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A mixed method analysis of the Better Business Bureau’s third-party seal and the extent to which it inculcates trust among consumers

John Lee West (Department of Education, University of Colorado Colorado Springs, Colorado Springs, Colorado, United States.)

Journal of Research in Interactive Marketing

ISSN: 2040-7122

Article publication date: 10 August 2015




The paper aims to answer the central question: to what extent does the Better Business Bureau (BBB)’s policy of providing a third-party seal inculcate consumer trust from consumers to BBB-accredited business members?


For this mixed-methods study, the qualitative section used a phenomenological approach with three focus groups of consumers and business owners. The quantitative section utilized binary logistic regression from consumer survey data conducted in Colorado. Additionally, document analysis was conducted to understand BBB history and policy details.


Consumers who notice the BBB logo are 4.7 times more likely to trust a real estate sales business than if they do not notice the BBB logo. Furthermore, consumers who notice the BBB logo are 17 times more likely to trust an auto and boat sales business when they notice the BBB logo.

Research limitations/implications

A main limitation of the study was the inconclusive data that appeared between the qualitative and quantitative data regarding the impact of the BBB seal and trusting home service industries. Researchers are encouraged to further explore how the BBB logo affects trust with home service businesses.

Practical implications

The BBB logo retains potency as a proof source of trust in the marketplace. However, the BBB is less relevant to the millennial generation. The BBB should explore ways to incorporate technology through social media and Internet applications.


This work has value as the only mixed-method study on this topic, and these findings add to the body of marketing literature by Kimery and McCord, Cook and Luo and Garrett.



The author wishes to extend sincere gratitude to the following people and institutions for their contribution to this research paper: Dr Sylvia Martinez, the author’s advisor at UCCS, for her calm guidance and expert navigation during this study. Dr Al Ramirez, the author’s UCCS instructor, for showing how empirical research should influence policy. Peggy McNulty, PhD program classmate, for her idea and introduction to the BBB and marketing insights. Jeremy Mares, the author’s colleague and friend, for his outstanding help with SPSS and statistical intuitions. Matt Barrett at the Southern Colorado Better Business Bureau, for his unswerving partnership to complete this research. Dr Christopher Nelson, for his illuminating statistical coaching and steady encouragement. Dr Miriam Blum, for her positive perspective and powerful proofreading of the paper. Donah Grassman, for her comprehensive and invaluable editing assistance. Renee Smith, for her cheerful inspiration and consistent support throughout this project.


West, J.L. (2015), "A mixed method analysis of the Better Business Bureau’s third-party seal and the extent to which it inculcates trust among consumers", Journal of Research in Interactive Marketing, Vol. 9 No. 3, pp. 214-238.



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