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  • About
  • The Global ETD Search service is a free service for researchers to find electronic theses and dissertations. This service is provided by the Networked Digital Library of Theses and Dissertations.
    Our metadata is collected from universities around the world. If you manage a university/consortium/country archive and want to be added, details can be found on the NDLTD website.

Accountable marketing : assessing the extent to which Pietermaritzburg based companies understand and have implemented this concept.

Stewart, Malcolm William Thompson. January 2002 (has links)
This report constitutes an exploratory study into the concept of accountable marketing in order to investigate the extent to which it is understood and has been implemented by members of a local business association. Accountable Marketing is a further natural development in the total marketingnconcept beginning with the traditional marketing concept and then developing through the addition of tested assumptions over time. The societal marketing concept is based on three implicit assumptions namely: - consumers' wishes do not always coincide with their long term interests or those of society. - consumers prefer organisations that show real concern for their satisfaction and well-being as well as the collective well-being. - the most important task of the organisation is to adapt itself to the target market in such a way as to generate not only satisfaction, but also individual and collective well-being, in order to attract and keep customers. Two key issues distinguish the societal marketing concept from the classical marketing concept and these are: - marketing must be concerned with the well-being of customers and not simply with the satisfaction of their short-term needs and; - a firm must consider the side-effects of its economic and industrial activity to ensure the long term well-being of society as a whole. Accountable marketing is a natural development from the concept of societal marketing. It can be viewed as the marketing concept practised in such a way that it enhances the total well being of society. The consumerist and environmentalist movements have forced some marketing theoreticians to widen their classical marketing concept, putting the emphasis on the necessity to develop increased consciousness of the socio-cultural side-effects of the economic and marketing activities. Broadly speaking, accountable marketing differs from societal marketing through the addition of the following two elements: Corporate ethical behaviour. o Consideration of the environment and related issues. The research consists of surveys done amongst the members of a local business association. It was found that whilst members of the association stated that they had implemented the accountable marketing concept, they had in effect implemented societal marketing. The increasing effects of globalisation continue to put pressure on South African companies to conduct business or produce products to the same high standards (including health and safety) as that of the rest of the world. South African businesses are faced with the dilemma of whether to be pro-active with regard to these latest developments in marketing or whether to become reactive and only move forward as and when any pressure is applied. It is felt that the benefits of being pro-active far out-weight any negative aspects and can eventually result in a firm becoming the acknowledged leader in its field and being recognized accordingly. / Thesis (MBA)-University of Natal, Pietermaritzburg, 2002.

A SERVQUAL investigation into customer expectations and perceptions of service quality at DTA College Pietermaritzburg during 2010

Machaka, Zivai. January 2011 (has links)
The marketisation of higher and further education institutions whereby education institutions adopt commercial practices to operate has led to increased competition in the education industry. Various sources of competitive advantage are being searched for aggressively by education institutions in the hope of securing customers and remaining competitive. Service quality has become one of the biggest sources of competitive advantage for higher and further education institutions as it enables the institutions to differentiate themselves from the competition. Development and Training for Adults (DTA) College in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa also faces similar challenges of the need to be competitive in an increasingly competitive environment. The study investigated the customers‟ perceptions and expectations of service quality at DTA College in Pietermaritzburg in order to identify and assess any existing service quality gaps. The SERVQUAL instrument which consists of 22 statements on perceptions and 22 on expectations of service quality was utilised to collect data for the research study at DTA College. A sample size of 58 was used and it was selected through stratified random sampling to maximise representativeness of the sample. Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) was used to analyse the data. Statistical tools that include frequencies, meanscores and tabulations were utilised to present the data from findings. The Wilcoxon signed ranks test was also utilised to further analyse the significance of the gaps. The findings from the study indicated that, a negative service quality gap exists at DTA College. Reliability was the service quality dimension that had the widest gap which indicated that the respondents do not rely on the College as it does not deliver as per promise. Assurance was the service quality dimension which had the narrowest gaps. However, 3 of the 4 assurance gaps were significant according to statistical tests conducted which mean that DTA College has to pay attention to all the service quality dimensions regardless of the gaps being small. Frequent interaction between the college and the customers is recommended for DTA College as it provides the college with important information on customer expectations and perceptions. Continuous employee training to improve the existing skills is also recommended for the college‟s employees as it can have a good impact on meeting the customers‟ expectations of the service quality dimensions. / Thesis (M.Com.)-University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, 2011.

