Taboo tattoos? A study of the gendered effects of body art on consumers' attitudes toward visibly tattooed front line staff
The purpose of this experiment is to examine the gendered effects of body art on consumers' attitudes toward visibly tattooed employees. We analyse the reaction of 262 respondents with exposure to male and female front line staff in two distinct job contexts: a surgeon and an automobile mechanic. The results demonstrate differences on three dimensions: (a) job context, (b) sex of face and (c) stimulus (i.e., tattooed or not). We demonstrate significant interaction effects on those three dimensions, and our findings point to the intersectionality of gender-based and tattoo-based discrimination. Consumers have a negative reaction to body art, but perceptions of tattoos on male and female front line staff differ significantly. A key marketing challenge is how to balance employees' individual rights to self-expression and at the same time cater to consumers' expectations regarding appearance of staff. Our study forms the basis for this debate that is only just emerging.