Purpose - The purpose of this special issue is to extend the growing research on the challenges and opportunities facing services marketers in an increasingly culturally diverse global marketplace. Design/methodology/approach – The nine papers included in this special issue use a variety of research methods (e.g. case study, experiments and surveys), participants (e.g. customers, employees and online panel members) and service settings (e.g. fast food, post office, weight loss, bank, home loan, personal fitness and offshore outsourcing).
Findings - All the nine papers highlight the importance of studying the unique perspectives of the customers and employees involved in intercultural interactions in diverse service settings in marketplaces and societies that are either already or have recently become multicultural.
Research limitations/implications - The findings from the nine papers have useful implications for future research on services marketing in multicultural markets, although these may not always be generalisable beyond the unique context of the studies reported in each of these papers.
Practical implications - All the nine papers also present some useful directions for services marketing managers in the multicultural markets, to help them understand and manage the expectations of their culturally diverse customers, as well as employees.
Originality/value - This special issue is unique because it is one of the first attempts to understand the unique challenges and opportunities for services marketers in the growing multicultural global marketplace, from a theoretical, as well as empirical, point of view.
In the past few decades, globalization has led to an increase in international travel, tourism and immigration, which in turn are creating a culturally diverse and complex global marketplace by bringing together customers and employees from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds (Sharma et al., 2009, 2012, 2017). For example, there were more than 250 million international immigrants in the world by the end of 2017, which accounts for 3.4 per cent of the global population, representing an increase of 105 million since 1990 (United Nations, 2017). In addition, number of international tourists crossed 1.3 billion in 2017 and generated revenues of about $1.5tn, which represents about 10 per cent of global GDP, 7 per cent of global exports and 30 per cent of total services exports (UNWTO, 2018). After adding the number of people traveling overseas for education, employment and business for relatively shorter durations, it is quite likely that more than 2 billion people (about one-fourth of world population) are currently in a country different from the one they were born in. This huge figure highlights the growing cultural and ethnic diversity around the world today (Euromonitor International, 2015). Such a dramatic rise in the cultural and ethnic diversity offers new challenges and opportunities for services marketers because the culturally diverse customers and employees have significantly different expectations, perceptions and evaluations about service quality and its various dimensions (Etgar and Fuchs, 2011; Morales and Ladhari, 2011; Schoefer, 2010). While the increase in the number of such intercultural interactions offers additional business opportunities to both local and global services marketers, it also makes it difficult to design appropriate service offers to match the unique needs of culturally diverse customers and to deliver these through their service employees who may be used to a mono-cultural service environment (Sharma et al., 2014; Sharma and Zhan, 2015).