Cardiff Metropolitan University
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Service-dominant logic: reframing category captainship and retailer category management

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-09-21, 11:56 authored by Michael Christopher Benson, Keith Glanfield, Craig Hirst, Susan Wakenshaw


The category captain system (CC) of retailer category management (RCM) is established, accepted, and widely adopted. The paper empirically assesses the application of this system in building collaborations between retailers and their suppliers to generate growth following COVID-19. This study applies service-dominant logic (S-D logic) to RCM and establishes the current ‘practical’ application of the five axioms of S-D logic within the CC system.


The researchers adopted a qualitative research design which examined both category managers and retail buyers currently involved in the CC system, using thematic analysis of transcripts from 25 practitioner participants.


The study reveals service is not a fundamental basis of exchange in the CC system. Value is uniquely, independently, and separately created by the retailer that significantly restricts the scope of the category service eco systems and the opportunity to innovate through value co-creation.

Practical implications

Significant change is required to realise value co-creation and innovation applying S-D logic to RCM. The study indicates there is potential to start this change by the formalisation of wider informal category relationships between non-captain suppliers and retailers through consumer insight technology, and by aligning suppliers and retailers to make more effective and sustainable trading decisions.


The study indicates that certain elements of the CC system proposed by the literature's games-based theoretic models, are not applied in practice. The lived experiences of practitioners suggest informal ways of by-passing the formal system using S-D logic.





  • AM (Accepted Manuscript)


Benson, M. C., Glanfield, K., Hirst, C., & Wakenshaw, S. (2023) 'Service-dominant logic: reframing category captainship and retailer category management', International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management. doi: 10.1108/IJRDM-12-2021-0618

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Cardiff Met Affiliation

  • Cardiff School of Management

Cardiff Met Authors

Keith Glanfield

Cardiff Met Research Centre/Group

  • Welsh Centre for Business and Management Research

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