DETERMINANTS OF CONSUMER BRAND PATRONAGES OF SELECTED MALT DRINKS IN SOME TERTIARY INSTITUTIONS IN SOUTH EAST
Branding had been mostly regarded as being very crucial and indispensable in the identification of a company’s product from those of the competitors, especially when one considered the several functions it performed on consumers’ decision and satisfaction. Hence, it included everything involved or needed for the differentiation like brand name, brand mark, trade mark. Therefore, it was observed that brand was the only competitive edge one had that cannot be copied by anyone else. In the contemporary marketing environment, it was a difficult task to say exactly which factors motivated the consumer to prefer a particular product to another. And the marketing of malt drink products was very compelling when considered with their close substitutes for each other, especially those that were studied which included; Hi-malt, Amstel malta, Maltina and Guinness malta. Thus, this research (i) ascertained the relationship between branding and consumer patronage, (ii) ascertained the factors of branding that influenced consumers’ choice of malt drinks, (iii) ascertained the significant variation in the packaging of different malt drinks, (iv) determined differences among the different brands of malt drinks and (iv) determined if price is a factor considered in consumers preference for a brand of malt drink. The research adopted survey design, and made use of primary data collected through the use of questionnaire. The sample size used for this study was three hundred and fifty (350) respondents, which consisted of the staff of some of the existing tertiary institutions in South East of Nigeria. The tertiary institutions are Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike, Alvan Ikoku Federal College of Education Owerri, Institute of Management and Technology, Enugu and Madona University Okija, Anambra State. Z-test regression was used to test hypotheses 1, 2, 3, and 4 while one-way Anova multiple regression was used for hypothesis 5. SPSS version 17.0 was used in the analysis of data. It was tested that the use of branding was significant in the determination of customers’ patronage of malt drinks (Zc = 5.20 > Zt = 1.96, a = 0.05). Branding had a significant influence on consumer’s choice of malt drinks (Zc = 5.79 > Zt = 1.96, a = 0.05). There was a significant variation in the packaging of different malts (Zc = 6.41 > Zt = 1.96, a = 0.05). There was a significant difference among the different brands of malt drinks (Zc = 5.78 > Zt = 1.96, a = 0.05). There was a significant relationship between price and consumer’s preference for a brand of malt drink (r = 0.434, Fc = 18.89 > Ft = 2.37, a = 0.05). It was recommended that Malt Manufacturing Companies should embark on research that will enable the company to identify gap that exist between consumers’ needs and their product, and also should periodically improve on product quality/taste, in which several quality control measures should be taken to maintain product quality. Again, Malt marketers should always make their brands available at the right place and at the right time because this will ensure strong brand loyalty on the part of consumers. And this can be achieved by; engaging more distribution trucks to complement existing ones, appoint more distributors in rural areas to ensure grass-roots distribution and coverage, reaching directly to large-scale retailers like hotels, restaurants and bars, which would ensure constant availability and finally, irrespective of the taste of the Malt, Malt Manufacturing Companies should be able to price their products at no cost variance.