Academic journal article Management International Review

Consumer Ethnocentrism and Lifestyle Orientations in an Emerging Market Economy

Academic journal article Management International Review

Consumer Ethnocentrism and Lifestyle Orientations in an Emerging Market Economy

Article excerpt

Introduction

Azerbaijan is located in the Caucasus mountain on the southeastern shore of the Caspian Sea. It is bordered by Georgia and Russia to the north, Iran to the south, and Armenia to the west. The country is in a key geographical region which is a connection point between several Turkic republics and the Western world through Turkey. Also, Azerbaijan is one of the most significant oil exporting nations among the Caucasian countries. Azerbaijan, with Kazakhistan and Turkmenistan, has the potential to form the world's third largest oil-producing region, after Siberia and the Persian Gulf in the future (Coplin/O'Leary 1994). In recent years, the construction of oil and gas pipelines in cooperation with Western oil consortiums between Azerbaijan and the West has brought the country into a lime light.

The political and economic turmoil that existed in the former Soviet republics since the Red Army's invasion were the main factors that diverted marketers' and researchers' attention from these markets for seven decades. For many years, there was a paucity of consumer behavior research on former Socialist Countries and whatever research that was carried out mostly ignored consumer or user related issues in these countries. However, after the collapse of the Soviet regime in the late 1980s, marketers in free market economies of Europe, North America, and Asia-Pacific became aware of these market potentials in the newly formed republics. With the political and economic changes in Eastern Europe, there is an increasing need to market successfully products from these countries in the industrialized world (Johansson et al. 1994): Accordingly, little or no research has been reported that studied Azerbaijani consumers in the current international marketing literature. Although, there is not sufficient information about the market potential for consumer and industrial products, Azerbaijan is a rapidly growing import market and offers an attractive outlet for goods and services from other countries. A major producer of oil and natural gas, the country offers tremendous market opportunities to Western firms. Slow growth rates in Western economies and maturing consumer markets make the newly formed Central Asian markets even more important for business development and research purposes.

The objective of this study is to explore Azerbaijani consumers' preferences and purchase intentions for domestic and foreign-made products/services. More specifically, the paper investigates ethnocentric behavior of Azerbaijani consumers and its implications for marketing strategy development. How should marketers deal with ethnocentric consumers? What marketing strategy changes, if any, should firms undertake to comply with this kind of consumer/user behavior? It is hoped that the findings of the study will facilitate further development of consumer markets in these newly emerging economies for cultivation. Consumer behavior knowledge of this type will also ease smooth transformation of these economies into a free market economy as there is acute need for consumer-based information.

Background

Consumer Ethnocentrism

Ethnocentrism is a universal phenomenon any is rooted deeply in most areas of intergroup relations (Lewis 1976). Some authors argue that ethnocentrism is a part of human nature (Lynn 1976, Mihalyi 1984, Rushton 1989). Ethnocentric behavior has been widely used to explain human behavior within and among diverse cultures. As such, consumer ethnocentrism is the belief held by consumers about the appropriateness, indeed morality, of purchasing foreign-made products (Shimp/Sharma 1987). The degree and intensity of consumer ethnocentrism do vary from culture/country to culture/country even from region to region.

In recent years, a number of distinct attempts have been made to understand cross-cultural/national consumer research issues (Manrai/Manrai 1995). Among these, an important contribution to consumer research has been the development and limited international application of the CETSCALE which measures consumer ethnocentrism across cultures/nations. …

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