The Role of Information in Export Marketing Programs: An Analysis by Ownership Structure

Article excerpt

This research examines the role of information considered important by manufacturing exporters. The study investigates the types of information used by different exporters, the sources consulted for gathering information, and the value of each information source. Manufacturers rated market information, provided by their trade group, as being most valuable. However, different perspectives were reported by ownership category. The findings of this study can assist manufacturing exporters improve the effectiveness of their export marketing efforts.

Many firms enter exporting by chance, rather than as part of a conscious export marketing strategy (Ohmae 1999). When a firm becomes export-oriented, decision making moves from being reactive and ad hoc to a more proactive and formal process. While the impact of planning and other contextual variables on firm export involvement and performance is imprecise, companies that systematically explore opportunities exhibit higher export performance (Craig and Douglas 2000).

An essential prerequisite for planning activity is the gathering of relevant information, which may be obtained from a variety of sources. Accurate information is considered crucial when preparing an export marketing plan, because a manager's business decisions depend upon the availability of reliable information about existing and future markets and the environmental forces that impact the demand for the company's products. The challenge increases when the company operates in both domestic and global markets. While managers can rely upon acquired knowledge and experience, few executives possess intimate knowledge and awareness of export markets. However, these limitations can be minimized by establishing an in-house export marketing intelligence department and/or by collecting information from other sources. The purpose of this study is to assess the importance of both the type and source of information employed by Malaysian Manufacturing firms in their export endeavors.

LITERATURE REVIEW

The competitive nature of today's business environment requires that foreign markets be systematically investigated (Craig and Douglas 2000). In this regard, accurate information is crucial for completing export marketing plans and for making strategic business decisions in dynamic environments. At the global level, the strategic importance of gathering information to support business decisions has been widely studied (Deshpande and Zaltman 1982; Johansson and Nonaka 1983,1987; Kohli and Jaworski 1990). The importance of information is confirmed by the fact that most export oriented nations have established special agencies to assist exporters in acquiring desired information about potential markets (Seringhaus 1987; Barrett and Wilkinson 1988; Wheeler 1990; Craig and Douglas 2000).

The users of export market research serve more global markets than non-users (Diamantopoulos, Schlegelmilch, and Allpress 1990; Hart, Webb and Jones 1992). One explanation for this practice is that firms pursuing global markets search for additional sources of information (Cavusgil 1984). However, due to the distinct characteristics of different countries, the extent and amount of information needed varies. As a result, firms employ a wide range of informational sources to improve the chance of success in their export efforts.

A firm's inclination to consult wider sources of information is also a function of its internationalisation stage (Cavusgil 1985). This information search increases in complexity as management commitment to exporting rises. Exporter information needs also vary according to their export destinations (Bodur and Cavusgil 1985).

U.S. exporters consult six broad types of information - politics (its nature and effect on trade); economic level (its effect on lifestyles); macroeconomic accomplishment (market potential); export restrictions (tariff, non-tariff, and transportation barriers); and legal issues. …