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Engagement of Ethnic-Minority Consumers with Electronic Word of Mouth (eWOM) on Social Media: The Pivotal Role of Intercultural Factors

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Social network sites (SNS) facilitate eWOM communication among consumers of different cultures. Building on contact theory and the theory of planned behavior, we propose a conceptual framework that integrates intercultural factors as predictors of minority consumers’ engagement with eWOM communicated by and to individuals of the dominant culture on social media. A partial least squares (PLS) analysis on data collected from the Israeli-Arab minority shows that intercultural factors (i.e., acculturation, social interaction, and language proficiency) are antecedents of minority consumer engagement with eWOM. However, this relationship is mediated by consumer beliefs (attitudes, subjective norms, and perceived behavioral control) concerning this behavior, and moderated by the cultural distance between minority and dominant culture consumers. The findings help marketers plan marketing communications that engage audiences meaningfully and generate positive eWOM when targeting ethnic-cultural minorities. The current study contributes to our understanding of minority consumers’ engagement with eWOM communicated by and to members of the hegemonic culture. It further contributes to consumer engagement theory and acculturation research by supporting the post-assimilationist view. The proposed model is highly valuable in light of the importance of the concept of consumer engagement in marketing research.
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Article
Engagement of Ethnic-Minority Consumers with Electronic
Word of Mouth (eWOM) on Social Media: The Pivotal Role of
Intercultural Factors
Shalom Levy 1, * , Yaniv Gvili 2and Hayiel Hino 1


Citation: Levy, S.; Gvili, Y.; Hino, H.
Engagement of Ethnic-Minority
Consumers with Electronic Word of
Mouth (eWOM) on Social Media: The
Pivotal Role of Intercultural Factors. J.
Theor. Appl. Electron. Commer. Res.
2021,16, 2608–2632. https://doi.org/
10.3390/jtaer16070144
Academic Editor: Gisela Ammetller
Received: 22 August 2021
Accepted: 23 September 2021
Published: 1 October 2021
Publisher’s Note: MDPI stays neutral
with regard to jurisdictional claims in
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iations.
Copyright: © 2021 by the authors.
Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.
This article is an open access article
distributed under the terms and
conditions of the Creative Commons
Attribution (CC BY) license (https://
creativecommons.org/licenses/by/
4.0/).
1Department of Economics and Business Administration, Ariel University, Science Park, POB 3,
Ariel 40700, Israel; hayielh@ariel.ac.il
2School of Business Administration, Ono Academic College (OAC), 104 Zahal St., Kiryat Ono 55000, Israel;
ygvili@ono.ac.il
*Correspondence: shalom@ariel.ac.il
Abstract:
Social network sites (SNS) facilitate eWOM communication among consumers of different
cultures. Building on contact theory and the theory of planned behavior, we propose a conceptual
framework that integrates intercultural factors as predictors of minority consumers’ engagement
with eWOM communicated by and to individuals of the dominant culture on social media. A
partial least squares (PLS) analysis on data collected from the Israeli-Arab minority shows that
intercultural factors (i.e., acculturation, social interaction, and language proficiency) are antecedents
of minority consumer engagement with eWOM. However, this relationship is mediated by consumer
beliefs (attitudes, subjective norms, and perceived behavioral control) concerning this behavior, and
moderated by the cultural distance between minority and dominant culture consumers. The findings
help marketers plan marketing communications that engage audiences meaningfully and generate
positive eWOM when targeting ethnic-cultural minorities. The current study contributes to our
understanding of minority consumers’ engagement with eWOM communicated by and to members
of the hegemonic culture. It further contributes to consumer engagement theory and acculturation
research by supporting the post-assimilationist view. The proposed model is highly valuable in light
of the importance of the concept of consumer engagement in marketing research.
Keywords: social media; eWOM; engagement; culture; acculturation; minorities; commerce
1. Introduction
Social network sites (SNS) are used by marketers to engage ethnic minorities and
generate electronic word of mouth (eWOM, see list of acronyms) [
1
]. With massive expan-
sion of ethnic minorities in many countries, and intense migration to Europe and North
America [2], tapping into non-mainstream-culture markets offers great business potential
for growth. Procter & Gamble has successfully pursued this strategy in 2017 when it
launched “The Talk”—an extraordinary marketing campaign designed to resonate with
African American consumers, and encourage a conversation among Americans in general.
The campaign dealt with the racial bias facing African Americans from the viewpoint of
mothers who prepare their children to cope with prejudice and racism on a daily basis [
3
].
Initially, online conversations about this message mainly involved African Americans and
then spread to the general public [4]. The successful campaign was shared extensively on
social media and became viral [5].
Nonetheless, not all ethnic marketing campaigns succeed in generating positive word
of mouth among their target audiences. In 2017, Shea Moisture, a personal care brand
whose customer base is mostly African American women, released a campaign to “Stop
Hair Hate” on its social media channels. The campaign equated the dilemmas that many
white women face with their hair—which are typically cosmetic in nature—with the
J. Theor. Appl. Electron. Commer. Res. 2021,16, 2608–2632. https://doi.org/10.3390/jtaer16070144 https://www.mdpi.com/journal/jtaer
J. Theor. Appl. Electron. Commer. Res. 2021,16 2609
complex hair issues of African American women that are tied to political and cultural
implications. The latter group did not receive the message well: some protested on social
media, and even called to boycott the brand. The company responded by pulling the
campaign and posting an apology [6].
The challenges of communicating with ethnic minorities on social media necessitate
better understanding of the factors that influence online ethnic marketing communication.
Online social media constitutes a complicated environment for minority consumers, which
poses cultural dilemmas due to conflicting potential benefits and costs. On the one hand,
social media has been reported to facilitate cross-ethnic communications [
1
], by offering
ethnic-minority consumers a simple means to connect and interact with others, and obtain
informational and social support unavailable within their own ethnic community [
7
]. In
addition, from a social-networking perspective, social media platforms help minorities
expand their social ties and make new contacts outside of their ethnic group [8].
On the other hand, minority consumers participating in online social networking must
overcome unique challenges, including language barriers, disapproving social norms, and
conservatism [
9
]. Consequently, minority consumers prefer to connect on social media with
others of the same ethnic group, creating spaces where they feel they belong and their voices
can be heard [
10
]. In addition, social value, satisfying a social-interaction gratification,
usually drives social media users to connect with others who are similar to themselves [
11
].
In this complex situation, marketers and researchers need a better understanding of ethnic
minorities’ motives to engage with outgroup eWOM beyond the boundaries of their own
culture. This is particularly interesting under conditions of considerable cultural distance—
when the minority culture is significantly different than the majority culture in aspects
such as social norms and values.
Despite the growing interest in consumer engagement our understanding of the
unique aspects of minority consumers’ engagement remains limited [
12
], specifically its
drivers and outcomes [
13
], and the effect of intercultural factors on their inclination to
engage with majority consumers. The existing literature on consumer engagement focuses
on aspects such as channel attributes [
14
] and user characteristics [
15
,
16
], with limited
attention to the role of intercultural factors.
The effects of intercultural factors on consumer behavior on social media are grounded
in theoretical approaches which focus on drivers and outcomes of interactions between
cultural groups, and conceptualize acculturation as pivotal to such interactions. Concep-
tualizing acculturation [
17
,
18
] and its impact on consumers varies from simplistic-linear
models [
19
,
20
] to the extended post-assimilationist view which proposes more diverse
modes of acculturation [
21
,
22
]. Recent empirical evidence suggests that acculturation is
driven by people’s behavior on social media, and that this effect may translate to offline
behavior [23,24].
Recent global social shifts and the growing popularity of social media, highlight the
need for research on the role that intercultural factors play in intergroup eWOM commu-
nication [
25
] and engagement. Although marketing research has recognized consumers’
differentiated motivations to engage with outgroup and in-group eWOM [
26
], research on
intercultural drivers of engagement is limited [27]. In particular, existing research has not
addressed the question of how minority eWOM behavior is affected by acculturation and
related factors. With the growing popularity of social media among various minorities, this
question has become increasingly interesting to researchers and practitioners alike. The
present research aims to bridge this gap in the literature. Drawing upon the background
presented above, the research question is as follows: how do intercultural factors influence
minority consumer engagement with eWOM communication that originated from the
dominant culture?
Accordingly, the objective of the current research is to bridge this gap by offering
a comprehensive model of the effects of intercultural factors on minority consumers’
engagement with eWOM in communication with dominant culture (DC) consumers on
social media.
J. Theor. Appl. Electron. Commer. Res. 2021,16 2610
2. Literature Review and Theoretical Framework
2.1. Engagement with eWOM on Social Media
Social media applications stimulate social interactions and user-generated content [
28
,
29
].
