Purchasing higher-value, higher-price offerings in business markets
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Purpose: A conceptual framework is proposed and tested to better understand customers' purchase of higher-value, higher-price offerings in business markets. Ambiguity about superior value and consequences of obtaining superior value are the constructs in this framework. Ambiguity about superior value is meant to capture the concern and doubt that managers at customer firms have about whether their business will actually realize the cost savings or ability to earn incremental revenue and profits that suppliers claim for their offerings. Consequences of obtaining superior value refers to the outcomes that a customer manager anticipates or experiences in making a purchase decision for higher-value, higher-price offerings. Methodology: Two operationalizations of each construct are studied in a pair of experiments with purchasing managers and plant maintenance managers. Findings: Value evidence and incentive to change each receive significant support as mechanisms to reduce ambiguity about superior value. Notably, reference customers and pilot programs appear to be equally effective as value evidence in reducing ambiguity about superior value. In addition, the results provide strong empirical support that incentive to change operates as a threshold phenomenon, as predicted from social judgment theory. While no significant differences in purchase preferences are found for area of responsibility (purchasing versus plant maintenance managers), significant support is found for performance review and reward system as a manipulation of consequences of obtaining superior value. Contribution: The conceptual framework and empirical results significantly contribute to our understanding of how suppliers in business markets can use monetary as well as nonmonetary means to persuade customers to purchase higher-value, yet higherprice offerings.