The importance of brand in the industrial purchase decision: a case study of the UK tractor market

Article English OPEN
Walley, Keith ; Custance, Paul ; Taylor, Sam ; Lindgreen, Adam ; Hingley, Martin (2007)

Purpose – With brands being an important source of competitive advantage, knowledge of branding is needed to inform their management. After reviewing the literature, the article aims to report the findings of a case study that investigated the role of branding in the industrial purchase of agricultural tractors in the UK. The study's overall conclusion is that branding can play an important role in industrial purchase decisions.\ud \ud Design/methodology/approach – Various attributes, together with levels of these attributes, were identified from the literature and a series of semi-structured interviews with three farmers and farm contractors. Subsequently, conjoint analysis was employed to reveal how purchasers made their purchase decision. A total of 428 farmers and farm contractors (a 28.7 per cent response rate) ranked 25 cards that had been constructed to profile various hypothetical tractor designs.\ud \ud Findings – Five attributes appeared from the literature review and interviews – brand name, price, dealer proximity, quality of dealer's service, and buyer's experience of the dealer. The conjoint analysis revealed that brand accounts for 38.95 per cent of the purchase decision, ahead of price (25.98 per cent) and service (14.90 per cent). The importance of brand varies according to the tractor brand. Also, the overall utility varies, with John Deere and New Holland brand names appearing as marketing assets and Valtra, Massey Ferguson, and Case IH as marketing liabilities. Among the study's other findings are that UK tractor buyers are brand loyal.\ud \ud Research limitations/implications – The study focuses on tractors in the UK, so while it provides an insight into the role of branding in an industrial purchase situation, further research is required in other product categories before the findings can be generalised.\ud \ud Practical implications – 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 is suggested as an experiential marketing strategy. Special attention should be given to the location of dealers and the service they provide.\ud \ud Originality/value – Research concerning branding in an industrial purchase context is limited, dated, or contradictory. This article contributes with empirical findings on industrial brand management in an important and relevant context.
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