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This article was downloaded by: [Maharshi Dayanand Saraswati Univ ], [Arpita Khare]
On: 14 September 2011, At: 22:31
Publisher: Routledge
Informa Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registered office: Mortimer House,
37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK
Journal of International Consumer Marketing
Publication details, including instructions for authors and subscription information:
Impact of Indian Cultural Values and Lifestyles on
Meaning of Branded Products: Study on University
Students in India
Arpita Khare
Indian Institute of Management, Rohtak, Rohtak, India
Available online: 14 Sep 2011
To cite this article: Arpita Khare (2011): Impact of Indian Cultural Values and Lifestyles on Meaning of Branded Products:
Study on University Students in India, Journal of International Consumer Marketing, 23:5, 365-379
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Journal of International Consumer Marketing, 23:365–379, 2011
c Taylor & Francis Group, LLC
Copyright ISSN: 0896-1530 print / 1528-7068 online
DOI: 10.1080/08961530.2011.602953
Impact of Indian Cultural Values and Lifestyles on Meaning
of Branded Products: Study on University Students in India
Downloaded by [Maharshi Dayanand Saraswati Univ ], [Arpita Khare] at 22:31 14 September 2011
Arpita Khare
ABSTRACT. In recent years, India has witnessed a transformation not only in economic standards
but also in sociocultural factors. The traditional values, norms, and behaviors are being altered into more
Westernized and global values. This is what meets the eyes of a typical observer. This research was
directed toward ascertaining the transition of Indian society from a collectivist society to an individualist
society with focus on individuals’ lifestyles and values. The purpose of the research was to understand
the role of collectivist/individualist lifestyle variables on brand meanings by Indian university students.
Correlation and multiple regression tests were administered to analyze the data. The findings suggest
that Indian youths may appear to endorse Western values, but family traditions, group values, and
national traditions play a pivotal role in determining brand meanings.
KEYWORDS. Culture, lifestyle, values, brand meanings, Indian youth
The Population Council (2010) states, “There
are 315 million young people aged 10–24
years in India, representing 30 percent of the
country’s population. This cohort is healthier,
more urbanized, and better educated than earlier
generations.” The Indian demographic landscape has witnessed enormous changes in the
past few decades. The increase in income levels,
priority given toward education, and rapid industrialization coupled with liberalization policies
pursued relentlessly by the Indian government
has transformed the Indian economy. Indian
values and national culture have not been
spared from the attack from Western values.
Research suggests that recent years have seen
a change in consumption preferences of Indian
consumers (Dwivedi 2010; KPMG 2009) that
consequently may affect their values. Propagators of globalization like Theodore Levitt (1983)
have spoken of converging national boundaries
and disappearing lifestyle disparities. National
cultural peculiarities and nuances are being
replaced by more homogenized global lifestyles.
However, the role of culture and values has
always been considered important in segmenting
and marketing decisions.
Hofstede (1980) had discussed countries being categorized as individualistic and collectivist
and there being a major difference in perceptions
and habits of individuals in these countries. De
Mooij’s (2000) contention is that Hofstede’s
research findings are still valid after 25 years
as countries exhibit the same traits in their
consumption decisions and purchase behavior.
Dr. Arpita Khare is a faculty member in the Marketing Area at the Indian Institute of Management, Rohtak,
Rohtak, India.
Address correspondence to Dr. Arpita Khare, IIM-Rohtak, Humanities Block, MDU Campus, Haryana,
India. E-mail: [email protected]
Downloaded by [Maharshi Dayanand Saraswati Univ ], [Arpita Khare] at 22:31 14 September 2011
Consumers’ assessment of brands and assigning
meaning to them would be dependent upon
cultural values based upon conditioning. The
contention that ancient differences in tastes and
lifestyle between countries are being modified
to resemble more global values has occupied
the interest of researchers for years (Bearden,
Money, and Nevins 2006; Bond 2002; Gouveia,
Clemente, and Espinosa 2003). This might be
attributed to global branding and marketing endeavors instigated by multinational companies
in the interest of understanding consumers in
different countries (Aaker and Williams 1998).
