Maternal Advertising Attitudes and Communication Patterns: A Cross - Cultural Examination.

Author:Mukherji, Jyotsna


This study was conducted in India and on the Texas border with an attempt to test the cross-national applicability of a Family Communication Patterns (FCP) model (McLeod & Chaffee, 1972; Moschis, 1985) which has been developed and tested primarily in the United States. One theme in cross-national consumer research is the generalizability of Western behavioral models to non-western environments. The need to investigate the cross-national applicability of constructs and measures developed in the U.S. has been considered an increasingly important issue (Hui & Triandis, 1985; Triandis, 1982). Our study uses consumer socialization as a theoretical framework and examines mothers' communications patterns and attitudes toward advertising in general, and advertising toward children in particular. Further, the study investigates mothers' advertising related practices relating to co-viewing, discussion, and control of TV (Rose, Bush, & Kahle, (1998),

The Indian Context

India is an old and complex country that is made up of people that belong to different religious groups and many castes, and speak numerous different languages (Kakar, 1978). Traditionally, the joint family system with multi-generations living together has been the dominant form of family. However, with modernization and migration to urban areas, the joint family is giving way to nuclear family structures. Even when families adopt a nuclear family life-style, they maintain strong ties to relatives and a strong sense of family loyalty. Thus, India is classified as a collective society where family interdependence is valued (Triandis, 1994).

Irrespective of the structure, the primary source of socialization for children has been the family (Roopnarine & Hossain, 1992). The Indian mother is the primary caregiver, whereas the father is perceived to be dominant, stern, and an object to be feared (Kakar, 1978). Children and adolescents have always occupied a distinct place in Indian society and within the family system, and interdependency among family members tends to last much longer than in many developed and other developing nations (Madan, 1990; Simhadri, 1989). Even today, parents remain the primary socializers of children and youth in ways that are unparalleled in many regions of the world (Gupta, 1987; Shukla, 1994).

In the absence of a body of research on parenting in India, we use Hofstede's concepts of individualism and collectivism to gain a better understanding. Dion and Dion (1993) hypothesized that the parent-child relationship is more supportive and fulfilling in collectivist cultures than in individualist cultures. Since collectivist cultures emphasize subordination and selfless subservience to elders, and advocate more support and nurturing to children, these relationships are predicted to provide more social support to family members in India. Alternatively, in collectivistic cultures where selfless subordination to the whole is valued, more satisfaction and personal well-being is derived from family bonds, such as those between parents and children. Indian cultural values of self-subordination to family and powerful affective bonds with children dictate that parent-child relationships will be more emotionally rewarding (Sastry, 1999).

The socialization of Indian children is strongly rooted in patriarchy, hierarchical kinship structure, and Hindu religious beliefs. Obedience to authority, passivity, and interdependence are highly valued. Childhood is viewed as a sensitive time period where children are moldable. Thus, parents are believed to play an important role in child development. In this environment mothers are typically kind, indulgent, and affectionate. On the other hand, fathers are strict decision-makers who maintain considerable distance from care giving activities.

India and Market Potential

India is a large, populated (1.35 billion) complex country and its economy ranks seventh at $2.4 trillion as of 2018 (The Economist, January 11, 2018). The urban population is around 33% with the rate of grown of urbanization at 2.8%. Thus, the sheer size of the urban population (429 million) makes it an attractive market for marketers. Further, this population is young. UN statistics show that 33% of the population is between the ages of 0-14 years and 19% is between 15-24 years of age. Thus, over half of India's population is under 24 years of age. India has undergone remarkable changes in the last decade. Along with economic liberalization, there have been many changes in the cultural life and behaviors of the people. Today, the modern "western" life is very much a part of Indian culture. Indians today are less apt to reject the benefits of a materialistic world, and the anti-colonialism of the earlier part of the century has given way to a nationalism that is not uncomfortable with the aggressive westernization of everyday life (Niranjana, 1999).

The Hispanic Consumer

The Hispanic consumer represents an important ethnic group that is the largest minority group (18% of the US population) at 58 million and growing at the rate of 2%. Understanding this consumer is therefore vital for companies. According to The Pew Research Center, the biggest country of origin is Mexico at 63.3% of the Hispanic population (36 million). Hispanics are bilingual with 37 million report speaking Spanish at home and 35 million reporting proficiency with English also. California has the largest Hispanic population (15.2 million), followed by Texas (10.7 million.) According to The University of Georgia's Multicultural Economy Report Hispanic buying power is around $1.4 trillion dollars. For all the above reasons, the Hispanic as an ethnic group is important for companies and marketers.

The Hispanic Mother

The Mexican family is largely traditional, where conformity to values and social norms is extolled (Diaz-Guerrero & Szalay, 1991). Among these values, discipline and respect for parents are prominent. These values are reflected in both people's beliefs regarding the convenience of using disciplinary strategies with children and in their parenting practices. From the time they are born, Mexican American children are socialized in a context of "thick" social relations characterized by frequent interaction across extensive kinship networks, and they are taught to value cooperation, family unity, and solidarity over competition and individual achievement (Baca Zinn & Wells, 2000). A study by Solis (1990), found that Latinos perceive more parenting stress in all areas of the Parenting Stress, less acculturated Latinos experience more depression, less attachment to their child, and feel less competent in their parenting role than higher acculturated Latinos. For example, 39 percent of Hispanic children were read to everyday in 1996, as compared to sixty-four percent of white, non-Hispanic children, and 44 percent of black non-Hispanic children (National Center for Educational Statistics).


Consumer socialization is the "process by which young people acquire skills...

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