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This article was downloaded by: [Maharshi Dayanand Saraswati Univ ], [Arpita Khare] On: 14 September 2011, At: 22:31 Publisher: Routledge Informa Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registered office: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK

Journal of International Consumer Marketing Publication details, including instructions for authors and subscription information: http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/wicm20

Impact of Indian Cultural Values and Lifestyles on Meaning of Branded Products: Study on University Students in India Arpita Khare a

a

Indian Institute of Management, Rohtak, Rohtak, India

Available online: 14 Sep 2011

To cite this article: Arpita Khare (2011): Impact of Indian Cultural Values and Lifestyles on Meaning of Branded Products: Study on University Students in India, Journal of International Consumer Marketing, 23:5, 365-379 To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/08961530.2011.602953

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Journal of International Consumer Marketing, 23:365–379, 2011 c Taylor & Francis Group, LLC Copyright  ISSN: 0896-1530 print / 1528-7068 online DOI: 10.1080/08961530.2011.602953

Impact of Indian Cultural Values and Lifestyles on Meaning of Branded Products: Study on University Students in India Downloaded by [Maharshi Dayanand Saraswati Univ ], [Arpita Khare] at 22:31 14 September 2011

Arpita Khare

ABSTRACT. In recent years, India has witnessed a transformation not only in economic standards but also in sociocultural factors. The traditional values, norms, and behaviors are being altered into more Westernized and global values. This is what meets the eyes of a typical observer. This research was directed toward ascertaining the transition of Indian society from a collectivist society to an individualist society with focus on individuals’ lifestyles and values. The purpose of the research was to understand the role of collectivist/individualist lifestyle variables on brand meanings by Indian university students. Correlation and multiple regression tests were administered to analyze the data. The findings suggest that Indian youths may appear to endorse Western values, but family traditions, group values, and national traditions play a pivotal role in determining brand meanings.

KEYWORDS. Culture, lifestyle, values, brand meanings, Indian youth

INTRODUCTION The Population Council (2010) states, “There are 315 million young people aged 10–24 years in India, representing 30 percent of the country’s population. This cohort is healthier, more urbanized, and better educated than earlier generations.” The Indian demographic landscape has witnessed enormous changes in the past few decades. The increase in income levels, priority given toward education, and rapid industrialization coupled with liberalization policies pursued relentlessly by the Indian government has transformed the Indian economy. Indian values and national culture have not been spared from the attack from Western values. Research suggests that recent years have seen a change in consumption preferences of Indian

consumers (Dwivedi 2010; KPMG 2009) that consequently may affect their values. Propagators of globalization like Theodore Levitt (1983) have spoken of converging national boundaries and disappearing lifestyle disparities. National cultural peculiarities and nuances are being replaced by more homogenized global lifestyles. However, the role of culture and values has always been considered important in segmenting and marketing decisions. Hofstede (1980) had discussed countries being categorized as individualistic and collectivist and there being a major difference in perceptions and habits of individuals in these countries. De Mooij’s (2000) contention is that Hofstede’s research findings are still valid after 25 years as countries exhibit the same traits in their consumption decisions and purchase behavior.

Dr. Arpita Khare is a faculty member in the Marketing Area at the Indian Institute of Management, Rohtak, Rohtak, India. Address correspondence to Dr. Arpita Khare, IIM-Rohtak, Humanities Block, MDU Campus, Haryana, India. E-mail: [email protected] 365

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Consumers’ assessment of brands and assigning meaning to them would be dependent upon cultural values based upon conditioning. The contention that ancient differences in tastes and lifestyle between countries are being modified to resemble more global values has occupied the interest of researchers for years (Bearden, Money, and Nevins 2006; Bond 2002; Gouveia, Clemente, and Espinosa 2003). This might be attributed to global branding and marketing endeavors instigated by multinational companies in the interest of understanding consumers in different countries (Aaker and Williams 1998). The present research is an attempt to understand the nature of collectivist and individualist values and lifestyles in Indian society and their impact on brand meanings among Indian university students. Hofstede (2001) defines culture as “the collective programming of the mind which distinguishes the members of one group or category of people from another.” Indian culture encompasses many subcultures, religions, and regional dialects. The fundamentals of group values, family orientation, feminine traits, and self-identity predominate Indian cultural values (Banerjee 2008). Culture comprises shared values, understandings, and goals that are learned and transmitted from one generation to another and passed on to succeeding generations (Banerjee; Deresky 2003). The questionnaires developed by Sun, Horn, and Merritt (2004) for measuring lifestyle and values in collectivist and individualist cultures and for measuring the meaning of branded products developed by Strizhakova, Coulter and Price (2008) were used for the research. Factors like brand quality, group and family influences, national heritage, and self-concept were taken into consideration. The youth population was selected as the sample as youths represent a large consumer market for global branded products in India, and changes in lifestyle are more apparent in their case. The first section of the article covers the theoretical background to the study; this is followed by the research methodology, findings and discussion, marketing implications, limitations, and future research directions.

