مطالعه اکتشافی در هم ترازی با نام تجاری در روابط B2B
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی||تعداد کلمات|
|23794||2010||9 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید||7886 کلمه|
Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Industrial Marketing Management, Volume 39, Issue 5, July 2010, Pages 712–720
B2B relationships are characterized by strategic partnerships between firms and the suppliers of goods and services integral to their offerings. Failure to choose the right partner could jeopardize the survival of both partners. While a number of studies suggest that partnering firms need to be aligned operationally, few studies look at whether there should be alignment between the brands of firms and their suppliers. Therefore, we build on existing studies on sexual selection to develop a theory of whether similarity in brand attributes affects the success of B2B relationships. We propose that firms wishing to portray particular brand images to their customers choose suppliers whose images mirror their own. To develop our proposition, we investigate the brand personality alignment between well-known firms and their suppliers in four industries. The findings of our analysis have significant implications for scholars and managers interested in the nature and success of B2B partnerships.
Industrial marketing is characterized by large transactions between a firm and its suppliers related to goods used by the firm in the production of its own products and services. These transactions are usually of high value and integral to the success of both parties. The strategic nature of the purchases indicates that the relationship between industrial firms and their suppliers is a key element to success. Such relationships ensure that suppliers provide products aligned to the firm's goals and objectives, which in turn ensure repeat purchases of the supplier's products (Hutt & Speh, 2001). This premise is widely understood as a cornerstone of industrial marketing. Knowledge that firms form relationships is accepted (Shocker, Srivastava, & Ruekert, 1994). However, how firms choose which suppliers to align with has not been addressed extensively in the marketing literature. Partly, this stems from the fact that the term ‘alignment’ could indicate a number of things, from similarity to relative positioning ( www.mirriam-webster.com). As a result, the characteristics that make up best partner candidates amongst the potential suppliers from which a firm could choose have not been agreed upon from a theoretical or practical perspective. Although studies into this topic exist, most concentrate on internal skill and technology based issues. Partnership, alliance, and merger studies that examine B2B relationships in the management and marketing literature conclude that successful ventures are those that identify and exploit operating synergies ( Wilkinson, Young, & Freytag, 2005). From a strategic perspective, traditionally the indicators of successful relationships include complementary resources and capabilities ( Anderson and Narus, 1991, Collis and Montgomery, 1995 and Wittmann et al., 2008), and the existence of overlapping goals ( Wilkinson et al., 2005). From a supplier–provider position, alignment has been discussed mostly with regard to product customization ( Anderson & Narus 1995). Alignment of values has also been mentioned with research in this area focused mostly on personal characteristics of sales people and their contacts at client companies (e.g. Price and Arnould, 1999 and Swan et al., 2001). The matter of choosing the correct partner is not trivial. The benefit of selecting a suitable supplier can be substantial, including access to new markets, increasing market share, filling resource gaps, and achieving operational efficiencies (Argyle, 1990 and Wittmann et al., 2008). Certain B2B relationships are purely transactional—specified and executed according to a contract and beginning and ending with the transfer of a good from supplier to firm. However, the nature of the strategic relationship between industrial firms and their suppliers on whose goods and services their core offerings rely, suggests a mutual dependence on each other for survival. Failing to choose the right partner could be “a potentially fatal obstacle to the success of [each party's] brand” (Shocker et al., 1994: 153). The impact of partner selection on each party's brand including the differentiated images of firms and their offerings (Opoku, Abratt, Bendixen, & Pitt, 2007), or the set of associations relating to what the firms represent (Dacin & Smith, 1994), has only received limited and tertiary attention. An exploration of the small set of related literature reveals Lambert, Emmelhainz, and Gardner's (1996) discussion of the managerial processes on which partnering firms should concentrate, but these authors mention only briefly that partners sharing similar brand images and company reputations will enjoy stronger relationships. Others touching on the topic state that brand management within the industrial marketing channel is crucial, but stop short of discussing exactly what this entails (Shocker et al., 1994). Whether and how the brands of firms and their suppliers should be aligned seems to have been overlooked in the marketing literature to date. More specifically, unaddressed topics include (1) whether partnering firms exhibit different brand characteristics without affecting the viability of the relationship, and (2) which differences or similarities improve the value of the relationship. Nonetheless, a key paper by Wilkinson, Young, and Freytag's (2005) that looks into the biological and social foundations of business partnering seems to give particular insight into the issue of strategic relationships in the industrial space. Insights from this paper, along with the sociological theory of attraction in which partner choices are made based on perceptions on an ideal image, provide the theoretical foundation for this paper. More specifically, taking Wilkinson, Young and Freytag's (2005) view that trait alignment is indicated by trait similarity, we propose that successful firms choose strategic suppliers whose brand personalities are similar to their own. Thus, in order to portray a consistent brand image to their customers, firms choose suppliers whose images mirror their own. To develop our proposition, we proceed as follows: First we discuss the existing literature on business relationships, focusing particularly on the most recent contributions to this literature which cover criteria for partner selection. Also we look at the concepts of brand image and personality as issues distinct from those discussed in the B2B relationship literature. We then present our study of brand personality alignment between well-known firms and their suppliers in four industries. We discuss the results of our analysis and the implications for scholars and managers. Finally, we address the limitations of our study, and propose future areas of research.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
There is considerable research that suggests brand alignment between collaborating firms is a desirable thing. Alignment is a manifestation of the supplying firm's affinity for its client, can potentially strengthen both firms' brands, reduces potential friction or conflict, and otherwise sends a signal to competing firms and end-users that the original firm is substantial, grounded, and without equal. One has but to think of Intel's relationship with PC manufacturers to see this in its extreme. Intel's significant investment into its “Intel Inside” campaign, and co-branding of personal computers led to the microcomputer world being divided into Macs and “Wintel” machines (short for Windows + Intel) rather than Macs and PCs, on the street. This distinction has blurred notably following Apple's recent adoption of Intel architecture. Our goal in conducting this research was to go one step further in investigating this relationship by determining along which dimensions brands could, and do align. To do so, we selected a convenience sample of well-known industries for which data was readily available. We analyzed some of the content in their web sites on the basis that company web sites are repositories of brand knowledge and public expressions of what a company and brand stand for. Results are mixed and should not be interpreted as providing strong support of our initial proposition. However, our results provide limited evidence to suggest that brand alignment is not wholly accidental in all cases. Most quick service restaurant suppliers (McDonald's exempted) showed strong brand alignment with their clients, as did Audi and Porsche as well as Airbus' client airlines. This first leads us to posit that Aaker's (1997) conceptualization of brands may extend to B2B relationships, as measured by brand expression in company websites. To the best of our knowledge no literature provides either a direct or indirect alternative explanation for our findings. Perhaps alignment is dependent on factors yet to be controlled for—a possible avenue for future research. Our results also offer scholars and managers a new set of dimensions they might use in assessing current or potential firms, and the degree to which there is strategic fit in either these firms or in the industry. The method that we have used in this paper provides a novel and useful tool to do so and we hope future empirical work can better test what we have proposed. Finally, research has shown that most inter-firm partnerships eventually fail (Kogut, 1989). The present study offers one possible reason why this might be and an interesting tool for future research to explore.