Review of Managerial Science

, Volume 12, Issue 3, pp 661–682 | Cite as

Innovation through tradition in the Italian coffee industry: an analysis of customers’ perceptions

  • Michele Gorgoglione
  • Antonio Messeni Petruzzelli
  • Umberto Panniello
Original Paper


The extant literature reveals how firms may innovate by exploiting past competencies and resources, hence proposing innovation through tradition as an emerging strategy to compete. Previous research largely demonstrates that the effectiveness of an innovation strategy is strictly dependent on the capability of firms to communicate the right message to their customers. Therefore, leveraging products’ attributes becomes fundamental to strategically position their commercial offerings in the minds of the target audience. Nevertheless, despite the well-known relevance of this issue, scant attention has been devoted to investigate the product attributes that consumer’s associate with innovation and with tradition when companies deploy strategies based on “innovation through tradition”. Accordingly, our study aims at covering this gap, by empirically analyzing the consumers’ perception of innovation and tradition in the Italian coffee industry through a positioning analysis. Our research allowed us to identify two sets of product attributes that consumers associate with innovation and tradition. The results show that in many cases the innovation-related and tradition-related attributes are strongly negatively correlated, but in some case the correlation is weak or close to zero. These attributes reveal that in some cases innovation and tradition can be combined in the perception of consumers, rather than representing opposite constructs. This result suggests that companies can effectively communicate the strategy of innovation through tradition to the consumers’ minds, but this must be done by choosing the right attributes.


