategies, Varadarajan (2010) defines marketing strategy as a set of decisions that specify the important choices of a company with regards to its products, markets, market resources, and customers to ensure delivering the best value to customers, and eventually will help in accomplishing organization’s goals and objectives. In any case, marketing strategy is a tool to communicate with the customer, a way to differentiate yourself among other competitors, and a method to show what you have and create value for your customer. Organizations spend millions every year to implement their marketing strategies just to improve the brand performance and efficiency; on the other hand, it is very important to measure the effectiveness of marketing strategy and brand performance(Pervez, 2009). In agreement, Ataman et. al (2010) discussed several measures for brand equity, such as base sale, regular price elasticity, inertia and feedback, however, inertia and feedback are considered very important measures to calculate the returns from a specific marketing investment over long term. Moreover, Athanasopoulouet. al (2015) claimed that a firm with a high brand equity will achieve a high perception of the brand by customers, and it will have more loyal customers, more positive price elasticity, less complaint from the consumer about high prices and will certainly have more brand extension possibilities(Pervez, 2009).
From the above discussion, it is important to note that marketing has an effect on the choice of customers. This is in the sense that it is able to influence the customer by fulfilling their needs, their wishes and anticipating their future wants and evolutionary expectations. This is according to Michonand colleagues(2010) who show that marketing is able to manipulate how people act and buy products while in the market or stall like a supermarket. In a study that experimented this, the rate of purchase of French and German wines was tested while French and German music played on set(Al-Rasheed, 2010). The results revealed that many customers were able to subconsciously purchase French and German wines in larger numbers when the correspondent music played compared to when a different recorder was playing on set. When interrogated on their choices, customers were subconscious and they simply thought of buying the given products by thinking of the country from which the music played when they purchased their product(Corneille, 2010). Whether influencing or manipulating customers to buy a certain product or use given services, the difference is noted in the way a firm uses its tools and implements its techniques. This is according to Pervez (2009) who further mention that either way, the company benefits and it results in increased sales for their products or services regardless of the industry in question.
However, what exactly is the relationship that exists between the various marketing strategies implemented by fast food restaurants and the consumer behavior as well as their perception of the brand in question?In addition, how do consumers behave when making decisions regarding the fast food product they shall buy? What exactly influences their decision making process within the fast food restaurants? These are some of the questions that have surrounded many readers and stakeholders within the fast food industry that has been noted to expand all over the world. The questions have lingered in the minds of many because in the recent times, various companies within the fast food industry have been noted to implement a number of marketing strategies in order to attract more customers.
For instance, many fast food brands have been noted to market their products directly to kids via cartoons, games and other animated programs that appeal to kids mostly. In fact, they have been on record as spending billions annually in order to reach out to children via films, cartoon characters, favorite television shows, and in children’s clothes. As a result, most of their customers have been kids and young adults who enjoy the products very much(Ferrell & Hartline, 2014).
In addition, in some other cases, some of these companies have been on record offering free samples for some of their products thus giving customers, more value for their money. For instance, in some cases, they have managed to attract many customers concerned more about the costs with free coupons on given days of the week and also a combination of meals that go along with some free drinks or an extra free plate of the chosen meal. In other cases, they have also introduced some senior discounts for certain types of products as a result, managing to increase the sales of their products in general. However, while managing to lure in more customers, some of these fast food restaurants have acknowledged that maintaining high quality food products considering the low prices of their products and free offers/ discounts, has been a major challenge. Nevertheless, this till remains the most effective marketing strategy for these companies(Fifield, 2012).
In efforts to also influence customer behavior using various marketing strategies, some firms have also been known to work on advertisements that advocate for the conservation of the environment and concern for the well-being of the customers. Case in point, in reply to the criticism lay out because of the menus that offer only products with high fat levels; these companies have implemented advertisement campaigns that feature raw food supplies coming from local farmers within the regions. They have also featured new menu options for different products that offer the customers an opportunity to enjoy their meals without compromising on their health due to the processed fat. In addition, these companies have also started campaigns that reveal them as environmentalists focused on using recycled packaging materials at their firms and for their brands. As a result, these companies have managed to reveal themselves as business ventures responsible for the environment and the community as well(Correard & Amrani, 2011).
