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Age identity, stereotypes and older consumers’ service experiences

Kate Westberg (School of Economics, Finance and Marketing College of Business and Law, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia)
Mike Reid (School of Economics, Finance and Marketing College of Business and Law, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia)
Foula Kopanidis (School of Economics, Finance and Marketing College of Business and Law, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia)

Journal of Services Marketing

ISSN: 0887-6045

Article publication date: 28 May 2020

Issue publication date: 19 March 2021

1393

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to use the lens of the stereotype threat theory to explore older consumers’ age identity and experiences with service providers.

Design/methodology/approach

This study used semi-structured interviews with Australian consumers aged between 55 and 69. Data were examined using thematic analysis.

Findings

Older consumers justify a younger cognitive age by distancing themselves from the negative stereotypes associated with ageing and by associating themselves with attitudes and behaviours consistent with a younger age identity. Older consumers are confronted with age-based stereotype threats in a services context through four practices. Exposure to these threats results in service failure and can have a negative impact on both consumers’ ability to function effectively as consumers and their overall well-being.

Research limitations/implications

A more diverse sample is required to identify the extent to which age-based stereotype threats are experienced and which services marketing practices have the most detrimental impact on older consumers.

Practical implications

The findings provide insight for services marketers seeking to effectively cater for older consumers and have implications for service staff training, service technology and communications.

Social implications

The findings have implications for the well-being of older consumers in terms of their self-efficacy and self-esteem as well as their ability to function effectively as consumers.

Originality/value

This study contributes to the nascent understanding of older consumers’ experiences and their expectations of service interactions and advertising communication. The findings also extend the literature on service failure by demonstrating how age-based stereotypes threaten age identity, resulting in a negative customer experience.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors gratefully acknowledge the funding support of the Special Broadcasting Service (SBS).

Citation

Westberg, K., Reid, M. and Kopanidis, F. (2021), "Age identity, stereotypes and older consumers’ service experiences", Journal of Services Marketing, Vol. 35 No. 1, pp. 54-64. https://doi.org/10.1108/JSM-10-2019-0386

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited

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