How competent are consumers? The case of the energy sector in Francei

Abstract : This paper discussed the notion of value co-creation and the concept of customer competence as suggested by this notion. This led us to consider the competent customer as a social construction related to managerial representations. In order to examine this issue, a longitudinal exploratory research based on participant observation and in-depth interviews with employees of a French energy supplier was conducted to explore whether customers are perceived as competent or incompetent market actors. The data analysis revealed four categories illustrating customers' profiles coping with the new situation of the 'Utility X' group in the energy sector. 'Utility X' employees define their customers according to four profiles: myopic, ignorant, uncreative and organizer of company resources. Even if the marketing studies that share the Service-Dominant Logic point-of-view suggest that the customer would be competent at all times, our findings showed that customer competencies are in fact socially constructed and emerge partially from managerial representations. Therefore, the adoption by companies of a marketing philosophy ('market with' philosophy), in which the customer and supply chain partners are collaborators in the entire marketing process, seems only possible if they recognize customers' competencies and identify situations when customers do not activate their competencies or do not have the resources that enable them to develop their competencies.
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Audrey Bonnemaizon, Wided Batat. How competent are consumers? The case of the energy sector in Francei. International Journal of Consumer Studies, Wiley, 2011, ⟨10.1111/j.1470-6431.2010.00937.x⟩. ⟨hal-01135360⟩

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