Ethnocentrism in the U.S.: An Examination of CETSCALE Stability from 1994 to 2008

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The consumer ethnocentrism scale (CETSCALE) developed by Shimp and Sharma (1987) has been used by researchers in marketing strategy ever since its introduction as a tool for measuring consumer attitudes regarding the appropriateness of purchasing foreign produced goods and services. Specifically, strongly ethnocentric consumers feel that buying imported goods is wrong because it negatively affects the domestic economy and may be viewed as unpatriotic. There is extensive empirical work that has been done to support the link between CETSCALE scores and intended purchase behaviors (e.g., Acharya and Elliott, 2003; Balabamis and Diamantopoulos, 2004; Evanschitzky, Wangenheim, Woisetschlager, and Blut, 2008; Watson and Wright, 2002). The findings are particularly robust in studies done in Western developed economies showing a positive correlation between ethnocentrism and the likelihood of purchasing domestically produced products (Klein, Ettenson, and Krishnan, 2006). Consumers in advanced economies generally take pride in their domestic products and judge them favorably compared to foreign goods (Balabanis, Diamantopoulos, Mueller, and Melewar, 2001, Netemeyer, Durvasula, and Lichtenstein, 1991).

The overwhelming evidence linking CETSCALE scores to purchase intentions in advanced economies is important and useful information to strategists thinking about competing in markets with both foreign and domestic competitors and whether to position their brands based on being foreign or domestic (Klein, 2002). However, one potential weakness of the empirical work done so far is that ethnocentrism studies are normally done at a single point in time. Such studies allow for tests that show significance of the independent variable at that point of time; however, there is no way to gauge the behavioral sensitivity of consumers to attitudinal changes over time. Nielsen and Spence (1997) attempted to address this question by conducting surveys in the U.S. over an eight week period during which significant "patriotic events", as the authors termed them, had occurred (e.g., terrorist bombings, political campaigning, and the Olympics). Lumb and Geib (2011) also addressed this question but in a developing country context, looking at two samples of Chinese consumers surveyed eleven years apart.

More studies need to be done over time to judge the stability of consumer ethnocentrism (CETSCALE scores). Further, to best judge stability, we would argue for multiple surveys conducted over the course of years and not weeks. This paper attempts to fill in this gap in the literature by analyzing the annual movement of CETSCALE scores in the U.S. between 1994 and 2010. Also of note is the fact that our sample includes data before and after the attacks of 9/11--arguably one of the biggest "patriotic events" in recent U.S. history. So, large shifts in attitude might be expected around this major event. This provides an even greater opportunity to test, in the face of a major event, the sensitivity of consumer ethnocentrism as measured by CETSCALE scores.


Globalization and Its Likely Effect on CETSCALE Stability

Globalization has been made possible by world-wide foreign direct investment, production and marketing; advances in telecommunication technologies and the internet; increases in world travel; the growth of global media; and technological advances that have made it easier and quicker to complete international transactions--both trade and financial flows--and to acquire information about other countries (Ozsomer and Simonin, 2004; Steenkamp & Hofstede, 2002; Stremersch & Tellis, 2004; Van Everdingen, Aghina, & Fok, 2005).

Globalization is particularly impactful in developing countries where shifts in lifestyles and wealth accumulation can be very dramatic compared to already developed countries. For instance, in the obvious example of China, from 1979 to 2006, China's real gross domestic product grew at an average annual rate of 9. …


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