As they socialize online consumers generate eWOM by sharing recommendations and
brand experiences with others [
30
]. eWOM is defined as “any positive or negative statement
made by potential, actual, or former customers about a product or company, which is made
available to a multitude of people and institutions via the Internet” [
31
] (p. 39). It is
disseminated by social media across national cultures [
32
,
33
], including minority domestic
cultures [24], and drives customer engagement [34].
Customer engagement is “a customer’s behavioral manifestations that have a brand
or firm focus, beyond purchase, resulting from motivational drivers” [
34
] (p. 254). En-
gagement is a three-dimensional concept comprised of cognitive processing, affection, and
activation [
15
]. Engagement encompasses participation in eWOM-related activities, includ-
ing receiving, initiating and sharing brand reviews, recommendations, and referrals [
34
].
Such activities are motivated by consumers’ co-creation of value to self and others, and
enhanced by consumer experience [
12
]. This behavioral definition of brand engagement
accounts for consumer activation, and includes the time spent and effort invested by con-
sumers in brand-related activities [
15
]. ‘Activated’ consumers may incorporate the brand
into their self-concept, and sense psychological ownership of the brand as they believe that
they positively influence its performance [35].
Behavioral eWOM engagement consists of various quantifiable consumer activities
such as clicks, likes, shares, and comments [
36
]. The behavioral dimension of engagement
on SNS is of particular interest because SNS facilitate immediate and virtually costless en-
gagement opportunities [
37
,
38
], and because engagement enhances business performance
by increasing revenue, profitability and competitiveness [39].
Accordingly, following TPB, and in line with past research that captured the behavioral
aspect of engagement [
14
,
40
], we define consumer eWOM engagement as consumers’
behavioral intentions to receive and/or send eWOM. Consumer intention to receive eWOM
(ITR) represents the intentional behavior of opinion seekers who engage with messages [
41
]
they actively sought or to which they were passively exposed [
40
]. Consumer intention
to send eWOM (ITS) represents intentional opinion-giving and opinion-sharing behaviors
that characterize individuals who actively disseminate brand-related information via their
social connections [41].
Engagement with eWOM, constructed as ITR and ITS, is a behavior under the control
of the individual, which is driven by anticipated benefits of these acts. Furthermore, on
social media it may be influenced by the social norms of consumers’ social circles [
42
].
Thus, engagement with eWOM communication can be treated as a planned behavior.
In view of this conceptualization, we employ the theory of planned behavior (TPB) to
explain minority consumer behavioral intentions to engage with eWOM. While TPB is
considered as one of the main theories explaining consumer attitudes and behaviors [
43
],
meta-analyses questioned its validity [
44
]. Consequently, researchers proposed additional
predictors that increase TPB’s predictive validity of behavioral intentions [
45
]. This is in
line with the call of Ajzen [
46
] and Ajzen and Fishbein to incorporate additional predictors
that enhance the model’s predictive power.
2.2. Theory of Planned Behavior
TPB asserts that an individual’s social behavior is shaped by information and beliefs
she possesses about it. Three beliefs operate as causal factors of behavior [
46
] and predict
one’s behavioral intentions: attitudes toward a behavior, subjective norms, and perceived
behavioral control (PBC). These beliefs may vary as a function of one’s socio-cultural back-
ground [
47
]. Accordingly, they constitute antecedents that influence minority consumers’
behavioral responses to marketing communications.
An individual’s attitude toward a behavior is determined by her beliefs about the
attributes or value of the behavior, and her evaluation of the resulting outcome. In the
J. Theor. Appl. Electron. Commer. Res. 2021,16 2611
present research, attitude is conceptualized as consumers’ evaluation of product recommen-
dations that are shared on social media by individuals from the DC. Consumers’ attitudes
toward marketing messages determine their proneness to consumption behaviors [
48
]. We,
therefore, propose that attitude will affect minority behavior in a similar way.
Research has established that attitudes toward members of other cultures can affect
behaviors that are associated with these individuals [
49
], as well as cross-cultural commu-
nications [
50
]. Further, intergroup interactions and intercultural relations are outcomes
of feelings toward—and beliefs held regarding—members of other cultures [
49
]. More
specifically, intercultural research suggests that immigrant consumer engagement with
the DC is determined, to a large extent, by social and affective factors [
51
]. In particular,
Askegaard et al. [
22
] assert that softened immigrant attitudes toward adopting symbols
and behaviors associated with the DC lead to cross-cultural interactions between the two
parties. Thus, minority individuals’ tendency to communicate with DC members will be
positively related to their attitude toward such interaction. This is especially the case with
social media that facilitates cross-cultural communication [52]. Thus, the hypothesis:
Hypothesis 1 (H1).
Minority consumers’ intention to receive and intention to send eWOM are
positively related to their attitude toward sharing eWOM with DC members.
TPB explains the influence of subjective norms on minority consumers’ behavioral
intentions. Subjective norms are “the perceived social pressures an individual faces when
deciding to perform or not to perform the behavior in question” [
46
] (p. 188). Minority
individuals’ subjective norms may be directly related to what is deemed appropriate within
her minority culture [53].
Ethnographic research on immigrant consumer behavior found that potentially con-
flicting ideologies and values influence immigrants’ consumption [
51
]. Peñaloza [
21
]
conceptualized that minorities often maintain a set of subjective norms rooted with their
culture of origins which may significantly conflict with norms held by the DC, and direct
their daily activities. Accordingly, in conflicting contexts immigrants’ subjective norms may
impede engagement with DC-originated eWOM due to pressure to avoid such behavior. In
a cross-national study, Leung et al. [
54
] proposed that subjective norms influence people’s
behaviors by providing information on what behaviors are socially approved, and further
demonstrated that minority individuals’ subjective norms mediate the effect of culture on
minorities’ behavior.
Similar effects of subjective norms on behavioral intentions were reported in social
media research. Subjective norms create social pressure to engage with online messages
from others [
55
]. Since engagement with eWOM on social media involves attention to
social norms within one’s social circles [
42
], subjective norms play a critical role in shaping
behaviors such as receiving and sharing product-related messages. Therefore, the following
hypothesis:
Hypothesis 2 (H2).
Minority consumers’ intentions to receive and intentions to send eWOM are
positively related to their subjective norms concerning engagement with eWOM communicated
with DC individuals.
Perceived behavior control (PBC) is the individual’s perceived control over behavioral
execution, which is determined by her perceived capabilities to execute the behavior. Ethnic
consumer research suggests that immigrants’ sense of low behavioral control in social
environments dominated by different cultures reduces their intention to engage in certain
behaviors, including media content consumption [
21
]. PBC’s influence on minorities’
intention to engage in such behaviors is due to their desire to avoid misunderstanding and
embarrassment [22].
Intercultural research suggests that intercultural differences may underlie variations
in self-efficacy and familiarity with online platforms. Consequently, higher PBC of on-
J. Theor. Appl. Electron. Commer. Res. 2021,16 2612
line platforms leads to higher intention to engage in online consumption behavior [
56
].
Therefore, the following hypothesis is proposed:
Hypothesis 3 (H3).
Minority consumers’ intentions to receive and intentions to send eWOM are
positively related to their perceived behavioral control of engagement with eWOM communicated
with DC individuals.
Based on TPB, minority consumers’ engagement with eWOM is influenced by their
beliefs regarding their surroundings. Such beliefs are affected by a multitude of back-
ground variables including ethnicity and culture [
47
]. Moreover, intercultural factors
act as background factors [
47
,
57
], such that their effects on engagement are mediated by
three behavioral determinants—attitude, subjective norms, and PBC. Next, we review
key theoretical perspectives in intercultural research and elaborate on major predictive
cross-cultural factors.
2.3. Theoretical Perspectives in Intercultural Research
Intercultural research is vast. Two lines of research that are most relevant to the
research at hand are: (a) cultural theoretical approaches and (b) cross cultural approaches.
Cultural approaches focus on culture-related constructs and cultural dimensions of
national cultural groups. Research suggests that national cultural values affect consumer
engagement on social media [
58
], and that the nature of these effects vary across coun-
tries [
32
]. This research, however, overlooks potential effects of acculturation resulting from
diffusion of cultural elements from DC to minority culture (MC), as well as intercultural
eWOM communication.
Cross-cultural approaches are concerned with drivers and processes experienced by
cultural groups and individuals upon encounters with other groups. Earlier research
framed such encounters in unidimensional terms, by exploring the impact of acculturation
on consumer behavior [
19
,
20
]. The seminal research work of Berry [
17
,
18
] has laid the
groundwork for the extended post-assimilationist view, which extends the gamut of inter-
relationship categories that minority consumers maintain with host cultures. For example,
Peñaloza [
21
] demonstrated how Mexican minority consumption behavior in North Amer-
ica is mapped onto four alternative forms of acculturation. Askegaard et al. [
22
] empirically
supported this perspective in Europe.