So, why do these different marketing strategies increase sales for companies? What is their impact on the consumer behavior? How do they make customers perceive brands from a different point of view? What are some of those factors that directly influence the customers to make certain decisions while purchasing some products from fast food stalls? What motivates or causes a change in consumer behavior when they see certain products presented in the fast food restaurants? This is an area that still needs to be explored in the modern times and investigated in depth for the readers to get clear insights on the matter. It is also the main focus of this research study.
In this section, a number resources that include books, journal articles, articles from periodicals, articles in conference proceedings, and documents from the websites have been reviewed with regards to the influence of marketing strategies on customer behavior towards the fast food industry in Saudi Arabia. Each has strong arguments regarding the impact of marketing strategies on customer behavior, a subject that has been discussed, studied and explored in the past by numerous researchers and scholars worldwide. The researcher has also focused on highlighting the details on the existing gap in the modern times especially with regards to the marketing strategies currently implemented by fast food restaurants and the impact this has on the customer behavior. Therefore, in the next section, the researcher shall focus on the methodology section where they will present to the reader, methods, techniques and strategies that shall be implemented and used in collecting data from the field shall be discussed and justified. The paper will also explore the design of the study, the population sample and the theoretical framework to be considered for this given research study. This is in the efforts of gathering the needed information in order to provide the necessary answers to the readers and bridge the gap detected during the literature review.
Chapter 3: Methodology
In this chapter, the researcher will discuss the research methodology, techniques and formulae for carrying out this research study. They will highlight the conceptual framework, the tools for gathering data, and analysis process as well. In addition, they will discuss the sample of population, the area of study, and justify the choices they will make in every step of this research analysis. “Theory is something that guides and influences the collection and analysis of data “(Bayman and Bell, 2011, P.11). Hence, the purpose of any research is to answer questions suggested by theoretical considerations. The aim of the research is to study the behavior in decision making process and brand perception by customers. Moreover, several marketing strategies will be investigated and discussed with specific restaurants owners and marketers to present the effectiveness of marketing strategies.
Area of Study
In presenting this research study, the researcher will focus on the organization that is based in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The organization has its base in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and it is mostly known as a chicken restaurant since it was founded in 2010. With its 30 outlets in the various cities in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the organization focuses on presenting the best chicken products and delicacies to the daily customers who flock in everyday to purchase breasts, pies, fried chicken, or go cups depending with their preferences(Al-Rasheed, 2010).
The organization has a CEO who is the head of the company and also co-founder of the chicken chain of restaurants based in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia. In order to be able to successfully manage the affairs of the company in all its chain stores countrywide, the CEO has restaurant managers distributed in all restaurants that individually manage the operations of their chains/ branches and ensure that the running goes on smoothly and effectively without any issues. The restaurant managers are also assisted by operation managers and various other employees who are actively involved in dealing with all the clients coming in, calling in for orders and making reservations for their day to day needs(Al-Rasheed, 2010).
Since the organization is a firm in the chicken chain of restaurants, it is not clear of all competition present in the country. This is because in the country, there are also other restaurants that are considered big brands and more experienced in the field as they have longer years of operations compared to the organization. For instance, there are firms such as KFC Corporation that is based in Louisville in Kentucky America. It is considered one of the few firms from America that has a long history of success and embracing innovation with time and period. As the history of the KFC Corporation goes, the chicken chain of restaurants started with one cook/chef, just like the organization started a few years ago. However, this corporation commenced over 70 years ago and since then, it has been able to expand to over 125 countries where they have opened over 20, 000 outlets and territories for the chicken lovers(Etheredge, 2011).
Another big firm in the fast food restaurant industry found in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is the Burger King Corporations. Just like KFC corporations, this firm is international that is headquartered in Miami-dale County in Florida America. Having been founded in 1953, under a different name, Burger King Corporations has been able to grow and expand to various countries across where world. It has partnered with numerous firms and companies over the years and currently, it has been reported to have over 15000 outlets in over 100 countries worldwide(Euro monitor International, 2017).
For internal management of all the outlets in the over 100 countries worldwide, Burger King Corporations has devised a strategy that allows it to be able to acquire franchises that are privately held by locals in the named countries. This allows the North America firm to be able to focus on licensing and administering of all those stores and new ones that might come up in the future. In some cases, the firm has been able to sell the operational and administrative rights to its franchisees but still reserve the rights to provide training support and advertising as well as management supports for these firms(Al-Rasheed, 2010).
