Understanding the changing buying center is a challenge for both B2B marketers and scholars. Spekman and Thomas (2011) page 16, offer the example of disposable catheter marketing to wheelchair patients who might have a very large lifetime purchase amount and several thousand dollars worth buy every year. In the past,marketers defined doctors,nurses, the urology department, hospital administrators and the hospital supply/purchasing department as the members of the buying center.
Today there are potentially many more members of the buying center that influence the catheter brand choice and repeat buys. These include:
- Medical websites and discussion groups of patients
- Facebook groups of wheelchair patients
- Family and care givers who might have strong input
- Insurance reimbursements might weigh heavily on brand choice
- Web marketers of disposable catheters could influence the decision
In other words, the old mantra of the auto part replacement marketer trying to convince only the garage mechanic to recommend your replacement auto part, is no longer a sure-fire way of getting ahead in the auto replacement market. You need to consider virtual and social members of the buying center, who might influence not only the after market individual customer, but also B2B buy decisions at garage chains. For example, you will find a whole lot of discussion boards on every auto replacement part where your brand must truly appear to provide value and at least acceptable customer feedback. And all these virtual members of a buying center might be a mix of customers,users, competitors and rating agencies (think Yelp.com for restaurants). Never before have forces outside the B2B buyer and seller relationship become so dominant in business buy decisions. And this one more way that the Internet is changing business. Contact StratoServe.