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Branding and marketing of technological and industrial products
Article Type: Editorial From: European Journal of Marketing, Volume 44, Issue 5
Research in the area of branding has traditionally been in the domain of fast moving consumer goods and services. Researchers have examined the various facets of branding in these areas and published their findings in many refereed academic journals. However, branding and marketing research and publications dedicated to technological and industrial products are scant. Branding was once perceived as a relatively minor importance in technological or industrial products market. The dimensions and mechanisms of marketing and branding of technological or industrial products are quite different from consumer marketing. The construct of branding is multidimensional and not by simply putting the corporate name and creating a logo on a product and disseminating that brand name to its target markets. Yet, the marketing aspects of engineering, technological, manufacturing related intensive products are still under-researched.
The trend of companies developing new products through OEM has seen branding becoming a valuable tool to add value to the products. Branding plays a broader role in technological and industrial products than services or fast moving consumer goods. High technology and industrial marketers largely differentiate their products through branding to avoid their products essentially being viewed as commodities. This Special Issue brings together researchers from around the world that fulfil the current dearth of literature and research in this area.
The first paper by Baker, Sciglimpaglia and Saghafi extends the brand equity theory into the mobile communication industry. By using a field experimental design approach the authors found that branded ancillary products and services not only command a price premium but also create a more stable demand that is less sensitive to upward price adjustments. They emphasise that managers can assess the economic value of licensing a branded ancillary product and/or service, compared to a generic alternative.
Using a total sample of 647 respondents, Roper and Davies examine the affective components of brand associations among two key stakeholder groups of business-to-business (B2B) construction firms. They found that industrial brands are capable of offering softer, more psychological values that have long been the preserve of the consumer brand. They added that different stakeholders will seek different benefits from a corporate brand. Managers need to provide better training in order to achieve a positive brand association and satisfaction within the B2B firms.
Spotts and Weinberger present two studies, investigating how companies with low brand opinions or brand values differ with respect to marketing communications activities from firms with high brand opinions or brand values. They used five unique industry datasets. The findings show that volume effects are universal for publicity and advertising spending, which is consistent with the social cognition research that volume effects are dominant and derived from greater familiarity, repetition and availability. They suggest that future research needs to utilise the dataset of a larger sample of MNCs over an extended period of time.
The paper by Petruzzellis addresses the issue of hedonic and utilitarian benefits in the context of a technology consumption model within the Italian market. Using 403 respondents he found that the two genders are becoming more accustomed to the use of mobile phones, thus lowering the technology barriers especially for females. Moreover, product quality is no longer the only and exclusive buying motivation. His results suggested that since the mobile phone industry is a hypercompetitive scenario, it is worthwhile to offer new services to a loyal and consolidated customer base rather than acquire more subscribers.
Buchanan-Oliver, Cruz and Schroeder present a conceptual review and an interdisciplinary analysis as to how the body communicates about technology and technological products. They deployed several metaphorical statements. They posited that it is possible to consider visual rhetoric of the body and technology in marketing communications in relation to the notion of post-humanism and post-human consumer culture. Managers need to have a deep understanding of the socio-cultural meanings attached to this relationship and the related interpretations.
Baumgarth presents an empirical study examining the internal aspects of branding in the B2B sector. He used a sample size of 261 managers to ascertain the relationship between the internal anchorage of the brand and a company’s market performance. The author found that within the German B2B sector there is a positive influence of brand orientation on company performance. He also found that SMEs are at a competitive disadvantage, on account of a weaker brand orientation than in larger companies. Baumgarth suggests that future research should analyse the correlation between internal brand orientation and external brand equity.
The last paper written by Yan presents a mathematical game theory focusing on the value of brand differentiation between online and traditional retail channels of a multi-channel retailer. The findings appear to show that profits of both the online and traditional channels always increase with product brand differentiation. In addition, the author emphasises the importance of synchronising brand differentiation across the two channels. Future research should investigate the effects of brand differentiation on profits in multi-period situations.
We have put together a fairly diverse set of papers addressing the issue of branding and marketing of technological and industrial products. The authors have addressed the salient issues impinging on the contemporary environments that we live in. The various papers use methods which exemplify the current trends that are prevalent in the way marketing academics design their research studies. This diversity shows the eclectic nature of marketing and branding research.
We hope you find this special issue interesting to read and that it provides ideas for expanding the boundary of knowledge in this field of research.
T.C. Melewar, Lynn Lim