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The effectiveness of an organization depends largely on its capability to precisely identify the problems and issues it aims to tackle, to decide on the priorities among its goals, to establish the goals of addressing the problems, and to develop strategies for addressing them (Ahmed & Hammarstedt, 2008). Customer discrimination occurs when a company has discriminatory preferences. Customer discrimination is one of the organizational problems that need to be addressed. According to Balatti & Falk (2001), no business can refuse to service to anyone who the Civil Rights Act deems a protected class. Customer discrimination comprises of discrimination based on age, color, race, sex, national origin, creed or disability. Becker (2010) asserted that despite business having the right to refuse service to anybody, they violate the constitution by doing so. In this regard, this report attempts to analyze the discrimination against older customers in Hong Kong and offer solutions to the problem.
2.0 Analysis of Older Customer Discrimination in Hong Kong
Most societies all over the world have been described as maintaining a stereotypical and frequently negative perception of older adults. It is evident in areas such as media, language, humor and marketing (Mick, Pettigrew, & Pechmann, 2012). The term often used for describing this common negative bias against older persons is ageism (Gunter, 2003). Kadlec (2013) defined ageism as any attitude or organizational structure that subordinates an individual or a group based on their age or any assignment of roles in the society. Hong Kong, similarly to other megalopolises, is becoming ever more flooded by the cultural and material supermarkets (Mick, Pettigrew, & Pechmann, 2012). Hong Kong is increasingly becoming incapable to hold back the flood.
2.1 Problem Identification
In Hong Kong, the increase in income disparity has emerged as a key concern to consumers and businesses. In fact, the elderly of Hong Kong are among the poorest in the developed world. However, Hong Kong continues to witness growth that is driven significantly by the Chinese mainland tourists (Lang, 2007). The continued stress that accompanies it has resulted in a growing number of consumers seeking recreation and leisure products and services. From a certain angle, one can claim that the growth of Hong Kong in terms of economy and change in lifestyle has significantly contributed to discrimination of the elderly consumers (Whitehouse, Bendezu, FallCreek, & Whitehouse, 2000).
According to Consumer Lifestyle (2013), there are several reasons for the abundance of elderly people. For instance, people are living longer due to the advances in medicine and healthier lifestyles. However, the elderly generation in Hong Kong is having problems in meeting their needs. Most of the Hong Kong elderly people have consumed specific products for very long time (Whitehouse, Bendezu, FallCreek, & Whitehouse, 2000). As a result, they are likely to have less preference for the modern goods. In addition, as decades have passed, the company has implemented more effective ways of marketing by offering commodities only online (Wiener & Willborn, 2010). Whereas the present generation depends on technology, many Hong Kong older people might find it hard to use computers to search for goods online.
Poverty is another cause of discrimination. As mentioned above, the elderly in Hong Kong are among the poorest in the developed world (Whitehouse, Bendezu, FallCreek, & Whitehouse, 2000). Despite the fact the Hong Kong experiences economic growth, its older adults continue languishing in poverty. Most of them have no stable income, which implies that their buying capacity is very low. Most goods are priced far beyond the financial capacity of this population. As a result, they are left out.
2.2 The Critical Underlying Cause
The management of the company might have failed to provide goods on a platform accessible by the elderly. The Digital Age is one of the key factors causing the discrimination of the elderly in Hong Kong (Mullen & Johnson, 2013). Since many old people do not have sufficient computer skills, their technological inability prevents them from purchasing goods online. Several companies focus on the use of the Internet and various computer programs, consequently favoring the younger generation that is capable of using technology (Mick, Pettigrew, & Pechmann, 2012).
3.0 Proposed Solutions
A popular solution to overcome the problems of the Digital Age is educating older adults on the use of online shops and services. Some elderly people do not have comprehensive college or high school education (Mas & Rothstein, 2008). As a result, they do not have the required knowledge for solving the problems of the digital era. Nevertheless, some of them have realized that this fact compels them to incur more costs. Hong Kong is one of the countries that struggle to eliminate digital illiteracy. The strategic management process can be helpful in achieving this objective (Mick, Pettigrew, & Pechmann, 2012). This process comprises of five steps that include goal setting, analysis, strategy formulation, strategy implementation, and evaluation and control. The company should have a goal, such as training about 60 elderly people on the use of computers within one month. At the analysis stage, the company should assess whether the goal formulated is achievable, and the necessary resources needed for attaining it. Strategy formulation involves outlining the key actions required for achieving the goal as well as planning and coordination of these activities (Whitehouse, Bendezu, FallCreek, & Whitehouse, 2000). The implementation stage is crucial to the success of the project (Mick, Pettigrew, & Pechmann, 2012).
4.0 Recommendations and Conclusions
The company failed to offer equal services to all its clients. This led to the elderly consumers complaining about the partial treatment displayed by the company. Hong Kong is overwhelmed by the cultural and material supermarkets. The underlying cause of this organizational problem is the focus on highly efficient technological ways of accomplishing business operations. The proposed solution to the problem was improving digital literacy among the elderly people of Hong Kong. Therefore, in order for the company to offer impartial treatment to all its customers, the following two actions are recommended.
The first recommendation is offering free instructional courses to the elderly who purchase repeatedly on how to use computers. This is because such customers are likely to develop brand loyalty and stick to a system they are familiar with. Instructional content on how to purchase goods online can be offered via websites or television advertisements. Once the elderly Hong Kong residents gain computer knowledge, they are likely to purchase regularly and with ease and feel involved with the company.
The second recommendation is promoting older learners motivation to start embracing technology. With regard to this recommendation, the company should have a goal, such as training about 60 elderly people on the use of computers within one month. This can be achieved by making the content of training meaningful and attractive. The expectation of the elderly need to be checked out by asking what they hope to gain by attending the courses.