The recent decade has seen a concentration in the food retail sector in Europe (Eurostat, 1997), and this has increased the importance of understanding value creation in the retail industry, as retailers are becoming the gatekeepers to the consumer mar-ket (Skytte & Blunch 1998; Sternquist 1994). The creation of value in a product or service is also widely recognised as the pri-mary source of competitive advantage (Woodruff & Gardial, 1996). However, so far, consequences and values have not been analysed in relation to retail buyer behaviour, as previous research has focused on specific buyer attributes (Dzever 1993; Johnston 1996; Möller 1985; Skytte 1998;Woodruff 1997). Skytte and Blunch (1998) identified a number of attributes that make a difference when retail buyers in the European retail industry select a new supplier. In this study we interviewed retail buyers of fish products in Denmark and Germany using the laddering technique and means-end theory (Reynolds & Gut-man 1988). The purpose of the interview was to identify the content and relationship between attributes, consequences and values in order to get a deeper understanding of the retail buyer's cognitive structure. Our purpose was to analyse whether there is a difference in consequences and values sought from the same set of attributes. The results showed that supplier attributes were more important than product attributes, but both categories interact in a complex web of attributes to create central con-se-quences and values for the buyer. The study also showed that the same attributes lead to different consequences in the two coun-tries, and this means that value researchers must analyse more than concrete attribute to understand retail buying behaviour. The study has revealed that it is possible to analyse what the retail buyers really want to achieve by means of certain attri-butes, and what the difference in value means. These results offer possible improvements in the value chain of fish products from the sea to the customer, thereby improving market orientation and competitive advantage in the fish industry.
Proceedings of the 7th Conference on Cross-cultural Consumer and Business Studies, 1999