چه زمانی برندهای B2B تصمیم گیری خریداران سازمانی را تحت تاثیر قرار می گیرند؟ بررسی رابطه بین ریسک خرید و حساسیت نام تجاری
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی||تعداد کلمات|
|23813||2011||11 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید||9890 کلمه|
Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : International Journal of Research in Marketing, Volume 28, Issue 3, September 2011, Pages 194–204
The dominant perspective on organizational buying behavior suggests that buyers tend to rely on objective criteria when making product choice decisions and that the potential influence of subjective cues, such as brands, on buyer decision making decreases with increasing risk. An alternative perspective, confirmed in this study by in-depth interviews with various managers, suggests that brands serve as a risk-reduction heuristic, whereby the influence of brands on decision making increases as a function of risk. Building on risk and information processing theories, this research builds on these complementary perspectives to propose that risk and brand sensitivity relate in a U-shaped manner, where brand sensitivity is highest in relatively low- or high-risk situations. The results of scenario- and survey-based field studies—involving 206 and 180 members of buying centers, respectively—suggest that both perspectives have merit and support the proposed nonlinear relationship. Moreover, the findings reveal that the risk-brand sensitivity relationship is moderated by competitive intensity, such that the linear (negative) and quadratic (positive) effects are stronger when competitive intensity is low.
While interest in business-to-business (B2B) branding continues to grow, studies within this domain have been slower to emerge than those that examine the roles of brands in consumer markets. To a large extent, this delay in academic research can be attributed to the field's organizational buying models, which portray buyers as being highly objective when making product choice decisions (e.g., Bonoma et al., 1977, Low and Mohr, 2001 and Malaval, 2001). This view of organizational buyers as objective decision makers has not allowed a significant role for the influence of subjective, brand-based judgments on organizational buying deliberations. However, recent research suggests that brands can play an important, functional role in business markets, particularly as signals of product quality and of the overall relationship and experience a customer can expect from a supplier ( Aaker and Joachimsthaler, 2000 and Bendixen et al., 2004). Despite growing empirical evidence suggesting that brands do influence organizational buying decisions, an understanding of when brands are likely to matter most in B2B contexts is still lacking (Zablah, Brown, & Donthu, 2010). A particularly important manifestation of this knowledge gap is the lack of studies examining the relationship between purchase risk and B2B brands’ level of influence on the decision making of organizational buyers. This omission is noteworthy for the following reasons: (1) extant buying models suggest that purchase risk is a primary determinant of buyer behavior in organizational contexts (Johnston and Lewin, 1994 and Newall, 1977); thus, the risk management implications of B2B branding needs exploration, and (2) based on existing theoretical models, available empirical evidence and insights gained from in-depth interviews with practitioners, it is unclear whether B2B brands are likely to be most influential under conditions of low, moderate or high purchase risk. For instance, recent studies find that brands can play a meaningful role in risky purchase situations (Homburg et al., 2010 and Mudambi, 2002). This finding, however, contrasts with the findings of established organizational buying models, which suggest that buyers offset heightened levels of risk by pursuing disciplined purchasing strategies built upon an extensive information search process. It is unclear whether the likely payoff from B2B brand-building investments is higher, lower or the same across conditions characterized by different levels of purchase risk. This study examines the relationship between purchase risk and a buying center's level of brand sensitivity, which we define as the extent to which brand names receive active consideration in organizational buying deliberations ( Hutton, 1997, Kapferer and Laurent, 1988 and Zablah et al., 2010). Building on in-depth interviews with practitioners as well as risk and information processing theories, we propose and find that the relationship between the buying center's brand sensitivity and purchase risk is U-shaped such that brands serve as cues for choice simplification in low-risk situations and cues for risk-reduction in high-risk situations. Furthermore, we find that the relationship is: (1) moderated by the competitive intensity of the environment, (2) robust to our measure of brand sensitivity, and (3) may vary depending on the specific type of risk (e.g., social vs. performance) under consideration. Collectively, our study's results help bridge complementary perspectives regarding the relative influence of objective and subjective factors on organizational buying decisions. In examining the purchase risk-brand sensitivity relationship, we make several meaningful contributions to the literature. First, we directly respond to calls for research that articulates the roles of brands in organizational buying contexts (Webster, 2000), and we advance understanding of how buying groups evaluate multiple product attributes and ultimately make purchase decisions (Marketing Science Institute, 2008). Second, our research is the first to empirically examine the purchase risk-brand sensitivity relationship. Third, in addition to extending B2B branding theory, the results offer managerial prescriptions for the most appropriate strategies to pursue depending on the strength of an organization's B2B brand. The remainder of this article is organized as follows: First, we build on insights from in-depth interviews with practitioners and relevant theory to advance the study's hypotheses. Second, we outline the details and report the results of two studies performed to test the proposed U-shaped relationship between purchase risk and brand sensitivity, one of which considers an important moderator (i.e., competitive intensity) of this relationship. Third, we conclude with a discussion of the studies’ implications for future theory and practice.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