THEORETICAL BACKGROUND Brands and Culture The contention of most brand theorists (Keller 2004; Temporal 2002) is that consumers own the brands; as a result consumers look for selfidentification with brands. A brand connotes several meanings to its consumers; in many cases consumers develop emotional attachments with brands (Fournier 1998). “A brand is an embodiment of the product—what it does, how well it does it, who it does it with, and how it feels to be having it done” (Pitta and Franzak 2008). Brand image reflects consumers’ associations with different functional and symbolic attributes of the brand (Burmann, Schaefer, and Maloney 2008) and signifies value to the consumers (Hsieh 2002). To target consumers effectively, comprehension about their culture, behavior, and lifestyle are valuable to marketers. Brands may be made appealing and relevant to consumers by linking them with the culture and value systems of the country. Research suggests that cultural norms affect consumption decisions in most countries (Kim and Drolet 2003; Markus and Kitayama 1991; Oyserman, Coon, and Kemmelmeier 2002; Peter and Olson 1998; Sun et al. 2004). Eastern countries represent collectivist cultures, and consumers seek conformance with the group in their product consumption decisions (Markus and Kitayama). Social identity defines the individual’s identity (Platow, Mills, and Morrison 2000; Tajfel and Turner 1979; Turner et al. 1994) in these societies. According to Tajfel (1972) groups bestow social identity on individuals and are a part of their self-concept (Hogg and Reid 2006). Social identity is defined as “the individual’s knowledge that he belongs to certain social groups together with some emotional and value significance to him of this group membership” (Tajfel). The theory of planned behavior (Ajzen 1985) suggests that consumers’ decisions are a consequence of a reasoned process and are influenced by attitudes, social norms, group influences, and perceptions. Brand decisions in

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collectivist societies are affected by social values and how the brand relates to consumers’ social systems (Lam 2007). Research suggests that even though collectivist societies are affected by globalization, still there is a tendency to conform to social norms and behave according to cultural values (Chu 1985; Corbu 2009). The convolution of social values in shaping human behavior is indicated by its effect on motivation, emotions, self-concept, and social interactions in groups (Markus and Kitayama; Shkodriani and Gibbons 1995; Trafimow and Triandis 1991). Branded products that have a high degree of congruence with cultural beliefs and values find high acceptance in society. Moore, Wilkie, and Lutz (2002) suggest that the choice of branded products was governed by intergenerational and family influence and on creating brand loyalty (Langer 1997).

Meaning of Brands The brand symbolizes and connotes intrinsic and extrinsic value to consumers, enabling them to distinguish products by assigning emotional attributes to them. It conveys several meanings to consumers, and they develop emotional attachment (Fournier 1998), affiliation, and feelings with brands (Pitta and Franzak 2008). For consumers brands symbolize quality and status (Batra et al. 2000; Johansson and Ronkainen 2005; Van Kempen 2004). The intrinsic meanings of brands have a greater influence on consumer purchase behavior than their extrinsic components (Agbonifoh and Elimimian 1999; d’Astous and Ahmed 1999; Hong, Pecotich, and Schultz 2002; Leclerc, Schmitt, and Dub´e 1994). Consumers assess brands not only by price and quality elements but also through experiential qualities (Kashyap and Bojanic 2000). Holbrook, Lehmann, and O’Shaughnessy (1986) suggest that where brands signify image and status, the physical components of brands are difficult to differentiate. The physical attributes or extrinsic components become more relevant for consumers. Research suggests that attitudes of consumers toward brands in developing economies are being created and developed, as consumers become a part of the global community (Alden, Steenkamp, and Batra 2006;