A cross-generational study of the positioning of skin care products based on female perceptions.

Drews, Nydia. January 2010 (has links)
The Baby Boomer market is a lucrative market, largely ignored by marketers. This fact has attracted much media attention, both in South Africa and abroad. Research conducted by the UCT Unilever Institute of Strategic Marketing and Synovate shows that the mature market often feels marginalised and ignored by the retail, corporate and media worlds (Scher, 2008:Para 7). Furthermore, they feel estranged from marketing communications, disregarded by product developers and dissatisfied with customer service (Mitchell, 2008:Para 10). Hence there is an opportunity for marketers to communicate with this market, by positioning products better in the minds of Baby Boomers. Positioning as described by Mullins, Walker and Boyd (2008:191) is “both the place a product or brand occupies in customers minds’ relative to their needs and competing products or brands, and to the marketer’s decision-making intended to create such a position”. Thus, positioning has many facets. It relies on consumer perception, segmentation and targeting and selecting attributes which are both important to the target market and distinctive in comparison to competitors. Hence it is important to choose a position which creates a competitive advantage and use this position to guide the development of the marketing strategy, more specifically the marketing mix. Ultimately the marketing mix communicates with the target market and thus potentially influences perception as well as the way consumers position the product. Generational theory explains how different generations develop different value systems, and the impact that this has on how younger and older people interact with the world around them and with each other (Codrington, 2008:1). Schewe and Meredith (2004:51) explain that, generations experience similar external events during their late adolescent and/or early adulthood years which influence their values, preferences, attitudes and buying behaviour in ways that remain with them over their entire life. Hence, since each generation experiences different events, generations differ and need to be targeted separately and differently from the other generations. As Underwood (2007: 43) stresses since career, consumer, and lifestyle decisions are significantly influenced by generational values and attitudes, all businesses need to be trained in generational marketplace strategy and generational workplace strategy. One industry which seems to have recognised the attractiveness of the lucrative Baby Boomer market and recognised the necessity for targeting this generation using an approach which has been customised, is the skin care industry as many facial care products are specifically developed and targeted at the ages which make up the Baby Boomer Generation. Thus, this research investigates the positions occupied by skin care brands based on the perceptions of three generations of females, namely the Baby Boomers, Generation X and Generation Y. The research focuses on determining if there are differences amongst the generations and whether Baby Boomers feel marginalised by the facial care industry. Consequently the literature review focuses on positioning, generational theory and how it affects marketing strategy as well as the current state of the facial care industry. A triangulation methodology was implemented to conduct the research. The triangulation methodology combines qualitative and quantitative data (Banister et al., 1994, cited in Holzhausen, 2001: Para 28) and for the purpose of this research the methods were used sequentially, collecting qualitative data before the quantitative data. One of the biggest advantages of using qualitative and quantitative research is that the styles have complimentary strengths, and as a result research that uses both methods tends to be more comprehensive (Neuman, 2006:150). First three focus group sessions were conducted to gather qualitative data, each focus group representing one of the three generations central to this study. The participants were selected using a snowball sampling method which is a non-probability sampling technique where an initial group of respondents identify others who belong to the target group and subsequent respondents are selected based on referrals (Malhorta, Hall, Shaw and Oppenheimer, 2008:274). This initial group was selected purposively to ensure all race groups were included and to attempt to ensure representivity. A mall-intercept method was used to collect quantitative data, where respondents were selected using convenience sampling. The findings were presented and briefly discussed. This was followed by an in-depth discussion of each of the research objectives, which enabled conclusions to be drawn. It was found that in terms of the attributes which are most important when choosing facial care, Boomers most important attributes differed from the other two generations. Boomers look for facial care products which last all day, have effective moisturising capabilities and make skin soft and smooth. The perceptual maps showed that based on the perception of Baby Boomers, Clinique held the most favourable position. In addition this research identified that Boomers are more sceptical of advertising than the other two generations and generally rated the various media vehicles as less effective than both Xers and Yers did. Finally a number of recommendations were made, these included recommendations as to how the generations differed and how marketers could ensure they target the specific generations and capture their attention. It also included brand specific recommendations, focussing on ways each brand could improve their positioning. Since the study found that females from the three generations central to this study do differ and place importance on different attributes the main recommendation is that each brand needs to ensure their marketing efforts are focused on the generation they wish to target and that they base their positioning on an attribute which is important to the target customers and which will allow customers to differentiate the brand from competitor brands. / Thesis (M.Com.)-University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, 2010.

