This section will provide the reader with an understanding for the course of action taken by the authors in order to achieve a result of relevance. First, different research methods will be presented followed by a theory and motivation of how methods were chosen. Secondly, the case study of the firm ROL AB will be ex-plained. Finally, the methods of how to collect and analyze the data will be discussed ending with discussing the validity and reliability of the results.
For the empirical findings a number of qualitative interviews will be conducted. The inter-views will be carried through with ROL AB and some of its existing customers as well as some of its potential customers. The interview will focus on how these customer’s supplier relationships are structured, how they perceive B2B markets, different marketing tools and how they prefer to be approached. Additionally, two B2B firms that today use B2C market-ing tools will be interviewed in order to understand why they have chosen to use these tools and what they gain from it.
Conditions for choosing method
The decision of what kind of method to use depends on several conditions, i.e. the course of action, the problem statement, the intention of the purpose (not discussed), prerequi-sites, and resources (Halvorsen, 1992).
The course of action
Inductive measurement is when the reality seems ambiguous. Reality is therefore met with-out any clear hypothesis, hardly without any conditions, and with a vague problem state-ment. The purpose is to not test the theories through hypothesis but to evolve an overall picture of the phenomena. The arrangement is flexible and the researcher does not in ad-vance get restricted to a specific method of data collection. The deductive course of action on the other hand has the purpose of assessing the trustworthiness in theories through the testing of hypothesis. This requires a precise problem statement and to know what is mean-ingful to investigate and collect information about. An inductive course of action is often associated with qualitative methods which for example concerns the participation of an ob-servation, whereas the deductive course of action are often associated with quantitative methods which for example concerns surveys. The course of action is dependent on whether to use inductive or deductive measurements. (Halvorsen, 1992) This thesis will have an inductive course of action and have the underlying principle to expound theories regarding the existing dichotomy between the two markets (B2B and B2C). Further the marketing tools attached to them will be discussed.
A researcher should not decide upon research methods until the problem statement is cre-ated, since as stated, the inductive course of action does not need a precise problem state-ment. Although this thesis will use the inductive course of action, a clear as possible prob-lem has been stated. This has been done in order to receive results that are relevant for the study. Halvorsen (1992) suggest that one should ask questions like; which methods will provide us with data that is of highest relevance for our problem statement? Often it is in favor to combine several methods of data collection, not least because most social phe-nomena both have quantitative and qualitative attributes.
Prerequisites and resources
The choice of research method cannot only be based on the course of action, the problem statement and the intention of the purpose. The most suitable methods are not always pos-sible because of restraints when it comes to knowledge, time and money; hence, a second best alternative might be adapted. (Halvorsen, 1992) This aspect is to be seen as highly relevant for this case study. Time is scarce and money is limited if even existing, therefore the thesis will be dependent on the authors’ knowledge and interpreting ability.
Quantitative vs. Qualitative
Research methods are tools to achieve the goals of the surveys for a specific research, i.e. a way to solve a problem and reach new knowledge (Tranoy, 1986). According to Riley, in Holme and Solvang (1996, p.13), the concept of method is specified as “Social scientific method concerns both the organizing and interpretation of information that enable us to gain better compre-hension about the society”. Halvorsen (1992) elaborates in the subject by adding that the method is more than just a research technique. He claims that it is the whole science of how you collect, organize, work, analyze, and interpret the social facts in such a systematic way that others can understand what is being put across.
