Cross-Cultural Issues in Consumer Behavior

Topics: Culture, Individualism, Collectivism Pages: 24 (11866 words) Published: October 17, 2014
Cross-Cultural Issues in
Consumer Behavior
University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign

Northwestern University



University of Minnesota

ne of the most difficult choices that multinational corporations face is deciding whether to run the same marketing campaign globally or to customize it to the local taste in different countries. In many cases, companies develop their marketing strategy in one country and then do "disaster checking" as they launch the same strategy in other countries instead of trying to discover what would work best in each market (Clegg, 2005). This often leads to ineffective marketing campaigns and damaged reputations. As new global markets emerge, and existing markets become increasingly segmented along ethnic or subcultural lines, the need to market effectively to consumers who have different cultural values has never been more important. Thus, it is no surprise that in the last decade or so, culture has rapidly emerged as a central focus of research in consumer behavior.


What Is Culture?
Culture consists of shared elements that provide the standards for perceiving, believing, evaluating, communicating, and acting among those who share a language, a historical period, and a geographic location. As a psychological construct, 217


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culture can be studied in multiple ways-across nations, across ethnic groups within nations, across individuals within nations (focusing on cultural orientation), and even across situations within individuals through the priming of cultural values. As will be discussed presently, regardless of how culture is studied, cultural distinctions have been demonstrated to have important implications for advertising content, persuasiveness of appeals, consumer motivation, consumer judgment processes, and consumer response styles.

Coverage and Scope
The present chapter reviews these topics. Our coverage is necessarily selective, focusing on findings specific to the consumer domain rather than a more general review of cultural differences (for excellent general reviews, see Chiu & Hong, 2006; Smith, Bond, & Kagitcibasi, 2006). Our content is organized around the theoretical implications of cultural differences in consumer judgments, choices, and brand representations. We focus our coverage on the areas of self-regulation, risk taking, and persuasion because these represent domains that have received particularly significant research attention, and because this research has uncovered underlying psychological processes connecting cultural variables to consumer behavior. For each of these areas, we review implications for information processing, brand evaluations and preferences, and choices. In our coverage, the cultural constructs of individualism/collectivism and the independent/interdependent self-construals associated with them are given special attention because extensive research has demonstrated the implications of these distinctions for processes and outcomes relevant to consumer behavior. The most recent refinements to these constructs are briefly reviewed in an attempt to identify additional cultural variables likely to enhance the understanding of crosscultural consumer behavior. We close with a discussion of the role of consumer brands as cultural symbols in the era of globalization and multiculturalism.

The constructs of individualism and collectivism represent the most broadly used dimensions of cultural variability for cross-cultural comparison (Gudykunst & Ting-Toomey, 1988). In individualistic cultures, people value independence from others and subordinate the goals of their in-groups to their own personal goals. In collectivistic cultures, in contrast, individuals value interdependent relationships to others and subordinate their personal goals to those...

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