Subway IP Incorporations is another big firm found in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia that is based in America. Just like Burger King Corporations, this firm has adopted the franchise mechanism in order to expand its operations and services to other countries across the world. Currently, in fact, as per the 206 statistics, the company has about 44000 restaurant outlets in over 100 countries across the world. While most of these outlets are found in America, others are found in Asian countries, Europe, Africa and Australian among other nations. At the moment, it is assumed to be the second biggest fast food restaurant in US after McDonald’s as it spends more money than any other fast food restaurant in advertising as compared to all other firms in the nation(Petre, 2007).
While KFC Corporation, Burger King Corporations, and Subway IP Incorporations specializes in the original recipes the founder, Colonel Harland Sanders started using when he opened his first outlet;the organization specializes in some home-made recipes that suit the Saudi Arabians and their local dietaries. This is in the sense that in order to compete with the major brands that have been able to enter the Saudi Arabian market, the organization came up with an original recipe that enables a cook in all the 30 restaurants distributed in cities in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, prepare fresh delicious chicken feeds and sell them to all residents as complete family meals and at pocket-friendly prices that suit the locals in the region(Al-Rasheed, 2010).
In competing with these major brands such as KFC Corporation, Burger King Corporations, and Subway IP Incorporations, the organization has been able to implement a number of market strategy theories that have stood the test of time and economy. For instance, the company, in implementing the segmentation market strategy, they have focused on designing various products that only meet the needs of some customers that can afford it and like it. This is because not all customers will go for chicken breast and like it as it can be presented in the organization. Hence, in order to meet the needs of all those other customers, the organization has designed a strategy that mixes the market in order to be able to attract all customers despite their likes and dislikes and appeal to their immediate needs while extending their chicken profitability across all branches(Fifield, 2012). In asking the different customers about their likes and preferences, this theory shall be put to test at the company and explored in order to determine how different customer choose to select given products at the company.
The segmentation market strategy involves dividing the market into various segments so that the marketer can be able to choose a different approach for each given strategy. In finding out who, why, what, and how within a market, the researcher can be able to target the actual customer, and position their products or services well in a way that they achieve their main goal of increasing sales. By first segmenting a group of customers based on their demographic characteristics, psychographic behavior, geographic characteristics, and behavioral nature, a marketer can be able to then work on targeting their customers for their products and services. In working on positioning their products well, a marketer is thus able to influence the perception of their likely customers about their products and services (Fifield, 2012).
Figure 1: Product life cycle
Adapted from Fifield (2012)
The implementation of the segmentation market strategy is very much similar to those implemented by KFC Corporation, Burger King Corporations, and Subway IP Incorporations, in all its branches and outlets worldwide. This is because in the displays and menus for the various outlets, an individual will see varieties of delicacies that are similar or rather, made from the same product but they have been presented in different formats and ways in order to appeal to different customers who have different like and dislikes(Ferrell & Hartline, 2014).
The other marketing strategy that has allowed the organization to compete with KFC Corporation, Burger King Corporations, and Subway IP Incorporations in the chicken chain restaurant line despite the competition is the use of product life cycle theory to their advantage and focus. This is in the sense that marketing for the organization has been able to shift with the evolvement of the company and its products in its attempts to gain some market share from the major brands since inception to all other channels. This is unlike KFC Corporation, Burger King Corporations, and Subway IP Incorporations that has maintained same market strategy for years since it was founded and remained in operations across the world. On the other hand, the organization ensures that it steals market share via promotions for in-store operations, discounts that are carried out in volumes and advertising via cooperation(Fifield, 2012).
The product life cycle theory involves the division of the process of marketing a product into the four main stages of the life of a product. These stages start with the introduction stage of a product, its growth, maturity stage, and the decline stage. When a product is first introduced to the market, the sales rise at a very high rate and the demand in the market is at the peak in a way that the company is unable to fully satisfy it. As more people continue to buy the product and wish to buy it, the company is able to level off their sales with demand and once demand has been fully satisfied, the sales start to decline to the stage where it needs to be reinvented or replaced with a better product. The next thing that follows is the introduction of a newer product with lesser cost that sooner or later precipitates a quicker way to saturate the market and the decline stage of the other product(Etheredge, 2011). In testing this theory at the company, the researcher will seek to examine the life cycle of various products from the time they are introduced into the market, the stage during ales increase, leveling off of demand and supply and finally, during the decline stage. This will shed light into the innovative ways that can be implemented on various products to ensure that during the reintroduction period, they can still capture sales for the firm.
