The marketing problems of women entrepreneurs in India flow from their scale of operation, lack of standardization, inadequate market intelligence, competition from large-scale units and insufficient holding capacity. A large number of small units continue to depend substantially on middlemen for marketing of their products. Most small units are confined to markets that are within their immediate proximity. The bulk of the small units’ production is done on an order basis with a small proportion done on a continuous basis. Small units suffer from the absence of a competitive network of wholesalers and trading companies that could introduce their products into the domestic and foreign market and provide them with pertinent market information.
The available marketing and distribution channels are Government owned. The National Small Industries Corporation, the Small Industries Development Organization, the Small Industries Service Institutes and SIDCs provide market intelligence and assistance to small women entrepreneurs to some extent. It is necessary to evolve a well-coordinated approach in the direction of demand forecasting, collection and collation of market intelligence to strengthen and expand internal marketing infrastructure with a view to making it small sector producer-oriented. In the field of government purchases, there is a need for identifying more items for exclusive purchase from the small-scale sector and developing a system for close monitoring at different levels.
The policy of price preferences to the products of small-scale units need be continued. While firm-level strategies are fundamental to the development of exports by small units, there is a need to have a centralized co-coordinating body that would provide a range of services including establishment of international subcontract exchanges, conducting studies on export potential, market intelligence, exchanging of trade delegations, participating in international trade fairs, etc.
Most women owner-managers were also reported to be satisfied with their business success which was attributed to the “customer-product” dimension (such as customer service, customer confidence, originality and quality of product); the entrepreneur herself (such as determination, hard work, concern with details, self-confidence); and their personnel (Lee Gosselinetal., 1990).
Bliss and Garratt (2001), identify five areas of support, covering both practical, institutionalized responses and the attitudinal aspect, from which women entrepreneurs in transitioning economies would derive most benefit: easy access to information about starting and running a small business, training programmes in business plan preparation, marketing strategies, human resource management, and financial management, access to mentoring relationships, modification of societal and cultural stereotypes that penalize women in business, and lobbying government agencies to reduce burdensome tax policies and the bureaucratic red tape that hinder entrepreneurial activity.
Micro entrepreneurs live on the fringe of the informal sector known as microfinance sector. Micro enterprises may not be able to generate sufficient income for the owner and often criticized for exploitation of children and women. But it is one of the vital sources of women empowerment and they stand as major beneficiaries of the business. Micro enterprises help the working poor and unemployed who seek their livelihood through self-employment. Micro enterprises produce both services and manufactured goods. Lack of marketing, poor packaging, inability to maintain standards for the products, lack of market knowledge, lack of backward and forward linkages were the reasons for the failure of micro enterprises at various stages. Hand holding support for quite some time to take up growth oriented micro enterprises and raising the present level of loan amount are essential for micro enterprise development (N. Jeyaseelan, 2007).
Manoj Edward and Zakkariya K.A. (2007) pointed out that Kudumbashree is a multi-sectoral women cantered participatory poverty eradication movement which simultaneously aimed for economic empowerment of poor through development and nurture of thrift and credit societies and micro enterprise.
Marketing Services for Women Entrepreneurs
Marketing services are characterized as services related to different stages of production and sale when offered as a package by the same service provider. The various services may be offered separately, and then may not necessarily be characterized as marketing. The variety of marketing services can be divided into an input phase, or the phase prior to production, and an output phase, which is the phase after production.
Marketing Services in the Input Phase:
The input phase includes activities such as technical assistance or training, product development and design, provision of raw materials, or credit for production.
- Training and technical assistance are services for which it is perceived that there is a large necessity, and consequently many institutions providing business development services offer technical assistance or training in some form. Whether provided to groups or to individuals, training for which there is a demand, and which help the women entrepreneurs to develop their skills or their businesses, may be provided for a fee. A number of demand-driven training programs claim high levels of cost-recovery.
- Product development and design are services that are especially important where products or markets are constantly changing, such as in the case of handicrafts. These services may be provided through advice or suggestions for change or development of a product, which makes it difficult to measure the exact cost or benefit. In other cases, outside consultants may be brought in for shorter periods of time, and thus the exact cost may be calculated.
