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Money, money, money – how do attitudes toward money impact vanity and materialism? – the case of young Chinese consumers

Srinivas Durvasula (Marquette University, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA)
Steven Lysonski (Marquette University, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA)

Journal of Consumer Marketing

ISSN: 0736-3761

Article publication date: 23 March 2010




China is undergoing a radical change as the forces of industrialization and modernization transform its society. Money is taking on an increasingly important role, particularly among young Chinese, as the Western ideals of individualism and hedonism thrive. The goal of this research is to understand attitudes towards money in China and how these attitudes affect elements of consumer behavior such as materialism and vanity.


The paper uses a well‐accepted scale (with several dimensions) to explore attitudes towards money. Research questions examine how the dimensions of attitudes towards money affect materialism and achievement vanity. The sample comprises 127 young Chinese consumers. Statistical results based on confirmatory factor analysis as well as path analysis are reported.


The findings clearly show that attitudes towards money in China are not monolithic; instead there are variations among young Chinese. Materialism is affected by the power‐prestige and anxiety dimensions, but unaffected by the distrust dimension of money attitudes. Achievement vanity is affected by the power‐prestige dimension of money attitudes.

Research limitations/implications

Future research could examine other developing countries and other generational consumer segments. Another future research topic is to develop a comprehensive model of money attitudes, materialism, vanity, compulsive buying, and their possible antecedents or moderators.

Practical implications

These findings offer insight into the mindset of young Chinese. Beliefs that money permits one to attain not only status and possessions, but also power and control over others are contributing to increased materialism and expressions of vanity among young Chinese. For marketers, the results imply that positioning products based on the possession of money and the use of this money to indulge hedonism may resonate well with young Chinese consumers. However, some of the relationships we found may cause concern to ethicists and consumer watchdogs because of the associated problems of compulsive buying and other problems which are prevalent in consumer societies.


So far, no study has examined whether money attitudes drive materialism and achievement vanity, especially among younger consumers in developing countries such as China.



Durvasula, S. and Lysonski, S. (2010), "Money, money, money – how do attitudes toward money impact vanity and materialism? – the case of young Chinese consumers", Journal of Consumer Marketing, Vol. 27 No. 2, pp. 169-179.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2010, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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