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ASSESSMENT OF INFLUENCE OF CONSUMER INFORMATION AWARENESS ON HOMEMAKERS' DECISION MAKING IN SELECTING FAMILY GOODS AND SERVICES IN SOUTH-EAST, NIGERIA
The study investigated the influence of awareness of consumer information on homemakers‟ utilization in decision making for selecting family goods and services in South-East of Nigeria. The specific objectives were to: determine the available sources of consumer information for homemakers selection of goods and services; ascertain levels of awareness of consumer information of homemakers in selecting family goods and services; determine levels of awareness sources of consumer information for selecting goods and services; determine extent of utilization of consumer information for purchasing goods and services, determine socio-economic factors affecting homemakers‟ decision on selection of goods and services; determine factors that influence homemakers‟ decision making on selection of goods and services. There were six research questions and six hypotheses formulated in line with the objectives. The population of the study was 1031 which was also the sample size for the study. The study used descriptive survey design. A questionnaire titled consumer information awareness was designed and used by the researcher for data collection in this study. The data was analyzed using frequency and percentages for Bio data. Mean and standard deviation were used for educational qualification and level of income of the respondents and the six research questions. Simple linear regression was used for the six hypotheses at p<0.05 significance level. The results revealed an overall mean of 2,81 signifying that available sources of consumer information influenced homemakers‟ selection of goods and services (R2=.436,AdjustedR2=.423,p=.000). Result on levels of awareness of consumer information revealed an overall mean of 3.26 signifying significant influence(R2=.092,Adjusted R2=.074,p<0.05). Result on levels of awareness of sources of consumer information revealed an overall mean of 2.54 signifying influence on homemakers‟
selection of goods and services. Result extent of utilization of consumer information has influence on homemakers‟ purchasing of goods and services (R2=.166, Adjusted R2=.153, p<0.05). Result on socio-economics factors that influence homemaker‟ decision revealed an overall mean of 3.14 signifying influence on homemakers‟ selection of goods and services (R2=.108,Adjusted R2=.096,p<0.05). Result on factors that influence homemakers decision making revealed an overall mean of 3.00 signifying that the factors influenced homemakers‟ in selecting goods and services (R2=.034,AdjustedR2=.029, p<0.05). Based on the findings of this study, it was concluded that availability of sources of information, levels of awareness information, extent of utilization of information, socio-economic factors affecting decision and factors influencing homemakers decision making had significant influence on homemakers‟ selection of family goods and services. It was therefore recommended among others, that consumer education training and retraining should be carried out through seminars and workshops by home economics teachers to enlighten homemakers, curriculum planners should include consumer education in all levels of education in Nigeria, monitoring team set up by the State Government should check the activities of consumer agencies to ensure that they do their jobs, and National Agency for food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) should publish information about new products promptly to enable consumers be informed.
1.1 Background of the Study
A consumer is a person who purchases goods and services produced by someone else. Anyakoha and Eluwa (2008) defined a consumer as any person who makes use of goods and services to satisfy personal or household needs. An individual or a business firm or government unit can purchase goods and services to fulfill her desire. Consumers can be classified according to their current position in the consumption processes; either as potential, realized and non consumers (Tanko, 2012). A potential consumer buys products without having a need, it could be to display wealth or to boost ego. A non consumer buys products to resell, because it is to resell he/she may not go far in search of information about the products. A realized consumer buys to satisfy needs.
Generally, a homemaker is a gender-neutral term for a housewife or a husband who is responsible for domestic activities in the family, but in the context of this study only female homemakers were used. In the olden days, homemakers as consumers did not require information in selecting goods and services because they were produced within the families. In recent times, due to advancement in technology better products are being produced. People now purchase goods instead of producing articles for their own needs and desires. This development makes it essential to provide homemakers with the information that will help them in selection of goods and services.
Consumer information are those vital pieces of information that are provided for consumers, to help them be aware of existing goods and services and enable them to assess their values, qualities and quantities for maximum satisfaction. Consumer information
includes rights and responsibilities of consumers in the market place. All efforts to transmit knowledge to consumers for individual use, as undertaken by government agencies, consumer associations, manufacturers, private intermediaries and consumers themselves are referred to as consumer information (European Commission Staff Working Committee, 2010). In line with what is obtainable in other developed countries, National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) is authorized to set up minimum requirements for both imported and locally manufactured regulated products for the purpose of accurate information, health and safety of consumers (NAFDAC, 2003). Thus, manufacturers and retailers inform consumers about their products through advertising, packaging, labelling and other accompanying documentations, such as instruction manuals or leaflets before or at the time of purchase as contract.
