Industrial buyers' utilisation of customer references in the context of purchasing digital solutions

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Volume Title
School of Business | Master's thesis
Date
2015
Major/Subject
Markkinointi
Marketing
Mcode
Degree programme
Language
en
Pages
59
Series
Abstract
This thesis was written to expand customer reference literature by studying how organisational buyers utilise customer references and what kind of aspects affect the reference utilisation process. The objective was to fill the theoretical gap of researches about the utilisation of references from the buyers' side. Through an extensive literature review the relevant existing literature was found, combining the previous findings about the suppliers' reference utilisation and buyers information search practices. A theoretical framework was created from existing theories, which was then utilised during the empirical part. To achieve the objectives, a qualitative approach was chosen. The empiric research was made in the context of purchasing digital solutions. In-depth interviews were held for organisational buyers and analysis was done based on the transcribed interviews. Findings highlight the complex nature of the reference utilisation process, including different actors, affecting aspects, objectives and process phases. References are utilised to validate purchase decisions by building trust, decreasing risks, validating expertise, concretising offerings and increasing internal motivation. In the end, long-terms objectives for reference utilisation derive from organisational, strategic goals. The buyers utilise references not only during the purchase process, but also prior and post it. References are utilised as a source of inspiration, tool for sourcing suppliers, source of reliable information, tool for evaluating suppliers, and concretising offerings during the projects. This study contributes to customer reference theory by building a theoretical model for buyers' referece utilisation, including the objectives and process for reference utilisation plus the aspects affecting reference utilisation.
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Keywords
reference marketing, customer references, reference model, organisational buying
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