Research on cross cultural differences in preference for variety is scarce. Such research is important because it addresses a marketing instrument for which substantial cultural variations are to be expected. This paper attempts to highlight relevant literature of the domains of cultural psychology as well as marketing psychology with a review to stimulate research. Furthermore, the objective of this paper is to point out specific research directions.
First, theories on variety perception and variety seeking are discussed in order to highlight consumers' benefits of variety. Second, theories of behavioral decision making are reflected and consumers' costs of variety are illuminated. Third, theories and results of cultural psychology are reviewed with regard to underlying psychological processes about consumers' reactions to variety.
This paper stresses several aspects. Initially, consumers' perceptions of variety differ from the actual variety provided by a manufacturer or retailer. Literature indicates that consumers' benefits and costs of perceived variety differ systematically across cultures. Independent consumers in individualistic cultures place a premium on choice, on variety seeking and on personal freedom. While they are attracted by large variety, current cultural theory suggests that they also encounter greater cognitive and emotional costs than individuals in collectivistic cultures when ultimately choosing.
This paper introduces a new and promising area of research and highlights relevant psychological as well as cultural psychological theories. Several research directions regarding customer reactions to variety are detailed.
Herrmann, A. and Heitmann, M. (2006), "Providing more or providing less? Accounting for cultural differences in consumers' preference for variety", International Marketing Review, Vol. 23 No. 1, pp. 7-24. https://doi.org/10.1108/02651330610646278Download as .RIS
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