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Cultural pluralism: Uncovering consumption patterns in a multicultural environment

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Abstract:

Although increasing numbers of people live in multicultural environments devoid of a dominant culture, little is known about how, in such environments, they deal with the products or consumption practices of different cultures. This study explores the phenomenon of cultural pluralism, defined as a pattern of emergent consumption acts that result in the adoption, by individuals, of products or consumption practices from several cultures. A qualitative study involving 20 participants investigated the adoption of culturally cued products over time. Four cultural pluralism strategies emerge from the analysis. First, cultural experimentalism characterises the continuous search for the products, practices, and experiences of other cultures. Second, cultural extensionism characterises a cautious strategy slowly leading consumers beyond their comfort zone of known products towards those of other cultures. Third, cultural purism characterises a selective approach towards culturally cued products which limits consumption to a specific set of cultures. Fourth, cultural passivity characterises inertia or lack of engagement with other cultures and their products. Several antecedents are identified, whose salience appears to vary with each strategy, and each strategy has different behavioural outcomes. The study contributes to the literature on multicultural marketing by providing a more inclusive view of consumption in multicultural environments than that afforded by the sole consideration of ethnic origin or individual traits and orientations.

Keywords: cross-cultural studies; cultural pluralism; emergent consumption behaviours; international marketing; multicultural consumption behaviour; qualitative study

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/0267257X.2012.698635

Affiliations: Strathclyde Business School, UK

Publication date: July 1, 2012

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