An investigation of how three private schools in the Midlands of KwaZulu-Natal position and market themselves within the private school market.

Von Maltzahn, Hans Christopher. January 2006 (has links)
Exploratory research was conducted in an attempt to understand how three schools in the Midlands of KwaZulu-Natal market themselves. The marketing of schools is a relatively new concept both in South Africa and internationally. Not only is the marketing of schools vital, in that it allows schools to use their resources in the most efficient and effective way in satisfying the needs of the customer, but associated with this, is that it allows for a meaningful and relevant education. The schools chosen for this research were Cowan House, Epworth and Hilton College. These schools represent a wide cross-section of schools including a primary school, two senior schools, a monastic boys' boarding school and a monastic girls' school with day scholars and boarders. All of the schools had a marketing function within the school. All three schools applied the basic marketing concept. They were customer focused, were orientated towards achieving long term goals, tried to integrate activities within the school and strongly believed in societal aspects of marketing. Of particular interest was the strong focus on the customer by some of the schools. None of the schools had been exposed to the seven Ps of service marketing, and so did not structure their marketing mix based on the service marketing model. All the schools felt that their staff were a differentiating factor (people) and had impressive grounds and facilities (physical evidence). The major problem that all three schools experienced was developing a differentiated service that separated themselves from competitors within the market. They were not aware of the unique position that they occupied in the mind of the customer, although all the schools felt that they were unique. The result of this was that their marketing mix was not able to support and enhance the differentiated service and proposed market position. A possible reason for the schools not developing a unique position in the market is that they may not analyse the external environment in enough detail. This meant they were not able to capitalise on, or develop,unique internal strengths to satisfy needs that their customers considered important, valuable and were willing to pay for. It is recommended that a more structured approach to strategic marketing be used. This should allow the schools to implement each of the steps required in strategy formulation. If this is done effectively they will be able to match internal strengths with opportunities in the external environment and so develop a differentiated product that is required by the target market. The schools should also adopt a service marketing strategy as education is a service. Adopting the seven Ps of service marketing would allow the schools to implement a marketing mix that is suitable for a service institution. It is hoped that this dissertation will contribute to a better understanding of marketing of schools, allow them to be more focused in their strategy and ultimately result in a better education for their learners. / Thesis (M.B.A.)-University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, 2006.

An exploratory study of the position accorded to the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) by business in Gauteng Province.

Chiweshe, Nigel T. F. January 2010 (has links)
No abstract available. / Thesis (M.A.)-University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, 2010.

The communication efforts of cellular companies to improve relationship marketing.

