Towards a market offer development theory : an holistic perspective on how to develop value in business-to-business relationships

University dissertation from Luleå : Luleå tekniska universitet

Abstract: How can companies specify and develop reliable market offers? How will it affect work processes and procedures? And what are the requirements on a company to implement a market offer perspective? In recent years, marketing researchers has promoted the concept of Relationship Marketing, implying companies to apply a holistic product perspective, or a market offer perspective. A market offer comprises everything that adds customer value, including actual physical products and services. It does not make the physical product less important, but it does put it in a wider perspective. The Relationship Marketing concept however, is not simply about adding "more things", it emphasises the importance of the customer relation as a facilitator to create value and hence something to actively develop and manage. In parallel, the "Nordic School" of Service Management has emerged as a holistic cross-disciplinary perspective on how to manage a service company. This perspective promotes a shift in focus from product based utility towards total utility and total quality while enduring customer relationships. Taken together, the Relationship Marketing and Service Management perspectives describes conceptually what a market offer is as well as provides a rationale for it, i.e. it provides a "what" and "why". Lacking in these perspectives is the "how". Research into product development is often more concerned with "how" in terms of both descriptive and prescriptive research into organisations, processes, methods and tools for product development. Product in this context however is normally the physical product, although recently services seem to have attracted attention. Between these areas above there is a gap, and this is where this work aim to contribute. This work aims to create a normative view of Service Management and Relationship Marketing by applying an Integrated Product Development perspective. To learn about the phenomenon of interest in an area lacking testable models, an inductive theory generating research approach is chosen. Surveys at a number of companies and participating research at one company are the sources of data. "Grounded" in these data new models has been built, trying to explain the phenomena and answer the questions at the top. Findings show that product driven strategies do not suffice. A market offer is not an object with clear boundaries and highly controllable characteristics. Developing it is a company wide effort affecting a number of company processes. However, a traditional production oriented company lack many of the skills needed to make the leap towards implementing a market offer framework. They have to adopt new and more market centric management strategies, starting to manage their customers, customer relations and human resources as core assets along side their product and product families

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