The majority of cross-cultural research has not been applied to the context of social
media behavior. Two exceptions are Kizgin et al. [
24
] and Kizgin et al. [
23
] that conceptual-
ized social media as an agent of acculturation, and demonstrated that certain behaviors
on social media such as language preferences and social interaction drive acculturation,
and offline consumer behaviors (e.g., choice, political engagement). Nevertheless, these
recent studies do not examine how acculturation and cross-cultural factors affect eWOM
behavior on social media.
2.4. Cross-Cultural Factors
Cross-cultural eWOM communications are contingent on consumers’ capacity to
bridge cultural gaps [
59
]. Marketing research suggests that consumers may be less in-
clined to engage in eWOM on social media than in person due to the higher perceived
social risk associated with online sharing [
60
]. Accordingly, social risk reduces eWOM
engagement [
61
], and this risk grows with consumer uncertainty about or unfamiliarity
with others of different cultures. Additionally, consumer engagement with others goes
beyond the brand, and includes communal interactions [
62
]. Hence, cultural disparities
may hinder engagement. Therefore, we propose that consumer engagement with eWOM
communicated with outgroup cultures is affected by cross-cultural factors.
The influence of cross-cultural factors on intercultural eWOM interactions is expli-
cated by intergroup contact theory [
63
], which has been applied to explain intergroup
interactions [
64
]. Contact theory posits that negative attitudes held by one group toward
J. Theor. Appl. Electron. Commer. Res. 2021,16 2613
another result from lack of knowledge about that group. Under appropriate conditions,
interpersonal contacts between majority and minority group members facilitate learning
about outgroups. Better knowledge may lead to deeper understanding of and a more
positive attitude toward outgroups, which in turn, reduce conflicts and improve inter-
group relations. Interactions with outgroup members and mediated exposure to outgroup
members are enablers of trustful and reduced-friction contact [65].
2.4.1. Acculturation of Minority Consumers
MC members often interact with the DC and its institutions in various contexts,
including shopping, education, and work. During such interactions, MC members may
communicate with DC members, and comply with some DC norms. These situational
dynamics may lead to acculturation [66].
Acculturation is defined as ”changes induced in (two cultural) systems as a result of
the diffusion of cultural elements in both directions” [
18
] (p. 215), and is often discussed
in the context of geographic migration of ethnic-cultural groups [
67
]. From a migrant-
minority population perspective, acculturation develops as its members socialize and
come into contact with members of host-dominant cultures [
17
,
51
]. Native non-immigrant
members of ethno-cultural minorities may experience “cultural immigration” without the
confounding legal, political or geographical factors usually found in migration contexts [
22
].
Minorities’ acculturation thus reflects the degree of identification with the DC [
68
], and
may result in assimilation of the MC with the dominant one [66].
Intercultural research on immigrants’ behavior shows that even when accultura-
tion takes place, ethnic-cultural groups tend to remain clustered [
69
] while concurrently
adapting to the host society [
70
]. Accordingly, the post-assimilationist view in consumer
acculturation research recognizes that acculturation may occur take place although ethnic
minorities remain distinguished from the DC [21,22,71].
As individuals become acculturated to the host society, they may adopt some values
and attitudes of the host society [
50
,
72
]. Consequently, MC acculturated individuals have
broader common grounds with the DC and similar consumption patterns to those of DC
consumers [
21
,
22
,
51
]. Therefore, more highly acculturated MC consumers may gain greater
benefits from eWOM shared on SNS, as this information is more useful and consistent with
their newly adopted values and consumption preferences. The greater the anticipated ben-
efit from eWOM, the more positive the attitude toward eWOM
becomes [47,73]
. Therefore,
we hypothesize:
Hypothesis 4 (H4).
MC consumers’ attitudes toward engagement with eWOM communicated
with DC members are positively related to MC acculturation.
Past research also supports a direct relationship between acculturation and minority
consumer behavior in diverse contexts, such as choice of purchase location [
74
], and
shopping decision making styles [
75
]. The underlying mechanism was proposed to be
minorities’ adaptation to the dominant culture, which influences minorities’ choices [
76
,
77
].
On social media acculturation affects what information consumers use [
78
], which in turn
shape their online shopping behavior [24]. Therefore, we hypothesize:
Hypothesis 5 (H5).
Minority consumers’ intentions to receive and intentions to send eWOM are
positively related to their acculturation with DC.
2.4.2. DC Language Proficiency
DC language proficiency is MC consumers’ ability to read and write in the language
of the dominant culture. Intercultural research suggests that skills and competence influ-
ence people’s sense of control of behavioral execution. Specifically, minority consumers’
communication skills, cultural competence [
79
] and language proficiency [
80
] affect their
perceived control of their interactions with outgroups [
81
]. Mastering the DC language
enables MC social media users to understand and correctly interpret the nuances of DC
J. Theor. Appl. Electron. Commer. Res. 2021,16 2614
communications [
82
]. Language proficiency affects MC consumers’ overall media con-
sumption patterns [
83
], and their perceived ability to control what they read, share and
comment on, and how easily and quickly they do so [84].
On social media, host culture language proficiency facilitates minorities’ cross-cultural
communications [
52
], which further encourages their linguistic confidence [
85
]. Host
culture language proficiency reduces language barriers and can thus improve minority
behavioral control of intercultural communication over social media [
86
]. Social media
users’ multilingual proficiency fosters intercultural dialogue, collaboration, and sharing
of information across cultures [
82
]. As text-based eWOM has increasingly become an
important means of exchanging product information among consumers [
87
], DC language
proficiency is expected to drive consumers’ perceived ability to engage with eWOM shared
with DC consumers. Hence:
Hypothesis 6 (H6).
Minority consumers’ language proficiency is positively related to their
perceived behavioral control over engagement with eWOM communicated with consumers from the
dominant culture.
2.4.3. Social Interaction
Social interactions between MC and DC consumers provide the former with opportu-
nities to learn first-hand new behavioral repertoires that deemed appropriate and useful in
DC contexts [
66
]. Such interactions facilitate direct contact between MC and DC consumers,
and consequently fosters engagement in eWOM communication [88].
MC-DC interactions can enhance minority’s sense of belongingness to the DC group [
89
].
Enhanced belongingness may further translate to minorities’ sense of affiliation with the DC
and encourage expanding their social circle to include DC individuals. Consequently, MC
consumers are expected to increasingly re-interpret their subjective norms as supportive
of engagement with eWOM involving DC individuals. Therefore, there is the following
hypothesis:
Hypothesis 7 (H7).
MC consumers’ subjective norms that support engagement with eWOM com-
municated with DC individuals are positively related to the extent of social interactions involving
MC and DC.
2.4.4. Cultural Distance
Cultural distance is the extent to which cultures are different with respect to their
values, norms [
90
], and other cultural features such as languages, and beliefs [
91
]. Such
differences impede intergroup contacts that might otherwise promote intergroup familiarity
and successful intergroup eWOM engagement of minority consumers. Typically, high
culturally distant minorities maintain a more conservative orientation [
92
], which may in
turn mitigate the effects of cross-cultural relationships.
According to Berry [
17
], acculturation of minority consumers is affected by cultural dis-
tance. Intercultural research shows that higher cultural distance is associated with stronger
minority feelings of threat [
93
]. Accordingly, under high cultural distance conditions,
minorities may experience threat that can hinder affective response to acculturation [
92
].
Further, MC groups that are culturally remote from the DC will find it harder to adopt
the values and norms of the DC [
94
]. Under such circumstances, despite acculturation,
minority consumers may not benefit significantly from eWOM shared by mainstream
consumers. Consequently, acculturation will be less influential on improving consumer
attitude toward eWOM. On the other hand, if cultural distance is small, acculturation can
contribute considerably to minority consumers by mitigating the barriers to adopting DC’s
norms [66]. Hence, we hypothesize:
Hypothesis 8a (H8a).
Cultural distance moderates the relationship between MC consumers’
attitude toward engagement with eWOM and MC consumers’ acculturation, such that MC groups
that are culturally closer to the DC will show a stronger association between acculturation and
J. Theor. Appl. Electron. Commer. Res. 2021,16 2615
attitude toward engagement with eWOM with DC individuals, compared to MCs that are more
culturally distant from the DC.
Language proficiency alone may not be sufficient for stimulating MC consumers’
perceived control of eWOM communication, as minorities’ unfamiliarity with cultural
symbols may interfere with their confident command of communication. Due to the
interrelation between language proficiency and cultural distance [
91
], cultural distance
is expected to moderate the relationship between language proficiency and PBC. When
cultural distance is small, MC consumers can more easily use their language skills to
interpret explicit and implicit messages in DC language. When the cultural distance is
large, even language-proficient MC consumers may fall short in making sense of the
subtexts and nuances of DC language messages, which reduces their perceived control of
eWOM engagement. Hence:
Hypothesis 8b (H8b).
