Customer preferences and service design in the New Zealand-North Asian industrial shipping market
Dixon, Kirsten Leigh
The North Asian countries of Japan, Korea and China are becoming increasingly important overseas trading partners of New Zealand, whose imports and exports are predominantly shipped by sea. The industrial shipping market is mature and intensely competitive. In order to gain a sustainable competitive advantage in the market, the points of differentiation for a shipping service must create superior value as perceived by the customer and be difficult for competitors to imitate. An understanding of customer expectations and preferences is necessary if an industrial shipping company is to design a Total Service Offering comprised of attributes that, when bundled together, create superior value. Previous research has identified a number of attributes that are important to customers when selecting a shipping or other industrial freight service. The first stage of this study was the conducting of seven interviews, to identify which service attributes are the most important to New Zealand customers when selecting a shipping service. The convergence of the interview results with the earlier research produced a set of ten attributes that were considered to be the most important to customers: the freight rate, transit time, schedule reliability, frequency of New Zealand port calls, ports serviced in New Zealand and in North Asia, international geographic coverage, flexibility, accuracy of documentation and the type of cargo. Choice modelling was then employed in the second stage of the study to determine the relative importance of these ten attributes to customers, and the tradeoffs made between them when selecting a service. Six hundred surveys were posted to New Zealand companies that ship goods to or from North Asia, with a response rate of S8 percent. The results of the conjoint analysis of the survey data collected indicated that of the ten service attributes, the most important to respondents when selecting a shipping service was the frequency of New Zealand port calls, where a weekly service was preferred, followed by a fortnightly service. The freight rate was the second most important attribute, though respondents appeared willing to forego the lower rate in preference for other attributes such as ports of call. Auckland was the most important port of call in New Zealand, followed by Timaru, Tauranga, Lyttleton and Wellington. The most important ports in North Asia were Busan in Korea, Yokohama in Japan and Rizhao, Shanghai, Qingdao, Lianyungyang, Nantong and Dalian in China. Though less important, respondents also valued high schedule reliability (with vessels departing on the scheduled dates), high flexibility (with the acceptance of cargo up to four hours before departure), highly accurate bills of lading (with an accuracy rate of 99.9 percent) and a transit time of fifteen days. The international geographic coverage of the shipping company, being North Asia only, North Asian and other regions or global, was not found to be of significant importance. The services in the survey that included the more important attributes were the most likely to be selected by the respondents. A shipping company that services the New Zealand-North Asian route should therefore design its Total Service Offering as a bundle of these attributes. By matching the unique service design with the expectations of customers, maximum value is created, resulting in a sustainable competitive advantage.
Advisor: Matear, Sheelagh; Nind, Derek
Degree Name: Master of Commerce
Degree Discipline: Marketing
Publisher: University of Otago
Research Type: Thesis
115 leaves ; 30 cm. Includes bibliographical references. University of Otago department: Marketing. "December 2001".