International Market Selection among Swedish retailers : An exploratory study of how Swedish international retailers identify and select foreign markets
Abstract: In the wake of globalization, an increasing amount of firms must consider internationalization strategies to remain competitive. The strategic decision of where to expand is complex by nature. This is particularly true for retailers, and despite this being generally accepted, relatively little is in fact known about retailers ́ choice of foreign markets. Hence, this study investigates international market selection (IMS) strategies of Swedish retailers with global operations. The purpose of this study is twofold; first, to explore which criteria Swedish retailers use upon making international market selection decisions and investigate the relative importance among these criteria. Second, to assess the possibilities of creating a weighted IMS model for retailers, which can be use as guidance for marketing practitioners. The research questions which will be answered are: How do Swedish international retailers select foreign markets? What are the possibilities of creating a weighted IMS model for retailers? The study embraces a qualitative strategy with an exploratory research approach and a multiple case study design. Through extensive literature review, a conceptual framework is constructed, and subsequently developed, post gaining insight in practitioners’ reasoning. The empirical data was gathered through interviews with managers of Swedish retailers with international presence, as well as strategy consultants who routinely work with strategy conformation for Swedish retailers. Our findings show that criteria which influence IMS decisions among Swedish retailers are quite similar among firms and can be arranged under three main categories; market attractiveness, psychic distance and internal factors. Moreover, as a result of the empirical findings, we suggest previous IMS research lack one important factor which influences the IMS decisions, namely “gut-feeling”/coincidence. The relative importance among factors proved to vary among firms. Consequently, four concepts aiming at explaining the variations were developed. The four concepts include firm size, firm objective, industry of the firm, and ownership structure. Finally, with support from respondents, we arrived at a conclusion suggesting that construction of a weighted IMS model for all types of retailers is unfeasible. However, if the scope is limited to only include firms of similar characteristics as proposed by the four concepts, such model could potentially yield solid validity.
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