Businesses are the dominant 'buyers' oj business travel and luxury hotels but most promotions aim to at tract 'users'.

2. Iirfluencers. People who affect the buying decision. They often help define specifications arid also provide information for evaluating alternatives. Technical personnel are particularly Important influencers.

3. Buyers. People with formal authority to select the supplier and arrange terms of purchase. Buyers may help shape product specifications, but they play their most important role in selecting vendors and in negotiating. In more complex purchases, buyers might include high-level officers participating in the negotiations.

4. Deciders. People who have formal or informal power to select or approve the final suppliers. In routine buying, the buyers are often the deciders or at least the approvers.

5. Gatekeepers. People who control the flow of information to others. For example, purchasing agents often have authority to prevent salespersons from seeing users or deciders. Other gatekeepers include technical personnel and even personal secretaries.

The buying centre is not a fixed and formally identified unit within the buying organization. It is a set of buying roles assumed by different people for different purchases. Within the organization, the size and make-up of the buying centre will vary for different products and for different buying situations. For some routine purchases, one person - say, a purchasing agent - may assume all the buying centre roles and serve as the only person involved in the buying decision. For more complex purchases, the buying centre may include 20 or 30 people from different levels and departments in the organization. One study of business buying showed that the typical business equipment purchase involved seven people from three management levels representing four different departments.

influencers l-'eople in an organizations buying centre Wio affect the buying decision; they often help define specifications and also provide information for evaluating alternatives buyers

People in an organization's buying centre with formal authority to select the supplier and arrange terms of purchase.

deciders People in the organization's buying centre tcfeo have formal or informal powers to select or approve the final sHp gatekeepers People in the organization's buying centre wh(* control the flow of information to others.

Thc buying-centre concept presents a significant marketing challenge. The business marketer must learn who participates in the decision, each participant's relative influence and what evaluation criteria each decision participant uses. Consider the following example:

Baxter sells disposable surgical gowns to hospitals. It tries to identify die hospital personnel involved in this buying decision. They turn out to be the purchasing manager, the operating room administrator and thcs surgeons. Baeh participant plays a different role. The vice-president of purchasing analyzes whether the hospital should buy disposable gowns or reusable gowns. If analysis favours disposable gowns, then the operating room administrator compares competing products and prices and makes a choice. This administrator considers the gown's absorbency, antiseptic quality, design and cost, and normally buys the brand that meets requirements at the lowest cost. Finally, surgeons affect the decision later by reporting their satisfaction or dissatisfaction with the brand.

The buying centre usually includes some obvious participants svho are involved formally in the buying decision. For example, the decision to buy a corporate jet will probably involve the company's chief pilot, a purchasing agent, some legal staff, a member of top management and others formally charged with the buying decision. It may also involve less obvious, informal participants, some of whom may actually make or strongly affect the buying decision. Sometimes, even the people in the buying centre are not aware of all the buying participants. For example, the decision about which corporate jet to buy may actually be made by a corporate board member who has an interest in flying and knows a lot about aircraft. This board member may work behind the scenes to sway the decision. Many business buying decisions result from the complex interactions of ever-changing buying-ccntre participants.

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