Innovation Tradition Customer perceptions Positioning 

Mathematics Subject Classification



  1. Aaker DA (1996) Building strong brands. The Free Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  2. Aaker JL (1997) Dimensions of brand personality. J Mark Res 34:347–356. doi: 10.2307/3151897 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Aaker JL, Bennet V, Garolera J (2001) Consumption symbols as carriers of culture: a study of Japanese and Spanish brand personality constructs. J Personal Soc Psychol 81:492–508CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Azoulay A, Kapferer J-N (2003) Do brand personality scales really measure brand personality? J Brand Manag 11:143–155. doi: 10.1057/ CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bearden WO, Netemeyer RG (1999) Handbook of marketing scales: Multi-item measures for marketing and consumer behavior research. SAGE Publications, Thousand OaksCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bessière J (1998) Local development and heritage: traditional food and cuisine as tourist attractions in rural areas. Sociol Rural 38:21–34. doi: 10.1111/1467-9523.00061 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Birkinshaw J, Hamel G, Mol MJ (2008) Management innovation. Acad Manag Rev 33:825–845CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Brown S (1999) Retro-marketing: yesterday’s tomorrows, today! Mark Intell Plan 17:363–376. doi: 10.1108/02634509910301098 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Brown S (2001) The retromarketing revolution: l’imagination au pouvoir. Int J Manag Rev 3:303–320. doi: 10.1111/1468-2370.00070 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Brown S, Kozinets RV, Sherry JF (2003) Teaching old brands new tricks: retro branding and the revival of brand meaning. J Mark 67:19–33. doi: 10.1509/jmkg. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Capaldo A, Lavie D, Messeni Petruzzelli A (2017) Knowledge maturity and the scientific value of innovations: the roles of knowledge distance and adoption. J Manag 43:503–533. doi: 10.1177/0149206314535442 Google Scholar
  12. Dagger TS, Sweeney JC, Johnson LW (2007) A hierarchical model of health service quality: scale development and investigation of an integrated model. J Serv Res 10:123–142. doi: 10.1177/1094670507309594 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Davis F (1982) Yearning for yesterday: a sociology of nostalgia. Am J Sociol 87:1425–1427CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. De Massis A, Kotlar J, Frattini F, Messeni Petruzzelli A, Wright M (2016) Innovation through tradition: lessons from innovative family businesses and directions for future research. Acad Manag Perspect 30:93–116CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Fleming L (2001) Recombinant uncertainty in technological search. Manag Sci 47:117–132. doi: 10.1287/mnsc. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Geuens M, Weijters B, De Wulf K (2009) A new measure of brand personality. Int J Res Mark 26:97–107. doi: 10.1016/j.ijresmar.2008.12.002 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Ghodeswar BM (2008) Building brand identity in competitive markets: a conceptual model. J Prod Brand Manag 17:4–12. doi: 10.1108/10610420810856468 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Guerrero L, Guàrdia MD, Xicola J et al (2009) Consumer-driven definition of traditional food products and innovation in traditional foods. A qualitative cross-cultural study. Appetite 52:345–354. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2008.11.008 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Guerrero L, Claret A, Verbeke W et al (2010) Perception of traditional food products in six European regions using free word association. Food Qual Prefer 21:225–233CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Guerrero L, Claret A, Verbeke W et al (2012) Cross-cultural conceptualization of the words traditional and innovation in a food context by means of sorting task and hedonic evaluation. Food Qual Prefer 25:69–78. doi: 10.1016/j.foodqual.2012.01.008 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Hargadon AB, Douglas Y (2001) When innovations meet institutions: edison and the design of the electric light. Adm Sci Q 46:476–501. doi: 10.2307/3094872 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Hatch MJ, Rubin J (2006) The hermeneutics of branding. J Brand Manag 14:40–59CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Heeley MB, Jacobson R (2008) The recency of technological inputs and financial performance. Strateg Manag J 29:723–744. doi: 10.1002/smj.682 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Hobsbawm EJ (1983) Introduction: inventing traditions. In: Hobsbawm EJ (ed) The invention of tradition. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 1–14Google Scholar
  25. International Coffee Organization (2015) Coffee Market Report.
  26. Katila R (2002) New product search over time: past ideas in their prime? Acad Manag J 45:995–1010. doi: 10.2307/3069326 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Kaul A, Rao VR (1995) Research for product positioning and design decisions: an integrative review. Int J Res Mark 12:293–320. doi: 10.1016/0167-8116(94)00018-2 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Kay MJ (2006) Strong brands and corporate brands. Eur J Mark 40:742–760. doi: 10.1108/03090560610669973 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Kivenzor G (2007) Brand equity aberrations: heritage brand perception effects in Russian markets. Acad Mark Sci Rev 10:1–20Google Scholar
