This study investigates the necessity of customer segmentation in industrial buying regarding Digital, Social Media, and Mobile Marketing (DSMM) from the perspective of a German sensor supplier. First, we conduct a systematic literature review, extracting 37 articles in which our team of researchers jointly with a team of sales representatives of the supplier identify five changes in information behavior associated to customer segmentation: Increasing requirements for information, increasing number of sources, increasing information demands regarding data security and use of mobile devices as well as social media in industrial buying. Thereupon, we address the research question with an empirical study. Our sample includes 139 industrial enterprises from Poland and Germany, which purchase sensor technology from a common German supplier. We test the impact of the buying frequency, the function of the person buying, the industry sector and the country of origin on the perception of the five developments identified in our literature review related to DSMM. Based on these findings, we derive strategies for customer segmentation associated to DSMM in industrial buying.
Digital, Social Media, and Mobile Marketing (DSMM) describes an ongoing major transformation in marketing. It condenses several technological developments affecting marketing research and practice (Lamberton & Stephen, 2016). In B2B contexts, DSMM usage remains scarce, mainly aiming for aspects such as brand image rather than being implemented in industrial information search and purchasing, yet presenting considerable potentials (Järvinen, Tollinen, Karjaluoto, & Jayawardhena, 2012; Michaelidou, Siamagka, & Christodoulides, 2011; Strong & Bolat, 2016). Information search and purchasing, often summarized as buying behavior, are essential activities of industrial firms (Van Weele, 2004). In industrial buying, information search describes the action conducted by the buyer in order to obtain all relevant information sources for the buying decision, often involving the consideration of data from different origins (Bunn & Clopton, 1993). Industrial buying behavior is characterized as a complex process with multiple dimensions (Johnston & Lewin, 1996) and phases (Brossard, 1998). In B2B contexts, information search and purchasing normally are more formalized than in B2C contexts, for example resulting in buying centers with multiple buyers (Webster & Wind, 1972). In context of DSMM, distinct differences delineate B2B and B2C usage (Moore, Hopkins, & Raymond, 2013; Swani, Milne, Prown, Assaf, & Donthu, 2016; Swani, Prown, & Milne, 2014). The factors influencing industrial buying are evolving constantly, as reflected by emerging information technologies or cultural developments (Hertweck, Rakes, & Rees, 2009; Wiersema, 2013). Since such alterations are expected especially through DSMM (Lamberton & Stephen, 2016), the present paper addresses the following research questions.