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Rethinking functionality and emotions in the service consumption process: the case of funeral services

Bernard Korai (Department of Agricultural Economics and Consumer, Laval University, Quebec, Canada)
Nizar Souiden (Department of Marketing, Laval University, Quebec, Canada)

Journal of Services Marketing

ISSN: 0887-6045

Article publication date: 8 May 2017




The purpose of this paper is to contribute to the service literature by investigating post-consumption evaluation in the context of unwanted services. In particular, it intends to delineate the main characteristics of funeral services.


Given the lack of substantive literature on funeral services, a qualitative exploratory design was used from in-depth interviews with ten managers of funeral services companies in Quebec (Canada).


The study shows that compared to other traditional services, funeral services are characterized by their strong emotiveness, non-recurrence, irreversibility, uncommonness, high level of symbolism and personalization and emotion control of the service provider. The study also argues that funeral services quality is strongly dependent on funeral houses’ integrated logistics, proximity and integrity.

Practical implications

Because of consumers’ lack of competency, funeral companies need to guide and educate consumers about the criteria they should use to evaluate the service quality. Because funeral consumers are strongly emotion-driven at the purchase time, funeral services providers should find the right balance of emotions to express. Thus, more staff training is needed.


Because funeral services are emotionally challenging and deal with grief and distressed clients, the present study contributes in shedding light on service quality assessment in the funeral industry. Although they have some characteristics of traditional services (intangibility, perishability and variability), funeral services are also different in many ways.



Korai, B. and Souiden, N. (2017), "Rethinking functionality and emotions in the service consumption process: the case of funeral services", Journal of Services Marketing, Vol. 31 No. 3, pp. 247-264.



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