Figure 2: product life cycle
Adapted from Etheredge (2011)
In marketing, a company has to ensure that it focuses on what they produce or deliver to customers, the price per unit set and the way the product is to be delivered to the potential customers. A company also has to consider how they are planning on informing these customers about their products or their services before they actually do it. This is where the 7Ps come in play. Traditionally, firms considered the first 4PS which include the product, price, place, and promotion. However, marketing has become more sophisticated and thus has also included people, process, and physical evidence in the mix to make the 7Ps. These 7Ps aspect model enable a firm endure the dynamics in the modern business environment as they seek to remain customer-centric(Little & Marandi, 2013). The 7Ps each have a meaning.
Product:– A firm got to develop a product that people will want to buy. This means first, one has to research on customer needs and wants and then come up with services or products that meet the need.
Price:– A product need to be worth as much as the customer is willing to pay for it. While small firms cannot afford to be very cheap and remain competitive against bigger firms in the same space, they can focus on adding value to the product and offering more personalized services that make the customers feel that they are getting value for their money.
Place:- Choosing the right place, time, and quantity is critical as this has to be appropriate and convenient for the customer.
Promotion:– This means communicating with the customers on what a firm is all about, what it does, what it has to offer and how it plans on offering its products to the customers. This has to be done professionally in order to gain the attention of the customers, remain appealing, and give them a reason to trust the firm and its products.
People:– The staff working for the company need to ensure that they make an impression on the customers and leave a positive profound effect that satisfies the customers.
Process: Customers invest in the experience from the time they find a company selling the product they are interested in to the time they purchase the product and use it. This process gets them intrigued and willing to come back or not depending on how everything goes. Therefore, individuals dealing with the customers have to ensure that they make it as smooth as possible.
Physical Evidence: Everyone is reluctant to invest in the unknown. So, in order to help customers know what they are buying before they use it, a firm has to come up with a way to clear the uncertainty. This starts from the cleanliness at the premises, to the approach the firm delivers the services or product to the customers, and also to the testimonies from others who have already tried and tested the merchandise(Little & Marandi, 2013).
In this research study, the researcher will focus on examining how various firms in the fast food industry, especially those in Saudi Arabia, apply the 7Ps model in order to attract customers. The 7Ps model is a marketing tool that can have great impact on the customer behavior depending on how well it is applied and used within a fast food restaurant. The focus on the 7Ps model when planning a marketing strategy for the fast food restaurants is critical and it should commence with a detailed and progressive investigation in collaboration with all other activities of a firm. This is because from the product to be sold to customers which includes the fast food products, a company has to ensure that these products are admired and attractive to customers.
Well, it is no secret that many people, especially the working class prefer fast food due to their tight schedules. The price has to be competitive while providing the customers with value for their money. There are many such restaurants all over the world and in a city, they can be hundreds in a small space. Hence, for a firm to remain relevant, they have to ensure that they focus on the value for money for customers while ensuring that they do not run loses. The place where the fast food joint is located also needs to be ideal to ensure that customers find the products easily and conveniently. Promotion activities should also be ideal to attract many customers and prove to them that the firm is selling exactly what they need. The people selling to customers should be trustworthy, fit for the role and focused on ensuring customers are satisfied. This is to ensure that the process is smooth for the customers who will end up feeling satisfied and willing to come back or provide their testimonies to any other customer with doubts or in need of physical evidence. The questionnaire will have a set of questions that examine the aspects of marketing strategies that have an influence on consumer behavior and thus reveal the significance this has towards the selection of fast food restaurants in Saudi Arabia.
Loyalty Ladder Theory
This theory capitalizes on the relationship concept as the basis for advertising. The relationship between a company and its customers moves upwards from the initial level to the point where these customers have high regards for the company and are almost partners. From prospects customers who are contemplating purchasing products from a company, the relationship moves to a first time customers, to a repeat client, a supporter of all new products by the same company, and finally an advocate who insists on a brand(Little & Marandi, 2013).
