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An executive sum m ary for m anagers and executive readers can be found at the end of this article

Cross-cultural consumer values, needs and purchase behavior Jai-Ok Kim Auburn University, Auburn, USA

Sandra Forsythe Auburn University, Auburn, USA

Qingliang Gu Dong Hua University, Shanghai, People’s Republic of China

Sook Jae Moon Ehwa Woman’s University, Seoul, South Korea

Keywords Consumer behaviour, Clothing, China, South Korea Abstract This study examined the relationship of consumer values, needs and purchase behavior in two Asian consumer markets, China and South Korea. Between self-directed values and social affiliation values, self-directed values were the underlying determinant of needs to be satisfied by apparel products. Among the three types of needs identified to be satisfied through apparel (i.e. experiential, social and functional needs), experiential needs were the most important needs that influenced apparel purchases of female consumers in both Asian markets. Consumers in both country markets exhibited brand loyal behavior in apparel purchases, fulfilling all three needs. However, actualization patterns of each need through brand loyal behavior differed between the two consumer samples. While for brand-loyal Chinese consumers experiential image was the most important aspect of the branded apparel appeal to female consumers, social image with performance quality assurance was a more important feature of the branded apparel appeal to consumers in Korea. Implications for brand image management for international markets were discussed.

Products can be used to express consum ers’ personality

Meeting changing customer needs by providing the right products/services has been an ongoing marketing challenge for retailing in competitive global markets. Consumers may choose particular products/brands not only because these products provide the functional or performance benefits expected, but also because products can be used to express consumers’ personality, social status or affiliation (symbolic purposes) or to fulfill their internal psychological needs, such as the need for change or newness (emotional purposes). Consumer needs, to be fulfilled through consumption of particular products or brands, however, vary considerably with the socio-economic and cultural differences among consumer markets. According to Yau (1994), consumers’ product choice and preference for a particular product or brand are generally affected by very complex social influences. Thus, consumers’ values, which reflect social influences and environment, should affect needs to be fulfilled through purchase and consumption decisions, and therefore consumption behavior. Consumers’ preferences for certain products also change over time as their consumption situation and environment change (Yau, 1994). Personal values have been shown to be the underlying determinant of consumer attitudes and consumption behavior (Scott and Lamont, 1977; Homer and Kahle, 1988). According to social adaptation theory (Kahle, 1983; Piner and Kahle, 1984), values are a type of social cognition that function to facilitate adaptation to one’s environment through continuous The research register for this journal is available at The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at

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assimilation, accommodation, organization, and integration of environmental information. Earlier research on values and behaviors by Williams (1979) demonstrated the role of consumer values in subsequent behavior noting that ``actual selections of behavior result from concrete motivations in specific situations which are partly determined by prior beliefs and values of the actors’’(Williams, 1979, p. 20). Homer and Kahle (1988) and Erdem et al. (1999) referenced several previous studies on values-behaviors to support the linkage of values, attitude and behavior, showing that individual value differences are related to significant differences in a variety of attitudinal and behavioral outcomes with respect to automobile purchase, mass media subscription, cigarette smoking, etc.

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Social affiliation values influenced shopping mall attitude

More recently, several researchers (Allen, 2001; Erdem et al., 1999; Homer and Kahle, 1988; Shim and Eastlick, 1998) have attempted to establish a hierarchical causal influence of values on subsequent attitudes and behaviors pertaining to consumers’ choices of product classes, brands, store outlets, and shopping malls. Shim and Eastlick’s (1998) study found a direct and positive relationship between consumers’values and favorable attitudes toward patronizing shopping malls. They also found that social affiliation values influenced favorable shopping mall attitude more strongly than selfactualization values. Another study (Homer and Kahle, 1988) supported the causal relationship between the values, nutrition attitude, and natural food shopping behavior. They found a positive relationship between internal values and nutrition attitude, and a negative relationship between external values and attitude. A recent study conducted by Allen (2001) on the impact of human values on product (brand) preference also suggested that values influence product preference directly and indirectly, via prioritizing the importance of tangible attributes.

Consum er values m ay also affect prioritization of needs

These studies suggest that, as consumer values influence product attitudes and purchase behavior, they may also affect the prioritization of needs to be met through purchase of particular consumer products (Yau, 1994). Needs to be met through consumption of goods and services were considered as a part of attitudinal variables measured as activities, interests, and opinions (Homer and Kahle, 1988), and needs can be an antecedent of attitudes and purchase behavior establishing a hierarchical linkage of consumer values-needsbehaviors.

Im portant for global m arketers to identify types of consum er needs

Values have been widely viewed as the outcomes of culture and ethnicity of a society (e.g. Phinney, 1992; Rokeach, 1973), and have underlying multi-dimensions. Thus, certain types of values may be regarded as more important to consumers in one country market than to those in another country market because of differences in culture and socio-economic conditions. Thus, certain values affect more significantly consumers’ attitudes and purchase decisions in specific country markets. The importance of understanding consumer behavior in a particular cultural setting (understanding social values) was addressed in Yau’s (1994) book on consumer behavior in China. However, little research has examined how consumer values in different country markets influence the shaping of consumer needs to be met via particular products/brands and how these consumer needs affect subsequent purchase behaviors. Thus, it is important for global marketers to identify prevalent types of consumer needs in targeted international consumer markets and to understand how these needs affect purchase behaviors. Identifying types of needs in selected international consumer markets can aid in developing effective marketing strategies appealing to the specific needs of those markets. This void in the research of JO U R N A L O F C O N S U M E R M A R K E T IN G , V O L . 19 N O . 6 20 02

consumer needs in international markets prompted us to empirically study the relationship between cross-national consumer values-needs-purchase behavior in two international consumer markets. Study design The purposes of this study were to: examine the relationship between consumer values and the types of needs to be met through apparel products/brands in two Asian markets, China and South Korea; and examine the relationships between the type of needs to be met through apparel/brands and apparel purchase behaviors among consumers in these two markets. Consumers in China and South Korea were chosen because these countries represent rapidly growing consumer markets in Asia with substantially different economic and retail market development and cultural values. Many Western marketers may assume these two country markets to be similar international markets owing to their geographic proximity. However, these two markets are vastly different in that consumers in these countries not only have different cultural backgrounds but also went through different paths to a free market economy and retail market development resulting in different levels of consumer exposure to material consumption experiences and to global markets. For foreign investors, South Korean markets are now identified as a market with a wealthy consumer base along with Japan and Taiwan, whereas China is viewed as the market with the giant population (Frank, 2001). Cross-national consum er behavior study

