This paper mainly talks about the similarities and differences between Hispanics and Chinese Americans in searching for information on purchasing men’s business attire, based on secondary data.
This paper chooses two ethnic subculture groups (Hispanics and Chinese Americans) in the United States, both of which possess strong market potential. Applying the consumer decision process (CDP) model, the paper chooses the information searching stage to carry out in-depth analysis. The issues of similarities, differences, acculturation and men’s business attire purchasing are addressed.
Based on the analysis, the paper provides recommendations for marketers on marketing strategy planning, taking into consideration the similarities and differences between different ethnic groups.
Two ethnic subcultures in the United States
Major ethnic groups in the United States include Whites (75.1%, according to 2000 Census), Hispanics (12.5%), blacks or African Americans (12.3%), Asians and Pacific Islanders (3.7%), and Native Americans (0.9%) (Encyclopedia of the Nations, 2007).
By October 2005, there are 41 million Hispanics in the United States, which number will account for nearly one-sixth of the US population by 2010 (Montuori, 2005). By October 2008, there are 13.4 million Asian Americans. Asian American households represent 40% of all multicultural households with an income between $150,000 and $200,000 (Meerman, 2008). There are six major subgroups within the Asian American population: Asian Indian, Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese. In 2000 there were approximately 2.4 million Chinese in US, accounting for 22.6% of the Asian American population, and making it the largest single Asian group (Williams, 2002).
Both Hispanics and Chinese American markets possess huge market potential. Between 1999 and 2000, the number of Hispanics in US grew 57.9%, seven times higher than that of non-Hispanic population (Mayers, 2001). During the same period, the number of Chinese Americans grew 47.8% (Williams, 2002). Between 1984 and 2004, aggregate personal income of U.S. Hispanics more than tripled, four times that of non-Hispanics (Montuori, 2005). The buying power of Asian-American consumers is at $567 billion, with per capita buying power of $41,327 (Meerman, 2008).
Consumer decision process (CDP) model
Consumer decision process (CDP) model represents a road map of consumers’ minds that marketers and managers can use to help guide product mix, communication, and sales strategies. In total, there are seven stages: need recognition, search for information, pre-purchase evaluation of alternatives, purchase, consumption, post-consumption evaluation, and divestment.
Need recognition occurs when an individual senses a difference between what he or she perceives to be the ideal versus the actual state of affairs. Once need recognition occurs, consumers begin searching for information and solutions to satisfy their unmet needs. The next stage is evaluating alternative options identified during the search process. After deciding whether or not to purchase, consumers move through the stage of purchase. After the purchase is made and the consumer takes possession of the product, consumption can occur – the point at which consumers use the product. The next stage is post-consumption evaluation, in which consumers experience a sense of either satisfaction or dissatisfaction. Divestment is the last stage in the consumer decision process model, with consumers choosing from the options of outright disposal, recycling, or remarketing (Blackwell, Miniard, & Engel, 2006).
The Similarities and Differences between Hispanics and Chinese Americans in Searching for Information on Purchasing Men’s Business Attire
Based on secondary data and the consumer decision process model, this paper will discuss and compare the key factors that influence the information search when male Hispanics and Chinese Americans purchase their business attires.
Similarities between the two ethnic groups
Both Hispanics and Chinese Americans value family, and their shopping behaviors are group-oriented. In making clothes purchasing decision, friends and relatives are a more important source than advertising, salespeople, and editorial and news material. (Kang, & Kim, 1998). And Hispanic groups (Sanchez, 2002) and Chinese American groups (Tan & McCullough, 1985) are price-driven and quality-driven to some degree.
Differences between the two ethnic groups
There are also huge differences between the Hispanic and Chinese American groups in the searching information stage, which lead to different purchasing decisions.
The Hispanics are more compulsive consumers. They tend to respond more to entertainment and excitement in the malls, spend more money and return to the stores more often (Sanchez, 2002). Thus, Hispanics tend to research less before shopping and are easily attracted by in-store specials such as buy-one-get-one rather than comparing the prices and obtaining online or mail coupons beforehand. However, Hispanics in America do consume media extensively. They rely on newspapers, magazines, and television for information and entertainment to different degrees. Similarly to Chinese Americans, they rely less on newspapers than magazines, and do not watch TV often. But they do not surf online that much and consume online media much less than Chinese American counterparts (Brown & Washton, 2001). Hispanic spending on advertising lags behind. Hispanic advertising by the 250 largest advertisers totaled only 5.2% of total ad spending (Montuori, 2005). Compared to Chinese Americans, Hispanics are highly brand loyal (Stuller, 1987). Also, the recent immigrants tend to be loyal to the brands they recognize from their homeland (Hamilton, 1989).
Contrastingly, among Chinese Americans, buying on the spur of the moment is less common (Brown & Washton, 2002). They always do a lot of internal and external research before going to shopping malls. Mostly, they conduct online researches and consult reference groups. Asian Americans are far more likely to say they spend less time watching television, reading magazines, reading print news, and listening to non-Internet radio because of the Internet (Brown & Washton, 2006). Newspapers are a less important source of information for Chinese Americans. But they are more likely to rely on magazines to stay informed. Also, they do not rely much on television to obtain purchasing and promotion information. Consistent with extensive online exposure, Chinese Americans shop online more often than their Hispanic American counterparts. Both men and women among Chinese Americans tend to make purchase decisions based on ads. Chinese American males are likely to remember advertised products when shopping (Brown & Washton, 2006). Different to Hispanics, Chinese Americans tend not to be brand loyal, shopping for bargains in less expensive stores, and tend to be loyal to selected stores (Ownbey, 1991).
Dynamics of compare: the influence of acculturation on the two ethnic groups
Acculturation has strong influence on Hispanic and Chinese American groups in the decision making process. Over time, brand loyal Hispanics become less loyal to specific brands, and aware of more brands. At this time, promotional devices play a more influential role in the consumers’ information searching stage. More importantly, as acculturation increases, Hispanics are more frequently exposed to English language media, consuming more radio, television, newspapers, magazines and other media of the English language (Petroshius, Newell, & Ross, 1995). Moreover, with acculturation, reference from peers and co-workers gains the dominance in influencing decision making, when marketer-dominated sources such as ads and TV commercials (Blackwell, Miniard, & Engel, 2006) can only leverage limited influence on consumers (Kang, & Kim, 1998). All these findings are suitable for both Hispanic and Chinese American groups.
Special for men’s business attire
Olshavsky and Granbois (1979) suggested that more passive (observational) influences might be more relevant to symbolic products such as clothing, whereas active search-based influences might be more relevant for functional products. In Midgley’s (1983) study, the purchase of men’s suits, the primary purpose of which was presumed to be social, tended to invoke the search for information from other individuals rather than from objective or impersonal sources. Also, purchase of socially expressive products may be influenced by television advertising rather than newspaper advertising because televisions can better present attractive or significant reference group members endorsing these products (Kang, & Kim, 1998).
Based on the analysis of similarities and differences between Hispanics and Chinese Americans in searching for information on purchasing men’s business attire, I suggest marketers to take into consideration the target ethnic group’s uniqueness in designing and implementing the marketing mix, especially the media strategy which influences the information search stage and consumers’ final decision making. Though differences are most important in addressing marketing strategies, similarities in the two ethnic groups in decision making should not be neglected, as higher level of standardization can be more efficient and effective.
The issue of acculturation of ethnic group members should also be paid adequate attention on. Because of the effect of acculturation, all the similarities and differences between ethnic groups change over time, leading to the need of evolving marketing strategies over time. Moreover, further and more comprehensive marketing research should be carried out to better address the issue and to assist marketing conducts.
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