اثرات زمینه ای در ارزیابی ائتلاف های با برند تجاری بنگاه به بنگاه
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی||تعداد کلمات|
|23904||2014||13 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید||محاسبه نشده|
Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Industrial Marketing Management, Volume 43, Issue 2, February 2014, Pages 322–334
Brand alliances in the business-to-business domain are becoming increasingly popular. This study investigates the impact of context-related effects on the formation of evaluation perceptions in B2B brand alliances. Assimilation and contrast effects represent the conceptual framework. Employing an experimental design we test the influence of two contextual factors on a range of product attributes: quality perceptions of the known brand ally (valence), and amount of information provided for the brand alliance. Using data collected from a cross section sample of large B2B UK companies we report assimilation effects across different product attributes of the alliance. Positive valence of the known brand ally results in higher evaluations of the brand alliance. In terms of provision of information, we find that, (a) unlike consumer markets, in the B2B domain higher evaluations are the result of detailed information, and (b) the impact of detailed information is significant only for tangible product attributes. Further, we find that valence of the known brand ally and amount of information provided are independent factors. The results add significantly to the knowledge on context effects in B2B brand alliances and lead to a number of managerial recommendations on partner selection and marketing communication of new brand alliances.
An increasing emphasis on branding activities is evident in B2B markets. Papers in the recent IMM special issue on branding (IMM, 2011) articulate the importance of branding in the B2B domain and provide commentaries on the benefits, implementation, and role of branding in B2B markets. The contributors to the IMM special issue concur in their assessment that, (a) much of the B2B literature is grounded on theories developed in B2C, (b) despite recently expanded academic interest, the field remains under-researched (especially compared to B2C branding), and (c) the related literature lacks systematic treatment, thus resulting in a fragmented body of knowledge. Despite evidence of its application in a wide range of commercial activities, an area of B2B branding that remains under-researched is brand alliances, also referred to as co-branding. Brand alliances range from initiatives that present several brands in a single advertisement (e.g., Sony Ericsson and Carphone Warehouse), to cause-related brand alliances (e.g., Royal Mail Group and the Barnardo's children's charity), and dual-branded products (e.g., Flash with Febreze). Brand alliances benefit the partners through reputation endorsement and access to resources and competencies, such as distribution and technology (Bengtsson and Servais, 2005, Cooke and Ryan, 2000 and Erevelles et al., 2008). An examination of the brand alliance literature identifies only eight studies located in the B2B domain, as briefly discussed below. Norris (1993) presents a case study of Intel, highlighting the benefits of its component branding strategy of Intel-inside. Bucklin and Sengupta (1993) show that successful brand alliances involve partners with relatively equal power and managerial resources, while Dahlstrom and Dato-on (2004) indicate that both asymmetry and complementarity of company assets are positive determinants of a firm's decision to co-brand. Evidence of asymmetric benefits to the parent brands is confirmed by Bengtsson and Servais (2005) and Kalafatis, Remizova, Riley, and Singh (2012) who report that customers predict greater benefits for the lesser known brand than its larger partner. An econometric model by Erevelles et al. (2008) reveals differential benefits to participants in vertical brand alliances, finding that upstream suppliers enjoy reduced competitive activity while downstream manufacturers are rewarded with a lower price. Ghosh and John (2009) use transaction cost economics to show that original equipment manufacturers are more likely to use branded components when the brand name of such components provides them with opportunities for significant market differentiation. Finally, Gammoh and Voss (2013) demonstrate that a company's propensity to engage in brand alliance activities is contingent on the extent and quality of related past experiences, managerial competence, and attitude toward brand alliance. With the exception of Bengtsson and Servais (2005), Kalafatis et al. (2012) and Gammoh and Voss (2013), the above studies are grounded in economic theory while the other studies adopt inter-firm rather than customer perspectives. None of these studies focus on the mechanisms of evaluation of B2B brand alliances. Furthermore, despite research consistently highlighting the importance of brand-related attributes and conditions under which evaluations take place, these considerations are not addressed by related research (see review article by Leek & Christodoulides, 2011). Our study addresses the above by focusing on customer evaluations of specific (product) attributes, and examining the impact of context effects (i.e., conditions) on evaluations of brand alliances in the B2B domain. According to Todorović (2010, p. 17), “Context effects are present when the perception of an object changes when its context changes, without any physical change in the object itself.” The evaluation of an object (e.g., brand, product) is determined not only by its innate or true qualities, but also by the contextual factors or stimuli which, although external to the object, are present during the evaluation process (Dhar et al., 2000, Herr, 1986, Huber et al., 1982 and Simonson and Tversky, 1992). The theoretical explanations of context effects are found in the accessibility and social judgement theories (e.g., Higgins, 1996 and Sherif and Hovland, 1961) which stipulate that evaluation, preference and decisions towards a focal object are influenced by or are functions of the contextual stimuli within which such activities take place (e.g., Bettman et al., 1998, Ha et al., 2009 and Simonson and Tversky, 1992). An illustration of context effects is provided by Norris and Colman (1996) who report that evaluations of the same advertisement (the object) differ depending on respondents' perceptions of involvement, entertainment and enjoyment related to the programme (the context) within which the advertisement is presented. Therefore context effects arise from the interplay between representations related to the object being evaluated and the accompanying contextual stimuli (Bless and Greifeneder, 2009 and Bless and Schwarz, 2010). Within the brand alliance literature the impact of context effects is discussed by Simonin and Ruth (1998, p. 32) who state that “judgments about the brand alliance are likely to be affected … by the context of the other brand. The