The present research is an attempt to understand
the nature of collectivist and individualist values
and lifestyles in Indian society and their impact
on brand meanings among Indian university
students. Hofstede (2001) defines culture as
“the collective programming of the mind which
distinguishes the members of one group or
category of people from another.” Indian culture
encompasses many subcultures, religions, and
regional dialects. The fundamentals of group
values, family orientation, feminine traits, and
self-identity predominate Indian cultural values
(Banerjee 2008). Culture comprises shared values, understandings, and goals that are learned
and transmitted from one generation to another and passed on to succeeding generations
(Banerjee; Deresky 2003). The questionnaires
developed by Sun, Horn, and Merritt (2004)
for measuring lifestyle and values in collectivist
and individualist cultures and for measuring
the meaning of branded products developed by
Strizhakova, Coulter and Price (2008) were used
for the research. Factors like brand quality, group
and family influences, national heritage, and
self-concept were taken into consideration. The
youth population was selected as the sample as
youths represent a large consumer market for
global branded products in India, and changes
in lifestyle are more apparent in their case. The
first section of the article covers the theoretical
background to the study; this is followed by the
research methodology, findings and discussion,
marketing implications, limitations, and future
research directions.
Brands and Culture
The contention of most brand theorists (Keller
2004; Temporal 2002) is that consumers own
the brands; as a result consumers look for selfidentification with brands. A brand connotes
several meanings to its consumers; in many
cases consumers develop emotional attachments
with brands (Fournier 1998). “A brand is an
embodiment of the product—what it does, how
well it does it, who it does it with, and how it feels
to be having it done” (Pitta and Franzak 2008).
Brand image reflects consumers’ associations
with different functional and symbolic attributes
of the brand (Burmann, Schaefer, and Maloney
2008) and signifies value to the consumers
(Hsieh 2002).
To target consumers effectively, comprehension about their culture, behavior, and lifestyle
are valuable to marketers. Brands may be made
appealing and relevant to consumers by linking
them with the culture and value systems of
the country. Research suggests that cultural
norms affect consumption decisions in most
countries (Kim and Drolet 2003; Markus and
Kitayama 1991; Oyserman, Coon, and Kemmelmeier 2002; Peter and Olson 1998; Sun et al.
2004). Eastern countries represent collectivist
cultures, and consumers seek conformance with
the group in their product consumption decisions
(Markus and Kitayama). Social identity defines
the individual’s identity (Platow, Mills, and
Morrison 2000; Tajfel and Turner 1979; Turner
et al. 1994) in these societies. According to Tajfel
(1972) groups bestow social identity on individuals and are a part of their self-concept (Hogg
and Reid 2006). Social identity is defined as “the
individual’s knowledge that he belongs to certain
social groups together with some emotional and
value significance to him of this group membership” (Tajfel). The theory of planned behavior
(Ajzen 1985) suggests that consumers’ decisions
are a consequence of a reasoned process and
are influenced by attitudes, social norms, group
influences, and perceptions. Brand decisions in
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Arpita Khare
collectivist societies are affected by social values
and how the brand relates to consumers’ social
systems (Lam 2007). Research suggests that
even though collectivist societies are affected
by globalization, still there is a tendency to
conform to social norms and behave according
to cultural values (Chu 1985; Corbu 2009). The
convolution of social values in shaping human
behavior is indicated by its effect on motivation,
emotions, self-concept, and social interactions in
groups (Markus and Kitayama; Shkodriani and
Gibbons 1995; Trafimow and Triandis 1991).
Branded products that have a high degree of
congruence with cultural beliefs and values
find high acceptance in society. Moore, Wilkie,
and Lutz (2002) suggest that the choice of
branded products was governed by intergenerational and family influence and on creating brand
loyalty (Langer 1997).
Meaning of Brands
The brand symbolizes and connotes intrinsic
and extrinsic value to consumers, enabling them
to distinguish products by assigning emotional
attributes to them. It conveys several meanings to
consumers, and they develop emotional attachment (Fournier 1998), affiliation, and feelings
with brands (Pitta and Franzak 2008). For
consumers brands symbolize quality and status
(Batra et al. 2000; Johansson and Ronkainen
2005; Van Kempen 2004). The intrinsic meanings of brands have a greater influence on
consumer purchase behavior than their extrinsic
components (Agbonifoh and Elimimian 1999;
d’Astous and Ahmed 1999; Hong, Pecotich, and
Schultz 2002; Leclerc, Schmitt, and Dubé 1994).
