National Identity, Ethnocentrism and Consumer Ethnocentrism, and Effects of Language Choice in Advertising
Identifying with a social group can help a person to define themselves. This self-categorisation process facilitates the transition from “I” to “we”, and encourages people to value their social group memberships. As a result, people are sensitive about their group interests and the symbols that represent their groups - symbols such as their native language.
New Zealand is a country with citizens from a diversity of cultural backgrounds. As a result, some local New Zealand businesses may try to attract immigrant consumers by using their native language in advertisements. However, how domestic consumers feel about these advertisements that include foreign languages is unknown.
This research seeks to explore the effects of language choices in advertising from a social identity perspective, in particular, whether choice of language in advertisements influences New Zealand consumers’ attitudes towards advertisements and advertised products. Also, this research seeks to explore several social identity-related constructs (national identity, ethnocentrism, and consumer ethnocentrism) that may influence the relationship between choice of language and consumers’ attitudes towards advertisements and advertised products. Thus, two research questions are developed:
RQ1. Do language choices in advertising have an impact on consumers’ attitudes towards an advertised product and an advertisement?
RQ2. Do consumer ethnocentrism, ethnocentrism and/or national identity moderate the impact of language used in advertising on consumers’ attitude towards an advertisement and an advertised product?
Quantitative methodology is utilised to answer the research questions. A pilot study was conducted to finalise the product categories for the main study. The potential moderation effects of the social identity-related constructs were tested in a 3x3 between-subjects factorial experiment, conducted via an online survey throughout New Zealand. In total, the responses from 355 participants were taken into account. The findings of the research indicate that choice of language in advertisements influences consumers’ attitudes towards advertisements and advertised products, when advertisements use the Chinese language compared to English, as well as when the advertisements use Chinese language compared to English + Chinese. Additionally, national identity and ethnocentrism partially moderate the relationship between choice of language and consumers’ attitudes towards advertisements and advertised products, but consumer ethnocentrism does not. The results provide local New Zealand companies with suggestions when they wish to target immigrant consumers through advertising, at the same time avoiding negative responses from native-born New Zealanders.