Consumer information awareness can be viewed or expressed as competencies, skills and behaviours required of an informed consumer to operate in the market place while purchasing goods and services. A consumer who is aware of consumer information and knows her rights and responsibilities should be able to utilize them when selecting goods and services to purchase. According to Lachance and Nadia (2004) skilled consumers should be able to use information and advice, know how to access them; as well as know their rights and responsibilities and be able to exercise them. Consumer information awareness enables homemakers to manage their money wisely, to know where to go for advice, to separate facts from fallacy and understand the consequences of their decision making. In support of the above, Nwabah (2009) pointed out that knowledge enables the consumer to eliminate waste in consumption, safeguard consumers from dangerous and inferior goods and services and other unfair selling practices of business
people. Consumer awareness also involves asking questions and subsequently making a decision which are both political and personal. This means voicing a complaint and seeking remedies when displeased with a product, a service or a business practice. Questioning is an important aspect of consumer behaviour as it encourages self-reliance and think- for- yourself attitude. Awareness of consumer information helps consumers exercise their rights when need arises. According to Tanko (2012) awareness of information influences consumers to raise their voices to modify the policies of business and government that affect the workings of the market place.
In Nigerian society, homemakers are faced with the responsibilities of selecting, purchasing and directing the use of family goods and services. There are various types and brands of similar goods in the market for homemakers‟ selection. Homemakers are therefore challenged with the problem of choice of goods and services that will satisfy their families needs. The satisfaction of needs and wants of a family is best achieved through establishing priority for spending and application of good buying practices. The homemaker must consider the objectives and values to be fulfilled before purchasing family goods and services. This involves a great deal of decision making.
Decision making involves the information gathering of the homemakers in order to make a good choice. Many homemakers have gone to the market without actually knowing the kind of articles to buy. Occasionally such homemakers will return home full of regret for what they purchased. Homemakers should get information about goods and services on regular basis before selection because new products and services with different brand names and prices are constantly coming into the market. Once a homemaker identifies the need to purchase goods and services, she must take time to become familiar with the
available products, available alternatives, inquire for their prices, look for features that make them good or better, ask where and how to purchase them and finally terms of service or delivery. Clear comparable information about price and quality is important for empowering consumers.
Consumer satisfaction should be the point of focus of all manufacturers and sellers of goods and services when performing business activities. On the contrary, homemakers have long been exploited in their exchange relations with business people. This exploitation has remained unabated due to illiteracy, ignorance and poverty. Government efforts to protect these homemakers as consumers have not yielded the desired result. For instance, in July, 2016, a homemaker bought one blender from Umuahia main market, when she plugged it on electricity to use, the blender did not work. Due to fear of unknown problem and ignorance, she did not return the product to the seller. In affirmation, Mukhtar (2012) reported about somebody that made on-line purchase of lap top and what he received was not what he bargained for. Due to the money and time involve in pursuing his right, he decided to bear the loss. Nigerian consumers are exploited on daily basis and their rights abused, in most cases without the exploited consumers seeking redress.
The Federal Government of Nigeria has created awareness of consumer information for consumers. Some regulations and laws have been enacted and some agencies inaugurated to protect consumers against adulterated goods and services. Evidences from literatures and individual experiences revealed that the Government efforts have also not yielded the desired effect. It is therefore necessary to examine the influence of consumer information awareness on homemakers‟ decision making in selecting family goods and services in Nigeria.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Due to technological improvement, family members purchase goods and services instead of producing articles for their own needs and desires. This development makes it essential to provide homemakers information that will help them in selecting family goods and services.
In Nigerian society, the homemaker is often responsible for purchasing family goods such as clothing articles, electric cooker, pressing iron, blenders, food mixer and boiling ring. Producers use the opportunities that consumers lack knowledge and fill the market places with all kinds of similar products (Etonyeaku,2010). Different brands of similar items are paraded before the homemaker to make choice through advertisement. She therefore faces the problem of choice among similar items. It has been noted that some homemakers use price as indication of quality goods.