Consumers assess brands not only by price and
quality elements but also through experiential
qualities (Kashyap and Bojanic 2000). Holbrook, Lehmann, and O’Shaughnessy (1986)
suggest that where brands signify image and
status, the physical components of brands are
difficult to differentiate. The physical attributes
or extrinsic components become more relevant
for consumers. Research suggests that attitudes
of consumers toward brands in developing
economies are being created and developed,
as consumers become a part of the global
community (Alden, Steenkamp, and Batra 2006;
Ger, Belk, and Lascu 1993; Kligman 1996;
Steenkamp and Burgess 2002).
In developing countries global brands convey
a higher degree of prestige and status than
local brands (Johansson and Ronkainen 2005).
Globalization has increased the exposure of
consumers in developing countries to global
brands. In developing countries global brands
communicate status consumption (Batra et al.
2000; van Kempen 2004), seeking conformity
with reference groups, self-monitoring, and
gender roles (O’Cass and McEwan 2004).
The brand’s assessment may be done on its
quality and exclusiveness (Kirmani, Sood, and
Bridges 1999) and ability to symbolize style
(Vigneron and Johnson 2004), to enhance selfimage (Aaker 1997; Aaker, Benet-Martı́nez, and
Garolera 2001), and to provide identification
within the group (Bagozzi and Dholakia 2006;
McAlexander, Schouten, and Koenig 2002).
Knowledge about the value systems of the
society enable marketers to satisfy the needs
of consumers by relating the product attributes
with their needs (Parasuraman 1997; Woodruff
1997). It plays a major role in tailoring consumer
perceptions and behavior (Soares, farhangmehr,
and Shoham 2007) and influences the lifestyle
and values of the society. Sekaran (1983, 68)
states, “Culturally patterned behaviors are thus
distinct from the economic, political, legal,
religious, linguistic, educational, technological
and industrial environment in which people find
Culture and Marketing
Hofstede (1997, 5) defines culture as “the
collective programming of the mind which
distinguishes the members of one group or
category of people from another.” Individualism/collectivism is the fundamental dimension
on which societies differ (Hofstede 2001).
Hofstede (1980) posits that individualistic
societies tend to exhibit more self-centered
and self-enhanced traits wherein the focus
is more on the individual self as a source of
identity and accomplishment. These societies
are less willing to accommodate to group needs
and pressures, and there is a low need for
seeking conformance from the group. They
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perceive the individual as the basic unit with
individual aspirations and goals (Hofstede 1991;
Kagitcibasi 1997). Collectivist cultures value
social relationships and give priority to group
conformance by respecting group processes and
decisions. They look to social groups for support
in times of crisis. For individuals in a collectivist
society, harmonious relationships with groups
are a priority (Wong and Ahuvia 1998).
Collectivist societies represent a high degree of
belonging and cohesiveness within the groups.
Individualist cultures are less risk-averse and
therefore can form new groups more easily and
can get along well with members from diverse
groups (Hofstede 1980; Hui and Triandis 1986;
Triandis et al. 1988a). Hui and Triandis (1986)
define collectivism/individualism as sacrifice
versus hedonism, group conformity versus
self-identity, and in-group behavior versus
distinct identity for individuals. Consumers’
assessment of brands would differ according
to their collectivist or individualist values.
Society’s consumption decisions center on how
consumers identify with brands and the cultural
meaning it conveys to them.
The difficulty lies in understanding culture’s
role on marketing and consumption decisions
(McCort and Malhotra 1993) as much of its
implications are hidden and inherent. McCort
and Malhotra state that culture embodies the
complex whole of an individual and comprises
knowledge, beliefs, art, morals, customs, and
habits acquired by individuals. Individualism
and collectivism dimensions have been used
since the 1960s as important predictors of consumer behavior across countries (Triandis and
Gelfand 1998; Wheeler, Reis, and Bond 1989),
and of motivations, cognition, self-identity, and
social behavior (Markus and Kitayama 1991;
Sun et al. 2004), and have been used to a great
extent in cross-cultural research (Bond 2002;
Gouveia et al. 2003; Soares et al 2007). Individualism and collectivism dimensions are considered fundamental in understanding cultural
values and influence on behavior (Triandis 2004;
Triandis et al. 1988b). The cultural framework
of Hofstede (1980) was built on the premise that
people from different cultures are governed by
different attitudes, beliefs, morals, and customs.