Within the field of research methods two methodical ways of conducting a research are de-fined; qualitative and quantitative (Holme and Solvang, 1996). Qualitative methods are more fundamentally descriptive and focus on the processes and facts that will enable you to comprehend the meaning of what is going on (Denzin and Lincoln, 2000; Holme and Sol-vang, 1996; Gillham, 2001). The goal with a qualitative approach is to find unique and char-acteristic details about the subject that is analyzed and not trying to generalize as the goal is in a quantitative approach. It concerns the creation of examples and through them try to draw conclusions. A qualitative research can be conducted in several different ways. How-ever, it is commonly done through in-depth interviews and observations. (Svenning, 2003) The advantage with using a qualitative research method is that it provides the researcher with a complete picture and coherence of the field of interest. This approach creates a bet-ter view since the interviews provides in-depth information about the studied subjects. (Holme and Solvang (1996)
Quantitative methods are those which involve counting, measuring, and analysis of casual re-lationships between variables; trying to explain the phenomenon (Denzin and Lincoln, 2000; Holme and Solvang, 1996; Gillham, 2001). The researches own ideas about how to interpret the data and which variables to use will highly affect the analyzed phenomenon (Alvesson and Sköldberg, 1994). The Quantitative research is statistical and require inter-pretation in order to gain meaning, hence Gillhams (2001, p.10) statement “Facts do not speak for themselves –someone has to speak for them.”
As stated earlier, the choice of which method to use is dependent on the purpose of the thesis (Tranøy, 1986). The purpose of this thesis is to critically analyze the attitudes towards different B2B marketing tools and the possible appropriateness of using B2C marketing tools in a B2B market in order to achieve brand awareness. A qualitative method is therefore found to be more appropriate since it will create a better clarity of the somewhat ob-scure phenomena. The use of qualitative research will enhance the interpretation and the understanding of the topic. (Jacobsen, 2002) In order for us to be able to answer our pur-pose we need to go on a deeper level in the analysis of the firms and therefore we have chosen a qualitative approach.
Not to forget, there are also some disadvantages that one has to keep in mind when using a qualitative approach. The analysis of the gathered data will be biased by the writers own experience and knowledge (Holme and Solvang, 1996). There can also be an interpretation problem when dealing with interviews since words are more difficult to analyze than fig-ures. It can be hard to understand and grasp the exact meaning that the interviewed people want to communicate (Svenning, 2003).
A case study has been chosen for this thesis in order to obtain some of the empirical data. We have chosen to make a case study of the B2B firm ROL AB and its customers in order to analyze attitudes towards different B2B marketing tools and the possible appropriateness of using B2C marketing tools in a B2B market in order to achieve brand awareness.
This kind of method is a general strategy that has it attention on complex interactions of multiple data-collection methods. It examines a real-life event in its natural situation and the goal is to capture both a phenomenon and its context. Case studies have different goals in different situations, such as finding explanations, exploring a topic, or just describing what is going on. (David, 2006)
There are several reasons for choosing a case study approach. First of all, a case study is the study of a specific case and its complexity in order to understand its activities within important circumstances. It looks for details of the interaction with its context. The pur-pose of studying a case is to maximize the learning from it. One can choose to have one or several case studies. (Stake, 1995) However, due to limited time for writing this thesis and by a great opportunity to cooperate with a firm, ROL AB, our focus has been on solely one case study.
A case study suits well for our purpose since it is an in-depth study of a specific case in or-der to get a deeper understanding of the particular subject of the case. It can include obser-vations, field studies and interviews. (Hamel, Dufour and Fortin, 1993) This case study will be undertaken in order to answer our specific research questions. We seek different evi-dence for the case and we are trying to gain the best possible answer to the research ques-tions in regards to the purpose. The main objective is to create new knowledge through the evidence and the research materials which then have to be analyzed in order to make sense. (Gillham, 2001)
This thesis delimits its research to the store interior industry in Sweden. In regards to the case study of ROL AB, a supplier of store interior, existing and potential customers of the firm will be interviewed. The existing customers were contacted by us through ROL AB. Potential customers were suggestions from ROL AB but contacted straight by us without ROL AB’s involvement. The interviewed customers were chosen from the different areas in order to receive a spread of the different kind of businesses, e.g. convenience retail, health and beauty, retail stores. Two additionally firms was interviewed which successfully conduct B2C marketing in a B2B context. These will have the purpose to provide a profes-sional opinion in the matter of the thesis. All the contacted firms were interested and were content to participate. The limited time for the writing and the recurrence of answers are reasons why 15 firms were finally interviewed for the report.
