PurposeThe purpose of this paper is to examine consumer ethnocentrism (CE) in China and clarify whether CE impacted on Chinese consumers’ product preferences between local and foreign products.Design/methodology/approachStreet surveys and mall intercepts were conducted, 367 questionnaires were collected with 170 from Shenyang – Northern China and 197 from Shenzhen – Southern China.FindingsCE is low in China, it poses no serious threat to foreign products. Consumers living in second tier Northern city like Shenyang have higher ethnocentric beliefs than those living in a first tier like Shenzhen in Southern China. CE’s impact varies between product categories and availability of domestic alternative could be a key issue. Age and education level have significant moderating effects.Research limitations/implicationsIt only collected from two Chinese cities, distribution pattern of CE data determined non-parametric data analysis methods were adopted.Practical implicationsRegional differences in China matters, first tier Southern cities like Shenzhen could be less challenging destinations for foreign retailers. Targeting young and highly educated consumers could be more effective. Although CE level is low in China, a cautious approach beyond first tier cities is recommended, especially when facing competent local rivals.Originality/valueIt clarified that CE did affect product preferences amongst Chinese consumers, highlighted China’s regional differences in terms of North-South divide and first and second tier cites. It also identified that availability of domestic alternative is a key factor that cannot be ignored. This study provided evidence to demonstrate that with unprecedented uncertainties on global free trade, there is no grassroots support for protectionism and isolationism in China.
International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management – Emerald Publishing
Published: May 8, 2017