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The Internet as a Marketing Interface for Welsh Speciality Small and Medium‐sized Agri‐food Enterprises

Adrian Sparkes (Welsh Enterprise Institute, University of Glamorgan Business School)
Brychan Thomas (Welsh Enterprise Institute, University of Glamorgan Business School)
Nick Clifton (Centre for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences, Cardiff University)
Marco Rosales (College of Business Administration, University of South Florida)

Journal of Research in Marketing and Entrepreneurship

ISSN: 1471-5201

Article publication date: 1 October 2001



A major challenge facing Welsh speciality Small and Medium‐sized Agri‐food Enterprises (SMAFEs) is how to sustain growth in a global market. This can be enhanced through e‐commerce and the marketing of product through the Internet to an international audience. Recent research carried out by the Welsh Enterprise Institute (WEI) found that there may only be 10 per cent of Welsh SMAFEs using the Internet for this purpose. The challenge, therefore, is how to enable SMAFEs to market effectively their products; to put these small firms not only in contact with local markets but also international markets; to ensure a range of “authentic” food products is available to Welsh communities in other countries and those people with affinity to “all things Welsh”; and to establish channels that facilitate repeat purchase by visitors to Wales. This challenge can be responded to by enabling SMAFEs to gain access to the Internet and to be confidence in its use, to develop “user friendly” Web sites, to link to overseas markets through the Internet, and to establish a long‐term customer base. The WEI has undertaken a two stage survey to measure SMAFE usage of e‐mail and the Internet in Wales. The buying habits of Welsh Affinity Groups (WAGs) on the Internet in the USA, Canada and other countries has also been studied and it is planned to establish network links between the SMAFEs and the WAGs, and communities overseas. This paper describes the survey of SMAFEs in Wales and reports on the analysis of the findings together with recommendations for the establishment of a comprehensive Welsh food portal. This is related to the study of the WAGs in the USA and Canada and a proposal for the development of a virtual “market place” between the SMAFEs and the WAGs is explored. The WEI has joined forces with Web design companies WebAware and MAWR Ltd., to offer high quality consultancy and advice to provide Web site and e‐commerce solutions relevant to SMAFEs to create an anticipated multi‐million pound net gain to Wales and the Welsh Agri‐food sector through world‐wide sales. A Welsh food portal is therefore of immense importance as a marketing entrepreneurship interfacing tool not only to Agri‐food enterprises in Wales but also to customers from across the World. The paper concludes by arguing for the need for appropriate support to be provided for speciality Welsh SMAFEs to make them aware of the importance of the adoption of e‐commerce including the Internet and Web sites. This paper is a version of one that has been published in the International Journal of Applied Marketing, published by International Marketing Journals, ISSN: 1742‐2612.



Sparkes, A., Thomas, B., Clifton, N. and Rosales, M. (2001), "The Internet as a Marketing Interface for Welsh Speciality Small and Medium‐sized Agri‐food Enterprises", Journal of Research in Marketing and Entrepreneurship, Vol. 3 No. 3, pp. 144-161.




Copyright © 2001, MCB UP Limited

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