Putting the Pedal to the Metal: Forces Driving the Decision-Making Process toward American-Made Vehicles by Consumers in Taiwan, China, and Thailand

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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

This descriptive study examined the influence of demographic factors (age, gender, income, level of education, and religion) on consumers' attitudes to purchase American-made passenger vehicles in three Asian countries: 1) China, 2) Taiwan, and 3) Thailand. Since American-made vehicles still occupy only a small segment of this Asian market, the relationships and differences among the three countries in terms of their culture and country-of-origin effect on product attributes were measured - helping marketers increase market share by better understanding the determining factors leading to notable diversity in the consumers' decision-making process.

Keywords: China, Taiwan, Thailand, foreign cars, Consumer decision-making, Consumer attitudes

INTRODUCTION

Consumers use various feelings, perceptions, and attitudes to make decisions to select products. Different variables involving culture and country-of-origin on product attributes seem to influence consumers from different geographic areas in their decisions to purchase products. In an increasingly globalized marketplace, building cultural awareness is not an easy task. Although culture consists of learned norms based on attitudes, values, and beliefs which exist in every nation; different geographic areas have cultural influences and meanings relating to their specific consumers' attitudes.

The understanding of different cultures, demographic differences, and consumers' attitudes toward products is extremely useful to companies contemplating the possibility of conducting business overseas. In recent years, American car companies have expanded their market into Asia, and in China, General Motors in particular has conducted circuit automobile shows in some of the larger cities. In Taiwan, General Motors has also made efforts to collaborate with local automobile sales companies to increase sales and attempt to change consumers' attitudes toward American-made vehicles. Over the years, Ford Motor Company also increased sales in Taiwan and continues to make efforts toward improving the consumers' cognition of its products. While Ford and General Motors have become strong competitors within the Thailand market segment, Chrysler enjoyed success selling its sports utility vehicles (SUVs) to consumers, a popular trend in Asia.

RESEARCH QUESTIONS

RQ#1 - What relationships exist between the consumer decision to purchase and various demographic variables in Taiwan, China, and Thailand, including a) age, b) gender, c) income, d) level of education, and e) religion.

RQ#2 - What significant relationships exist between the consumer decision to purchase and various cultural variables in Taiwan, China, and Thailand, including a) need, b) desire, c) perception, and d) status effect.

DEFINITION OF RESEARCH VARIABLES

Attitude - a learned tendency to respond to an object in a consistently favorable or unfavorable way. Moscovici (1969) declared that opinions, attitudes, and beliefs are usually thought of in relation to a person's preference for one side or another in matters that are controversial. Attitudes result from a person's value system, and the development of this value system begins in childhood.

Country-of-Origin Effect on Product Attributes - the favorable or unfavorable evaluation of a country associated with the product, such as the design, color, performance, safety features, brand name, price, customization, ethnocentrism, and product image.

Culture - people with shared attitudes, values, and beliefs. Different needs, desires, perceptions, and status effects would be found in different cultures.

In China - the Chinese derives pride from their 3,000 years of cultural achievements. The written language identified the people and became one of the pioneering factors of modern culture. Several political changes in the 20th century led to revolutionary actions that challenged the value of the country's cultural heritage. …