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Factors Influencing Consumers Buying Pattern towards in Bangladesh

A case study on Unilever Bangladesh Limited (Lifebouy)

1. Introduction
Modern times reflect key changes in the marketing strategies employed by companies seeking to sustain competitive advantage. The financial health of these companies is now dependent on the amount of information that is collected in regards to consumer purchasing habits so the companies have resorted to the adoption of behavioral and sociological studies in order to collect this pertinent data. Companies shifting their focus from a product/market driven line of attack to consumer driven marketing activities reflect this evolution of marketing (Kotler, 1999). As a direct consequence interest in consumer behavior has been going on since when buyers and sellers became existent (Nunes, 2003). Consumer behavior is a subcategory of marketing that merges elements from economics, psychology, sociology, social psychology, anthropology and other sciences, such as physiological psychology, biochemistry, and genetics (Demirdjian and Senguder, 2004). As presented by Kotler et al. (2005) the buyer decision process consists of five stages; namely need recognition, information search, and evaluation of alternatives, purchase decision and post-purchase behavior. Consumers purchase process is affected by a number of different factors, some of which are uncontrollable, such as cultural, social, personal, and psychological factors. However, these factors must be taken into account in order to reach target consumers effectively (Kotler et al. 2005). Soap market in Bangladesh has been very competitive where marketing at all levels is of immense importance. Here Unilever commands more than 50% share of local soap

market, has seen further advancement in recent years on the back of aggressive and skilled marketing efforts. Though growth in soap market is encouraging, stiff competition has squeezed the profit margin thus efficient marketing is the key to success. The soap industry in Bangladesh is parted in two categories Health Soap and Beauty soap. Lux is the largest brand in market share for upper and middle class in the Beauty Soap Category, other brands are Aromatic, Meril, Keya and Tibbat. Lifebuoy one of Unilever's oldest brands is the market leader in health soap made especially for rural area and the poorest population and the biggest competitors are - Protex, Dettol and Safeguard though they all have market shares below 10 % each. Upgraded life style in villages, with soap being the first preferred body care input affordable to all, has led to the tremendous growth of soap market. Lifebuoy has a rich heritage in rural market in Bangladesh. With changing marketing environment, the brand has responded through various initiatives like new product variants, repositioning, rechristened advertising content, targeting rural markets and so on and so forth.

2. Objectives of the study

2.1 Primary objective: The primary objective of doing this research is to examine the influencing factors of consumers buying pattern towards soap market in bangladesh. The objective is set to identify the influencing factors that influence the consumers buying decision on a case study of Lifebuoy in Bangladesh.

2.2 Secondary objective: More broadly other objectives are: To identify the influencing factors and its impact on consumers buying decision of Lifebuoy in Bangladesh. To identify the buying decision process of consumers of Lifebuoy in Bangladesh. To find out the marketing programs which make Lifebuoy a pioneer in the Bangladesh market To recommend a sound conclusion based on the findings

3. Methodology of the study

3.1 Research Method Creswell (2003) claims that the strategies and the methods all contribute to a research approach that tends to be more quantitative, qualitative or mixed. Quantitative Approach: This approach focuses on quantification in the collection and analysis of data and as a result findings are numerical and tend to involve relatively large scale and representative set of data. It involves a deductive approach as importance is given to testing theories, encompasses the practices and norms of the natural scientific model and represents social reality as an external, objective reality (Bryman and Bell, 2007). Qualitative Approach: Here the focus is to collect and analyse data in as many possible forms, primarily non-numeric. This approach is primarily inductive as importance is given to the creation of theories (Bryman and Bell 2007). The empirical data for this paper was collected by using qualitative and quantitative both research methods, more precisely a survey. 3.2 Data Sources This research uses both primary and secondary data. Primary data refers to data, which is particularly collected for the research project being undertaken. Secondary data are data, which already exists, which was originally collected for some other purpose (Monette et al, 2005). Sources of Primary Data: According to Cooper and Schindler (2003), primary data is collected in order to congregate opinions and views regarding the research problem, for comparative analysis and for testing the hypothesis and answering the research questions.

