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Commentary: vulnerable consumers in service settings

Mark Scott Rosenbaum (Department of Marketing, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, Illinois, USA)
Tali Seger-Guttmann (School of Economics and Business Administration, Ruppin Academic Center, Emek Hefer, Israel)
Mario Giraldo (Department of Marketing and International Business, Universidad del Norte, Barranquilla, Colombia)

Journal of Services Marketing

ISSN: 0887-6045

Article publication date: 10 July 2017




This commentary aims to introduce a collection of articles that highlights the experiences, needs and challenges of vulnerable consumers within a variety of service contexts. As a research collection, the investigations reveal that service researchers have overlooked how service design and processes affect vulnerable consumers.


The commentary is a conceptual perspective based on the investigations put forward in this special issue, extant literature and the editors’ perspectives.


Many consumers enter service contexts in some type of vulnerable condition. These conditions may include those relating to deafness, hearing impairments, older age, sexual orientation, immigration status and acculturation, participation in sexual exploitation, geographical remoteness, mental health challenges, obesity, natural disasters, language barriers and being the brunt of service provider discrimination.

Research limitations/implications

Service researchers are encouraged to consider how the service marketing’s foundational theories, frameworks, concepts and axioms generalize among vulnerable consumers.

Practical implications

Service practitioners need to realize customers often enter service contexts owing to some type of vulnerable condition that influences their expectations and perceptions of service quality.


This special issue expands the discipline’s understanding of vulnerable consumers and exposes an array of conditions that affect their experiences and journeys within service settings. Service organizations dedicated to enhancing consumer well-being must understand how they can help remedy, or lessen, the consequences associated with vulnerable conditions.



Rosenbaum, M.S., Seger-Guttmann, T. and Giraldo, M. (2017), "Commentary: vulnerable consumers in service settings", Journal of Services Marketing, Vol. 31 No. 4/5, pp. 309-312.



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Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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