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Title: Consumer centric product standardisation : a four-country empirical investigation
Author: Struck, Michael
Awarding Body: University of Surrey
Current Institution: University of Surrey
Date of Award: 2013
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Despite more than 45 years of debate among international marketers about the right way to tackle the standardisation versus adaptation of products, no clear answer has yet emerged. Academics argue along the "Standardisation- Differentiation Continuum" with proponents of standardisation on the one side and opponents on the other. Most researchers however take the middle ground stating that only the right degree of standardisation really matters, though few attempts have been made to define how this degree can be clearly defined. Hence, companies typically standardise products for supply side reasons such as cost savings and scale economies, rather than considering the consumer dimension as well. To offer a solution to the issue, recently international market segmentation has been cited as a possible way forward. By targeting market segments of homogeneous consumers that transcend across borders, ideally measured on marketing variables such as attitudes and preferences, standardised products must be possible. To this present time, limited empirical evidence is however provided to confirm whether this can indeed solve the issue. Therefore, this research aspires to broaden the knowledge in this field further. First, it provides empirical evidence on the theory that market segmentation based on marketing variables indeed provides a meaningful solution to the standardisation versus adaptation issue. To substantiate this, three different consumer segments across national borders were identified in which differences in consumer preferences for a product category were substantially reduced. Second and perhaps more importantly, a concept with high practical relevance for "consumer centric product standardisation" is provided, integrating consumer variables instead of supply-side arguments to determine the right degree of standardisation. It is argued that this approach allows standardisation to become an integral part of marketing strategy. It may therefore be a better alternative than the supply-side driven approach as practised in international companies today. To arrive at these findings and to test theory an explanatory case study approach was chosen using a survey strategy. As a un it of analysis, the focus was placed specifically on the British, Italia n, Polish and German cat food market, with individual consumers purchasing cat food as the unit of observation. A substantial sample of 1,233 consumers across the markets was generated using social medial platforms. Analysis of variance (ANOVA) was used to test for differences in product preferences, which were found to be significant between the different countries. Hierarchical Cluster Analysis was subsequently utilised to segment the market on attitudinal variables and three consumer segments were found and named as a) The Proud Cat l over, b) The Germanic Cat Owner and c) The Practical Food Provider .. Following the segmentation process evidence was found that the magnitude of differences between the markets was substantially reduced supporting the theoretical proposition in the literature. Fin ally, a product standardisation matrix was developed; enabling marketing practitioners to evaluate the right degree of product standardisation on product attribute level
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available