Previous research has shown that business-to-business (B2B) brand image has positive effects on customer loyalty. However, the results have been inconsistent because they have highlighted that B2B brand image has either direct or mediated effects on loyalty. Drawing on the framework of service transition, this study aims to develop and test a model that reconciles previous findings. This model suggests that goods-related and service-related B2B brand images coexist in customers’ perceptions and impact customer loyalty in different ways.
A model was developed and estimated using covariance-based structural equation modeling. The data used in the analysis were collected through a survey in the Italian health-care industry, focusing on the relationship between hearing aid manufacturers and audiologists.
Both goods-related and service-related B2B brand images have positive effects on loyalty. However, while the effects of goods-related image on loyalty are fully mediated by satisfaction, service-related image has both direct and mediated effects on loyalty.
This study reconciles previous work arguing that B2B brand image has either direct or mediated effects on loyalty by focusing on the transition from a goods-oriented logic for branding to service branding. In particular, the analysis focuses on the role of the brand in the co-creation process, suggesting that a service-related brand image reflects the value unfolding over time through co-created experiences. However, additional research needs to be conducted in other industries before the results can be generalized.
The findings provide managers with insights for the co-creation of their B2B brand images. In particular, the results urge managers to integrate the traditional goods-oriented approach to branding with service branding, showing that enriching B2B brand image with service-related aspects will have a direct and positive effect on loyalty. However, brand image cannot be created or changed unilaterally by the firm as it is determined by the customer based on co-creation experiences.
This is the first study to explicitly and separately consider the effects of goods-related and service-related aspects of B2B brand image on loyalty. It also is one of the first studies to apply service logic to B2B branding issues.
Cassia, F., Cobelli, N. and Ugolini, M. (2017), "The effects of goods-related and service-related B2B brand images on customer loyalty", Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, Vol. 32 No. 5, pp. 722-732. https://doi.org/10.1108/JBIM-05-2016-0095
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