Corporate Social Responsibility Awareness and Consumer Purchasing Decision-Making of Sachet Water
The Case of University of Ghana Students
Bachelor Thesis 2017 90 Pages
TABLE OF CONTENTS
List of Tables
CHAPTER ONE : GENERAL INTODUCTION TO THE STUDY
1.1 Introduction to Chapter
1.2 Background of Study
1.3 1.2 Statement of Problem
1.4 Objective of the Research
1.4.1 General Objective
1.4.2 Specific Objective
1.5 Statement of Hypotheses
1.6 Significance of the Study
CHAPTER TWO : LITERATURE REVIEW
2.2 Theoretical Literature Review
2.2.1 Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)
2.2.2 CSR and consumer purchasing attitudes
2.3 Empirical Literature Review
2.3.1 Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)
2.3.2 Sachet water
2.3.3 Economic, Environmental and Health concerns on plastics
CHAPTER THREE : METHODOLOGY
3.2 Research Design
3.2.1 Target Population
3.2.2 Sample Size
3.2.3 Sampling Technique
3.2.4 Research Instrument
3.2.5 Reliability and Validity
3.3 Overview of the Study Area
CHAPTER FOUR : DATA ANALYSES
4.2 Demography of Respondents
4.3 Consumer Awareness of CSR activities of Sachet Water Companies
4.4 Knowledge Duration of Awareness
4.5. Community Perception of CSR of sachet water companies
4.6. Influence of CSR on Consumer Purchasing Decision
4.7 Testing Hypothesis
4.7.1 Hypothesis 1
4.7.2 Hypothesis 2
4.7.3 Hypothesis 3
4.7.4 Hypothesis 4
4.9 Limitations of Study
CHAPTER FIVE : SUMMARY, CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS
I hereby declare that, except for references to other people’s work, which have been acknowledged, this THESIS is the result of my own research work carried out in the Department of Sociology, under the supervision of Dr. Dan-Bright S. Dzorgbo.
Eugene Nana Kwame Agyei Dr. Dan-Bright S. Dzorgbo
To my father, Mr. Ernest Agyei and my beloved brother, Bernard Agyei
My deepest gratitude goes to the Almighty God for seeing me through this work. I also want to express my profound appreciation to my supervisor, Dr. Dan-Bright S. Dzorgbo, for his painstaking guidance and constructive comments which gave life to this piece. I want to thank Fanny Froehlich, my good friend from UCL, who assisted me in gathering literature and for her words of encouragement.
To all my friends and numerous others who helped me diverse ways, especially Samuel Ofori Ampofo, I say, may God reward you munificently.
The purpose of this study was to empirically investigate the influence of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) awareness on consumer purchasing decision of sachet water in Ghana. The study sought to find answers to the following questions: What is the awareness level of CSR activities of sachet water producers in Ghana among consumers? What are consumer perceptions about CSR activities of sachet water producers? How do CSR initiatives of sachet water producers influence purchasing behavior of customers? A sample size of one hundred (100) consumers of sachet water was selected from University of Ghana for the study using the purposive random and convenience sampling method. The data obtained were analysed using Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS 20.0) software. From the study, the researcher found out that, relatively fewer consumers of sachet water are aware of CSR activities of sachet water companies. The study also discovered that more consumers highly perceived environmental friendly activities as corporate socially responsible. The study also revealed that, other factors such as product quality, brand, advertisements and price influence the purchasing decisions of sachet water buyers, even to a greater extent than CSR. It was found that consumers are particularly concerned about quality when buying sachet water. However, CSR activities performed by sachet water companies were rated as a lesser factor that influence consumers stay and repurchase of sachet water. The researcher recommends, among other things, that regulatory bodies be firm in enforcing laws in corporate organizations. Again, CSR should be viewed as part of the code of ethics of any corporate organization, including sachet water companies. Also, the government should design national policies to set parameters for CSR in Ghana to reflect national needs.
