1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Beyond the traditional communication channels which include mails, catalogs and telephone contacts, in recent years, as a result of technological advances in information and communication sciences, emerged contact channels is now available (Kautonen, 2007).
At the inception of telecommunications operations in Nigeria in 2001, subscribers were treated as kings. At the time, subscribers received Short Message Service (SMS), otherwise known as text messages from telecoms operators, only when the operators wanted to pass vital information such as information on network failures in some parts of the country and when they would be fixed. Subscribers were also sent SMS on new coverage areas, especially when operators expanded services to new areas. Information on systems maintenance/upgrade and the period of maintenance, which were usually sent to subscribers at midnights, were also communicated via SMS Emenni (2016). These SMS were received without complaints because they were informative. But over the years, operators took undue advantage of the situation to broadcast bulk SMS to millions of subscribers on their networks for their personal gains. Most of the SMS these days are no longer informative as all manner of unsolicited promotional SMS are being broadcast across networks. At some points, a single subscriber may receive more than 12 SMS in a day, causing overload on the storage capacity of their mobile phones. The more subscribers delete the unsolicited SMS, the more they receive them, thus causing embarrassment to subscribers.
SMS is the most popular mobile data application to date, showing very high usage. Text message services have been hugely popular for interpersonal communication, allowing users of all ages to exchange messages with both social and business contacts (Xu et al. 2003; Dickinger et al. 2004). Xu et al. (2003) identified three consistent success indicators for SMS messaging: (1) the cost-effectiveness and interoperability of the wireless infrastructure; (2) the high penetration of mobile phones (ubiquitous penetration levels of over 80% in some countries); and (3) the relatively low cost of the SMS messaging service.
The foundation of SMS advertising is Electronic-marketing (e-marketing) which refers to “the achievement of marketing objectives through the use of electronic communications technology” (Chaffey, 2003). SMS advertising is a part of mobile marketing that utilizes the SMS technology and gives marketers the chance to send one-by-one messages to consumers through their mobile devices (Zhang and Mao, 2008), so it is seen as a form of one-to-one marketing (Xu, 2006). It allows marketers to promote goods, services, and ideas through personalized, context driven and relevant messages that are sent directly to individual consumers (Sultan and Rohm, 2005; Grant and O‟Donohoe, 2007; Xu, 2006; Muk and Babin, 2006).
With the realization that SMS is an effective way of advertising and communication, the telecoms industry no longer just send SMS to customers but now do so in such a way that their subscribers are continuously getting frustrated by the enermousity of this ugly trend hence this study to finding out the perception of Madonna University Students, Okija on unsolicited SMS.
1.2 STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
SMS has been the most successful non-voice service for mobile operators in the history of telecommunications and, as such, has been a key revenue generator. The key to the success of SMS has been its simplicity, reach, price and reliability. All other messaging based applications launched since SMS have struggled to meet the lofty expectations set by the service and pale in comparison to its success. Technological advancements have provided various new mediums for advertising to consumers and have further allowed organizations to better reach consumers with regards to the frequency and impact of advertising. Advertisers have to be more creative in the formulation of advertisements and selection of advertising mediums so as to gain the attention of their target market. The need to create new mediums for advertising has lead to the creation of new-age media such as short message service (SMS) advertising.
Every year stories of the demise of this 160-character service are thick in the air, and every year SMS usage continues to grow as more uses are found for this once ignored service. This ugly trend range from customers complains of receiving messages which upset their moods, interrupt their business or activities, and even cost them incessant and unwanted loss of funds through manipulative subscriptions hence the great complain.
Sadly, without checking this trend, customers especially students of the Madonna University, Okija are forced therefore to weigh greatly whether or not this unsolicited SMS are going to be tolerated hence this study to study how they perceive this unwanted service since it sometimes brings information or news that are important to them whereas other times, it makes them loose their airtime, interrupt their daily activities, upset their mood, make them restless and so many more.
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The broad objective of this study is on the perception of unsolicited SMS by Students of Madonna University, Okija.
The specific objectives of this study include;
- To find out the reasons behind the defying and continuous sending of unsolicited SMS by Nigeria service providers.