As the result of global crisis, some countries are looking for where to sell their products (Salako, 2009). It has been observed that these unscrupulous foreign countries and companies see Nigeria as a ready market to dump their products and services. This is because the regulation on consumer rights is not enforced. When a product fails to function as indicated by the manufacturer, the homemakers find it difficult to reach the industry with their complaints or obtain help from government consumer agencies due to lack of knowledge and ignorance.
The researcher‟s interaction with some homemakers revealed that some traders continued to worsen the problems of homemakers by informing the manufacturers to reduce the quality of products in order to maximize profits. The issue of reduction in quality affects almost all goods to the extent that it is difficult to distinguish the fake from
the original. This set of traders also smuggle into the market some goods that do not meet the regulations of Standard Organization of Nigeria (SON).
The researcher has also observed that most homemakers fall victims of purchasing what they do not really need as a result of wrong decision due to speculation of price increase of their regular goods. They find it difficult to choose alternative goods that will equally meet their family needs and desires due to lack of knowledge, ignorance and illiteracy.
Another problem observed by the researcher is that most homemakers purchasing decisions are subject to time constraints. Most homemakers find it difficult to devote time and search for information before selecting goods and services to purchase. This is also applicable to the issues of fighting for their rights. When they purchase a good that is substandard, they see it as waste of time reporting to public complaint commission. Nigerian consumers do not comply with the information that will involve unnecessary wastage of time. Behavioural researchers have proved that consumers ignore certain information that do not allow them to make decision quickly (Obeta,2011).
The Nigerian homemakers are being exploited by business people and their rights being abused, in most cases without seeking redress. The homemakers seem ignorant of the available legal provisions to protect themselves from such exploitations. The problem is that sometimes these information are lacking, even when they are available, the homemakers might not be able to utilize them due to ignorance. The researcher therefore, intends to determine the homemakers level of awareness of consumer information, the influence of awareness on their decision making in selecting goods and services, the
challenges homemakers encounter on utilizing their awareness of information, then suggest ways of improving utilization of consumer information.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The major objective of this study is to determine the influence of consumer information awareness on homemakers' selection of family goods and services.
The specific objectives of the study are to:
- ascertain the available sources of consumer information for homemakers selection of family goods and services;
- determine the homemakers level of awareness of consumer information for selecting family goods and services;
- assess the homemakers level of awareness of sources of consumer information for selecting family goods and services;
- determine the extent of homemakers utilization of consumer information on decision for selecting family goods and services;
- determine the socio-economic factors that influence homemakers' decision making on selection of goods and services;
- determine factors that influence homemakers' decision making in selecting family goods and services.
1.4 Research Questions
The following questions guided the study:
- What are the available sources of consumer information for homemakers‟ selection
of family goods and services?
- What are the homemakers‟ level of awareness of consumer information on selection of family goods and services?
- What are the homemakers‟ level of awareness of sources of consumer information on selection of family goods and services?
- What is the extent of homemakers‟ utilization of consumer information on decision for purchasing goods and services
- What are the socio-economic factors that influence homemakers‟ decision making in selecting goods and services?
- What are the factors that influence homemakers‟ decision making in selecting goods and services?
1.5 Null Hypotheses
The following null hypotheses were tested at 0.05 level of significance:
There is no significant influence of available sources of consumer information on homemakers selection of goods and services.
There is no significant influence of levels of awareness of consumer information of homemakers on selection of goods and services.
Ho3. There is no significant influence of levels of awareness of sources of consumer information of homemakers on selection of goods and services.
H4. There is no significant influence of extent of utilization of consumer information of homemakers on decision in purchasing goods and services.
H5. There is no significant influence of socio-economic factors that affect homemakers‟ decision on selection of goods and services.
H6. There is no significant influence of factors that influence decision making of homemakers on selection of goods and services.
1.6 Basic Assumption of the Study
The following assumptions were made in this study, that;
- Homemakers are being cheated in the market place on daily basis without them taking redress.
- Homemakers are ignorant and lack knowledge of their rights as consumers of goods and services.
- Homemakers may have been encountering problems in using consumer information.
- Homemakers decision making are influenced by level of income rather than awareness of consumer information.
1.7 Significance of the Study
As the study has been successfully completed through meaningful collection and analysis of relevant data, the following personalities and bodies will benefit from the information obtained: The curriculum planners, homemakers /individual consumers, researchers, home economists, teachers, food scientists, prospective researchers and the Nigerian government.