Veerasamy, Dayaneethie. January 2006 (has links)
The development of relationship marketing, which is oriented towards developing lasting relationships with clients, emerged in the 1990's. The concept suggests that by better understanding customers on an individual level and by delivering to them information, products and services targeted to their specific needs, marketers can develop a long-term relationship with them that translates into worthwhile profits. Thus, relationship marketing focuses on customer orientation, with high service emphasis and high customer contact. Relationship marketing uses improved information technology to regularly communicate with firm customers and to base product/service offerings on the customer's buying behaviour. Computer linkages, advertising, personal selling, sales promotion, sponsorships, publicity, special events and exhibitions aid communication among channel members and also create a relationship between buyer and seller. Whilst research has been conducted on a general aspect of relationship marketing, there appears to be no significant study on how communication efforts can promote relationship marketing in the cellular industry. It is the intention of this study to examine the way in which relationship marketing is currently being employed in the cellular industry and to assess how improved communication can result in the effective application thereof. The objectives of this study are to investigate whether the communication efforts of the cellular operating companies are satisfying customers, to establish if the communication tools used by the companies are effective in promoting relationship marketing and to explore whether existing customers will become advocates of the company. Ethical clearance was obtained from the Research Administration at the University of KwaZulu -Natal. All subjects were aware of the purpose of the study and the aims and objectives. All subjects signed and consented to be part of the study. The target population consists of existing cellular phone users from whom the researcher attempted to draw conclusions and make generalizations. In KwaZulu-Natal, 251 cellular phone users volunteered and participated in this study. Informed consent was required of each of the respondents. 53% were contract customers and 38% were prepaid customers. There were 94 males (38%) and 141 females (56%) in the sample. The overall response rate was 83.7%. The main results yielded from this study indicated that cellular phone users were satisfied with the communication efforts of their service providers. Therefore, the communication tools used by their service providers were effective in creating, maintaining and enhancing relationships with their customers. Also it was very evident that existing customers are advocates of their service provider and will continue to be so into the future. This study recommends that customers must understand and be informed of the future direction that their service provider will take. They must be informed of long and medium term plans, new developments and any fundamental changes that are going to take place. Since service is the nerve centre of any organization, service providers must improve on their service to customers. Service providers should conduct regular satisfaction surveys to get feedback from customers and monitor their attitudes towards them and assess the performance on their accounts. The fulfilment of these recommendations will promote and enhance relationship marketing in the cellular industry. / Thesis (M.Com.)-University of KwaZulu-Natal, Westville, 2006.

Buying motivations for apparel : a comparative study between male and female generation y consumers.

Thompson, Kim Helen. January 2011 (has links)
According to Kotler and Armstrong (2004: 259), “a product‟s position is the way the product is defined by consumers on important attributes”. Knowledge of these attributes, and more specifically, which attributes “attract customers to stores is more important than ever” (Paulins and Geistfeld 2003: 371). Furthermore, it is important to note that the attributes which constitute consumers‟ perceptions of value may be of different importance to different groups of consumers (Ziethaml 1988: 14 cited in Sweeney and Soutar 2001: 204), hence justifying the need to study Generation Y independently. According to Sweeney (2006: 6), it is important to study this specific age cohort as “Millennials are very different from previous generations at the same age” and many of their key behaviours and preferences “are likely to remain part of their lifelong culture” and adult buying behaviour. Consequently, it is vital to satisfy and capture this market now in order to secure a committed clientele for the future. Yarrow and O‟Donnell (2009: 2) also describe Generation Y as “potentially one of the most powerful and influential generations ever” (Yarrow and O‟Donnell 2009: 2), as well as being known for its unprecedented purchasing power “of which two-thirds goes on clothing” (Ebenkamp 1999: 4). The research objectives for this study were: 1. To identify the most patronised stores according to a sample of male and female Generation Y consumers. 2. To determine the relative importance of the attributes that Generation Y consumers apply when choosing between clothing retailers. 3. To determine the relative importance of the attributes that Generation Y consumers apply when purchasing various garments and pieces of clothing. 4. To identify the determinant attributes that influence clothing store selection among Generation Y consumers. 5. To determine whether a significant difference exists between the attributes of the male and female Generation Y respondents with regard to clothing store selection. The study involved a two-stage triangulated research design, with a qualitative focus group stage preceding a quantitative survey stage. The data obtained from the focus groups was analysed and subsequently used to formulate and refine the survey to be used in stage two of the triangulation. Purposive quota sampling was utilised during stage two of the research, which resulted in 380 sufficiently completed questionnaires, the findings from which enabled the researcher to achieve the research objectives. The key findings of the study revealed that Mr Price, Edgars, Woolworths and Identity were the most frequently patronised by the UKZNP student respondents. The attributes found to be of the most importance with regard to influencing clothing store selection were: High Quality Merchandise, Value for Money, Uniqueness of Merchandise, Fashionable Merchandise, Store Cleanliness, Wide Selection of Merchandise and Low Prices. The clothing attributes which were identified as the most important to the sample of Generation Y respondents when choosing clothing to purchase, were: Good Fit, Comfort and Quality. The results of the Discriminant Analysis, combined with the mean importance ratings of the clothing store attributes, revealed three determinant attributes influencing clothing store selection among the Generation Y respondents, namely: Low Prices, Fashionable Merchandise and Uniqueness of Merchandise. Finally, an Independent Samples T-Test, as well as a Mann-Whitney U-Test, were run to determine whether a significant difference exists between the attributes of the male and female Generation Y respondents with regard to clothing store selection. The results revealed that female Generation Y respondents in this study place greater importance on the attributes of Convenient Location, Low Prices and Appealing Advertising, when choosing between clothing retailers, while the male Generation Y respondents perceived High Quality Merchandise as being more important and influential. Lastly, numerous recommendations were made regarding how to target and satisfy the Generation Y consumer market, with particular reference to each of the clothing retailers. / Thesis (M.Com.)-University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, 2011.

