Introduction to the special issue on branding in industrial markets

Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing

ISSN: 0885-8624

Article publication date: 28 August 2007


Beverland, M.B. (2007), "Introduction to the special issue on branding in industrial markets", Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, Vol. 22 No. 6.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2007, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Introduction to the special issue on branding in industrial markets

About the Guest EditorsMichael Beverland is a Senior Lecturer in Marketing at the University of Melbourne. He has published in several journals including Business Horizons, European Journal of Marketing, Industrial Marketing Management, Journal of Advertising, Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, Journal of Business Research, Journal of Management Studies, and the Journal of Product Innovation Management.Adam Lindgreen is a Professor of Strategic Marketing at Hull University of Technology. He has published in several journals, including Industrial Marketing Management, Journal of Business Ethics, Business Horizons, Journal of Marketing Management, and Psychology & Marketing, among others.Julie Napoli is a Senior Lecturer in Marketing at the University of Melbourne. She has published in several journals, including Business Horizons, International Journal of Advertising, Journal of Advertising Research, Journal of Business Research, and Journal of Small Business Management.

Introduction to the special issue on branding in industrial markets

Branding is gaining prominence among business-to-business marketers. However, extant research on branding in the context of business-to-business marketing remains scarce, with suggested conceptual frameworks lacking empirical support. Current research suggests that brands play some role in purchasing decisions in business markets, and that brands provide a source of competitive differentiation. Research also suggests that there are differences between consumer and industrial brand management. While much literature has been published on consumer brand management, we lack guidance on key industrial brand issues, however. Such issues include strategic brand management, brand architecture, brand building and maintenance, brand repositioning, and tactical branding issues.

This special issue of Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing addresses some of the research lacunae identified above.

Following our own Guest Editorial, the first paper, “Being known or being one of many: the need for brand management for business-to-business (B2B) companies” by Philip Kotler and Waldemar Pfoertsch, adds knowledge to the field of business-to-business brand research by examining the need of branding for business-to-business companies and analyzing the options for success by means of the stock performance. Long-term branding strategies, brand performance and firm’s business performance are found to be positively correlated with stock increase. Business performance can be improved using current brand focus and guiding principles. Also, the findings suggest that companies should not only focus on brand development, but rather adopt a long-term branding strategy.

The second paper, “Branding in B2B markets: insights from the service-dominant logic of marketing” by David Ballantyne and Robert Aitken, builds on insights from the service-dominant logic of marketing. The authors explore what reciprocal application of resources, knowledge, and competencies for the benefit of another party means for brands and branding in a business-to-business context. Also, several managerial implications are identified as follows. Value received comes from direct service interactions and serviceability of goods in use – and is a firm’s principal branding opportunity. Also, brand marks are transitional communicative devices, stimulating brand recognition and reputation. The paper suggests that firms develop or support brand communities (web-based), contribute to the service cycle episodes experienced by customers by developing a strategic branding approach, and co-create value by co-branding. Lastly, the paper argues that business-to-business marketing could be emotion-based and not merely logic- and rational-based.

The third paper, “Branding implications of partner firm-focal firm relationships in business-to-business service networks” by Felicia Morgan, Dawn Deeter-Schmelz, and Christopher R. Moberg, examines, through a conceptual model, how customers evaluate firms in a strategic, business-to-business service outsourcing network, and how their assessment of firms involved in co-producing after-sales service affects their evaluations of a focal selling firm. Key factors influencing this relationship include focal brand strength and the strength of the relationship between the partner firm and the focal selling firm. Among the study’s findings are that post-sale business services provided directly to the customer – irrespective of whether those services are provided by the firm or its partners – play an important role in building a firm’s brand image and equity. As such, this is one of few studies investigating the way customers evaluate service when it is performed by multiple partners, thereby providing guidance on ways of improving the service experience of network customers.

The fourth paper, “The importance of brand in the industrial purchase decision: a case study of the UK tractor market” by Keith Walley, Paul Custance, Sam Taylor, Adam Lindgreen and Martin Hingley, examines the role of branding in the industrial purchase of agricultural tractors in the UK. Following explorative interviews with farmers and farm contractors, the study identifies through conjoint analysis the importance of five different attributes in industrial purchasers’ decisions on tractor brand. Also, the importance of the attributes by tractor brand ownership is identified. Lastly, overall brand utility and brand utility by tractor brand ownership are identified. Among the study’s implications are that manufacturers and distributors need to maintain a strong image. Also, they may charge higher prices for tractors, using the extra revenue to reinforce their brand image. On-farm demonstration of new tractors could be an experiential marketing strategy. Special attention should be given to the location of dealers and the service they provide.

The fifth paper, “Branding the business marketing offer: exploring brand attributes in business markets”, by Michael Beverland, Julia Napoli and Raisa Yakimova, considers attributes for building strong brand identity:

  • product;

  • service;

  • logistics;

  • advice; and

  • adaptation.

