Driving In-Role and Extra-Role Brand Performance among Retail Frontline Salespeople: Antecedents and the Moderating Role of Customer Orientation

The organizational frontline in retail represents the frontline for an entire supply chain. This channel structure distances the branded supplier from the end consumer and makes the supplier dependent on a retail frontline salesperson that (1) it does not control and (2) also represents competing brands. This study reveals mechanisms that the supplier may use to influence retail frontline salespeople. We demonstrate the importance of consumer marketing programs and supplier representatives in building brand identification between the manufacturer’s brand and the retail frontline employee that translates into increased brand sales, while also revealing the role of rewards programs in stimulating brand-specific extra-role behaviors. Interestingly, retail frontline customer orientation, built by the retailer, diminishes the effect of brand extra-role behaviors toward the focal brand on the focal brand’s sales, providing an informal control mechanism for retailers to protect its objectives. The results of this study have powerful ramifications for both retailers and suppliers in achieving both their mutual, and sometimes differing, objectives related to the retail frontline.

Graphical abstract


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Retail salesperson brand identification drives brand sales performance.

Consumer marketing and supplier reps build retail salesperson brand identification.

Reward programs stimulate brand extra-role behaviors among retail salespeople.

Customer orientation reduces salespeople’s tendency to push their favored brands.


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