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Value co-creation between consumers and distributors: the moderating effect of relationship characteristics

Natalia Rubio (Finance and Marketing Research, Autónoma University of Madrid, Madrid, Spain)
Nieves Villaseñor (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Madrid, Spain)
Maria Jesús Yagüe (Financiación e Investigación Comercial, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Madrid, Spain)

International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management

ISSN: 0959-0552

Article publication date: 29 March 2021

Issue publication date: 8 July 2021




Although value co-creation has been widely analyzed in digital contexts and various types of services (tourism, healthcare, etc.), it has received less study in the area of retail distribution. This study proposes that trust in the retailer and perceived support can encourage co-creation behavior on various levels: a basic level related to communication of service errors and a moderate-high level related to participation in service innovation. This study also proposes modeling for two different segments according to the participation in a loyalty program and according to the relationship duration.


A survey (N = 644) was used to test the model in the context of the consumer goods retail industry. Confirmatory factor analysis and multigroup structural equation modeling techniques were used to assess the proposed model.


The results show differences in the formation of co-creation behaviors depending on the customers analyzed. To encourage communication of service errors, customers affiliated to the program and customers with the longest customer-firm relationships must trust the distributor. Perceived support is crucial in encouraging feedback on service errors among non-affiliated and new customers. For promoting service innovation, the most significant antecedent is perceived support, followed by trust, independently of whether or not the customer belongs to the loyalty program. Customers with the longest relationship participate in co-innovation motivated equally by trust and perceived support. Customers with shorter relationship duration only participate in co-innovation if they perceived support.


This study contributes to deepening knowledge of co-creation behavior in the field of retail distribution. To date, research in this context has not considered the existence of various levels of co-creation: the basic level related to feedback on service errors and the moderate/high level related to participation in service co-innovation. Nor have studies tested the influence of trust and perceived support on these co-creation behaviors. Further, this study is the first study to integrate two significant variables that moderate retailers' strategy in the same model: membership in a loyalty program and duration of customer-firm relationship.



Funding: This research benefited from the Professorship Excellence Program in accordance with the multi-year agreement signed by the Goverment of Madrid and the Autonomous University of Madrid (Line#3).


Rubio, N., Villaseñor, N. and Yagüe, M.J. (2021), "Value co-creation between consumers and distributors: the moderating effect of relationship characteristics", International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management, Vol. 49 No. 7, pp. 1067-1088.



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