Adapted From Little and Marandi (2013)
This kind of relationship marketing is the target of all companies and in this research study, the theory shall be tested by focusing on questions in the questionnaire that investigate what makes a client choose a given company, the basis for the type of decision they make while purchasing fast food products and the reason why they would choose a given place/ firm over the other for their shopping needs.
In order to be able to elaborate exactly how marketing strategies used in the current times by business enterprises within the fast food industry influences customer behavior towards the selection of fast food restaurants in Saudi Arabia, this paper will focus on a number of research objectives and goals. These include the following:-
To investigate the relationship between the marketing strategies by the fast food restaurants and consumer behaviors as well as their perception of the brand.
To deeply investigate consumer behaviors in fast food decision making in order to see what mostly affect the decision-making process and how it can be influenced within the fast food industry.
In order to meet the two main research objective, this research study will focus on the research questions that aim at clarifying issues regarding the influence of marketing strategies on customer behavior towards selection of fast food restaurants in Saudi Arabia. These research questions include:-
How can marketing strategies implemented by fast food restaurants influence consumer decision-making process?
Can marketing of the fast food restaurants affect the brand in a negative way?
What usually attracts consumer to newly established brands within the fast food industry?
How to meet customer’s expectation and preserve their loyalty for a fast food company?
How health, price, convenience, and sensory appeal can influence consumer’s decision when buying food from a fast food restaurant?
The quantitative and qualitative methods will be used to collect the data aiming to answer research questions.For the quantitative research method, the sample will be allocated based on non-probable convenience sampling due to the accessibility through universities, colleges, and schools since, it is the most feasible way to reach the targeted participants. Moreover, as stated above, 35 % of the population is 15-25 years old and the easiest way to approach this category is through schools and universities, hence, a quantitative self-completion questionnaire will be distributed to students to obtain the data needed to evaluate consumers’ behavior(Jupp & Sapsford, 2009).
In addition, the questionnaires shall also be distributed to the restaurant owners and marketing managers of interest to this research. This method will be used to give more flexibility to the researcher to pick some points and reframe further question for the interviewee, moreover, qualitative method will give more space for the participant to explain marketing strategy, thus, will help the researcher to have more insight on the implemented marketing strategy. On the other hand, having this research method to obtain the data from these participants will deliver a reasonable amount of data which still feasible to be analyzed. These participants are reachable through a data base list which was developed during the researcher career in this industry, as a lot of connections were established. Questionnaires shall also be used in collecting data in this given research study(Jupp & Sapsford, 2009).
All data will be analyzed to give the researcher an understanding to the first group purchasing behavior toward fast food restaurants and the factors that could influence it. Moreover, the qualitative data will be analyzed to understand how effective the implemented marketing strategies to influence consumer’s purchasing behavior and how far it could meet consumer expectations. Moreover, the analyzed data should give an indication on the gap between the consumer and marketing manager perception toward the implemented marketing strategy, which might highlight the effectiveness of implemented strategy(Jupp & Sapsford, 2009).
In this chapter, the researcher has discussed the techniques, methods and procedures to be followed while collecting data for analysis in this study. They have also been able to justify the reasons for making some of the choices made with regarding to the method of collecting data, the design of the study and the method or technique of data analysis. The next section is the results and findings section where the paper will present the data from the field and discuss it at length. Here, they will be able to present charts, graphs, and tables presenting all the information that was collected from the field.
Chapter 4: Research Findings and Discussions
This chapter presents the findings of the study, data analysis, and interpretation. The study aimed to establish the influence of marketing strategy on consumer behavior towards the selection of fast food in Saudi Arabia. The objects investigated here included; investigating the relation between marketing strategies and consumer behavior and perception of the brand and how consumer behaviors in food decision making affected and influenced by marketing.
Questionnaire Response Rate
Table: Response Rate of Study
Respondents Targeted Percentage
Obtained 350 95.1%
Refused to participate 14 4%
Terminated 4 0.9%
Targeted 368 100%
The study targeted a total of 368 respondents picked randomly from the universities. The study managed to get the total 350 (95.1%) respondents. 4% of the respondents refused to participate in the survey citing reasons like; they were not in position to answers the studied questions, not available to participate in the survey and the confidential information. 0.9% did not complete the survey because of time and another requested to be compensated for him to complete the survey. This was in line with Cooper and Schindler (2005) indicated that a questionnaire response rate of above 75% is sufficient for a social scientific study to proceed.
