This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

The Chinese Consumers' Changing Value System, Consumption Values and Modern Consumption Behavior




Xiao, Ge

Type of Degree



Consumer Affairs


China is traditionally regarded as a collectivistic society, in which the linkage between individuals is close and strong; people treasure tradition, benevolence, and conformity. However, as a result of economic growth and modernization processes, China is undergoing a dramatic cultural and social transformation from a collectivistic society to one which embraces some aspects of individualistic and materialistic society. This research examines how Chinese consumers’ changing value systems affect their modern consumption behavior through mediating variables of consumption values. An intercept survey was conducted in a large shopping center and three office buildings in downtown Shanghai during a two week period in 2005. A total of 714 respondents participated in the survey; the data from 695 usable respondents were included in the data analysis. Exploratory factor analysis was first conducted for preliminary analysis to examine and to reduce the data. Then, a two-step structural equation analysis produced a measurement model and a structural model to confirm the structures of constructs and to examine the causal relationships among constructs. The current study found that modern Chinese consumers are pursuing individualistic goals as well as collectivistic goals. It was also found that individualism, collectivism, and materialism were all positively related to the consumption values, i.e., functional value, social value, emotional value, and epistemic value. The results showed that collectivists held stronger connections with each of the four consumption values than did individualists. Individualistic-oriented individuals were comparable to collectivistic-oriented people in putting more emphasis on emotional value than on functional, social, and epistemic values. People high in materialistic-oriented value generally had stronger positive relationships with consumption values than did individualistic-oriented and collectivistic-oriented individuals. For materialistic consumers, emotional value was the most essential attribute. This research found that social and epistemic values were found to relate to consumer modernity positively; functional, emotional and epistemic values were found to significantly affect modern consumption behavior. It is believed that this research will provide insights concerning the changing Chinese consumers’ value system and their consumer behavior. This research will help multinational marketers develop effective market strategies to serve China’s expanding market; the expanded market options will also help Chinese consumers by improving their standard of living.