Chapter 4 – Business Buying Behaviour

4.5 Networks and B2B Relationships


  • Understand networks within B2B relationships.
  • Explain the nature of key relationships constructs; Commitment and trust.

A newer perspective in B2B marketing looks at business marketing from a business relationship and network perspective. The complex nature of long term B2B relationships and the interactions within these network relationships make B2B marketing different when compared to B2C marketing. B2B marketing involves complex long-term relationships within a network of buyers and sellers. A number of important concepts are evolving in B2B Marketing. They include relationships, interaction and networks in business marketing. Let’s look at each of these areas in more detail.

Relationships in Business Marketing

When considering relationships in business marketing, there are two important concepts to delve into: relationship commitment and relationship trust.

Relationship commitment is defined as a belief that a relationship with a business partner is so important that it is worth maximum effort at maintaining it indefinitely. If one of the companies in a relationship perceives there to be a breakdown in commitment it often results in a reduction in the relationships.

Relationship trust occurs when one of the business partners has confidence in the other partners reliability and integrity.

Interactions in Business Marketing

Unlike consumer marketing and customer relationship within, which tend to be more transactional in nature, business marketing is more long term in nature. This is why business relationships are typically built through a series of interactions between the two business. This not only includes transactions between the parties, but also negotiations, discussions, and customizations which are not typically seen in consumer marketing.

The Industrial Marketing and Purchasing (IMP) Group is a leader in the development of the interaction approach. They define interaction as the focus on what is happening not within the company, but rather on what is actually happening between companies. They suggested that we cannot understand business marketing by looking at a set of disassembled transactions that occur. Instead, it is necessary to consider the complex relationships that exist between buyers and sellers, where exchange of value is created through the interactions between the parties.

Networks in Business Marketing

Unlike consumer marketing where there are individual relationships between the manufacturers or retailers and the consumers, business to business marketing is about a network of buyers and sellers. It looks at the factors and forces around and between the buyers and sellers. In the network approach, it is less about what one business can accomplish by itself, and more about how a business can achieve greater results by cooperating with the actors within the network.

‡ signifies new material that Ryerson University authors have added to this adaptation of Principles of Marketing published by University of Minnesota Library Publishing, licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.


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