What are the factors that influence industrial buying behaviour?

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What are the factors that influence industrial buying behaviour?
Industrial buying can involve a number of different decision makers. (Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Industrial buyers purchase products and services for use in a business, rather than for personal use. A number of different people may be involved in an industrial buying decision, including purchasing managers, technical managers, finance directors and managing directors. It’s important for sales and marketing professionals to understand the factors that influence each of the decision makers so that they can fine tune marketing communications and sales pitches.

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While price is an important factor in any buying decision, it may not be the dominant factor. When buyers are making routine purchases of low-value commodity items, such as cleaning supplies or stationery, they may buy on price because there is little difference between competing products. However, when competing products offer different levels of performance or quality, price may be less important. The technical manager may insist on components that offer higher quality, so that the finished product offers reliable performance.

Total cost

Industrial buyers take the total cost of a product into consideration when they are comparing competitive offerings. A machine tool that has a lower price but requires more frequent maintenance than its competitors may cost more over a period of say five years when maintenance costs are added to the price. This is known as the total cost of ownership.

Added value

A product that adds value can prove attractive to industrial buyers. If a supplier offers technology that can help a company make its own products more competitive, that technology represents added value. Technical managers look for opportunities to reduce manufacturing or maintenance costs, increase performance or reliability, or differentiate their products when they evaluate suppliers’ offerings.


When companies select suppliers for strategic purchases, they assess the suppliers’ financial and management stability. If a company requires regular, reliable supplies of an essential component or material, for example, it must be confident that the supplier has the capability, the capacity and the stability to maintain supplies over the long term. The managing director and other senior executives are likely to be involved in the buying decision for this type of purchase.


Industrial buyers take account of suppliers’ reputations when they are evaluating competitive offerings. They review product comparison websites and reports by industry analysts on supplier performance. They may also respond to information in marketing communications, such as corporate advertisements, annual reports or case studies of a supplier’s high-profile customers.

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