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School of Business | Department of Marketing | Marketing | 2014
Thesis number: 13728
National brand importers' strategic reactions towards private labels
Author: Miikkulainen, Julius
Title: National brand importers' strategic reactions towards private labels
Year: 2014  Language: eng
Department: Department of Marketing
Academic subject: Marketing
Index terms: markkinointi; marketing; brandit; brands; strategia; strategy; tuonti; imports; kilpailu; competition
Pages: 73
Key terms: brands; strategy; private labels; imports
The objective of this study was to research the strategic reaction of national brand importers towards private label brands. There have been several significant studies made on the strategic reactions of national brand manufacturers towards private labels, but not on national brand importers' reactions. By definition, national brand importers operate in a more narrow range of functions compared to national brand manufacturers. Importers pose a significant force in the Finnish grocery retail market, therfore posing an interesting subject for research.

This study attempts to apply applying existing theory on national brands' strategic reations to a new context of national brand importers, instead of national brand manufacturers. This study is qualitative in nature, the strategy for content gathering being case study and the method theme interviews. For this study, managers of importing companies were interviewed, representing significant national brands from different categories and facing competition from private labels. With this the following questions were addressed: Do the strategic reactions of national brand manufacturers towards private labels identified by previous research apply to the context of importers of national brands? Are national brand importers more limited in their strategic reactions than national brand manufacturers? Do importers identify strategic reactions unidentified by previous studies?

Findings of this study conclude that national brand importers do not recognize the need to compete directly with private labels. As a long-term strategy they are more compelled to competing and having strategic reactions towards other major national brands. Therefore it can be argued, that as a strategic reaction, the option to wait and see is the most popular for national brand importers. However, importers did recognize all strategies identified by theory and felt that the strategy of constant innovation and product improvements is the best way to kepp ahead of private labes. Additionally, importers seemed to be more limited in their strategic reaction as compared to national brands. On the other hand, they were able to influence the manufacturer in using strategies not available to them. Finally, importers recognize the strategy of constantly updating their product portfolio as the main strategy for competing, if needed, with private labels.
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