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Examining “peer‐to‐peer” (P2P) systems as consumer‐to‐consumer (C2C) exchange

Christopher R. Plouffe (Washington State University, College of Business, Vancouver, Washington, USA)

European Journal of Marketing

ISSN: 0309-0566

Article publication date: 14 November 2008




The exchange of goods between individual consumers being facilitated by the internet and “peer‐to‐peer” (P2P) systems is severely altering the business landscape. In broader terms, P2P exchanges are a form of what has occasionally been labeled “consumer‐to‐consumer” (C2C) exchange. What little work there is in business research which has examined both C2C and P2P exchange has to‐date been largely anecdotal or conceptual. This paper aims to address these shortcomings


A model of antecedents germane to the P2P phenomenon is formulated and empirically tested which includes the consumer's satisfaction with, extent of usage of, and future behavioral intentions toward P2P exchanges as the focal endogenous constructs of interest.


The model is tested with perceptual and archival data from a survey of consumers active in one prevalent form of P2P exchange (i.e. the “swapping” of pirated music). The model explains significant variance in all three focal endogenous constructs.

Research limitations/implications

The primary limitations include the study's exploratory nature and not being able to incorporate all potentially salient constructs and variables germane to the P2P phenomenon within the context of the study reported here. Additionally, and from a sampling perspective, a more heterogeneous sample may benefit future research.

Practical implications

The key insight emerging from the work is that the wide prevalence of P2P exchanges occurring globally between consumers has more to do with unexplored aspects of the phenomenon (such as its convenience; the “connectedness” it makes consumers feel to others) and seemingly much less to do with traditional marketing mix variables.


While much has been written in the practitioner ranks and popular press about the problem of P2P exchanges, this work represents one of the first empirical studies of the antecedent drivers of the phenomenon. As is articulated in the paper's concluding sections, from a more embracing frame of reference, P2P systems and “consumer‐to‐consumer” exchanges are not the dire threats many marketing managers believe them to be. Challenges remain, however, for marketers to determine how to best harness these powerful new systems.



Plouffe, C.R. (2008), "Examining “peer‐to‐peer” (P2P) systems as consumer‐to‐consumer (C2C) exchange", European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 42 No. 11/12, pp. 1179-1202.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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