The interactive system in the adoption process of New Zealand grocery retailing : a study of the acceptance of new food and non-food items by major grocery retailers : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Marketing at Massey University
It is evident from a review of the extant literature that retailer's evaluations and processes applied to the adoption of new products not only plays a vital role in determining the movement of product between supplier and end-users, but also has received very little attention. Low margin, high volume grocery products sold through supermarkets compete for limited shelf space. Very few studies have examined this area. Those that have are both dated and overseas in nature. No study examining the acceptance (or rejection) of grocery products by buyers and buying committee members in New Zealand was seen to exist. Qualitative research with buyers and management laid the foundation for the study. Over four years of staged research activities virtually the same respondent base was drawn from a limited pool of buyers and committee members. The initial research grounded the study on New Zealand criteria, whilst subsequent stages aimed to reduce criteria to a salient list of attributes suitable for application in a full profile, conjoint analysis study. This final phase involved two new products, a food (Health Bar) and non-food (Laundry Detergent) item, each categorised as me-too products. Both products featured as a separate conjoint study separated by a two month interval. Using a balanced block design, 3 versions from each of 3 sets of 18 full profiles (drawn from a pool of 27 profiles) were actioned. The balanced block design was commissioned due to management imposed time restrictions. Respondents were required to indicate on a 10-point scale, how likely they would be to accept the products described by the profiles. Data reduction techniques were used to determine a salient list of decision factors. In addition, the importance, centrality and interconnection of decision criteria were determined using a new, graphical measurement device, a decision tree. A large mix of criteria exists amongst New Zealand grocery chain buyers and committee members. These, when grouped, extend beyond the simple confines of either product or supplier headings identified in the extant literature to include input from the sales representative (enthusiasm, knowledge, decision ability) and the buying organisation (policy and requirements). Importance of decision criteria, without the application of the notion of centrality, is seen as an inflated artifact. Amongst the 7 salient attributes tested, Demand, Conditions and Supplier Information dominate considerations for both products, however, variations amongst organisations due to operating philosophies is likely to eventuate.