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Ger, Belk, and Lascu 1993; Kligman 1996; Steenkamp and Burgess 2002). In developing countries global brands convey a higher degree of prestige and status than local brands (Johansson and Ronkainen 2005). Globalization has increased the exposure of consumers in developing countries to global brands. In developing countries global brands communicate status consumption (Batra et al. 2000; van Kempen 2004), seeking conformity with reference groups, self-monitoring, and gender roles (O’Cass and McEwan 2004). The brand’s assessment may be done on its quality and exclusiveness (Kirmani, Sood, and Bridges 1999) and ability to symbolize style (Vigneron and Johnson 2004), to enhance selfimage (Aaker 1997; Aaker, Benet-Mart´ınez, and Garolera 2001), and to provide identification within the group (Bagozzi and Dholakia 2006; McAlexander, Schouten, and Koenig 2002). Knowledge about the value systems of the society enable marketers to satisfy the needs of consumers by relating the product attributes with their needs (Parasuraman 1997; Woodruff 1997). It plays a major role in tailoring consumer perceptions and behavior (Soares, farhangmehr, and Shoham 2007) and influences the lifestyle and values of the society. Sekaran (1983, 68) states, “Culturally patterned behaviors are thus distinct from the economic, political, legal, religious, linguistic, educational, technological and industrial environment in which people find themselves.”

Culture and Marketing Hofstede (1997, 5) defines culture as “the collective programming of the mind which distinguishes the members of one group or category of people from another.” Individualism/collectivism is the fundamental dimension on which societies differ (Hofstede 2001). Hofstede (1980) posits that individualistic societies tend to exhibit more self-centered and self-enhanced traits wherein the focus is more on the individual self as a source of identity and accomplishment. These societies are less willing to accommodate to group needs and pressures, and there is a low need for seeking conformance from the group. They

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perceive the individual as the basic unit with individual aspirations and goals (Hofstede 1991; Kagitcibasi 1997). Collectivist cultures value social relationships and give priority to group conformance by respecting group processes and decisions. They look to social groups for support in times of crisis. For individuals in a collectivist society, harmonious relationships with groups are a priority (Wong and Ahuvia 1998). Collectivist societies represent a high degree of belonging and cohesiveness within the groups. Individualist cultures are less risk-averse and therefore can form new groups more easily and can get along well with members from diverse groups (Hofstede 1980; Hui and Triandis 1986; Triandis et al. 1988a). Hui and Triandis (1986) define collectivism/individualism as sacrifice versus hedonism, group conformity versus self-identity, and in-group behavior versus distinct identity for individuals. Consumers’ assessment of brands would differ according to their collectivist or individualist values. Society’s consumption decisions center on how consumers identify with brands and the cultural meaning it conveys to them. The difficulty lies in understanding culture’s role on marketing and consumption decisions (McCort and Malhotra 1993) as much of its implications are hidden and inherent. McCort and Malhotra state that culture embodies the complex whole of an individual and comprises knowledge, beliefs, art, morals, customs, and habits acquired by individuals. Individualism and collectivism dimensions have been used since the 1960s as important predictors of consumer behavior across countries (Triandis and Gelfand 1998; Wheeler, Reis, and Bond 1989), and of motivations, cognition, self-identity, and social behavior (Markus and Kitayama 1991; Sun et al. 2004), and have been used to a great extent in cross-cultural research (Bond 2002; Gouveia et al. 2003; Soares et al 2007). Individualism and collectivism dimensions are considered fundamental in understanding cultural values and influence on behavior (Triandis 2004; Triandis et al. 1988b). The cultural framework of Hofstede (1980) was built on the premise that people from different cultures are governed by different attitudes, beliefs, morals, and customs. Societies differ in their traditions and customs,

