A Reconceptualization of Manufacturers' Service Strategies

  • Raddats C
  • Kowalkowski C
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Abstract

Purpose: As part of service infusion, manufacturers use services to differentiate their products and provide growth. Although several attempts have been made to classify manufacturers' service strategies and offerings, most have been based on small purposive samples. The purpose of this article is to create a generic typology of manufacturers' service strategies. Methodology/approach: The unit of analysis was the manufacturer or strategic business unit. The data collection was based on a survey of 145 B2B manufacturers in the United Kingdom. Findings: Three categories of service offerings were identified: product-attached services, operations services on own products, and vendor independent operations services. These categories are used to specify three generic service strategies: Services Doubters, for whom services are not a strong differentiator with no focus on any category of service offerings; Services Pragmatists, for whom product-attached services are a key differentiator; Services Enthusiasts, for whom services are both a product differentiator and an enabler of growth, with all three categories of service offerings important. Research implications: Whereas prior studies tend to use the concepts of service strategies and categories of service offerings interchangeably, we find empirical support for the importance of making a clear distinction between the two concepts. Practical implications: Manufacturers can be classified according to their services strategies. For Services Doubters service infusion is unlikely to be an appropriate approach to creating differentiation. For Services Pragmatists services play a crucial role in creating product differentiation. Services Enthusiasts use services to both differentiate their own products and also develop services-led growth. Originality/value/contribution: The paper exposes an ambiguity in the extant literature, with a manufacturer's categories of service offerings used as proxies for service strategies. A new typology of service strategies is presented based on categories of service offerings, which provides insight into how manufacturers infuse services. © 2014 Copyright Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.

Author-supplied keywords

  • B2B
  • business marketing
  • industrial marketing
  • manufacturer
  • service infusion
  • service offerings
  • servitization
  • strategy

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