To read this content please select one of the options below:

Internet channel and perceived cannibalization: Scale development and validation in a personal selling context

Dheeraj Sharma (Centre for Innovative Management, Athabasca University, St Albert, Canada)
Jule B. Gassenheimer (Crummer Graduate School of Business, Rollins College, Winter Park, Florida, USA)

European Journal of Marketing

ISSN: 0309-0566

Article publication date: 24 July 2009




The purpose of this paper is multifold. First, this study aims to proffer a psychometric scale to measure sales agent's perception of sales cannibalization due to the addition of an internet channel. Second, the study seeks to estimate the downstream impact of sales agents' perceived cannibalization (SPC) on two outcomes, namely, commitment and alienation from work. Third, it aims to examine the moderating role of environmental munificence in the relationship between SPC and the two outcomes.


The data for this study were collected from a contact pool of 2,108 insurance sales agents. A total of 511 valid responses were attained. Structural equation modeling was employed to examine the relationships posited in this study.


First, a multi‐item scale was conceptualized and developed for measuring SPC. Second, the properties of the scale were assessed following procedures recommended by Churchill, Anderson, Gerbing, Bagozzi, and Yi. The scale demonstrated satisfactory reliability and validity. Third, SPC was shown to be not universally damaging to commitment. Rather, only under a low munificent environment does perceived cannibalization significantly reduce salespersons' commitment. Additionally, the severity of the influence of SPC on alienation from work increases in low munificent environment.

Research limitations/implications

The data for this study were collected using a single survey of insurance agents. Future researchers should attempt to examine the relationships posited in this study using a sample from a different industry.

Practical implications

While recognizing that the internet is here to stay and that strategic channel decisions will unlikely be made based on the views or psychological reactions of sales agents alone, incorporating the sales agent perspective does allow organizations to take a holistic view of their distribution system. This may be particularly important in view of multi‐channel marketing, when a new marketing channel is employed to co‐exist with the traditional sales force.


Previous conceptualizations of inter‐channel cannibalization were all based on economic terms and, hence, were considered myopic by Porter. This study examines the psychological influence of the addition of an internet channel on sale agents' work related outcomes.



Sharma, D. and Gassenheimer, J.B. (2009), "Internet channel and perceived cannibalization: Scale development and validation in a personal selling context", European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 43 No. 7/8, pp. 1076-1091.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2009, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Related articles