A survey amongst growing media producers in the United Kingdom with a view to establishing distribution channels for Fibregro exports.

Dobson, Dave. January 2004 (has links)
A new peat replacement product is being manufactured in South Africa. This product which is marketed under the brand name Fibregro is made from spent wattle bark originating from the tanning extract manufacturing process. Fibregro is currently being used in South Africa to dilute and in some instances replace local peat in mushroom and horticultural applications. In addition to its role as a peat replacement, Fibregro is in a position where it could also qualify to cany a Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) label. Once in full production it is estimated that the company will be able to produce more products than can be sold locally. As a result export opportunities need to be pursued. The United Kingdom (UK) was identified as a potential export destination on account of developments in this country in respect of the certification of forest products (especially FSC certification) and moves to reduce peat mining. A mail survey was undertaken amongst growing media producers in the UK to address two key issues relating to Fibregro, namely: • Whether Fibregro's peat free status could be exploited in the UK growing media and mushroom casing markets. • Whether enough advantages existed in the UK market to justify the extra effort and cost associated with qualifying Fibrego to carry an FSC label. Key findings arising from this survey indicate that a niche is developing in the UK growing media market for a good peat substitute. The addition of an FSC label will render the product unique in the growing media market in this country. A number of recommendations arise from this work. These are: • In order to penetrate the UK growing media market Fibrgro must be positioned as an effective peat reducing agent which is capable of extending the peat reduction levels beyond that of composts. • Fibregro distributors should be identified from amongst the larger growing media producers in the UK. • Potential use of Fibregro as a mushroom casing in the UK appears to be limited. • A combination of peat free and FSC labelling while capable of rendering Fibregro unique in the UK growing media market needs to be carefully considered on account of chain-of-custody requirements along the supply chain. / Thesis (M.B.A.) University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg 2004.

Positioning Mhlathuze water as a service provider for Usuthu-Mhlathuze catchment management policy.