Consumer needs and purchase behaviors in these two country markets were explored in order to study the relationships among consumer values-needspurchase behavior exhibited toward apparel products. Apparel is commonly considered a high-involvement shopping item which consumers often buy for its symbolic meanings, image reinforcement or psychological satisfaction and is also a product category that is known to reflect consumers’ social life, aspirations, and fantasies and their affiliation (e.g. Solomon, 1986; Blumer, 1969; Levy, 1959). According to Kaiser (1990), clothes can manifest the wearer’s social status, self-image and other personality characteristics resulting from complex social influences. Thus, it is believed that needs to be met through apparel products and apparel purchase behavior of consumers would provide appropriate indicators to reflect the social, economic and consumption experience factors that would affect consumers. By examining the relationships of values, needs, and purchase behavior in two markets, this cross-national consumer behavior study may help to elucidate the impact of values on shaping consumer needs and purchase decisions.

Underlying dim ensions of consum er values identified

We hypothesized a conceptual framework addressing the relationship between consumer values, consumer needs, and purchase behaviors. First, underlying dimensions of consumer values were identified and categorized into self-directed values and social affiliation values. Consumer needs were identified into functional, social, and experiential needs as identified by Park et al. (1986). Next, we examined the relationships among consumer values, needs to be met through apparel, and apparel purchase behavior of consumers in two countries. Finally, findings are discussed in light of market differences as these may be reflected in the impacts of consumer values and needs on purchase behavior between the two country markets. The relationship between the hypotheses and the findings is discussed for both

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consumer markets. We also explored the implications of consumer needs for developing successful needs-based product image marketing strategies.

South Korea’s per capita GDP m uch greater than China’s

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Background Two Asian markets: China and South Korea Although frequently undifferentiated by Western managers, these two Asian markets differ considerably in terms of their cultural and socioeconomic environments. Generally, Asian individuals are relatively collectivistic in their social values compared to people in Western countries (Hofstede, 1984). However, among Asian multinational marketers, it has been recognized that there are substantial cross-national differences in culture (e.g. value) and socioeconomics, and thus expected differences in consumer behavior among Asian markets. Specifically, South Korean socioeconomic conditions are far more advanced than China’s markets, with the former possessing a higher per capita GNP than China. Korea ranks as the 12th largest in per capita GDP among nations world-wide (Director, 1997). Moreover, South Korea’s per capita GDP of US$8,871 for 1999 was much greater than China’s per capita GDP of US$798 for the same year (United Nations Statistics Division, 2001). As a result of improved income and standard of living, as well as earlier liberalization policies for traveling abroad and opening domestic markets for imports into Korea, a growing number of Koreans have the opportunity to travel abroad and experience consumption of foreign consumer products. Another indicator of market exposure among Korean consumers is the large increase in imports of luxury foreign goods, such as apparel, into Korea. For example, Korea has imported overseas clothing at an average rate of 62 per cent increase annually for the past four years (The Korea Textile Economic News, 1997). In short, Korean consumer markets represent a more wealthy consumer base market with higher disposable income than the Chinese consumer markets (Frank, 2001). Compared to China, Koreans’ exposure to foreign cultures and brands through travel, as well as the import of Western goods into Korea’s markets, is much more extensive.

China has undergone considerable social and econom ic change

Until recently, a wide variety of consumer goods was simply not available to the average Chinese citizen, and consumption of goods and services was very limited. However, China has undergone considerable social and economic change in recent years. As a result, a strong consumer market is now developing in China (Chan, 1995), and more Chinese consumers are in a position to purchase a wide variety of non-staple consumer goods (e.g. fashion apparel). Sales of consumer goods in modern retail outlets even reached 40 per cent of total sales volume in China in 2000, resulting in falling prices of general consumer household goods (Chang, 2001).

Chinese consum ers use brands as an indicator of product function

The products and brands people buy, and the benefits they desire from their purchases are all culturally based. One recent study found that Chinese consumers use high profile brand names to provide security because of their limited experience with a modern free market system (Eckhardt and Houston, 1998), rather than for symbolic or status reasons, as prevalent in more developed economies. Pan and Schmitt (1995) found that Chinese consumers use brands as an indicator of product function to a greater extent than US consumers . Thus, culture and socio-economic conditions in China and Korea are expected to shape the types of needs to be met through apparel products. JO U R N A L O F C O N S U M E R M A R K E T IN G , V O L . 19 N O . 6 20 02

Relatively lim ited econom ic resources of Chinese consum ers

Social values im portant to consum er products/ services

Socioeconomic conditions and consumer needs The socioeconomic conditions of markets (e.g. income, mobility, media access) significantly affect consumer behavior (Inkeles, 1983; Tse et al., 1989). Per capita income and disposable income have been observed as good indicators of the amount of resources consumers allocate to consumer goods (Johansson and Moinpour, 1997). For example, when resources are limited, consumers may focus more heavily on price and performance attributes in making product evaluations and purchase decisions. However, as more resources become available, consumers may desire more hedonic or emotional image attributes in products or brands. Often foreign brands or goods imported from advanced Western economies are desired for those reasons. Lack of mobility and limited exposure to media typically limit people learning about the more symbolic aspects of consumption, resulting in greater reliance on performance and functional capabilities of consumer goods. As markets become more modern and affluent with increased exposure to other material-oriented cultures, consumers may want the goods they see being consumed in other cultures. This trend suggests consumer values shape motivations to purchase particular products or brands by prioritizing consumer needs, and influencing consumers’ product evaluation and consumption decisions. Given Chinese consumers’ relatively limited economic resources and their restricted exposure to Western culture (relative to Korean consumers), they have had less opportunity to learn about symbolic aspects of consumption. Thus, it is anticipated that the needs to be met through apparel products will differ among Chinese and Korean consumers. Consumer values and needs Personal values have been assumed to influence behavioral and consumption decisions through attitudes (e.g. Carman, 1977; Williams, 1979), thus creating desires, influencing needs to be satisfied, and driving consumers to select products that fulfill specific needs (c.f. Gutman, 1982). Personal values have been found to be the underlying determinants of various aspects of consumer attitudes and behavior (Homer and Kahle, 1988). Hence, values may be regarded as one of the most influential factors that affect the type of needs consumers try to satisfy through purchase and consumption behaviors (Tse et al., 1989). In other words, consumers’ needs and desires are shaped by their values which are influenced by the society they belong to. Several marketers have attributed differences in consumers’ behaviors to different social values held by consumers in a particular country. To understand cross-cultural consumer behavior, various methods of measuring social values have been proposed by researchers in the USA (e.g. Hofstede, 1984) However, Yau (1994) suggested that different measurement methods are more appropriate to the China market, since different values, unidentified by research with US consumers, may play a significant role in consumers’ attitudes and consumption patterns in Chinese markets. These efforts demonstrate the importance of social values to consumer product/service preferences and consumption behaviors.