List of Tables
Table 4.2.1 Demographic Characteristics of Respondents
Table 4.3.1 Awareness of CSR Activities of Sachet Water Companies
Table 4.2.0 Knowledge Duration on Waste Management
Table 4.2.1 Knowledge Duration on Disease Prevention Effort
Table 4.2.2 Knowledge Duration on Restrain from Hazardous Chemicals
Table 4.2.3 Knowledge Duration Supporting Disaster Victims
Table 4.2.4 Knowledge Duration Supporting Students Scholarship
Table 4.2.5 Knowledge Duration Providing Educational Materials to Schools
Table 4.2.6 Knowledge Duration on Supporting School Infrastructure
Table 4.2.7 Knowledge Duration on Supporting School with Clean Drinking Water
Table 4.2.8 Knowledge Duration on Good Production Process
Table 4.2.9 Knowledge Duration on Useful Activities and Care for Environment
Table 4.2.10 Knowledge Duration on Activities to Improve and Give Opportunities
Table 4.2.11 Knowledge Duration on Reuse or Recycling
Table 4.3.0 Community Perception of CSR on Waste Management
Table 4.3.1 Community Perception of CSR on Disease Prevention Effort
Table 4.3.2 Community Perception of CSR on Restrain from Use of Hazardous Chemical
Table 4.3.3 Community Perception of CSR: Support for Disaster Victims
Table 4.3.4 Community Perception of CSR: Support for Student Scholarship
Table 4.3.5 Community Perception of CSR on Providing Educational Materials
Table 4.3.6 Community Perception of CSR: Supporting School Infrastructure
Table 4.3.7 Community Perception of CSR: Providing Clean Drinking Water for School
Table 4.3.8 Community Perception of CSR: Good Management of Production Process
Table 4.3.9 Community Perception of CSR: Care for environment
Table 4.3.10 Community Perception of CSR: Improve and Give Opportunities
Table 4.2.11 Community Perception of CSR: Reuse or Recycle Material
Table 4.4.0 Summary of CSR Influence on Purchasing Decision
Table 4.4.1 Influence of Broad CSR Categories on Purchasing Decision
Table 4.4.2 Elasticity of Water * Factors with Higher Influence on Purchase
Table 4.5.0 Chi-Square Tests for Gender * Influence of CSR
Table 4.5.1 Chi-Square Tests for Age * Perception of CSR
Table 4.5.2 Chi-Square Tests for Academic Level * CSR Awareness
Table 4.5.3 Chi-Square Tests for Gender * Perception of CSR
CHAPTER ONE GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO THE STUDY
This chapter opens the door to the research. It provides a brief background of the topic under study, an overview of the research, problem statement, research objectives, research hypotheses and significance of the study. The chapter captures the essence and the need for this study and provides the reader a hook to the content of this research.
Since Howard R. Bowen's 1953 work, Social Responsibilities of the Businessman, a work considered by many to be the first definitive book on the subject, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has gained wider attention in both academic and public discourse. However, whenever CSR was discussed, especially in developing countries like Ghana, the focus was largely on Multi-National Corporations (MNCs). The assumption is that these corporations rake in several profits from the poor consumer and unleash certain unintended consequences on society (Klein, 2004; Mohr & Webb, 2005; Prabu, Kline & Yang, 2009, Welker, Partridge & Hardin, 2011). Other discussions have also focused on conceptual models (Carroll, 1979) and how CSR affects company's financial performance (McGuire et al., 1988). Not much has been done on Small and Medium-Scale Enterprises (SMEs) like sachet water companies that also reserve ethical responsibilities on caring for the society and environment within which they operate. Particularly on sachet water businesses, literature is almost non-existent. Meanwhile, sachet water businesses have been number one cause of plastic pollution and associated problems. It has also been one of the thriving industries in the country.
Ghana has made tremendous progress in expanding accessibility of portable water on the road to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). However, some significant number of Ghana’s population, still live without access to safe drinking water. It is estimated that about a billion people in our world today do not have safe source of water and a third of these people live in sub-Saharan Africa (Stoler J. et al, 2012). The stride Ghana has made was, partly, as a result of the revolution in water vending – the introduction of sachet drinking water. The consumption of sachet drinking water has seen astronomic increase in West Africa over the last decade (Stoler J. et al, 2012). The trend has stirred a lot of debate, with some governments threatening to ban the use of plastic entirely and/or slap industrial players with heavy fines, owing to growingeconomic, health and environmental concerns (Ampofo, n.d.). The introduction of sachet water vending has not come without challenges. It has exacerbated the country’s existing sanitation challenges, not to mention the health-related concerns ranging from the production of sub-standard water to over-chlorination .
