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Older consumers’ reaction to a patronizing sales interaction

Emmanuel Chéron (Global Business Programme, Akita International University, Akita, Japan)
Christian Weins (Saarland University, Saarbrücken, Germany)
Florian Kohlbacher (German Institute for Japanese Studies, Chiyoda-Ku, Japan)

Journal of Services Marketing

ISSN: 0887-6045

Article publication date: 2 September 2020

Issue publication date: 14 July 2021




The purpose of this study is to investigate the impact of patronizing by salespeople when interacting with older consumers in a retail situation of shopping for a mobile phone. In addition to patronizing behavior, the impact of the age of the salesperson and gender of the consumer are explored.


The study is based on statistical analyzes of a between-participants controlled experiment collected via an online survey of 338 members of the German Senior Citizens League.


The study contributes to the field of services marketing by confirming that older consumers reject patronizing sales interactions and by showing that men are more tolerant of condescendence than women, especially when younger salespeople are involved.

Research limitations/implications

A limitation of this study is the use of fictional situations with a selected number of manipulated variables in a simulated sales interaction.

Practical implications

Rejection of a patronizing sales interaction was found to be similar by both genders with an older salesperson. Furthermore, retail shops of technical appliances could prevent potential problems by being cautious of having younger male salespeople interacting with older women customers.


Research on the impact of condescending sales interaction as perceived by older consumers is scarce and has not previously considered the role of customer gender and salesperson age. Beyond investigating the perception of participants to patronizing, the role of the salesperson age and customer gender were investigated.



The authors are grateful to the German Senior Citizens League and would like to express their thanks for their support and collaboration.


Chéron, E., Weins, C. and Kohlbacher, F. (2021), "Older consumers’ reaction to a patronizing sales interaction", Journal of Services Marketing, Vol. 35 No. 3, pp. 287-298.



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