Values identified as powerful force in shaping consum er choice

Values help people adapt to their circumstances by directing both their effort and resources toward achieving desirable goals (Kahle, 1983); thus, values have been identified as a powerful force in shaping consumer product choice and therefore in prioritizing needs to be fulfilled (cf. Tse et al., 1989; Homer and Kahle, 1988). There has been scant research devoted to the importance of personal values as an influence in prioritizing needs to be met through apparel in different country markets.

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LOV an effective way to m easure values

The list of values (LOV) developed by Kahle (1983) and his colleagues is a measure of values that has been widely used to study the influence of social values on consumption behavior. The LOV is based on Maslow’s (1954) and Rokeach’s (1973) theories and includes nine values: a sense of belonging, excitement, fun and enjoyment in life, warm relationships with others, self-fulfillment, being well-respected, sense of accomplishment, security, and self-respect. The LOV typology broadly distinguishes these values into two dimensions; external, i.e. social-affiliation or instrumental values vs internal, i.e. self-actualization or terminal values. These external and internal values indicate the importance of both interpersonal relationships (e.g. sense of belonging, warm relationship with others) and individual inward directed factors (e.g. self-fulfillment, sense of accomplishment and self-respect) in people’s everyday life. Several researchers (Beatty et al., 1985; Kahle et al., 1986; Homer and Kahle, 1988; Shim and Eastlick, 1998) have shown that the LOV is an effective way to measure values resulting from lifestyle, consumption activities, and product preferences. The LOV is chosen for this study because of its convenience of administration with large consumer samples (e.g. Homer and Kahle, 1988; Shim and Eastlick, 1998) and its proven utility in cross-cultural applications in earlier studies (Beatty et al., 1991; Goldsmith et al., 1993). The current study examines which values are the strong motivators of needs to be met by apparel in two different country markets. Understanding the relationship between values and types of needs to be met by a particular product class or brand would help marketers segment their target market and build an image consistent with the needs of the target market.

Consum er products m arketed to appeal to three types of consum er needs

Types of consumer needs Meeting consumers’ needs is the fundamental goal of marketers. Consumer products are generally marketed to appeal to three basic types of consumers’ needs: functional, social and experiential needs (Park et al., 1986; Keller, 1993). A product’s functional attributes satisfy the consumer’s need to prevent or solve problems. These needs are considered fairly low-level motivators encouraging consumers to focus on intrinsic advantages of the product. For example, Allen’s (2001) study found that consumers’ brand preference for Toyota Corolla was based on their positive evaluation of the functional aspects of the brands (e.g. safety and reliability) to meet their functional needs. Social images satisfy social needs such as social approval, affiliation, or personal expression (e.g. status, prestige) and outward directed self-esteem. Consumers higher in social needs may value a socially visible product or brand that provides prestige and exclusivity (Solomon, 1983; Keller, 1993). For example, Western brands or imported goods may be used to convey social status in non-Western consumer markets (Muller, 1987). Experiential needs reflect consumers’ needs for novelty, variety, and sensory gratification/pleasure (Park et al., 1986) and have been recognized as an important aspect in consumption, especially evoking new demand of consumer products. In segmenting apparel markets, shoppers have been identified as qualityconscious, social directed, appropriate, or economic (Shim and Drake, 1988). Jenkins and Dickey (1976) segmented female consumers into four groups: fashion advocates, quality seekers, frugal aesthetics, and concerned pragmatics. Other researchers have segmented clothing shoppers similarly (Aiken, 1963; Sproles, 1979). Consumer needs identified by previous segmentation studies may be subsumed into the following three categories proposed by Park et al. (1986):

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(1) functional needs (e.g. quality seeker/concerned pragmatics); (2) social needs (social directed); and (3) experiential needs (fashion advocates). Relationship between fashion leadership and experiential needs

Several studies have shown a strong positive relationship between fashion leadership and experiential needs in which fashion leaders look for change, variety, venturesomeness, and new experiences (Schrank, 1973; Summers and King, 1969; Workman and Johnson, 1993). Fashion leaders strive to fulfill experiential needs (Kaiser, 1990; McCracken, 1986; O’Shaughnessy, 1987), as fashion stimulates constant demand for new apparel products by satisfying individuals’ need to experience change and variety (O’Shaughnessy, 1987). Hence, fashion leadership may be regarded as a surrogate for experiential needs, as they appear to represent essentially the same construct.

Strong linkage between social values and consum ers’ needs

Previous studies on the relation between social values as measured by LOV and fashion leadership show that persons scoring high in fashion leadership ranked the values of fun/enjoyment and excitement as important to them (Goldsmith et al., 1991). Studies of market segmentation (Workman and Johnson, 1993; Shim and Bickle, 1994) have yielded similar findings, suggesting that values and type of needs to be met through clothing are significantly related. Roth (1995) supported the presence of a strong linkage between social values and consumers’ needs to be fulfilled in country markets that represented different socio-economic status and culture. These findings support the hypothesis that regional socio-economic and cultural environments affect the types of needs to be satisfied through apparel products. Consumer needs are also affected by the value system of the society (i.e. culture). Markets with low individualism (self-actualization or inward direction values) would value products to fulfill social or functional needs to reinforce group membership and affiliation or reduce the risk of not being accepted. On the other hand, consumers in markets with high individualism would value products that appeal to their experiential needs (Roth, 1995). Thus, it is anticipated that values considered to be important in each country market will be related to the consumer needs to be met through apparel products.

