Industrial marketing research (B2B) - Marketing Management

Marketing research is traditionally associated with consumer goods. However, industrial goods marketers face similar problems – assessing market size and share; identifying customer needs; ascertaining the most appropriate price structure and determining levels of competitive activity. the principal differences between consumer and organizational buyer behavior are motives for purchase and the context within which buying takes place. With this background in mind, it is useful to consider some differences in emphasis in relation to marketing problems:

  • marketing mix emphasis, where purchasers of consumer products are more affected by appearance, packaging and advertising and often buy on impulse. Industrial goods purchasers are more concerned with quality, performance, specifications, price and delivery;
  • different end uses of industrial products, which include finished articles like machine tools or fuel injection systems for cars, and components which need further work in order for them to fit into an end product (e.g. castings which will then require machining and polishing);
  • customer requirements which can vary according to how closely they specify e.g. some specify dimensions, materials and tolerances, whereas others may simply purchase standard parts of materials.

It follows that industrial marketing research is more concerned with researching individual buyers and more use is made of depth interviews. These are costly, as more skilled interviewers must be used and respondents tend to be more widely scattered. Such disadvantages are offset against ‘richer’ data that can be generated.

In industrial marketing research it is less possible to generalize, as too much depends on such factors as numbers of potential customers. For example, a total market may contain six large buyers who make 70 per cent of all purchases, and 50 small buyers who make the other 30 per cent. In such a situation it would be sensible to census survey the six large buyers and sample the 50 smaller buyers.

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