Diversity, Ethnicity and Consumption
This paper aims to examine diversity and identity issues from a marketing perspective. The traditional marketing practice of segmenting markets could be viewed as the antithesis of diversity as it relies on identifying homogenous characteristics of a population. It is uneconomical and generally less effective to market to a broad range of consumers than to do so for a specific group with homogenous characteristics. However, segmentation is not possible without diversity. Segmentation requires the presence of substantial differences in consumer characteristics and behaviour in a population to be truly effective. Marketing and its relationship to diversity, however, extends beyond segmentation and into issues of an individual's sense of identity and belonging. The literature suggests that an individual's identity is expressed through consumption and this can include ethnic identity. With an increasingly diverse, multicultural society in many countries, it is timely to look more closely at cultural identity and its relationship to consumption. Hofstede's work on cultural characteristics inherent in a particular country, continue to be widely used in international business. However, cultural identity and characteristics attributed to individuals in their country of birth may change when they immigrate to another country. Acculturation in a host country affects how immigrants see themselves and wish to be perceived. This can be problematic for marketers attempting to segment and reach consumers on the basis of their ethnicity. If consumption is an expression of identity as the literature suggests, then marketing has a role to play in either influencing or responding to issues of diversity and identity in the population at large. This paper examines the current literature on consumption, consumer behaviour and ethnic identity.
Keywords: Ethnic identity, Diversity and market segmentation, Consumption and ethnicity
Dr Wendy L. Kennedy
Ph. D. Student, Deakin Business School, Deakin University
Assoc Prof. John Hall
Associate Professor, Centre for Business Research Deakin Business School, Deakin University, Toorak Campus