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Boosting service performance by dark chocolate seduction

Nanouk Verhulst (Business Department and Department of Marketing, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Brussels, Belgium and Marketing, Universiteit Gent, Gent, Belgium)
Hendrik Slabbinck (Deparment of Marketing, Universiteit Gent, Gent, Belgium)
Iris Vermeir (Deparment of Marketing, Universiteit Gent, Gent, Belgium)

Journal of Services Marketing

ISSN: 0887-6045

Article publication date: 28 August 2019

Issue publication date: 27 September 2019




Past research suggests that small details during a service may have a big impact on the service experience. Drawing from this literature, this study aims to test the impact of offering dark chocolate during a service on service performance outcomes.


Three scenario-based studies and one field study tested the hypotheses. The scenario-based experiments varied in both service context (e.g. restaurant and mobile phone store) and service quality.


Eating dark chocolate positively impacts service performance outcomes. This effect is fully mediated through mood. However, this effect disappears in negative valenced service encounters.


This paper makes a unique contribution, by testing whether changing a small detail at the start of a service improves mood and, in turn, customers’ outcomes in different service quality contexts.



Verhulst, N., Slabbinck, H. and Vermeir, I. (2019), "Boosting service performance by dark chocolate seduction", Journal of Services Marketing, Vol. 33 No. 5, pp. 576-588.



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