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Paper info: DIFFERENCES BETWEEN BRAND WORLDS IN B2C AND B2B

Title


DIFFERENCES BETWEEN BRAND WORLDS IN B2C AND B2B

Authors


Benjamin Österle, Marc M. Kuhn and Jorg Henseler

Place of Publication


The paper was published at the 34th IMP-conference in Marseille, France in 2018.

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Abstract


Brand worlds, permanent physical branded locations, are increasingly popular venues used by marketers on consumer markets to build relationships with their customers, based on the direct, personal interactions and the extraordinary experiences they provide. Such brand museums, showrooms, or flagship stores also exist in B2B marketing practice, but have only received limited academic attention. Differences between the context of B2C and B2B markets raise the question of how and whether B2B brand worlds differ from their B2C counterparts. We build on a sample of 37 expert interviews, comprising the perspectives of all relevant stakeholders: 18 interviews with 17 different operating companies, 14 interviews with business visitors from 13 companies, and five interviews with exhibition designers. Although similar and building on the same principles, we find that B2B brand worlds also differ substantially from their B2C equivalents in several dimensions. B2B companies focus more on providing live product experiences, in order to explain often complex products, and to create awareness for the whole breadth and depth of their product portfolio in their brand worlds. B2B visitors expect a visit to support them in their own business activities. Furthermore, the visits, experiences, and interactions in B2B brand worlds are more customized, based on a strong personal interaction with the respective contact persons, sales agents or guides. Our research highlights the differences between B2C and B2B brand worlds as three-dimensional ‘business cards’, where relationships are initiated and built.