Past segmentation research focused almost exclusively on US consumers

Although considerable research has identified various market segments, researchers have often failed to relate these segments to product or brand strategies designed to address specific consumer needs. Furthermore, past segmentation research has focused almost exclusively on US consumers; therefore, these segmentation studies may have limited applicability to international markets. For instance, global apparel product marketers may exert their promotion efforts without being informed regarding consumer needs to be met through apparel products in some international markets. Based on the review of the literature, the conceptual model guiding this research is presented in Figure 1 and we propose the following hypotheses to examine the relationships of consumer values-needs-purchase behavior. H1a: Consumers’ self-directed values significantly influence the type of needs to be met through apparel in Chinese and Korean markets. H1b: Consumers’ social affiliation values significantly influence the types of needs to be met through apparel in Chinese and Korean markets.

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Figure 1. Conceptual model for the relationship between social values, types of needs and purchase behavior

H2a: Experiential needs positively influence apparel purchase behavior: (a) the amount of purchase; (b) brand loyal behavior among consumers in China and Korea. H2b: Social needs positively influence apparel purchase behavior; (a) the amount of purchase; (b) brand loyal behavior among consumers in China and Korea. H2c: Functional needs positively influence apparel purchase behavior: (a) the amount of purchase; (b) brand loyal behavior among consumers in China and Korea.

Fem ale shoppers surveyed

China sam ple younger and skewed towards the unm arried

Method Data collection We employed a shopping center intercept procedure to collect consumer information on types of clothing needs, consumer values, and purchase behaviors. Samples consisted of 399 female shoppers in major shopping areas in Shanghai, China, and 418 female shoppers in Seoul, Korea. These cities represent the largest consumer markets and major commercial centers for fashion trends in each country. Surveys were administered by local college graduate students at the shopping areas which cater to somewhat upscale shoppers in both countries. Female shoppers in these shopping areas were surveyed because these shoppers were potential consumers for a wide range of branded clothing to fulfill a variety of needs. Respondent characteristics Table I presents the profile of each country’s sample. Samples in both countries are similar in terms of educational background but differ in age and marital status. The China sample is somewhat younger and skewed toward to unmarried in marital status. Differences in the results, however, should not pose any problem in comparing the results, since the shoppers surveyed reflect typical shoppers who shop in those shopping areas looking for wide range of better quality merchandise. Questionnaire development The questionnaire designed for this study was originally drafted in English and translated into Chinese and Korean respectively. It was then

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China (%)

Korea (%)

Age 18-24 25-34 35 and over

50 44 6

33 35 22

Marital status Unmarried Married

71 29

53 47

Education Middle school High school College and higher

2 37 61

3 31 66



Total sample (n)

Table I. Profile of consumer samples in China and Korea

back-translated into English to maintain consistency with original meanings. The questionnaire consisted of scales to identify: values; needs to be met through apparel products; purchase behavior (i.e. the amount of purchase; brand loyal behavior); and other demographic information. Scale used was a valid m easure of social values

Data com bined in order to extract the com m on factor item s

Scales Consumer values. Section one included questions on consumer values. Kahle’s (1983) nine value items of LOV were used to measure consumer values. Value items included the following: sense of belonging, warm relationships with others, self-fulfillment, being well-respected, fun/ enjoyment, security, self-respect, a sense of accomplishment, and excitement. The original study by Kahle (1983) found the LOV to be significantly correlated with various measures of wellbeing, adaptation to society and self, providing evidence for the nomological validity of this measure. Other researchers (Goldsmith et al., 1991; Kahle et al., 1986) also have found this scale to be a valid measure of social values and provided evidence of LOV’s association with consumer behavior. Respondents were asked to indicate the importance of each value item on a seven-point Likert-type scale (where 1 = not important at all; 7 = greatly important). Instead of examining the impact of the individual LOV items, two main factors were identified by principal component factor analysis using combined data of the Chinese and the Korean samples. The data were combined in order to extract the common factor items as a primary factor that influenced subsequent consumer needs and behaviors in two different markets. Factors were extracted using the criteria of an eigenvalue of one or greater. Items with factor loading greater than 0.60 in one factor and less than 0.40 in other factors were retained. Table II shows the scale items for each factor and the factor reliability coefficients. The two factors identified were labeled as the self-directed and social affiliation values. The first factor was named as self-directed values because the items are all related to self- or inward fulfillment value items. The other factor was labeled as social affiliation values since these items related to outward social affiliation or relationships with others.

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Scale items


Self-directed values Self-respect Being well respected Security Fun and enjoyment in life

0.82 0.73 0.68 0.63

Eigenvalue Cronbach’s alpha Percentage of variance

2.53 0.79 28.06

Social affiliation values Sense of belonging Warm relationships with others

0.86 0.76

Eigenvalue Correlation coefficient Percentage of variance

1.50 0.40 16.64

Table II. Consumers’ values scales and reliability

Analysis perform ed using data of each country sample to identify needs

Consumer needs. Section two examined needs to be satisfied from clothing. Likert-type items adopted from previous studies (Goldsmith et al., 1991; Shim and Bickle, 1994) were included to identify clothing needs. Respondents were asked to rate their level of agreement with each statement on a seven-point Likert scale (where 1 = strongly disagree; 7 = strongly agree). Principal component factor analysis was performed using the data of each country sample to identify consumer needs. An eigenvalue of one or greater was used as the criterion for extracting the number of factors. Three factors, representing three types of consumer needs, were extracted and labeled as experiential needs (fashion leadership), social needs (status/ prestige), and functional needs (function/comfort). Table III shows the scale items for each type of need and the reliability coefficients for the Chinese China loading

Korea loading

0.79 0.74 0.75 0.67

0.78 0.69 0.67 0.61

3.46 0.631 13.85

3.60 0.808 11.24

Social needs (status/prestige) Wearing well known brand clothing provides prestige Wearing designer clothes gives one social status Eigenvalue Correlation coefficient Percentage of variance

