Value-based differentiation in business relationships: Gaining and sustaining key supplier status

A. Eggert, W. ULAGA

Journal of Marketing

janvier 2006, vol. 70, n°1, pp.119-136

Départements : Marketing

Many business customers today consolidate their supply bases and implement preferred supplier programs. Consequently, vendors increasingly face the alternative of either gaining a key supplier status with their customers or being pushed into the role of a backup supplier. As product and price become less important differentiators, suppliers of routinely purchased products search for new ways to differentiate themselves in a buyer-seller relationship. This research investigates avenues for differentiation through value creation in business-to-business relationships. The results suggest that relationship benefits display a stronger potential for differentiation in key supplier relationships than cost considerations. The authors identify service support and personal interaction as core differentiators, followed by a supplier's know-how and its ability to improve a customer's time to market. Product quality and delivery performance, along with acquisition costs and operation costs, display a moderate potential to help a firm gain and maintain key supplier status. Finally, price shows the weakest potential for differentiation. KeyWords Plus: BUYER-SELLER RELATIONSHIPS; CUSTOMER VALUE; COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE; FIRM; PERFORMANCE; INDICATORS; DECISIONS; PARADIGM; QUALITY; MARKETS