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Emerald Publishing Group

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Journal of Consumer Marketing

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Purpose – The purpose of this paper was to examine psychological variables of young Chinese to determine their impact on identification with global consumer culture, attitudes toward global and USA brands and intention to buy USA brands. The independent or psychological variables examined were self-monitoring, life satisfaction, brand relevance, social demonstration effect, change-seeking behavior and reference groups (interacted and non-interacted). The goal was to understand what forces drive global and USA brand preferences.

Design/methodology/approach – Data were collected in Guangzhou, China, in 2013 through a survey administered to 152 young Chinese respondents. Confirmatory factor analysis and reliability coefficients verified the psychometrics of each scale. Subsequently, the sample was divided into high versus low groups for each of the independent variables to perform mean tests for each on each of the four dependent variables.

Findings – The results showed that all the hypotheses were supported to some extent. The sample had a positive attitude toward all the dependent measures: identification with global consumer culture, global and USA brands and intention to buy USA brands. Self-monitoring and change-seeking behavior had the least association with the dependent variables. Brand relevance, social demonstration effect and interactive and non-interactive reference groups were all found to have strong support.

Research limitations/implications – The authors used an urban sample of young Chinese. Examining an older sample or one that was less urban would also be useful. Future research could also examine other emerging markets such as Brazil or Indonesia to identify the impact of the psychological variables.

Practical implications – Multinational firms wishing to grow revenues of their USA and global brands in China must be attuned to the social aspects of positioning their brands. The implications show that brand relevance, social demonstration and reference groups can be used for positioning of global and USA brands. As China is a collectivist society, using appeals that establish a brand’s desirability or relevance and its ability to allow users to socially demonstrate the brand to reference groups is likely to work well.

Originality/value – No study has assembled the variables in the manner investigated in this research, nor have other studies looked at young Chinese in terms of USA brand attitudes and identification with global consumer culture.


Accepted version. Journal of Consumer Marketing, Vol. 31, No. 4 (2014): 250-262. DOI. © 2014 Emerald Publishing Group. Used with permission.

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