The chronicles on the history of sachet water remain scattered, but the ‘new technology’ is said to have found its place in the water-vending industry in Ghana in the 1990s (Stoler J. et al, 2012). The industry has not stopped growing ever since.Everpure, Standard, Voltic Ghana Limited, Mobile Water, Bel Aqua and Aqua Fill are among the big players in the industry with each employing about 2000 workers on the average, including those along the value chain. Currently there are 1,238 registered companies producing sachet water in Ghana. The industry is fast developing into a significant employment space in the Ghanaian economy, creating some four million jobs throughout the production chain in the last five years.
Despite the dramatic increase of sachet water producing companies in Ghana, Stoler J. et al (2012) are of the view that “sachet fillersdo not generally perceive a lot of competition among each other”. The essentiality of the services and an almost infinite demand heretofore largely underpin this unusual market structure. Thus, the quest to achieve competitive advantage in the sachet water industry is one of brand marketing and capital disposal. That is not to say that the industry is without competition. The business environment in Ghana is typically competitive, characterized by legal frameworks aimed at ethical behaviors on the part of businesses and societal expectations that businesses should be more ethical and socially responsible (Anim and Cudjoe, 2015). The Ghana Standards Authority (GSA), a state institution responsible for standard development and quality management, often pursue industry players who compromise product’s standards, usually through routine checks. They also undertake periodic publications of accredited producers to sanitize the industry. Under such unpredictable business environment, competition cannot be said to be completely absent.In today’s world of business, transactional marketing is rapidly giving way to mutual relationship with customers and one evident marketing tool most firms have favorably adopted is Corporate Social Responsibility (Anim and Cudjoe, 2015). The sachet water industry is of no exception. Despite the familiarity with CSR, governments have not taken concrete steps at inducing CSR among businesses (Jamali and Neville, 2011) and so we find businesses escaping the exercise. Nonetheless, there are pocketful of business players who undertake CSR either as a strategic marketing tool or in compliance with appropriate business ethics. At the centre of the gesture-for-profit marketing scheme are Voltic Ghana Ltd, Everpure Company Ltd, Bel Aqua and Special Ice Mineral Water Company Ltd.
Votic Ghana has, since 2012, donated Tutu desk to World Vision Ghana for distribution to schools deprived communities. In 2015, the company donated 2200 of Tutu desk valued at GHC127, 130. The same year, Everpure Ghana Ltd supported flood victims with 1000 bags of sachet water and 20 boxes of bottled water worth GHC4000. The company also donated educational materials to Tema Community 7 Number One School. Bel Aqua, in similar gesture, supported the Ministry of Trade and Industry’s Made-in-Ghana policywith an amount of GhC25000 in 2016.
The relationship between CSR and Corporate Financial Performance (CFP) has attracted mixed reaction across the research spectrum (McGuire, Sundgren, Schneeweis, 1988). Much of these differences have been the result of what Aupperle, Carroll and Hatfield (1985) have described as methodological quagmire and ideological biases. Bragdon and Marlin (1972), Bowman and Haire (1975) found generally positive correlation between CSR and accounting-based measures of performance (McGuire, Sundgren, Schneeweis, 1988).
Literature on CSR and CSR impact on consumer behavior is very limited in the case of Ghana. The available reference documents have often treated the subject wholly, without specific area of interest (Anim and Cudjoe, 2015). In fact, not a single study has been done exclusively in the sachet water industry as far as CSR and its impact on consumer purchasing decision is concerned. This makes it particularly important and meaningful to ascertain consumers’ awareness of CSR and consumers’ attitudes, purchasing and consuming behavior toward corporate socially responsible businesses in the sachet water industry.
