Asian Business and Consumer Culture


Journey to the West: Rethinking the Role of Asian Business and Consumer Culture in the Global Marketplace, Special issue of Qual Mar Res, Edited by Yuri Seo and Kim-Shyan Fam; Deadline 1 Aug 2014

“Journey to the West”: Rethinking the Role of Asian Business and Consumer Culture in the Global Marketplace

Guest Editors: Yuri Seo and Kim-Shyan Fam

Over the last three decades, the Asian region has been experiencing relatively fast growth compared to North America and Europe: by 2050, Asia is expected to account for over 50 percent of the world economy (Dadush and Stancil, 2010). Not surprisingly, Asian countries are increasingly becoming the focus of much cross-cultural and international marketing research (Fam et al., 2009). However, as Eckhardt and Dholakia (2013) have recently highlighted in the pages of this journal, qualitative studies on Asian markets and consumers are scarce. Of particular note is the limited research directed towards understanding of the inner differentiation and complexity of Asian business and consumer cultures, their various influences and manifestations, and mutual entanglements in the Asian region and/or other parts of the world (e.g., Fam and Waller, 2006). Moreover, little attention has been given to how cultural themes, values, and mythology from the Asian region have been finding their increasing prominence in a contemporary global marketing environment. For instance, Kniazeva and Belk (2012) note that, whilst it is widely acknowledged that contemporary markets are becoming increasingly multicultural, extant theory has predominantly described a one-directional flow of cultural influences from West to East, with only a handful of studies examining the signs of Eastern presence in the West.

Despite this, the Asian region has emerged not only as an important storehouse, but also as prominent powerhouse of ever-changing global consumption and business practices. As Kniazeva and Belk (2012, p.2) rightfully observe “Japanese sushi, Indian curry, Chinese Feng shui, and Asian martial arts are now nearly as much a part of life in the West as they are in the East”. Moreover, the unprecedented popularity of a recent YouTube hit “Gangnam Style” can be attributed to the emerging “Korean Wave” that swept Northeast and Southeast Asia (Hong and Kim, 2013), and has now reached the U.S. and Europe. Similarly, the growing worldwide popularity of professional computer gaming (eSports) owes much of its rapidly expanding marketing value to the rising youth-led digital cultures in Korea and China (Seo, 2013). Finally, Fam et al. (2009) have recently called attention to the values of Confucianism in developing harmonious business relationships in Asia, drawing on the metaphor of “using chopsticks for thinking”. Largely found in Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, and other Asian societies, chopsticks are held between the thumb and fingers for picking up food from common plates. No matter how well-crafted and aesthetically pleasing, a chopstick by itself is a meaningless and functionless stick. However, when joined together, chopsticks become a well refined instrument for consumption practice. Analogous to the intricacy of eating with chopsticks, Fam et al. (2009) assert that the effective business practices with Asian consumers entail identifying and understanding of local customs, traditions, values, and consumer behaviour. Most importantly, a deep appreciation of local cultural values is the key to Confucian/Chopsticks marketing.

Suitable research topics

These few examples highlight the need to rethink the role of Asian business and consumer cultures and their rising importance in the global marketplace of the 21st century. Contributions to the special issue may come from a range of areas, and might include, but are not limited to the qualitative investigations of:

  • Assimilation of Asian business and consumer culture in other regions
  • Asian consumer culture and globalisation
  • Asian business practices and culture at home and abroad
  • Contemporary consumption and business practices in/from Asian countries
  • Inter-regional and cross-cultural differences in the Asian region
  • Asian brands and their cultural role in and outside of the region
  • Multiculturalism and Asia

Deadline for submissions: 1 August, 2014

Submission guidelines

Manuscript submission and any inquiries should be sent electronically to special issue co-editors, Dr Yuri Seo at, and Professor Kim-Shyan Fam at

Please read our author guidelines for full information and guidance on submitting to the journal.


Dadush, U. and Stancil, B. (2010), The World Order in 2050, Carnegie Endowment for Peace, Washington, DC.

Eckhardt, G. M. and Dholakia, N. (2013), "Addressing the mega imbalance: interpretive exploration of Asia.", Qualitative Market Research: An International Journal, Vol. 16 No 1, pp. 4-11.

Fam, K. S. and Waller D. S. (2006), "Identifying likeable attributes: a qualitative study of television advertisements in Asia", Qualitative Market Research: An International Journal, Vol. 9 No. 1, pp. 38-50.

Fam, K. S., Yang, Z. and Hyman, M. (2009), “Confucian/Chopsticks Marketing”, Journal of business ethics, 88, 393-397.

Hong, S. and Kim, C. H. (2013), “Surfing the Korean wave: A postcolonial critique of the mythologized middlebrow consumer culture in Asia”, Qualitative Market Research: An International Journal, Vol. 16 No. 1, pp. 53-75.

Kniazeva, N. and Belk, R. W. (2012), “The Western Yogi: Consuming Eastern Wisdom”, International Journal of Consumer Research, Vol. 1 No 1, pp. 1 – 27.

Seo, Y. (2013), "Electronic sports: A new marketing landscape of the experience economy." Journal of Marketing Management, DOI:10.1080/0267257X.2013.822906

The Hardware and Software Behind ELMAR Is Paid for with AMA Dues
Please Support ELMAR by joining the AMA or renewing your membership