Marketing management in forest industries in Ghana

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Following the worldwide concern about environmental changes threatening the survival of the tropical rain forest, there have been increased awareness of the need to undertake measures to conserve this invaluable natural resource. This trend has been encouraged by the realization of governments of the potential effects of the loss of export revenue following the disappearance of the tropical rain forest. Today, however, there appears to be consensus between many forest products firms and environmental groups that, whereas the harvest of timber is essential to the economic well - being of many tropical countries including Ghana, the timber industry must adopt a philosophy of sustainability. This study explores a number of ways in which improved marketing techniques can provide managers in the forest products industry with the opportunity to move towards a basis of sustainability in a number of ways. This study was conducted using a sample size of 40 out of a total population of 104 wood exporters. The same size included firms from small, medium and large scale exporters. The research methodology included both field and desk research and the results were presented in percentages. The marketing philosophy predominant among wood industries in Ghana was found to be the product and production oriented. Their reason for such general concept is the fact that bulk of their products was for exports. Personal selling was found to be the principal technique. Europe was found to be the principal overseas market for Ghanaian wood exporters. Substantial amount of Ghanaian wood products is also exported to the United States of America whilst there are also pockets of emerging markets in the South East Asia. Sawn wood or lumber was found to be the major product exported by respondents whilst Tertiary products were exported in very small volumes. Marketing management was found to be poorly developed among Ghanaian wood exporters with respect to planning and marketing organizations. It was concluded from the study that the predominant management philosophy in the forest products industry involves the minimization of manufacturing cost to provide a competitive advantage in the production and export of commodity products. Reliance on this philosophy results in a situation where firms are forced to compete solely on the basis of price, thus providing them with minimal or negative profit margins and reducing bargaining power with importers and manufacturers. A more appropriate competitive strategy for Ghana would be the development of differentiated products that can be marketed to niche international markets. While this strategy would provide companies in Ghana with a variety of benefits, it requires that managers in the timber industry accept a shift in management philosophy and become more market - oriented.
A thesis submitted to the Board of Postgraduate Studies, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, in partial fulfilment of the requirement for the award of the Degree of Master of Science in Wood Technology and Management, 1998