Knowing preferred buyer information sources is of utmost importance to any marketer for planning marketing communication to make buyer and seller meet on the information arena prior to supplier selection. This applies also to industrial capital goods marketers focusing both on established and emerging markets. Thus understanding buyer behavior in search of information in multiple buying centers is critical for success.
Studies concerning industrial buyer behavior in complex decision making are mainly from the time before the Internet, and studies on integrated marketing communication, IMC, have focused on a single market and mainly on consumer goods in Western countries. Also these have been studied separately. Integrating marketing communication and buyer behavior is important for the industrial capital goods seller in a global context.
This study explores first the buyer information sources used by multiple buying centers in different market areas prior to supplier selection, and then the influence of these on IMC processes for industrial capital goods. To identify how buyer information sources and marketing communication channels interact prior to supplier selection and how multiple simultaneous buying centers in different market areas influence IMC development of the capital goods seller, a single case study was applied. Multiple methods, based on action research were used for data collection.
The main finding of this research is that for an industrial capital goods seller there are multiple extended buying centers searching for information simultaneously, thus behavior of the members and the interactions within the members needs to be understood for developing integrated marketing communication. Another finding is that the selection of information sources used vary by numerous influences e.g. geography, information search target, market maturity, familiarity with solutions, product and supplier, culture, and issue in question. Three most preferred sources are the Internet in a broad context, word-of-mouth (WOM), and references, while advertising is almost neglected, and personal selling valued in established markets more than in emerging markets as an information source. Finally, findings of this research suggest that the buyer information sources equal marketing communication channels and thus the extended buying centers form the core for developing IMC for capital goods in a global context.
The academic contribution of this research can be divided into IMC, capital goods purchasing process, and action research in marketing. This research increases our knowledge on IMC definition for industrial marketing. For capital goods, IMC is a constant, circular process taking into account strategies and stakeholders, and IMC programs are governed by multiple influences differing from one buying center to another. Thus it can be said that the buyer insight leads implementation of IMC. Capital goods purchasing process definition takes one step forward in this research. The role of external members is crucial especially in emerging markets and the need leading to the purchase of capital goods may originate from beyond the customer’s customer. Also the taxonomy of buyer information sources, due to the Internet has changed.
For practitioners, this research gives guidelines on development and implementation of IMC in industrial capital goods industry, and in global context. And, as a consequence managers would be able to better justify and defend marketing communication activities and budget. Because references and WOM have been identified among the three most important information sources, managers also need to pay attention to brand building and relationship development. Finally, proper use of marketing communication channels support personal selling leading prospects into action. Socially, this research makes implications that political organizations and other decision makers should in order consider to generate more export for small and medium sized companies.
This research being a single case study would be taken as pre-study for future studies on capital goods marketing and marketing communication in general and in a broad perspective. Defining IMC for industrial marketing involving different kinds of capital goods and their markets should be taken further, through research both on academic and practical levels. Also it would be beneficial to know more about the influences affecting the active information search in all emerging markets, the BRICS countries, and in all stages of the purchasing process. And finally, a suggested avenue for further research would be to study the overall importance of the Internet as buyer information source for capital and other industrial goods.
|Translated title of the contribution||Integrated Marketing Communication in Connecting Buyer and Seller Prior to Selecting the Supplier of Industrial Capital Goods|
|Publisher||Tampere University of Technology|
|Number of pages||150|
|Publication status||Published - 26 Jun 2013|
|Publication type||G4 Doctoral dissertation (monograph)|
|Name||Tampere University of Technology. Publication|
|Publisher||Tampere University of Technology|