Making Purchases Within and Outside of Embedded Markets: High Lifetime Value Customers in the Parisian Marketplace


  • Newell D. Wright James Madison University
  • Robert N. Horn James Madison University
  • Val Larsen Truman State University


This cross-cultural, ethnographic study closely examines the purchase experiences of two American academics during extended stays in France. The study discusses how and why insiders experience exceptional levels of satisfaction and how and why outsiders experience exceptional levels of dissatisfaction when making purchases in embedded markets. Analyzing the economics of customer service in France and the United States, the paper suggests that the commercial culture of France has been more attuned than that of the United States to identifying and giving exceptional service to customers who have especially high lifetime value for a business.

The problem is that while the French language is richly brocaded with concepts, customer service is not one of them.... Thus in the big anonymous department stores and supermarkets, the plight of the customer is desperate. Stay away from them unless your French is good and youre lusting for a challenge. (Platt 1998, p. 72)



— Updated on 2022-03-03


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