The present increasingly tough economic climate has uncovered the need to go beyond the prevailing seller‐oriented models and company practices in order to capture the factors that essentially drive buyer companies. What is needed is a genuinely customer‐side concept that corresponds to offering. The purpose of this study is to develop a new concept labeled “customer needing” which emerged from the material collected in an industrial service setting.
The paper reports a case study of a typical high‐technology industrial service with a strong outsourcing trend. The empirical data consist of interviews with eight representatives from the seller company and 16 interviews from different customer companies.
A needing is based on the customers' mental models of their business and business strategies that affect their priorities, decisions, and actions. It is itself a mental model of how the customer conceives the fulfillment of a specific task. In this paper the needing is operationalized as a profile of three dimensions containing six functions that represent desired value in use for the customer: the doing dimension comprises a relieving and an enabling function; the experiencing dimension has an energizing and a sheltering function; and the scheduling dimension contains a time‐framing and a timing function. Empirical data are presented to illustrate the new concept.
This is a case study but the ensuing concept provides a framework for further research on value in use and mental models in an industrial service setting. The studied offering was a complex business service representing an outsourced function and the buyers were functional experts and higher‐level executives, all of them experts in the service in question.
The concept of customer needing extends knowledge of value in use and consequently represents an important tool in developing successful seller offerings. The shift of focus from offering to needing can explain why some sales attempts fail and can thus reveal new business opportunities.
In addition to highlighting the mental models driving companies' priorities and behavior, the study offers insights into value in use in an industrial service setting. The concept customer needing helps to analyze and describe value in use and provides a new buyer‐side concept corresponding to the offering concept.
Strandvik, T., Holmlund, M. and Edvardsson, B. (2012), "Customer needing: a challenge for the seller offering", Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, Vol. 27 No. 2, pp. 132-141. https://doi.org/10.1108/08858621211196994Download as .RIS
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