Societies differ in their traditions and customs,
and this manifests in their social and family relationships. This difference between consumers of
different countries has been supported by crosscultural research (Kluckhohn and Strodtdeck
1961; Schwartz 1994; Schwartz and Ros 1995;
Triandis 1995), and it is accepted that purchase
decisions of consumers are governed by the
complex interplay of cultural values and social
systems. The current study applies the collectivist/individualist lifestyle values scale to understand Indian youths’ attitude toward brands.
The following research objectives were identified:
R1: Collectivist values and lifestyle variables
of Indian youth will have a relation to their
evaluation of brand meaning.
R2: The values and lifestyles of Indian university students would vary across genders.
De Mooij and Hofstede (2002) posit that converging technologies and merging geographical
boundaries do not necessarily lead to homogeneous consumer segments. In fact, as researchers
like Penaloza (1994) and Askegaard, Arnould,
and Kjeldgaard (2005) have stated, acculturation has its own challenges for consumers, as
consumers attempt to integrate their national
culture with the new culture presented through
global brands. Culture has been perceived as a
major influencing factor on societal norms and
values (Schwartz and Bilsky 1987, 1990). It
evolves over time as political, social, economic,
and technological forces modify the cultural
landscape of a country (Craig and Douglas 2006;
Usunier and Lee 2005) and serves the best
interests of the society and people (Wells and
Prensky 1996).
Indian Cultural Values
In India, social acceptability is more important than individual achievement (Banerjee
2008) and is given priority in an individual’s
life. Group affiliations are given precedence with
family traditions and values. For most Indians,
family is the prime concern (Mandelbaum 1970)
and an individual’s duty lies with the family. “In
India, people search for security and prestige
within the confines of the near and dear”
Downloaded by [Maharshi Dayanand Saraswati Univ ], [Arpita Khare] at 22:31 14 September 2011
Arpita Khare
(Banerjee). Individual achievements are viewed
in the light of family and societal achievements.
Dev and Babu (2007) posit that individual and
society are interlinked, and one cannot create
an individual identity independent from the
group. As a developing country, India is considered culturally very different from the Western
market (Jin, Chansarkar, and Kondap 2005).
Brands provide identification and strengthen the
association with groups, even though reasons
for being a member of a group may differ
(Ouwersloot and Odekerken-Schröder 2008),
and provide social conformity and recognition.
The differences between individualist and collectivist cultures is crucial for understanding
consumers (Maheswaran and Shavitt 2000)
and how individuals perceive themselves with
reference to groups (Shkodriani and Gibbons
1995). Batra and colleagues (2000) suggest that
Indian consumers’ purchase and consumption
behavior is significantly different from other
cultures, and national cultural values have an impact on prioritizing consumer needs (Askegaard
and Kjeldgaard 2002; Wiedmaa, Hennigs, and
Siebels 2007; Yau 1994). Sociocultural factors
(Shivani, Mukherjee, and Sharan 2006) and
national culture (Jaishankar 1998) influence the
personality and behavior of Indian consumers.
“In marketing, cultural orientation has been
studied primarily in relation to marketing communications and cognitive processes” (Craig
and Douglas 2006). To design marketing strategies, it is imperative to appreciate the cultural
value orientations as they constitute societal
constructs. Cultural values do not reflect the
“more nuanced” aspects of society that influence
behavior (Briley, Morris, and Simonsen 2001;
Craig and Douglas; Miller 2002; Oysermann
et al. 2002). Values are deeply rooted in the
national culture, and marketing strategies are
designed to conform to the values, norms, and
beliefs of the society (Narver and Slater 1990).
Schwartz (1992) had proposed an integrative
and universal theory of values through which
he proposed 10 distinct value constructs, which
were derived from three needs of individuals:
to fulfill biological needs, to be accepted by
society and the satisfaction of social needs,
and to interact with group members (Smith and
Schwartz 1997).
R3: Collectivist values and lifestyle of Indian
youths would predict their behavior toward
understanding brand meaning.
