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Primary product network size on complementary product sales: Moderating effects of customer characteristics

Enping (Shirley) Mai (Department of Marketing and Supply Chain Management, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, USA)
Jun Yang (Department of Marketing, University of Houston – Victoria, Victoria, Texas, USA)
Haozhe Chen (Department of Marketing and Supply Chain Management, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, USA)

International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management

ISSN: 0959-0552

Article publication date: 11 October 2011

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine the relationship between primary product network size and the sales of complementary products, and to suggest customer characteristics moderating this relationship.

Design/methodology/approach

A panel dataset in the online video game industry was used to verify the proposed theoretical framework. Two‐level hierarchical linear modeling is used to test several hypotheses.

Findings

The authors' analysis results suggest there is a positive relationship between the primary product network size and the sales of complementary products. Also, two customer characteristics (previous transaction value and customer purchase frequency) were found to positively influence the complementary product sales. The primary product's network size has a stronger impact on complementary product sales for light buyers compared to heavy buyers.

Research limitations/implications

This study only focused on online video industry, and the price differentiation of the products might not be adequately significant. Other relevant factors (such as word‐of‐mouth (WOM)) or other customer characteristics could also be relevant to complementary product sales. Therefore, future research could use data triangulation to collect data in different contexts, through a longer period of time, to test and verify the proposed relationships.

Practical implications

Product managers need to better understand the relationship between the primary product network size and the complementary product sales. They should adjust the marketing strategies toward different customer purchase frequency segments correspondingly. For example, to benefit further from the primary product network size, complementary product retailers can create online forums for all primary product users to influence light complementary product buyers.

Originality/value

This research is one of the first empirical investigations of establishing the relationship between primary product network size and complementary product sales, with customer characteristics as moderators.

Keywords

Citation

Mai, E.(S)., Yang, J. and Chen, H. (2011), "Primary product network size on complementary product sales: Moderating effects of customer characteristics", International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management, Vol. 39 No. 11, pp. 851-866. https://doi.org/10.1108/09590551111177963

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited