business-to-Business marketing environment and critically analyse them, with special reference the UK market in Europe
Identify the major trends in the business-to-business marketing environment and critically analyse them,
With special reference the UK market in Europe
Of the many trends in Business-to-Business (B2B) marketing, the most significant are social media, the continual growth of globalization, supply chains, outsourcing, green marketing and data driven marketing. Taken together these trends are completely redefining the platforms, programs and strategies of B2B marketers throughout the UK and Europe. The intent of this analysis is to provide insights into each of these trends and illustrate how B2B marketers can make the most of the opportunities they provide.
Social Media's Rapid Ascension and Its Impact on B2B Marketing
Social networks are redefining B2B marketing strategies faster than any other trend included in this analysis, as the collection of these applications are defining customer relationships. Instead of having to contend with time lags in getting feedback on products, testing new marketing, selling or service strategies, B2B marketers today use Facebook Fan pages, Twitter accounts, blogs, and video accounts on YouTube to promote products and get feedback. Social media makes it possible for marketers to engage in real-time conversations with customers, learn more about unmet needs through analysis of social networks and media, and get a real-time update on customer satisfaction as well
(Bernoff, Li, 2008). Social media is creating an exceptional high level of transparency in the B2B marketing p[practices throughout the UK and Europe especially, as these regions of the world are early adopters in the financial services, insurance, healthcare and professional services industries (Hennig-Thurau, Malthouse, Friege, Gensler, et.al., 2010). Social media has also created an entirely new lead generation, selling, and service channel for B2B marketers as well. As of January 26, 2011 there are
27.9M Facebook users in the UK, making it the third largest nation in the Facebook user base. Figure 1, Facebook Analysis of the UK, provides insights into these figures. This data is derived from http://www.checkfacebook.com/.
Figure 1: Facebook Analysis of the UK, January 2011
Facebook is just one aspect of the social media strategy that B2B marketers need to contend with however (Strand, 2011) . Equally important is the mix of social networks by nation, which varies across Europe. Edelman PR, a globally-based public relations and analysis firm who has clients throughout the UK, Europe and the U.S., has completed an extensive analysis of social media use by nation. This analysis is shown in Figure 2, Social Media Use by European Nation, 2010. As the map shows, there is significant variation in the mix of social networks across each nation and region of Europe. Also included in the analysis are statistics on social media use including the level of Internet adoption in a given market, the activities of reading and writing blogs, photo sharing and video watching online. For many B2B marketers, Figure 2 then becomes a roadmap of how to plan their social media strategies based on the specific goals they are attempting to achieve.
Figure 2: Social Media Use by European Nation, 2010
Social media as a channel for attracting, selling and serving clients will continue to accelerate through 2011 and for the long-term, as its design objectives are deliberately defined to allow for more interactive, real-time communications between companies and their customers (Bughin, Chui, Manyika, 2010). This aspect of social media has led industry analysts including Charlene Li to observe that the dynamics of these applications' use are creating a groundswell of consumer activism and participating in the brands they buy (Bernoff, Li, 2008). This is especially true for many of the B2B brands based in the UK and Europe, whose business models are highly reliant on knowledge transfer and operating across wide geographic regions. Social media is transforming B2B marketing, bringing marketers and customers into a more real-time conversation (Steinman, Hawkins, 2010). This trend will eventually redefine go-to-market strategies and how B2B marketers launch, sell and retire products and services with the UK and European companies leading this area with early adoption.
B2B marketers must also contend with the challenging dynamics of globalization, which is also forcing them to modify their approach to launching, selling and retiring products and services globally. Globalization is having the effect of changing the approach used for addressing the needs of smaller, more ethnically diverse audiences and segments. This trend is exemplified through many different models and approaches, with the most often quoted being the Hofstede Cultural Dimensions Model (Minkov, Hofstede, 2011). Using the online application on Dr. Hofstede's website, the cultures of the UK and India are compared and shown in Figure 3. The differences are most significant in Power Distance Index (PDI), need for Individuality (IDV), and Long-Term Orientation (LTO). Of these, the most potent from a marketing standpoint for B2B companies is long-term orientation (Hofstede, Minkov, 2010). For the B2B marketer, this is a challenge as the high need for IDV on the part of UK businesses and the short LTO (long-term orientation) are diametrically opposed to the values in the Indian culture. For UK-based B2B marketers to be effective in selling into India, these cultural variations would need to be taken into account in all aspects of the marketing campaign.
Figure 3: Comparing the Cultures of the UK and India using the Hofstede Cultural Dimensions Model
Globalization then forces the B2B marketer to be much more creative, focused on and sensitive to the names in given markets, and also more agile in marketing communications and planning (de Mooij, Hofstede, 2010). The overriding need for creating trust with cultures significantly different from the UK and Europe forces many B2B marketers to create alliances and partnerships with marketing services companies in the regions of the world where the differences in cultures are so acute (Hofstede, McCrae, 2004).
Supply Chain Management
The value chain of any business is made more efficient when the demand generation activities of marketing are tightly aligned with supply chain planning and management (Xia, 2011). This trend has implications of B2B marketers throughout the UK and Europe in that supply chain operations must be able to intermediate between available supply, demand being generated and the product strategies of the firms themselves. Coordinating these three strategic functions leads to trade-offs and translation of orders into fulfillment processes (Anbanandam, Banwet, Shankar, 2011). Figure 4: Synchronizing Supply Chains To Be Demand-Driven Is A Key Trend Impacting B2B Marketers, illustrates how this is achieved.
Figure 4: Synchronizing Supply Chains To Be Demand-Driven Is A Key Trend Impacting B2B Marketers
Figure 4 illustrates the tradeoffs that need to occur when coordinating the performance of an entire enterprise. The B2B marketer must be kept aware of these tradeoffs and define their product and unit forecasts accordingly (Sawik, 2011). The entire value chain and profitability of any enterprise, especially in B2B where purchasing cycles are long and complex, requires this level of integration. Another aspect of this trend in supply chain management becoming more critical to the role of the B2B marketer in the UK and Europe is recognition that technology in and of itself is not the panacea (Iyer, 2011). The trending of supply chain management (SCM) technologies has been mapped by research firm Gartner Group and is shown in Figure 5, The Supply Chain Management Hype Cycle. This graphic is widely used by Chief Information Officers (CIO) and supply chain planners who coordinate with B2B marketers to ensure forecasts of product sales can be achieved. The trend in the UK and Europe today is towards using more of these types of trending analyses to ensure marketing, sales, supply chain management professionals and senior management make informed decisions as to how they automate their supply chain management systems.
The use of outsourcing to drop costs and increase the speed at which companies compete has become pervasive across the UK and Europe. Typically, B2B-based companies are quick to outsource the most common IT tasks and programs, as they are relatively easily to transfer (Taddeo, 2010). How this impacts the B2B marketer however is first at the brand level, second at the product and third at the services and support experience customers have (Yu, Levy, 2010). The many complaints about service quality in call centers is cause for concern for the B2B marketers, as the experience their customers have is a direct reflection of the company's value of the relationship. Yet given the economic realities of many B2B-based enterprises, they have no choice but to outsource their IT functions (Ravishankar, Cohen, El-Sawad, 2010). This is leading to significant growth in the IT sector, as Figure 6 shows. It is expected to have a 31% growth rate through 2013 (Montresor, Marzetti, 2010).
Figure 6: UK Offshoring IT Market, 2010 -- 2013
Source: (Montresor, Marzetti, 2010)
Sustainability or green marketing is a trend that is so pervasive throughout the UK and EMEA markets…