Roles Within the Buying Center

Instructor: Beth Hendricks

Beth holds a master's degree in integrated marketing communications, and has worked in journalism and marketing throughout her career.

There are many functions inside of a business. One of those is the buying center and the varying roles inside of it. In this lesson, you'll learn about the different roles within the buying center.

What Is Your Role?

Think about the roles you play in your life. Maybe you're a mother, father, brother, sister. Perhaps you're an aunt, uncle, husband, or wife. You might be a boss, an employee, a friend, or a co-worker.

There are many roles within a buying center.
There are many roles within a buying center.

We all fill many roles in our day-to-day lives, both personally and professionally. Each role comes with certain expectations and responsibilities.

Another place we see different roles with varying tasks and duties is within the buying center of an organization. Let's learn more about what the buying center is, and what types of different roles we can see within it.

What is the Buying Center?

The concept of the buying center was first developed four decades ago by two professors writing in an American Marketing Association publication. The pair identified the buying center as a group of individuals in a given organization who are responsible for making purchasing decisions.

The professors went on to explain that organizational buying involves many people across different business departments, with both individual and overall business goals and objectives.

Simply put, imagine you're making a decision inside your own household about where to enjoy dinner out. One person might have the goal of eating pizza for dinner, while another might prefer hamburgers. A third person is concerned about choosing a restaurant close to home, while a fourth is most worried about choosing the best restaurant for the price. All four are working toward making a decision. Each has his or her own goals, but the overall goal is to enjoy dinner out at a restaurant.

Businesses and organizations are similar, but with different types of roles. Let's examine the roles within the buying center, or the group responsible for making buying decisions.

Roles Within the Buying Center


Typically, the initiator is someone who realizes there is a need or problem, and suggests purchasing a product or service that will fulfill the identified need or problem. For example, in a marketing situation, the initiator might be part of a research and development team tasked with finding products to fulfill consumers' identified needs or wants.


Influencers are identified as those members of the organization who try to use their opinion (or influence) to impact the buying decision. Influencers in marketing might include someone in accounting who can determine whether funds exist to create the new product or an engineer who analyzes designs and components for the proposed product.

Decision Makers

This is the person (or persons) who has the final say in purchasing decisions. The decision maker has the ultimate responsibility of deciding not only whether to buy, but also when, what, and from where to make the purchase. A decision maker in a marketing buying center might be the chief marketing officer or the chief executive officer, whoever is tasked with making the final decision.

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