Academic journal article Journal of International Business Research

Imported Product Acceptance When National Origin Is Not an Issue: The Influence of Personal Choice in a Low CETSCALE Environment

Academic journal article Journal of International Business Research

Imported Product Acceptance When National Origin Is Not an Issue: The Influence of Personal Choice in a Low CETSCALE Environment

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

Global business depends upon consumer acceptance of imports; products and services originating outside of the nation or region are commonly among the choices available to consumers. The majority of consumer ethnocentric research has been conducted in high CETSCALE environments, in which clearly-defined nationalistic, patriotic and cultural influences impact the success of imports. This research examines the product perfume among females exclusively in the State of Mississippi in the United States. The researchers cannot identify any predominance by U.S. brand names in the perfume market that could be said to have captured large swaths of the perfume business. Thus, the cultural identity may exist with other consumer products or services may not exist with perfume. Indeed, the use of chic or classy names for perfume products, even the use of languages other than English on perfume containers has nothing to do with product origin. Thus, at least within this market, for this product, are consumer ethnocentric issues an impediment to imports, or instead, is this an easy market to penetrate?

The literature for ethnocentrism, consumer ethnocentrism, culture, psychology, philosophy and business all indicate that the global marketplace largely must contend with nativist, nationalistic, and patriotic psychosocial tendencies among consumers. When international businesses find markets that have low amounts of consumer ethnocentrism, there is generally lowered resistance to imports. This manuscript examines the literature, presents hypotheses, then analyzes and discusses the data.

ETHNOCENTRISM AND CULTURAL IDENTITY

It is well-documented that consumer choice is influenced by a number of factors, with imports facing an added, ethnocentric dimension of cultural bias. Ethnocentricity, as defined by Ball, McCulloch, Frantz, Geringer, and Minor (2003) is "the belief in the superiority of one's own ethnic group--societies consider their culture superior to all others" (p. 293). Suppliers of goods and services to the global marketplace must contend with localized senses of superiority of one culture over another. Peng (2008) considered ethnocentrism as a mentality of people who consider their own norms to also be morally correct. Beamer and Varner (2008) expanded the understanding of the core beliefs in one's culture as a component of ethnocentrism, which can lead to too much complacency about one's own culture.

Failure to anticipate and comprehend ethnocentric issues can be costly. Hill (2006) warns against the dangers of ethnocentric behavior, as preconceptions of marketers and others may not fit local realities. Moreover, this could lead to an erroneous generalization of other cultures. The influence of ethnocentric tendencies to the business arena has been the subject of research for over a decade, but there are still largely untested areas to be examined. We believe that this provides fertile ground for expanded research.

CONSUMER ETHNOCENTRISM

The term "consumer ethnocentrism" is an economic expression of ethnocentrism, representing "the beliefs held by consumers about the appropriateness, indeed morality, of purchasing foreign-made products" (Shimp and Sharma 1987, p. 280). Festervand and Sokoya (1994) and Luthy (2007) described decisions expressed by buyers with strong consumer ethnocentric traits as having beliefs that buying imports is unpatriotic, causes unemployment and has a deleterious overall effect upon the economy. The theoretical development of consumer ethnocentrism was founded upon an economic form of ethnocentrism, which encompasses personal, nationalistic and patriotic issues. These include issues such as one's fear of economically harming his/her beloved country by buying foreign products, the morality of buying imported products, and a personal prejudice against imports (Balabanis, Diamantopoulos, Mueller & Melewar, 2001; Shimp and Sharma 1987). …

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