The market maven : implications for a multicultural environment
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Over the last half-century, word-of-mouth communication has moved from a phenomenon to a controllable marketing tool that enhances the flow of communication within the marketplace. Consumer behavior researchers understand the importance it plays in strengthening and even surpassing conventional marketing strategies. But with the acceleration of technological change, distinct cultural groups are not as commonplace as just a decade ago. As the boundaries separating ethnic and other subgroups have become less distinct, culture has become more fluid. As culture morphs, so do its members. The modern consumer's styles, iconography, and habits come from a combination of cultural influences and traditions. Few consumer behavior scholars have addressed how to reach mass consumers effectively while simultaneously acknowledging the subtle differences (or similarities) in the mélange of cultural groups. This study contributes to that void by introducing the concept of the multicultural market maven, a marketplace influencer with awareness of how differences in culture impact consumers in the marketplace. What effect does the shrinking of the global environment have on the ways in which marketers must communicate? How does the change in communication between and among people necessitate the ways in which mass media must reach its audience? What value are traditional marketing strategies that segment consumers into distinct groups with numerous worldviews and insulated lives? How should advertising speak to consumers who comprise such cross-cultural influences? The present study articulates these contemporary challenges within a multi cultural marketing framework. Cultural relevance lends clarity to the concept of the multi-cultural market maven and produces a new model. Contemporary market practices, in turn, are aligned with both communication and marketing theory to explain the phenomenon fully. The contributions and limitations of cross-cultural communication are then applied to marketing segmentation strategies. This study first revisits the concept of the market maven, an individual who possesses information about the marketplace and shares it with others (Feick & Price, 1987), then traces it through its roots in interpersonal influence. Finally, a new approach is introduced to investigate social motivations for market maven behavior. Potential implications of findings as well as future research avenues are also discussed.