Two types of data were collected for this thesis; primary and secondary data. The collection of primary data can be done in various ways such as questionnaires and surveys or as in this case, by interviews. The secondary data is already existing data that was gathered for other intentions than for this specific thesis. It is collected by numerous sources such as academic reports, books, statistics et cetera.
One part of the primary data was collected during three face-to-face interviews with Lars-Owe Kron at ROL AB. The purpose with these different interviews was, for the first one to do a preliminary study and to get to know the company. The second interview focused on ROL AB’s marketing strategies, and during the third interview the same questions that were used for the potential and existing customers were discussed. It was open interviews that took approximately two hours each. Furthermore individual open interviews was con-ducted with people in charge of purchasing decisions at some of the existing and potential customers of ROL AB. Additionally, interviews with two representatives of firms that have successfully exploited B2C marketing tools in a B2B market was conducted. The collection of data was in the form of words, sentences and stories told by that person. The interview could either have been conducted face-to-face or as in this case by telephone. The inter-views were recorded and thereafter printed and analyzed. Each interview took approxi-mately 20 minutes. The reason for choosing a telephone interview is to keep costs of travel down, but also access information quicker, thus more efficiency.
The interviews can be more or less open as shown in figure 3.1, this depending on the re-sult that wants to be achieved (Jacobsen, 2002). The rationale was to have the interview semi-structured with a guide presenting the theme and in what order. The answers were completely opened in order for the person interviewed to answer without any frame.
The secondary data is found mainly in the theoretical framework. This thesis has used aca-demic reports, books and Internet sources to find suitable information concerning theories and concepts presented. Search engines such as Google Scholar, E-journals, and databases such as DiVA have been used. Books and academic reports used are listed in the reference list and throughout the report.
In the analysis of the collected data the authors have compared the theories with the em-pirical findings. The research questions are structured as headings in the analysis which in turn is connected to the theoretical framework in order to facilitate for the reader to follow. Each section will cover and analyze the different research questions and the purpose of the thesis will pass through the analysis as a consistent structure. This information will then be compiled in the conclusion to give an overall view and result of the thesis.
Validity and reliability
When working with empirical data and in this case personal interviews, the validity and reli-ability of the research are important aspects to discuss. The problem with validity is the same whether one conduct a qualitative or a quantitative research. According to Svenning (2003) the problem with validity is smaller in qualitative research because that kind of re-search stays closer to the empirical world. Validity concerns the fact that the collected and measured data actually is the data that the researcher is expected to measure. It is also about the connection between the theories and the empirical findings, i.e. if the collected data are relevant for the study. The collected data has to be in accordance with the purpose of the study and the theories. It also has to match the reality so that the researcher is able to make the right interpretations of the data. (Svenning, 2003)
The reliability problem differs between the qualitative and the quantitative research ap-proach. Reliability of the research has to do with the trustworthiness and the interpreta-tions of the collected data. The result is reliable if a repeated research with the same methods and purpose would yield the same result again. (Patel and Tebelius, 1987) Reliability is more important when doing a quantitative analysis than a qualitative analysis. This is due to that quantitative analysis tries to generalize whereas qualitative provides examples. (Sven-ning, 2003)
There are many aspects that have to be considered when dealing with interviews and the researcher has to be aware of possible problems and how to reduce them. There are many factors that can affect the interview and have an impact on the reliability of the research, e.g. the respondent, the interviewer and other circumstances. It is also easy that misunder-standings will occur. (Svenning, 2003)
In order to try to minimize possible misunderstandings all the interviews have been re-corded in order to capture the complete conversation with all words, phrases and quotes. The interviews in the empirical findings sections have been written word by word in accor-dance with what the people have answered. They have not been summarized, construed or reinterpreted by the authors. Additionally, to minimize and avoid possible misunderstand-ings and misinterpretations in the empirical findings, a written form of the interviews has been sent back to the interviewees by e-mail for approval. These measurements have con-tributed to more validity and reliability to the thesis work.
