Understanding Culture, Motivation, and Ethnic Consumer Behavior

Understanding Culture, Motivation, and Ethnic Consumer Behavior

Fung Kuen Koo (University of Sydney, Australia) and Huong Le (Deakin University, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-6220-9.ch003


Understanding ethnic consumer behaviors through a case study of good practice and their innovative marketing strategies to ethnic consumers is important. Surprisingly, little has been done to discuss which practices and strategies may work best when marketing to ethnic consumers. This chapter presents a case study of the Immigration Museum (Melbourne, Australia) and how the organization uses strategies to promote their products and programs to ethnic consumers. The case study and in-depth interviews are the methods used. In this chapter, the authors argue that a combination of Alferder's and Schwartz's theoretical frameworks help museum marketers understand behaviors of ethnic groups, thereby using appropriate marketing strategies in encouraging their consumption. This chapter extends current marketing literature on consumers' motivation, drive, and needs, and non-profit marketing, and validates selected motivational theories. It also provides practical implications for marketers of non-profit organizations.
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Extant marketing literature shows a growing interest in understanding the relationship between culture and ethnic consumer behavior relating to a variety of products (Jamal, 2003; Jamal & Chapman, 2000; Pires & Stanton, 2000). However, the consumption of artistic products by ethnic groups remains relatively unexplored. In this chapter, we use a term ‘artistic products’ to refer to arts and cultural events, performances, exhibitions, objects, and literature which are created by artists based on their personal ideas and feelings. It is important to further understand this market given growing ethnic populations in many multicultural nations and their low consumption of many products previously identified.

Australia is one of the most ethnically diverse populations in the world (Willis & Elmer, 2011) with an increasing Asian population, approximately 44 percent of all Australians being either born overseas or having one of their parents who was born in another country (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2006). Yet, scant research (see Australia Council, 2010; Le & Fujimoto, 2010, 2011) has investigated ethnic consumer behavior in the Australian context and challenges remain for non-profit organizations which are focused on bringing artistic and cultural products to consumers.

An ethnic group is any group which shares characteristics such as language, cultural origin, race and religion (Willis & Elmer, 2011). This group is a minority of the mainstream population. For example, in Australia ethnic groups can be migrants from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds or children of those migrants from Asia, Europe or Africa. However, within the scope of this chapter we will focus solely on Asian ethnic groups in Australia.

Understanding culture’s influence on consumer behavior has become essential for marketers (Jung & Kau, 2004). Marketing managers acknowledge the need to become oriented towards ethnic groups for continued success in the marketplace as the ethnic groups grow in size and in proportion to the dominant culture (Ogden, Ogden, & Schau, 2004). Sekhon and Szmigin (2009) emphasize it is important to understand the key characteristics of ethnic communities so that appropriate messages and relevant media choices can be used to target these markets. Many markets are culturally diverse, which means a number of ethnic groups coexist within the one national market (Pires & Stanton, 2000), making it more difficult for marketers to target ethnic consumers effectively.

As part of the service industry and/or the non-profit sector, it is possibly more challenging to attract ethnic consumers to artistic productions because of their intangible nature. This chapter focuses on understanding the motivations and needs of ethnic communities and marketing strategies to attract those communities in the context of the Immigration Museum (Melbourne, Australia). We argue that a combination of aspects of Alderfer’s (1969) and Schwartz’s (1994) frameworks help the Immigration museum marketers understand behaviors of ethnic consumers, thereby used appropriate marketing strategies in encouraging their consumption.

The research objectives of this chapter include:

  • Establishing the strategies used by the Immigration Museum to address needs and values of ethnic communities;

  • Establishing the needs and motivations of ethnic consumers who visit the Immigration Museum; and

  • Explaining the fit between the strategies and the needs/values of ethnic consumers in light of motivational theories and Schwartz’s motivational types of values.

The contributions of this chapter include: (1) extending current marketing literature on ethnic consumers’ motivation, drive and needs and non-profit marketing; (2) validating and extending selected motivational theories; and (3) providing practical implications for marketers of non-profit organizations.

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