Two types of brands benefit from product benefits: high performance brands and ingredient brands. When a product is conceptualized in terms of product innovation or leadership, brand identity is linked to a firm-level capability. Products may be augmented with services, suppliers may sell services rather than products, and sub-contractors may provide service capabilities to customers. Logistics, consisting of capabilities and involving standardized and customized components, are relevant for retailers seeking to outsource category management. Suppliers of complex services and product suppliers of heavy capital items may pursue adaptation. Lastly, advice is relevant for advertising agencies, market research agencies, business consulting, and product suppliers, among others.

The sixth paper, “Sources of brand benefits in manufacturer-reseller business-to-business relationships” by Mark S. Glynn, Judy Motion and Roderick J. Brodie, investigates, through a qualitative study of six grocery and liquor retailers, what the financial, customer, and managerial benefits of manufacturer brands are to resellers of packaged goods. In so doing, the paper is one of the first studies to examine the role of brands in channel relationships. The findings help manufacturers to understand and manage their brands’ benefits and, in turn, enhance the relationships outcomes with resellers. These outcomes are satisfaction with the brand, commitment to the brand, trust in the brand, dependence on the brand, and cooperation with the manufacturer. Among the study’s managerial implications are that minor brands are also important to resellers, for example in countering the strength of major brands in a product category.

The seventh paper, “Multiple roles of brands in business-to-business services” by Jane Roberts and Bill Merrilees, investigates, through a quantitative study of 201 retail tenants, the role of branding in the context of leasing mall space to retail tenants. A four-stage process, which leads to renewal of mall lease, was identified as fitting the data. Brand attitudes could be explained mainly by service quality. The study also identified that brand performance played two major roles. First, brand performed a traditional role as a contributor to the re-buy or repurchasing decision. Second, brand performed a role as a builder of relationship quality. As such, this paper is one of the first to examine the multiple roles that brands can play in business-to-business marketing. There are various practical implications of the study’s findings. For example, the study’s findings may be used by industrial firms to build stronger brands and, in turn, to use these brands to build better relationships with their business customers.

Finally, the eighth paper, “The role of corporate brand image in the selection of new subcontractors” by Anna Blombäck and Björn Axelsson, investigates why and how corporate brand image plays a role in the selection of new subcontractors. A qualitative study of three subcontractors and six of their customers allows for an examination of buyers’ and sellers’ considerations in sales and purchasing processes. Among the study’s findings is that the role of brands is to gain interest, as well as provide trust to customers. Explicit communications to build trust are identified relating to different phases of the selection process. These communications are discussed in terms of content and source and are translated – in terms of implications – to the subcontractors.

Specific issues not dealt with in this issue include: what are current brand development practices in business marketing? How is brand architecture managed in business markets (including corporate branding)? Also, what are brand-building and brand-repositioning capabilities in business markets (the capabilities behind brand building, maintenance, and growth)? What are brand extension and repositioning strategies? What is the role of integrated marketing communications in business-to-business branding? What are important similarities and differences between branding in business-to-business products and services? What are buyer receptions to business-to-business branding efforts such as the importance, or lack thereof, of brands in the purchase process? What is the role of salespeople in business branding? Are there different peculiarities of business-to-business brands in international markets (including global branding issues)? Lastly, how can business-to-business brands be valued?

We would like to take the opportunity of thanking all those who have contributed towards this special issue of Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing. First, we thank the reviewers who have taken time to provide timely feedback to the authors, thereby helping the authors to improve their manuscripts. The reviewing was a double-blind reviewing process. We thank the following reviewers:

  • Michael Antioco (Eindhoven University of Technology);

  • Liliana Bove (Melbourne);

  • Sonia Dickinson (Curtin University of Technology);

  • Andreas Eggert (Paderborn);

  • Mike Ewing, Francis Farrelly, Samir Gupta, and Raisa Yakimova (all at Monash);

  • Victoria Little (Auckland);

  • Roger Palmer (Cranfield);

  • Leyland Pitt (Simon Fraser);

  • Pascale Quester (Adelaide); and

  • Christine Vallaster (Innsbruck).

Second, we would like to extend special thanks to the editor Wesley Johnston (Georgia State University) for giving us the opportunity of guest editing a special issue of Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing.

Last, but not least, we warmly thank all of the authors who submitted their manuscripts (not previously published elsewhere) for consideration of inclusion in Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing. We appreciate and are grateful for the authors’ desire to share their knowledge and experience with the journal’s readers – and for having their views put forward for possible challenge by their peers. We are confident that the articles in this Special Issue contribute to our understanding of branding in business markets.

Michael B. Beverland, Adam Lindgreen and , Julie NapoliGuest Editors