Cultural distance moderates the relationship between MC members’
perceived behavioral control of engagement with eWOM and MC proficiency in DC language.
The overall conceptual framework and hypotheses are illustrated in Figure 1.
JTAER 2021, 16, FOR PEER REVIEW 8
acculturation, minority consumers may not benefit significantly from eWOM shared by
mainstream consumers. Consequently, acculturation will be less influential on improving
consumer attitude toward eWOM. On the other hand, if cultural distance is small, accul-
turation can contribute considerably to minority consumers by mitigating the barriers to
adopting DC’s norms [66]. Hence, we hypothesize:
Hypothesis 8a (H8a). Cultural distance moderates the relationship between MC consumers’ at-
titude toward engagement with eWOM and MC consumers’ acculturation, such that MC groups
that are culturally closer to the DC will show a stronger association between acculturation and
attitude toward engagement with eWOM with DC individuals, compared to MCs that are more
culturally distant from the DC.
Language proficiency alone may not be sufficient for stimulating MC consumers’
perceived control of eWOM communication, as minorities’ unfamiliarity with cultural
symbols may interfere with their confident command of communication. Due to the in-
terrelation between language proficiency and cultural distance [91], cultural distance is
expected to moderate the relationship between language proficiency and PBC. When cul-
tural distance is small, MC consumers can more easily use their language skills to interpret
explicit and implicit messages in DC language. When the cultural distance is large, even
language-proficient MC consumers may fall short in making sense of the subtexts and
nuances of DC language messages, which reduces their perceived control of eWOM en-
gagement. Hence:
Hypothesis 8b (H8b). Cultural distance moderates the relationship between MC members’ per-
ceived behavioral control of engagement with eWOM and MC proficiency in DC language.
The overall conceptual framework and hypotheses are illustrated in Figure 1.
Figure 1. Conceptual Framework.
3. Methodology
3.1. Sample
Sampling for the study was conducted within the Israeli-Arab cultural community.
This minority was sampled because they (a) comprise a considerable percentage of Israeli
society; (b) preserve a distinct cultural orientation and unique way of life yet represent a
Figure 1. Conceptual Framework.
3. Methodology
3.1. Sample
Sampling for the study was conducted within the Israeli-Arab cultural community.
This minority was sampled because they (a) comprise a considerable percentage of Israeli
society; (b) preserve a distinct cultural orientation and unique way of life yet represent a
high degree of heterogeneity in many features including cultural characteristics and social
status [95]; and (c) routinely interact with the dominant culture [96].
Data were collected between December 2016 and April 2017 using a two-stage cluster
survey conducted in a major metropolitan region in northern Israel. The cultural hetero-
geneity of this region provides ample opportunity for Israeli-Arab individuals to interact
with the population of the dominant culture. Firstly, the Arab population was divided
into 125 geographic clusters (i.e., towns, villages), among which 30 clusters were randomly
selected. In the second stage, households were randomly sampled based on an address list,
and one adult member was interviewed face-to-face. A simple random sampling method is
J. Theor. Appl. Electron. Commer. Res. 2021,16 2616
considered a fair way to select truly representative samples from larger populations since
every population member has an equal chance of being selected [97].
Trained research assistants randomly approached 220 adults and requested them to
participate in the survey in exchange for payment of NIS20 (~USD 5.50). The questionnaire
consisted of measures of the research variables including demographics, and took about
30 minutes to complete. All participants were required to have some experience with
Facebook, the leading open social media application in Israel, where people of different
cultures easily communicate with each other. Given the cross-cultural nature of the research,
we followed the recommended procedure for such studies [98,99].
Specifically, the questions were first written in English, translated into Arabic, and
then into English again by a professional translator and by one of the authors whose native
language is Arabic. The questionnaire and its scales were pretested on 15 respondents,
refined, and translated again into English. To ensure face validity, respondents were asked
about the clarity of the statements, and, in particular, about the extent to which items
represented the constructs they aimed to reflect. A bilingual research assistant was closely
involved at all stages, identifying and resolving the cases where the Arabic concepts did
not convey the original intentions.
To avoid data collection biases (e.g., social desirability, interviewer effects) and to
ensure high data quality, several steps were taken. First, there was standardization of
the interview situation: Questions were formulated in such a way that the interviewers
could immediately obtain answers from respondents that fit the response format [
100
].
Accordingly, interviewers were not required to provide respondents with further explana-
tions before answering the questions. Second, skilled and well-trained interviewers were
recruited for the purpose of collecting the data [
101
]. This method is of great importance,
in particular when it comes to avoiding interviewer effects, as highly skilled interviewers
contribute to achieving a more standardized interviewing process [
102
,
103
]. Finally, to
reduce the effects of social desirability, self-administered questionnaires were employed.
Namely, the questionnaires were completed by the respondents themselves [104].
Participants (55% female) were all experienced Facebook users with varying levels of
usage intensity (18% low, 48% moderate, 34% high). Ages ranged from 19 to 69 years of
age (M = 34; SD = 11.7). The majority of participants had post-secondary education (66%),
with average income or above (61%).
3.2. Measurement
The questionnaire was based on nine validated scales adapted from past research
(see Table 1). Two scales were applied in their exact original forms. Minority consumers’
intention to engage with eWOM communicated with other consumers from the dominant
culture was measured on a bi-dimensional scale developed by Gvili and Levy [
14
]. This
scale measures two behavioral aspects of engagement: ITR and ITS. The additional seven
scales were adjusted to the context of the present study, which focuses on eWOM communi-
cations between minority and majority culture consumers. Attitudes toward eWOM shared
with DC were measured using a scale adapted from Gvili and Levy [
105
], by referring
specifically to product recommendations. Subjective norms and PBC were measured based
on Fu et al. [
106
], by referring specifically to receiving/sending product recommendations
on social media. The scale used to measure acculturation was based on Cuellar et al. [
107
],
by adjusting items to the correct lingual and geographic context. Social interactions with
members of the host society were measured using a scale adapted from Chiu, Hsu, and
Wang [
108
], by referring to the DC community. The perceived language proficiency scale
was taken from Sheldon [
109
], by adjusting items to the correct lingual context. Finally,
cultural distance was measured using a scale based on Demes and Geeraert [
110
], by
adjusting items to the context of the MC.
J. Theor. Appl. Electron. Commer. Res. 2021,16 2617
Table 1. Factor Loadings and Variables’ Reliability and Validity Measures.
Variables and Items Standardized
Coefficients
EFA
Loadings
Composite
Reliability
Cronbach’s
Alpha
Directions: Participants were instructed that the statements
below are related to their communications with individuals
from the culture of the majority population.
Intention to Receive (ITR) a[14] 0.94 0.90
1. I usually read recommendations on products and services
on social media. 0.88 * 0.76
2. Most of the time, I am pleased to read on social media
about the experiences other people have had with products
and services that interest me.
0.95 * 0.85
3. When I see them on social media, I am open to receiving
other peoples’ opinions on interesting products or services. 0.92 * 0.71
Intention To Send (ITS) a[14] 0.94 0.90
1. I tend to share my consumption experiences with others
on social media after using a new product. 0.89 * 0.74
2. When I receive valuable information on social media
about products or services, I usually forward it to others. 0.94 * 0.87
3. When I receive information on social media about
products or services, I tend to express my opinion there. 0.91 * 0.88
Attitude a[111] 0.93 0.88
1. In general, recommendations about products and services
on social media are a good thing. 0.90 * 0.78
2. In general, I like receiving recommendations about
products and services on social media. 0.92 * 0.81
3. In general, recommendations about products and services
on social media are a positive thing. 0.88 * 0.66
Subjective Norms a[106] 0.94 0.90
1. People who influence my behavior think that I should use
social media to receive or share recommendations about
products and services.
0.90 * 0.84
2. People who are important to me think that I should use
social media to receive or share recommendations about
products and services.
0.91 * 0.75
3. People whose opinions I appreciate think that I should use
social media to receive or share recommendations about
products and services.
0.93 * 0.72
Perceived Behavioral Control (PBC) a[106] 0.93 0.88
1. I have control over using social media to receive or share
recommendations about products and services. 0.83 * 0.77
2. I have the resources necessary to use social media to
receive or share opinions about products and services. 0.94 * 0.87
3. I have the knowledge necessary to use social media to
receive or share recommendations about products and
services.
0.91 * 0.74
Acculturation [107] 0.91 0.87
1. I am pleased when I listen to Israeli music. 0.87 * 0.81
2. I feel satisfied when I use Hebrew. 0.94 * 0.83
3. I enjoy reading Israeli literature (e.g., books or
newspapers). 0.90 * 0.78
4. I like to define myself as an Israeli. 0.69 * 0.77
Social Interaction [108] 0.93 0.88
1. I have frequent communication with some members
outside my community. 0.87 * 0.84
2. I spend a lot of time interacting with some members
outside my community. 0.93 * 0.86
3. I maintain close social relationships with some members
outside my community. 0.90 * 0.80
J. Theor. Appl. Electron. Commer. Res. 2021,16 2618
Table 1. Cont.
