PURCHASING RESEARCH AS A TOOL FOR PROFITABILITY IN THE SERVICE INDUSTRY

CHAPTER ONE

1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY

Organizations uses many types of resources to function. One of the most valuable, often the least understood, is their knowledge base. Management is unable to take formed decisions without knowledge and the quality of that organization knowledge, skills, resides primarily in employees but can also be collected in data bases, reports patents, plans, budgets, memoranda and a variety of other documents. The knowledge base covers all aspects of the organizations activities products, technology, human resources, finance, sales and purchasing and is a wasting asset requiring constant dating, improvement and extension to keep abreast with changes in the operational environment.

Nowhere is the need for detailed, accurate and up to date knowledge more evident than in the purchasing function. The markets have two characteristics, which distinguished them from the other environments in which companies operate. They are:

In variable dynamic and are tending to become more so in response to increasing pace of technical development, competitive pressure and a continual uplift n customers’ expectations.
Change is caused by a wide diversity of factors most of which are beyond the control of any single supplier.

Purchasing therefore operate in an inherently unstable environment and it is all too easy for companies to lose touch with conditions in the market they service.Furthermore, in the quest for growth or even to defend existing market positions, the problem tends to be exacerbated by the fact that companies continually need to do something new. They develop new strategies launch new product, target new market and initiate new service packages – all of which push them into increasingly unfamiliar purchasing territory. Purchasing knowledge is created from a number of inputs experience and expertise are critical, as are experimentation and analysis, but the key dynamic ingredient purchasing information derived from sources within the market place itself, notably customers, competitors and distributors. Purchasing research is the purchasing information. It is defined by the American purchasing association as the systematic gathering, recording and analyzing of about problems relating to purchasing of goods and services. Purchasing research can also be defined Kolter (20003:129) as the systematic design, collection, analysis and reporting of data and findings relevant to a specific purchasing situation facing the company.Purchasing research is very important to any organization or company because it is through it that we know the feelings, wants, needs, perceptions and preference of customers/consumers knowing that consumer/customer is the focal point of purchasing and every organization or company will always want to satisfy their customers/clients in other to continue in the business. It is a link between the customer and the general public to the individual, organization of the business firm and also identify and define purchasing opportunities, trends, threats and measurements. Therefore, this study try to find out how purchasing research is carried out in the service industry – people always believe that purchasing research is more suitable in product/goods offering company and it is not well practice in the service industry due to its certain characteristics. Service can be defined as any act or performance that one party can offer to another that is essentially intangible and does not result in the ownership anything. (Kotter 2003) services have four major characteristics that greatly affect the design of purchasing programs: intangibility, inseparability, variability and perishability. Services also vary as to whether they are equipment based or people based. It requires the client’s presence and differs as to whether they meet a personal need or business need. Services provided differ in their objectives (i.e. profit or non profit) and ownership (as to private or public). These have made people believe that purchasing research in the service industry – insurance company, has resulted from the growth of purchasing management and purchasing concept. The basic purpose of applying purchasing research is to reduce purchasing management risks and consequently embrace higher purchasing efficiency. Purchasing research is also used in situation of disagreement or uncertainty amongst the purchasing decision or where the available purchasing research techniques will increase the amount or reliability of purchasing information decision in service industry.There are certain factors in service industry especially in insurance companies that affect the profitability of the firm such as the impact of legislation and tax concession, size and distribution of population, national income, competition, inflation, use f mass merchandising, packaging policy approach etc it is through purchasing research that these problems will be solved and thus bring profit to the company. The success of any business firm depends to a great extent on the efficiency and aggressiveness of the entire purchasing organization operations, and the effectiveness of the management, working together as a team, towards the accomplishment of the specific and broad corporate goals and objectives.

AIICO insurance company a service industry was established in 1963 as a collection centre, and incorporated in 1970, converted to a public liability company in 1989 and was listed on the Nigeria stock exchange with effect from 3rd December, 1990. To date, AIICO has become the highest life insurance in Nigeria and a major underwriter for general insurance business. The company’s success has been the result of its ability to evaluate its potential set realistic goals and take necessary action to achieve them. They have a separate purchasing department and a research department that undertake the purchasing research work. These activities have to a large extent influenced the overall performance of AIICO insurance company Nigeria.

1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM Despite

the large market potentials in service industry and its competitive nature in Enugu State, many companies and business still find it difficult to develop an appropriate offering that will serve the market satisfactorily.ALLCO insurance company faced very stiff opposition from other insurance companies especially other foreign owned insurance brokers and agents at its on set due to fear of the uncertain effects that its entry into the industry might cast on their business prospects, thus were reluctant to assist the company.Also, the level of insurance awareness in the country is still very low, at present about 10-15 percent of the Nigerian population are insured, unlike developed countries this resulting in low productivity and profitability.

Consequently, there have been allegation of AIICO insurance company not compensating the unfortunate policy holders, all these have resulted in negative attitude towards their services, thus have resulted to loss in profit. This research takes an in-depth look at this allegation and other pro problems in other to proffer an amenable attitude towards AIICO insurance company.

1.3 OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY

The objectives of this study are to ascertain,

What type of purchasing research activities are available to companies especially those activities that AIICO insurance company is interested in conducting?
What proportion of purchasing budget is allocated to the purchasing activities in a given period in AIICO insurance company?
Whether the company has its own established purchasing research department or if they hire the services of purchasing research consultants.
The source of their purchasing data and the method used in analysis such data from which information is derived.
Whether purchasing research creates awareness in AIICO insurance company.
If purchasing research increases the policy holders in AIICO insurance company
Whether purchasing research contributes to increase profit in AIICO insurance company.

1.4 FORMULATION OF HYPOTHESES

The following hypotheses were formulated and tested.Ho: Purchasing research does not create awareness of AIICO insurance company HI: Purchasing research creates awareness of AIICO Insurance Company.Ho2: Purchasing research does not increase the number of policy holders.HI2: Purchasing research increases the number of policy holders.Ho3: Purchasing research does not increase profit of AIICO Insurance Company.

HI3: Purchasing research increases profit of AIICO Insurance Company.

1.5 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY

Olakunori (1997:20) defined purchasing research as the planned and systematic investigation and collection of relevant facts, the analysis and interpretation of those facts through objective and verifiable methods, for the purpose of arriving at solution of problems or deducing broad principles or laws”. Putting it another way, the research is a planned process of conducting investigations in other to achieve a determined objectives.The objective is usually a solution to one or more problem or an addition to current knowledge in particular field. It is against this background that the researcher believes that the study f this nature is necessary. The outcome of this study will provide an adequate understanding on the application of then various purchasing research to service business/industry.Also this research work will help to ensure an improvement in the quality of service rendered to customers and the public by AIICO insurance company and could as well help the management design strategies and programmes which will enable them to remain competitive. The research work also helps other service firms to understand more correctly the basic principles of purchasing research and its place in the service business/industry so as to influence future purchasing operations.

Finally, the researcher will benefit immensely in this study because he will learn a lot through the stages of study by passing through all the critical and difficult tasks required in gathering necessary information and the subsequent analysis, interpretation and presentation of the research findings.

1.6 THE SCOPE OF THE STUDY

The study takes a look into the purchasing research activities of insurance firms in service industry. Because of time and other factors involved, the researcher was limited to the study of particular insurance firm known as AIICO insurance company operating at Enugu metropolis. It examines the conduct/operations of purchasing research activities in the industry.