The purpose of this paper is to extend research on metaphors of consumption to a Chinese cultural setting, specifically examining consumer thoughts related the Chinese concept of renao (hot and noisy).
The Zaltman Metaphor Elicitation Technique (ZMET) was used – a photo elicitation approach and semi‐structured interviews that surfaced metaphors. Field observation and participative techniques were combined with the 14 interviews, in Taiwan, through a grounded theory approach that classified results in categories using the software XSight.
Five main categories of related concepts consistently arose: food, inexpensive, crowd, marketing communication and servicescape. Respondents closely tied renao with consumption behavior. All five categories resulted in rich descriptions that these consumers, and possibly a wider group, associate with successful retail locations.
This in‐depth approach was limited to 14 respondents and two researchers living in Taiwan. Thus, both the sample and the sample frame are restricted. Although the concept of renao is common in all Chinese cultural settings, its exact interpretation differs in different locations, sub‐cultures and marketing segments.
Consumers expressing their values though consumption is a marketing topic both studied and used in the West. The convergence of consumers' perception of self and consumption is no less important, but certainly different, for consumers in a Chinese cultural setting. Local values heavily influence Chinese consumption in Taiwan, such as the central concept of renao. These local values are rarely discussed in Western literature. Retailers can benefit by incorporating at least some of these metaphors, while marketing researchers can gain an expanded definition of consumer self‐image and values.
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