0.72 0.62 2.44 0.423 9.75

0.71 0.64 2.60 0.517 8.11

Functional needs (function/comfort) I wear clothes that are primarily functional I believe comfort in clothing is more important than fashion

0.78 0.70

0.65 0.72

Eigenvalue Correlation coefficient Percentage of variance

1.09 0.305 4.37

1.64 0.423 5.12

Scale items Experiential needs (fashion leadership) I am aware of fashion trends and want to be one of the first to try them I am the first to try a new fashion It is important for me to be a fashion leader I always buy at least one outfit of the latest fashion Eigenvalue Cronbach’s alpha Percentage of variance

Table III. Consumer needs scales and reliabilities 4 90

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sample and Korean sample separately. Correlation coefficients for social and functional needs seem somewhat low, but both items for both needs types were kept. because two items may reflect underlying social and functional needs better than one item. Brand loyalty m easured

Relationship between the tw o behavioral variables exam ined

Purchase behavior. Section three requested demographic and purchase behavior information. In the consumer behavior literature (Shim and Eastlick, 1998; Homer and Kahle, 1988), purchase/repatronage intentions (intentions to purchase products or to visit stores or shopping malls) and/or shopping frequency, frequency of mall visits, and amount of purchase, have been widely used to measure brand/store loyalty or shopping mall patronage. The impacts of consumer values, attitudes, or perceptions of attributes of the products/brands, retail store or shopping malls on such behavioral outcomes were examined (Shim and Eastlick, 1998; Homer and Kahle, 1988). The impact of consumers’ needs to be satisfied through particular products on behavioral outcomes may differ depending upon the type of behavioral outcomes. Thus, in this study two purchase behavioral variables were employed. One purchase behavior variable operationalized for this study was the number of apparel items (ladies’ blazer-type jackets) purchased during a given time period multiplied by the average amount spent for each item. Thus, it was defined as purchase amount and this total spending on a specified apparel category was used to examine the impact of needs on quantitative purchase behavior. Another behavioral variable selected for the study was brand loyal behavior measured by two scale items (i.e. when I buy clothing, I usually buy the same brand I bought last time; I usually buy the same brands of clothing). The correlation coefficient of these two items was 0.76, indicting a good reliability of the measure of brand loyal behavior. Data analysis A simple regression was used to examine the relationship between the two behavioral variables (i.e. purchase amount and brand loyal behavior). Using the factors identified for consumer values and types of needs for apparel products, multiple regression analyses were employed to examine the impact of consumer values on each need and that of needs on purchase behavior. Multiple regression analysis was chosen because the review of literature suggested that a hierarchical relationship exists among consumer values, and attitude (needs in this study) and behavior. Thus, each need (i.e. a dependent variable) was regressed using the combination of the self-directed values and the social affiliation values (i.e. independent variables). Similarly, for the relationships between the types of needs and purchase behavior, the purchase behavior variables (i.e. purchase amount and brand loyal behavior) were each regressed using the combination of the three types of needs. In employing the multiple regression analysis, multicollinearity among independent variables often poses problems. In this study, however, it was deemed to be an appropriate method of data analysis, since all correlation coefficients between any two independent variables were below 0.4 (Asher, 1983; Emory and Cooper, 1991). For the purpose of direct comparison of means of the groups, Duncan post hoc tests were employed. Results and discussion Consumer values The consumer values as measured by Kahle’s individual LOV items in the two country markets are summarized in Table IV. Consumer values were grouped into the two types, the self-directed and social affiliation values (as shown in Table V), to examine how these two values influence

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Consumer value

China (mean)

Korea (mean)

6.2 5.7 5.4 4.3 5.4 5.5 5.1 5.9 3.2

5.3 4.7 4.9 4.3 5.4 5.2 5.2 5.5 5.0

Self-respect Being well respected Warm relationships with others Sense of belonging A sense of accomplishment Security Self-fulfillment Fun and enjoyment of life Excitement

Table IV. Consumers’ values in China and Korea

consumer needs in each country. An examination of the means of the individual values (Table IV) shows that both Chinese and Korean consumers accepted all but one of the LOV items as important (means greater than 4 on a seven-point scale). Chinese consumers do not appear to consider ``excitement in life’’ as an important social value, whereas Korean consumers pursue excitement in life as being as important as other values. With the exception of excitement, LOV ratings by both consumer groups are generally consistent with the ratings found in previous studies on social values and fashion leadership (Goldsmith et al., 1991, 1993). However, Chinese participants in this study rated excitement much lower than have US and UK consumers in previous studies. This finding is consistent with Tse et al.’s (1989) finding of a lack of emphasis on hedonic appeals among PRC’s advertisements. Korean consumers’ higher rating of excitement in life seems consistent with their high ratings for experiential needs. That is, the greater the importance of excitement, the greater the experiential needs (i.e. fashion consciousness) of the market in general. When the market is more developed and advanced, there is a greater desire for experiential needs to be satisfied. Both countries’ sam ples rated the self-directed values m ore im portant

An examination of the self-directed and social affiliation values for the two country markets shows that both country samples rate the self-directed values as more important than the social affiliation values and that Chinese consumers rated both values somewhat higher than did Korean consumers (Table V). The higher ratings on self-directed values among consumers of both countries suggest that, although Asian consumers are considered to be highly concerned about social affiliation or relationship with others for social acceptance, the self-directed values such as self-respect or being well respected, security, and fun and enjoyment in life are more valued than social-oriented values. Consumer needs The importance of three types of consumers’ needs to be satisfied through apparel ± functional, social, and experiential ± was examined for Chinese China Self-directed values Social affiliation values


5.7 4.8b

Korea 5.2a 4.6b

Notes: Figures are means on a seven-point Likert scale (1 = not important at all, 7 = greatly important). Means with different superscripts within the column differ significantly at the level of significance, p < 0.05

Table V. Consumers’ self-directed and social affiliation values 4 92

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and Korean female shoppers (Table VI). Consumers in both samples rated functional needs highest. These high ratings for functional needs imply that functional needs represent the lowest level of needs in the hierarchy and must be fulfilled through clothing before any other needs should be fulfilled. Chinese consumers ranked social needs second highest after functional, and rated experiential needs as least important with almost equal distance among the ratings of the three needs. In contrast, Korean shoppers indicated that both social and experiential needs are similarly important to be satisfied with clothing, but experiential needs are statistically significantly higher than social needs, suggesting experiential needs are more important to be fulfilled through clothing than social needs. Among female consum ers in China, clothing is regarded as a sym bolic m edium

The relatively high level of social needs among Chinese consumers suggests that, among those female consumers in China, clothing is regarded as a symbolic medium to demonstrate one’s social status or express one’s social image. This finding may be considered to be typical of newly emerging consumer markets as was indicated in Roth’s (1995) study. For participants in China, the functional and social image needs to be met through clothing appear to be of greater importance than the experiential needs.

