The purpose of this study is to investigate the effects of human capital and relational trust on business-to-business (B2B) brand equity.
Data collection was conducted among the clients of one of the Big Four auditing firms in Sweden. Structural equation modeling was used to test the hypothesized effects.
The results demonstrate positive effects of human capital and relational trust on the core dimensions of brand equity. In the context of the professional services, human capital was found to have a stronger direct impact than relational trust on brand associations, perceived quality and brand loyalty.
The study provides practical recommendations for marketing managers on how to consider the nature of B2B brand equity and its determinants in developing successful branding strategies. The findings indicate that although relational trust has a positive impact on brand equity, it draws on the clients’ positive perceptions of the service providers’ human capital. Thus, investments that generate positive perceptions of a service provider’s human capital will strengthen its competitive position. Leading to the creation of relational trust and having a strong impact on the dimensions of brand equity, human capital is a strategic asset that needs careful management.
The study advances extant knowledge on B2B brand equity by examining contextual conditions and factors that are critical for building strong brands in industrial markets. The study demonstrates that clients’ perceptions about the knowledge, skills and abilities of service providers are more important than relational trust for enhancing B2B brand equity.
Biedenbach, G., Hultén, P. and Tarnovskaya, V. (2019), "B2B brand equity: investigating the effects of human capital and relational trust", Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, Vol. 34 No. 1, pp. 1-11. https://doi.org/10.1108/JBIM-01-2018-0003Download as .RIS
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