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Customer of the future: a case study of customers of the steel industry
2000 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (professional degree), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

The companies of today are operating in the dynamic and globally competitive markets of the 21:th century. They are faced with new challenges, as customers' wants change, technology advances and competitors find new ways of adding value and creating additional satisfactions for customers. The constantly changing marketing environment is true even in what might be considered very stable and traditional industries such as the steel industry. SSAB Oxelösund is an example of a company in the steel industry that is recognizing the accelerating changes in their business environment. As changes are moving faster and faster in all markets, new requirements are put on supplying companies as co-operation partners, on their flexibility and competence. If the supplying company can forecast how their customers will appear years ahead, they can better meet these new requirements. The purpose of the study is to be able to present well-based forecasts of what the characteristics of the future customer of the steel industry, will be. To tackle the problem of studying future behavior, the focus in this study has been on how markets evolve over time, that is, on how the business marketing environment is changing and the implications it has for strategies and organizations. By way of introduction, literature, scientific reports and business magazines were studied. As a preliminary study, phone interviews with organizations, federations and institutes were conducted. The purpose was to reveal what is occurring in the business marketing system at the present. Moreover, through case study research, nine of SSAB Oxelösund's customers in Sweden were investigated. The interviews concerned the customers perception of their situation in the business marketing environment, their strategies and their thoughts about the future. The findings from the interviews showed that there are quit significant changes occurring in what traditionally has been seen as the slow-moving and rigid capital industry. Examples of changes in the business marketing environment are increasing globalization, entrance of new technology (such as the information technology), an increased preference to buy functions rather than products and falling of distance as an entry barrier. Regarding new constraints, the subject was poorly explored in the study. Further, the changes in the business marketing environment have several implications on strategies. The keywords are speed, customization, software differentiation, global thinking, focus, innovation, partnerships, centralization and control. Regarding the implications the changing business marketing environment have on organization, only implications for the external organization were explored due to time limitations. The findings showed that the number of transnational organizations is increasing and the forming of alliances (and networks) is common. The findings seem to be in accordance with what was found in literature, scientific reports and business papers. However, though theory meant the competition is getting tougher due to the falling of entry barriers, the findings showed that the entry barriers on the markets for the customers of this study, remain and effectively prevent new competitors from entering. The competition was stated to be as it always as been, tough. Further, though theory forecasts increased purchase over internet, the signs of initiating e-commerce among the companies were weak. A summary of the conclusions drawn about the characteristics of the future customers of the steel industry, is presented below. The larger companies in particular seek global efficiency and many of them realize that they have to have global presence. Purchasing strategies are focused on minimizing risks as well as reducing prices. To achieve this, the companies co-ordinate their activities within the organization and co-operate with other companies. Regarding changing organization, there is a strong centralization of activities, except when it comes to customer contacts, that is, the production is concentrated to a few places on the globe but small units are placed close to the customers. To rationalize the operations of the business, there is an increased concentration of activities and an increased focus in business strategies. With the new technology there is an increased transparence which increases the power of the customer but the new technology also opens up new possibilities for the suppliers.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Keyword [en]
Technology, industrial marketing, environment, purchasing, strategies, customers, customization, focus, speed, globalization, suppliers
Keyword [sv]
URN: urn:nbn:se:ltu:diva-58751ISRN: LTU-EX--00/252--SELocal ID: f5114c9e-64d7-44db-86c4-41f2eda19156OAI: diva2:1032139
Subject / course
Student thesis, at least 30 credits
Educational program
Industrial and Management Engineering, master's level
Validerat; 20101217 (root)Available from: 2016-10-04 Created: 2016-10-04Bibliographically approved

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