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The role of brand representatives in predicting trust in early buyer–supplier relationships

Zahra Seyedghorban (Department of Management and Marketing, Faculty of Business and Economics, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, VIC, Australia)
Dayna Simpson (Department of Management, Monash Business School, Monash University, Caulfield, Australia)
Margaret Jekanyika Matanda (Business School, The University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia)

Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing

ISSN: 0885-8624

Article publication date: 3 December 2020

Issue publication date: 27 July 2021




The purpose of this study is to explore the dynamics of trust creation in an early buyer–supplier relationship phase at the interpersonal level. The authors use a brand-based communication approach to investigate the trust–risk–commitment link.


Survey data from 204 senior managers in small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) in Australia were collected and analyzed.


Results indicate that ability, credibility, benevolence and persona of supplier brand representatives (SBRs) relate significantly to a buyers’ trust in SBR, leading to diminished perceived risk, and increased relationship commitment between the parties. These findings support the importance of using individual representatives who are able to broadcast their supplier’s brand values, and increase trust in exploratory buyer–supplier relationships.

Research limitations/implications

This research focused on SMEs in Australia, investigating exploratory phase of the interpersonal relationships. Future research can investigate large firms interacting in different relationship phases in the light of brand-based communication.

Practical implications

The study describes several strategies for both buying and supplying firms to use, to best use brand-based communication as a means to build trust in the early phases of buyer–supplier relationships.


Prior research has focused on interorganizational trust and established or mature buyer–supplier relationships. This study investigates the initial phase of buyer–supplier relationships, and at the interpersonal exchange level. It also incorporates a role for brand-based communication in the buyer–supplier relationship which has received limited attention in the literature.



Authors would like to thank Morgan Swink, Srinivas Talluri, Constantin Blome, Hari Bapuji, Gary Graham, Reza Zanjirani Farahani, Mehrdokht Pournader and Marianne Gloet for their helpful comments on the earlier draft on this manuscript.


Seyedghorban, Z., Simpson, D. and Matanda, M.J. (2021), "The role of brand representatives in predicting trust in early buyer–supplier relationships", Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, Vol. 36 No. 7, pp. 1130-1146.



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