Consumer ethnocentrism

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Consumer ethnocentrism is derived from the more general psychological concept of ethnocentrism. Basically, ethnocentric individuals tend to view their group as superior to others. As such, they view other groups from the perspective of their own, and reject those that are different and accept those that are similar (Netemeyer et al., 1991; Shimp & Sharma, 1987). This, in turn, derives from earlier sociological theories of in-groups and out-groups (Shimp & Sharma, 1987). Ethnocentrism, it is consistently found, is normal for an in-group to an out-group (Jones, 1997; Ryan & Bogart, 1997). Consumer ethnocentrism specifically refers to ethnocentric views held by consumers in one country, the in-group, towards How To Export Products or products from another country, the out-group (Shimp & Sharma, 1987). Consumers may believe that it is not appropriate, and possibly even immoral, to buy products from other countries. Purchasing foreign products may be viewed as improper because it costs domestic jobs and hurts the economy. The purchase of foreign products may even be seen as simply unpatriotic (Klein, 2002; Netemeyer et al., 1991; Sharma, Shimp, & Shin, 1995; Shimp & Sharma, 1987).


Consumer ethnocentrism gives individuals an understanding of what purchases are acceptable to the in-group, as well as feelings of identity and belonging. For consumers who are not ethnocentric, or polycentric consumers, products are evaluated on their merits exclusive of national origin, or possibly even viewed more positively because they are foreign (Shimp & Sharma, 1987; Vida & Dmitrovic, 2001).

Brodowsky (1998) studied consumer ethnocentrism among car buyers in the U.S. and found a strong positive relationship between high ethnocentrism and country-based bias in the evaluation of automobiles. Consumers with low ethnocentrism appeared to evaluate automobiles based more on the merits of the actual automobile rather than its country of origin. Brodowsky suggests that understanding consumer ethnocentrism is critical in understanding country of origin effects.



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