Impact of Component Supplier Branding on Profitability


International Journal of Research in Marketing

December 2014, vol. 31, n°4, pp.409-424

Departments: Marketing

Keywords: Business-to-business brands, Ingredient branding, Component supplier branding, Brand performance, Financial performance

In recent years, many business-to-business (B2B) component supplier (CS) firms have added branding to their marketing toolbox. By extending the logic of ingredient branding to B2B components, they aim to create “pull” from B2B end customers by building a strong CS brand image among their customers' customers. In contrast with the established “push” approach of building strong relationships with original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), it is unclear whether and under which conditions CS branding is a worthy strategy. On the one hand, anecdotal evidence suggests that suppliers can leverage strong CS brand image in negotiations with increasingly powerful OEMs to enhance their financial performance. On the other hand, many B2B managers believe that branding does not work in their industry context and erodes profitability. We build a data set consisting of survey measures and archival data across a broad set of industries. Our results indicate that the financial outcomes of CS branding largely depend on the characteristics of the CS and OEM industries. Unlike dyadic OEM–CS relationships, which enhance profitability invariably across industry contexts, CS branding is effective only in well-defined situations. CS branding initiatives can enhance return in CS industries with substantial levels of product differentiation and technology intensity. However, unfavorable results may arise in industry contexts in which OEM–end customer relationships or OEM brands are importantWe examine how B2B component supplier (CS) brands affect CS profitability.•Our study combines survey measures with archival, multi-industry data.•Financial outcomes of CS brands are contingent on industry characteristics.•Product differentiation and technology intensity in the CS industry enhance CS brand outcomes.•OEM brands and OEM–end customer relationships reduce positive CS brand impact