When are brands or relationships more important in B2B? : A moderation analysis of a proposed model
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- Master of Science 
Although recent B2B marketing research suggest that branding and relationships are of importance to firm performance, no research examines how these constructs act in the same model. We try to merge these two streams of literature by 1) proposing a model wherein branding and relationships are included as independent variables predicting the dependent variable share of wallet (SOW), 2) testing whether these constructs substitute each other depending on the context of the transaction, and 3) testing the moderating effects of purchase characteristics, relationship characteristics, buyer characteristics, and market characteristics. Our email survey collects qualitative and quantitative data among 131 Norwegian firms’ purchasing managers across different industries. Given the relatively small data set of complete responses, we conduct a PLS-SEM analysis using the SmartPLS 3 (Ringle, Wende and Becker 2015) software. Our findings cannot substantially support that there exists a substitution effect between brand and relationships as we are unable to confirm the related hypotheses. Despite the lack of evidence regarding substitution, we do find significant main effects of brand knowledge and relationship quality on SOW. The most important contribution of this study is the five moderating effects. First, when customer-perceived value (CPV) is high, relationship quality has a larger effect on SOW. Second, when relationship specific investments (RSI) are high, relationship quality has a larger effect on SOW. Third, when buying center heterogeneity (BCH) is high, relationship quality has a larger effect on SOW. Fourth, when buying center time pressure (BCTP) is high, brand has a smaller effect on SOW. Finally, brand has a larger effect on SOW for services than for products. We argue that our study has important theoretical and managerial implications as we are among the first to align relationship marketing and brand management research in the B2B field. We also suggest several future research directions. Keywords: B2B marketing, brand awareness, brand image, brand knowledge, brand identification, partial least squares structural equation modeling (PLS-SEM), relationship commitment, relationship trust, relationship satisfaction, relationship quality, service quality, share of wallet (SOW).
Masteroppgave(MSc) in Master of Science in Business, Marketing - Handelshøyskolen BI, 2017