and this manifests in their social and family relationships. This difference between consumers of different countries has been supported by crosscultural research (Kluckhohn and Strodtdeck 1961; Schwartz 1994; Schwartz and Ros 1995; Triandis 1995), and it is accepted that purchase decisions of consumers are governed by the complex interplay of cultural values and social systems. The current study applies the collectivist/individualist lifestyle values scale to understand Indian youths’ attitude toward brands. The following research objectives were identified: R1: Collectivist values and lifestyle variables of Indian youth will have a relation to their evaluation of brand meaning. R2: The values and lifestyles of Indian university students would vary across genders. De Mooij and Hofstede (2002) posit that converging technologies and merging geographical boundaries do not necessarily lead to homogeneous consumer segments. In fact, as researchers like Penaloza (1994) and Askegaard, Arnould, and Kjeldgaard (2005) have stated, acculturation has its own challenges for consumers, as consumers attempt to integrate their national culture with the new culture presented through global brands. Culture has been perceived as a major influencing factor on societal norms and values (Schwartz and Bilsky 1987, 1990). It evolves over time as political, social, economic, and technological forces modify the cultural landscape of a country (Craig and Douglas 2006; Usunier and Lee 2005) and serves the best interests of the society and people (Wells and Prensky 1996).

Indian Cultural Values In India, social acceptability is more important than individual achievement (Banerjee 2008) and is given priority in an individual’s life. Group affiliations are given precedence with family traditions and values. For most Indians, family is the prime concern (Mandelbaum 1970) and an individual’s duty lies with the family. “In India, people search for security and prestige within the confines of the near and dear”

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(Banerjee). Individual achievements are viewed in the light of family and societal achievements. Dev and Babu (2007) posit that individual and society are interlinked, and one cannot create an individual identity independent from the group. As a developing country, India is considered culturally very different from the Western market (Jin, Chansarkar, and Kondap 2005). Brands provide identification and strengthen the association with groups, even though reasons for being a member of a group may differ (Ouwersloot and Odekerken-Schr¨oder 2008), and provide social conformity and recognition. The differences between individualist and collectivist cultures is crucial for understanding consumers (Maheswaran and Shavitt 2000) and how individuals perceive themselves with reference to groups (Shkodriani and Gibbons 1995). Batra and colleagues (2000) suggest that Indian consumers’ purchase and consumption behavior is significantly different from other cultures, and national cultural values have an impact on prioritizing consumer needs (Askegaard and Kjeldgaard 2002; Wiedmaa, Hennigs, and Siebels 2007; Yau 1994). Sociocultural factors (Shivani, Mukherjee, and Sharan 2006) and national culture (Jaishankar 1998) influence the personality and behavior of Indian consumers. “In marketing, cultural orientation has been studied primarily in relation to marketing communications and cognitive processes” (Craig and Douglas 2006). To design marketing strategies, it is imperative to appreciate the cultural value orientations as they constitute societal constructs. Cultural values do not reflect the “more nuanced” aspects of society that influence behavior (Briley, Morris, and Simonsen 2001; Craig and Douglas; Miller 2002; Oysermann et al. 2002). Values are deeply rooted in the national culture, and marketing strategies are designed to conform to the values, norms, and beliefs of the society (Narver and Slater 1990). Schwartz (1992) had proposed an integrative and universal theory of values through which he proposed 10 distinct value constructs, which were derived from three needs of individuals: to fulfill biological needs, to be accepted by society and the satisfaction of social needs, and to interact with group members (Smith and Schwartz 1997).

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R3: Collectivist values and lifestyle of Indian youths would predict their behavior toward understanding brand meaning.

RESEARCH METHODOLOGY Instrument Design This study uses the scale developed by Sun and colleagues (2004) and Strizhakova and colleagues (2008) to understand whether Indian university students’ individualistic/collectivist values and lifestyle variables influence their attitude toward brand evaluations. The questionnaire comprised two sections: the first part of the questionnaire measured the consumers’ collectivist/individualist values lifestyle dimensions, and the second section comprised items to measure the meaning of brands. The cultural traits of the country affect consumers’ assessment about brand attributes. Brands symbolize different meanings to consumers in terms of the value they convey. The collectivist/individualist values and lifestyle dimensions of the questionnaire (Sun et al. 2004) included items related to impulsive buying behavior, fashion consciousness/personal appearance, health consciousness, brand perceptions, personal financial management, life satisfaction, financial satisfaction and optimism, product innovativeness, family orientation, life security, gender roles, and opinion leadership. These comprised the first section of the questionnaire and consisted of a total of 33 items. The second section was adapted from Strizhakova and colleagues (2008) and consisted of a total of 30 items related to brand attributes. It consisted of items to measure consumers’ brand meaning on aspects like quality, self-identity, group identity, status, values, family tradition, and national tradition. There were 63 items in the questionnaire. The 5-point Likert scale was used for responses, with 1 denoting strongly disagree and 5 denoting strongly agree.

