Paper info: CUSTOMER REFERENCING: TESTING A CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK IN THE CONTEXT OF A CASE STUDY
CUSTOMER REFERENCING: TESTING A CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK IN THE CONTEXT OF A CASE STUDY
AESE Business School
Luis de Castro
Technical University of Lisbon
Place of Publication
The paper was published at the 31st IMP-conference in Kolding, Denmark in 2015.
In the process of marketing references, existing customers act as advocates for the firm. With their enthusiasm they provide testimonies, receive visits from potential customers, and yield information on the characteristics of the solutions adopted and their performance. This activity becomes highly valuable for firms as they are able to build strategic assets that allow profitable marketing action, either by increasing credibility and reputation, or by reducing the perceived risk derived from the purchasing of services or products from a particular supplier. In this work the authors suggest that organizational buying behaviour literature still lacks empirical work that may support a theory of customer referencing. In particular, they evince that the potential customer view is missing in the study of the customer reference practice. In fact, empirical research has favoured the supplier as its unit of analysis and has ignored the other two constituents of the reference triad: the reference customer and the potential customer. Therefore, empirical work featuring the potential customer as the unit of observation is an open research opportunity that will allow for a deeper understanding of customer reference relationships and their impact in the buying behaviour of industrial firms. The authors propose to fulfil this gap and to raise the following research question: “what role does customer reference marketing play on capital buying decisions?” The authors aim to respond to this question by developing a conceptual framework for analysis which is empirically tested in a single case study from a firm acting in the Portuguese energy industry. The case validates the adoption of the proposed framework for the study of customer referencing. This research work features a critical realism approach.