Consumer Materialism and Consumer Ethnocentrism

The following essay provides an account of consumer materialism and consumer ethnocentrism amongst the youth of South Africa and globally. It promotes the factors contributing to the high levels of consumer materialism and consumer ethnocentrism amongst the youth of South Africa and globally. Furthermore, this essay illustrates the implications of the high levels of consumer materialism and consumer ethnocentrism of the youth of South Africa and globally on marketers.

Consumer materialism and ethnocentrism are measured by the trait theory. The trait theory is a quantitative measurement of habits that are consistent in an individual. The stability of behaviour, thoughts, and emotions and how they vary between individuals and influence their consumer behaviour.

Consumer materialism is the amount of personal importance a consumer places on purchasing and owning material possessions. Consumers believe that purchasing those possessions will make them happy as they feel it is very important to their identities and lives. According to research, participants explicated that the high levels of consumer materialism amongst the youth is due to styles in society that are changing and also the increasing and changing of a variety of trends on social media. Informative youth are also highly brand conscious; they like to look more attractive toward others by buying expensive objects. They follow those brands to hide their inner complexes.

According to Zaheer (2012) youth in Pakistan, just to feel like they are part of society will spend their money, they would focus more on materialistic objects just to achieve satisfaction in life. Youth from isolated families tend to be more materialistic and consume at higher levels. It is also dependent on family background, socioeconomic status, and accessibility to resources.

Rejection from peers in youth is connected to their materialism and their self-esteem. Increased rejection from their peers increases their materialism and lowers their self-esteem. In this way, it can be seen as they boost their materialistic side compensating for their loss of self-esteem due to their peers’ rejection. According to studies, the materialism percentages have increased from 48% in the past to 62%. If parents are materialistic there’s a great chance of their children been materialistic.

Other such factors contributing to the raising materialism among the youth are movies, music, magazines, shopping stores, and media

In summary parenting, lust, and social media are the prime sources of materialism in youth.

Being aware of consumer materialism is important to marketers and researchers for two reasons. To upsurge society’s economic wealth by encouraging materialism and to comprehend the adverse concerns of materialism, these are the two very contradictory reasons of marketers and researchers. Marketers benefit from materialistic youth. They are the most interested in products that are newly established in the market so they have the greatest response to the advertising and promotions of marketers.

Marketers and researchers target the youth as they indulge in the largest consumption of media, their spending habits are one of the motives, they spend a lot because of many reasons probably due to fitting in, peer pressure or just keeping up with the fashion. The youth are trendsetters leading the way in new fashion and ideas. They are also vulnerable at this age, they feel obliged to keep up with trends to fit in with friends and are also easily influenced by celebrities or other well-known influencers.

Highly materialistic youth consumers have a huge positive impact on marketers, making their job easier and more effective in reaching their marketing targets.

Consumer Ethnocentrism is whereby people believe that the products or services of their country, own ethnic or cultural group are superior to similar products or services from other countries, cultural or ethnic groups.

A highly ethnocentric consumer feels that it is wrong to purchase from foreign countries because they feel it would have a negative economic impact on their local economy. A non-ethnocentric consumer assesses foreign products more factually.

According to quantitative empirical analysis, consumer ethnocentrism and age have a positive relationship, meaning the increase in age will result in the person being more ethnocentric. Youth levels of ethnocentrism may vary leaning more to lower to non-ethnocentrism.

The older people are more sceptical than the young, they have been around longer and exposed to the reality of humans and human nature. They see that people are amassed into ethnic groups and so they feel an in-group affiliation and that this won’t change anytime soon. Parental influence plays a big role and is greater than the effect of other variables however, media at times may override.

Youth these days are more likely to have higher levels of education than that of their parents, grandparents, or the older generation. Therefore, some studies show that there is a negative relationship between consumer ethnocentrism and education levels, the more educated a consumer is the less ethnocentric they are. More educated indicates them been less conservative and highly unlikely to have ethnic prejudices, therefore, favouring foreign products more.

Higher education levels consequently at times lead to higher income levels. according to some studies, the higher income a consumer has the less ethnocentric they are. They are more likely to purchase more foreign products.

There is also a relationship between gender and consumer ethnocentrism. Youth females tend to be more ethnocentric. They are more conservative and patriotic than male youth.

Due to the level of ethnocentricity of youth they may not be considered loyal to their society in the eyes of marketers. Therefore, there may not be a great response from the youth from advertising and promotions of local marketers. We are living in the newer, modern age and the youth of these days are not highly ethnocentric, they are not hostile, or belittle the views and products of other countries and cultures. They are more open-minded and consider and assess foreign products more objectively. Considering this situation, the youth may purchase outside of their society or favour purchasing foreign products and are less loyal to their society, so the advertising of researchers and marketers do not greatly affect the youth.

The above essay has explored the factors causing the increase in materialism among the youth of today because their thought patterns and societal demands have been changing. It has also provided the factors contributing to the levels of consumer ethnocentrism among all youth. Moreover, it discusses the implications that all the above factors discussed have on marketers. Also, it gives a brief explanation of some of the terms used like consumer ethnocentrism, consumer materialism, and the trait theory, which has been applied to the youth of South Africa and globally despite not been expressly mentioned.


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Consumer materialism and consumer ethnocentrism. (2021, May 29). Retrieved August 10, 2022 , from

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