Sample The study was administered to graduate and postgraduate students (an age group between 18–24 years) studying in three Indian national

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universities, and random sampling techniques were used. The students were requested to participate in the survey. The questionnaire was administered during class hours. Only 234 completed questionnaires could be used for the research as the remaining 66 questionnaires were incomplete and not returned. The total number of female respondents was 78, and male respondents were 156: 33.3% and 66.7% of the total responses respectively. The difference in the female and male sample size was due to the fact that in professional courses like management, medicine, and engineering, there are fewer female students. In India, females still prefer to enroll in courses like teaching; therefore their number is lower in professional programs.

FINDINGS AND DISCUSSIONS To test the reliability of the questionnaire, the Cronbach’s alpha values were computed for each of the subscale constructs (table 1). High levels of alpha indicate that the constructs are consistent and are measuring the underlying construct of the research (Churchill 1979). Nunnally (1978) states that 70% reliability is desired in the earlier stages of construct development. The constructs like lifestyle satisfaction, group influence, and national tradition exhibited a low Chronbach’s alpha value in the range of .530–.550. To understand if any difference existed between male and female respondents, a one-way ANOVA test was administered (table 2). The results show that there is significant difference between the genders on the construct of gender roles, significant at p < .01 levels. This may be understood in light of the fact that in Indian culture, roles of both genders are clearly defined from childhood. Females are family oriented and are supposed to fulfill their duties to society and family members. Males are supposed to be outgoing and social. Females are expected to give priority to their duties to family, and an individual’s identity is not separate from the family’s identity (Nath 2000; Vickers 2004). The genders significantly differ on in-group contact/interaction dimension (significant at .05 levels, p < .05). The result

suggests that the definition of in-group contact varies across the two genders. For Indian men, in-group contact is more pronounced as they interact with the outside world. Even though the role of Indian women has significantly changed in recent years and more women are taking jobs, their interaction with groups is still limited to close family members and friends. This may attribute to the difference between the genders on in-group interaction/contact construct. On the constructs like life satisfaction, financial satisfaction, brand consciousness, family orientation, and security/stability, the two genders exhibited no significant differences. This may be understood in light of the fact that the lifestyle of Indian consumers is governed by social and family influences (Banerjee 2008). To understand if there was any relationship between the collectivist/individualist lifestyle constructs and the brand meaning constructs, a correlation test was run (table 3). The correlation results show a positive relationship between collectivist/individualist cultural values/lifestyles and brand evaluation on some attributes. For Life Satisfaction, brand meaning was significant for self-identity and status (significant at .01 levels, p = .000). The correlations between life satisfaction and brand signifying group values, personal values, family tradition, and national tradition were significant at .05 levels. The results suggest that Indian consumers give high relevance to family values and traditions when choosing brands. The brand connotes family values, group values, status, self-identity, and personal values. Group and family acceptance are significant when selecting brands, and it is supposed to fulfill their social needs for group conformance and self-identity. Self-identity is affected by group approval. The results are in tandem with earlier studies, which state that social identity defines an individual’s identity (Platow et al. 2000; Turner et al. 1994). The need to conform to family values and social norms would affect consumers’ evaluation of brands and what they symbolize (Langer 1997). The construct Lifestyle exhibits a positive correlation with brand quality and self-identity (significant at .01 levels) while constructs of status and personal values were significant at .05 levels. The results posit that Indian youths

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TABLE 1. Chronbach’s Alpha Values for Collectivist and Brand Meaning Subscales Chronbach’s Alpha

Collectivist Values

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Life Satisfaction

Financial Satisfaction

Lifestyle

Group Influence

Family Orientation

Gender Roles

Security and Stability

I am very satisfied with the way things are going in my life these days. I would be content to live in the same town the rest of my life. I dread the future. I wish I knew how to relax. If I had my life to live over again I would do something entirely different. Our family income is high enough to satisfy nearly all our important desires. I pretty much spend for today and let tomorrow bring what it will. I don’t know much about investing money. I am not very good at saving money. I try to stick to well-known brand names. I like to visit places that are totally different from my home. Dressing well is an important part of my life. I am an impulse buyer. I very seldom make detailed plans. I like to be sure to see the movies everybody is talking about. My opinions on things do not count very much. I hate to lose even in friendly competition. Children are the most important thing in a marriage. We usually have a large family breakfast on weekends. I worry a lot about the effects of environmental pollution on my family’s health. My home life is chaotic. A woman’s place is in the home. Men are smarter than women. Men are naturally better leaders than women. The father should be the boss in the house. On a job, security is more important than money. Changes in routine disturb me. When making an investment, maximum safety is more important than high interest rates.