General and Demographic Information
This research study began with the establishment of the respondents’ demographic information. The information investigated here included age as well as the occupation of the respondents. The findings are presented in the figure 1 and 2 below.
Age of the Respondents
From the findings most of the respondents fell between the ages 20 and 29 years, followed by 32% of respondents aged 30 to 35 years. Ages 40 to 49 formed 18% of the interviewees, with the senior respondents aged 60 above constituted 5% of the total surveyed respondents. The pie chart below presents the graphical image of the age distribution.
Fig 1: Age distribution of the respondents
The study also asked the respondents to state their occupation and present the results in figure 2 below.
Occupation of the Respondents
Students formed a bigger part of respondents for this survey by 32%, followed closely by business people at 26%, teachers were 16% of the successful respondents. Respondents who mentioned sales as their occupation were 6%, those who mentioned engineering were 5% followed by accountants and technicians at 4% each. Other occupations such as drivers, shop attendants, and casual laborers contributed 7% of the total respondents.
Fig 2: Occupation of the respondents
The interviewees were then asked to mention places they usually shop. Their response was analyzed and presented in the bar graph below.
Shopping Areas of the Respondents
The survey shows that most respondents (35%) did their purchases at the supermarkets, Local outlets were favorite places for 28% of the respondents, followed by big malls and then other came a distant fourth as had been indicated by 10% of the respondents.
Fig 3: Popular shopping places
The study then sought to find what inspired the respondents to buy or skip other products. The results in the figure below show that most respondents 38% looked at the price of the product before making a decision to buy or not to buy. 31% of them indicated advertisement as the motive behind about buying some product. Respondents who were influenced by brand 23% followed by the rest who cited other reasons.
Fig 3: Main influence of respondents’ purchasing habits
The first objective of the survey was to investigate the relationship between marketing strategies and consumer behavior.
To achieve this objective the study posted a number of questions related to marketing strategy and expected respondents to indicate the extent to which they agreed or disagreed with the asked statements. The table below displays the results.
Table 1: Influence of Marketing Strategy on consumer behavior
Statements Strongly Disagree Disagree Moderately Agree Agree Strongly Agree Mean
Do you think marketing makes you have a better perspective of the brand image? 7.1% 7.1% 64.3% 21.4% 0.0% 3.0000
Do you feel marketing is the only way to improve the image of a brand? 8.2% 6.0% 50.0% 28.6% 7.1% 3.2143
Do you feel that marketing is more of manipulation than influence? 0.0% 0.0% 21.4% 64.3% 14.3% 3.9686
In your opinion, does the effectiveness of marketing depend on the strategies? 0.0% 7.1% 14.3% 78.6% 0.0% 3.7143
Do you feel that marketing strategies are more appealing to customers thus influencing their needs to buy certain brand products? 0.00% 0.0% 14.3% 85.7% 0.00% 3.8571
In your opinion, does marketing affects a brand in a negative way? 5.7% 63.4% 21.6% 5.1% 4.2% 2.3870
Do you trust that marketing attracts customers to newly established brands and their products? 0.0% 7.1% 21.4% 64.3% 7.1% 3.7143
From the results displayed above the respondents were in agreement that marketing contributed to their perspective of the brand image as indicated by a mean score of 3.000. Most of the respondents were undecided whether marketing was the only way to improve the image of the brand. A mean response of 3.2143 clearly paints this picture. Respondents were then asked to indicate whether they felt that marketing was more of manipulation than influential. The interviewees agreed with the statement they felt more manipulated that influenced by the strategies employed by marketers as given by the positive mean score of 3.9686. Does effectiveness of marketing depends on the strategies was another question posed to the participants. 9 out of every 10 people interviewed agreed that strategy was a big factor in the effectiveness of the marketing. This was also pointed out a stronger mean score of 3.7143.
Generally speaking, respondents felt that marketing strategies are more appealing to customers thus influencing their needs to buy certain brand products and also strongly trusted that marketing attracted customers to newly established brands and their products as revealed by the mean scores of 3.8571 and 3.7143 respectively.
On the other hand, the respondents were reserved with their responses on whether marketing negatively affected a brand as shown by a weak mean score 2.387.