In this study primary data was collected using questionnaire and focus group discussion and are discussed in detail in the section on data collection methods. Sources of Secondary Data: According to Cooper and Schindler (2003), secondary data can be used in order to answer the research problems without requiring intensive primary research, gain better knowledge of the issues in a broader framework of the problem, to create a useful research design and to enhance the analysis of primary data. The secondary data used in this study was collected from the following sources: Business Source Premier Database, ScienceDirect Database, Internet sites , Books from various libraries and Unilevers website and Unilever Annual Business Plan 2011.

3.3 Limitations of the study This study will reveal is to examine the influencing factors of consumers buying pattern towards soap market from the perspective of Lifebuoy in Bangladesh so the topic is much specified and many other important variables e.g. marketing strategies, industry analysis etc are ignored. Other limitations are The sample size for the research is relatively small. A larger sample size would yield more accurate results There was a serious time constraint. It is realized prior the survey that not everybody will be willing to participate in the interview. The employees of Unilever Bangladesh Limited were too busy of their work. For this, they did not spend sufficient time to fulfill required queries and some of them neglected to converse.

4. Strengths and weaknesses of lifebuoy from the image perspective

A SWOT analysis divides the companys environment into two specific areas. Strengths and weaknesses are considered internal items; conversely, opportunities and threats are considered external.

1. Lifebuoy Company is using advanced technology. 2. It is well skilled performance 3. It has good distribution network all over the world. 4. Unilever provide creation strategies. 5. It has high market share. 6. Wide distribution channels in both product

1. Competitors offer better alternative 2. Dual co chair approach and dual company create problem 3. Lack of high volume brands 4. The high competitors for market share increases rapidly. 5. High cost of restructuring 6. Focus on term short strategy. strong 7. High cost limit promotion in company. 8. Sometimes some product innovation is ineffective. 9. Low cash flow and slow sales growth rate compared with other competitor.

national and internal market. 7. Largest reputation. 8. Strong good marketing and good image creation. 9. Global innovation centers. 10. Promote its product in new geographic areas. organization and

5. Strengths and weaknesses of lifebuoy

5.1 Strength Kotler (2003) says that strengths are usually the core competence of an organisation and these are the capabilities and resources that permit it to get involved in activities to enable economic value and perhaps competitive advantages. Lifebuoys strengths: a) A decent quality, affordable germ protection agent for the middle and lower middle class b) Lesser-priced packs to increase affordability c) Packaging in smaller units and localized design that attracts consumers d) Continuously evolving social marketing campaign e) Strong emotional touch f) Convenience of storage while use g) Thorough knowledge of the village psyche h) Sound and experienced management and excellent marketing department i) R&D and financial support from parent company i.e. Unilever j) Strong brand image and brand awareness of Lifebuoy k) Robust Supply Chain and Distribution Network

5.2 Weaknesses Kotler (2003) denotes that a company's weaknesses are lack of resources or capabilities that can prevent it from generating economic value or gaining a competitive advantage if used to enact the company's strategy. Lifebuoys strengths: a) Minimum profit margin since increasing Input Costs b) Highly Competitive Environment such different antibacterial competitors such Dettol and safeguard are trying to own a higher ground by building on already present germ-kill equity. c) Small awareness of variants d) Lack focus on urban people, only 30% of the total sales volume of Lifebuoy comes from them

6. Factors influancing consumers buying patterns

6.1 Consumer-buying behavior Consumer-buying behavior according to Kotler (2004, p.601) is defined as The buying behaviour consumers individuals and house holds who buy goods and services for personal consumption. The term consumer is referred to as an individual who acquires goods and services for self satisfaction and is often used to describe two different kinds of consuming entities: the personal consumers and the organizational consumers (Kotler, 2004) Consumer behavior is a subcategory of marketing that merges elements from economics, psychology, sociology, social psychology, anthropology and other sciences, such as physiological psychology, biochemistry, and genetics. The economics perspective provided the foundation for marketing, however it wrongly assumed that consumers make decisions rationally who actively seek information, objectively evaluate different alternatives available, and make rational selections of products or services to maximize their benefits (Demirdjian and Senguder, 2004). 6.2 Buyer decision process As presented by Kotler et al. (2005) the buyer decision process consists of five stages; namely need recognition, information search, and evaluation of alternatives, purchase decision and post-purchase behavior.
Need Recognition Information Search Evaluation of Alternatives Purchase Decision Post-purchase Behaviour

Figure 1: Buyer Decision Process (Adapted from: Buyer decision process (Kotler et al., 2006).


