Perceptions and Patronage of Ethic Portal Sites: an Exploratory Study of Chinese Internet Users

ABSTRACT - The emergence and diffusion of the Internet has prompted the surge of portal sites that are designed to meet the specific needs of ethnic Internet users who may not be native English speakers. These ethnic portal sites may be set up by both global portal giants (e.g., Yahoo!) and local entrepreneurs (e.g., Netease.com in China). Often, because of the origin of these ethnic-oriented sites, they have different operating philosophies and have different appeals to ethnic Internet users.



Citation:

Wenyu Dou, Boonghee Yoo, and Ma Liang Yu (2002) ,"Perceptions and Patronage of Ethic Portal Sites: an Exploratory Study of Chinese Internet Users", in AP - Asia Pacific Advances in Consumer Research Volume 5, eds. Ramizwick and Tu Ping, Valdosta, GA : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 217.

Asia Pacific Advances in Consumer Research Volume 5, 2002      Page 217

PERCEPTIONS AND PATRONAGE OF ETHIC PORTAL SITES: AN EXPLORATORY STUDY OF CHINESE INTERNET USERS

Wenyu Dou, St. Cloud State University, U.S.A.

Boonghee Yoo, St. Cloud State University, U.S.A.

Ma Liang Yu, South China University of Technology, China

ABSTRACT -

The emergence and diffusion of the Internet has prompted the surge of portal sites that are designed to meet the specific needs of ethnic Internet users who may not be native English speakers. These ethnic portal sites may be set up by both global portal giants (e.g., Yahoo!) and local entrepreneurs (e.g., Netease.com in China). Often, because of the origin of these ethnic-oriented sites, they have different operating philosophies and have different appeals to ethnic Internet users.

In this study, we first analyzed the differences and similarities among different types of ethnic portals. We then proposed a conceptual model concerning the factors that may affect the patronage of ethnic portals. An empirical study was designed to test the conceptual model. Lastly, implications of the study results for ethnic portals were presented.

We classified ethnic portal sites into 3 categories: (a) global portal brand extensions that are essentially extensions of global portal brands; (b) Ethnic portals with strong international flavor that appeal to Internet users of a specific ethnic (e.g., Chinese) group worldwide; and (c) Locally brewed ethnic portals that are built by local entrepreneurs for domestic Internet users. Following an analysis of the differences among the three types of ethnic portals on operating practices, focuses, and likely audience types, we summarized the following 5 key attributes of ethnic portals: perspective of news coverage (global vs. local emphasis), web site design style, image positioning; indexing ability of ethnic web sites, and ability to find information not available through traditional media.

To understand the patronage of ethnic portals, a conceptual model was developed that incorporated four types of factors: (a) recognized need for using ethnic portals to find web sites of interests to the ethnic users; (b) perceptions of the "closeness" of ethnic portal to the ethnic culture; (c) evaluations of the ability of ethnic portals to deliver useful information; and (d) ethnocentrism of the ethnic Internet user. Specifically we develop the following hypotheses regarding the patronage of ethnic portals:

H1: The more an ethnic Internet user visits web sites in his/her own ethnic language, the more likely he or she will use ethnic web portals.

H2: The more an ethnic Internet user perceives the ethnic portal to be "closer" to his/her ethnic culture; the more likely he or she will use ethnic web portals.

H3: The more an ethnic Internet user perceives the ethnic portal to be capable of delivering useful information, the more likely he or she will use ethnic web portals.

H4: The more ethnocentric an ethnic Internet user is, the more likely he or she will use ethnic web portals.

An empirical study was designed to test the research hypotheses. Students majored in business from a southern Chinese University completed the survey, which was developed by bilingual researchers and pretested for understandability. A total of 328 valid responses were returned. The respondent profile is comparable to that of average Chinese Internet users who are likely to be younger and with some college education.

Five ethnic portals were examined in the study: Yahoo China, Lycos China, Sina, Sohu, and Netease. For each ethnic portal, respondents evaluated its five key attributes. They also provided information on how often they visited web sites in Chinese language and how frequently they used the ethnic portal being examined. Lastly, consumer ethnocentrism of each respondent was measured using the Shimp and Sharma (1987) scale.

Data analysis consisted of 2 steps. First, multidimensional scaling was applied to drive the actual positioning of 5 ethnic portals using user ratings on the 5 key portal attributes. Two dimensions were identified: one was labeled as "cultural familiarity" and the other as "information capability". The relative positioning of the 5 ethnic portals were also replicated in a canonical correlation analysis. Next, multiple regressions with dummy variables were run to test the research hypotheses and also to examine whether the relationship differed across 5 ethnic portals. The model was significant and explained 43% of the total variance. Among the predictors, "indexing capability of web sites in ethnic language" and "ability to find useful information" emerged as significant. Also significant was the visit frequency of web sites in ethnic languages. The hypothesized effect of ethnocentrism was not found.

In overall, H1 and H3 were supported by the empirical data but H2 and H4 were not supported. While the lack of support for H4 can be explained by the relative homogeneity of college students in this sample, the lack of support for H2 actually showed the relative bigger impact of "information capability" attributes over "cultural similarity" attributes on the frequency of ethnic portal usage. Our study results provide directions for ethnic portals to improve their information gathering capability so as to attract more ethnic users. It also highlights the main differences among 3 types of ethnic portals and what they can do to change their positioning in the minds of ethnic Internet users.

This study represents a first attempt towards a better understanding of the patronage of ethnic portals. Future studies in this area can extend the scope of the current one by using a more diverse sample that may entail more variations in ethnocentrism and also by examining in more depth the differences among the 3 types of ethnic portals.

----------------------------------------

Authors

Wenyu Dou, St. Cloud State University, U.S.A.
Boonghee Yoo, St. Cloud State University, U.S.A.
Ma Liang Yu, South China University of Technology, China



Volume

AP - Asia Pacific Advances in Consumer Research Volume 5 | 2002



Share Proceeding

Featured papers

See More

Featured

Robo-Advising: Algorithm Appreciation

Jennifer Logg, Harvard Business School, USA
Julia Minson, Harvard Business School, USA
Don Moore, University of California Berkeley, USA

Read More

Featured

Magical Anchors: Initial Focal Attention Drives the Direction and Content of Essence Transfer

Thomas Kramer, University of California Riverside, USA
Wenxia Guo, Acadia University
Zhilin Yang, City University of Hong Kong

Read More

Featured

J8. Exchange with The Rich, Concern with The Poor: The Effects of Social Class on Consumer Response to Brand Relationship

Bing Han, Shanghai Jiao Tong University
Liangyan Wang, Shanghai Jiao Tong University

Read More

Engage with Us

Becoming an Association for Consumer Research member is simple. Membership in ACR is relatively inexpensive, but brings significant benefits to its members.