Investigating international perceptions of selected South African foundry products
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The perceptions from the international HSM steel market towards exported South African foundry products were tested through a qualitative research approach. Customer perception might be either positive or negative, based on several factors, including delivery time, cost, or quality of the foundry product. South African exporting foundries, which include the roll making foundry, experience several challenges associated with the operating environment, and these challenges contribute to potential cost elevations and/or delayed delivery time. Negative perceptions from global customers are subsequently experienced. International consumer perceptions towards South African foundry products need to be understood, as this information enables South African foundries to properly target the customer market. The results obtained from respondents based in various geographical markets were coded, analysed, and discussed in the study. Research analyses performed on the geographical market showed that customer location plays a critical role in selecting the correct targeting strategy. The European markets tend to perceive the quality as well as price of South African foundry products as average. The North American market showed that, although South African foundry products are perceived to be price competitive, poor perceptions regarding on-time delivery are experienced. Asian markets typically perceive South African foundry products as expensive and on the price level of a European exporter. Total cost of ownership (TCO) was seen to be an important factor to consider across all the geographical markets. The distance to the market can be seen as a limiting factor for the South African foundry industry, which forces organisations to think more critically on process improvements and rework. It is for this reason that an implementation plan, which includes the application of the change management process of Kotter (1996), was included in the study.