Variables and Items Standardized
Coefficients
EFA
Loadings
Composite
Reliability
Cronbach’s
Alpha
Language Proficiency [109] 0.94 0.91
1. I speak Hebrew with family or close friends. 0.89 * 0.85
2. I read Hebrew newspapers/magazines/books. 0.95 * 0.88
3. I write Hebrew well. 0.93 * 0.78
Cultural Distance [110] 0.87 0.78
1. In terms of family lifestyle, my culture is different than the
culture of the majority population. 0.87 * 0.83
2. In terms of food consumption, my culture is different than
the culture of the majority population. 0.82 * 0.81
3. In terms of values and beliefs, my culture is different than
the culture of the majority population. 0.81 * 0.80
Notes: * p< 0.01,
a
: items are related to minority participants’ communications with individuals from the culture of the majority population.
Respondents were asked to rate their agreement with the statements above concern-
ing their engagement with eWOM communication with other consumers that belong to
the dominant culture, on a seven-point Likert scale from one (strongly disagree) to seven
(strongly agree). The statements were all related to participant product- and brand-related
communication activities (such as reading/sharing others’ product recommendations,
product experiences, and product opinions) involving consumers from the Israeli majority
population. Research assistants explicitly explained to the participants that the items on
the questionnaire refer to such product- and brand-related communication activities with
other consumers of the dominant culture.
4. Results
4.1. Validity and Reliability
All variable items were subjected to an exploratory factor analysis (EFA). The extrac-
tion method used was principal component analysis with varimax rotation. EFA yielded
nine factors that explain 82.19% of the model’s cumulative variance. All items were satis-
factorily loaded on the scales they were designed to measure (>0.60). Cronbach’s alphas
for model components were satisfactory (>0.70).
4.2. Common Method Bias
The use of self-report data entails a potential problem of common method bias (CMB)
occurrence. This problem was addressed both by the design of the study’s procedure
and its statistical controls, as proposed by Podsakoff et al. [
112
]. At the design level,
respondents were guaranteed anonymity and confidentiality. They were also assured that
there were no right or wrong answers and were requested to answer the questions honestly.
These instructions should reduce participants’ social desirability, which is a key source of
common method bias, and their evaluation apprehension. In addition, all participants were
experienced with Facebook, which further reduced the likelihood of CMB occurrence [
113
].
Statistical tests were conducted to gauge the extent of CMB in the data [
112
]. Harman’s
single-factor test [
114
] shows that the single factor accounted for a small share of the total
variance (37.0%). This suggests that common method effects were not likely to bias the
results observed in this investigation.
4.3. Empirical Findings
Structural equation modelling (SEM) employing SmartPLS 3.0 was used for the analy-
sis. Bootstrapping samples of 5000 were retained. Several alternative models were analyzed
and compared, following an acceptable procedure proposed in past research [
115
]. The
model with the best fit was retained as the final model.
J. Theor. Appl. Electron. Commer. Res. 2021,16 2619
Results indicate an acceptable fit of the model. The measures of discrepancy are below
their corresponding HI
95
value. That is, the discrepancy between the empirical correlation
matrix and the model implied that the correlation matrix is insignificant [
116
]. As follows,
the standardized root mean square residual (SRMR) is 0.061 (HI
95
= 0.063), which is lower
than the acceptable value of 0.08. The geodesic discrepancy (d
G
) is 0.880 (HI
95
= 22.746),
and the unweighted least squares discrepancy (d
ULS
) is 1.515 (HI
95
= 1.591) [
117
]. Moreover,
the value of normed fit index (NFI) is 0.800, which is within a satisfactory level [118].
Convergent validity meets the recommended threshold values for both composite
reliability (CR > 0.70) [
119
] and average variance extracted (AVE > 0.50) [
120
]. The square
root of AVE for each variable is greater than the correlations between the variables and
all other variables in the model, signifying that these variables have discriminant valid-
ity. Discriminant validity is further verified by using the HeteroTrait-MonoTrait (HTMT)
criterion [
121
], which is less than 0.90 [
121
,
122
], and all individual values fall within the
confidence interval. Finally, variance inflation factor (VIF) values meet the recommended
threshold (VIF < 5.0) [
123
]. Additionally, the average variance inflation factor (
AVIF = 1.60
)
is lower than 5, as recommended [
124
], and therefore, indicates no collinearity. Over-
all, the proposed model exhibits adequate reliability, construct validity, and collinearity
(see Table 2).
Table 2. VIF, AVE, Correlations and Heterotrait-Monotrait Ratio (HTMT).
Construct VIF AVE 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
1. ITR 2.02 0.84 0.91 0.64 0.76 0.55 0.58 0.40 0.34 0.38 0.37
2. ITS 1.75 0.83
0.58 **
0.91 0.58 0.57 0.46 0.40 0.33 0.27 0.21
3. Attitude 2.25 0.81
0.69 ** 0.51 **
0.90 0.65 0.63 0.38 0.39 0.38 0.33
4. Subjective Norms 1.81 0.83
0.47 ** 0.51 ** 0.53 **
0.91 0.64 0.35 0.37 0.23 0.34
5. PBC 1.73 0.82
0.49 ** 0.39 ** 0.52 ** 0.55 **
0.90 0.29 0.44 0.41 0.29
6. Acculturation 1.21 0.73
0.27 ** 0.30 ** 0.18 ** 0.31 ** 0.23 **
0.85 0.41 0.57 0.24
7. Social Interaction 1.17 0.81
0.33 ** 0.30 ** 0.34 ** 0.31 ** 0.35 ** 0.31 **
0.90 0.55 0.07
8. Language Proficiency 1.16 0.85
0.32 ** 0.22 ** 0.29 ** 0.20 ** 0.34 ** 0.50 ** 0.49 **
0.92 0.25
9. Cultural Distance 1.13 0.69
0.32 ** 0.19 ** 0.29 ** 0.25 ** 0.20 **
0.16 * 0.05
0.18 **
0.83
Notes: * p< 0.05, ** p< 0.01; VIF = variance inflation factor; AVE = average variance extracted; correlations are displayed below the diagonal.
HTMT values are displayed above the diagonal; square roots of average variances extracted (AVEs) shown on diagonal.
4.4. Hypothesis Testing
Model testing results show path coefficients and total variance explained for each
of the dependent variable: ITR and ITS (see Table 3, Figure 2). The model exhibits high
explanatory power of 50% for ITR and 41% for ITS. Stone-Geisser’s Q2 values confirm its
predictive relevancy [117], as all Q2 values are greater than zero.
H1a and H1b propose that minority consumers’ attitudes toward eWOM are positively
related to minority consumers’ intentions to receive and send eWOM. The results support
H1a regarding attitude relationship with ITR (
β
= 0.50, p< 0.01), but not H1b regarding
the relationship with ITS (
β
= 0.10, p> 0.05). The results also show that ITR is positively
associated with ITS as part of the overall consumer engagement (
β
= 0.37, p< 0.01). A
mediation analysis reveals that ITR fully mediates the effect of consumer attitude on ITS
(β= 0.32, 95% CI: 0.23–0.42, t = 6.53; Sobel Z = 3.93, p< 0.01).
H2a and H2b suggest that minority consumers’ subjective norms to engage with
eWOM are positively related to ITR and ITS. The results show statistical support for H2b
(ITS:
β
= 0.25, p< 0.01), but not for H2a (ITR:
β
= 0.07, p> 0.05). That is, subjective norms
are positively related to ITS as hypothesized, but not to ITR.
J. Theor. Appl. Electron. Commer. Res. 2021,16 2620
Table 3. Results of Hypotheses Testing.
Hypothesis Path Relationship Path
Coefficient S.E. t
H1a Attitude Intention to Receive 0.50 0.08 6.52 **
H1b Attitude Intention to Send 0.10 0.08 1.25
H2a Subjective Norms Intention to Receive 0.07 0.08 0.88
H2b Subjective Norms Intention to Send 0.25 0.07 3.52 **
H3a
Behavioral Control
Intention to Receive
0.17 0.08 1.99 *
H3b Behavioral Control Intention to Send 0.01 0.08 0.12
H4 Acculturation Attitude 0.20 0.08 2.72 **
H5a Acculturation Intention to Receive 0.13 0.05 2.53 *
H5b Acculturation Intention to Send 0.14 0.07 1.90
H6 Language Proficiency Behavioral
Control 0.23 0.07 3.46 **
H7 Social Interaction Subjective Norms 0.16 0.06 2.91 **
H8a Cultural Distance ×Acculturation
Attitude 0.17 0.07 2.54 *
H8b Cultural Distance ×Language Proficiency
Behavioral Control 0.23 0.04 5.27 **
Note: p< 0.10; * p< 0.05; ** p< 0.01.
