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Disadvantaged consumers' experiences of marketplace discrimination in customer services

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Marketplace discrimination, which involves a differential treatment of customers in the marketplace based on perceived group-level traits, is common in service encounters. In the past, research has focused on discrimination experienced by members of ethnic minorities, however, not much is known about marketplace discrimination attributed to age, gender, physical ability and sexual orientation. The aim of this research is to develop a conceptual model that links perceived marketplace discrimination to individual-level and firm-level determinants as well as to customer outcomes. Drawing on Social Identification Theory, the antecedents-perceived discrimination link is examined. Based on a review of the literature, specific research propositions are developed. By applying insights from Fairness Theory and on the basis of 46 phenomenological interviews, the discrimination experienced by members of different disadvantaged groups and their response to perceived discrimination are explored. All participants claim to have experienced marketplace discrimination and many use subsequent coping strategies.
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