The effect of globalisation on consumers

Over the past thirty years, the field of international marketing research has seen a growing interest in studying the globalisation of businesses, brands, and consumption practices.

Consumer Culture Theory (CCT) studies contribute to this research by critically examining how globalisation affects consumers under different cultural conditions.

CCT studies explore the broader socio-cultural implications of globalisation for brands, individual consumers, and group. They provide important and unique insights, yet also sometimes contradictory views. Researchers at Cass Business School believed it would be useful to step back and gain perspective on what this particular strand of globalisation research has revealed thus far. They present the results of a systematic narrative synthesis on the subject in their paper How globalisation affects consumers: Insights from thirty years of CCT globalisation research.

Narrative synthesis is a textual analysis method that allows for reviewing and summarising findings from prior studies in light of their underlying theories and contexts. Here, it was used to categorise findings presented in 75 papers published in 12 reputable marketing journals, to highlight similarities and contradictions, and to identify paths for future research.

The analysis offers four contributions to research:

  1. It identifies three theoretical perspectives that CCT scholars have adopted in their studies of globalisation. These are homogenisation, glocalisation, and deterritorialisation. Each perspective features a different conceptualisation of globalisation, and also different assumptions regarding the concept of culture, the power relations between countries, and the role ascribed to individuals in globalisation processes.
  2. It shows how the use of these perspectives has shaped empirical findings in CCT studies. This insight is discussed with regards to three domains of research - consumer identity, consumer empowerment, and the meanings of global brands.
  3. Third, this paper shows that prior CCT studies have provided a number of theoretical contributions to homogenisation, glocalisation, and deterritorialisation theories by extending them or challenging their underlying assumptions and predicted outcomes.
  4. Lastly, the paper identifies four important areas for further investigation. These being (i) Deterritorialisation, the perspective least examined in CCT research (ii) Globalising brands, where current research is relatively limited and partially contradictory (iii) cultural appropriation - the process when consumers from one country adopt and adapt consumption practices of those from other countries, and (iv) homogenisation - specifically, more research into how regional forms of homogenisation  impacts on consumer behaviour is recommended.

The paper How globalisation affects consumers: Insights from thirty years of CCT globalisation research has been published in Marketing Theory. The accepted version of the paper can be downloaded from City Research Online.