Instrument Design
This study uses the scale developed by Sun
and colleagues (2004) and Strizhakova and
colleagues (2008) to understand whether Indian
university students’ individualistic/collectivist
values and lifestyle variables influence their
attitude toward brand evaluations. The questionnaire comprised two sections: the first part
of the questionnaire measured the consumers’
collectivist/individualist values lifestyle dimensions, and the second section comprised items
to measure the meaning of brands. The cultural
traits of the country affect consumers’ assessment about brand attributes. Brands symbolize
different meanings to consumers in terms of the
value they convey.
The collectivist/individualist values and
lifestyle dimensions of the questionnaire (Sun
et al. 2004) included items related to impulsive buying behavior, fashion consciousness/personal appearance, health consciousness,
brand perceptions, personal financial management, life satisfaction, financial satisfaction and
optimism, product innovativeness, family orientation, life security, gender roles, and opinion
leadership. These comprised the first section of
the questionnaire and consisted of a total of 33
items. The second section was adapted from
Strizhakova and colleagues (2008) and consisted
of a total of 30 items related to brand attributes. It
consisted of items to measure consumers’ brand
meaning on aspects like quality, self-identity,
group identity, status, values, family tradition,
and national tradition. There were 63 items in the
questionnaire. The 5-point Likert scale was used
for responses, with 1 denoting strongly disagree
and 5 denoting strongly agree.
The study was administered to graduate and
postgraduate students (an age group between
18–24 years) studying in three Indian national
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universities, and random sampling techniques
were used. The students were requested to
participate in the survey. The questionnaire
was administered during class hours. Only 234
completed questionnaires could be used for the
research as the remaining 66 questionnaires
were incomplete and not returned. The total
number of female respondents was 78, and male
respondents were 156: 33.3% and 66.7% of
the total responses respectively. The difference
in the female and male sample size was due
to the fact that in professional courses like
management, medicine, and engineering, there
are fewer female students. In India, females still
prefer to enroll in courses like teaching; therefore
their number is lower in professional programs.
To test the reliability of the questionnaire,
the Cronbach’s alpha values were computed for
each of the subscale constructs (table 1). High
levels of alpha indicate that the constructs are
consistent and are measuring the underlying construct of the research (Churchill 1979). Nunnally
(1978) states that 70% reliability is desired in the
earlier stages of construct development.
The constructs like lifestyle satisfaction,
group influence, and national tradition exhibited
a low Chronbach’s alpha value in the range of
To understand if any difference existed between male and female respondents, a one-way
ANOVA test was administered (table 2).
The results show that there is significant
difference between the genders on the construct
of gender roles, significant at p < .01 levels.
This may be understood in light of the fact
that in Indian culture, roles of both genders
are clearly defined from childhood. Females
are family oriented and are supposed to fulfill
their duties to society and family members.
Males are supposed to be outgoing and social.
Females are expected to give priority to their
duties to family, and an individual’s identity is
not separate from the family’s identity (Nath
2000; Vickers 2004). The genders significantly
differ on in-group contact/interaction dimension
(significant at .05 levels, p < .05). The result
suggests that the definition of in-group contact
varies across the two genders. For Indian men,
in-group contact is more pronounced as they
interact with the outside world. Even though the
role of Indian women has significantly changed
in recent years and more women are taking jobs,
their interaction with groups is still limited to
close family members and friends. This may
attribute to the difference between the genders
on in-group interaction/contact construct. On
the constructs like life satisfaction, financial
satisfaction, brand consciousness, family orientation, and security/stability, the two genders
exhibited no significant differences. This may be
understood in light of the fact that the lifestyle
of Indian consumers is governed by social and
family influences (Banerjee 2008).
To understand if there was any relationship
between the collectivist/individualist lifestyle
constructs and the brand meaning constructs, a
correlation test was run (table 3).
The correlation results show a positive relationship between collectivist/individualist cultural values/lifestyles and brand evaluation on
some attributes. For Life Satisfaction, brand
meaning was significant for self-identity and
status (significant at .01 levels, p = .000). The
correlations between life satisfaction and brand
signifying group values, personal values, family
tradition, and national tradition were significant
at .05 levels. The results suggest that Indian
consumers give high relevance to family values
and traditions when choosing brands. The brand
connotes family values, group values, status,
self-identity, and personal values. Group and
family acceptance are significant when selecting
brands, and it is supposed to fulfill their social
needs for group conformance and self-identity.