The first stage, Problem Recognition, is when a consumer becomes aware of a need. The need is manifest because there is a difference between the consumers desired state and his or her actual condition (Kotler, 2006). The second stage is the information search. Two types of information searches exist: internal and external. With an internal information search, the consumer searches the information stored in his or her memory. If extra information is needed after the internal search, the consumer may consult external information sources such as friends and relatives for word-of-mouth; marketing information; and public sources (Kotler, 2006). Third step is Evaluation of alternatives. Here, the consumer may need to establish the criteria for evaluation, such as features of the product or service that the buyer prefers or does not want.( Kotler, 2006) . The fourth stage in the consumer buying decision process is the purchase decision. In this phase the consumer chooses from the available alternatives, making decisions on details such as the specific product or service, its packaging, design, style, retail outlet and method of purchase. The purchase and the purchase decision may occur concurrently. Sometimes product availability issues may cause a time lapse between the purchase decision and the actual purchase. (Kotler, 2006) The fifth and last stage in the consumer buying decision process is post-purchase evaluation (also known as post-acquisition evaluation), which may happen to the consumer consciously or subconsciously. At the end of the evaluation, the buyer may experience satisfaction or dissatisfaction. Dissatisfaction may be caused by various factors, such as unmet brand expectations, and at times may lead to the consumer lodging a complaint. A satisfied consumer may end up becoming faithful to a particular brand or retail outlet (Kotler, 2006)


6.3 Factors Influencing Buying Behavior: The consumer market is estimated to have a size of 6.3 billion people, and this causes a great demand for an enormous variety of goods and services, because as consumer demographics are diverse. Moreover, the relationships between different consumers, as well as their connection with the surroundings, affect their choice of products, services, and companies (Kotler et al. 2005). The rationale for what consumers buy is often deeply rooted in their minds, consequently consumers do not truly know what affects their purchases as ninety-five percent of the thought, emotion, and learning [that drive our purchases] occur in the unconscious mind- that is without our awareness (Kotler et al. 2005: 143). Consumers purchase process is affected by a number of different factors, some of which are uncontrollable, such as cultural, social, personal, and psychological factors. However, these factors must be taken into account in order to reach target consumers effectively (Kotler et al. 2005).

Personal Social
Cultural -Culture -Subculture -Social Class -Reference group -Family -Roles & -Age & lifecycle stage -Occupation -Economic Situation -Lifestyle -Personality & self-concept

-Motivation -Perception -Learning -Beliefs & attitudes



Figure 2: Factors influencing consumer behavior (Kotler et al. 2005, p. 256)


The Behavioral Influence Perspective in consumer behaviour assumes that effective environmental forces motivate consumers to take action without them necessarily first developing strong feelings or beliefs about a product, service, experience or idea. The consumer is influenced by various external influences: as a member of society, for instance, one acquires, through ones culture, knowledge, beliefs, attitudes, morals, values, customs, and other capabilities and habits ( Kotler, 2006). According to (Banyte, & Rtelion, 2007) there are a plethora of variables affecting consumer behavior, and not all have been even discovered or explored yet. While it is not possible to discuss many of these variables here, it is possible, however, to list the following: Group Influences, Family Influences, Attitudes, Perceptions, Planned Behavior and Deviant Consumer Behavior.

6.7 marketing mix McCarthy (1975) formulated the concept of the 4Ps - product, price, promotion, and place marketing mix. For many years these have been used as the principal foundation on which a marketing plan is based. Most of the studies have shown marketing mix factors have a relationship on the purchasing behavior of the consumer. The proper alignment of the marketing mix is essential in achieving the consumers mind share for the brand. Marketing mix has a strong relationship with consumers buying patterns, brand choices and incidences of purchase. Hence the relationship with brand and the marketing mix factors can be analyzed.


