Business concept as a relational message: supermarket vs independent grocery as competitors for sustainability

Minna Mikkola


The paper deals with a new competition situation between a large consumer co-operative and a very small local food shop as its rival. While both businesses are selling food, their business concepts look very different. These concepts are analysed as ideology, identity and shopkeeper/retailer speech. The results show the deep cutting change in trade introduced by the small food shop as concern for sustainable food system and social relations as resources for new community building, suggesting conditional possibilities for further business growth. The large retailer has problems in answering the challenge as its concept seems to exclude concern for food system, the trade includes economic interests and rather negligible social relations. In principle, the small contester could succeed in expanding its business model through staying small and proliferating, supporting small farms’ economic viability. The large retailer could succeed by investing in launching more local and organic produce and thereby developing both primary production and processing capacity in a lagging rural region. The study shows the importance of the business concept as a condition and limitation for further growth.

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ISSN 2194-511X


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