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Positioning Strategies of Firms in South Africa. Charles Blankson, Ph.D. Department of Marketing & Logistics, University of North Texas. Map of Africa. Introduction and Literature Review.

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positioning strategies of firms in south africa

Positioning Strategies of Firms in South Africa

Charles Blankson, Ph.D.

Department of Marketing & Logistics,

University of North Texas

2006 Winter AMA Conference, St. Petersburg, FL Feb 17-20

map of africa
Map of Africa

2006 Winter AMA Conference, St. Petersburg, FL Feb 17-20

introduction and literature review
Introduction and Literature Review
  • This study assesses the employment of positioning strategies by firms (domestic and foreign) in South Africa.
  • According to Arnott (1992, 1994), positioning is a strategic concept that can be operationalized.
  • One of the key elements of modern marketing management (Kotler, 2000).
  • It is important in international/global marketing (Johansson and Thoreli, 1990; Alden et al, 1999) and marketing communications.

2006 Winter AMA Conference, St. Petersburg, FL Feb 17-20

defining the concept of positioning
Defining the concept of Positioning
  • Positioning is defined by Arnott (1992) as: “…the deliberate, proactive, iterative process of defining, measuring, modifying and monitoring consumer perceptions of a marketable offering…”

2006 Winter AMA Conference, St. Petersburg, FL Feb 17-20

introduction and literature review contd
Introduction and Literature Review contd.
  • Despite the central role in:
  • (a) Modern marketing management, (b) Marketing communications, and in (c) International marketing,
  • Positioning research appears to be prevalent in Western Europe, North America and Asia (see Park et al., 1986; Muhlbacher et al., 1991; McAlexander et al., 1993; Alden et al., 1999) to the exclusion of African markets.
  • Development and/or validation of positioning strategies (typologies) (e.g. Crawford, 1985; Easingwood and Mahajan, 1989; Kalafatis et al., 2000).

2006 Winter AMA Conference, St. Petersburg, FL Feb 17-20

introduction and literature review1
Introduction and Literature Review
  • At the practitioner level:
  • Africa has often been neglected in general discussions about global economy/marketing.
  • Despite the continent’s rich natural resources and the well established firms (domestic and foreign) in mining and oil, manufacturing, tourism and services in several parts of Africa – South Africa.
  • Nestle, Toyota, Honda, Mitsubishi, BP, Shell, Microsoft, Anglo-Gold, M-Net, Lucent Technologies, First National Bank, Barclays, Standard Chartered, PZ, CISCO, DHL, Ford, Fiat, Canon etc.

2006 Winter AMA Conference, St. Petersburg, FL Feb 17-20

introduction and literature review contd1
Introduction and Literature Review contd.
  • Not surprising:
  • Relatively weak economies, few “homegrown” multi-national businesses, political instability, lower per capita income, high infrastructure/transaction costs, debt dependency and negative perceptions about governance (Nwankwo, 2000).

2006 Winter AMA Conference, St. Petersburg, FL Feb 17-20

introduction and literature review contd2
Introduction and Literature Review contd.
  • In recent years:
  • (a) following trade liberalization and democratic governance by some countries,
  • (b) influx of foreign capital, FDI and joint ventures and
  • (c) the dismantling of apartheid system of government in South Africa,
  • (d) there has been effort on the part of some African governments (e.g. South Africa) to embark upon development projects, creation of investment/business climate and image building, i.e., positioning.
  • Such a climate paves the way for positioning activities by firms doing business in Africa.

2006 Winter AMA Conference, St. Petersburg, FL Feb 17-20

introduction and literature review contd3
Introduction and Literature Review contd.
  • South of the Sahara are underdeveloped,
  • South Africa is recognized as an open/competitive market and a developed country (Morris and Pitt, 1993; Ross II, 2004).
  • It is asserted that positioning activities will be a priority amongst firms in South Africa, in search of competitive advantages.

2006 Winter AMA Conference, St. Petersburg, FL Feb 17-20

research aim and objectives
Research Aim and Objectives
  • To assess the application of a newly developed positioning typology using the South African market as an illustration.
  • The objectives are to:
  • Identify the positioning strategies employed by firms in South Africa, and
  • Determine the applicability of a newly developed typology of positioning strategies.

2006 Winter AMA Conference, St. Petersburg, FL Feb 17-20

overall purpose of study
Overall purpose of study
  • To assess the applicability of a marketing framework developed in a Western business environment (UK) in a liberalized African economy - South Africa.

2006 Winter AMA Conference, St. Petersburg, FL Feb 17-20

construct and measurement
Construct and Measurement
  • Due to criticisms raised about extant positioning typologies,
  • It was decided to adopt a newly developed consumer-derived positioning typology (Kalafatis and Blankson, 2000, 2001, 2004) and then validate it in the South African market environment.