1.3 Statement of the Problem
Literatures on CSR abound but only limited few give practical guideline to businesses on how to address CSR innovatively. Literatures on CSR in Africa remain scanty and it not any better in the case of Ghana. Atuguba and Dawouna (2006) have revealed that there is no comprehensive document on CSR in the country (Andrews, 2013). It would interest one to note that not a single study has been done exclusively in the sachet water industry as far as CSR and its impact on consumer behavior are concerned. Meanwhile, sachet water consumption is on the surge and has increasingly become important households’ water source (Stoler et al., 2013). Popularly referred to as “pure water”, sachet water has gained wider acceptance among Ghanaians “due to low price, convenience, ubiquity and the public perception that sachet water is of higher quality than tap water” (Stoler et al., 2013: 2). This makes it particularly important and meaningful to ascertain consumers’ awareness of CSR and consumers’ attitudes, purchasing and consuming behavior toward corporate socially responsible businesses in the sachet water industry. This, we hope, would be a guiding torch to sachet water producers to address CSR strategically and innovatively.
1.4 Objectives of the Study
1.3.0 General Objective:
To find out whether the awareness of CSR efforts of sachet water businesses in Ghana has an influence on consumer purchasingdecision of sachet water.
1.3.1 Specific Objectives:
1. To investigate the awareness level of CSR activities of sachet water businesses in Ghana among sachet water consumers
2. To ascertain consumer perceptions of CSR activities of sachet water producers
3. To measure the extent to which CSR influence consumer purchasing decision of sachet water.
1.5 Research Hypotheses
Based on the objectives and literature reviewed, the researcher tested the following hypotheses.
1. H1: There will be significant positive correlation between Gender and Community Perception of CSR
H0: There will be no significant positive correlation between Gender and Community
Perception of CSR
2. H1: There will be significant positive correlation between Age and Influence of CSR on consumer purchasing decision
H0: There will be no significant positive correlation between Age and Influence of CSR on
consumer purchasing decision
3. H1: There will be significant negative correlation between one’s academic Level and CSR Awareness
H0: There will be significant negative correlation between one’s academic Level and CSR
4. H1: There will be significant positive correlation between Gender and Influence of CSR on consumer purchasing decision
H0: There will be significant positive correlation between Gender and Influence of CSR on
consumer purchasing decision
1.6 Significance of the Study
The study will add to existing stock of knowledge on CSR in furtherance of future research. The study outcome will also serve as a reference source for other researchers to investigate further into areas this study may not cover. It will also contribute to stakeholders’ understanding of the influence CSR has on consumer purchasing behavior of sachet water and enable them address CSR strategically. It will help researchers and policy makers to re-conceptualize CSR as a marketing tool in the sachet water business in Ghana.
CHAPTER TWO LITERATURE REVIEW
This section will be in two folds, namely, theoretical literature review and empirical literature review. The theoretical review will briefly examine theoretical foundations on CSR and consumer purchasing decision. The empirical literature on the other hand will consider the areas of the research topic that have undergone practical observation and systematic validation by other researchers. This will include CSR, sachet water and its industry, as well as some economic, environmental and health concerns on plastic waste. The volumes of literature that were reviewed came from University of Ghana Libraries. The study also utilized online sources through searches in Google Search, PubMed, Google Scholar, JSTOR, and other online Academic Journal databases. Online searches, particularly, will involve the combination of keywords such as ‘Sachet Water’, ‘CSR’ ‘Influence’, and ‘Ghana’.