.530

.648

.701

.549

.783

.710

.688

Brand Meaning Brand Quality

Self-Identity

Group Identity

Status

A brand name is an important source of information about the durability and reliability of the product. I can tell a lot about a product’s quality from the brand name. I use brand names as a sign of quality for purchasing products. I choose brands because of the quality they represent. A brand name tells me a great deal about the quality of a product. I choose brands that help to express my identity to others. The brands I use communicate important information about the type of person I am as a person. I use different brands to express different aspects of my personality. I choose brands that bring out my personality. My choice of brand says something about me as a person. Using brands can help me connect with other people and social groups. I buy brands to be able to associate with specific people and groups. I feel a bond with people who use the same brands as I do. By choosing certain brands, I choose who I want to associate with. My choice of a brand says something about the people I like to associate with. I avoid choosing brands that do not reflect my social status. I use brands to communicate my social status. I choose brands that are associated with the social class I belong to. The brands I use reflect my social status. I communicate my achievements through the brands I own and use.

.793

.796

.797

.803

(Continued)

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TABLE 1. Chronbach’s Alpha Values for Collectivist and Brand Meaning Subscales (Continued) Chronbach’s Alpha

Brand Meaning

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Values

Family Traditions

National Traditions

I choose brands because I support the values they stand for. I buy brands that are consistent with my values. My choice of brand is based on the company’s values. I use brands because I agree with the company’s values. I avoid brands because I do not support the values they stand for. I buy brands because they are an important tradition in my household. I use brands that my family uses or have used. I use brands that remind me of my family. I buy brands in order to continue family traditions. I buy brands that my parents buy/have bought. I use brands that reflect my national heritage. I prefer brands associated with my national heritage. I avoid brands because they do not fit with my national heritage. I choose brands because they are part of national traditions. My national heritage is not important in my brand decisions.

identify brands as representing quality, self-identity, status, and personal values. The purchase of branded products enables them to express their self-identity, personal values, and status, and brands reflect consumers’ regard for quality products. These results may be interpreted in light of globalization, where brands signify personal aspirations and enable consumers to enhance their self-image. For consumers brands symbolize quality (Hellofs and Jacobson 1999; Holt, Quelch, and Taylor 2004; Naumann 1995; Price and Dawar 2002) and status (Batra et al. 2000; Johansson and Ronkainen 2005; van TABLE 2. ANOVA Gender Differences among Indian University Students for Values and Lifestyle in Collectivist and Individualist Collectivist and Individualist Lifestyle/ Values Life Satisfaction Financial Satisfaction Lifestyle In-Group Contact/Influence Family Orientation Gender Roles Security/Stability ∗

F

df

Sig.

.675 .439 .028 5.155

1 1 1 1

.412 .508 .868 .024∗

.270 10.445 .156

1 1 1

.604 .001∗∗ .693

Significant at the .05 level (two-tailed). ∗∗ Significant at the .01 level (two-tailed).

.670

.766

.550

Kempen 2004) and improve their self-image (Aaker 1997; Aaker et al. 2001) in society. The In-Group Contact/Influence construct had a positive correlation with status (significant at .01 levels). This implies that an individual’s group affiliation is associated with status. For brand attributes of group identity, personal values, family traditions, and national traditions, the p value is significant at .05 levels and reflects a positive correlation. The results are in line with earlier studies, which state that selection and purchase of brands enables consumers to describe themselves as members of social groups (Chattaraman, Rudd, and Lennon 2008; Rijswijk, Haslam, and Ellemers 2006; Veloutsou, 2009). Indian society is essentially collectivist, and group acceptance is important; consumption choices are based upon approval from family and friends. The results suggest that consumers identify brands as facilitating social interaction, group acceptance, and identification with influential groups. This is supported by earlier research that postulates that brands provide consumers identification within the group (Bearden, Netemeyer, and Teel 1989; McAlexander et al. 2002). Correlation results show a positive relationship between Family Orientation and group identity and family traditions (p is significant at .05 levels). Indian youths’ identification with family and group plays an important role in their evaluation of brands. The brands are selected