JTAER 2021, 16, FOR PEER REVIEW 13
Figure 2. Conceptual Model Testing. Note: Path parameters are standardized parameter estimates;
dashed arrows indicate moderation; R
2
are depicted in the right-hand corner; † p < 0.10; * p < 0.05; **
p < 0.01.
Table 3. Results of Hypotheses Testing.
Hypothesis Path Relationship
Path Co-
efficient S.E. t
H1a Attitude Intention to Receive 0.50 0.08 6.52 **
H1b Attitude Intention to Send 0.10 0.08 1.25
H2a Subjective Norms Intention to Receive 0.07 0.08 0.88
H2b Subjective Norms Intention to Send 0.25 0.07 3.52 **
H3a Behavioral Control Intention to Receive 0.17 0.08 1.99 *
H3b Behavioral Control Intention to Send 0.01 0.08 0.12
H4 Acculturation Attitude 0.20 0.08 2.72 **
H5a Acculturation Intention to Receive 0.13 0.05 2.53 *
H5b Acculturation Intention to Send 0.14 0.07 1.90
H6 Language Proficiency Behavioral Control 0.23 0.07 3.46 **
H7 Social Interaction Subjective Norms 0.16 0.06 2.91 **
H8a Cultural Distance × Acculturation Attitude 0.17 0.07 2.54 *
H8b Cultural Distance × Language Proficiency
Behavioral Control 0.23 0.04 5.27 **
Note: † p < 0.10; * p < 0.05; ** p < 0.01.
H1a and H1b propose that minority consumers’ attitudes toward eWOM are posi-
tively related to minority consumers’ intentions to receive and send eWOM. The results
support H1a regarding attitude relationship with ITR (β = 0.50, p < 0.01), but not H1b re-
garding the relationship with ITS (β = 0.10, p > 0.05). The results also show that ITR is
positively associated with ITS as part of the overall consumer engagement (β = 0.37, p <
0.01). A mediation analysis reveals that ITR fully mediates the effect of consumer attitude
on ITS (β = 0.32, 95% CI: 0.23–0.42, t = 6.53; Sobel Z = 3.93, p < 0.01).
H2a and H2b suggest that minority consumers’ subjective norms to engage with
eWOM are positively related to ITR and ITS. The results show statistical support for H2b
(ITS: β = 0.25, p < 0.01), but not for H2a (ITR: β = 0.07, p > 0.05). That is, subjective norms
are positively related to ITS as hypothesized, but not to ITR.
Figure 2.
Conceptual Model Testing. Note: Path parameters are standardized parameter estimates;
dashed arrows indicate moderation; R
2
are depicted in the right-hand corner;
p< 0.10; * p< 0.05;
** p< 0.01.
H3a and H3b suggest that minority consumers’ perceived behavioral control to engage
with eWOM communicated with DC members is positively related to ITR and ITS. The
results reveal that PBC is positively related to ITR (
β
= 0.17, p< 0.05) but not to ITS (
β= 0.01
,
p> 0.05). Yet, PBC has a marginal indirect relationship with ITS, which is mediated by ITR
(
β
= 0.06, 95% CI: 0.01–0.14, Sobel Z = 1.79, p= 0.07). Therefore, H3a is supported while
H3b is not supported.
H4 predicts a positive relationship between minority consumer acculturation with
DC and attitude. The results revealed positive relationships between acculturation and
attitude (
β
= 0.20, p< 0.01). Hence, H4 is supported. Results also show an indirect effect
of acculturation on engagement with eWOM on both dimensions; ITR (
β
= 0.12, t = 2.61;
p< 0.05
; 95% CI: 0.03-0.22, Sobel Z = 2.51, p< 0.05) and ITS (
β
= 0.13, t = 3.01;
p< 0.05
;
95% CI: 0.05–0.22, Sobel Z = 2.18; p< 0.05). Attitude is also positively related to subjective
J. Theor. Appl. Electron. Commer. Res. 2021,16 2621
norms (
β
= 0.49, p> 0.01). Consequently, acculturation has an indirect effect on subjective
norms, which is mediated by attitude (
β
= 0.10, 95% CI: 0.03–0.18, Sobel Z = 2.61,
p< 0.01
).
H5a and H5b suggest that minority consumer acculturation with the DC is positively
and directly related to ITR and ITS. The results reveal that acculturation is positively related
to ITR (
β
= 0.13, p< 0.05) but only marginally to ITS (
β
= 0.14, p= 0.06). Therefore, H5a is
supported while H5b is marginally supported.
H6 addresses the effect of perceived language proficiency of minority consumers
on their perceived behavioral control to engage with eWOM communication with DC
members. The results support the hypothesized relationship (
β
= 0.23, p< 0.01) which
supports H6.
H7 suggests a positive relationship between social interaction of minority consumers
with DC members and the subjective norms of the former to engage with eWOM. The
results revealed a positive relationship between social interaction and subjective norms
(
β
= 0.16, p< 0.01). Thus, H7 is supported. In addition, we found a direct effect of social
interaction on attitude (
β
= 0.25, p< 0.01). These results further reveal that attitude mediates
the effect of social interaction on ITR (
β
= 0.17, t = 3.64; p< 0.01; 95% CI: 0.08–0.27, Sobel
Z = 3.08
,p< 0.01), and on ITS (
β
= 0.15, t = 3.72; p< 0.05; 95% CI: 0.07–0.24; Sobel Z = 2.51,
p< 0.05).
Cultural distance was hypothesized (H8a, H8b) as a factor moderating the effects of
intercultural factors (e.g., acculturation, perceived language proficiency,) on MC individu-
als’ beliefs regarding their engagement with eWOM (attitudes and PBC). The results show
that cultural distance negatively moderates the positive relationship of acculturation and
attitudes (β=0.17, p< 0.01), supporting H8a.
Finally, H8b suggests that cultural distance negatively moderates the effect of per-
ceived language proficiency on PBC. The results offer statistical support for this proposed
relationship (β=0.23, p< 0.01). Therefore, H8b is supported.
Taking the above together, the study results indicate that the three behavioral an-
tecedents are mediators of consumer intention to engage with eWOM communication
that originated from the dominant culture. This is consistent with the theory of planned
behavior. However, intercultural factors (e.g., acculturation) may create an alternative
direct route to engagement with eWOM.
Furthermore, the current study approaches intercultural eWOM engagement in a
unique way that distinguishes between minority consumer intentions to receive and share
eWOM. Our findings reveal that the behavioral processes that result in each class of
engagement are distinct and contingent on different consumer beliefs. ITR is mainly
associated with consumer attitudes and their sense of behavioral control, while ITS depends
on subjective norms. These two dimensions of consumer engagement differ by the level of
activation and effort they involve. While receiving eWOM is a relatively passive action,
sharing eWOM requires a higher level of consumer activation. The act of sharing often
requires consumers to forward their social contacts a message they have already received,
or take the initiative and create a new message. This explains why the effects of two key
consumers beliefs (i.e., attitude, PBC) on ITS are mediated by ITR. Unlike receiving eWOM,
the outcomes of sharing eWOM with one’s social contacts is visible to others, and may
involve face concerns [
125
] regarding the influence on one’s image in the context of social
interaction [
126
]. Therefore, this behavior potentially affects the way they are perceived by
their social circles. This may explain why subjective norms are the only direct predictor
of ITS.
Additionally, a minority consumer’s intention to send eWOM is mainly a matter of
community norms as she interprets them but not of her perceived personal abilities or
skills. This suggests that minority consumers may hesitate to send eWOM on SNS to
outsiders even though they have the personal resources to do so. Social exchange theory
(SET) [
127
] may explain this hesitation. According to SET, a required condition for social
exchange is that the exchanging parties perceive each other as capable of delivering and
benefiting from the exchanged value. Therefore, minority consumers may be reluctant
J. Theor. Appl. Electron. Commer. Res. 2021,16 2622
to communicate with SNS users outside their community if they are perceived as being
incapable of interpreting outgroup messages.
The findings suggest that minority consumer acculturation affects engagement with
eWOM along two paths. In one path, acculturation is directly tied to eWOM engagement.
This indicates that as minority individuals become more acculturated to the host society (i.e.,
DC), they may be drawn culturally closer [
72
] and consequently have more opportunities
to engage with the host society. Hence, engagement with eWOM on social media may
be an expression of minority acculturation [
51
]. This view is also supported by SIT as
acculturation may cultivate the sense of belonging of minority individuals to the dominant
culture, which motivates engagement with DC group individuals [128].
