A double‐edged sword: understanding vanity across cultures

A double‐edged sword: understanding vanity across cultures Purpose – Based on their size, disposable income, and purchasing power, generation Y (Gen Y) consumers are viewed as the Holy Grail for marketers. Conversely, some of this group's behavior disturbs public policy officials, particularly when dealing with issues such as poor financial planning, bulimia and anorexia nervosa. The key question for both marketers and policy makers is what is the best way to understand the Gen Y segment? The vanity concept is used in this study as a way to understand the Gen Y consumer segment. The purpose of this paper is to examine vanity perceptions (cross‐nationally and by gender) as well as social and business implications with vanity.Design/methodology/approach – Key research expectations are proposed that are related to cross‐cultural and gender differences on vanity perceptions. A sample of approximately 125 Gen Y consumers in two eastern and two western cultures was used to find support for the research expectations. Statistical results are reported.Findings – The results clearly show that both gender and country have an impact on vanity perceptions. Concern for both physical appearance and professional achievement are higher in eastern cultures as compared to western cultures. Both males and females are highly concerned about physical appearance and professional achievements. However, self‐assessment of physical appearance and professional achievement are significantly lower among females as compared to males.Research limitations/implications – In future studies it would be interesting to study differences among other countries and consumer groups.Practical implications – The results of this study provide evidence to marketers that vanity appeals can resonate well with Gen Y especially those in China and India. For consumer protection advocates, results offer insights about the extent to which importance of vanity is likely to increase, especially in countries that embrace globalization.Originality/value – So far, no study has applied the vanity scale to understand the Gen Y segment, despite the financial power of this group in purchasing both desirable and undesirable products; nor has any study examined whether vanity perceptions vary cross‐nationally, especially between economically developed western cultures and developing economies with large populations representing eastern cultures. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of Consumer Marketing Emerald Publishing

A double‐edged sword: understanding vanity across cultures

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
Copyright © Emerald Group Publishing Limited
ISSN
0736-3761
DOI
10.1108/07363760810882425
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Purpose – Based on their size, disposable income, and purchasing power, generation Y (Gen Y) consumers are viewed as the Holy Grail for marketers. Conversely, some of this group's behavior disturbs public policy officials, particularly when dealing with issues such as poor financial planning, bulimia and anorexia nervosa. The key question for both marketers and policy makers is what is the best way to understand the Gen Y segment? The vanity concept is used in this study as a way to understand the Gen Y consumer segment. The purpose of this paper is to examine vanity perceptions (cross‐nationally and by gender) as well as social and business implications with vanity.Design/methodology/approach – Key research expectations are proposed that are related to cross‐cultural and gender differences on vanity perceptions. A sample of approximately 125 Gen Y consumers in two eastern and two western cultures was used to find support for the research expectations. Statistical results are reported.Findings – The results clearly show that both gender and country have an impact on vanity perceptions. Concern for both physical appearance and professional achievement are higher in eastern cultures as compared to western cultures. Both males and females are highly concerned about physical appearance and professional achievements. However, self‐assessment of physical appearance and professional achievement are significantly lower among females as compared to males.Research limitations/implications – In future studies it would be interesting to study differences among other countries and consumer groups.Practical implications – The results of this study provide evidence to marketers that vanity appeals can resonate well with Gen Y especially those in China and India. For consumer protection advocates, results offer insights about the extent to which importance of vanity is likely to increase, especially in countries that embrace globalization.Originality/value – So far, no study has applied the vanity scale to understand the Gen Y segment, despite the financial power of this group in purchasing both desirable and undesirable products; nor has any study examined whether vanity perceptions vary cross‐nationally, especially between economically developed western cultures and developing economies with large populations representing eastern cultures.

Journal

Journal of Consumer MarketingEmerald Publishing

Published: Jun 27, 2008

Keywords: Consumer behaviour; National cultures; Cross‐cultural studies; Age groups; Marketing intelligence

References

  • International Marketing Research
    Douglas, S.; Craig, C.S.
  • A metrosexual eye on queer guy
    Miller, T.
  • Consumer Behavior
    Solomon, M.
  • Achievement ambitions
    Spenner, K.I.; Featherman, D.L.
  • The beauty myth and female consumers: the controversial role of advertising
    Stephens, D.; Hill, R.; Hanson, C.
  • The beauty myth and female consumers: the controversial role of advertising
    Stevens, D.L.; Hill, R.P.; Hanson, C.

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