2006 Winter AMA Conference, St. Petersburg, FL Feb 17-20

typology of positioning strategies
Top of the range: upper class, top of the range, status, prestigious, posh

Service: impressive service, personal attention, consider people as important, friendly

Value for money: reasonable price, value for money, affordability

Reliability: durability, warranty, safety, reliability.

Attractiveness: good aesthetics, attractive, cool, elegance

Country of origin: patriotism, country of origin

The Brand Name: the name of the offering, leaders in the market, extra features, choice, wide range

Selectivity: discriminatory in the choice of customers, non-selectivity, high principles.

Typology of Positioning Strategies

2006 Winter AMA Conference, St. Petersburg, FL Feb 17-20

research methodology
Research Methodology
  • Advertisements from two main channels of firms’ communication were considered (a) newspapers and (b) radio.
  • Based on a convenience sample of advertisements.
  • Television, Bill boards, Leaflets/pamphlets not obtained due to difficulties in availability.

2006 Winter AMA Conference, St. Petersburg, FL Feb 17-20

analytical approach
Analytical Approach
  • Content analysis (Holsti, 1969) was employed in analyzing positioning strategies as evidenced in ads appearing in newspapers and radio.
  • Analysis involved:
  • (a) the character (overall meaning),
  • (b) nature and purpose of the ad,
  • (c) the character of the language in terms of rhetorical focus, written jargons,
  • (d) the social situations and surroundings displayed in the ad.

2006 Winter AMA Conference, St. Petersburg, FL Feb 17-20

analytical approach contd
Analytical Approach contd.
  • Coding procedure based on Frequency system.
  • In line with Hugo-Burrows (2004), only English-based ads were examined and content analyzed. SA has eleven official languages.
  • Content of the ads was coded using the scale-items of the 8 positioning constructs (typology) by Kalafatis and Blankson (2004).
  • Coding was based on the appearance of any of the scale-items in a particular ad.

2006 Winter AMA Conference, St. Petersburg, FL Feb 17-20

analytical approach contd1
Analytical Approach contd.
  • Reliability:
  • Reproducibility reliability was employed via the inter-judge reliability test (between researcher and a student judge/checker) revealed 80% agreement in all cases (Kassarjian, 1977).

2006 Winter AMA Conference, St. Petersburg, FL Feb 17-20

results positioning strategies from newspapers
Results (Positioning Strategies from Newspapers)

2006 Winter AMA Conference, St. Petersburg, FL Feb 17-20

results positioning strategies from radio
Results (Positioning Strategies from Radio)

2006 Winter AMA Conference, St. Petersburg, FL Feb 17-20

discussion
Discussion
  • Out of the eight positioning strategies investigated in newspapers:
  • (1) The Brand Name and (2) Attractiveness ( = 124.723; df = 7; sig. = 0.000) are the most preferred by firms.
  • Radio:
  • Only one strategy (The Brand Name:  = 66.304; df = 7; sig. = 0.000) stands out as the most popular. “Service”, “Reliability” and “Value for money” are in second, third and fourth places – and, minimally pursued.

2006 Winter AMA Conference, St. Petersburg, FL Feb 17-20

discussion contd
Discussion contd.
  • Emphasis placed upon branding activities and competitive positioning.
  • Positioning strategies in newspapers appear to be aiming at the middle class target audience.
  • Positioning strategies in radio ads appear to be geared toward the mass market and to an extent, middle-lower class target market.

2006 Winter AMA Conference, St. Petersburg, FL Feb 17-20

discussion contd1
Discussion contd.
  • Positioning strategies aimed at portraying the attractiveness, friendly service and affordability are pursued but only second to the “The Brand Name”
  • Firms place less emphasis on strategies depicting discrimination/selectivity/social class in their positioning.
  • Firms also avoid issues surrounding nationalistic sentiments (see Hugo-Burrows, 2004) in view of the low emphasis on country of origin and
  • Rather firms are bent on all other positioning strategies/activities that will enhance their brands and competitive positions.

2006 Winter AMA Conference, St. Petersburg, FL Feb 17-20

conclusions
Conclusions
  • This research has made an attempt to operationalize a newly developed typology of positioning strategies.
  • Has identified the positioning strategies employed by firms in South Africa.
  • Tentatively, this study lends support to the relevance of the concept of positioning in the South African market environment.
  • It can be concluded that the adopted typology of positioning strategies (developed in the UK) is relevant/applicable in the liberalized South African market environment.

2006 Winter AMA Conference, St. Petersburg, FL Feb 17-20

conclusions contd
Conclusions contd.
  • Our attempt answers Radder’s (1996) call for research into the applicability of conventional marketing paradigms in liberalized market environments.
  • This study responds to Rwelamila and Lethola’s (1998) suggestions for further research to establish whether the conventional marketing frameworks still apply to the unique situation of changing market environment such as South Africa.

2006 Winter AMA Conference, St. Petersburg, FL Feb 17-20

map of south africa
Map of South Africa

2006 Winter AMA Conference, St. Petersburg, FL Feb 17-20