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

How accessories add value to a platform: the role of innovativeness and nonalignability

Tripat Gill (Lazaridis School of Business and Economics, Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Canada)
Zhenfeng Ma (Jiangnan University, Wuxi, China)
Ping Zhao (Lazaridis School of Business and Economics, Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Canada)
Yongjian (Ken) Chen (Trent University, Oshawa, Canada)

European Journal of Marketing

ISSN: 0309-0566

Article publication date: 20 November 2020

Issue publication date: 7 April 2021




This study aims to distinguish between the indispensable (software) versus discretionary (accessories) complementary products to a platform. It investigates the impact of accessories on increasing the perceived value and sales of a base platform. In particular, the role of two distinct characteristics of accessories – innovativeness and structural nonalignability – in driving the sales of the base platform.


Combining sales data from the US video gaming industry with primary data on the above two aspects of accessories, this study quantifies the effect of accessories portfolio on the sales of three brands of video gaming platforms.


A distinct network externality arises from accessories for video gaming platforms, above and beyond the effects of game titles. Importantly, the average level of innovativeness and nonalignability of the accessories portfolio, as well as the frequency of introduction of highly innovative and/or nonalignable accessories positively impact the sales of the platform.

Research limitations/implications

This research seeks to address the gap in the innovation literature on the role of discretionary complementary products (i.e. accessories) on platform sales. Future research should examine this in other platform contexts as well.

Practical implications

Managers of platform-mediated products should give due consideration to accessories, as an important driver of the sales of the platforms. Product managers can leverage the advantage of innovative and nonalignable accessories to enhance consumer demand for the platform.


This study is the first to conceptualize and empirically verify the network externality arising from accessories, a heretofore much neglected component of platform-based markets.



All authors contributed equally to this research.

Research funding: The current research is supported by grants from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSRHC grant # 430–2011-0) and from the Marketing Science Institute, USA (MSI award #4–1685). The funding sources were not involved in the research process or in the preparation of the manuscript.


Gill, T., Ma, Z., Zhao, P. and Chen, Y.(K). (2021), "How accessories add value to a platform: the role of innovativeness and nonalignability", European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 55 No. 4, pp. 1103-1129.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited

Related articles