Highlights from customer value literature

Two main literature streams and their substreams. Adjusted from Gummerus (2013).
  1. Benefits vs. sacrifices. Traditional approach to determine gained value is to count the difference in input and output. According to Gummerus (2013) this originated from Zeithaml (1988) article and was related to SERVQUAL measurement development.
  2. Means–ends. People have goals and they are using products and services as means to achieve them. Customer value is defined as the consequences that help a customer to achieve their goals (Woodruff & Gardial, 1996).
  3. Experience outcomes. Humans are “emotional sensation-seekers” in addition to “logical decision makers” and the holistic experience is used to determine value. There are different types of value. Holbrook (1994, p. 27) defines customer value as “interactive, relativistic preference experience”.
  4. Phenomenological. Compared to the previous one, the definition of experience is larger. Here all is based on experiental phenomenon (individual’s “feeling, thinking, wanting, sensing, imagining, and acting”). Value is in the experiences. Gummerus (2013) accredits Service-Dominant logic initiated by Vargo & Lusch (2004) for this.
A value hierarchy (Woodruff & Gardial 1996, p. 65)
A typology of value in consumption experience (Holbrook 1994, p. 45)
  • Shah et al. (2006) lay out a general path to customer centricity for an organization. What need to be taken care of are organizational culture, structure, processes, and financial metrics.
  • Floh et al. (2014) have made an interesting step trying to form universal customer segments based on customer value–loyalty link. They introduce three segments (rationalists, value maximizers and functionalists) that each have different weights on different value types (functional, economical, emotional, social). I would wait longitudinal causal replications before I adapt this segmentation.
  • Woodall (2003), Gallarza et al. (2017) and Gummerus (2011, pp. 40–41) all have a big lists of different types of customer value. If you like lists go for them.
  • Timonen’s (2002) dissertation in Finnish is scrutinizing consumer everyday sense making and environmental responsibility in choices with qualitative methods. It manages to find heuristics that consumers use when selecting their washing powder. These kind of heuristics are something that I hope to find during my research as well.

Ideologies behind customer value research

During the literature review I have encountered a few cases where the writer has embraced a certain mindset consciously. In most of the cases it goes unnoticed. A rough division between ideologies that are used in the research can be seen through simple Do-Think-Say framework representing a single consumer. I have placed each ideology to the corner where they would base their arguments.

A person does, says and thinks different things. Which of them constitute the reality?


  • Floh, A., Zauner, A., Koller, M., & Rusch, T. (2014). Customer segmentation using unobserved heterogeneity in the perceived-value-loyalty-intentions link. Journal of Business Research, 67(5), 974–982. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.jbusres.2013.08.003
  • Gallarza, M. G., Arteaga, F., Chiappa, G. Del, Gil-Saura, I., & Holbrook, M. B. (2017). A multidimensional service-value scale based on Holbrook’s typology of customer value: Bridging the gap between the concept and its measurement. Journal of Service Management, 28(4), 724–762. http://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1108/JOSM-06-2016-0166
  • Gummerus, J. (2011). Customer Value in E-Service : Conceptual Foundation and Empirical Evidence. Ekonomi och samhälle. Hanken School of Economics. Retrieved from http://urn.fi/URN:ISBN:978-952-232-116-9
  • Gummerus, J. (2013). Value creation processes and value outcomes in marketing theory. Marketing Theory, 13(1), 19–46. http://doi.org/10.1177/1470593112467267
  • Holbrook, M. B. (1994). The Nature of Customer Value: An Axiology of Services in the Consumption Experience. In R. T. Rust & R. L. Oliver (Eds.), Service Quality. New Directions in Theory and Practice (pp. 21–71). Sage Publications.
  • Martineau, H. (1838). How to observe morals and manners. New York: Harper & Brothers, 82 Cliff Street.
  • Narver, J. C., & Slater, S. F. (1990). The Effect of a Market Orientation on Business Profitability. Journal of Marketing, (October), 20–35. http://doi.org/10.2307/1251757
  • Shah, D., Rust, R. T., Parasuraman, A., Staelin, R., & Day, G. S. (2006). The Path to Customer Centricity. Journal of Service Research, 9(2), 113–124. http://doi.org/10.1177/1094670506294666
  • Timonen, P. (2002). Pyykillä — Arkinen järkeily ja ympäristövastuullisuus valinnoissa. Helsinki: Kuluttajatutkimuskeskus.
  • Vargo, S. L., & Lusch, R. F. (2004). Evolving to a New Dominant Logic for Marketing. Journal of Marketing, 68(1), 1–17. http://doi.org/10.1509/jmkg.
  • Woodruff, R. B., & Gardial, S. F. (1996). Know your customer: New approaches to understanding customer value and satisfaction (1st ed.). Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA.
  • Zeithaml, V. A. (1988). Consumer perceptions of price, quality, and value. Journal of Marketing, 52(3), 2–22. http://doi.org/10.2307/1251446



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Aarne Leinonen

Aarne Leinonen

Radical existentialist with a humanistic vibe. Researcher of service development in organizations. Interested in customer value. Tweets @aarneleinonen