Theorising marketing communications practices in the context of small businesses in emerging markets
Subject Categories::N500 Marketing
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AbstractAs part of the main research contribution this study raises the substantive theory on Marketing Communications (MCs) in the novel context of the Russian market and small ‘organic’ skincare businesses by this building the foundations for further research studies in this area of SMEs with intangible attributes and markets with emerging marketing practices. This research explores how small businesses in organic skincare industry in Russia practice MCs; and specifically focuses on what contextual factors impact on ‘inside-out’ and ‘outside-in’ approaches to marketing communications. While the ‘inside-out’ approach represents a more company-controlled and brand-informed marketing, the ‘outside-in’ approach mainly focuses on a customer-centric and considering that MCs have mostly been investigated in the context of large scale companies with advanced marketing practices, it is worthwhile to provide more insight into how small businesses with emerging marketing practices understand MCs and implement its core principles of customer and brand orientation. In this sense a salient example is the Russian market, where marketing as a discipline initiated its development only after the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 90-ies. MCs will be investigated in the context of organic skincare products. Local skincare companies in Russia extensively label their brand ‘organic’ to gain a competitive advantage on the market. Despite that, there is a lack of insight into how the ‘organic’ concept and its characteristics are communicated to the local audience and whether they are consistent with a customer’s locally constructed perception of ‘organic’. In response to that, this research aims to fill in this gap and to shed the light on whether and how local small companies in the industry manage to create a consistent customer-centric brand identity. The research consists of two sets of data collection methods: the analysis of online consumers’ discourses on organic skincare (netnography) and the interviews with the small organic skincare companies in Russia, which respectively provide insight into a customer’s local perception of ‘organic’ in skincare and the company’s communicated ‘organic’ brand identity. The present study is informed by the grounded theory methodology with the social constructivist and symbolic interactionism dimensions that guide and support the subsequent substantive theory on MCs in the defined context. As part of the main contribution the research introduces the concept of the business self (the owner-manager’s perception of the business) as the main constituent that defines MCs practices. In the case of the ‘restricted business self’ the company describes itself as a business with restricted resources and limited ability to invest into customer-informed marketing practices. The main focus of the company is on communicating a consistent brand identity, which is however hardly supported by a customer insight. Thus, this practice demonstrates more of the brand orientation and the ‘inside-out’ MCs. Conversely, in the case of the ‘desired business self’, where the company envisions itself in a favourable market situation, it expresses the ‘desire’ to invest into rigorous primary customer research and customer relationship management (CRM) to achieve a higher level of customer centricity to inform its brand identity. Thus, the case of the ‘desired business self’ demonstrates the shifts towards the customer orientation and the practice of ‘outside-in’ MCs.
CitationKuzmina, E. (2019) 'Theorising Marketing Communications Practices in the Context of Small Businesses in Emerging Markets'. PhD thesis. University of Bedfordshire.
PublisherUniversity of Bedfordshire
TypeThesis or dissertation
Description"A thesis submitted to the University of Bedfordshire, in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy"
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