Global Consumer Culture

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“Global Consumer Culture is a beguiling illusion that completely glosses over the hard realities of national, ethnic and religious differences. It is therefore a dangerous fiction for the marketing manager to engage with.” Discuss, with examples. Introduction

Globalization has made a more variety of products available for all consumers. In this sense, globalization increases differences, rather than generate homogenization (Lee & Usunier, 2009). Moreover, global influences are adapted to local circumstances; therefore, globalization results in an increasingly cultural diversity. The existence of a global consumer culture does not imply the disappearance of differences; rather, the modern culture results in the sum of these differences (Arnett, 2002). Global consumer culture (GCC) is a new stratum of common culture that superimpose on national cultures (Lee and Usunier, 2009) in the same way in which these overlap local traditions and subcultures existing within national boundaries, given the fact that most countries are already multicultural (Smith, 1991). Notably, it has been argued that culture is the most influential factor on consumer behaviour (Cleveland and Laroche, 2007); consequently, it is important to define the extent to which a modern global culture determine purchasing decisions, and these insights should inform marketing strategies. Therefore, the question is whether a GCC does exist, in which sense it should be interpreted, and how it does affect national cultures and consumers’ behaviour. The present essay supports the idea that even if the GCC influences consumers’ behaviours around the world, people are still likely to strongly identify with their own national culture. Yet, they adopt their local system of meanings when interpreting global symbols. Consumers shift between the consumption of local and global products, re-interpreting brands circumstantially and according to their ends (Simmons, 2008). They use consumption as a mean of constructing different selves and avoiding monotony (Goulding, 2003). Before entering the discussion, the essay presents a literature review thematically organized. Then, the discussion is divided into three parts. The first argues that consumers tend to identify with both a global and a local identity, depending on the context. The diffusion of Christian holidays in countries with different religious traditions, is given as an example of global identity seeking. Budapest citizens’ reluctance to accept Coca Cola as sponsor of their traditional Christmas decorations, is given as an example of strong local identity seeking. The second part focuses on how consumers purchase global brands and adopt global practices re-investing them with values from their own culture. The circulation of a secularized yoga around the world is an example of how foreign practices are locally reinterpreted. Lastly, before moving towards the conclusion, the third part highlights that meanings vary not only between cultures but also depending on contextual factors. Literature review

The GCC has been interpreted in four main ways, these being the diffusion of transnational corporations, the explosion of global capitalism, the increase of consumerism and the homogenization of the consumption behaviour regardless of national boundaries (Ger & Belk, 1996). This last interpretation, the concept of a global cultural convergence towards a modern lifestyle, most promotes vigorous debate. Some academics (e.g., Levitt, 1983) emphasize growing similarities between cultures; conversely, some others (e.g., Ger & Belk, 1996) highlight the strengthening of cultural differences between countries as a direct consequence of the globalization. In a different vein, the complexity of globalization, characterized by both homogeneity and heterogeneity, is outlined by authors (e.g., Cleveland & Laroche, 2007;) who do not consider acculturation and ethnic identity inversely proportional. A thematically organized literature...
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