  30. Klaus P, Gorgoglione M, Buonamassa D, Panniello U, Nguyen B (2013) Are you providing the right customer experience? The case of Banca Popolare di Bari. Int J Bank Mark 31:506–528CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Kühne B, Vanhonacker F, Gellynck X, Verbeke W (2010) Innovation in traditional food products in Europe: do sector innovation activities match consumers’ acceptance? Food Qual Prefer 21:629–638. doi: 10.1016/j.foodqual.2010.03.013 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Kunz W, Schmitt B, Meyer A (2011) How does perceived firm innovativeness affect the consumer? J Bus Res 64:816–822. doi: 10.1016/j.jbusres.2010.10.005 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Kuznesof S, Tregear A, Moxey A (1997) Regional foods: a consumer perspective. Br Food J 99:199–206. doi: 10.1108/00070709710181531 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Laursen K (2012) Keep searching and you’ll find: what do we know about variety creation through firms’ search activities for innovation? Ind Corp Change 21:1181–1220. doi: 10.1093/icc/dts025 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Leigh T, Peters C, Shelton J (2006) The consumer quest for authenticity: the multiplicity of meanings within the MG subculture of consumption. J Acad Mark Sci 34:481–493. doi: 10.1177/0092070306288403 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Lilien GL, Rangaswamy A (2004) Marketing engineering: computer-assisted marketing analysis and planning. Trafford, BloomingtonGoogle Scholar
  37. McAlexander JH, Schouten JW, Koenig HF (2002) Building brand community. J Mark 66:38–54. doi: 10.1509/jmkg. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. McEnally M, Chernatony Ld (1999) The evolving nature of branding: consumer and managerial considerations. Acad Mark Sci Rev 2:1–26Google Scholar
  39. Miller DJ, Fern MJ, Cardinal LB (2007) The use of knowledge for technological innovation within diversified firms. Acad Manag J 50:308–326. doi: 10.2307/20159856 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Muniz AM, O’Guinn T (2001) Brand community. J Consum Res 27:412–432. doi: 10.1086/319618 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Naughton K, Vlasic B (1998) The nostalgia boom. Bus Week 23:58–64Google Scholar
  42. Nelson R, Winter SG (1982) An evolutionary theory of economic change. Harvard University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  43. Nerkar A (2003) Old is gold? The value of temporal exploration in the creation of new knowledge. Manag Sci 49:211–229CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Petruzzelli AM, Albino V (2012) When tradition turns into innovation: how firms can create and appropriate value through tradition. Chandos Pub, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  45. Petruzzelli AM, Savino T (2014) Search, recombination, and innovation: lessons from Haute Cuisine. Long Range Plan 47:224–238. doi: 10.1016/j.lrp.2012.09.001 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Petruzzelli AM, Savino T (2015) Reinterpreting tradition to innovate: the case of Italian Haute Cuisine. Ind Innov 22:677–702. doi: 10.1080/13662716.2015.1122512 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Phene A, Fladmoe-Lindquist K, Marsh L (2006) Breakthrough innovations in the U.S. biotechnology industry: the effects of technological space and geographic origin. Strateg Manag J 27:369–388. doi: 10.1002/smj.522 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Ponte S (2002) The ‘Latte Revolution’? Regulation, Markets and consumption in the global coffee chain. World Dev 30:1099–1122. doi: 10.1016/S0305-750X(02)00032-3 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Reinders MJ, Frambach RT, Schoormans JPL (2010) Using product bundling to facilitate the adoption process of radical innovations. J Prod Innov Manag 27:1127–1140. doi: 10.1111/j.1540-5885.2010.00775.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Reynolds TJ, Olson JC (2001) Understanding consumer decision making: the means-end approach to marketing and advertising strategy. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, MahwahGoogle Scholar
  51. Roberts PW (1999) Product innovation, product–market competition and persistent profitability in the U.S. pharmaceutical industry. Strateg Manag J 20:655–670CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Savino T, Messeni Petruzzelli A, Albino V (2017) Search and recombination process to innovate: a review of the empirical evidence and a research agenda. Int J Manag Rev 19:54–75. doi: 10.1111/ijmr.12081 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Schumpeter JA (1939) Business cycles: a theoretical, historical, and statistical analysis of the capitalist process. Northwestern University, Martino Pub.Google Scholar
  54. Sherrington M (2003) Added value: the alchemy of brand-led growth. Palgrave Macmillan, LondonCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Stuart TE, Podolny JM (1996) Local search and the evolution of technological capabilities. Strateg Manag J 17:21–38. doi: 10.1002/smj.4250171004 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Tellstrom R, Gustafsson I-B, Mossberg L (2006) Consuming heritage: the use of local food culture in branding. Place Brand 2:130–143CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Temporal P (1999) Branding in Asia: the creation, development and management of Asian brands for the global market. Wiley, HobokenGoogle Scholar
  58. Urde M (2003) Core value-based corporate brand building. Eur J Mark 37:1017–1040. doi: 10.1108/03090560310477645 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. USDA (2010) Coffee: world markets and trade. United States Department of Agriculture, WashingtonGoogle Scholar
  60. Vanhonacker F, Verbeke W, Guerrero L et al (2010) How European consumers define the concept of traditional food: evidence from a survey in six countries. Agribusiness 26:453–476CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Vanhonacker F, Kühne B, Gellynck X, Guerrero L, Hersleth M, Verbeke W (2013) Innovations in traditional foods: impact on perceived traditional character and consumer acceptance. Food Res Int 54:1828–1835. doi: 10.1016/j.foodres.2013.10.027 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Verbeke W, Guerrero L, Almli VL, Vanhonacker F, Hersleth M (2016) European consumers’ definition and perception of traditional foods. In: Kristbergsson K, Oliveira J (eds) Traditional foods: general and consumer aspects. Springer, Boston, pp 3–16. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4899-7648-2_1 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Wiedmann K-P, Hennigs N, Schmidt S, Wuestefeld T (2011) The importance of brand heritage as a key performance driver in marketing management. J Brand Manag 19:182–194CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Politecnico di BariBariItaly

Personalised recommendations