The next objective of the study was to investigate the consumer behaviors in food decision-making process and how it can be influenced.
Under this objective, the researcher sought to seek the opinion of the partakers on their behaviors in decision-making process with regards to food and how that could be influenced. Areas investigated included: How marketing affected their customer decision compared to price, health, convenience and sensory appeals, marketing strategies were effective in influence consumer decision making process. The relationship between a product and its respective advertisement slogan, the first thing that comes to respondent minds when he or she sees a product were some other items investigated in this section. Table 2 below presents the finding of the study.
Table 2: Consumer behavior in food decision-making process
Statements Strongly Disagree Disagree Moderately Agree Agree Strongly Agree Mean
In your opinion does marketing has more effect on customer decision compared to price, health, convenience and sensory appeals?
0.0% 14.3% 50.0% 35.7% 0.0% 3.2143
Do you think that there are marketing strategies that seem to care for customer needs are more effective in influencing consumer decision making process? 0.00% 0.00% 28.6% 35.7% 35.7% 4.0714
When you see a certain product, the first words that comes to mind are the advertisement and marketing aspect of it? 7.1% 7.1% 7.1% 71.4% 7.1% 3.6429
When you see a product, you first think of the price, health, and convenience of it to your needs 0.00% 0.00% 14.3% 78.6% 7.1% 3.9286
When you see a product, you first remember the last commercial you saw on it? 0.00% 0.00% 21.4% 64.3% 14.3% 3.9686
Depending on the promotion and marketing of a product, I would buy it? 0.00% 7.10% 7.1% 57.1% 28.6% 4.0714
Do you think that marketing is nice, important to customers? 7.10% 0.0% 21.4% 35.7% 35.7% 3.9286
Do you believe that marketing is a cost incurred by firms and transferred to customers? 0.00% 0.00% 28.6% 35.7% 35.7% 4.0714
In your opinion does marketing gives an opportunity for a brand to be criticized and thus affected negatively? 0.00% 7.1% 14.3% 50.0% 28.6% 4.0000
Generally, the respondent felt that marketing has more effect on customer decision compared to price, health, convenience and sensory appeals, they also pointed out that marketing strategies that seem to care for customer needs are more effective in influencing consumer decision-making process. Additionally, they agreed the first words that come to mind are the advertisement and marketing aspect of it whenever they see a product. On average they indicated of thinking of the price, health and convenience of the commodity every time they spotted a product. The participants further claim they always remember the last commercial whenever they come across a product. They generally agreed that promotion and marketing of a product would influence their decision to purchase it and were also in agreement that marketing was nice and important to consumers. The majority believed that marketing is a cost incurred by firms and transferred to customers and approved that marketing offered an opportunity for a brand to be criticized and thus could have a negative impact on the product. All the above deductions are supported by the given means of 3.2143, 4.0714, 3.6429, 3.9286, 3.9686 4.0714, 3.9286, 4.0714 and 4.0000 respectively.
The coefficient of determination explains the extent to which changes in the dependent variable can be explained by the change in the independent variables or the percentage of variation in the dependent variable (Consumer behavior) that is explained by the independent variable (Marketing strategy.).The studied variables explain only 84.6% of the performance as represented by the R2. This, therefore, means that other factors such as health, price, and others not studied in this research contribute 15.4% of the consumer’s behavior towards a certain product.
Table 3: Model Summary
Model R R Square Adjusted R Square Std. Error of the Estimate
1 .920a .846 .667 3.81504
The F critical at 5% level of significance was 4.21. Since F calculated is greater than the F critical (value = 4.712), this shows that the overall model was significant. The significance is less than 0.05 i.e. 0.039, thus indicating that the predictor variable (the marketing strategy employed by a company) explain the variation in the dependent variable which is consumer behavior towards a product. If the significance value of F was larger than 0.05 then the independent variables would not explain the variation in the dependent variable.
Model Sum of Squares Df Mean Square F Sig.
1 Regression 480.101 7 68.586 4.712 .039b
Residual 87.327 6 14.555
Total 567.429 13
a. Dependent Variable: Consumer behavior towards a product.
b. Predictors: Marketing strategy of a company.
Table 4.1: Multiple Regression Analysis
Model Unstandardized Coefficients Standardized Coefficients T Sig.
