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The Western brands in the minds of Vietnamese consumers

Hai Chung Pham (Media School, Bournemouth University, Bournemouth, UK)
Barry Richards (Media School, Bournemouth University, Bournemouth, UK)

Journal of Consumer Marketing

ISSN: 0736-3761

Article publication date: 10 August 2015




This paper aims to explore the complexity and dynamics in the process of negotiation and re-negotiation of brand associations within a Vietnamese cultural context, focusing on the identity construction created through local consumption preferences. t It explores how Western brands are symbolically important in Vietnamese consumers’ self-image.


A total of 600 Vietnamese youth between 18 and 35 years living in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City completed the survey. A projective technique (storytelling) was applied to elicit the hidden thoughts and motivations among respondents.


Vietnamese consumers increasingly attach themselves to certain brands to affirm their desired identity. They believe in “material goods bring happiness”. The symbolic meanings of brands (which we describe around six themes) become very important in their patterns of consumption in shaping their lived experience and the way they want to communicate their self-images.

Practical implications

The paper’s insights can be of value to marketing and advertising professionals and to those with responsibility for consumer regulation in emerging markets.

Social implications

The paper contributes to our understanding of how socio-political tensions are played out and managed in consumer culture and identifies particular contradictions which may drive future changes.


The paper reports on a study which uses a neglected method to provide the latest data on consumer culture in Vietnam and links features of consumption-based identity to the specific Vietnamese historical, political, economic and socio-cultural context.



Pham, H.C. and Richards, B. (2015), "The Western brands in the minds of Vietnamese consumers", Journal of Consumer Marketing, Vol. 32 No. 5, pp. 367-375.



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Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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