- Access to raw materials is limited for many small producers. By grouping together, or by developing special arrangements with buyers or marketing service providers, purchases can be made in bulk at lower prices. Some marketing service providers provide raw materials instead of credit, with a surcharge or added interest at the time of payment.
Marketing Services in the Output Phase:
The output phase includes activities such as quality control, packaging, transportation, and market information.
- Quality control can be performed at different stages of production and delivery. Marketing intermediaries exercise quality control independently of production and may thus enforce consistent quality standards. Depending on the product, performing quality control objectively and critically can be a very time-consuming and expensive task, and could be priced accordingly.
- The need for packaging and transportation very much depends on the nature of the product and the final destination. When required, both services are costly. These are functions that could be separated into isolated cost-effective functions.
- By making available to the producers information on prices, consumer preferences, competition, new raw materials, and potential markets, the marketing service provider adds transparency to the market, and gives the producers the opportunity to make intelligent decisions about future production.
Marketing Strategy for Women Entrepreneurs
Even if financial profitability is not readily obtained in the short-term, marketing services must be provided in a manner that guarantees long-term access to markets on the part of small producers. This implies developing a strategy based on the particular demands of a specific market, whether local, regional, or international, which then determines which services are necessary to assist producers in meeting that demand. Such demands may be identified by the marketing service providers through an exercise such as a sub-sector analysis. A sub-sector analysis is used to map out various players in the chain of events from producers to consumers within a sub-sector, and identify where the constraints to meeting market demands exist. The marketing provider may then try to seek possible solutions to specific problems, such as shortage of raw materials, lack of storage facilities or market information, through the provision of integrated marketing services. This approach also seeks to find ways to capture more links hi the value chain of the economic activities in which small producers are engaged, to the producers’ benefit.
Which services to provide, how, and for whom, are questions the marketing service provider addresses when defining its’ own strategy. Strategies serve to reach certain goals, such as profitability or social development. Successful providers of marketing services, like successful businesses, aim to develop unique strategies, which allows them to reach these goals. Aiming to assist small and micro producers in increasing their production and sales, service providers may choose to provide services at all levels, from the provision of raw materials to quality control to transportation of the goods, and meet all needs of the targeted clients. Institutions aiming for higher levels of cost-recovery may adopt a minimal strategy, in which a limited number of clients are provided with a small number of critical services, for which cost-covering fees are charged.
Literature Review about Women Entrepreneurs and Entrepreneurship
Following a well-known marketing principle, sustainable development is said to deal with the 3P’s, which stand for People, Planet, and Profit (Crals and Vereeck, 2004).
Joseph Schumpeter (1934), surveyed the relevant literature about entrepreneurs and brought up the term “entrepreneurship”. He believed that entrepreneurship is the cause for discovering, driving new combinations of production factors and create a social economy. However, after Joseph Schumpeter, most scholars use the constructs and relevant variables presented by Miller and Friesen (1982) and Miller (1983), when measuring corporate entrepreneurship.
And they add different variable aspects for distinct purposes and, therefore, expand the contents of entrepreneurship.
Day (1994), considered “marketing capability” as the capability of an enterprise to utilize its knowledge, technology and resource to satisfy the needs of the market or its customers. The success of an enterprise comes from the value it creates for its target customers by developing proper products (services) and marketing methods.
An enterprise needs to gather market information, improve marketing technologies, upgrade marketing skills and enhance management capabilities to increase its abilities to adapt new challenges from markets. Day (1994) thought that the capability of an enterprise has a close relationship with its organizational processes and organizational capabilities most frequently used in aspects of new product development and service distribution.
Generally, possession of strong entrepreneurial orientation, strong generic strategies, and strong marketing capabilities are associated with superior SME firm’s performance (Becherer et al. 2008). The strength of the firm’s marketing capabilities, its ability to communicate to the target market to increase sales and growth, is a driver of SMEs performance.