Export marketing performance in the Greek food and beverage industry
Greek export competitiveness has decreased continuously during the last decade and the external trade deficit grew to more than €20 billion in 2000. A major factor contributing to this trend is the lack of appropriate export marketing strategies. This thesis examines export marketing strategies of firms in the Greek food and beverage industry which are some of the most dynamic in Greece and contributed 20% to both total output and to total export earnings in 2000. Moreover, this sector is of wider interest because Greece is a member of the European Union and is at a similar stage of development as some other members such as Portugal and Ireland, which have similar structural characteristics and exporting contingencies. The aim of the thesis is to identify the nature of interdependencies at the firm level between internal and external environment, export marketing strategy, and export performance in the Greek food and beverage industry. In addition, the thesis aims to identify marketing practices that firms in this sector could use to improve export performance and competitiveness. It also seeks to provide insights for government policy makers to improve the competitive position of Greek exporters in general. The research employs a novel approach by integrating the research techniques of qualitative in-depth interviews, and quantitative multivariate analysis of exploratory factor analysis and structural equation modelling. The advantage of this integrated approach is that the qualitative analysis ensures data quality while the quantitative analysis provides results that can be tested statistically. Using exploratory factor analysis we examme five constructs - export stimulus, export problems, competitive advantages, information sources, and entrepreneurial orientation - that influence decisions concerning export marketing strategy and the ultimate export performance. These constructs and other, including firm size, export experience, and management characteristics, are then integrated into a structural equation model to reveal the type, direction and magnitude of their interdependencies. Results show that the model has good fit with the marketing strategy related variables, especially the export marketing mix and entrepreneurial orientation, the internal environment, especially management competencies and competitive advantage, and the external environment, especially export market attractiveness and trade barriers, affecting export marketing performance. An optimal export marketing strategy is then developed which can be compared with each firm's current strategy and firm-specific recommendations follow. A key conclusion is that export marketing assistance provided by the Greek government is ineffective for reasons such as inadequate provision of information and poor generic national export promotion.