Clothing less im portant as a m ajor sym bolic m edium in Korea

Korean consumers rated experiential needs somewhat higher than social needs to be met through clothing. Since consumers in Korea have enjoyed wide exposure to Western culture through mass media and travel abroad and a long period of exposure to a variety of domestic and imported branded products much in contrast with most consumers in China, these experiences may already have allowed the Korean consumers to meet lower-level consumer needs. Now Korean consumers look for clothing that can fulfill more of their desire for change, newness or emotional expression (i.e. experiential needs) than for demonstration of their social status or prestige. In addition, relatively low ratings of social needs by Korean female consumers ± compared with functional and experiential needs ± indicated that apparel may be less important as a major symbolic medium to express one’s social status or success for female consumers in Korea. These results of the relative ranking of the three needs within each country’s consumer market indirectly demonstrate the influence of cultural and economic market conditions on shaping consumer needs by prioritizing the importance of needs to be met through clothing.

Three types of needs exam ined

Impact of social values on needs Relationships between consumer values and each of three types of needs were examined using multiple regression analysis. Table VII (part A) shows the impact of both self-directed and social affiliation consumer values on each of the three types of consumer needs. For both the Chinese and Korean samples, self-directed values were significantly related to either experiential China Experiential needs Social needs Functional needs


3.4 4.4b 5.6a

Korea 3.7b 3.4c 5.1a

Notes: Figures are means on a seven-point Likert scale ( 1 = strongly disagree, 7 = strongly agree). Means with different superscripts within the column differ significantly at the level of significance, p < 0.05

Table VI. Consumers’ three types of needs in China and Korea JO U R N A L O F C O N S U M E R M A R K E T IN G , V O L . 19 N O . 6 20 02

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p < 0.01;


p < 0.001


±0.166** 0.094*

Functional needs

Brand loyal behavior

0.059 0.184**

Social needs

0.071 0.023 0.030

Social affiliation value

0.257*** 0.147**

Experiential needs

0.152** 0.086 0.197***

Self-directed value

Independent variable

Table VII. Relationships of value, needs and purchase behavior among Chinese and Korean consumers

Notes: *p < 0.05;

0.168** 0.278**

Experiential needs

0.128* 0.057 0.040

Self-directed value

C. Relationships of purchase amount and brand loyal behavior Purchase amount

B. Relationships of types of needs and purchase behavior Purchase amount Brand loyal behavior

A. Relationships of consumer values and needs types Experiential needs Social needs Functional needs

Dependent variable



±0.061 0.225***

Functional needs

±0.012 ±0.004 ±0.025

Social affiliation value

Brand loyal behavior

0.113* 0.216***

Social needs


needs or functional needs; whereas social affiliation values were not related to any needs identified to be met through clothing. Thus, H1a was supported. In contrast, H1b was rejected. It appears that self-directed values do influence the type of needs to be met through clothing in both country markets. Korean fem ale consum ers seem m ore dem anding

For the Chinese sample, self-directed values only related to experiential needs. For the Korean sample, self-directed values were found to be related to female consumersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; desire for experiential and functional needs to be met through clothing. The linkage between self-directed values and both experiential and functional needs found among Korean participants suggested that consumers who rated self-directed values very important expect apparel product to fulfill their functional/performance expectations, as well as their experiential needs (e.g. newness, fashion leadership, means for change). For the Chinese sample, their self-directed values were expressed by trying to fulfill their experiential needs to be met through apparel. In short, Korean female consumers seem more demanding in terms of product quality and emotional satisfaction and to behave more like experienced Western shoppers.

Findings of the earlier studies by Hom er and Kahle supported

This result supports the findings of the earlier studies by Homer and Kahle (1988). In their studies, self-actualization or internal consumer values were more closely related to favorable nutrient attitudes toward natural food than were self-actualization values. In contrast, Shim and Eastlick (1998) found that social affiliation values were more strongly related to favorable attitudes toward shopping malls than were selfactualization values. This suggests that consumers consume different products or services to fulfill different values (e.g. self-actualization vs socialization values) in their daily life. For the two countriesâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; samples of female consumers, the self-directed values (internal values) were found to lead consumers to desire the experiential needs (the newness and change, being trendy and in fashion) to be satisfied through apparel. Overall, results confirmed the hypothesis that clothing serves as a medium to realize female consumersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; self-directed values (self-respect, being well respected, security, fun and enjoyment in life) by fulfilling their experiential needs.

Experiential needs had a strong positive im pact on purchase am ount

Impact of needs on purchase behaviors The impact of needs on purchase behavior is examined by multiple regression analysis using purchase behavior variables as dependent variables and three types of needs as independent variables (Table VII, part B). The type of needs to be met through clothing significantly influenced the clothing purchase behavior of the consumers in both country markets. Among both Chinese and Korean consumers, experiential needs had a strong positive impact on purchase amount (Table VII, part B). Thus, H2a was supported. That is, those consumers higher in experiential needs tended to spend more money on purchasing apparel. This finding lends support to the concept that experiential needs exerted a positive influence on the Chinese and Korean female consumers in these samples to purchase more apparel. Among Korean consumers, there was a somewhat weaker, but a significant, positive relationship between social needs and purchase amount; however, functional needs did not significantly influence purchase behavior of the Korean participants.

