Consumer Xenocentrism as Determinant of Foreign Product Preference: A System Justification Perspective

George Balabanis and Adamantios Diamantopoulos
Article Snapshot
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Key Takeaways

​Consumers' penchant for foreign products can be explained by consumer xenocentrism.

Consumer xenocentrism is based on the acceptance and internalization of differences in the relative standing of the home country versus foreign countries.

Consumer xenocentrism has two dimensions: perceived inferiority and social aggrandizement.

Article Snapshots: Executive Summaries from the Journal of International Marketing​

The paper aims to theoretically explain consumer attraction toward foreign products. Drawing on system justification theory a new two-dimensional construct, consumer xenocentrism, is proposed, and a measurement scale is developed and validated on survey data from five studies.



Research

In different parts of the world, large segments of consumers consistently show a preference for foreign products -- a phenomenon that has been overlooked by the international marketing literature, which has focused on social identity theory explanations of consumer preferences for domestic products. Because of the limited ability of social identity theory to explain consumers’ preferences for foreign products, a new theoretical perspective was sought to develop the conceptual domain of consumer xenocentrism and a psychometrically sound scale to measure it.

Method

Drawing on the concept of social xenocentrism, the out-group favoritism stream of research, and system justification theory, we conceptualizsed the theoretical domain of consumer xenocentrism as a second-order construct with two dimensions:  perceived inferiority and social aggrandizement. Based on literature, qualitative research, and expert raters, we identified appropriate items to measure the consumer xenocentrism. We used survey data from five samples of consumers to purify the scale and examine its nomological and predictive validity.

Findings

Data supported consumer xenocentrism as a reliable two-dimensional second-order construct, distinct form both the consumer ethnocentrism and the xenophilia constructs.   As we hypothesized, the construct was negatively correlated with collective self-esteem and self-confidence and positively with materialism, vanity, susceptibility to interpersonal influence,  social dominance orientation, and foreign country image perceptions. Consumer xenocentrism effectively predicts urchase intentions and preferences for foreign products, as well as unwillingness to buy domestic products.

Implications

The study offers a theoretically anchored, valid, reliable, and parsimonious measurement instrument that can help academic researchers incorporate consumer xenocentrism in their models and empirical studies.  The measurement scale can be used to track temporal and regional variations in xenocentric tendencies as well as a segmentation variables for market targeting and brand communication purposes. Local firms operating in markets with xenocentric segments should adjust their branding, product design, and communication approaches to elicit associations of foreign-ness.


Questions for the Classroom

  • Why are some people persistently more favorable toward foreign products than domestic ones?
  • Can social identify theory explain consumers’ positive bias for foreign products?
  • How can a foreign brand capitalize on consumer xenocentrism?


Full Article

George Balabanis and Adamantios Diamantopoulos (2016), "Consumer Xenocentrism as Determinant of Foreign Product Preference: A System Justification Perspective," Journal of International Marketing, 24 (3), pp. 58-77.
doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1509/jim.15.0138​​

George Balabanis is Professor of Marketing, Faculty of Management, Cass Business School, City University (e-mail: g.balabanis@city.ac.uk).

Adamantios Diamantopoulos is Chaired Professor of International Marketing, Department of Business Administration, University of Vienna (e-mail: adamantios.diamantopoulos@univie.ac.at).


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George Balabanis and Adamantios Diamantopoulos
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