2.2Theoretical Literature Review
2.2.1 Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)
The challenge of defining CSR remains importantly fundamental to the debate on business and society. The problem of definition has rendered the meaning of CSR highly elusive and unclear (Clarkson, 1995). Nonetheless, several authors have attempted an explanation to provide a rough insight about the concept. Davis (1973) has defined CSR as “the firm’s consideration of, and response to issues beyond the narrow economic, technical, and legal requirements of the firm…to accomplish social benefits along with the traditional economic gains the firm seeks” (Wood, 1991). Kotier and Lee (2005: 3) refer to CSR as a "commitment to improve community well-being through voluntary business practices and contributions of corporate resource (cited in Jamali and Neville, 2011)Canadian Business for Social Responsibility also view CSR as “a company’s commitment to operating in an economically, socially, and environmentally sustainable manner, while recognizing the interests of shareholders, including investors, customers, employees, business partners, local communities, the environment, and society at large” (Gawel, 2006: 11; cited in Andrews, 2013).Hirschland (2006:7) defined CSR as “the expectations of businesses by nonstate stakeholder groups, and the strategic management of these demands by businesses that help to assure profits and enterprise sustainability” (cited in Andrews, 2013).The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) explained that CSR is a “ a continuing commitment by business to behave ethically and contribute to economic development while improving the quality of life of the workforce and their families, as well as of the local community and society at large” (Hopkins 2007: 25; cited in Andrews, 2013). Archie B. Carroll says that CSR is “the general belief held by growing numbers of citizens that modern businesses have responsibilities to society that extend beyond their obligation to their stakeholders or investors in the firm” (2008b: 122; cited in Andrews, 2013).The problem of definition alone lends credence to how lengthy the discussion on CSR can be, albeit does not exhaust the argument on CSR. Aside linguistic disagreement, one thing remains generally true to all paradigms – that CSR is not a free manna from businesses to society but a price they pay on the denigrating impact of their business activities. It can be concluded therefore CSR is hinged on three core imperatives – economic, social and environmental (K. Bondy et al, 2012).
Cutting down costs and risk, creating competitive advantage, building reputation and legitimacy, and generating win-win-win outcomes have been identified by Kurucz et al. (2008) as the four main ways CSR add value to corporations (cited in K. Bondy et al, 2012). Jackson and Apostolakou (2010) lent support to this claim when they intimated that CSR is a strategic tool for firms to enhance their reputation, reduce risk and improve performance. In a research conducted, McGuire, Sundgren and Schneeweis, (1988) observed that lack of CSR exposes a firm to a significantly additional risk of lawsuit and fine and so most firm undertake CSR to minimize this risk.
The evolution of CSR coincided with the demise of the ‘golden age of capitalism’ (Raman, 2007). The concept gained popularity in the 1960s, partly because of the sharp surge in disposal income. The concept has since become a subject of academic football. Different scholars, as earlier mentioned, have argued from the very meaning of CSR to its importance. This has engendered various theoretical paradigms just on the field. Largely, the orthodox views of CSR examine it from economic, legal and ethical perspective while contemporaries view it as a strategic tool used by firms (Anim and Cudjoe, 2015). Archie B. Carroll (1979) is one of the prominent authorities of the orthodox school. He postulated that “any given responsibility or action of business could have economic, legal, ethical and discretionary motives embodied in it” (1979: 500). He opined that the first and foremost social responsibility of business as a unit of society is to meet the desired economic needs of the people. He further argued that, since the economic activities of businesses are sanctioned by law, businesses have additional responsibility to the legal framework of society. Beyond those responsibilities sanctioned by law are “additional responsibilities and activities” which conform to the norms of society. Lastly, there are other responsibilities which society does not clearly demarcate but are left to the choices of the individual. Thus, according to Carrol (1979), businesses have economic, legal, ethical and discretionary responsibilities.
Other theorists have categorized CSR into implicit and explicit conceptual frameworks (Matten and Moon, 2008). Jamali and Neville (2011) identify eight (8) implicit and explicit CSR respectively for MNCs and another eight for SMEs. All of these models reflect what is popularly acclaimed as the three-dimensional conceptual model of CSR, namely, economic, environmental and social (Jackson and Apostolakou, 2010).