Mosai, Sipho Abednego. January 2004 (has links)
1. BACKGROUND Mhlathuze Water (MW) is a public sector water utility created in terms of Water Act 54 of 1954, MW has legislative mandate to provide support services to DWAF and other government institutions such as municipalities and Catchment Management Agencies (CMAs). The objective of the CMA is to manage and coordinate water resources management functions at local level. This includes the power to manage, monitor, conserve and protect water resources and to implement catchment management strategies (NWA, 1998). Because of shortage of water resources specialist skills such as water resources monitoring, water resources assessment, flood prevention, and resource protection to mention few, the Usuthu-Mhlathuze CMA will have to outsource some of the specialist functions to private and public institutions like Mhlathuze Water on a competitive basis (DWAF, 2003). 2. PURPOSE The primary purpose of the dissertation is to analyze and understand the needs of the Usuthu-Mhlathuze CMA as well as MW's competencies so as to develop positioning strategy for MW. To achieve the primary purpose of the dissertation the following research objectives have been identified: • Identification of the needs of the target CMA. • Identification ofMW's strengths and weaknesses to see ifMW can satisfy the needs of the target CMA. • Analysis of competitors' strengths and weaknesses to measure MW against competitors. The three analyses will provide a base essential for developing and recommending a positioning strategy to MW. 3. METHODOLOGY The customer needs analysis information of the Usuthu-Mhlathuze CMA was mainly sourced from the following documents: • Usuthu-Mhlathuze Situation assessment (Appendix 1). • Proposal to establish the Usuthu-Mhlathuze CMA (Appendix 2). • Legal review on CMAs (Appendix 3). • Australian documentation on catchment management institutions (Appendix 4). For the competitor analysis, a profile of most organizations m the water sector operating in the area of the CMA was sourced from MW's consultants panel for various disciplines (Appendix 5). The internal analysis was compiled using information from reports produced by MW in the last five years and was also informed MW's participation in various studies and projects in the catchment management area (Appendix 6). Strategic employees from various MW's departments were contacted with the view of authenticating the analysis findings. 4. FINDINGS AND CONCLUSION A number of areas of need for the imminent Usuthu to Mhlathuze CMA were identified. These included water quality management, flood management, construction and operation of waterworks, monitoring the performance of water users, monitoring the condition of water resources, alien vegetation management, education on water resource management, promotion of community participation, ensuring access to information regarding water resource management, development of a Catchment Management Strategy, provision of water to meet environmental needs, ensuring sustainable water sharing and efficient water use, and pursuing opportunities for productive use of alternative the water source. The competitor analysis (Appendix 7) provided the strengths and weaknesses of competitors likely to target the CMA as service providers. The likely major competitors of MW are: Scott Wilson, BKS, Jeffares and Green Consulting Engineers, Water Resource Planning and Conservation Consulting Engineers and Ninham Shand Consulting Engineers. Scott Wilson and DMM partnership have major strengths that MW would need to be aware of in developing a positioning strategy. The other competitors do not offer a suite of water resource management service. They are therefore not expected to be MW's major rivalries. 5. RECCOMENDATIONS MW should position itself as the low cost service provider because the imminent CMA will be very price sensitive. Apart from positioning itself as a low cost provider, MW should also position itself as a deliver good quality services. MW's strengths in terms of experience, expertise, knowledge and understating of the water resource dynamics demonstrate that MW can safely position itself as a deliver good quality services. MW is the only water resources management services provider that provides a suite of water resources management functions (Table 5.1, p. 49). The organization is also the only service provider that acts as an implementing agent that already provides water resource management services for DWAF (de facto CMA). Based on this, and the fact that MW is well known (DWAF, 2003), it is appropriate for MW to also position itself as leader in water resources management in the CMA area of operation (Thompson and Strickland, 2003). The most appropriate promotional tool that will solicit immediate response and cultivate lasting customer relationship for MW is direct marketing (Kotler, 2000). This means that MW must package their service offerings and go and sell them directly to the de fact CMA and later to the CMA. The benefits of using this tool is that the message will be specifically directed to the prospect specifically prepared to appeal to CMA and can be immediately changed depending on the response (Kotler, 2000). / Thesis (M.B.A.)-University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, 2004.

Positioning Umgeni Water for the 21st century.

