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Why are Generation Y consumers the most likely to complain and repurchase?

Raquel Reis Soares (Universidade Europeia, Lisbon, Portugal)
Ting Ting (Christina) Zhang (Department of Hospitality Services, Rosen College of Hospitality Management, University of Central Florida, Orlando, Florida, USA)
João F. Proença (FEP-School of Economics and Management, University of Porto, Porto, Portugal) (Universidade Europeia, Lisbon, Portugal) (Advance-CSG, ISEG-Lisbon School of Economics and Management, University of Lisbon, Lisbon, Portugal)
Jay Kandampully (Department of Consumer Sciences, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, USA)

Journal of Service Management

ISSN: 1757-5818

Article publication date: 19 June 2017




The purpose of this paper is twofold: to examine generational differences in complaint and post-recovery behaviors after service failures and recoveries, and to investigate the key factors that relate to Generation Y consumers’ responses.


In a two-stage approach, Study 1 investigates generational differences in the complaint and repurchase behaviors of a vast sample of more than 36,000 customers. Study 2 examines which factors influence Generation Y consumers’ decisions to complain and to repurchase.


Across four generational cohorts (the Silent Generation, Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Generation Y), consumers in Generation Y are the most likely to complain about service failures and repurchase after a satisfactory service recovery. The service recovery paradox thus is a generational feature. Generation Y’s unique characteristics – being tech savvy, heavily influenced by peers, and untrusting of brands – relate closely to their complaint and repurchase patterns. These prolific users of social media tend to stay with a service provider after experiencing satisfactory recovery but are more inclined to complain.


This study contributes to service management literature by revealing generational differences in customers’ complaint behavior and responses to recovery efforts, while also testing repurchase behavior rather than just behavioral intentions. This study provides valuable insights into the unique factors that influence Generation Y consumers’ complaint and post-recovery responses.



The author João Proença thanks Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia (FCT Portugal) for national funding through research grant to ADVANCE (UID/SOC/04521/2013).


Soares, R.R., Zhang, T.T.(C)., Proença, J.F. and Kandampully, J. (2017), "Why are Generation Y consumers the most likely to complain and repurchase?", Journal of Service Management, Vol. 28 No. 3, pp. 520-540.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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