From distributor to gatekeeper: The role of retailers in international innovation success
04 / 2011 - 04 / 2016
Intense competition in today?s grocery markets has impelled a growing number of manufacturers to look abroad for new opportunities. Well-known multinationals increasingly launch their innovations internationally. Apart from the intrinsic innovation characteristics and the manufacturers? launch efforts, local retail affiliates seem to exert a major influence on consumer adoption, and hence the commercial success of innovations, in the consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry. The overall aim of this research is to understand the growing role of powerful retailers as ?gatekeepers? in the success of internationally launched innovations, and to assess how innovating manufacturers can adequately cope with this trend. For this purpose, I propose three broad cross-disciplinary studies. In a first project, I will study the international rollout of innovations across retailers. Thus far, studies have largely ignored the critical role of retailers? foreign experience with innovations in accepting them locally. A second project uses the contingency approach to examine how innovations perform at a retailer, and to what extent consumer acceptance is dependent on the retail strategy and resources. The third project will examine (i) what manufacturer innovations are most likely to be imitated, (ii) how fast retailers are able to launch their own copycat alternative, and (iii) what the impact is on manufacturers and consumer well-being. To study this, I will make use of various data sources, including an international panel dataset with consumer grocery purchase activities in over hundred major European retail chains. Each study implements advanced quantitative modeling techniques, including multi-level structural equation modeling, simultaneous strategy selection models, and split-hazard models. Combined, the results emerging from the studies are relevant for (i) academics, (ii) practitioners in the retail industry as well as (iii) legal instances on cases of trademark infringement, and (iv) public policy makers working in the area of retail power.