Academic journal article Journal of Managerial Issues

Positioning Strategies by Foreign Retailers at the Accra Mall in Ghana: A Case Study Approach

Academic journal article Journal of Managerial Issues

Positioning Strategies by Foreign Retailers at the Accra Mall in Ghana: A Case Study Approach

Article excerpt

In seeking competitive advantage, retailers are increasingly exploiting strong brand identity (Hutchinson et al., 2007) and strong store and corporate images (Burt and Carralero-Encinas, 2000) in the internationalization process. Positioning provides an important competitive advantage for firms (Fuchs and Diamantopoulos, 2010, 2012). This is especially true within retailing, in which effective positioning leads to desired store image and benefits such as customer loyalty, improved sales, and higher profits (Doherty, 2000). As noted by Burt and Carralero-Encinas (2000), store image and associated positioning of the firm are important sources of competitive advantage in the retail domain. A key component of marketing strategy in both domestic and international retailing is positioning (Kara et al., 1996; McGoldrick and Blair, 1995; McGoldrick and Ho, 1992). Arnott (1992) defines positioning as the deliberate, proactive, iterative process of defining, measuring, modifying, and monitoring consumer perceptions of a marketable offering. Trout (2012) asserts that positioning is how a firm differentiates itself in the mind of customers and believes that positioning is influential in the process of communication.

While positioning is well-explored in developed Western markets, little is known about the current application of positioning strategies in emerging economies, including sub-Saharan Africa. Among these countries, Ghana is one of the most promising emerging business environments due to its business- friendly culture and a liberalized marketplace (Coffie, 2014, 2016). Although Ghana also has rich natural resources and well-established domestic firms within the sectors of banking, manufacturing, mining and services, not enough information exist to offer managers ways of implementing positioning strategies especially in the retail setting due to lack of established theory accompanied by normative guidelines (Doherty, 1999, 2000; Piercy, 2005).

As a step towards better understanding retailer positioning practices in Ghana, the aim of this study is to investigate how foreign retailers at Ghana's Accra Mall position themselves to gain competitive advantage (Doherty, 1999). Foreign retailers are examined in view of their increasing marketing activities in Ghana (Appiah-Adu, 1999; Debrah, 2002) and within the sub-Saharan African region as a whole (Donaldson, 2015). As well, whereas Ghanaian firms' marketing practices have received considerable attention in the literature (Appiah-Adu, 1999; Coffie, 2016; Kuada and Buatsi, 2005), foreign firms, and specifically, foreign retailers' positioning activities in Ghana have been overlooked by marketing scholars in spite of the call for such research by Coffie (2014) and Appiah-Adu (1999). This observation is unfortunate in a marketplace that continues to show an influx of foreign firms from China, India, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States, among others to Ghana. Underlying the influx are a number of reasons: a growing middle class, expatriate communities, liberalization of the economy and comparative ease of doing business, as well as the government's policy of positioning the country as a gateway to the sub-Saharan African region (Republic of Ghana, 2014). It may not be surprising therefore, as to why there continues to be an increased interest of foreign firms in doing business in Ghana (Doing Business, 2014). This study seeks to contribute to the retail positioning literature by exploring which positioning strategies are practiced by foreign retailers at the Accra Mall and how strong the congruence of these positioning strategies is among managers, customers, and researcher observations.

STUDY BACKGROUND

Positioning

An extensive review of the marketing literature on positioning reveals concern among researchers at not only the absence of empirically-derived positioning strategies with value for practitioners but also the lack of in- depth research into actual positioning practices in the retail services sector (Hooley et al. …

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