B Std. Error Beta
(Constant) 4.454 13.449 .331 .752
Marketing strategy of a company on a product 1.752 1.077 .567 1.9626 .0155
Dependent variable: Consumer behavior towards selection of a fast food
The regression equation assumed the following form:
MS = Marketing strategy of a company
∂ = Constant
β = Coefficient (a measure of strength and type of relationship)
CB = consumer behavior towards a particular product
According to the regression equation established, taking all factors into account (the consumer behavior towards a particular product) to be constant at zero, the consumer behavior will be 4. 454. The data findings analyzed also show that taking for a unit improvement in a company’s marketing strategy of a product there will lead to a 1.752 unit’s improvement of the consumer behavior towards that particular product.
In this chapter, the researcher has presented their findings to the readers using tables, graphs, charts and figures for clear depiction of the statistics. As a result, the readers were able to make their own conclusions and infer from the findings presented by the researcher. As it has been discussed, the marketing strategy of a company influences consumer behavior. In addition, it was also noted that some of the factors that influences customer’s decision to buy certain products include the price tags on the products, health and sensory appeals, convenience factor and value for customers.In the next chapter, the researcher presents a brief conclusion and recommendations for the data earlier discussed in this chapter.
Chapter 5: Conclusion and Recommendations
From the first chapter, this paper highlighted the research problem and discussed the background of the region under study. A discussion on the research objective and research question was also presented in the introduction section before presentation of the literature review in which the researcher explored various resources published after 2007 in order to highlight theories adopted by earlier scholars, identify the gap of information presented and the link needed to carry out the study as well as present the framework for the research.
In the methodology section, methods, techniques and strategies that were implemented and used in collecting data from the field were discussed and justified. In the section, the researcher also explored the design of the study, the population sample and the theoretical framework that was considered for this given research study. The next section was the results and findings section where the paper presented the data from the field and discussed it at length. Here, they were able to present charts, graphs, and tables presenting all the information that was collected from the field.
Based on the results presented in the previous chapter, it was clearly discovered that social sites such as Facebook, instagram and whatsapp are very popular and most people spend on average of 4-5 hours a day on these sites. While some do so for purposes such as finding new friends, others do business and marketing among other stuff. However, only a small percentage of these users felt comfortable purchasing items online despite having smartphones and other devices to access social media sites anywhere.
In any case, social media can influence human behavior as it can influence education, relationships, and how people communicate with each other. Hence, confirming why most people believed that social media has completely changed their lives and they would not be the same without it.
In any case, since the goal of this research study was to investigate the relation between marketing strategies and consumer behavior and perception of the brand. The consumer behaviors in food decision making was deeply investigated to see what mostly affect the decision-making process and how it can be influenced. The results revealed that most individuals are influenced by their objectives of joining social media and the number of hours they spend on these sites. Their trust levels of these sites also seemed to influence their decision making process.
However, the results also answered the research questions as they clearly revealed the connection that exists between the marketing strategies and the consumer behavior of their perceptions of various brands. It was able to reveal that marketing strategies influence consumer decision-making process because as per the results of the study, respondents agreed that their perspective on various products was altered by the marketing strategies used by the company. It was also clarifiedthat marketing affects the brand of a company in a negative way or positive way but most respondents did not trust that the effect was negative on the brand in most cases. However, it was obvious that marketing attracts customers to a newly established brand or product as believed by most respondents involved in this research study.
With regards to how to meet the expectations of the consumers and how to preserve their loyalty, it was noted that in using the proper marketing strategies and targeting the right niche of customers, companies can be able to meet all the expectations of their consumers. Furthermore, health, price, convenience, and sensory appeals implemented during marketing by a certain company affects the decisions customers make with regards to buying their products or choosing a given brand.
Since some of the factors that have been noted, in this research study, to influence the consumer behavior and their decision making process within the fast food restaurants include price, health, convenience, sensory appeals, and perception of concern for the consumers, there is need for future research studies to further examine these factors and do an in-depth analysis of consumer behavior and their decision making process. The future scholars should also consider exploringa combination of factors that attracts consumers to a given product in the fast food industry, how to make marketing more appealing not to have negative effects on brands, and its implementation to preserve customer loyalty. This is to ensure that they further strengthen and confirm the findings presented in this given research study.