Consumer Acculturation as a Process: A Propensity to Acculturate Index and an Adapted Acculturation Scale: An Abstract
For service firms to achieve and maintain competitive advantages, they must understand and appropriately serve their consumers. The United States is becoming increasingly multi-cultural and there are various new immigrant consumer groups that businesses try to reach through ethnic-based segmentation and targeting. Often, businesses offer accommodation strategies to their ethnic consumer groups through language or other cultural accommodation tactics. There are inconsistencies in the literature for the efficacy of ethnic-based targeting and accommodation strategies: often these do not have the desired results and there is evidence that ethnic identification may be fading over time for many immigrant groups. Service firms need another way to understand, segment, target, and serve their various cultural groups.
There is evidence that acculturation may be a better predictor of consumer behavior and preferences in service settings. Acculturation is the adoption by a person or group of the culture of another social group, or the process leading to acculturation, and assimilation is the complete adoption so that a person has left behind their former culture. There are various existing measurement tools to identify an individual’s level of acculturation; however, there are concerns with the existing tools. All but one measurement tool treat acculturation as a reflective scale, all view acculturation as a one-time event, and the tools have been largely developed for specific contexts such as mental healthcare. Also, many scales lump all ethnicities into one group such as the Suinn-Lew Asian Acculturation Measurement. This presents theoretical cultural concerns. The difficulty is that the acculturation process involves both formative and reflective components.
In order to effectively examine acculturation, there must first be a desire or propensity to acculturate and then that propensity in turn will influence actual acculturation behaviors. In order to do this, we are proposing the development of a propensity to acculturate index which will causally influence subsequent acculturation behaviors. To develop the index, we are using Diamantopoulos and Winklhofer’s (2001) index-development protocols. In order to recognize someone’s acculturation categories, we are also adapting existing Asian context acculturation measures using the Churchill (1979) scale-development method.