Hadebe, Adolph Slindokuhle. January 2004 (has links)
Umgeni Water was established through Government Notice No. 114 on 14 June 1974. The establishment was facilitated via the legislation operating at that time, namely the Water Act (Act No. 54 of 1956). The organization has grown to be the largest water utility in KwaZulu-Natal and the second largest in South Africa operating in an area of 27 000 square kilometres. Umgeni Water has now expanded its capabilities to cover the full water management cycle and has geared itself up to offer source to sea and source to tap solutions. All the water utilities in South Africa were operating as monopolies because the Water Act (Act No. 54 of 1956) used a system of assigning areas within which the water utilities were to operate. This means that firstly the water utilities were confined to a specific area, and by default meant that these water utilities had a monopoly in that area because the legislation did not permit other service providers. The situation changed in the late nineties when the water sector underwent major legislative and administrative transformation. A number of laws were promulgated including the New National Water Act (Act No. 36 of 1998), the Water Services Act (Act No. 107 of 1997) and a plethora of municipal legislation. The major difference in the "new era" was the introduction and promotion of competition as a means to improve service delivery and enhance benefits accrued by the customers. For the first time in the history of the water sector, water utilities had to compete with other service providers and prove that they can discharge duties and activities better and more efficiently than anybody else. The municipal legislation also empowered and mandated municipalities to be the official authority and provider of water services to the people within their areas of jurisdiction, hence the term Water Services Authorities. If the Water Services Authority lacked capacity, it could choose a service provider that would meet the need. Against this backdrop, water utilities have had to find ways of generating income to survive and this meant that the water utilities had to somehow become relevant in the new dispensation. This included strategies like customer management, increasing operational efficiencies, building capacity of staff through training and development programmes and commercialisation of certain activities. In other words, the water utilities realised that they had to do something, one such thing that was done by Umgeni Water was to position itself so that it becomes a service provider of choice to the Water Services Authorities. In its effort to sustain itself, Umgeni Water cast its eyes beyond the promulgated operational area to the whole of the developing world. In its strategic session that set the tone for 2001 to 2005, the organization envisioned itself being the No.l utility in the developing world. Before being No.l utility in the developing world, Umgeni Water needed to achieve that status in its operational area and South Africa. To be able achieve this position, Umgeni Water needed to know the perceptions being held by the customers in its operational area. This research was undertaken to establish the position that Umgeni Water currently holds in the minds of the customers. This information will assist and inform the future position that Umgeni Water will need to adopt to ensure that its vision is attained. The sample consisted of all Water Services Authorities within the promulgated operational area of Umgeni Water, namely Ugu District Municipality, Sisonke District Municipality, uMgungundlovu District Municipality, Ilembe District Municipality, uMsunduzi Municipality and eThekwini Municipality. The Water Services Authorities seem to be in agreement and appreciative of the fact that Umgeni Water's service provision has improved over the years and 91% of the customers asserted that the main product of the organization, water, met their requirements. This improvement influenced an overwhelming majority (73%) of the Water Services Authorities to proclaim that Umgeni Water was their preferred service provider. These perceptions were fuelled by a number of reasons including the fact that the Water Services Authorities believed that Umgeni Water has the necessary experience, expertise, capabilities and track record to speak authoritatively on integrated water resource management. The Water Services Authorities also believed that the organization is contributing constructively towards the realisation of their developmental mandate and attainment of the water and sanitation goals set by the South African Government through The Strategic Framework for Water Services and achievement of targets set during the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg. The Water Services Authorities also identified Umgeni Water's strengths to lie in the fields of water quality management, water quality monitoring, water treatment and laboratory services. This information is crucial because it validates Umgeni Water's position and vindicates the establishment of the organization by the government, whose primary activity was to provide sustainable and high quality water services. There were however customers who felt that Umgeni Water is arrogant, supercilious and untrustworthy. These strong statements were informed by the business dealings spanning a period of 17 years. The only reason that makes these Water Services Authorities continue to use Umgeni Water even under these circumstances is because of the geographical location of the company and its strong financial muscle. The final conclusion drawn is that Umgeni Water is well positioned in the minds of the customers, and is supplying vital services that are perceived by the Water Services Authorities to be adding value to the businesses that they are involved in. In order for Umgeni Water's position to be sustained and cemented in the minds of the customers, immediate attention should paid to critical issues such as ensuring that the intended position of being the service provider of choice is both meaningful and believable by all customers. Umgeni Water should align its value systems, core beliefs and cultures with those of the Water Services Authorities to enhance the possibilities of building long-term relationships. The organisation should also ensure that its Communication Strategy communicates the intended position as well steps to be undertaken to reach that position. It is also important that customers input into this strategy. Umgeni Water should also gather more information on the customers' businesses to enable them to increase the value adding activities and thus leverage value for customers. Another important recommendation is for Umgeni Water to revisit its pricing strategy because of the perception that the products and services are highly priced. The organization will need to conduct a benchmarking exercise to compare its prices against both the water utilities and the water sector. It has also been recommended that Umgeni Water reposition the professional services offered by the organization. This is because of a revelation by 18% (figure 10) of Water Services Authorities felt that the professional services offered by Umgeni Water do not meet their requirements. To improve this position, Umgeni Water should emphasize non-payment of its services provided unless they meet the required standard. The organization should also identify, amplify and communicate the benefits accrued through the professional services to these Water Services Authorities. Once the Water Services Authorities have realized the immense benefits that are accrued through these services and the insistence of honoring payments only after the quality of the final work produced has been acceptable, chances are greater for repeat business and this will ultimately lead in Umgeni Water being recognized as the preferred provider of services. / Thesis (M.B.A.)-University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, 2004.

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