Skip to main content
Kent Academic Repository

SME market orientation: relationship with supermarket loyalty card data

Donnelly, Christina (2011) SME market orientation: relationship with supermarket loyalty card data. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.86479) (KAR id:86479)


Market oriented organisations are firms which are well informed about the market in which they operate in, and utilise this market information and knowledge to create competitive advantage. This is particularly important for small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). In Northern Ireland (NI), particular focus has been placed on the agri-food SME sector and the need for a constant flow of market information, in what has become an extremely competitive and evolving food and drink market. This study sought to explore the relationship between SME market orientation (MO) and formalised supermarket loyalty card data (SLCD), within the NI agri-food context. This is the first time that SME agri-food firms have received free access and analysis of SLCD. The research design was qualitative and required a six month longitudinal inquiry utilising an in-depth interviewing process with seven agri-food SME case firms, before and after exposure to SLCD. The study made a number of contributions to knowledge, practice and policy. Findings confirmed that SMEs do possess some level of MO, practicing informal, unstructured and haphazard marketing due to their small scale and the central role of the generalist owner/manager. However, post exposure findings confirmed that the SME agri-food cases did relate to SLCD, with owner/managers enhancing understanding of the consumer, increasing confidence in data use and validating decision making with SLCD. In effect SLCD facilitated the management of risk for the SME agri-food firm. During the initial stages of inquiry, other strategic orientations emerged, in the form of Entrepreneurship Orientation (EO) and the capacity to innovate. These concepts both supported the current MO of the SME, facilitating enhanced understanding and utilisation of SLCD. A further contribution was the recognition of the role of the owner/manager within the relationship and the need for the action research approach in the delivery of SLCD to the agri-food SMEs. Key findings suggest that future acquisition of SLCD is necessary for SMEs within the food industry, but dissemination and utilisation requires future support by government and industry bodies. To facilitate this, policy makers should review existing policies and practices, to support agri-food SME development through the continual flow of market information and analytical assistance on a partnership basis.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
Thesis advisor: Fearne, Andrew
Thesis advisor: Armstrong, Gillian
Thesis advisor: Simmons, Geoff
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.86479
Additional information: This thesis has been digitised by EThOS, the British Library digitisation service, for purposes of preservation and dissemination. It was uploaded to KAR on 09 February 2021 in order to hold its content and record within University of Kent systems. It is available Open Access using a Creative Commons Attribution, Non-commercial, No Derivatives ( licence so that the thesis and its author, can benefit from opportunities for increased readership and citation. This was done in line with University of Kent policies ( If you feel that your rights are compromised by open access to this thesis, or if you would like more information about its availability, please contact us at and we will seriously consider your claim under the terms of our Take-Down Policy (
Subjects: H Social Sciences
SWORD Depositor: SWORD Copy
Depositing User: SWORD Copy
Date Deposited: 30 Oct 2019 13:53 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Dec 2021 17:31 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

  • Depositors only (login required):

Total unique views for this document in KAR since July 2020. For more details click on the image.