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Industrial buyers' use of references, word-of-mouth and reputation in complex buying situation

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)344-352
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Business and Industrial Marketing
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


Purpose: The aim of this paper is to provide understanding on how the buyer can mobilize experience-based information scattered around the business network, by means of customer references, word-of-mouth and reputation, and how this facilitates the buying process. Design/methodology/approach: The qualitative study scrutinizes eight cases comprising buyers of knowledge intensive services and technology innovations. The paper draws on the literature on buying and purchasing, customer references, word-of-mouth and reputational information. Findings: The findings identify the different roles of references, word-of-mouth, collegial advice networks, and reputation, and suggest that experience-based information provides information on offerings, suppliers and the problem solving situation in complex buying per se. Research limitations/implications: The article's contribution is to provide a framework depicting the employment of experience-based information in complex buying, which ensues through focal and continuous buying processes. Insights from this research are broadly applicable to the contexts of knowledge intensive, innovation and solutions business. Further qualitative research should aim to form constructs and define their interrelations to be tested in subsequent quantitative research. Originality/value: This study generates new understanding on how buyers gather and use experience-based information to solve complex problems in buying. It contributes by merging references, word-of-mouth, collegial social networks, and reputation as sources of experience-based information, identifying information embedded in those means, and exploring how the information and means are used throughout the complex buying situation.


  • Business-to-business marketing, Buying behaviour, Case studies