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1.1 Background to the Study

Advertising is a form of marketing communication used to persuade an audience to take or continue some action, usually with respect to a commercial offering, political or ideological support. Advertising messages are usually paid for by identified sponsors and viewed via various media, including newspapers, magazine, television, radio, outdoor, direct mail or new media such as blogs, websites or text messages.
These commercial advertisements often seek to generate increased consumption of products or services through “branding”, which involves associating a product name or image with certain qualities in the minds of consumers. The mass media perform these functions by bringing together buyers and sellers through their publicity.
Belch & Belch (2013) state that nearly everyone in the modern world is influenced and that some organisations in both the private and public sectors have learned that the ability to communicate effectively and efficiently with their target audiences is critical to their success. Advertising and other types of promotional messages are used to sell products and services as well as to promote causes, market political candidates, and deal with societal problems such as alcohol and drug abuse.
These days, hardly can anyone go anywhere without seeing at least one product being advertised. These advertisements are essential parts of every type of media. They are invariably, mass media tools available to marketers.
As Ozoh (2008) explains, what the mass media sell through advertising may be a product, service, idea or cause. The author goes ahead to underscore the economic function of mass communication when he notes that the fundamental purpose of advertising, “is to induce the buyer to purchase something that the seller has to sell: a product, service, a political candidate or whatever” (p.15). He further points out that an advertisement is not successful if it does not sell. Consumers are finding it increasingly difficult to avoid the efforts of these marketers, who are constantly searching for new ways to communicate with them (Belch and Belch, 2013).
The evolution of advertising dates back to the ancient times when societies according to Kumer and Raju (2013) used symbols and pictorials to attract their products’ users. Over centuries, these elements were used for promotion of products in the early ages, which were handmade and were produced at limited scales for promotion of products. Later on, this phenomenon gained strength more intensely for promotional purposes. In today’s modern societies, advertisements have become one of the major sources of communication tool between the manufacturers and the users of the products. Advertising therefore plays a very significant role when it comes to influencing consumers to purchase products, including those ones which were not on plan to be purchased.
As earlier stated, advertising is a paid form of communicating a message by the use of various media. It is persuasive, informative and designed to influence purchasing behaviour or thought pattern. Mitchell et al. (2009) add that advertising is a process of drawing attention to, notifying or informing somebody of the availability of something. Advertisements are usually placed anywhere an audience can easily or frequently access them. (Dada, 2010). Accordingly, Bovee and Arens (2012) observe that advertising is, “a communication process, a marketing process, an economic and social process or information process depending on the point of view” (p.59).
Generally speaking, the role of advertising is to inform both the actual and potential consumers of the benefit, function, and/or the price of a product; to persuade consumers to buy the said product. To do these, advertisers employ various advertising strategies with the aim of capturing the attention of consumers. Writing on the informative function of advertising, Daiwan (2011) agrees that, “ the primary role of advertising is to inform potential buyers of the problem-solving utility of a firm’s marketing offering with the objective of developing consumer preferences for a particular product”(p.63). How consumers react to your advertising is important. If they are offended or indifferent to it, you have not gained from your promotional investment.
For advertising to become effective, it has to be recognised, and its adaptability communicated to potential consumers/buyers. This is made possible through advertising agent. As advertising becomes more sophisticated, the market increased in size while advertising budget grows in size and other services added. Advertising today has become the lifeline and an indispensible tool in the marketing of goods and services. It is also a powerful tool used by companies to fulfill their promotional tasks.
Advertising however, performs function such as marketing communication, education and socialisation. It is now a tradition that every business organisation communicates with its diverse audience which include; government, consumers, shareholders, distributors, employees, suppliers and the general public about their new products and policies. Consumer behavior on the other hand is as varied as consumers themselves. There is no direct link between the act of placing an advertisement in the media and consumer purchasing the product and the product leaving the factory. Consumer’s reaction to an advertisement for a product can vary ranging from a desire to purchase the product to absolute apathy.
However, placing advertisement in the media is a form of communication which is capable of bringing about a kind of action at a distance, an action which will have a profound effect on the eventual sale of the product.
Advertising generally works on the audio-visual senses of consumers and thereby set up in the minds a chain of reactions capable of influencing their buying decisions (Nworah, 2010). The ease with which advertisements succeed in the process of influencing consumer behaviour will depend highly on the credibility of the message.
Another function of advertising is the economic perspective which is the primary function of advertising by making people aware of the existence and availability of goods, services and ideas, advertising promotes sales, thereby enhancing commerce. It also serves as a buyer’s guide as it provides the buyer with news about products, changes in price, and places to get the product. It encourages competition, which usually leads to improved quality of goods and services, reduced prices and even investment.
Advertising also encourages entertainment through its jingles and music. It facilitates press and media functions since the media would depend neither on the governments not the media owner. The role of advertising is inexhaustive, it is the lips of any business or economy and most spend a lot on advertising. The nations also employ advertising in the international market.

