An Examination of Exchange Media from an Historical Perspective
Houston and Gassenheimer ( 1987) identify six product types when they identify the various product attributes. These include tangible goods, services, ideas or concepts, locations, personalities, and exchange media. This chapter deals with the last of these product types, exchange media. This chapter, the first of several on the topic, presents an overview. The subsequent chapters are by Allen Maxwell, who discusses consumable exchange media; Benton Gup, who discusses U.S. currency as legal tender; and J. Thomas Lindley and Tyrone Black, who study the usage of various means of payment in contemporary U.S. society.
Marketing has devoted little discussion to exchange media, yet it is an important part of contemporary exchange, and the choice of payment has a direct bearing on one's ability to engage in transactions.
When two or more entities engage in a successful exchange, this means that value has passed between or among these parties. This value, or payment, we describe as exchange media. One form this exchange medium might take would be other products; this we would call barter. Another form might be some commonly accepted medium, which we might call money.
Alternatively, we may agree to defer payment; this we would refer to as credit. At its core, credit is not really a form of payment, but rather acquisition of debt in order to alter payment timing; when the debt is discharged, it will be paid in one of the first two forms. Accordingly, our discussion will be limited.
The first transactions involving mutually beneficial exchange (as opposed to a forced transfer of one's goods) would have been barter, where goods or services are exchanged for other goods or services. The advantage of this system of exchange is that an individual wanting boots simply offers whatever he or she has in abundance, say, chickens. The disadvantage, of course, is that the person on