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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2006, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
This is an international issue with papers from the UK, USA, Australia, New Zealand and Brazil. The first five papers look at different perspectives in literature and primary researches. The last paper is a commentary on one particular method in qualitative research through analysis of the particular features, problems and benefits of the laddering method.
The first paper from the UK starts with a balanced view of a challenging field of marketing, about how to devise marketing strategy for firms in competitive situations. The importance of having a defined strategy should, in principle, clarify the implementation processes for firms in targeting their market segments. The authors of this first paper proposed a synthesized approach to market strategy development and implementation. I have usually been struck by how difficult it is to put both development and implementation into practice when there are so many variables out there in the marketplace. Peter Trim and Yang-Im Lee in this paper articulated a problem about strategy development and put a supportive framework in place for its implementation. The contributions from the literature and qualitative research cover the field of electronic marketing when the authors make the case for taking advantage of the internet’s connectivity and interactivity. The pitfalls in strategy development are considered. Overall, the paper has a good exposition.
Being a part of a larger organisation with its umbrella of an overall broader marketing strategy allows small businesses to develop, such as those in the fast food chains where there is a franchisor to support franchisees’ business development. The second paper by Scott Weaven and Lorelle Frazer examined the food franchise system in Australia. The qualitative study took in a small sample of franchisees and the franchise system of Macdonald’s. The findings are on two levels: franchisor-specific and franchisee-specific factors. While the authors have not made much more of the former, they have been expansive in their exposition about franchisee-specific aspects. A strength of this paper is the clarification of the decisions and motivations of single and multiple unit franchisees in entering a competitive market sector.
The theoretical basis for underpinning research and explaining cultural diversity is one that is regularly applied when there is not much literature elsewhere. For the next paper Western relationship marketing is used to underpin the Chinese system of Guanxi. Though there are studies of Guanxi the scarcity of Chinese marketing literature and the need to explain or compare from a Western perspective means that it is often the case for Western relationship marketing literature to be used. The paper by Brenda Sternquist and Zhengyi Chen from the USA builds on both relationship marketing and grounded theory for explaining the nature and interactions of buyer-seller relationships in China. This paper contributes on two levels: a new product decision model to take account of the problems and opportunities faced by firms and the explanations of Guanxi with an up-to-date look at business activities in China.
Grounded theory is also used in interview analysis in the fourth paper by Diana Saiki and Marilyn DeLong. In their research with 23 professionals in the USA the authors have used the words, “homophily” and “heterophily” extensively. The Longman Dictionary states that homophily is homosexual and heterophily is heterosexual. In this paper the contexts are broader and have a social science interpretation whereby, e.g. networking or. communications between professionals and their clients are examined to see how these relationships help in business life. The paper looks at homophily and heterophily dimensions for business relationships that are with one gender or the opposite gender. So homophily and heterophily dimensions are determined to work well or not with the professionals in their client relationships in the apparel industry. Rogers’ diffusion theory for new product innovation is also used to help throw light on the factors that make professionals relate to their clients and to decide what information is helpful to allow such professionals to succeed. The paper contributes insights to the topic of client relationship within the marketing research literature.
The last paper shows a worrying trend in consumer behaviour amongst a minority of shoppers which the authors of a study called “deshopping behaviour”. There have been many instances of undesirable consumer behaviour such as unsociable acts of behaviour from over-consumption or drink-driving related offences. Deshopping is another one of these undesirable activities. The authors of this paper, Tamira King and Charles Dennis, conducted a small qualitative study following a previous and larger quantitative survey. The paper concerns the perceptions, motivations and behaviour of women whose actions are described as unethical. Deshoppers are customers who having purchased goods used them with the intention of returning them and claiming refunds for the original purchases. This type of behaviour went unchallenged by store assistants. While deshoppers in the authors’ study expressed guilt, nothing about their attitudes suggested that they would reform their behaviour voluntarily. The authors limited themselves by not making specific recommendations to restrain or change the behaviour of deshoppers.
The commentary paper by Tânia Modesto Veludo-de-Oliveira, Ana Akemi Ikeda and Marcos Cortez Campomar is about laddering in qualitative market research. The authors examine the literature, explain the problems and suggest solutions. This is a good paper for use in teaching and for informing researchers. The literature on laddering along with the authors’ experiential reflections highlights the contributions of this particular paper as it seeks to show both the fundamentals of laddering and its applications for research. Discussions include laddering’s emergence and relationship with Means-End Theory. Soft and hard laddering techniques are discussed. The comparisons between traditional laddering and hard laddering are explained. The results obtained from them are explained in a clear and purposeful manner.
This issue is balanced in its international coverage in its contributions from the different countries. The success of this issue reflects the activities and commitment to research of its contributors and the reviewers.
Len Tiu Wright