Self-identity is affected by group approval. The
results are in tandem with earlier studies, which
state that social identity defines an individual’s
identity (Platow et al. 2000; Turner et al. 1994).
The need to conform to family values and social
norms would affect consumers’ evaluation of
brands and what they symbolize (Langer 1997).
The construct Lifestyle exhibits a positive
correlation with brand quality and self-identity
(significant at .01 levels) while constructs of
status and personal values were significant at
.05 levels. The results posit that Indian youths
Arpita Khare
TABLE 1. Chronbach’s Alpha Values for Collectivist and Brand Meaning Subscales
Collectivist Values
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Life Satisfaction
Financial Satisfaction
Group Influence
Family Orientation
Gender Roles
Security and Stability
I am very satisfied with the way things are going in my life these days.
I would be content to live in the same town the rest of my life.
I dread the future.
I wish I knew how to relax.
If I had my life to live over again I would do something entirely different.
Our family income is high enough to satisfy nearly all our important desires.
I pretty much spend for today and let tomorrow bring what it will.
I don’t know much about investing money.
I am not very good at saving money.
I try to stick to well-known brand names.
I like to visit places that are totally different from my home.
Dressing well is an important part of my life.
I am an impulse buyer.
I very seldom make detailed plans.
I like to be sure to see the movies everybody is talking about.
My opinions on things do not count very much.
I hate to lose even in friendly competition.
Children are the most important thing in a marriage.
We usually have a large family breakfast on weekends.
I worry a lot about the effects of environmental pollution on my family’s health.
My home life is chaotic.
A woman’s place is in the home.
Men are smarter than women.
Men are naturally better leaders than women.
The father should be the boss in the house.
On a job, security is more important than money.
Changes in routine disturb me.
When making an investment, maximum safety is more important than high
interest rates.
Brand Meaning
Brand Quality
Group Identity
A brand name is an important source of information about the durability and
reliability of the product.
I can tell a lot about a product’s quality from the brand name.
I use brand names as a sign of quality for purchasing products.
I choose brands because of the quality they represent.
A brand name tells me a great deal about the quality of a product.
I choose brands that help to express my identity to others.
The brands I use communicate important information about the type of person I
am as a person.
I use different brands to express different aspects of my personality.
I choose brands that bring out my personality.
My choice of brand says something about me as a person.
Using brands can help me connect with other people and social groups.
I buy brands to be able to associate with specific people and groups.
I feel a bond with people who use the same brands as I do.
By choosing certain brands, I choose who I want to associate with.
My choice of a brand says something about the people I like to associate with.
I avoid choosing brands that do not reflect my social status.
I use brands to communicate my social status.
I choose brands that are associated with the social class I belong to.
The brands I use reflect my social status.
I communicate my achievements through the brands I own and use.
TABLE 1. Chronbach’s Alpha Values for Collectivist and Brand Meaning Subscales (Continued)
Brand Meaning
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Family Traditions
National Traditions
I choose brands because I support the values they stand for.
I buy brands that are consistent with my values.
My choice of brand is based on the company’s values.
I use brands because I agree with the company’s values.
I avoid brands because I do not support the values they stand for.
I buy brands because they are an important tradition in my household.
I use brands that my family uses or have used.
I use brands that remind me of my family.
I buy brands in order to continue family traditions.
I buy brands that my parents buy/have bought.
I use brands that reflect my national heritage.
I prefer brands associated with my national heritage.
I avoid brands because they do not fit with my national heritage.
I choose brands because they are part of national traditions.
My national heritage is not important in my brand decisions.
identify brands as representing quality,
self-identity, status, and personal values. The
purchase of branded products enables them
to express their self-identity, personal values,
and status, and brands reflect consumers’
regard for quality products. These results
may be interpreted in light of globalization,
where brands signify personal aspirations and
enable consumers to enhance their self-image.
For consumers brands symbolize quality
(Hellofs and Jacobson 1999; Holt, Quelch,
and Taylor 2004; Naumann 1995; Price
and Dawar 2002) and status (Batra et al.
2000; Johansson and Ronkainen 2005; van
TABLE 2. ANOVA Gender Differences among
Indian University Students for Values and
Lifestyle in Collectivist and Individualist
Collectivist and
Individualist Lifestyle/
Life Satisfaction
Financial Satisfaction
Family Orientation
Gender Roles
Significant at the .05 level (two-tailed). ∗∗ Significant at the .01 level
Kempen 2004) and improve their self-image
(Aaker 1997; Aaker et al. 2001) in society.