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By contrast, the Chinese participants’ purchase behavior (purchase amount) was negatively influenced by functional needs. A significant but negative relationship between functional needs and purchase amount suggests that the Chinese consumers who focused on functional/comfort aspects of clothing tended to spend less on clothing purchases. Overall, the experiential needs were the major positive determinant of the amount of purchase (i.e. number of jackets times price typically paid for jacket) among both Chinese and Korean female consumers. Social needs appeared to play a role in determining purchase amount of apparel only among Korean participants, but its impact was much weaker than the experiential needs. Thus, H2b was partially supported. H2c was rejected. Consumers bought the same brands because products fulfilled expectations

Relationships between needs and brand loyal behavior were examined to study the impact of consumer needs on their apparel brand loyal purchase behavior. All three types of needs in both China and Korea were satisfied through their brand loyal behavior. In other words, consumers tended to buy the same brands because their loyal apparel brand products fulfilled their expectations of experiential, social, and functional needs to be met through apparel products. Thus, H2a-c, which proposed that respective experiential, social and functional needs positively influence purchase behaviors (brand loyal behavior) among consumers in China and Korea, were supported. Chinese female consumers buy the same apparel brands because they satisfy their experiential needs (b = 0.278) as their primary needs first, and social needs (b = 0.184) next; and to a much lesser extent, they also satisfy consumers’ functional needs (b = 0.094). In contrast, for the Korean female participants, functional needs (b = 0.225) and social needs (b = 0.216) were stronger determinants of their brand loyal behavior than were experiential needs (b = 0.147). This illustrates that consumers’ social needs and functional needs were stronger drivers for brand loyalty in apparel purchase than were experiential needs among Korean female shoppers. In other words, Korean participants were brand loyal because the brands provided them with appropriate social status or prestige images as well as with function/ performance quality; and at the same time fulfilled their experiential motivations. The somewhat lower regression coefficient for the relationship between experiential needs and brand loyal behavior may be reasonable considering that the same brands may be difficult to satisfy both the experiential needs that constantly seek for changes, newness or fashion leadership, and the need to maintain a consistent image even with new product offerings. Korean consumers may become more loyal to certain apparel brands because they consistently provide a desirable social statement with proven quality.

Brand loyal consum ers tended to spend m ore on apparel products

The relationship between the two purchase behavioral variables (Table VII, part C) showed that there was strong positive relationship between volume purchase behavior and brand loyal behavior among consumers of both countries. That is, consumers in both country markets who are brand loyal are those who tend to spend more on apparel products. Conclusions and implications Using Kahle’s LOV, two dimensions of consumer values: self-directed values and social affiliation values, were identified in this study. Grouping of the LOV items in these two dimensions of values are more similar to Shim and Eastlick’s (1998) dimensions of self-actualization vs social affiliation than the categorization of internal vs external value dimensions by Homer

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and Kahle (1988). While social affiliation values were found to strongly influence favorable attitudes toward shopping mall attributes in the previous study (Shim and Eastlick, 1998), our findings demonstrated that only selfdirected consumer values were significantly related to types of needs to be satisfied by apparel products for Chinese and Korean female consumers. The role of values in determination of type of consumer needs to be satisfied by apparel products was supported by the strong positive regression coefficients of self-directed values on experiential needs among Chinese and Korean participants. Korean female consumers also try to realize their self-directed values by fulfilling their functional needs of apparel. The finding is that, although types of needs to be satisfied with apparel differ between the two country samples, these needs were influenced by the same self-directed values. While Chinese female consumers tried to realize their self-directed values through fulfilling their experiential needs, Korean female consumers realized their self-directed values through fulfilling both experiential and functional needs. Experiential needs w ere a strong m otivator

The Chinese female consumers who rated high in experiential needs purchased more apparel, while those who were high in functional needs spent less money on apparel. For Korean female consumers, those with higher experiential and social needs tended to purchase more clothing. Experiential needs were a stronger, more universally common motivator for apparel purchases than were social needs among the two country’s female consumers. Chinese consumers who were brand loyal were more likely to satisfy their experiential needs with fashion statements or their social needs with prestige or social status statements. By contrast, Korean female consumers’ apparel brand loyal behavior seems to be attributed to the fact that their loyal brands fulfilled more of their social needs and expectations of performance quality (i.e. functional needs) than their experiential needs. The amount of apparel purchases and the brand loyal purchase behavior were closely related. For both Chinese and Korean consumers, those who were brand loyal spent more on purchasing apparel.

Self-directed values w ere fulfilled by purchase of apparel

Our findings indicate that Asian markets vary in terms of needs to be fulfilled through purchase of apparel. Although Asian countries are considered to be more collectivistic or relationship focused societies, the relationship or social affiliation values did not affect consumers’ purchase motivations of apparel in this study. Rather, in both Asian market samples, self-directed values were fulfilled through the purchase of apparel. This result suggests that self-directed values were expressed in apparel purchases by trying to satisfy particular type of needs. It also suggests that different values might be achieved through consumption of different products or services. Consumers’ general purchase behavior (the amount of purchase) reflected utilization of different needs from brand loyal behavior (usually buy the same brands of clothing). While brand loyal behavior reflects the behavior of shoppers who wanted to fulfill all three types of needs, the general purchase behavior reflects how consumers generally prioritize their needs to be satisfied in apparel purchase decisions. Overall, this empirical study supported the hierarchical relationships of value-needs-purchase behavior. Thus, consumer values and needs may be used to characterize international consumer markets to develop successful marketing strategies that appeal to the needs of consumers in each

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country. As our findings imply, apparel product images presented to each market should be tailored according to consumers’ needs in each market. For example, in the case of Korean markets (Table VII, part B, purchase amount), female consumers generally expected apparel to meet both experiential needs and functional needs, but purchase decisions were influenced more by how apparel products met their experiential needs and social needs. For Chinese apparel markets, the sample depended more on how well the apparel products met their experiential needs, a major determining factor to apparel purchase decisions. That is, the experiential image should appeal to Chinese consumer up-markets for clothing purchase. These findings also imply that, in order to build brand loyalty, the apparel brands have to meet all three needs. For Korean consumers, social image and consistent performance quality are the strong points that customers sought from their apparel brands in addition to satisfaction of some experiential image. For Chinese consumers, both experiential and social images were much sought from their loyal brands and thus important features of the brands in building brand loyalty. Direct com parisons between the two m arket samples w ere avoided

