Macromarketing & Public Policy / Publication Abstract

An Exploratory Study of Globalizing Consumers’ Materialism Tendencies in a Multicultural “Global” Marketplace: An Abstract

Jun 16, 2020

Tarek Mady, Sarah Mady

Macromarketing & Public Policy


Recent evidence suggests that materialism is a learned personal value incorporated or rejected through consumer socialization processes (Dettmar et al. 2014). That is, a consumer’s materialistic tendencies are developed based on the environment he or she interacts with regularly. Therefore, it is no surprise that materialism has been studied extensively within an international context, especially given the significant differences in marketing environments across national markets. Indeed, a considerable amount of research notes that materialism levels vary significantly across different countries (Felix et al. 2000; Cleveland et al. 2018). Most studies have attributed the extent of materialistic tendencies to various demographics, national culture, ethnic identity, or other structural changes specific to sample markets (Ger and Belk 1996). However, most of these international studies have often assumed culturally homogeneous national markets (Nakata 2009). Therefore, while these studies have offered understandings of the characteristics of specific markets, they fall short of providing insights into multicultural “global” marketplaces where consumers are embracing globalization and markets are opening to global corporate powers and international brands (Tung 2008).

Despite the often-implied relationship between globalizing consumer habits and materialism, a review of the literature suggests that there is relatively little empirical research that supports (or refutes) such assertions, especially in the case of multicultural global markets. This study represents an early attempt to shed light on globalizing consumers’ materialism tendencies in a multicultural “global” marketplace. Using Dubai as a proxy for such markets, the study proposes that there is a significant link between consumer tendencies to merge into the global consumer culture and materialism. Indeed, we ask a simple question: Are globalizing consumers in multicultural markets actually more materialistic?

The authors developed a questionnaire based on the original Cleveland and Larouche (2007) seven-construct Acculturation toward the Global Consumer Culture (AGCC) scale (57 items) and the 18-item, three-construct materialism scale developed by Richins and Dawson (1992). A mall-intercept survey was conducted at one of Dubai’s busiest malls and a total of 496 usable responses were obtained. Preliminary findings suggest that various aspects of AGCC and materialism levels are significantly higher in Dubai. However, not all dimensions of ACCC were found to be relevant factors with regard to materialism tendencies.

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