Two complementary perspectives appear in prior literature pertaining to how organizational buyers make product choice decisions. Each suggests a very different role for brands in organizational buying contexts. The first, more dominant perspective argues that organizational buyers manage their increasing purchase risk by pursuing choice strategies based on the careful evaluation of objective criteria in which information search offers the primary mechanism for risk reduction. In contrast, brand-driven views of decision making suggest that organizational buyers resort to heuristic-based decision making in the face of high-risk purchase situations. The first perspective thus suggests a negative relationship between purchase risk and brand sensitivity, whereas the second perspective suggests a positive relationship. Our research bridges these two complementary perspectives and finds robust empirical support for a U-shaped relationship between purchase risk and brand sensitivity such that buying centers are more brand sensitive when risk is relatively low and relatively high. This finding is consistent with the notion that brands serve not only to minimize risk but also as a cue for choice simplification in low-risk situations, for which the motivation to engage in a deliberate search process may be lacking (Kotler & Pfoertsch, 2006). In addition, the results reveal that under conditions of high competitive intensity, the purchase risk-brand sensitivity relationship is somewhat tenuous (i.e., flattened), but average levels of brand sensitivity are generally high. Thus, in highly competitive environments, brand sensitivity appears to be less influenced by the risk inherent in the purchase situation. The opposite is true in low competitive intensity environments, where lower average levels of brand sensitivity are the norm. In such environments, the U-shaped relationship is accentuated, such that purchase risk is a stronger determinant of brand sensitivity (when compared to high competitive intensity environments). As part of our analysis, we considered whether the purchase risk-brand sensitivity relationship differed based on the specific type of risk (e.g., performance, financial or social) considered. The results of our two field studies differed in this regard. In the first study, the overall risk of the purchase situation declined and then increased as a function of risk. In the second study, performance, financial and overall risk all exhibited the proposed U-shaped relationship. These results suggest that different types of risks may be more relevant to decision makers under different types of conditions; different types of risks may thus affect the relative importance of brands under different conditions. This discrepancy in our findings raises an interesting avenue for future research. Future research should extend our current line of inquiry by employing a conceptualization of risk that explicitly accounts for two important dimensions of risk that are often entangled in risk measures: decision makers’ judgment about the (1) likely severity of an adverse event and (2) likelihood that the adverse event will occur. Recent empirical work (e.g., Cox, Cox, & Mantel, 2010) suggests that the two constituent dimensions of risk may operate independently to affect product use behaviors in consumer markets. Investigating the separate effects of these two facets may offer important insights missed by global measures. The findings from this study also have several important implications for managers. First, based on our interviews, it appears that practitioners view B2B brands as being most relevant and most likely to offer favorable returns in high-risk situations. Our study's results clearly demonstrate that this is not the total story; there is a definitive payoff for B2B brand-building in low-risk situations. Second, we find evidence in support of the “IBM effect” and argue that managers of strong brands should heighten rather than alleviate perceptions of risk. In one of our interviews, a manager suggested that salespeople should be trained to “create a state of unrest” to leverage brand assets in high-risk situations. In contrast, managers of weaker brands should seek not to minimize risk completely but rather to create environments of moderate risk. Third, our findings offer some insights into appropriate product development and promotion policies for various products. Our research indicates that companies with strong brands should highlight the importance of the purchase and bundle their products and services to create perceptions of complexity, intangibility, and ultimately, risk—which can only be addressed by focusing on intangible features and benefits (Mudambi, 2002). In high-risk situations, weaker brands should promote more tangible product elements. They can accomplish this objective by unbundling their product/service offerings to focus prospects on more tangible, functional criteria. Doing so could potentially sway a buying center's risk perceptions from high to moderate when operational merit appears to be more relevant than brand reputation. Finally, these findings suggest that the communication objectives of managers of strong brands should be the following: (1) to simplify the decision-making process by reinforcing brand awareness to ensure the inclusion of their brands in the consideration set of buyers in low-risk situations while also offering an unbundled, and therefore more tangible, product offering, and/or (2) to highlight the uncertainty and adverse consequences inherent to certain purchase situations while assuaging those same concerns with a customized, bundled solution, a long-term relationship, and secure brand reputations. Even managers of somewhat weak brands should build sufficient brand awareness to ensure that buying centers at least consider their products; these managers may subsequently attempt to influence perceptions of the purchase situation such that they move into the middle of the risk continuum. This research effort represents a step toward a better understanding of the role of brands in organizational buying contexts. The studies’ results suggest a complex relationship between purchase risk and brand sensitivity such that brand sensitivity is high when risk is very low or high. Generally speaking, our research bridges complementary perspectives regarding the relative influence of objective and subjective factors on organizational buying decisions by suggesting that both play roles in decision making, contingent on buyers’ information processing constraints and motivation to engage in diligent elaboration. By examining the role of brands in organizational buying contexts, this study also extends current perspectives on buying group dynamics and behavior.