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The overall emphasis on non-price characteristics and the relative importance of the different characteristics in all countries provides opportunities for retail managers to differentiate their firms away from pure price competition These consumer responses have been important in shaping the marketing strategies of the food retail companies and have allowed a range of strategies which range from an emphasis on discount prices to pure quality and service considerations These strategic directions are strongly supported by promotional programmes which emphasise the characteristics of the stores rather than the products which are stocked In Hughes 1994 information is presented which shows that food retailing firms are ranked number one nine and eleven in terms of their advertising expenditure amongst all firms which demonstrates the overall importance of promotional activities to these firms These activities allow retailers to develop their own brands or images which are independent of the brands that are sold and are likely to be the source of control which food retailers are reputed to exert over manufacturers Table 5Most important factor when buying food Percentage of respondents ranking first QualityPriceVarietyServiceConvenience EUROPE461716 8 8 Belgium68105 6 7 France59186 7 7 Germany39162311 8 Holland46131611 7 UK511713 7 9 Italy481219 7 5 Spain402617 7 6 Greece183918 612 Source Food Marketing Institute 1992 Positioning of retail firms In recent years food retail firms have pursued strategies which have provided consumers with increasingly diversified opportunities for purchasing food The discussion above has shown that these developments have been made possible by the wide range and changing nature of consumer requirements Firms have identified the possibilities and have developed appropriate strategies to compete in the market place The concept of competitive strategies is clearly developed by Porter 1980 and has become an accepted approach for analysing the manner in which firms within an industry compete to attain market share or enhanced performance Porter identified a number of generic
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