This paper explores the concept of value, the process of consumer value creation and the role of firms and consumers in the value creating process. These issues, central to marketing researchers as well as marketing practitioners, have been much debated, but little empirical research has been devoted to the area. We use the example of food consumption to analyze the mechanisms for consumer value creation. The case study we use consists of a large Swedish retail firm, a panel of 35 households who are its customers, and four of its main suppliers. A central finding from this case study is that consumer value - i.e. what consumers perceive as good or value-creating for themselves - is less about access to separate products and services that meet articulated wants and needs, and more about how consumers use available goods and other resources to create value in their complex everyday lives - in ways that fulfill their own goals, and make them feel good. Hence, often, the consumer’s biggest problem is how to integrate available resources and to make trade-offs between different value dimensions in a way that contributes to a good life. Firms can support these value creating activities by helping consumers use their available resources in an optimal way. These findings contribute to the development of consumer value theory. By offering an improved understanding of consumer value creation this paper helps marketing practitioners contribute more positively to the value creating process. In particular, we use our analysis to suggest five modifications to traditional approaches to marketing management.
Keywords: Consumer value creation; co-creation; co-operation; actor network; interaction