In the second path, minority consumer acculturation influences their attitudes and
subjective norms to engage with eWOM. This implies that as ethnic minorities become
acculturated with the host society, cultural elements are mutually conveyed and reduce
communication-inhibiting factors. In turn, MC consumers become more open to dominant
culture consumer norms, and may adopt the host society’s values, which may also increase
MC consumer inclination to engage with DC consumer eWOM communications [
40
]. These
findings are consistent with previous studies showing that acculturation reduces the gap
between cultures in terms of consumer attitudes and subjective norms [
72
]. Through
acculturation, MC consumers who recognize the benefits of DC-originated eWOM are
more open to accepting the behavioral norms of DC consumers [
66
]. Consequently, the
majority’s values may better resonate with MC consumers, who consequently develop a
more positive attitude toward eWOM communicated by DC consumers [47,73,105].
Social interactions with DC members establish new affiliations and identities for MC
members [
129
]. Accordingly, MC consumers who socially interact with DC members are
more likely to perceive their social circle’s norms as supportive of eWOM engagement
with the DC community [
130
]. Perceived social approval further translates into increased
intention to send eWOM to DC consumers because sending messages may reveal one’s
identity, which requires social approval. This finding corresponds with past research
suggesting that intercultural social interactions enhance minorities’ sense of belongingness
to the dominant culture and their use of the dominant culture as a reference group [
89
].
Accordingly, MC members who interact extensively with the DC are more likely to perceive
engagement with eWOM that originated with DC consumers as acceptable behavior that is
sanctioned by their own social circle.
In line with previous research [
86
], our findings demonstrate that DC language profi-
ciency enhances the sense of control of MC individuals over the DC social media environ-
ment [80], and improves interaction with outgroup members [81].
Cultural distance moderates the effect of intercultural factors on consumer beliefs
regarding engagement with eWOM. Acculturation of MC members has a significantly
stronger positive effect on attitude when cultural distance is small (see Figure 3a). This
finding is in accordance with previous studies that report that acculturation is motivated
by cultural distance [
17
]. High cultural distant MC members find it harder to adopt
the values and norms of the dominant cultural group [
94
]. Thus, they are less likely to
appreciate the benefits resulting from engagement with eWOM communicated with DC
members. Acculturation can mitigate these difficulties [
66
] and increase individual attitudes
in support of engagement with eWOM, primarily when cultural distance is smaller.
J. Theor. Appl. Electron. Commer. Res. 2021,16 2623
JTAER 2021, 16, FOR PEER REVIEW 16
values and norms of the dominant cultural group [94]. Thus, they are less likely to appre-
ciate the benefits resulting from engagement with eWOM communicated with DC mem-
bers. Acculturation can mitigate these difficulties [66] and increase individual attitudes in
support of engagement with eWOM, primarily when cultural distance is smaller.
Cultural distance also negatively moderates the relationship between language pro-
ficiency and PBC (see Figure 3b). Minority proficiency of the host language can bridge the
cultural distance from the dominant culture [131]. This in turn affects MC consumers’ per-
ceived ability to participate in or control interactions with DC consumers [82,84]. The cur-
rent study demonstrates that MC consumers who are proficient in the dominant language
perceive themselves to be able to engage more easily with eWOM communications that
originated with DC consumers. When cultural distance is large, enhanced language pro-
ficiency will not affect minorities’ PBC.
(a) (b)
Figure 3. Moderation effects of cultural distance: (a) Moderates the relationship between acculturation of MC members
and attitude; (b) moderates the relationship between language proficiency and PBC.
5. Discussion
Drawing upon the theory of planned behavior, the purpose of the current research
was to model the effect of intercultural factors on minority consumers’ engagement with
eWOM communicated with members of the dominant culture. Overall, the findings sup-
port the notion that intercultural factors predict this effect, demonstrating that the associ-
ation is mediated by minority consumers’ attitudes, social norms, and PBC of eWOM en-
gagement.
5.1. Theoretical Contributions
The present study offers several theoretical contributions. First, the study contributes
to the literature on ethnic consumer behavior by providing a new theoretical framework
for understanding the effects of intercultural factors on minority consumers’ behavior on
social media. This study integrates intercultural factors with the theory of planned behav-
ior [132] to explain minority consumers’ engagement with eWOM communicated with
members of the dominant culture.
Past research findings suggest that national culture predicts consumer engagement
with both traditional WOM [133] and eWOM [134,135]. The present study contributes to
this literature by demonstrating that cultural factors are important determinants of
eWOM engagement even within the same national-social context. Further, the underlying
mechanism of these effects is proposed to be consumer beliefs based on TPB.
In addition, one stream of previous research found that culture has moderating ef-
fects on consumer response to eWOM [33,136,137], while another showed that culture acts
as an antecedent of this behavior [32,58]. The current research findings contribute to
Figure 3.
Moderation effects of cultural distance: (
a
) Moderates the relationship between acculturation of MC members and
attitude; (b) moderates the relationship between language proficiency and PBC.
Cultural distance also negatively moderates the relationship between language pro-
ficiency and PBC (see Figure 3b). Minority proficiency of the host language can bridge
the cultural distance from the dominant culture [
131
]. This in turn affects MC consumers’
perceived ability to participate in or control interactions with DC consumers [
82
,
84
]. The
current study demonstrates that MC consumers who are proficient in the dominant lan-
guage perceive themselves to be able to engage more easily with eWOM communications
that originated with DC consumers. When cultural distance is large, enhanced language
proficiency will not affect minorities’ PBC.
5. Discussion
Drawing upon the theory of planned behavior, the purpose of the current research was
to model the effect of intercultural factors on minority consumers’ engagement with eWOM
communicated with members of the dominant culture. Overall, the findings support the
notion that intercultural factors predict this effect, demonstrating that the association is
mediated by minority consumers’ attitudes, social norms, and PBC of eWOM engagement.
5.1. Theoretical Contributions
The present study offers several theoretical contributions. First, the study contributes
to the literature on ethnic consumer behavior by providing a new theoretical framework for
understanding the effects of intercultural factors on minority consumers’ behavior on social
media. This study integrates intercultural factors with the theory of planned behavior [
132
]
to explain minority consumers’ engagement with eWOM communicated with members of
the dominant culture.
Past research findings suggest that national culture predicts consumer engagement
with both traditional WOM [
133
] and eWOM [
134
,
135
]. The present study contributes
to this literature by demonstrating that cultural factors are important determinants of
eWOM engagement even within the same national-social context. Further, the underlying
mechanism of these effects is proposed to be consumer beliefs based on TPB.
In addition, one stream of previous research found that culture has moderating effects
on consumer response to eWOM [
33
,
136
,
137
], while another showed that culture acts as an
antecedent of this behavior [
32
,
58
]. The current research findings contribute to bridging
this gap, by demonstrating that some intercultural factors can act as moderators (e.g.,
cultural distance), while others act as antecedents (e.g., acculturation, social interaction).
Intercultural factors are numerous and extremely diverse. The present research theo-
rizes that the nature of their effects on minority consumer behavior also varies significantly.
By integrating four different intercultural factors into one conceptual model, we demon-
J. Theor. Appl. Electron. Commer. Res. 2021,16 2624
strate their interplay. This entails that intercultural factor are highly complex in their effects
as they have both direct effects on consumer behavior and interaction effects with other
intercultural factors. Accordingly, the present study supports and extends past research.
Second, the present study contributes to the literature supporting the post-assimilatio-
nist view in consumer acculturation research [
21
,
22
,
71
] by providing an explanation for the
tendency of minority consumers to remain distinct, despite acculturation [
66
]. According
to this theoretical view, ethnic minority consumers employ various ethnic consumption
practices (e.g., consuming ethnic foods, wearing ethnic attire) as instruments to reinforce
their identity in mixed cultural environments. The present study adds to this theory
by asserting that the post-assimilationist view is mainly applicable to polarized cultural
settings, that is, in high cultural distance contexts. When cultural distance is sufficiently
large, acculturation does not encourage communications regarding consumer choices or
opinions (i.e., eWOM) between the minority and dominant culture groups, because such
communication is not instrumental for supporting minorities’ ethnic identity. For example,
acculturated Canadian immigrants in the US may be more inclined to engage in reading
and sharing American consumers’ products online reviews on Facebook than acculturated
Syrian immigrants.
Furthermore, the findings of the present research provide an additional explanation
for the argument that minority consumer engagement in eWOM on social media is mul-
tidimensional [
15
]. Because engagement behavior is preceded by consumer beliefs (e.g.,
attitude), the multi-layered nature of these beliefs [
138
] allows minority consumers to
hold a positive attitude toward sharing eWOM on a particular topic (e.g., reviewing baby
diapers) but a negative attitude regarding others (e.g., recommending video games). This is
also consistent with the post-assimilationist view, which also accepts that acculturation can
result in minority adaptation, in some respects, to the dominant culture while remaining
distinct in others.