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TABLE 3. Correlation Brand Meaning Collectivist and Individualist Lifestyle/ Values Life Satisfaction

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Financial Satisfaction Lifestyle In-Group Contact/ Influence Family Orientation Gender Roles Security ∗

Pearson Correlation Pearson Correlation Pearson Correlation Pearson Correlation Pearson Correlation Pearson Correlation Pearson Correlation

Brand Quality

Self Identity

Group Identity

.020

.191∗∗

.139∗

.090

–.025

–.084

Status .265∗∗ –.092

Personal Values .159∗

Family Tradition .162∗

National Tradition .164∗

.051

–.085

–.027

–.027

–.010

.266∗∗

.220∗∗

.069

.157∗

.165∗

.016

.093

.167∗

.187∗∗

.142∗

.138∗

.133∗

.079

.146∗

.142∗

.103

.112

.121

.026

–.226∗∗

.087

.178∗∗

.085

.026

.179∗

.066

.173∗∗

.061

.129∗

.131∗

.089

.221∗∗

.104

Correlation is significant at the .05 level (two-tailed). ∗∗ Correlation is significant at the .01 level (two-tailed).

if they project social recognition. The brands that symbolize group and family identity are accepted by the youths readily. The research findings support earlier studies, which state that for most Indians family is important, and individuals’ needs are governed by the group affiliation (Banerjee 2008; Mandelbaum 1970). This is in line with Moore and colleagues’ (2002) assertion that brand attribute evaluations are governed by intergenerational and family influences. In collectivist societies, Gender Roles are clearly demarcated. The correlation test results show a high positive correlation between gender roles and brand quality, group identity, and family traditions (significant at .01 levels). Brands represent quality, group identification, and family traditions, and different brands are considered appropriate for the two genders. Das (2000) states that Indian women are considered homemakers, and men are assigned more of an authoritative role in society. The two genders perceive brands as helping them associate with groups and family members. Purchase and consumption of brands reflects given importance to product quality. The Security construct of culture shows a high positive correlation with brand quality and family tradition (significant at .01 levels), and

for group identity and status it is significant at .05 levels. In India, family represents security for individuals, and social approval is important. Even for youths, who have been affected by Western values, family plays a vital role. Product purchase decisions are as important as personal professional decisions, and consent of the family and social groups is sought. The findings suggest that brands are viewed as conveying security in terms of family acceptance, group identification, and improving the status of individuals in society. In India people view security within the precincts of family and social groups (Banerjee 2008), and family members are consulted in all personal and professional decisions. The individual achievements are not his or hers but are viewed by the light of family and the social framework (Dev and Babu 2007). To understand the predictive lifestyle and values constructs on the Indian youths’ brand evaluation, the subscales of brands were taken as one construct. The various constructs to define brands like quality, self-identity, status, group identity, family traditions, and national traditions were considered as one construct. The constructs of collectivist/individualist lifestyle and values were taken as independent variables, and their role in influencing consumers’ understanding

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TABLE 4. Regression Analysis of Collectivist Lifestyle Variables on Indian University Students’ Evaluation of Brand Products Standardized Coefficients

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Collectivist and Individualist Lifestyle/ Values (Constant) Life Satisfaction Financial Satisfaction Lifestyle In-Group Contact Family Orientation Gender Roles Security and Stability R2 Adjusted R 2

β

t

54.765 .154 –.070

5.364 2.314 –1.128

.000 .022 .261

.124 .136

1.949 2.105

.052 .036

.114

1.811

.071

.048 .131

.762 2.062

.447 .040

.144 .118

F = 5.450

p

p ≤ .05

Note. Dependent variable: Brand meaning.

of brands was studied. Multiple regression tests were run (table 4). The results suggest that meaning of brands among Indian university students is affected by their conveying life satisfaction, in-group affiliations, and security/stability. The results indicated (table 4) the strength of life satisfaction (β = .154; p < .05), in-group contact (β = .136; p < .05), and security and stability (β = .131; p < .05) in predicting meaning of branded products among Indian university students. The brands are visualized as enabling consumers to feel satisfied with their life and helping them to conform to group norms, values, and customs. Branded products instill confidence in consumers as they believe that it helps them feel secure to use a good-quality product. For Indian youths use of brands helps them bolster their self-image and strengthen their in-group contact and interactions. The research findings support earlier studies (Banerjee 2008; Shivani et al. 2006) that sociocultural influence has an impact on the personality and behavior of Indian consumers.

