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Social media discussion forums, home country and immigrant consumer acculturation: the case of Iranian immigrants in Australia

Sorush Sepehr (Discipline of Marketing, University of Technology Sydney, Sydney, Australia)
Jamie Carlson (Newcastle Business School, University of Newcastle, Newcastle, Australia)
Philip Rosenberger III (Newcastle Business School, University of Newcastle, Newcastle, Australia)
Ameet Pandit (Newcastle Business School, University of Newcastle, Newcastle, Australia)

Journal of Consumer Marketing

ISSN: 0736-3761

Article publication date: 27 December 2022

Issue publication date: 16 January 2023

44

Abstract

Purpose

Social media has transformed communication possibilities for immigrant consumers with their home country in their acculturation efforts. However, the acculturative outcomes of consumer interactions with the home country through social media are largely overlooked in previous research. This study aims to investigate the acculturative processes and outcomes resulting from interacting with the home country through social media.

Design/methodology/approach

A netnographic approach is used to collect data from a social media platform that provides an interactive social context in which Iranian immigrants in Australia share their experiences of immigration with non-immigrants who are considering and planning to migrate to Australia.

Findings

Findings show how both immigrants and non-immigrant users via social media reflexively contribute to the formation of two competing collective narratives, namely, the dominant, romanticizing narrative and counter, pragmatic narratives. Findings highlight how notions of the home and host countries, and the idea of migrating from home to host, are constructed as the result of the circulation of the dominant and counter narratives. Further findings include how these two collective narratives come into play in the formation of three acculturative outcomes, namely, self-validating, ordinary experts and wellbeing. These insights extend consumer acculturation theory through highlighting the acculturative processes and outcomes of interactions with the home country via a social media platform. This includes, for example, how interacting with the home culture can take on assimilationist properties through the construction of a romanticized representation of the hosting society (i.e. Australia) in the dominant collective narrative.

Practical implications

Implications for ethnic marketing practice, policymakers and non-governmental organisations are advanced, especially regarding using social media as a channel to communicate with current and potential immigrant consumers. Notably, policymakers can use social media to engage with immigrants before and after migration to reduce the potential for cognitive dissonance in recent arrivals. Managerially, brands can advertise on Web-based forums, independent websites and social media platforms to target potential immigrants to sell relevant products immigrants needs after migrating to the host country.

Social implications

Findings broaden the understanding of the potential acculturative outcomes on social media by moving away from the traditional outcomes, which are restricted to the dichotomy between the home and host cultures.

Originality/value

Scholarly attention is deficient on the role of direct interaction with the home country in immigrant consumer acculturation, especially through social media, which is the focus of this study.

Keywords

Citation

Sepehr, S., Carlson, J., Rosenberger III, P. and Pandit, A. (2023), "Social media discussion forums, home country and immigrant consumer acculturation: the case of Iranian immigrants in Australia", Journal of Consumer Marketing, Vol. 40 No. 1, pp. 136-149. https://doi.org/10.1108/JCM-05-2021-4661

Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2022, Emerald Publishing Limited

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