Scandinavian Working Papers in Business Administration

MAPP Working Papers,
University of Aarhus, Aarhus School of Business, The MAPP Centre

No 66: Retail and wholesale buying behaviour for two different food products in six Eastern European countries

Lars Esbjerg () and Hans Skytte ()
Additional contact information
Lars Esbjerg: The MAPP Centre, Aarhus School of Business, Postal: The Aarhus School of Business. The MAPP Centre, Fuglesangs Allé 4, 8210 Aarhus V, Denmark
Hans Skytte: The MAPP Centre, Aarhus School of Business, Postal: The Aarhus School of Business. The MAPP Centre, Fuglesangs Allé 4, 8210 Aarhus V, Denmark

Abstract: Executive summary 1. The structure of retailing and wholesaling in Eastern Europe has been significantly altered by privatisation and liberalisation in the transition from central planning to market economy. Furthermore, many western retailers faced with saturated domestic markets have expanded into Eastern Europe in an attempt to take advantage of the opportunities created by the liberalisation. 2. The aim of this study is to increase our knowledge of retail and wholesale buying behaviour in Eastern Europe by examining the buying behaviour for fish and cheese products in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. 95 semi-structured interviews were conducted with industry experts, retail buyers and wholesale buyers of fish and cheese. 3. To structure the discussion of buying behaviour for fish and cheese in Eastern Europe, a simple model of buying behaviour is constructed by combining elements from Dawson, Shaw and Blair (1992), Hansen and Skytte (1998) and Sheth (1981). 4. With regards to retail buying behaviour, results show that buying functions are organised differently. Retailers in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are smaller than their counterparts in the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland and hence do not have the resources necessary to employ people whose sole task it is to buy fish or cheese. Buying therefore often becomes a management responsibility. Furthermore, whereas buying committees are in widespread use in Central Europe, none of the Baltic retailers had such committees. 5. The most important criteria used by retail buyers in Eastern Europe to evaluate products and suppliers of fish and cheese are price and financial conditions, the suppliers’ range of products, the way the supplier does business as well as quality. 6. The differences in the organisation of buying functions found between retailers were also found for wholesalers. The most important evaluative criteria used by wholesale buyers are price and financial requirements, quality, reliability of suppliers and marketing support offered. 7. The paper concludes with a discussion of managerial and theoretical implications and areas for future research. We propose that in the long term, the best strategy for Danish food exporters is to approach a number of key retailers and establish close relationships with these retailers in order to fulfil their specific requirements. Theoretically, we conclude that retail and wholesale buying behaviour in Eastern Europe can be analysed using concepts developed for studying retail buying behaviour in Western Europe. Finally, we believe that further research is needed regarding the importance of individual criteria, the relationship between economic development and the buying behaviour of retailers and wholesalers, and the decision-making processes of retail and wholesale buyers in Eastern Europe.

Keywords: Buying behaviour; Retail trade; Wholesale trade; Food; Eastern Europe

35 pages, December 1, 1999

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