brand alliance stimulus information, presented through advertising or by experiencing it directly, accesses related affect and beliefs about those brands and products that are stored in memory.” This perspective encompasses two elements, transfer of evaluation effects between brand allies, and contextual cues about the brand alliance. The above viewpoint is in line with Simonson and Tversky (1992) who consider that context includes not only characteristics of the choice set but also of the environment within which choices are made. In the B2C brand alliance studies, context effects are observed in the form of brand leveraging (Ghosh & John, 2009), resource allocation (Heide & John, 1990), feedback effect (Park, Jun, & Shocker, 1996), quality signals (Rao, Qu, & Ruekert, 1999), and are shown to affect preference for familiar stimuli (Cooke and Mellers, 1998 and Simonson and Tversky, 1992) and to help interpretation of unfamiliar stimuli (Sen, 1998 and Wright and Rip, 1980). However, despite advances in the consumer literature, research in the B2B domain is silent in terms of the role of context effects on evaluations of brand alliances. Our view that context effects represent an appropriate platform for the study of brand alliances within the B2B domain is also supported by evidence of a ‘halo’ effect in the form of evaluation transfers from one brand to another (Hutton, 1997). Grounding our study within the broad domain of context effects enables us, (a) to examine the manner in which perceptions related to the quality of a known parent brand (hereto referred as valence) act as a signalling mechanism for the quality of the (unknown) brand alliance, and (b) provides an interpretive frame for the examination of the impact that provision of information has on perceptions towards a brand alliance. Our study offers new insights on the processes involved in managerial evaluation of B2B brand alliances, and adds significantly to the related body of literature. The findings reported here can benefit managerial decision-making in selecting an alliance partner and for promoting the advantages of the alliance. We present the theoretical underpinnings within which we examine the impact of context effects in Section 2 and develop hypotheses and a research model in Section 3. Section 4 deals with the adopted research design and related methodological activities. The results of the analysis are presented in Section 5. Discussion of the findings and the contributions they make to knowledge, followed by managerial implications and avenues for further research complete this paper.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
Our study aims to advance understanding of the role that context effects have on evaluations of brand alliances within the B2B domain. Assimilation and contrast are the underpinning analytical mechanisms with feature overlap providing the study's theoretical lens. Using an experimental design we test for evidence of assimilation and contrast across product evaluation attributes and examine the main and interaction effects of positive and negative valence towards the known brand ally (the known brand partner) and information provided for the target brand (product or service as a result of a brand alliance) on evaluations of a brand alliance. Our results indicate that assimilation prevails in evaluations of B2B brand alliances across all attributes under examination. This finding is in line with predictions grounded in transfer effects. We observe transference of evaluations from the known brand ally to the unknown brand alliance, a phenomenon consistent with theories of signalling, information integration (Gammoh et al., 2006 and Rao and Ruekert, 1994) and brand equity (Keller and Aaker, 1992 and Washburn et al., 2004). Contextual cues, in the form of valence and provision of information, act as qualifiers to the above conclusions. Our analysis confirms the prediction that assimilation is more evident when the known brand ally has positive valence (H1). This outcome is consistent with results from the B2C domain reported by Martin et al. (1990) and Levin and Levin (2000). We find support for our expectation that assimilation is more evident when detailed (target well-specified) rather than ambiguous information about the brand alliance is presented (H2). Lack of contrast effects is of relevance to the subject matter, especially since Herr et al. (1983) and Levin and Levin (2000) report evidence of contrast when detailed information (i.e., target well-specified) about the target is provided. A possible explanation is contained in studies by Nam and Sternthal (2008), and Stewart and Malaga (2009) who report differential behaviour between experts and novices. Specifically, we posit that business managers possess greater knowledge and experience with the target product than the average consumer (i.e., they are experts). In judging the target brand, they access knowledge about the product category and use benefits inferred from the context to interpret the target and thus exhibit assimilation. Therefore, irrespective of the amount of target brand information provided, business managers use contextual information to complement their internal knowledge of the target category. No comparison (contrast) process between target and context is triggered by the availability of more target brand knowledge. This outcome is consistent with the two-process view that assimilation occurs during interpretation when accessible and applicable contextual information is used to interpret a target (Nam & Sternthal, 2008). Moreover, when the well-known brand ally has positive valence there is evidence of assimilation irrespective of information, while, when the valence is negative, assimilation is evident only when detailed information about the brand alliance is provided (implied interaction effects). These observations accord with Levin (2002), whose study emphasises the centrality of selecting a reputable partner before considering other aspects (e.g., promotion) of the brand alliance. The results indicate that contextual factors have a significant impact on evaluations of the brand alliance. However, we observe differential behaviour in terms of both the two contextual factors and the evaluation attributes. Guided by Levin and Levin (2000) and Stapel et al. (1998) we predict, and the findings confirm that, for all attributes, brand alliances which include a known brand ally with positive valence results in higher evaluations (H3). Considered in conjunction with earlier results these findings amplify the importance of partner selection. We offer partial support for H4, i.e. the main effects of information are significant for two of the five attributes (speed of printing and paper capacity) and in both cases the direction of evaluation is in line with expectations (i.e., detailed rather than ambiguous information results in higher evaluations). Limited evidence of interaction effects (H5) between valence and information indicates independence of these two contextual factors.