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Paper info: 'Same Place Next Year' - An in-depth analysis of Ongoing Search among Industrial Buyers


'Same Place Next Year' - An in-depth analysis of Ongoing Search among Industrial Buyers


Diego Rinallo, Francesca Golfetto and Stefania Borghini

Place of Publication

The paper was published at the 21st IMP-conference in Rotterdam, Netherlands in 2005.



A thorough understanding of the information sources used by industrial buyers is highly significant formanagerial practice. As companies communicate their offerings using a mix of tools, they need to knowthe relative importance their customers assign to different promotional instruments, in order to allocatethe usually limited resources available for promotional activities in the best way. Despite the richnessand variety on contributions on this topic, literature on organizational buying behaviour has paid limitedattention to the so-called “ongoing search”, i.e. search activities that are independent of specificpurchase needs and decisions (Bloch et al. 1986).The main purpose of this paper is to contribute to the literature on the buyer search process byinvestigating in detail the behaviour of industrial buyers as they search relevant information in thecontext of “live communication” events like trade fairs and individual marketing events. From amethodological point of view, our research differs from conventional approaches in the study of tradeshows and, more in general, the buyer search process since it relies on the ethnographic methods thatare increasingly common in consumer behaviour and “mainstream” marketing (Cova and Salle 2003),where they have contributed to bridge the gap between the “ideal”, utility-maximizing individualsassumed by most studies and the much more complex reality of real consumers. Because of theinterplay between theory and methods, we argue, the use of ethnographic methods paves the path tointeresting discoveries also in the case of industrial buyer behaviour.