As people tend to avoid embarrassing situations (Verbeke and Bagozzi 2003), consumer embarrassment when purchasing personal products is an important concern for retailers. Customers who are embarrassed often avoid making purchases they would have otherwise made (Lau-Gesk and Drolet 2008), for example condoms. Even though people are very supportive of condom usage for safety and health related reasons, consumers may still feel embarrassed buying them. Yet, while there is a growing body of literature about embarrassment and embarrassing situations in daily life, not much is known in embarrassment in sales interaction (Verbeke and Bagozzi 2003). Customers are likely to feel more embarrassed buying from some sales clerks than others. We contend that gender and age difference between the sales clerk and the customer might create powerful embarrassment for many consumers when buying a personal product. To address this research gap, this study explores whether customers prefer to buy from salespeople who are of the same gender and age.
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- “I am so Embarrassed!” - How Personal and Empathic Embarrassment in Personal Product Purchasing Impacts Sales Clerk Choice