Product Variety Quality Design

List price Discount Allowances


Payment period

Marketing Mix

Channels Coverage Assortments Location

Sales Promotion Advertising Sales force Public relation

Figure 3: Marketing Mix


7. Data analysis and Interpretation

7.1 History of Unilever at a Glance (Lifebuoy) Unilever Bangladesh is a company that has its own history intrinsically built with the development of our nation and our culture. It has been part of the Bangladeshi household since the 19th century with the same intention of bringing cleanliness and convenience to households as we do today. Back then Sunlight soap was marketed through Lever Brothers India limited throughout the undivided India. Later on, Lever Brothers Pakistan limited started its operation in Bangladesh on a larger scale. In 1964, our soap manufacturing facility was setup in Kalurghat, Chittagong.

Unilever is the leading company in Bangladesh, which is serving the people of Bangladeh over four decades. Unilever has many brands to serve with. Those are Wheel, Lux, Lifebuoy, Fair & Lovely, Ponds, Close-Up, Taaza, Sunsilk, Pepsodent,Clear, Vim, SurfExel, Dove, Vaseline, Lakme & Axe.

Lifebuoy is one of Unilevers oldest brands; launched in the UK in 1894 as the first affordable soap, supporting people in their quest for better personal hygiene. Lifebuoy is the largest health soap brand in Bangladesh with approximately 50 % of the market. Its vision is to meet the health and hygiene needs of 150 million Bangladeshis. It is one of the most affordable soaps in the market and offers a compelling health benefit for the entire family. The figure below is showing this current development in the entire Asian area in million.


Figure 3: Lifebuoy Developments in the Asian Area Source:, 2005 In Bangladesh, Lifebuoy are the market leader in health soap made especially for rural area and the poorest population. The biggest competitors in the category health soap are Protex, Dettol and Safeguard though they all have market shares below 10 % each. The latest re-launch of the soap in 2009 has proven how Lifebuoy is in accord with the changing lifestyles and requirements. The new mix includes a new formulation, making it more relevant to both new and existing consumers. Thus Lifebuoy has increased their market share by 8,9 % during this time period. All this made possible by the use of the Unilever developing tool Brand Imprint and an innovative approach towards the consumers which some will call marketing the poor. 7.2 Factors influancing consumers buying patterns:- lifeboy 7.2.1 cultural factors: In buying soap for family usually wives decision is the final one and we are sensitive about kids. Using this information Uniliver is branding their soap. Lifebuoy is a well known soap in our country. It is well positioned as Health & Hygiene soap, which is used to keep the germs away from human body, so people buy it to keep their families safe from germs. So the image of lifebuoy is attractive to our people. Few days back they appoint Shakib Al Hasan as their brand ambassador and obviously as the most famous athlete of our country, he represent


lifebuoy as a master protection of our skin. Apart from these there are cultural factors that influence consumers to by lifebuoy such as: Price:- As income level of our country is low, lifebuoy suits here perfectly because its affordable and one of the best in quality. Product Nature:- lifebuoy largely produced for south asian region. So the soap is suitable for our skin. The smell, size is perfected for kids and also for grownups. Living Factors:- Bangladesh is a over populated country. Most of the people here use buses as transportation. The goal set by lifebuoy encourage our people to buy the soap.Lifebuoy's goal is to provide affordable and accessible hygiene and health solutions that enable people to lead a life without fear of hygiene anxieties and health consequences. Number of children per family:- Birth rate of our country is high so as hygienic and protective soap people prefer lifebuoy for children.

7.2.2 Social factors: The social factors refer to the influences made by the consumers reference groups such as the family & friends. The weight & powerfulness of the influence may vary depending on the significant of the relationship between the consumer and the reference group. Reference groups can influence the beliefs, attitudes and behavior of a consumer in different circumstances. As result of that purchasing behavior and brand preference could get changed of a consumer. Consumers are more likely to be influenced by word-of-mouth information from members of reference groups than advertisements or sales people, in terms of benefit, selecting or changing brands. Social needs are need for belonging to society and become a part of society. One wants to be associated with the community and people among which he lives. As one cannot go to work having dirty hands (lack of overall personal hygiene), so one uses Soap to wash his hands and clean them. Lifebuoy satisfies social needs in this way. As lifebuoy is hugely used soap people get motivated by others. On the other hand lifebuoy is known as environment friendly.


