Advertising and Word of Mouth on Consumer Decision-Making When Selecting Mobile Phone Service Provider in Kuwait.

"Can you hear me now?"

Verizon's popular TV advertisement's tag line, "Can you hear me now?" stresses the value of hearing what someone has to say. What happened to Josh Vondran, however, according to Andy Piper (2008) in the article, "Stolen phone rings up soldier's bill," reflects the opposite message that Verizon Wireless or any other mobile phone service provider in Kuwait or any other location would promote in their advertisements.

When consumers select mobile phone service provider in Kuwait or any other location, one of the primary concerns would be that the company makes a point not only to invest effort in advertising their service, but also "listen" to and fill the consumer's needs. In the case of Condran, however: "Apparently, no one was listening" (Piper, ¶ 19). Prior to serving in Kuwait, Vondran, an airman with the 101st Airborne Division, based in Fort Campbell Kentucky, mailed his cell phone to his mother, thinking his cell phone service had been terminated. Because no one appeared to listen, from 2003 to 2008, Vondran had to fight a five-year battle Verizon Wireless over a $40,000 cell- phone bill. Verizon ultimately did listen to Vondran's concerns and credited his account, as well as sent a request to repair his credit.

This literature review chapter examines the information relating to the influence of advertising and word of mouth (WOM) on consumer decision-making when selecting a mobile phone service provider in Kuwait. In regard to the consumer decision-making process, the researcher asserts, mobile phone service provider could benefit not only form considering research relating to advertising, but also heed what Verizon advertised, make a point to "hear" concerns Kuwait consumers, like Vondran, have to contend with.

According to Piper (2008), theft of cell phones constitutes a major concern that consumers in Kuwait, considering cell phone service providers, have to contend with. Piper notes the following anti-theft tips from Wireless Consumers Alliance News, not only aimed toward the cell phone service providers' market in Iraq, but to help protect the cell phone owner, as well as, his/her credit:

Lock your cell phone with a password.

Keep track of where your cell phone is at all times.

Read your cell phone contract carefully -- some contracts provide for specific steps you must take if your cell phone is stolen.

If your phone is stolen, you should notify the police at once so there is a written record of the theft. Notify your cell phone company right away and ask them to turn your phone off.

When you talk to your cell phone company about the theft, make a written note of the time of the call, the person you spoke with and that person's position. This information will be useful if the cell company later says that the theft was not reported. (Piper 2008 ¶ 1)

In the article, "Mobile Services Roll out in Iraq; for So Long Denied Access to a Mobile Telephone Network, Iraq Has Three Providers and Much to Discuss," John William Fenn (2004) notes that mobile telephone service commenced in Iraq in February 2004, with mobile adoption increasing this same year. Since 1759, the Al-Sabah dynasty, a reportedly respected monarchy, ruled Kuwait. Kuwait, an Islamic constitutional monarchy in southwestern Asia, constitutes one of the world's richest countries per capita (National day of… 2008, ¶ 2). According to measures the Gross National product (GNP) utilizes:

Petroleum production provides most of Kuwait's income.

Crude oil production is about 500 million barrels annually, of which about half is exported.

Oil pays for free medical and social security.

Education is also free and compulsory for citizens aged 6 to 14.

There are no taxes in Kuwait, except customs duties (National day… 2008,

¶ 3).

1, Consumer Behaviour

Understanding consumer behavior, according to John Mowen and Michael Minor (2003) in "Consumer Behavior: A Framework," proves vital for a business." Consumer behavior influences the consumer's "acquisition, consumption, and use of goods, services, and ideas"(Mowen and Minor, ¶ 1). When marketers, managers, researchers and public policy makers understand consumers/decision makers, they may make better informed decisions, as well as develop strategies and tactics that maximize consumer welfare and firm profitability.

Jari Salo, Assistant Professor, Department of Marketing, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, University of OuIu, Finland, and Heikki Karjaluoto (2007), Research Professor, Department of Marketing,… University of OuIu, Finland, relate a number of considerations of new research relating to consumer behavior, as they explore mobile games as an advertising medium in the article, "Mobile Games as an Advertising Medium: Towards A New Research Agenda." From their review of mobile games research, Salo and Karjaluoto explain that M-advergame consists of a game application that companies use to advertise their products. Converging underlying mobile gaming technology will contribute to more successful and effective m-advergames, Salo and Karjaluoto predict. Increasing brand awareness and improving customer loyalty influences decision making by, and consequently consumer behavior.

