Purpose – In the current highly competitive marketing environment, there are few situations in which customers attempt to build and maintain relationships with marketers. In large‐format retail situations, customers maintain a non‐personal association with the store and personal relationships with salespersons. By contrast, many customers in developing countries such as India build and maintain long‐term relationships directly with the small‐scale retailers, who happen to be the owners as well as the salespersons of the store. The purpose of this paper is to focus on customer dependence on the retailer, a rare phenomenon which is evident in rural areas of India even today. Design/methodology/approach – The paper is based on an empirical study of a buyer‐seller relationship between a farmer and a chemical fertilizer retailer, which is a common interpersonal business constellation in India. Findings – The paper identifies the determinants of customer dependence as customer perceived market uncertainty, product importance and product familiarity. The paper also explains the positive effects of customer dependence on customer trust. Originality/value – Traditionally, customer dependence is viewed as a structural constraint in relationship outcomes. The effect of customer dependence on power, control and opportunistic behavior in the buyer‐seller relationship context is well researched. This paper applies an interpersonal trust‐development perspective and views customer dependence as a positive relationship construct and fills an apparent gap in research on customer dependence in the context of the interpersonal buyer‐seller relationship.
Asia Pacific Journal of Marketing and Logistics – Emerald Publishing
Published: Jan 6, 2012
Keywords: India; Rural areas; Buyer‐seller relationships; Customer dependence; Customer trust
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