Brand Relevance in Organizational Buying – Identifying the Influence of Risk Perception

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School of Business | Master's thesis
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Branding has been a popular topic in the marketing research for several decades. The value of branding from customer perspective has been recognized in B2C context, but due to the emotional associations it has been considered useless in rational B2B. Marketing literature has discovered that the value of B2B brand might not be in self-identification, but rather in risk reducing, easier differentiation and so on. Marketing managers still struggle to prove the importance of B2B branding, especially since results are not easy to quantify. This study researches what organizational buyers consider important when making decisions about organizational buying and how important brand is perceived. It focuses on buyers on individual level, identifying relationship between individuals’ perceived importance of B2B brand and risk perceptions (i.e. how high they perceive risk). The offers insight on organizational buyers’ perceptions when making decisions on behalf of their company and seeks to understand how buyers value different attributes of the business offering. The research also takes into account demographic information in order to see if differences in perceptions can be found based on gender, experience, age or education. The research was conducted through a survey targeting Finnish organizational buyers. Over 200 organizational buyers responded to the survey and results were then used to utilize regression analysis to understand the organizational buyers better. Results show that the more organizational buyer seeks to avoid risk with their behaviour in business setting, the more brand-sensitive they also tend to be, meaning that they lay higher emphasis on brand in their decision-making. Buyers who seek to diminish risk also lay higher emphasis on different dimensions of offering: salesperson, product and company as a whole. Especially salesperson’s role was considered being crucial, with most emphasis laid on their trustworthiness. This shows that person-to-person interaction still has place in B2B context, even though technology is replacing other areas of business. An interesting thing was to see that vast majority of organizational buyer consider B2B brand and reputational issues important. From theoretical perspective this study helps identifying the building blocks of B2B brand from customer perspective. It provides information about what buyers actually consider valuable when making decisions and helps understanding, what makes B2B brand meaningful and how brand equity can be built. Quantified results regarding the relationship between B2B brand and perceived risk indicate that buyers who perceive risk high, also appreciate B2B brands more. These findings offer more tangible results about the issue and can be useful especially in practical context. All in all this study sheds more light on the topic of B2B brand and offers basis for further research. Especially it would be useful to understand whether these perceptions significantly differ between products and services as well as gather more insight on the value of B2B brand from customer perspective. As this research focused more on customer acquisition, so brand’s role in customer retention would also be an interesting topic to explore.
Thesis advisor
Kajalo, Sami
Falk, Tomas
business to business, brand, organizational buying behaviour, risk propensity
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