This paper aims to explore consumer envy in the context of service encounters. Envy-elicited cognitive appraisals, emotions, interpersonal and organizational consequences were examined.
An online survey was used to collect 311 actual episodes of consumer envy. Both qualitative and quantitative analyses were used to answer the research questions.
This research identified five different triggers of consumer envy during service encounters, each associated with distinct cognitive appraisal patterns. Moreover, envious customers might experience three qualitatively different shades of envy labeled as “blue envy”, “red envy” and “green envy”. Actions taken by service providers are found to be a major cause of consumer envy, and they elicit emotions associated with complaining, negative word of mouth, lower encounter satisfaction and lower repurchase intention.
While significant contributions are made, this study relied on self-reported data. Given that envy is considered a private and sensitive emotion, participants may have withheld from sharing some of the more socially undesirable details of their envy episodes.
The results stress the importance for service providers to avoid a perception of unfair preferential treatment. This perception of service unfairness is associated with hostility directed at service employees and negative organizational consequences.
This study is among the first to examine consumer envy in the context of service encounters.
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