Mixed-cultural parentage and intergenerational influence on consumption

Morris, Philippa
Gaur, Sonjaya
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Master of Business
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Auckland University of Technology

Studies on bicultural consumers are exploratory in nature at present, and none have yet addressed the impact of multi-cultural parentage on intergenerational influence (IGI). The research examines this gap in the extant literature. Looking at how consumption is learnt by children of parents from different cultural or ethnic backgrounds (i.e. bicultural by birth).

Using a mixed method approach, eight initial semi-structured interviews with children over the age of 20 who are bicultural by birth were conducted. Thematic analysis was utilised to discover 7 themes. These were: IGI comes from both parents; strong IGI from mother; cultural choice; thoughts on cultural influence; creation of own culture within the family unit; cultural influence from society/peers; desire to pass on culture to future generations. The themes were then used alongside the extant literature to develop the conceptual model.

The conceptual model proposed two constructs (social identity with ethnicity and identification with parent) would impact on strength of intergenerational normative and communicational influence from parents. These direct impacts would be moderated by attachment styles, materialism, living situation and demographics such as gender.

In study 2 the conceptual model was tested empirically using surveys. The appropriate statistical analysis was applied to test the direct hypotheses and moderating variables.

Findings showed mixed support for the proposed hypotheses. Representativeness of mother’s ethnicity was found to have a negative impact on IGI from both mother and father. Compared to representativeness of father’s ethnicity, which was found to have a positive impact on IGI from both mother and father. Identity overlap with mother’s ethnicity was found to have a positive impact on normative influence from mother and identity overlap with father’s ethnicity had a negative impact on normative influence from mother. Dimensions of identification with parent were only found to have an impact in the case of identification with father.

The implications of this research identify the complexity of the impact of culture on intergenerational influence in bicultural consumers. Counterintuitive results from study two establish the necessity for more research into bicultural consumers.

Practically this means that marketers need to understand which constructs of social identity with ethnicity and identification with parents need to be activated to target intergenerational transfer of brands from generation to generation.

This study can be considered an important step in bridging the gap in knowledge on bicultural consumers and IGI. It establishes that social identity with ethnicity has an impact on strength of IGI, and that it doesn’t behave in the same manner as current theories on IGI and mono-cultural consumers predict. It raises the awareness of how consumption behaviour in bicultural consumers is learnt differently. Which may be due to the impact of both the cultures in their family life as well as the impact of external forces such as peers and society. By focussing on intergenerational influence this research extends current knowledge of bicultural consumers.

Bicultural , Intergenerational , Culture , Consumption , Multicultural , Mixed-cultural
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