March 1998



Welcoming the wealthy with service

It turns out the rich really are different from you and me - and not simply because they have more money, as Hemingway claimed. Higher-income consumers (and this will be no surprise to some) demand better service from stores than those who are less well-heeled. That's not all - service is more likely to be an integral part of a wealthy patron's overall perception of how good the store is - an essential element in the concept of retailer quality.

These are findings from a study designed to correlate consumers' demographic characteristics with their perceptions of retail stores. Respondents were asked to rate the importance of such factors as sales associates' willingness to help and the accuracy of retailers' records in determining a company's overall quality.

The study, published in the Journal of Customer Service in Marketing & Management, found that the higher the income, the more likely that consumer is to regard "instilling confidence in customers" as a determinant of store quality. Rich people are less likely than the less well-off to become regular customers of a store with service they find unsatisfactory. On the other hand, high-income people are less likely to tell others about good service they received than their lower-income brethren.

The research also examined differences between men and women in judging retailer quality. Women think "willingness to help customers," "prompt service" and "error-free records" are more important than men do.

Copyright © 1998 by Bond Communications.


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