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Handbook of Research in International Marketing

Edited by Subhash C. Jain

Presenting the challenges and opportunities ahead, the contributors to this volume critically examine the current status and future direction of research in international marketing. The result of a sustained and lively dialogue among contributors from a variety of cultures, this volume gathers their perspectives and many insights on the revitalization of the field.
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Chapter 11: Language and Culture: Linguistic Effects on Consumer Behavior in International Marketing Research

Shi Zhang, Bernd H. Schmitt and Hillary Haley


11. Language and culture: linguistic effects on consumer behavior in international marketing research Shi Zhang, Bernd H. Schmitt and Hillary Haley INTRODUCTION In recent years, there has been a wealth of research examining the relevance of culture to consumer behavior. This chapter reviews a particular line of work within this larger body of research: work investigating the unique relevance of language. Our review finds that both structural features of language (properties of grammar) and lexical-semantic and phonological features of language (related to writing systems) are important. More specifically, current work suggests that these language features affect how consumers perceive, and also respond to, various marketing stimuli (e.g. advertisements and brand names). Our review summarizes and integrates a number of related findings, and highlights their practical significance. International marketing research has focused more and more heavily on the topic of cross-cultural consumer behavior. And this research has observed important cross-cultural differences in the processing, evaluation, and judgment of brand and product information. Much of this work suggests that cultural differences stem from pervasive socio-cultural or cognitive factors. For example, a good deal of research demonstrates that people have broad, culture-specific cognitive dispositions, like individualism or collectivism, which can guide consumer behavior (e.g. Aaker and Williams 1998; Hofstede 1980; Triandis 1989). Other work has built upon these fundamental findings, showing that there are specific conditions under which such dispositions are especially likely to affect consumer choice (e.g. Aaker and Lee 2001; Briley, Morris...

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