2.2.2 Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and consumer purchasing decision
The debate on whether or not CSR has impact on consumer behavior is an endless endeavour. Different researchers have provided different findings. Whereas some scholars favour positive correlation between the two variables, otherseither remain largely indifferent or utterly dismissive.Auperle, Carroll and Hatfield (1985) observed in a study that the relationship between company’s financial performance and CSR is too thin to be anything but significant and that “it is neither beneficial nor harmful for a firm to be socially motivated to fulfill its social contract”. According to the authors, the discrepancy is one of methodology. They emphasized that, studies that employ unquestionable methodology are likely not to find any significant relationship between CSR and corporate financial performance (Auperle, Carroll and Hatfield, 1985).Some scholars too are of the opinion that CSR is not even necessary. Milton Friedman (1970) famously said forcefully that “the business of business is business” For Friedman and his followers, the responsibility of a firm is to maximize its profit. He argues that CSR is rather used by managers in furtherance of their own selfish agenda and has no true reflection on the firm’s balance sheet. Friedman opined that CSR energy rather be channeled to making the firm more efficient and improving the quality of their products(McWilliams and Siegel, 2002). Those who make business case for CSR focus on how environmental and social concerns improve firm’s financial performance (K. Bondy et al, 2012).
Bragdon and Marlin (1972) and Bowman and Haire (1975), on the other hand, found generally positive correlation between CSR and accounting-based measures of performance (McGuire, Sundgren, Schneeweis, 1988). This was corroborated by McWilliams and Siegel, (2002) who hypothesized that higher disposable income will lead to greater demand for products with additional CSR attributes. The main assumption here is that, whereas low-income earners will generally remain price sensitive, the affluent consumer will pay more for goods and services with extra CSR commitment. This conviction was reiterated by Gupta, (2002) who also suggested that consumers will opt for companies which have higher CSR commitment when price and quality among industry players are on the same level (cited in Anim and Cudjo 2015).
2.3Empirical Literature Review
2.3.1 Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)
Literatures on CSR in Africa remain scanty and it is not any better in the case of Ghana. Atuguba and Dawouna (2006) have revealed that there is no comprehensive document on CSR in the country (Andrews, 2013). They have suggested, that Ghana would have to establish “a firm and consolidated CSR policy” to protect citizens from the impact of corporate activities (Atuguba and Dawouna , 2006; cited in Andrews, 2013). Aside from regular standard checks, there are no legally documented expectations of the government from businesses in Ghana with regards to CSR. Thus, for most businesses in Ghana, CSR is almost exclusively discretionary. Carrol, (1979) intimated in his research outcome that, firms which undertake discretionary CSR do so as matter of choice or in response to societal expectations; it is voluntary. Even though corporations decide the where and when they undertake social responsibility (Matten and Moon, 2008), there is the need for a veritable force to stimulate the desire. There are not so many large corporations in Ghana except for some few SMEs. The absence of proper government supervision has made most of these firms pursue CSR as marketing tool (Anim and Cudjoe, 2015). Meanwhile, available literature point to the fact that CSR is to be desired insofar as it complies with “ethical, sociological or political demand” (Garriga and Mele, 2004; Kurucz et al., 2008;cited in Blomgren, 2011). The relative importance of CSR differs from industry to industry and within (Weyzig, 2009). According to Wood (1991: 699), this is so, because “every firm is responsible for fixing what it has broken”. Weyzig (2009), however, recognizes the uniformity of norms and standards when it comes to the practice of CSR. The thrust of CSR, some scholars have argued, is to enable firms compensate for the negative effects of their activities on the environment and society (Andrews, 2013). Fredrick (1986:4) summarily reiterated that “the fundamental idea of ‘corporate social responsibility’ is that businesses and corporations have an obligation to work for social betterment” (Wood, 1991). ” (Jackson and Apostolakou, (2010) discovered in a research that CSR is a strategic response to complaints of stakeholders who suffer the consequences of corporate activities or as “a proactive attempt by firms to preempt or at least mitigate these pressures and enhance the reputation and value of the corporation
McGuire, Sundgren, Schneeweis, (1988) found out that lack of CSR court public discontent for a firm and exposes it to a significantly additional risk of lawsuit and fine. Matten and Moon(2008) have concluded in their work that, CSR “reflects the social imperatives and the social consequences of business success”. (Frynas (2005) has, however, revealed that corporate insiders view CSR as a time-wasting activity, a perception managing tool and “a red herring in terms of development projects” (Andrews, 2013)
Jackson and Apostolakou (2010) posited in a study that,CSR is dominant among firms with significant social and environmental impact. For instance, the recent discovery of oil in Ghana has reshaped CSR discourse in the country. Some researchers have already argued the importance of CSR to the emerging oil markets in Ghana (Andrews, 2013).
