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Race, Marketing, & Markets / Publication Abstract

Accommodating ethnic minority consumers during service encounters: the fine line

Sep 8, 2021

Sarah Mady, John B. Ford, Tarek Mady

Race, Marketing, & Markets



This paper aims to examine the effect of intercultural accommodation efforts on service quality perceptions among ethnic minority consumers. Specifically, the paper postulates that during an intercultural service encounter, the impact of the service provider’s language and ethnicity on the consumer’s service quality perceptions is moderated by the level of service involvement, consumer acculturation and perceived discrimination, which, in turn, influence purchase intent.


A 2 × 2 between-subjects experimental design with an online nationwide consumer panel of Hispanic consumers was conducted where 377 participants were randomly assigned to a series of service encounter scenarios in the banking service context to manipulate accommodation efforts (yes vs no) and the level of involvement with the service (high vs low).


When such language and ethnicity accommodations were offered, highly acculturated minority consumers regarded the service encounter less favorably than low acculturated minority consumers. Moreover, during low-involvement service encounters, intercultural accommodations positively impacted consumer’s service quality perceptions compared to situations involving high-involvement services. Also, minority consumers with perceptions of past discrimination had less favorable evaluations of the service quality than when such perceptions were nonexistent when intercultural accommodation efforts were made by the service provider.

Research limitations/implications

The findings add to the sparse literature that examines the effectiveness of intercultural accommodation and focuses on the combined use of service provider’s language and ethnicity as a means to enhance service quality.

Practical implications

The study delivers cautions for service firms not to generalize the receptivity of intercultural accommodation efforts. Given the increasingly sizable segments of minority customers, this study offers insights for service providers to develop suitable recruitment strategies and training programs when devising effective ethnic targeting strategies.


This research is among the first to explain why the effect of target marketing is not homogenous by expanding the research on intercultural accommodations toward a new context considering service involvement levels among varied minority consumer groups.

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