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Does consumer ethnocentrism impact international shopping? A theory of social class divide

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Research on international shopping has the potential of elucidating collective issues such as the eminence of protectionist discourse. Concomitantly, the authors propose a Theory of Social Class Divide (SCD) that explains how the judgments of a consumer segment diverge from classical predictions. The theory received support in an international shopping context, showing that the behavior of lower‐class shoppers diverges from the prediction of consumer ethnocentrism theory. In the two studies, which comprised different methods (cross‐sectional and experimental), measures of social class (objective and subjective), and samples (US and Canadian), lower‐class consumers were notably less affected by their ethnocentrism than upper‐class consumers. Lower‐class consumers generally showed, regardless of their ethnocentrism, low attitudes, and shopping intentions toward foreign retailers. The results underline the ramifications of a widening divide in social class on international marketing, and have potential implications in germane fields such as political science.
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Psychol Mark. 2021;38:735744. wileyonlinelibrary.com/journal/mar © 2021 Wiley Periodicals LLC
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735
Received: 24 April 2020
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Revised: 18 December 2020
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Accepted: 25 January 2021
DOI: 10.1002/mar.21461
RESEARCH ARTICLE
Does consumer ethnocentrism impact international
shopping? A theory of social class divide
Muhammad Aljukhadar
1
|Benjamin Boeuf
2,3
|Sylvain Senecal
4
1
Department of Management, Marketing &
Entrepreneurship, Olayan School of Business,
American University of Beirut, Beirut,
Lebanon
2
Department of Marketing, IESEG School of
Management, Paris Campus, Paris, France
3
LEMCNRS 9221, Lille, France
4
Department of Marketing, HEC Montreal,
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Correspondence
Sylvain Senecal, Department of Marketing,
HEC Montreal, 3000 Côte SainteCatherine,
Montreal, QC H3T 2A7, Canada.
Email: ss@hec.ca
Abstract
Research on international shopping has the potential of elucidating collective issues
such as the eminence of protectionist discourse. Concomitantly, the authors pro-
pose a Theory of Social Class Divide (SCD) that explains how the judgments of a
consumer segment diverge from classical predictions. The theory received support
in an international shopping context, showing that the behavior of lowerclass
shoppers diverges from the prediction of consumer ethnocentrism theory. In the
two studies, which comprised different methods (crosssectional and experimental),
measures of social class (objective and subjective), and samples (US and Canadian),
lowerclass consumers were notably less affected by their ethnocentrism than
upperclass consumers. Lowerclass consumers generally showed, regardless of
their ethnocentrism, low attitudes, and shopping intentions toward foreign retailers.
The results underline the ramifications of a widening divide in social class on in-
ternational marketing, and have potential implications in germane fields such as
political science.
KEYWORDS
consumer ethnocentrism (CET), international marketing, lowincome consumers, online
shopping, social class divide
1|INTRODUCTION
Ever since the seminal work of Bourdieu (1984,1986), research has
shown that an individual's position in the social hierarchy, or social
class, shapes almost all the facets of one's consumption behavior
(Shavitt et al., 2016). The experience of lower social rank can trigger
greater desire for otherfocused (vs. selffocused) consumption such
as charity donations (Piff et al., 2010), material (vs. experiential)
purchases (Van Boven & Gilovich, 2003), and products that signal
status as a compensatory strategy (Mandel et al., 2017). More
broadly, social class affects to a great extent where individuals live,
where and how they travel, what clothes they wear, and what media
they consume (Shavitt et al., 2016).
Whereas Bourdieu's theory of capital (1986) was developed and
applied within a nationstate frame that favors social reproduction,
globalization might challenge the role of social class in consumption.
Offline international shopping was mainly performed by white collar,
upperclass consumers (Piron, 2002). Yet, online shopping has les-
sened the effects of geographical barriers: worldwide, online retail is
expected to reach 6.5 trillion US dollars by 2023 (Statista, 2020).
These projections could be further affected by the COVID19 pan-
demic, and international online shopping would continue to be a
widespread phenomenon given the enforced lockdowns in many
countries (Harris, 2020). A considerable number of online shoppers
have purchased internationally; in Canada, 40% of the 19.2 billion
Canadian dollars spent on epurchases in 2016 were made on foreign
websites (Financial Post, 2017).
One could argue that globalization has empowered lowerclass
consumers by offering simplified access to foreign websites and al-
lowing consumers to purchase products internationally without tra-
veling. Yet, various consumer segments are worse off because they
lack the economic and cultural resources to participate in globalized
... Pattern-seeking was more pronounced for people with lower-class childhoods than their higher-class counterparts. Social class is considered an essential dimension for market segmentation (Aljukhadar et al., 2021;Kamakura & Mazzon, 2013) and determines differences in information processing (J. Lee, 2018). ...
... low) levels of sensitivity to social isolation or threats are likely to lead people to feel more isolated and threatened and thus increase their tendency to seek patterns in repeated choices. In addition, future research may assess SES both objectively and subjectively, thereby providing managers the opportunities to predict and guide consumer behavior at a shopping site (Aljukhadar et al., 2021). ...
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... Ипак, важно је напоменути да позитиван став етноцентричних потрошача према домаћим производима не подразумева аутоматско формирање негативног става према страним производима, нарочито у времену глобализације која подстиче међународну сарадњу, због чега је потрошачима све теже да праве разлику између домаћих и страних брендова (Siemieniako, Kubacki, Glińska и Krot, 2011). Другим речима, глобализација је омогућила потрошачима, нарочито ниже класе, једноставнији приступ страним компанијама и куповини производа без потребе да путују (Aljukhadar, Boeuf и Senecal, 2021), што последично утиче на етноцентричне тенденције истих. Ниво етноцентризма који потрошачи испољавају 203 унутар једне земље зависи од многих фактора као што су историја и култура једног народа, економска развијеност, отвореност према свету (Вељковић, 2006), патриотизам, конзервативизам, анимозитет, демографске карактеристике потрошача , као и већ поменута глобализација и глобална потрошачка култура (Bizumic, 2019) и др. ...
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