Continuous updating of studies needed

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Limitations and future research While previous studies established relationships among values, attitudes and consumer purchase behavior, this exploratory cross-cultural study on the relationships of values-needs-purchase behavior was designed to expand our understanding of the impact of values on the needs to be met through specific products or service and the role of consumer needs in purchase behavior in international markets. Direct comparisons between the two market samples were avoided in this study, since we believe that it is hard to match the consumer samples in terms of socio-economic background which may play a more important role in shaping consumer needs. In addition, because the sample in each country was selected in specific retail areas in two major metropolitan cities, the results reflect female consumers’ behavior of sub-markets of relatively affluent shoppers in both country markets, thus limiting its generalization and application. Therefore, future study should be conducted across consumers in different socio-economic backgrounds within the same country (or huge metropolitan cities like Shanghai or Seoul) markets. Furthermore, even within a country’s markets, consumers may be segmented into sub-markets representing different types of needs consistent with their social values. Therefore, it is necessary to understand consumer needs and the underlying social values in each country’s market to develop effective needs-based marketing strategies. This approach may provide more detailed information for marketers to develop specific needs-based marketing strategies. In addition, consumers’ values in Asian markets seem to change more quickly today than before, because of the sweeping influence of globalization in every aspect of consumers’ life in developing countries. Therefore, consumers’ needs regarding particular products may also change accordingly. For example, TV was one of the luxury, conspicuous signature products to Chinese consumers before the 1980s, but it may no longer be a luxury. The importance of apparel, as expressive and signature products to convey consumers’ success or to fulfill their psychologica l emotional desire, may also change over time. Thus, continuous updating of studies for understanding changing consumer needs in each market should be conducted. JO U R N A L O F C O N S U M E R M A R K E T IN G , V O L . 19 N O . 6 20 02

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This summ ary has been provided to allow managers and executives a rapid appreciation of the content of this article. Those with a particular interest in the topic covered m ay then read the article in toto to take advantage of the more comprehensive description of the research undertaken and its results to get the full benefit of the material present

Executive summary and implications for managers and executives How different are consumers in different countries? Differences in consumer values, behaviour and attitude across international boundaries are well documented. At the same time, however, we should recognise that much in consumer behaviour is consistent wherever we go in the world. The majority of variations lie in the degree of emphasis placed on, for example, determinants of buying behaviour. Kim et al. present a detailed comparison between two Asian countries that, in the West, are often seen as very similar ± China and South Korea. The authors point out the significant socio-economic and cultural differences between the two countries as a preamble to examining whether these identifiable differences result in different consumer values, needs and purchase behaviour. The impact of economic development on consumer behaviour Kim et al. suggest that differences between China and South Korea may derive from the very different economic conditions in the two countries. South Korea is, in per capita terms, a much richer country than China ± indeed this country is among the 20 richest (on these terms) in the world. In contrast, China’s per capita GDP still places it among the world’s poorer countries, something that can be masked by the vast population. We can compare how consumer behaviour varies according to per capita GDP with the way in which behaviour varies across class and income boundaries. We know that, in general, lower income individuals focus more on price considerations in their purchases than do higher income individuals. It is not an unreasonable extrapolation from this finding to suppose that a similar pattern will be seen when we compare countries rather than individuals. After all, a nation is merely (for the purpose of this argument) a collection of individuals. The resulting finding is that a comparatively rich country (as South Korea is in this instance) will witness more hedonistic consumer behaviour than a comparatively poor country. Consumers can afford to consider something other than whether the particular purchase fulfils a given need. But Asian countries are different? Kim et al. note that both the countries they study are usually characterized (along with other East Asian countries) as ``collectivist’’ rather than ``individualistic’’. Such a position suggests that consumer purchasing behaviour will focus more on the satisfaction of group needs rather than individual requirements. Consumers making a purchase will be influenced by the group mores and driven to buy something that will make them fit in. The argument as to whether the ``collectivism’’ of East Asia is the result of politics or culture is perhaps a discussion for a different place (although my view is that it is mostly politics). But we should note something from Kim et al.’s findings: . . . although Asian countries are considered to be more collectivistic or relationship-focused countries, the relationship or social affiliation values did not affect consumers’ purchase motivations for apparel in this study.

This is a very interesting finding ± admittedly for one type of purchase ± that challenges some of our fundamental assumptions about purchase behaviour JO U R N A L O F C O N S U M E R M A R K E T IN G , V O L . 19 N O . 6 20 02

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in East Asian countries. We are not selling ``group conformity’’ as many thought but should consider that, at least for clothing purchases, the consumer’s individual likes and dislikes are just as important (if not more important) in determining the purchase. Image or function ± which matters more? The decisions we make when we buy something are guided by a variety of influences ± we want clothes to cover and protect our body but clothing also makes a statement about who we are and about the group we are associated with. Nothing new in this observation ± indeed, it is likely that for much of human history clothing has said something about us as an individual, has connected us to a tribe or group and has performed the basic function (more or less) of clothing. However, the balance in the consumer’s mind between these different motivations is very important to the marketer. We need to understand what expectations the consumer has when they make a purchase. We need to recognise that different cultures have different priorities influencing individual purchasing decisions. Looking at Kim et al.’s findings we can see how this variation becomes real. Consumers have a basic level of expectation about a purchase (e.g. Korean female consumers ``. . . expected apparel to meet both experiential needs and functional needs’’) and needs that are most significant in the purchase decision (Korean females were ``. . . influenced more by how apparel products met their experiential needs and social needs’’). As consumers we take some things as given (a given item of clothing will fulfil its function, for example) but require something more ± status, image, group conformity ± to actually make the purchase. Marketers need to focus on the factors that influence the decision rather than on factors that the consumer takes for granted. International comparisons are always tricky but the value that derives from studies such as this one lies in the reduction of prejudgement about how individuals in a given market will behave. Most studies show that consumers everywhere share a similar set of criteria when purchasing. It is the relative importance ± to those consumers ± of the various criteria that produces what we might call ``cultural’’ variation. And, as noted already, factors such as relative income levels can be as significant as perceptions about real cultural differences. (A preÂcis of the article ``Cross-cultural consumer values, needs and purchase behavior’’. Supplied by Marketing Consultants for Emerald.)

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Cross-cultural consumer values,needs ...  

This study examined the relationship of consumer values, needs and purchase behavior in two Asian consumer markets, China and South Korea. B...