Brand management in the energy sector: A means‐end approach to identify and build sources to brand equity in a B2B green energy context in Norway

Bjørnar Johansen

Student thesis: Master thesis

Abstract

In the recent decade, deregulations in energy markets across Europe has opened previously monopolistic environments and opened for free market competition. The Norwegian Government has initiated a restructure process to convert from oil, gas and electricity over to alternative energy sources. One of its targets is to increase bio‐energy production with 14 TWh within 2020. It has opened an attractive window of opportunity for private investors and biomass heating plant suppliers. An attractive biomass heating plant industry emerges within the water‐borne heat market in Norway. It seems reasonable to classify the emerging industry as a B2B context. Thus, branding principles adopted from B2B theories should apply well to the given industry. It offers an opportunity for suppliers of heating plants to escape from pure price competition. Consumers in the industry are affected by the perceived risk associated with biomass. They must accept higher risk compared with solutions that run with oil, gas or electricity. It could explain why common buying situations in the industry call for large and confusing buying centers where members are made up from various companies. Four roles often make all major decisions throughout the buying process; initiators, deciders, consultants and users. The means‐end theory is applied to the industry in order to identify sources to brand equity. By conducting research on respondents classified as decider or consultant, results indicate a range of implications for brand management. First, respondents appear to be influenced by more rational and more emotional factors. Second, results indicate deciders and consultants are influenced by different underlying needs, values or motivations according to their role. And last, while research identified expected sources to brand equity, it was not confirmed that green branding initiatives influence their crucial decisions. Data collected provide knowledge about the competitive frame of reference and positioning guidelines. An analytical framework is constructed in order to discuss proper points‐of‐parity and points‐of‐difference associations in the industry. Results indicate four relevant position considerations in the industry. Given the B2B context, additional implications are discussed by balancing top‐down and bottom‐up brand management activities.

EducationsMSc in Brand and Communications Management, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
LanguageEnglish
Publication date2009
Number of pages103