The findings of this study will make the curriculum planners to incorporate consumer education at all levels of Home Economics Education and not only in higher institutions. Just as the curriculum planners have taken cognizance of Home Economics Education at primary school level, the area of consumer education should be emphasized.
This is where the stage of decision making starts and children are eager to learn and practice what they are taught. Moreover, some of the future homemakers as consumers may not have the opportunity to exceed primary education.
The study is important to homemakers because it will educate them on the genuine sources of consumer information while making decision in selecting family goods and services. As the homemakers gather information from different sources about products to purchase, they will be able to discern or assess their authenticity by comparing them with the documented ones and make intelligent choice. The study will encourage any abused homemaker in the market place to speak out and receive help, because some consumer agents are ready to take up such cases. Some homemakers bear some losses due to ignorance and fear of problem that may arise when they return fake products and ask for refund. This study will also safeguard individual consumers from purchasing dangerous and fake products as the study will help to inform them on how to avoid such products.
The findings of the study will also assist the consumers to make intelligent decision on how and where to purchase goods and services to reduce cost and stress. Application of bulk buying and use of buying opportunity can save time, energy and money, thus reducing stress that accompanies financial scarcity among family members. The information from the study will reach consumers through workshops, seminars and during general women meetings.
The Researchers will use the findings of this study as a reference for insights into the purchasing behaviour of the consumers in the study area. Knowing the habits of people that influence their purchasing bahaviour is important in order to discourage the ones that are not good.
Home economists will benefit from the findings as teachers. The information will help in both classroom teaching and extension programme. Students will also benefit from the results as they learn from classroom teaching, by attending conferences or reading the journal when it is published. Teachers in primary, secondary and higher institutions will also help to pass the information to consumers.
Food Scientists need the information as a guide for labelling their products, as well as in purchasing laboratory equipment required for production. They will understand the type of information that should be provided for consumers in label, which will assist them label appropriately. They should benefit from the study by attending conferences where the articles should be presented or reading the journal publication.
Prospective Researchers will benefit from this study when they read the article in a published journal or during conferences at the time of presentation. They can pick topics of their study from the suggested topics for further research.
The findings of the study will help government to assess the functions of the consumer agencies, such as National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Standard Organization of Nigeria (SON), Consumer Protection Council (CPC),Ministry of Trade and Industries, (Department of Weights and Measures), Public Complaints Commission among others. The issues of products quality and urgent release of information on new products for consumers should be emphasized. This will go a long way to strengthen and protect consumers against exploitation from business people.
1.8 Delimitation of the Study
The study was focused on the influence of consumer information awareness on decision of homemakers in selecting family goods and services in five States of the South East, Nigeria. The five States are Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo. The emphasis on women is based on the fact that decisions for purchasing family goods rests more on homemakers in Nigerian culture. Women are responsible for management of home activities as well as purchasing of family goods and services. Any where men carry out these activities, they do them on skeletal basis or part-time. Consequently the study was delimited to homemakers working in the twelve Federal Government Secondary Schools in the five States. The Federal Government Secondary Schools are located in the States as follows:- Abia State: Federal Government Girls College Umuahia, Federal Government College Ohafia and Federal Government Technical College Ohanso. Anambra: Federal Government Girls College Onitsha, Federal Government College Awka and Federal Science School Nise. Ebonyi State: Federal Government Girls College Izamgbo and Federal Government College Okposi. Enugu State: Federal Government College Enugu and Federal Government Girls College Lega. Imo State: Federal Government Girls College Owerri and Federal Government College Okigwe.
The homemakers used in the study are both teaching and non teaching staff. Homemakers working in Federal Secondary Schools were used because their employment is based on Federal Character Commission. Therefore, they are from different parts of Nigeria and are directly responsible for decision making in purchasing family goods and services.
The family goods that were covered in this study are clothing articles, blender, hot plate, food mixer, boiling ring and electric iron. Some of the services involved are delivery agreement, functioning, maintenance and satisfaction obtained from the goods. Most delivery agreements believe that the good should be wholesome when purchased with all the parts intact and be functioning well. Functioning includes performance of the item and its durability. Maintenance involves the ability to repair the items and availability of the repairer. Satisfaction is obtained when the item fulfills the need or desire of the homemaker‟s intention for purchasing it.