Moreover in Bangladesh lifebuoy arrange health campaign frequently, which also encourage people to believe in lifebuoy. One of them is Lifebuoy Friendship Hospital. 7.2.3 Psychological factors: Our mind always thinks of the best and its good if it is cheap. So here lifebuoy fits perfectly. Its reputation around the country helps us to make decision of buying easily. We all want to be safe and lifebuoy is a hygienic soap, so normally our mind thinks of it. On the other hand TVC, billboards manipulates our mind to buy. Lifebuoy usually use the image of a mother or child to promote their product which is psychologically tempting. Personal Factors are: Age and Life cycle: Age and life cycle is a big factor in consumer buying behavior. Young people hesitate to use lifebuoy because of its image. Living Standard: Another factor is our living standards and occupation. People who used to have a high status in the society dont usually buy lifebuoy because its for all. Personality: An individuals personality also affects his buying behavior. Every individual has his/her own characteristic personality traits which reflect in his/her buying behavior. Some people is more concerned about their health so they care about their brand of soap.

7.3 Marketing Mix of Lifebuoy:

7.3.1 Product: Lifebuoy is the largest health soap brand in BANGLADESH with approximately 50 % of the market. . Its vision is to meet the health and hygiene needs of 150 million Bangladeshis. The brand has been in Unilever for many decades and the name has become a synonym for health and hygiene. It is one of the most affordable soaps in the market and offers a compelling health benefit for the entire family. The re-


launch of the soap in 2002, 2004 and again in 2006 has been turning points in its history. The new mix includes a new formulation, making it more relevant to both new and existing consumers. Lifebuoy has offer different types of soap on the bases of consumers health and choice in its range. For example: The new Lifebuoy range now includes Lifebuoy Active and Lifebuoy Active Orange. Lifebuoy Active Orange offers the consumer a differentiated health perfume while offering the health benefit of Lifebuoy. Lifebuoy offers specific health benefits through Lifebuoy International (Plus and Gold). Lifebuoy International Plus offers protection against germs which cause body odour. Lifebuoy International Gold helps protect against germs which cause skin blemishes. Lifebuoy has also launched Total, Lifebuoy DeoFresh, Lifebuoy Nature and Lifebuoy Gold Care. The latest one is launched, called Lifebuoy Skin Guard. Launched as Carbolic Red Soap Symbolize health & hygiene. Rechanilised its product cycle by introducing new variants like -Lifebuoy Active RedLifebuoy Active OrangeLifebuoy International PlusLifebuoy International GoldLifebuoy Nature (Neem & Tulsi) Recently it has launched talcum powder under the brand name of lifebuoy.

7.3.2 Price: Lifebuoy extensively uses market penetration for its sales of products. All the products, that Lifebuoy sale are affordable by everyone. Lifebuoy products are mainly targeted towards lower middle class and hence the prices are low. For example: Lifebuoy Liquid Hand Wash weight: 200ml price 175tk, Lifebuoy soap total 150gm price 25tk, Lifebuoy Soap large price 80tk and 75 gm lifebuoy bar price 17tk lifebuoy soap (white) 75gm price 14tk lifebuoy gold 90gm price 25tk. Lifebuoy charges fixed price to all its customers throughout the nation.


Lifebuoy DeoFresh has been introduced especially for young adults who lead active Lifebuoy that is available at BDT 15 for 125g, BDT 13 for 100g and BDT 8 for 55g. lifestyles. It is available at BDT 13 for 100g. LifebuoyLifebuoy Nature, on the other hand, comes with neem and tulsi and is available at BDT 13 for 100g Lifebuoy Gold Care is specifically designed for sensitive skin and is available at BDT 10 for 100g.

