Academic journal article College Student Journal

Decision Making Styles of Young South Indian Consumers: An Exploratory Study

Academic journal article College Student Journal

Decision Making Styles of Young South Indian Consumers: An Exploratory Study

Article excerpt

This exploratory study investigates the decision -making styles of young South Indian consumers. The data for this study were collected from two institutions of higher education in the city of Coimbatore, India in the fall of 1995 utilizing the Consumer Style Inventory (CSI).

The results of this study were compared to similar studies where data from the United States, Korea and China were analyzed. Factor analysis statistical procedures were followed to determine 1) the dimensions considered by young South Indian consumers in their transactions in the market, and 2) the differences and similarities among young consumers from different countries in their decision - making styles. Five reliable factors and their corresponding decision - making styles were identified.

Introduction

As we move from a local to a global economic paradigm the role of consumers in these global economies cannot be neglected. The Guidelines on Consumer Protection adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1985 have prompted the adoption of consumer protection statutes in many countries in Asia, Latin America and Europe. However, one area of concern that needs further attention is the behavior of consumers in different cultures and economies at different levels of development.

A free market economy, assumes informed, educated consumers with the power to influence the market through their rational decisions when confronted with choices in the market. Consumer decision - making, thus, is of great interest for consumer educators and marketers interested in serving the consumer. Several researchers in the field of consumer economics have concluded that consumers follow different styles or rules in making decisions when confronted with choices in the market (Sproles, 1985; Sproles & Kendall, 1986; Kendall & Sproles, 1990; Hafstrom, Chae, & Chung, 1992; Fan, Xiao, & Xu, 1997; Richmond, McCroskey & Roach, 1997; Fan & Xiao, 1998; Dollinger & Danis, 1998; Kang & Kim, 1998). Sproles & Kendall (1986) define a consumer decision -making style as "a mental orientation characterizing a consumer's approach to making choices". These studies have further suggested that external factors such as culture may influence the way consumers develop those styles.

Sproles & Kendall (1986) developed the Consumer Style Inventory (CSI) to determine the basic characteristics of consumer decision-making styles among young consumers in the United States. They identified the following eight consumer styles: 1) perfectionist, high quality conscious; 2) brand conscious; 3) novelty and fashion conscious; 4) recreational or shopping conscious; 5) price conscious; 6) impulsive, careless; 7) confused by over choice; and 8) habitual, brand loyal. According to Sproles & Kendall (1986:267) identification of these characteristics among consumers "helps to profile an individual consumer style, educate consumers about their specific decision making characteristics, and counsel families on financial management". They recommended using the inventory with different population groups to determine the generality of its applicability.

Hafstrom, et al. (1992) used the CSI to identify the decision-making styles of Korean students. Fan & Xiao (1998) also used a modified CSI with Chinese students. There are several differences among young Chinese, American, and Korean consumers despite the similarities with respect to the major dimensions and item loading (Fan & Xiao, 1998). For example, the "novelty and fashion conscious consumer" identified by Sproles & Kendall (1986) was not confirmed as present in the Korean study (Hafstrom, et al., 1992). Hafstrom et al. (1992) recommended further research investigating the decision-making styles of other young consumers from different cultures under different macroeconomic conditions.

The rapid transition of India to a market economy has increased the choices of products and services available to consumers, thus increasing their confusion and need for consumer education. …

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