Young adults' relationship intentions towards their cell phone network providers
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Marketers use relationship marketing in order to establish mutually beneficial long-term relationships with their customers as a means to retain these customers in the competitive market environment. Relationship marketing should, however, not be used to target each and every customer as not all customers want to build long-term relationships with organisations. In order to identify the most profitable customers to target through relationship marketing, organisations should consider their customers' relationship intentions to form long-term relationships with them. The primary objective of this study was to determine young adults' (aged 18 to 25) relationship intentions towards the South African cell phone network providers they use, namely Vodacom, MTN or Cell C. This was done by considering the five constructs used to measure relationship intention, namely involvement, expectations, forgiveness, feedback and fear of relationship loss. A focus group was used to determine which features related to cell phone network providers young adults consider when selecting a cell phone network provider. This data was used to develop a self-administered questionnaire, which was distributed among respondents studying at the Potchefstroom Campus of the North-West University in the North-West Province. A convenience (non probability) sampling method was used and a total of 315 respondents participated in this study. The distribution between the cell phone network providers was Vodacom (115), MTN (101) and Cell C (99). Initial data analysis revealed that 73% of respondents had high relationship intentions, while the remainder (26%) had low relationship intentions of forming long-term relationships with their respective cell phone network providers. By means of a factor analysis it was determined that the five relationship intention factors, namely involvement, expectations, forgiveness, feedback and fear of relationship loss, were valid and reliable to measure the relationship intentions of respondents. The results further indicated that respondents with a high relationship intention are more involved with their cell phone network providers and feared losing their relationships with their cell phone network providers more than those respondents with a low relationship intention. Furthermore, respondents from the different cell phone network providers do not view the five factors comprising relationship intention differently, but they do differ with regards to other factors related to cell phone network providers. It was found that the majority of respondents regard Vodacom (not necessarily the respondent's cell phone network provider) as the cell phone network provider with the latest technology, as being the quickest, having the best coverage, best handsets, coolest image and best service. The majority of respondents regard Cell C as being the cheapest and MTN as being the most expensive. Results also indicate that respondents' parents play an important role with regard to the choice of their cell phone network providers as the majority of respondents' parents initially chose the cell phone network providers and pay their cellular expenses. It is recommended that cell phone network providers should target young adults' parents with a view to gain a foothold in the young adult market. Furthermore, it is recommended that cell phone network providers should determine how their customers perceive them as compared with competitors in order to better position themselves and to improve communication with young adults. Most importantly, it is recommended that cell phone network providers should identify those young adults with high relationship intentions (those young adults who are more involved with and fear losing their relationship with the cell phone network provider more) in order to retain them by attempting to build long-term relationships with these young adults through dedicated relationship marketing efforts. Recommendations for future research include examining relationship intention with regards to other age groups (such as scholars and adults), other service industries and other geographical areas. Furthermore, the influence which young adults exert on decisions concerning cell phone network providers and the influence of parents on young adults' product and service choices, can be explored in future research by means of the family decision roles.