7.3.3 Promotion: Promotion is the business of communicating with customers. It will provide information that will assist them in making a decision to purchase a product or service. Advertising: Lifebuoy uses advertising extensive for the sale of its product, they use advertising in all the stages of the product life cycle. They modify the advertisement as the product reaches the concerned stage. Modes of advertising: Television: Lifebuoy uses various advertisements on television which leave a visual impact on the minds of the customers. These ads value around keeping oneself clean and healthy just by using soap. Radio: Lifebuoy also use different types of advertisement on radio, because in Bangladesh most of the villagers do not have the ability to buy a television set. Print media: 1.) Newspapers / magazines: Lifebuoy also uses newspaper for promoting its new products with attractive graphics and catching tag lines. 2.) Banners/Poster: Several banners and posters are put out across the city, reflecting the products of Lifebuoy with catchy images and tag lines such as.......germs free health. Field selling: in the initial stages of marketing Lifebuoy sellers uses to go door-todoor selling and promotion Lifebuoy. It uses to launch so many health programs in so many countries to make people aware of health


7.3.4 Place: Lifebuoy use different types of distribution channels to sell its product. Lifebuoy conducts door to door selling, where it gives free sample of a new product launched. Lifebuoy follows a traditional distribution channel which work very effectively. Here the manufacturer supplies the goods to the wholesaler who may also act as a retailer or supplies it to the retailer and sells to the ultimate customer. Sometimes lifebuoy try to arrange seminars in schools, colleges, universities and medical colleges about the usefulness and benefits of using a healthy and hygienic soap like lifebuoy. Lifebuoy sometime sponsor some events and show to attract more customers and to capture strong places in the minds of the consumers. Today Lifebuoy is mainly sold in Asia and parts of Africa. It is market leader in every Asian market where it is sold By its health care programmer it covers many villages. Basically if we talk about Bangladesh 70% of the population lives in villages , so company sees a great opportunity in villages & trying to cover that. It basically covers 2 tiers cities & rural areas. It has made his strategy like that in every small or big shop customer will be able to find out the product.

8. Recommendations

Within the framework and limitations of this study and based upon the findings and conclusions of this study, the following recommendations are specifically directed to the


Unilevers management in terms of their sustainable development implementing effect ive change management programs: The company may concern to market development for Lifebuoy since only 30 percent of the total sales volume of Lifebuoy comes from urban markets Unilever may develop their product quality; criticism of their quality is sounded in India and Pakistan, though both countries have already repositioned the brands It can strongly consider diversification and development of products with new design of the soap and color Can create some more products for high-end customers It should focus on the packaging can be improved. It Should instill a thought among customers that it is not only a brand for rural markets It should invest a lot more in advertising and targeting the youth. It should more aware about CSR alike Hindustan Unilever ltd


9. Conclusions
From the above discussion it can be concluded that Lifebuoy always focuses on uncontrollable influencing factors (cultural, social, personal, and psychological) of consumers buying behaviors to identify and meet the consumers needs and expectations. Lifebuoy plans and executes its marketing programs based on these factors. Marketing programs which make Lifebuoy a pioneer in the Bangladesh market are like new product variants, Differentiated brand positioning, repositioning, rechristened advertising content, targeting rural markets, Brand Imprint tool, efficient innovative marketing, CSR and so on and so forth. Moreover CSR market strategy makes Lifebuoy available for all consumers and provides people the possibility to purchase the product in numerous outlets all over Bangladesh. Unilever, through its efforts to pioneer new products, packaging and distribution systems to meet the needs of the poorest populations have decided that major business opportunities lie in integrating business and society. Focusing customers need and expectations the brand repositioned targeting urban markets such as only 30 percent of the total sales volume of Lifebuoy comes from urban markets and thats a challenge for the brand. The new look and shape, variants, shift in the protagonist in ads and many other such changes have been made in order to penetrate further in the urban markets and among premium segment households. Lifebuoy is always in the front line shop for the last three decade in Bangladesh. There strong distribution channel and the proper segmentation help to get and sustain in the market as a Lifebuoy. Still now lifebuoy is the name which reminds the germless bath every time.