1.1 Definition

Mowen and Minor (2003) define the terms, "Consumer Behavior" and "Consumer Behaviors":

Consumer behavior: The study of the decision-making units and the processes involved in acquiring, consuming, and disposing of goods, services, experiences, and ideas.

Consumer behaviors: consist of all the actions taken by consumers related to acquiring, disposing, and using products and services. (Mowen & Minor 2003)

1.2 The Importance of Consumer Behaviour

Andrew Ehrenberg, Research Professor of Marketing, South Bank University, London, England and Neil Barnard (1997), Consultant, market analysis and advertising assert in the article: "Advertising: Strongly Persuasive Or Nudging?" that some individual's content that advertising increases the advertised brand's sales when it persuades brand-switchers to stay true to the brand. Others purport that advertising primarily reinforces and sometimes nudges consumers' existing propensities to buy the advertised product or service. Barnard and Ehrenberg explore the distinction of the two view points.

Barnard and Ehrenberg (1997) relate the following advertising tactics:

Converting Other Brands' Loyals into Your Loyals: Involves severing a variety of existing ties and establishing a new and different bond with your brand.

Converting Switchers into Your Loyals: A markedly different task is to persuade consumers who had so far never committed themselves to just one brand to do so now.

Converting Switchers to Buy Your Brand More: Yet a different advertising task - not full conversion / commitment but just more attraction to your particular brand (our "nudging").

Keeping Your Existing Customers: In the face of strongly persuasive=

competitive advertising or other threats (e.g., price, display, sheer availability, or product innovation) your advertising would either have to inoculate your

Loyals well beforehand, or try to defend them just in the nick of time.

Keeping Your New Customers: Any converts must be prevented from slipping back into their old ways, e.g., commitment to their previous brand's values, or to switching for price.

Reinforcing Your Existing Customers: The task would once more be different in that there might seem to be little need for routine brand maintenance if your existing Loyals are already committed to your brand, and Switchers

apparently buy you for other reasons like variety-seeking (Barnard & Ehrenberg 1997, p. 22).

Targeting

Targeting a particular consumer group, according to Barnard and Ehrenberg (1997), presupposes the group to be significant, however the advertising also reaches other numerous consumers. Nevertheless, the impact likely depends more on the potential consumers who are actually reached. Barnard and Ehrenberg argued that advertising does not aim to persuade consumers loyal to one certain brand, but that empirical evidence reveals that few customers of a brand remain exclusively loyal to that brand.

1.3 Factors Affecting Consumer Behaviour (Cultural, Social, Personal, Psychological etc...)

In her qualitative report, "Self-monitoring and consumer behavior," Sue-Ellen Kjeldal (2003), a professional educator, purports that personal and psychological factors affect consumer behavior. Kjeldal reports that the results of her study "demonstrate a relationship between two sub-disciplines of psychology, namely self-monitoring and decision-making. Self-monitoring, consistently appears to influence human behavior in various settings" (Kjeldal, ¶ 3). Kjeldal utilizes The Word Association Method, an unstructured, qualitative methodology, to examine components relating to self-monitoring and decision-making. These concepts include image and quality/form and function / social identity/value-expressiveness.

Kjeldal (2003) cites Snyder and DeBono to note:

…to the extent that an advertisement allows high self-monitoring individuals to perceive that a given product has the potential to be used to create or enhance an image, they should react favorably to it.... By contrast, low self-monitoring individuals typically do not attempt to mold their behavior to fit situational and interpersonal considerations. Instead, these individuals tend to guide their behavioral choices on the basis of information from relevant inner sources, such as attitudes, feelings and dispositions.... Unlike their high self-monitoring counterparts, low self-monitoring individuals are less concerned with the images they project to others in social situations; instead, they are more concerned that their behavior in social contexts be an accurate reflection of their underlying attitudes, values and dispositions. As such, they may be particularly responsive to advertisements that feature appeals to a…