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Title: The utilisation of consumer information : an application to SMEs in the United Kingdom agri-food industry
Author: Yawson, David Eshun
Awarding Body: University of Kent
Current Institution: University of Kent
Date of Award: 2011
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Intense competition in the UK agri-food sector has made the use of information about consumers an important asset in the development of policies, strategies and decision making by businesses. However, in the agri-food sector, despite significant advances in the usefulness and ease of use of such information, SMEs are often seen to be disadvantaged for a variety of reasons, including inappropriate internal structures, capabilities and resources and, overall, an apparent lack of marketing orientation. The nature of SME marketing, and the disadvantages SMEs face, make it imperative to examine the use of information about consumers (i.e., consumer information) for marketing at the entrepreneurial and marketing interface (entrepreneurial marketing). Consumer information is conceptualised in this research as consisting of consumer information for changing the user SME's knowledge and understanding of market issues (knowledge- enhancing utilisation); effecting policies and strategies (action-oriented instrumental utilisation); decision making for the sake of the appearance of information rather than the intrinsic qualities (action-symbolic utilisation) and the use of information with the intent of feeling good" (affective utilisation). The research then operationalises the entrepreneurial and marketing interface as entrepreneurial marketing to depict a functional focus of marketing in agri-food SMEs. However, research on the use of consumer information to enhance firm performance at the entrepreneurial and marketing interface of SMEs is sparse. This research, therefore, examines consumer information utilisation in agri-food SMEs by integrating three important research streams of SMEs, entrepreneurial marketing and consume~ information utilisation, and contributing to the extant literature by answering the following research questions: 1. What are the factors that influence consumer information utilisation in SMEs? 2. How does consumer information utilisation affect SME entrepreneurial marketing orientation? 3. How does consumer information utilisation influence SME performance? Specifically, does entrepreneurial marketing orientation mediate the relationship between consumer information utilisation and SME performance? To address- these research-questions, a sample of agri-food SMEs were--placed a -a unique pseudo-experimental context, where they were supplied with consumer information over several months (specifically Tesco Supermarket loyalty card data from the dunnhumby database). Their usage of this information, and its antecedents and consequences, was then examined using a focus group and a questionnaire. Based upon empirical evidence, the results show that the antecedents of consumer information utilisation (knowledge-enhancing utilisation, action-oriented instrumental utilisation and action-symbolic utilisation) include 1) its functional quality, 2) its technical quality, 3) the interaction between information provider and user, and 4) the market environment. However, a higher technical quality of consumer information suppresses its use for the sake of appearance. Also, consumer information utilisation was found to affect entrepreneurial marketing orientation of SMEs. The use of consumer information for policy making, strategy and the sake of appearance enhance entrepreneurial marketing orientation. Consumer information for changing SME understanding of market issues did not have a direct relationship but appears to have a complex relationship in enhancing entrepreneurial marketing orientation of SMEs. The results also illustrate that, in the right circumstances consumer information influence SME performance. The use of consumer information for policy making and strategy directly enhance SME financial outcomes; and mediated by SME entrepreneurial marketing orientation to positively influence improvement in decision-making ability, and improved new products' creation and processes in SMEs. The use of consumer information for changing the user SME's knowledge and understanding of market issues directly and indirectly through entrepreneurial marketing orientation enhances SME decision-making ability. Importantly, this research also shows that consumer information utilisation enhances performance directly and indirectly through the mediating role of entrepreneurial marketing orientation. The research contributes to the marketing literature by providing a model for understanding consumer information utilisation in SMEs, and by providing a series of validated parsimonious measures for consumer information utilisation and entrepreneurial marketing orientation. So far the literature has primarily been focused with how large multi-national corporations use consumer information but, as it becomes cheaper and more widely available, an understanding from the SME perspective is important. It highlights the important role of entrepreneurial -marketing orientation in realising SME performance outcomes. The research also provides guidance for policy makers and SME business facilitators in implementing consumer information interventions for SMEs in the agri-food sector.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available