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Language Preferences of Foreign Consumers in High and Low Involvement Service Encounters

David A. English

Abstract

This mixed method research was conducted to determine whether differences in the preference of language among foreign consumers in South Korea existed between low-involvement service encounters and high-involvement service encounters. A questionnaire was completed by 161 participants for this qualitative study. The findings indicated that all of the service encounters fell into either a high- or low-involvement in line with previous studies except for procuring a loan from a bank, which was a medium-level service encounter. In-depth interviews were conducted with 12 foreign teachers in South Korea from the pool of quantitative participants. The qualitative study results indicated that foreign consumers were willing to use Korean in a low-involvement service encounter; foreign consumers in a high-involvement service encounter preferred to speak English; overall, foreign consumers preferred to use Korean over their native language; the level of Korean the foreign consumer spoke affected whether they were willing to use the language; the offer of a 10% discount would not be large enough for foreign consumers to speak Korean; and foreign consumers stated they were not willing to pay a premium for a service in English. Recommendation from the study included foreigners learning the language, for foreigners to use Korean during service encounters, and lastly, for service providers to offer more services in English. 

Keywords

service encounters; language; foreign consumers; language preference

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