The In-Group Contact/Influence construct
had a positive correlation with status (significant at .01 levels). This implies that an
individual’s group affiliation is associated with
status. For brand attributes of group identity,
personal values, family traditions, and national
traditions, the p value is significant at .05
levels and reflects a positive correlation. The
results are in line with earlier studies, which
state that selection and purchase of brands
enables consumers to describe themselves as
members of social groups (Chattaraman, Rudd,
and Lennon 2008; Rijswijk, Haslam, and Ellemers 2006; Veloutsou, 2009). Indian society is
essentially collectivist, and group acceptance
is important; consumption choices are based
upon approval from family and friends. The
results suggest that consumers identify brands as
facilitating social interaction, group acceptance,
and identification with influential groups. This is
supported by earlier research that postulates that
brands provide consumers identification within
the group (Bearden, Netemeyer, and Teel 1989;
McAlexander et al. 2002).
Correlation results show a positive relationship between Family Orientation and group
identity and family traditions (p is significant
at .05 levels). Indian youths’ identification with
family and group plays an important role in their
evaluation of brands. The brands are selected
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TABLE 3. Correlation
Brand Meaning
Collectivist and
Individualist Lifestyle/
Life Satisfaction
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Financial Satisfaction
In-Group Contact/
Family Orientation
Gender Roles
Correlation is significant at the .05 level (two-tailed). ∗∗ Correlation is significant at the .01 level (two-tailed).
if they project social recognition. The brands
that symbolize group and family identity are
accepted by the youths readily. The research
findings support earlier studies, which state
that for most Indians family is important, and
individuals’ needs are governed by the group
affiliation (Banerjee 2008; Mandelbaum 1970).
This is in line with Moore and colleagues’
(2002) assertion that brand attribute evaluations
are governed by intergenerational and family
In collectivist societies, Gender Roles are
clearly demarcated. The correlation test results
show a high positive correlation between gender
roles and brand quality, group identity, and
family traditions (significant at .01 levels).
Brands represent quality, group identification,
and family traditions, and different brands are
considered appropriate for the two genders. Das
(2000) states that Indian women are considered
homemakers, and men are assigned more of an
authoritative role in society. The two genders
perceive brands as helping them associate with
groups and family members. Purchase and
consumption of brands reflects given importance
to product quality.
The Security construct of culture shows a
high positive correlation with brand quality and
family tradition (significant at .01 levels), and
for group identity and status it is significant at
.05 levels. In India, family represents security
for individuals, and social approval is important. Even for youths, who have been affected
by Western values, family plays a vital role.
Product purchase decisions are as important as
personal professional decisions, and consent of
the family and social groups is sought. The
findings suggest that brands are viewed as conveying security in terms of family acceptance,
group identification, and improving the status
of individuals in society. In India people view
security within the precincts of family and social
groups (Banerjee 2008), and family members
are consulted in all personal and professional
decisions. The individual achievements are not
his or hers but are viewed by the light of
family and the social framework (Dev and Babu
To understand the predictive lifestyle and
values constructs on the Indian youths’ brand
evaluation, the subscales of brands were taken as
one construct. The various constructs to define
brands like quality, self-identity, status, group
identity, family traditions, and national traditions
were considered as one construct. The constructs
of collectivist/individualist lifestyle and values
were taken as independent variables, and their
role in influencing consumers’ understanding
TABLE 4. Regression Analysis of Collectivist
Lifestyle Variables on Indian University
Students’ Evaluation of Brand Products
Standardized Coefficients
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Collectivist and
Lifestyle/ Values
Life Satisfaction
Gender Roles
Security and
Adjusted R 2
F = 5.450
p ≤ .05
Note. Dependent variable: Brand meaning.
of brands was studied. Multiple regression tests
were run (table 4).
