PURPOSE : By combining consumer culture theory and service dominant logic, this study proposes that value might be understood as value-in-acquisition, such that value outcomes result from the acquisition process in which broader social forces shape the exchange process. DESIGN/METHODOLOGY/APPROACH : This study addresses low-income consumers, for whom societal arrangements strongly determine service interactions. Qualitative interviews reveal service value processes and outcomes for low-income consumers during acquisition processes. FINDINGS : For low-income consumers, inclusion, status, resource access and emotional relief represent key value outcomes. Important value processes shape those value outcomes, reflecting broader societal arrangements at macro, meso and micro levels. Marketing constitutes an institutional arrangement that establishes an empowered “consumer” role. Value processes are hindered if consumers sense that their agency in this role is diminished, because marketing interactions give precedence to other social roles.
RESEARCH LIMITATIONS/IMPLICATIONS : Marketing should be studied as an institutional arrangement that shapes value creation processes during acquisition. Micro-level value processes have important implications for service quality and service value. Value outcomes thus might be designed in the acquisition process, not just for the offering. PRACTICAL IMPLICATIONS : The acquisition process for any good or service should be designed with its own value proposition, separate to the core product or service. Careful design of value processes during acquisition could mitigate conflict between social roles and those of consumption. ORIGINALITY/VALUE : There is value in the acquisition process, independent of the value embedded in the goods and services.