The purchasing behaviour of people from different cultural backgrounds in a multicultural nation

Author: Felicia Kim

Kim, Felicia, 2022 The purchasing behaviour of people from different cultural backgrounds in a multicultural nation, Flinders University, College of Business, Government and Law

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According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (2022), over half the Australian population (51.5%) now includes 1st and 2nd-generation ethnic consumers. Hence, new research is needed to understand the needs and behaviours of this large group of ethnic consumers. In particular, understanding the ethnic consumers’ identity after moving to a new country and how this may influence their buying behaviour has become a priority for many stakeholders, including marketers, and forms the focus of this thesis.

Over the past few decades, scholars have shown great interest in understanding the way consumer purchasing behaviour develops, studying several influential factors such as country image – i.e., descriptive, inferential and informational beliefs consumers have about a particular country, often including cognitive as well as affective components (Han, 1989; Jin et al., 2018; Li et al., 2014; Nagashima, 1970; Wang et al., 2012; Roth & Diamantopoulos, 2009). Yet, to date, little is known about the impact of the image of the home country and the host country on the identity of ethnic consumers who have relocated to a host country. Accordingly, this thesis has two overarching research objectives: i) to examine how home and host country image factors (cognitive and affective) influence ethnic consumer identity, and ii) to ascertain whether these factors affect the purchasing behaviour of different ethnic groups within a multicultural country. To attain these aims, this thesis discusses the theoretical factors likely to determine ethnic consumer identity (ethnic, i.e., linked to the country of origin; or national, i.e., developed in the host country), while considering whether identity is transferred across generations. The thesis then describes the empirical approach undertaken to evaluate whether consumers’ identities impact the image of products/services from the home vs. host country, and their intention to purchase these. Finally, this thesis presents an empirical quantitative study based on online survey data (N=261), collected in Australia from four ethnic groups (Latvian, Iranian, Vietnamese, and Italian), examined through structural equation modelling.

The results indicate that positive emotions toward the home country and the host country have a positive and significant effect on the identity of ethnic consumers, while cognitive and negative emotions do not seem to affect consumers' identity. Positive feelings toward the home country have the most significant influence on the purchase of their home country products; in contrast, negative emotions toward the host country affect the purchase of products of the host country. Results also show that ethnic consumer identity leads to a strong purchase intention for the home country's products and mediates the positive country image of the home country and the purchase intention of the home country's products. Comparing the first- and second-generation respondents, results show that the factor affecting the identity of the first and second generations is consistently positive country image.

This thesis makes the following significant contributions. Theoretically, it explains the link between the components of country image and the consumers’ identities and confirms that key concepts such as home and host positive country image and home cognitive country image act as the force behind national vs. ethnic identities. Doing so, the thesis advances marketing knowledge thanks to linking country image research and consumer identity research. From a managerial point of view, this thesis provides valuable insights that can be turned into marketing strategies to successfully target and meet the needs of ethnic consumers. For instance, marketers can leverage positive emotions of home country products and services using strategies such point-of-sale cues in selected distribution outlets, and positive country image-oriented packaging and communication

Keywords: Country Image, Consumer Identity, Purchase Intention, Ethnic consumers, Cross culture

Subject: Business thesis

Thesis type: Doctor of Philosophy
Completed: 2022
School: College of Business, Government and Law
Supervisor: Professor Roberta Crouch