- To establish the extent at which Madonna University students receive unsolicited SMS from service providers.
- To examine the perception of Madonna University students about unsolicited SMS.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
The research questions for this study are as follows:
- What are the reasons the reasons behind the defying and continuous sending of unsolicited SMS by Nigeria service providers?
- To what extent do students of Madonna University, Okija receive unsolicited SMS from service providers?
- To examine the perception of Madonna University students about unsolicited SMS?
1.5 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The research has both Theoretical and Practical significance.
The findings of this study are useful to the academia, industry managers, practitioners and policy makers and to the general public in the following ways.
Theoretically; this study contributes to contemporary academic research on short messaging services activities carried out on mobile devices by offering insights into factors that cause short messages services by Nigerian Service providers. Firstly, it contributes to consumer behavior literature by expanding the frontiers of knowledge in perception towards short service messages on mobile devices. Secondly, it also contributes to literature in terms of theory development and model validation in subscriber’s usage of SMS’s. This study helps to create areas of further research on short message services on mobile telecoms by students.
Practically; findings from this study will assist telecoms operators in planning and implementing of their short messages services. The result of this study will help marketing managers understand the behaviour of mobile phone users which will help them in strategy formulation on how to target and stimulate a favorable reception of their SMS. This study contributes to the understanding of consumer perception of unsolicited SMS’s from the perspective of mobile phone users in the Nigerian context, which may be applied by industry practitioners and telecommunication service providers.
This study is relevant to policy makers and government regulatory bodies in the telecommunication, advertising and communication industry. This group is expected to utilize the outcome of this research for operative and implementation of policies at both the macro and micro levels that will protect the rights, privacy and personal data of the consumers and mobile phone users especially in Nigeria. The outcome of this study will provide areas for policy restructuring, regulation and monitoring of mobile service providers, advertisers as well as organizations who intend to use the mobile phone as a channel of communicating their products and services to target consumers. The results of this study will be valuable for the government and policy makers in developing policy about unsolicited messages in order to improve the business environment for advertisers and marketers.
1.7 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
This study is aimed at assessing the perception of Madonna University Students, Okija on Unsolicited mobile SMS. Madonna University, Okija is chosen because of its proximity to the researcher and availability respondents.
This study covers mobile phone owners and users (cell phones and smart phones) in Madonna University, Okija. This study focuses on cell phone and smart phone users because this class of phones allow basic application of SMS, MMS and mobile internet facilities. These applications are suitable for interactivity between the marketing firm and the mobile phone user. This study covers mobile phone users of any of the four mobile telecommunication players (MTN, Glo, Airtel and Etisalat) in Madonna University, Okija, who use mobile phone and have received marketing messages in form of adverts, sales promotion information, product information, alerts/confirmation messages, competition and poll voting messages, text–to-win, call to action, mobile shopping and mobile web adverts on their mobile phones.
Also, this study focuses on students of Madonna University, Okija who use mobile phone. These classes of people have been identified as the major segments of interest for mobile advertising and they constitute major users of mobile services. Teenagers and youths, especially university students, are said to be more open and responsive to new information communication technologies on mobile devices (Lightner, Yenisey, Ozok, and Salvendy, 2002; Pijpers, Bemelmans, Heemstra, and Montfort, 2001), and as such, they constitute part of the focus of this study.
1.8 LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY
During the course of this research, there were some visible and invisible problems encountered notably in some areas of data collecting. The problems are as follows: There was also the issue of time inadequacy as the time for the study was grossly inadequate. The researcher has to use the time allowed for lectures for research.
The choice of the right state for this research was also not an easy one as the researcher had to consider accessibility to information needed for the research.
Epileptic power supply and shortage of fund was also a problem to the researcher.
1.9 DEFINITION OF TERMS
SMS: Short Message Service. A standard for telephony messaging systems that allows sending messages between mobile devices that consist of short messages. It is also a medium of directly reaching customers through text messages.
Unsolicited:This rises what one when one gets what one has not asked for; given or done something voluntarily.
Perception: Perception is the organization, identification, and interpretation of sensoryinformation in order to represent and understand the environment. It is a way of regarding, understanding, or interpreting something; a mental impression
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