MARKETING IMPLICATIONS This research reiterates that sociocultural influences play a significant role in defining

meanings of brands. The unique way brands are perceived and defined depends upon the cultural conditioning and the social values of the country. People across countries differ in their perceptions, needs, and motivations, which are learned over generations. Culture gives a distinct character to consumers, and their choice of brands is affected by their cultural values and national traditions. The brands are important as they communicate cultural meanings to the consumers (Askegaard and Kjeldgaard 2002) and help them in expressing themselves. The results suggest that for marketing brands in India, strong association should be built with family and group identifications. Brands connoting family values, customs, bonding, emotions, and group affiliations would be accepted more readily. The advertisements for brands should combine social settings like family gatherings, festivals, marriages, and ceremonies and reflect the emotional bonding between family members. The brands should embody these values of family solidarity, self-identification with groups, group acceptance, and traditions to be successful. The promotions and advertisements should revolve around social values, and the identity of the brands should transmit them. The brand identity should revolve around the emotional bonding among family members and friends. Many multinational companies in India have attempted to use the family as a backdrop for their brands. The family in India consists not only of immediate family members but also includes hordes of relatives and extended family. This should be give due cognizance in advertisements. The achievements of an individual’s are not his/hers but are because of the family. Nestle, Dulux Paints, Unilever, PespsiCo, Coca Cola, Nokia, McDonald’s, and Britannia endorse these values, and their brand identity reflects family and group values. The brands that personify strong Indian values are considered a part of the Indian system. The youths may appear to endorse Western values, but Indian cultural values still play a significant role in their lifestyle and brand meanings. Their lifestyle and values are governed by family traditions and group norms. Social acceptance is crucial for an individual. The individual’s goals may be important but only when it is in

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congruence with social goals. The self-identity of the individual is still dependent upon the sanction from this primary group. Brands are accepted if they fit into their lifestyle and values; thus marketing of global brands should be closely aligned to national cultural values and family traditions. The social and cultural environment of the country plays a significant role on consumer decision making; consumers seek conformance with these social norms (Burnkranta and Cousineau 1975; Cialdini and Trost 1998). Products like food items, durables (washing machines, water purifiers, microwave ovens, air conditioners, and refrigerators), automobiles, bikes, detergents, shampoos, clothes, and cosmetics can be marketed using familyand group-affiliation themes. This would enable marketers to build the brand personality and identity around Indian social values. The family and in-group associations can be highlighted in the advertisements. Fast food chains, laptops, mobile phones, and branded apparel companies are popular with Indian youths. Brands should create a strong association with Indian values to project positive images among the youth segment. Multinational companies that are able to market their brands according to the local differences and cultural peculiarities would find greater acceptance among youths. The brands should symbolize modernity with traditional values to gain acceptance with them. Marketing and advertising would entail promoting products according to the global norms of quality, status, and modern values coupled with Indian family traditions.

LIMITATIONS AND FURTHER RESEARCH DIRECTIONS The research was conducted only on university students; further research may be conducted on older consumers to understand their evaluations of brands. A comparison between younger and older people can be done to understand if any significant differences exist between groups. Income, occupation, education, and region of domicile can be also considered as important variables affecting the values and lifestyles

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of Indians. Further research can be conducted to understand if consumers in different cities (metropolitan and nonmetropolitan) differ in the brand evaluations. This may prove to be an interesting insight for marketers and may help in segmentation and targeting brands across different cities in India. In India, differences due to religions, states, languages, and castes are pronounced, and brand meanings may be affected by these factors.

ACKNOWLEDGMENT The author wants to extend her gratitude to the editor and the anonymous reviewers for their indispensable and valuable suggestions and comments that improved the quality of the article significantly.

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