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Identity, demographics, and consumer behaviors: International market segmentation across product categories

Mark Cleveland (Aubrey Dan Program in Management and Organizational Studies, University of Western Ontario, London, Canada)
Nicolas Papadopoulos (Eric Sprott School of Business, Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada)
Michel Laroche (John Molson School of Business, Concordia University, Montreal, Canada)

International Marketing Review

ISSN: 0265-1335

Article publication date: 31 May 2011




The purpose of this paper is to focus on two questions that are especially pertinent to international marketers. Is a strong ethnic identity (EID) generally incompatible with a globally‐oriented disposition (cosmopolitanism: COS), and to what extent is the EID‐COS relationship stable across cultures and countries? What roles do EID and COS play on consumer behavior alongside key demographic variables, and how do these relationships vary across countries and across consumption contexts?


Using a sample of consumers drawn from eight countries, this study identifies and compares bases for international market segmentation. The antecedent roles of EID, COS, and the four demographics variables on the behaviors associated with nine product categories are examined.


The findings imply that consumers are complementing an identity rooted in their traditional culture with one that is globally‐oriented. The roles played by demographic and psychographic variables varied considerably, not only across product categories, but moreover, across country samples.

Research limitations/implications

The study focuses more on consumer goods and less on intangible services. The sample and sampling approach place some limits on generalizability.

Practical implications

The results provide insights for international managers into when (i.e. product categories) and where (i.e. locations) marketing strategies could be standardized across national frontiers, and when and where these strategies should be customized or “glocalized.”


The paper makes a significant contribution to the international market segmentation literature, demonstrating the variable impact of demographics and identity across consumer behaviors. The findings bolster the notion that many cultures have the innate facility to glocalize, that is, to absorb foreign or global ideas with the best practices and bond these with native customs. The results further imply that globalization takes on many forms throughout the world.



Cleveland, M., Papadopoulos, N. and Laroche, M. (2011), "Identity, demographics, and consumer behaviors: International market segmentation across product categories", International Marketing Review, Vol. 28 No. 3, pp. 244-266.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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