We explore the phenomenon of influence between unacquainted consumers in the market setting. Using three qualitative techniques that entailed 60 hours of observation in a variety of retail settings, depth interviews with eight consumers, and a prescribed format of shopping with five consumers, data are compiled and interpreted to reveal a number of overt and covert interpersonal influences and roles assumed by both influencers and recipients of influence as the dyads interact. For example, recipients of influence who proactively act as help-seekers or influencers can assume the role of either proactive or reactive helper in a social exchange. Marketing implications are offered for retail sales personnel, such as appropriateness to intervene between competitors or the strategy not to intervene between help seeker and reactive helper.
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