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Torelli, Carlos J., Ahluwalia, Rohini, Cheng, Shirley Y. Y., Oslon, Nicholas J., Stoner, Jennifer L.
Oxford University Press (OUP), Oxford University Press
Business, Management and Accounting, Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities, Economics, Econometrics and Finance, culture, brand preferences, cultural symbolism, cultural distinctiveness, in-group bias
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In a world of increasing global mobility, we investigate how feelings of cultural distinctiveness-feelings of being different and separated from the surrounding cultural environment-influence consumers' preferences for brands that symbolize a related cultural group (i.e., a group that is geographically proximal and/or shares sociohistorical and cultural roots with one's own cultural group). Results from seven studies demonstrate that consumers experiencing cultural distinctiveness are likely to evaluate favorably and prefer brands associated with a related cultural group, in a choice set or consumption situation, even if they are not the favored option in the choice set. This pro-in-group bias for culturally related brands is driven by a heightened desire to connect with "home," which prompts consumers to expand their in-group boundaries to include the related cultural group within a broadened definition of home. However, this pro-in-group bias is attenuated when the salience of intergroup rivalries is high, where experiencing cultural distinctiveness can backfire and result in less favorable evaluations of brands associated with a related cultural group. This research is the first to demonstrate that cultural consumption is a dynamic process, and that in-group boundaries can be malleable and expandable, depending upon the motivation of the consumer.

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