A comprehensive guide to B2B branding research
Published on October 10, 2022 by Akanksha Singh
Business-to-business (B2B) branding research is the practice of exploring B2B buyers’ motivations, attitudes, and preferences. For years, the conventional inclination and investment of B2B brands have been towards sales rather than towards brand marketing, as the focus was more on building personal relationships with end users.
However, with the world becoming more and more digital, innovative and competitive, the overall consciousness of B2B buyers is also changing and, thus, strong branding is considered to be just as crucial as for business-to-consumer (B2C) brands, as it improves the effectiveness of demand generation while lowering the cost of sales.
Brand research benefits companies at all stages of the business lifecycle: when a business is starting up, the research could help determine the marketing mix and strategy, and at later stages, it could help with specific aspects of branding such as new market launches, product mix and advertising. B2B branding research is beneficial when examining brand progression, determining positioning and identifying corrective measures, if needed.
B2B branding research is typically conducted using quantitative and qualitative research. Quantitative research is highly structured, data-based and useful in understanding current trends and patterns in the marketplace, while qualitative research is useful for exploring the “why” of trends, as it provides richer information and insight on user behaviour, preference and buying cycle.
Businesses can choose the method best suited for their requirements. Some studies use both qualitative and quantitative research to draw a clearer and complete picture of the audience and market they are exploring.
Importance of B2B branding research:
Branding is essential for B2B businesses now more than ever and plays a crucial role beyond driving awareness. The following are some ways it benefits B2B organisations.
In a world full of marketing and promotional noise, it is very easy to forget a brand that does not stand out. To stand out, brands need to find their true calling by analysing their strength, what their target audience seeks and where their competition lacks. This would help the business frame the brand’s positioning and USP while gaining a competitive edge.
Branding research can give a business insight on what its target audience wants from the product and the factors that motivate them to purchase the product. This could help improve communication of the brand and ensure maximum impact.
In today’s digital age, with the number of social platforms increasing, B2B marketers strive to be present and use multiple touch points to reach out to prospective clients. This not only increases their efforts but may also increase the chance of cross-messaging. Branding research helps identify the best-suited channels and determine whether the messaging is uniform across channels.
Factors to consider before starting the research
Since the B2B audience is different from the B2C audience, there are critical factors to consider before starting B2B branding research.
B2B audiences are driven by logic
B2B audiences are driven more by logic than are B2C audiences. Thus, companies need to prove their expertise and experience before building an emotional connection with the buyer, which makes the decision-making process more complex. Therefore, while designing a survey to evaluate the purchase journey, researchers should pay heed to the process and factors that could influence it.
The decision process is slower
The B2B decision-making process often includes multiple stakeholders (influencers), a technical team, a finance team and a procurement team, for example, which makes the decision-making process slower than the B2C one. Thus, while questioning participants, researchers should ensure they are aware not only of all the key influencers involved, but also of their role and importance in the process.
The role of the sales team
Examining the role of the sales team is crucial while evaluating brand equity. The sales team connects personally with prospective clients and communicates the benefits of the company’s product/service; researchers should, therefore, evaluate the team’s strengths and weaknesses and impact on brand equity.
How to get started
B2B branding research could be conducted in-house or outsourced to a research partner.
If opting for in-house research, businesses should stick to a few important questions so as not to get overwhelmed by data. They should also try to select a broad sample of the audience, including those with both negative and positive experiences with the firm. However, in-house research has its limitations, such as the challenge of convincing participants that their data will be kept confidential, the chance of participants being biased and their lack of experience.
Outsourcing the research would, therefore, be a more viable option. When choosing a research partner, businesses should check whether the partner has experience in the sector and whether it could provide sector benchmarks to compare the results against.
How Acuity Knowledge Partners can help
We are an end-to-end market research consultancy with more than two decades of experience in helping businesses understand the market. We are sector-agnostic and can work across the value chain of a particular sector to deliver value and trustworthy data. Our research is anchored in data-driven insights for B2B studies that help brands make informed decisions.
We provide support on functions such as end-to-end project management, questionnaire analysis, comprehensive sample access, data collection and data processing.
About the Author
Akanksha Singh is a Delivery Lead within the Survey Programming and Data Processing line of business at Acuity Knowledge Partners (Acuity). She holds a PGDM in Marketing and Communication and has over 8 years of experience in business development and content marketing for various industries including IT and ITES, Finance Tech, Healthcare Tech, Environmental services and the Insight industry.