There are few necessities or consumables that all ages, genders use 12 points or statuses cannot do without – such as toothpaste. Consumers are bombarded with two many choices of product brands to use, one of which is toothpaste. In the Nigeria oral care market, such brands as Colgate, Closeup, Darbler, Macleans, Pepsodent, Sensodyne exist. These all come in different variants, sizes, colours, flavours and tube shapes, and they form the group of toothpastes available in the market. There are other oral care products used in the country such as mouthwashes, oral sprays, oral rinsers, toothbrushes and traditional chewing sticks. Vani et al. (2011) remarked that toothpaste manufacturers have introduced many varieties of toothpaste with different ingredients to solve the problems of consumers.
During advertisement and sales promotion, toothpaste marketers attempt to educate consumers about the active ingredients of their products. Newell and Marier (2007) in Rasool et al. (2012) reiterate that the advertiser displays the products by a different meaning on the television and the marketer delivers to the users as their needs and wants.
According to Gunsolley (2006), toothpaste contains active ingredients that perform specific functions. These ingredients are abrasives, fluorides, desensitising agents, anti-plague agents, and anti tartar ingredients. It also contains detergents, humectants, thickeners, preservatives, flavouring agents, sweeteners and colouring agents. The abrasive performs the primary function of removing stains from the teeth, while the flouride prevents cavities and make the tooth to be more resistant to acid attack. The surfactant, which is the foaming agent, increases the cleansing power of the toothpaste, while the anti-plague agent reduces tartar and plague growth on teeth. The humectants help the toothpaste maintain its moisture, while thickeners are added to provide body for the toothpaste. The preservatives prevent the growth of microbes in the toothpaste, while flavouring agent and sweeteners are added to improve the taste of the toothpaste. The colouring agents provide the toothpaste with pleasing appearing (American Dental Association, 2014).
Urban consumers in Uyo metropolis are changing their toothbrushes and paste more regularly than before, in line with dentists’ recommendations; due to rising oral hygiene awareness. Consumers became increasingly willing to spend money on ensuring dental health, with many seeking toothpastes that, in addition to cleansing and freshening, offers health benefits. A notable trend in 2010 was the increasing preference of consumers in the country for herbal and ayurvedic-based toothpastes. These are perceived to be more “natural” than standard products.
Park and Lessing (2007) state that subjective knowledge provides a better understanding of consumers’ decision making processes because consumers level of confidence in their search and decision making behaviour, are independent of their objective knowledge. With the above stated assertion, advertisers can now succinctly find out. Why a consumer would prefer to buy a particular brand of toothpaste, as well as decide the media most preferable to use in an effort to attract the customers, that is Uniuyo students. And these all constitute consumer purchase decisions which encompass consumer decision to purchase the goods from the available alternative choices, the various options of the consumers may be classified into five main types of decisions. They are what to buy; how much to buy; where to buy; when to buy; and how to buy. The participants in the buying decisions may be classified as the initiator, influencers, deciders, buyers and users. The marketing people should initiate the participants in the purchase decision to make the purchases of the product at different marketing strategies. (Harish, 2010).
The availability of many competiting brands of toothpastes in the market in Uyo, Nigeria has made the competition to be very stiff and this has also motivated the various toothpaste producers to embark on aggressive sales promotion techniques to induce the trader (wholesalers and retailers) or other consumers to patronise their brand of toothpaste. The researcher was therefore motivated to assess the sales promotion techniques employed by these industry players in stimulating the patronage of toothpaste in Uyo and by students in the University of Uyo (Uniuyo).




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