The influence of brand effect on consumer behavior:
Irish and Chinese consumers in Ireland
This paper discusses the influence of brand effect on consumption behavior of the Irish and Chinese in Ireland. Since shopping and purchase decision are affect by many sociological factors, the factors that influence the Chinese and the Irish in Ireland may be inherently distinct. While the Chinese population in Dublin is only a small part of the total population, they are becoming an important cultural force in the city, which can have an effect on Ireland's economy. Brand loyalty can influence purchasing behavior, however, this paper will attempt to show that Consumer purchases are strongly influenced by cultural, social, personal, and psychological characteristics as opposed to brand names.
Keywords Brand effect, Chinese consumers, Irish consumers, brand loyalty
Paper type Research paper
Brand effect is the ability of a company to build a certain level of trust in their products. Brand effect and brand loyalty are essentially the same thing since being aware of a brand makes no difference to a company if the consumer doesn't plan on buying that brand again. Brand loyalty has been steadily decreasing among consumers over the past few years, which is due to price competition, a wider variety of products, and the ability to research many different brands due to consumer magazines and the Internet. Arguably, one of the most cited conceptual definitions of brand loyalty comes from Jacoby and Chestnut (1978): "The biased, behavioral response, expressed over time, by some decision-making unit, with respect to one or more alternative brands out of a set of such brands, and is a function of psychological (decision-making, evaluative) processes."
Shopping and purchase decision area affected by many sociological factors. Many studies have attempted to identify if and how informal social groups influence the brand preferences of their members. Stafford (1966) notes that the results suggest, first of all, that consumers are influenced by such groups and second, that the extent and degree of brand loyalty behavior within a group is more closely related to the behavior of the informal leader than to the cohesiveness of the group (1966).
According to a 1997 article featured in The Economist, approximately 100 million people live outside of their native lands. Thirteen years later, it is safe to say that this number has only increased with globalization. As people move away from their native cultures, familiar traditions of their countries are broken. Many of these travelers leave in hopes of finding a better life in their desired destination, but they also look backward on their homes and their own cultures and traditions when they are leaving. Kilduff and Corley (1999) suggest that it is "that backward glance" that may have "very powerful reverberations" (1999). The dispersal of populations resulting from these exile populations represent continuous processes with very significant implications for economic development and cultural change. Kotkin (1992) posits that the development of distinctive civilizations depends greatly on the knowledge and experiences brought over boundaries by the members of different cultures. There has been a lot of attention paid to the impact of exiles on cultures of destination, especially the effect of migrants from poor countries on the economies of richer countries.
Ireland is its own geographic, political and legal entity, but the Irish culture extends much further beyond those boundaries to encompass the virtual community of people who identity with the Irish culture. Kilduff and Corey (1999) notes that Irish people have tended to migrate from their own country to other countries for well over the past 150 years. Because of this exile, there are a lot more people of Irish descent living outside Ireland than living in Ireland. The population of the 26 counties that comprise the Republic of Ireland has dramatically decreased since the Great Famine (1999).
Ireland has been called a nation of immigrants and in 2004 Business Week reported that there were approximately 60,000 Chinese living in Ireland. This influx of Chinese across Ireland shows two specific trends in globalization: "the outward spread of China's people as well as its goods, and the transformation of Ireland to a nation of immigrants" (2004). While these 60,000 Chinese immigrants may sound like a small amount to most Americans, according to a 2002 Irish census (the first time anyone ever questioned nationality), there were 47,500 registered immigrants and 18,000 of those were returning Irish. However, for a country of approximately 3.9 million at the time, the figure was enormous (2004). "On a per-capita basis, it's more than four times the immigration rate of the U.S. And the official data underestimate the true scale of immigration" (2004).
The Chinese population in Dublin is only a small segment of the total population, but they are becoming an important cultural force in the city. What lured the Chinese immigrants to Ireland (and keeps luring them) is the economy as well Ireland's schools. As of 2004, 200,000 international students were coming each year to study in Ireland. The vast majority of Chinese who go to Ireland go for the schools that specialize in teaching the English language. The United States' clampdown on student visas was another reason for the influx of Chinese to Ireland. The question then becomes, because of the large Chinese population in Ireland, what effects has this had on Ireland's consumption of consumer products? When people immerse themselves into a different culture, they invariably bring along pieces of their own culture. However, it is necessary that the population also adapt to other consumer products that they may not be familiar with at all. Thus the people coming and the people already there will be introduced to new products and because of the shift in cultures and population, the people who are marketing to consumers must also make shifts if they want to continue to sell their brands.
The concept of brand effect has inspired much interest among academics and practitioners alike within the field of marketing and consumer behavior. This research will attempt to: establish the characteristics of Chinese consumers' behavior; establish the characteristics of Irish consumers' behavior; identify how brands can influence purchasing behavior; and lastly, identify what other facts can influence purchasing behavior.
Chinese consumer behavior and culture
For Chinese in China, the consumer's expectations of product quality in general have been on the rise in the past years -- probably because of the increase in income as well as sociological forces. Chinese consumers in Ireland, however, have been used to a certain level of quality. Chinese consumers in Ireland pay attention to aesthetic and social value rather than just focusing on the basic needs that go along with buying new products (warmth or protective functions in clothing, for example). Chinese consumers are less impulsive, in general, and will probably spend more time browsing before finally settling on a purchase item. This is probably a cultural element that has remained with the Chinese in Ireland. "In Chinese cities, window-shopping and browsing are favorite weekend pastimes" (Yi-you 2004).
An aspect of Chinese consumer culture that must be mentioned is the fact that Chinese culture is very influenced by other buyers. The typical Chinese consumer does not want to be among the first to try a new product, but the discomfort of being "behind the times" may lead them to believe that if the neighbors have it, then they ought to have it too (Yi-you 2004). The strong collective characteristics may imply that informal channels of communication are important in Chinese society (2004). Chinese consumers also tend to depend more on word-of-mouth information because they have a higher contact rate among group members.
Because of the influence of the cultural factor among Chinese consumers, specialty stores are very successful -- especially apparel retail stores (Yi-you 2004). Another aspect of Chinese consumer behavior has to do with the way in which they like to shop. Chinese consumers prefer to shop in an environment that is free of interference. In a store where the sales people are too eager to help, Chinese buyers may becomes uneasy and choose to leave the store.
Brand effect and the Chinese
The brand effect on the Chinese consumers' purchase willingness is considerable (Yi-you 2004). The reputation and track records of the brand almost always acts as the criterion by which the quality of the product will be considered (2004).
Studies of Chinese culture and its relationship to consumer habits indicate that people do not express their dissatisfaction as readily or directly as those accustomed to Western cultures (Yi-you 2004). However, Chinese consumers are still known to complain. What is clear is that consumers in Western world behave in very different ways than Chinese consumers -- even outside of their home country.
Yi-you (2004) notes that during the "immature stage of behavior, consumers' limited experience with modern marketing makes them depend on reputable brands and track records." Oftentimes, consumers may look at a product's price and decide whether or not the…
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