The results suggest that meaning of brands
among Indian university students is affected by
their conveying life satisfaction, in-group affiliations, and security/stability. The results indicated
(table 4) the strength of life satisfaction (β =
.154; p < .05), in-group contact (β = .136; p <
.05), and security and stability (β = .131; p <
.05) in predicting meaning of branded products
among Indian university students. The brands
are visualized as enabling consumers to feel satisfied with their life and helping them to conform
to group norms, values, and customs. Branded
products instill confidence in consumers as they
believe that it helps them feel secure to use
a good-quality product. For Indian youths use
of brands helps them bolster their self-image
and strengthen their in-group contact and interactions. The research findings support earlier
studies (Banerjee 2008; Shivani et al. 2006) that
sociocultural influence has an impact on the
personality and behavior of Indian consumers.
This research reiterates that sociocultural
influences play a significant role in defining
meanings of brands. The unique way brands
are perceived and defined depends upon the
cultural conditioning and the social values of
the country. People across countries differ in
their perceptions, needs, and motivations, which
are learned over generations. Culture gives a
distinct character to consumers, and their choice
of brands is affected by their cultural values
and national traditions. The brands are important
as they communicate cultural meanings to the
consumers (Askegaard and Kjeldgaard 2002)
and help them in expressing themselves. The
results suggest that for marketing brands in
India, strong association should be built with
family and group identifications. Brands connoting family values, customs, bonding, emotions,
and group affiliations would be accepted more
readily. The advertisements for brands should
combine social settings like family gatherings,
festivals, marriages, and ceremonies and reflect
the emotional bonding between family members. The brands should embody these values of family solidarity, self-identification with
groups, group acceptance, and traditions to be
successful. The promotions and advertisements
should revolve around social values, and the
identity of the brands should transmit them.
The brand identity should revolve around the
emotional bonding among family members and
friends. Many multinational companies in India
have attempted to use the family as a backdrop
for their brands. The family in India consists
not only of immediate family members but
also includes hordes of relatives and extended
family. This should be give due cognizance
in advertisements. The achievements of an
individual’s are not his/hers but are because
of the family. Nestle, Dulux Paints, Unilever,
PespsiCo, Coca Cola, Nokia, McDonald’s, and
Britannia endorse these values, and their brand
identity reflects family and group values. The
brands that personify strong Indian values are
considered a part of the Indian system. The
youths may appear to endorse Western values,
but Indian cultural values still play a significant
role in their lifestyle and brand meanings. Their
lifestyle and values are governed by family
traditions and group norms. Social acceptance
is crucial for an individual. The individual’s
goals may be important but only when it is in
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Arpita Khare
congruence with social goals. The self-identity
of the individual is still dependent upon the
sanction from this primary group. Brands are
accepted if they fit into their lifestyle and
values; thus marketing of global brands should
be closely aligned to national cultural values
and family traditions. The social and cultural
environment of the country plays a significant
role on consumer decision making; consumers
seek conformance with these social norms
(Burnkranta and Cousineau 1975; Cialdini and
Trost 1998). Products like food items, durables
(washing machines, water purifiers, microwave
ovens, air conditioners, and refrigerators), automobiles, bikes, detergents, shampoos, clothes,
and cosmetics can be marketed using familyand group-affiliation themes. This would enable
marketers to build the brand personality and
identity around Indian social values. The family
and in-group associations can be highlighted in
the advertisements. Fast food chains, laptops,
mobile phones, and branded apparel companies
are popular with Indian youths. Brands should
create a strong association with Indian values
to project positive images among the youth
Multinational companies that are able to
market their brands according to the local
differences and cultural peculiarities would find
greater acceptance among youths. The brands
should symbolize modernity with traditional
values to gain acceptance with them. Marketing
and advertising would entail promoting products
according to the global norms of quality, status,
and modern values coupled with Indian family
The research was conducted only on university students; further research may be conducted
on older consumers to understand their evaluations of brands. A comparison between younger
and older people can be done to understand if
any significant differences exist between groups.
Income, occupation, education, and region of
domicile can be also considered as important
variables affecting the values and lifestyles
of Indians. Further research can be conducted
to understand if consumers in different cities
(metropolitan and nonmetropolitan) differ in the
brand evaluations. This may prove to be an
interesting insight for marketers and may help
in segmentation and targeting brands across
different cities in India. In India, differences
due to religions, states, languages, and castes
are pronounced, and brand meanings may be
affected by these factors.
The author wants to extend her gratitude to
the editor and the anonymous reviewers for
their indispensable and valuable suggestions and
comments that improved the quality of the article
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