Third, the study contributes to the literature on consumer engagement. Engagement
theory asserts that engagement is context-specific in that it varies across brands and prod-
ucts [
139
,
140
] The framework presented in this paper supports this flexible theoretical
approach and extends it by demonstrating that engagement is contingent on the social-
intercultural context in which eWOM communications occur. The extended perspective
of engagement is rooted in the consumer engagement behavior model [
34
], which inte-
grates customer-based and context-based factors (e.g., intercultural-related factors) with
firm-based factors (brand-related factors).
5.2. Managerial and Practical Implications
As consumer social activity and media consumption shift from traditional channels
to social media, and with the expansion of digital trade [
141
143
], the rising power of
consumers in digital media [
144
] creates new challenges for marketers: consumers can
follow brands, interact with messages, and share and amplify their impact, yet also have
the ability to filter out marketing messages at will. This aspect of consumer behavior
may significantly influence the success of particular marketing campaigns or brands.
Our findings can help marketers plan marketing communications that engage audiences
meaningfully and generate positive electronic word of mouth when they target ethnic-
cultural minorities.
The findings of the present study suggest that marketing practitioners should note
the effects of intercultural factors on minority consumers’ inclination to engage with
brand-related eWOM shared by consumers from the dominant culture. First, engaging
highly acculturated ethnic minority consumers with brand-related eWOM shared by
the majority is an effective marketing strategy. For example, in promoting food brands
to US-born Hispanics, marketers should use mainstream social media or apps, as this
minority is highly acculturated in the general American culture [
145
,
146
]. Consequently,
this group is inclined to accept and share product recommendations regardless of the ethnic
affiliation of the sender. Nevertheless, this suggestion is less valid for low cultural distance
J. Theor. Appl. Electron. Commer. Res. 2021,16 2625
contexts. Therefore, marketers should avoid initiating online brand-related conversations
between culturally distant ethnic minorities and the majority group. Culturally distant
minorities refrain from engaging with eWOM shared by the majority even if they are highly
acculturated with the dominant culture. Targeting such minority consumers via closed
ethnic Facebook groups, online ethnic communities, or niche websites may prove more
effective in enhancing engagement with the marketing message.
In addition, the results can help improve the dissemination of opinions of consumers
in diverse cultural groups via channels such as Facebook’s News Feed and Twitter where
social algorithms electronically customize the information presented to users. As these
algorithms become increasingly complex and less transparent, their developers struggle
to understand and harness their influence on consumer behavior [
147
]. Nevertheless,
Facebook users’ proactive choices influence their exposure to opinions of others with
different viewpoints more strongly than algorithmic ranking [
148
]. Because people’s friends
generally are similar to them [
149
], consumer reliance on same-ethnicity Facebook users
as a source of product information may result in ingroup bias with low outgroup eWOM
engagement. Nonetheless, our findings suggest that incorporating factors such social
interaction and language proficiency into social algorithms can diversify, and potentially
improve, minority consumers’ access to useful product information even if it originates
with consumers of other ethnicities.
The findings also suggest that marketers can promote brand-related eWOM by encour-
aging online conversations between minority and majority cultural groups. Our findings
suggest that more frequent social interactions reinforce minorities’ perceived social norms
that support engagement with eWOM shared with the dominant culture group. Accord-
ingly, P&G’s ‘The Talk’ campaign discussed in the Introduction section demonstrates that
incorporating topics that trigger conversations between minority- and majority-group
consumers contributes to the marketing success of the brand.
Finally, marketers can proactively reduce minority consumers’ perceived cultural
distance from the dominant culture, hereby facilitating the positive effect of acculturation
on engagement with eWOM. This may be particularly important due to the pivotal role
of acculturation in the eWOM engagement formation process. By increasing minority
representation and refraining from the use of stereotyping in their marketing communi-
cations, marketers can reduce perceived cultural distance, affirm minority ethnic identity,
and identify minorities as an integral part of the fabric of the general community [
150
].
The resulting marketing benefit may be twofold enhancing the effectiveness of marketing
campaigns, and attributing this desirable social change to the brand. These effects should
be further considered by regulators and policy makers due to their potential to reduce
social tension and enhance minorities’ integration in society.
5.3. Limitations and Future Research
The present research has several notable limitations that should be addressed in
future research. First, based on the theory of planned behavior and past empirical
research [47,57,151]
, the present research conceptualizes intercultural factors as antecedents
of consumer engagement with eWOM. An alternative perspective supported by past re-
search is that cultural factors can act as moderators rather than as antecedents [
134
,
137
,
152
].
Hence, it would be interesting to explore in future research the moderating role of the
intercultural factors discussed in this paper.
Second, based on contact theory, the present research examines the effect of intercul-
tural factors on MC consumer engagement with eWOM communicated with consumers of
the dominant/majority culture (DC). As such, our findings are limited to predicting minority
consumers’ behavioral engagement. Because majority consumers have higher social status
and access to more extensive resources [
153
], their behavioral engagement with eWOM
on social media may vary from minority consumers’ engagement [
154
]. Therefore, the
findings reported in this paper may not be applicable to predicting behavioral engagement
of majority consumers with minorities. Future research should examine the nature of domi-
J. Theor. Appl. Electron. Commer. Res. 2021,16 2626
nant/majority consumer engagement with eWOM communicated with minority consumers.
Nonetheless, although the host and minority cultures might influence each other, in reality,
the acculturation process is asymmetrical, affecting the minority groups more strongly than
the dominant population [66].
Third, the present study tested the effects of intercultural factors of a particular
minority group (Israeli-Arab consumers). To increase the generalizability of the findings,
future research should test the proposed theoretical framework with other minorities
in additional and different cultural contexts. Finally, this research focuses on eWOM
communication intentions rather than actual behavior. Collecting data based on eWOM
behaviors such as number of likes, shares, and the extent of comments on social media
would further improve the generalizability of the current study’s results.
6. Conclusions
With the growing popularity of social media across various cultures and minorities
it has become increasingly interesting to address the process by which minority eWOM
behavior is influenced by intercultural factors. To accomplish this goal, in the present
study, we developed a conceptual framework based on the theory of planned behavior [
46
]
and intergroup contact theory [
63
]. The model depicts the role of intercultural factors
(acculturation, social interaction, language proficiency, and cultural distance) as antecedents
of minority culture (MC) consumer engagement with eWOM, which is communicated with
the dominant cultural group.
A SEM-PLS analysis on data collected from the Israeli-Arab minority supported
the theoretical model. The results show that intercultural factors can predict minority
consumer engagement with eWOM communication that originated from the dominant
culture. However, this outcome is mainly mediated via the three behavioral antecedents, i.e.,
minority consumer attitudes, social norms, and PBC of eWOM engagement. Additionally,
the results indicate that cultural distance can moderate the effect of intercultural factors on
consumer beliefs regarding engagement with eWOM.
This research contributes to theory and practice and its novelty rests on the unique
social commerce dynamic that emerges from cultural gaps between minority and majority
cultural groups and is relevant when different cultural groups interact with each other.
Author Contributions:
Conceptualization, S.L., Y.G. and H.H.; methodology, S.L., Y.G. and H.H.;
software, H.H.; validation, S.L., Y.G. and H.H.; formal analysis, S.L.; investigation, Y.G.; resources,
S.L. and H.H.; data curation, Y.G.; writing—original draft preparation, S.L., Y.G. and H.H.; writing—
review and editing, S.L., Y.G. and H.H.; visualization, Y.G.; supervision, H.H.; project administration
Y.G.; funding acquisition, S.L. and H.H.. All authors have read and agreed to the published version
of the manuscript.
Funding: This research received no external funding.
Institutional Review Board Statement:
Approved by Ono Academic College (OAC) Ethics Committee.
Informed Consent Statement:
Informed consent was obtained from all subjects involved in the study.
Data Availability Statement: Data availability is upon request and consent of the authors.
Conflicts of Interest: The authors declare no conflict of interest.
Abbreviations
Abbreviation Details
AVE Average Variance Extracted
AVIF Average Variance Inflation Factor
CMB Common Method Bias
CR Composite Reliability
J. Theor. Appl. Electron. Commer. Res. 2021,16 2627
DC Dominant Culture
EFA Exploratory Factor Analysis
WOM Electronic Word of Mouth
HTMT Hetero Trait—Mono Trait
ITR Intention to Receive
ITS Intention to Send
MC Minority Culture
NFI Normed Fit Index
PBC Perceived Behavioral Control
PLS Partial Least Squares
SEM Structural Equation Modelling
SNS Social Network Sites
SRMR Standardized Root Mean Square Residual
Q2 Stone-Geisser’s Q2
TPB Theory of Planned Behavior
VIF Variance Inflation Factor
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... According to Levy et al. (2021) [56], subjective rules and behaviors are used to determine whether or not an individual intends to engage in a particular type of conduct. In the Theory of Reasoned Action (TRA) model, attitude is defined as the sense of affection or disagreement for particular objects [56]. ...
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