Jenkins (2005) argued in his research work that CSR interventions may not necessarily yield to the benefit of the less privileged in society (Andrews, 2013). Jenkins’ assertion resonate the conviction of Andrews (2013: 1) who, in a similar endeavor, expounded that “a more grassroots conception can yield greater dividends than the usual top-down and business approach, which social responsibility often takes”.
Some scholars have also argued that CSR is “a new line of expression for neoliberal capitalism, justification for the market and its relevance and unbridled power” (Orock, 2013: 29). According to Orock (2013), the scheme is so subtle that it may elude any conventional analyses and the global south, specifically, Africa, is the main target.
2.3.2 Sachet water
Sachet water typically consists of filtered or distilled water packaged in 500ml polyethylene plastic bags heat sealed on either ends (Stoler, Weeks and Fink, 2013). This means of vending water took over from water packaged in plastic bags. The wrestling between the new and the old industry earned the latter the nickname “panyinde pinyin” echoing the endurance of “ice water” (as it was also called) over sachet water. The success of “ice water”, however, was short-lived. The transition was necessitated, largely, by what Stoler, Weeks and Fink (2013) refer to as “obvious sanitary shortcomings” of the previous system.Popularly referred to as “pure water”, sachet water has since gained wider acceptance among Ghanaians “due to low price, convenience, ubiquity and the public perception that sachet water is of higher quality than tap water” (Stoler, Weeks and Fink, 2013: 2).Sachet water production is a fast-growing enterprise and source of drinking water in Ghana and neighbouring West African countries (Stoler, Weeks and Fink, 2013). It has increasingly become important households’ source of water (Stoler, Weeks and Fink, 2013). It is estimated that between 15, 000 sachets and 45,000 are produced daily (Qaurtey et al., 2015 ). The industry is relatively less capital intensive, hence the proliferation of sachet water producers across the country (Stoler et al., 2013; Qaurtey et al., 2015). The word “sachet” cannot be found in the United Nations’ Human Development Report which focused on global water crises, signaling the deficiency of research in the shifting trend of water delivery in developing urban centres (Stoler, Weeks and Fink, 2013). Contemporary water vending, especially in Ghana as already indicated, has transitioned from selling water in cups, packaging water in small plastic bags to sachet water, and now bottled water (Stoler, Weeks and Fink, 2013). For Stoler, Weeks and Fink (2013: 2) “the importance of sachet water as a clean source of drinking water for many underserved areas makes the overall desirability of sachet water from a public health and urban planning perspective uncertain”. Until recently, the consumption of “pure water” came with prestige and was “successfully linked to an image of higher status” (Stoler et al., 2013). Owing to the ubiquity of the product and also competition from close substitutes like bottled water, the “swag” in drinking sachet water has long been lost.
Increasing threats from government has led to unionization of industrial players (Stoler et al., 2013).The National Association of Sachet and Packaged Water Producers (NASPAWAP) is the registered trade union which represent the industry.
