Aesthetic labor and visible diversity: The role in retailing service encounters
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This study endeavors to investigate the role of the appearance of customer service staff in forming customer perceptions. It also aims to fill the gap in existing knowledge by exploring the notion of visible diversity, for example, ethnicity, age, gender and perceived sexual orientation of store staff in service encounter from the customers’ perspective. The study adopted a qualitative, inductive approach in data collection using a sample of 30 customers from leading Australian fashion retailers. This study identifies three themes explaining customer perceptions of staff's aesthetic labor, namely mirroring appearance, matching appearance, and charming appearance, which can be explained by the social identity theory, role theory and aesthetic capital. It is found that staff appearance might affect customers’ intention to revisit but does not guarantee sales. In addition, based on signaling theory, the results show that age, ethnicity, gender and perceived sexual orientation of the retail store staff are meaningful factors in determining customers’ attitudes and behavior. This study is one of the first that takes aspects of visible diversity into account along with aesthetic labor and customer experience in a retail setting.
Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services
Marketing not elsewhere classified