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Customer branding

Julia R Pennington, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


The purpose of this dissertation is to define and provide insight into the process and implications of customer branding of commodity products. Customer branding is a process in which a customer or customers define, label, and seek to purchase an otherwise undifferentiated or unbranded product. The customer(s) can be anywhere along the value chain and may be intermediate, industrial or end-user customers. Customer branding may have been historically very common, but is probably less common in the modern era. However as will be shown, it still exists. While the marketing phenomenon of customer branding has occurred for hundreds of years, marketing theory has never incorporated it.^ By understanding the process of customer branding, we can better understand how markets for seemingly undifferentiated products work. Customer branding fills in an important gap that currently exists in the academic literature and in marketing theory. A second theoretical contribution occurs by modifying Alderson's transvection theory by considering branding and information flows through a transvection. I contend that customer branding exists and by understanding the phenomenon, channel participants can increase revenue and improve product movement and potentially profit.^ A multiple-case research method approach was used to study the phenomenon of customer branding. After thirty-three exploratory interviews, four commodity areas were discovered where customer branding was currently taking place. The cases were selected to be theoretically useful, extend external validity, and represent a range of potential customer branding phenomena. Quantitative and qualitative data were collected. The qualitative interviews were transcribed and analyzed for key emergent themes.^ The quantitative survey, in particular, tests the conditions that must be present for customer branding to take place and their interactions. The data was analyzed using ANOVA, specifically looking at the main effects and three-way interactions.^ Customer branding is taking place in the market place and there was a significant 3-way interaction among the hypothesized conditions of customer branding.^ Keywords. Customer branding, commodity, undifferentiated product, branding, transvection.^

Subject Area

Business Administration, Marketing

Recommended Citation

Pennington, Julia R, "Customer branding" (2009). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3341671.