Malaysia is considered an upper-middle income county and will soon become a developed country in the near future. As of the development of economy, the consumption habits in the younger generation shows some very different characteristics from their parents’ generations. The objective of this study is to explore the transmissions of such consumerist cultures among the youths in Malaysia. In this study, our researchers investigate how cultural symbols are conserved through its core values by collecting the young people’s ideas, attitudes, and beliefs about the various cultures of material consumption portrayed or adopted, and how the young generations in Malaysia challenge the patterns of their own culture. Purposeful sampling strategy (Given, 2008) was used to select participants who have been exposed to the consumerist cultures in Malaysia, so as to analyze how their immediate environment affects and relates to them. A qualitative method of research was used, and interviews were conducted with the participants. Participants were identified customers in Bangsar Village, the high-end shopping mall in the very metropolitan city of Kuala Lumpur’s upper class estate regions, and the researchers had face to face interviews with these participants.
2. Current Situation in Malaysia
As Malaysia’s markets which cater for consumer demands and habits are rapidly growing, and population and commercial growths are increasing drastically, the consumption habits have also been changing constantly in the purchasing power of the population, especially youth-oriented consumerism (Noor, 1996). Some reasons result in the evolution of consumption habits in Malaysian youths. One reason is the increasing level of wealth, where young people enjoy spending freedom and choice, either through the contemporary luxury of receiving allowances from their parents, or start working by an early age, either as a part-time or full-time employee. Another reason is, more and more young people are receiving higher levels of education, and as a result, they can earn higher salaries when they graduate, and also learn of the different consumption cultures from during their study. One of the most influential effects is the mass media, such as the internet and the television, which has played an important role in shaping the young generation’s consumption attitudes (Noor, 1996). Western consumerist cultures have deeply influenced the beliefs of the Malaysia youths, thus they have become more westernized and this influence is not just happening in Malaysia, but globally as well (Singhapakdi et al, 1999). However, comparing Malaysian to other western cultures such as in that in the United States, Singhapakdi et al (1999) suggests that there is a difference, either in terms of self-congruence, or that of cultural learning. It is believed other countries such as neighboring Singapore and Indonesia, have been adopting the similar western habits and cultures for quite some time. A consumerist’s general view of life can be described as consuming is a good thing, and the more consumption, the better (Dwyer, 2007). Therefore, there are no forms of ethnocentrism detected from the youths interviewed. The population of young Malaysian consumers under 25 years old reached about 43% in the whole of Malaysia in 2003 (Pricewaterhousecoopers, 2004). Therefore, this gigantic group of potential consumers is becoming the target of many marketing and promotional efforts (Koehn, 2007). Merchants and marketing professionals have used various methods and ways to influence and brainwash the younger generations into believing in their goods from the very early stages of life. The research is an effort to give a rudimentary insight on the consumerism activities among Malaysian young people.
The Core Values of Consumerist Culture
Consumerism is defined as “believing that...