Developing brand loyalty among SMEs: is communication the key?

Elmadag A. B., Peneklioğlu O.

SMALL ENTERPRISE RESEARCH, vol.25, no.3, pp.239-256, 2018 (ESCI) identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 25 Issue: 3
  • Publication Date: 2018
  • Doi Number: 10.1080/13215906.2018.1522271
  • Journal Indexes: Emerging Sources Citation Index (ESCI)
  • Page Numbers: pp.239-256
  • Istanbul Technical University Affiliated: Yes


Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) have long aspired to have customers with high levels of loyalty. Although many SMEs in Business-to-Business (B2B) contexts serve SMEs like themselves, little is known about how SMEs become loyal. This study examines how SME buyers operating in industrial markets develop loyalty. Using survey data from 110 SMEs, a model is tested that describes the mechanisms in play when buyers search for information and translate the knowledge they gain to brand value, brand image and, ultimately, loyalty. The results show that SME buyers' involvement in information search enhances brand image, and the variety of information sources used by the SME buyer increases brand value and brand image through perceived differentiation. Furthermore, when SME buyers perceive brands to be differentiated, their brand value perceptions increase, which in turn enhances brand image and SME brand loyalty. Recommendations for sales and marketing specialists to enhance brand loyalty for SMEs in B2B markets are also presented.