Studies Eastern European Markets
oalvelut ja yritykset
Eastern European Markets
business news
Trade StationFinland
Business Finland
Trade Service Companies

May, 2006

Keskitalo, Päivi
Electronic Publications of
PanEuropean Institute, 5/2006

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There is high demand in the environmental market of Poland . Furthermore, the environmental sector has been considered a niche market which offers business opportunities in Poland for Finnish companies specialised in environmental knowhow
and the empirical findings support this assumption. The interviews carried out within the case company brought forward that opportunities exist in the Polish market for Finnish environmental businesses. However, there are not that many Finnish environmental technology companies active in the market and to commence exporting activities remains a massive step for most candidates. Competition in Poland is fierce but the future prospects are good because the environmental field offers endless opportunities and the large market size presents attractive potential.

In connection with the themes of the study it became evident that a local partner is essential in accessing the Polish environmental market. During the preliminary research it was discovered that foreign firms which want to operate in the emerging markets should find a local partner who will help in marketing and customer functions. Therefore, the importance of the local representative was not surprising. The case company has experienced difficulties with representatives in the past and thus fully acknowledges the importance of functional cooperation with the Polish partner. It is worthwhile to invest in the relationship with the representative as this is the key to success.

When it comes to entering public environmental projects in Poland the process is not that easily comprehensible. The bidding processes especially in the public sector are fairly harmonised since the EU regulations on public procurement are in force. Nevertheless, the bidding process is not necessarily proceeding straightforward since corruption and fierce competition seem to interrupt the project development at least to some extent. Continuous bidding processes are in operation and the local representative is controlling the development and reporting to Finland about the progress. The amount of networking does not appear extremely extensive and involves mainly microlevel connections in the case company. It can be questioned whether this is satisfactory since it has been suggested that networking on all levels is of great importance.

The case company has customers in Poland from public as well as private sector. However, the entry to public projects is rarely achieved through public bidding because the strategy is to access the public sector through local contractors and designers who have won the bidding for a waste water treatment plant. Foreign businesses can be successful in the Polish environmental sector but turn key projects are rarely the best way to operate in the market. Experience has proven that less complicated way to operate in the market is to supply parts or complete partial subprojects. Cova et al. (2002) have introduced a matrix which suggests that being a supplier of parts is an entry option when project attractiveness or company strengths are rather low. To some extent the research findings do not support this statement because it seems like both company strengths and project attractiveness can be high but still entry into the project is pursued through supplying merely parts or sub processes. In addition to the strengths of the company and the project attractiveness it is concluded that the amount of competition in the market has a remarkable influence on the strategy defining the best possible entry mode into a project.

The business marketer's product often includes an important service component which is of great importance to the end client. According to previous empirical research the key factors behind a successful sale of environmental technologies in Poland are an in country representative office and reliable aftersales services.

This finding is fully supported by the completed research as earlier the importance of local representative was acknowledged and in connection with a product's service component, the case intensified the importance of local technical support and maintenance. A local technical service employee was hired last year as the need for this was discovered essential. The vast number of clients in Poland demanded technical support and the service must be easily available in order to fully satisfy the customers. Ascribe to investing in after sales technical services better financial results are expected.

Internationalisation to Poland should be considered an option. Project operations have been examined in this research mainly because projects include a broad variety of entry options and thus the evaluated processes can be widely learned from. Marketing of environmental technology may not hugely differ from other industrial products. Mainly the technological details must be acknowledged and naturally it is of utmost importance to familiarise oneself with the needs of the potential customers. However, in connection with exporting Finnish environmental knowhow it has to be concluded that the importance of marketing measures should be effectively emphasised as together with the technological knowhow the marketing skills are the base for success in internationalisation. As a consequence of the completed research the theoretical implications suggest that the marketing approach is not a separate element which is only important at the beginning of the project development but rather the marketing measures should be kept in mind throughout the process. The task of marketing is to place oneself in a favourable position amongst those likely to acquire projects.

However, the marketing process of a project can be divided into three phases: 1) independent of any project, 2) pretender and 3) tender preparation (Cova et al. 2002). The empirical findings point out that marketing is important not only during the initial strategy phase and bid process but also in project implementation because completed projects serve as reference objects in future tenders.

As managerial implications certain conclusions can be highlighted. Finnish environmental products are appreciated but it is a major mistake to consider the own technology superior. High quality knowhow is not on its own enough for successful internationalisation as full commitment is needed from the organisation if sales abroad are the target. Management of the environmental technology company should fully acknowledge the process of internationalisation in order to prepare oneself for the challenges. The environmental sector in Poland is highly competitive but the case company's experience proves that the target market is worth entering.

How to market environmental technology has been explored throughout the research as it was found that marketing measures are a continuous process in project development. The main practical implication is to include technical details in the marketing message in such a way that the customer is satisfied with the received information. Main marketing channels are the previous satisfied customers, traditional exhibitions, environmental conferences and professional journals. Furthermore, the importance of Internet in today's international trading has to be emphasised. How to enter environmental public projects in Poland is according to this research best achieved through local designers and contractors. Foreign suppliers can be successful in the Polish environmental market as long as own technology is not considered superior, longterm commitment is made and reliable local representative is found.

There might be even more attractive target markets in the world than Poland when it comes to increasing the exports of Finnish environmental technology but the evident potential of the market in Poland should enhance the attractiveness of the country. Geographical location by the Baltic Sea should further increase the interest of Finnish environmental businesses to invest in the country and the completed case study advocates that internationalisation to Poland can be profitable. As mainly partial projects are implemented in Poland by the case company the financial value of single delivery is not tremendous but the market area is one of the most important because deliveries are constant and the number of clients is significant.

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