This chapter presents the results from the empirical findings. It starts with a presentation of ROL AB, the firm that is used as a case study. It continues with interviews made with ROL AB’s potential and existing customers. It is done in order to investigate their thoughts regarding their supplier relationships, different marketing tools, and some personal opinions about B2B markets. The chapter ends with two interviews with firms that today use B2C marketing tools in B2B markets.
Case study- ROL AB
The following chapters are written in order to give the reader some facts about ROL AB, its customers and its products.
ROL was from the beginning an abbreviation for Robert Olle Larsson, a father-and-son owned firm. ROL AB has had a fast growing development. The firm started off by being a product supplier to the convenience store industry. But the time for internationalization was short; already in 1986 they won their first international turnkey supplier tender. As Kaj Hjelm acquired the firm it has developed into a supplier of complete and complex solu-tions to the retail industry – integrating design, manufacturing, sales, and installation func-tions to meet the global requirements of the largest retail customers in existence today. (ROL group, 2006c) In 1985 ROL AB was a small firm with an annual turnover of EUR 2 million and had only 11 employees. Today, ROL AB has an annual turnover of EUR 100 million and over 500 employees worldwide. (L-O Kron, personal communication, 2006-09 14)
ROL AB is a global manufacturing firm with headquarters and main production located in Jönköping. The firm designs, develops, produces, and delivers a great assortment of inno-vative retail solutions to leading retail stores across the world. ROL AB undertakes more than 5000 installations across all continents every year. The firm is one of the leading store fixture suppliers, providing store interior solutions in the world. It comprises of a number of solid operating companies, where each of these are established in its local market. (L-O Kron, personal communication, 2006-09-14)
The ROL group today is structured as follows:
8 manufacturing operations located in Europe, Asia, and South America.
13 sales operations in; Europe, North America, South America, Middle East, and Asia
22 service partners located in Europe, North America, South America, Middle East, Asia, and Australia. (ROL group, 2006a)
Its business concept is: ROL offers their partners access to concept and design skills, up to date produc-tions facilities and enlarged business relations through a close co-operation. (L-O Kron, personal com-munication, 2006-09-14)
ROL AB – Innovative Retail Solutions. Its brand communicates that its key strengths are that is takes total responsibility; a “one-stop-shop” for the retail industry. Further it is a turnkey supplier and it has everything under one roof. Thus, ROL AB can provide its customers with a quick response to any request and can always promise to deliver and install a com-plete and ready-to-use product. Lastly, ROL AB states another key strength is that it is a global supplier with local knowledge, and that it knows how to do businesses across board-ers. The combination of global expertise and local knowledge is a winning concept. (ROL group, 2006b)
Its vision is to be the most admired supplier of interior design solutions on the market and the absolute number one in Europe, with hope of a turnover of 2,5 billion SEK. This in order to be able to achieve greater production volumes, thus a lower marginal cost. (L-O Kron, personal communication, 2006-09-14)
ROL AB is a B2B firm working with customers who are in the B2C market. Its mission has always been to maximize its client’s retail performance. The firm believes that more than 60 percent of purchase decisions are made only a couple of meters from where a product is situated. ROL AB claims that well designed in-store equipment is vital for the successful sale of a product. This is an argument that ROL AB is using when trying to attract, and gain new customers. (L-O Kron, personal communication, 2006-09-14)
Table of Contents
1.2 Problem discussion
2 Theoretical Framework
2.1 Principal B2B market theory
2.3 Marketing communication
2.4 Research questions
3.1 Research methods
3.2 Case study
3.3 Interview selection
3.4 Data collection
3.5 Data Analyzing
4 Empirical Findings
4.1 Case study- ROL AB
4.2 Interview with existing customers
4.3 Interview with potential customers
4.4 Firms operating in a B2B market using B2C tools
5.1 Why is there a dichotomy between B2B and B2C markets?
5.2 How is brand awareness affecting B2B and B2C markets?
5.3 Which marketing tools are preferable in a B2B market?
6.1 Suggestions for ROL AB
7.2 Suggestions for further studies
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