2.3.3 Economic, Environmental and Health concerns on plastic (bags)
It estimated that 270 tons of plastic waste is generated in Ghana every day. Sachet water and ice cream rubbers constitute 85%.Government spends millions of dollars in dealing with plastic waste and associated problems, much of which has to do with health (Stoler et al., 2013). The amount of sachet water produced and consumed daily brings the issue to the fore (Qaurtey et al., 2015). The environmental impact of the sachet water industry was captured succinctly by Stoler et al. when they said: “Sachet are also notorious for constituting a major portion of the plastic waste generated throughout the country, as consumers typically litter the plastic sleeves in streets and gutters due to lack of organized solid waste collection and removal” (2013: 2). It was therefore to be desired when the governmentmade feeble attempts to make sachet water producers bear the cost of cleaning up gutters clogged by discarded sachet sleeves through ad valorum. Theinitiating bill was met with fierce resistance from NASPAWAP and the general public due to concerns over civil hardship (Stoler et al., 2013). The damaging cost and environmental effect of sachet cannot, however, be over-emphasized (Qaurtey et al., 2015).Plastics are largely non-biodegradable and have successfully escaped the activities of biological microorganisms (Wallace, 2016). In the words of DhananjayMahapatrahe, an associate editor of Indian Times, “the threat of plastic bags which is choking lakes, ponds and urban sewer system, is bigger than the bomb for the next generation” (Wallace, 2016: 123). Stoler et al., (2013: 2) observed that“clogged gutters increase the chance of flooding during rainy seasons, which lead to subsequent loss of property and localized bouts of waterborne diseases”.Perennial flooding is almost like a festival in Ghana. Public discourses on the menace have often attributed it to poor drainage system and lack of planning. True as these assertions may be, the closest of the cause which people often ignore is plastic waste which clogs already inadequate drains, especially in the capital. The outbreak of cholera is also as rampant, and usually proceeds major flooding (Graphic.com.gh). Since the two major outbreaks in 2011 and 2012, cases have been reported each year (UNICEF, 2016). According to media reports, 17, 000 cases were reported in 2014 alone (Myjoyonline.com, 2016).
Then there is the threat associated with packaging water in plastics. Research has revealed that, safe as polyethylene may be thought to be, it may still leash some harmful chemicals (Wallace, 2016). Though there have not been any documented cases on sachet water specifically, the threat has not been completely ruled out. The phobia associated with the potential threat of anything plastic alone can have effect on the consumer even in the absence of actual harm (Wallace, 2016).
The polluting effect of sachet plastics is also very well documented. The open incineration of sachet sleeves emits harmful pollutants such as carbon monoxide, nitrous oxide and carbon dioxide (Qaurtey et al., 2015).
It goes without saying then, that sachet water has been both a blessing and a curse to the Ghanaian population. It has increased substantially the extension of water services to hitherto underserved communities in Ghana but it has also increased risk fortune of the country economically, environmentally and health-wise. This has paved way for the debate on ethical consumerism to be reignited. Do Ghanaians have to stop consuming sachet water entirely? Are there possible alternatives which can be more desirable economically, environmentally and health-wise? All of these questions and many more are beyond the scope of this research. The researcher is, however, interested in whether or not consumers are aware of any CSR by the sachet water industry, given the above raised concerns; and whether or not that do and can influence their purchasing behavior.
CHAPTER THREE METHODOLOGY
This section sheds light on the methods the researcher adopted in the conduct of the study.It comprises the research design, the study population, sample size and sampling technique used in carrying out the research. It also includes the study materials or instruments that were used, as well as the source of the data for the study and a brief description of the study area. It also captures how the data was analyzed and manipulated. The study was conducted purposely to assess the awareness of CSR activities of sachet water companies and consumer purchasing decision-making, hence, the quantitative nature of the study.
The study utilized structured questionnaires and was quantitative in nature. It was based on assessing collected numerical data which was later quantified.
3.2.1 Target Population
The targeted population of study wasconsumers of sachet water within the University of Ghana student community.
3.2.2 Sample size
The sample frame of the study comprised one hundred (100) selected consumers of sachet water withinthe University of Ghana student community. This is justified in that the selected margin of error for the study is 5%. This places confidence interval at 95%. Since respondents were selected using purposive random sampling technique, it can be guaranteed that a deviation between the opinion of selected respondents and the opinion of the entire population will be less significant and thus, cannot alter the outcome of the research. At 5% margin of error, the researcher can be sure that between 85% (90% – 5) and 95% (90% + 5) of the entire population are likely to provide similar outcome. Also, in deciding sample size, Kothari (2004) suggests that researchers consider confidence level and cost implication. An important quality of valid research is representativeness, reliability and flexibility. The sample size of 100 was therefore selected also for practical and cost reasons. Aside cost and time implications, the sample size enhanced data quality as respondents were carefully chosen. It also allowed for adequate checking and editing to minimize error. The participants were selected based on the condition that they have been buying sachet water for the past one year. The researcher is of the opinion that this category of people can provide the needed responses and valuable information in ascertaining how CSR influence consumer purchases of sachet water.