Profiling Chinese Consumers Stylesba Cross-Cultural Generalizability Study of Consumers’ Decision-Making Style

ABSTRACT - Researches germane to Consumers’ Decision-Making have been conducted in different countries to seek the generalizability and applicability of consumer style inventory (CSI) (Sproles and Kendall,1986). However, none has yet been carried out in China. This study attempts to confirm the Consumers’ Decision-Making traits identified by Sproles and Kendall (1986) as well as compare the internal consistency of each of the previously related studies. The eight-factor model of Sproles & Kendall (1986) was confirmed and two more decision-making characteristics were also found as parts of the Chinese Eleven-Factor Model of CSI.


Sio Wang Ng (2002) ,"Profiling Chinese Consumers Stylesba Cross-Cultural Generalizability Study of Consumers’ Decision-Making Style", in AP - Asia Pacific Advances in Consumer Research Volume 5, eds. Ramizwick and Tu Ping, Valdosta, GA : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 258-264.

Asia Pacific Advances in Consumer Research Volume 5, 2002      Pages 258-264


Sio Wang Ng, Macao Polytechnic Institute, Macao


Researches germane to Consumers’ Decision-Making have been conducted in different countries to seek the generalizability and applicability of consumer style inventory (CSI) (Sproles and Kendall,1986). However, none has yet been carried out in China. This study attempts to confirm the Consumers’ Decision-Making traits identified by Sproles and Kendall (1986) as well as compare the internal consistency of each of the previously related studies. The eight-factor model of Sproles & Kendall (1986) was confirmed and two more decision-making characteristics were also found as parts of the Chinese Eleven-Factor Model of CSI.


The study of the individuality of consumers’ behavior when choosing between alternative products is probably the most widely analyzed topics in consumer-interest study. Consumer researchers have long time been of interests in investigating consumers’ decision-making style. For example, consumers have been categorized as quality seekers, habitual or brand loyal consumers (Bettman 1979; Jacoby and Chestnut 1978; Maynes 1976; Miller 181; Sproles 1983; Thorelli, Becker, and Engeldow 1975). The basic instrument for measuring Consumers’ Decision-Making Style is called Consumer Style Inventory (CSI), and the Profile of Consumer Style (PDC) is the format for reporting an individual’s characteristics.(Sproles and Kendall, 1986). Numerous studies of the cross-cultural generalizability of the CSI have been investigated in different countries. In this basis, the study attempts to seek for the generalizability and applicability of the CSI in China setting and comparatively review the internal consistency of each of the factor being identified. This is done to confirm similarities and differences of its scale acceptability across different country-settings as well as to reveal the decision-making traits of the Chinese consumers.


Consumer Decision-making Style

The origin of the Consumers’ Decision-making Styles study toward shopping and buying began with Sproles(1985) who developed an instrument of 50 measurement items. Sproles and Kendall (1986) developed a more parsimonious version containing 40 items, called the consumer style inventory (CSI). It is defined as "a mental orientation characterizing a consumer’s approach to make choice" (Sproles and Kendall,1986, p.276). Literature review has highlighted numerous studies pertaining to decision-making styles concepts (Stone, 1954; Darden & Reynolds, 1971; Thorelli et al, 1975; Moschis, 1976; Westbrook & Black, 1985; Darden & Ashon 1974; Korgaonkar, 1987; Sproles, 1985; Sproles & Kendall. 1986; McDonald, 1993; Hafstrom, Chae & Chung, 1992; Durvasula, Lysonski & Andrews, 1993; Claxton, Fry & Portis, 1974; Keil and Layton, 1981; Furse, Punj and Stewart 1984; Lysonski, Durvasula & Zotos, 1996). Consumer affairs specialists used such profiles to understand consumers’ shopping behavior, while advertisers and consumer researchers used this in niche- positioning. However, criticism was opened that the model and the empirical findings being developed from its origin of US-sample data might have validity problems in other countries. Argument stressed that such measurement may be inapplicable to other cultures, unless cross-cultural psychometric properties of the measure (i.e.dimensionality and reliability) are shown to exist. (Douglas and Craigs 1983; Hui and Triands 1985).

To answer this question, many studies pertaining to the CSI were conducted in recent years. Different sample settings being adopted varied from Korean students (Hafstrom et al, 1992); New Zealand students (Durvasula et al, 1993); New Zealand, Greece, India and USA students (Lysonski et al 1996) and UK students (Mitchell & Bates, 1998). Apart form verifying generalizability across different cultures, Kendall and Sproles, (1990) also conducted an inter-correlation study between consumers decision-making styles and the function of individual learning styles in the USA.


A questionnaire with Chinese back-translated Consumer’s Decision-Making Styles Inventory was administered to 403 undergraduate and graduate students of the School of Management at Zhongshan (Sun Yet-sen) University, Guanzhou of China. Using a relatively more homogeneous group such as undergraduates and graduates students is for minimizing random error that might occur by using a heterogeneous sample such as the general public. (Calder, Tybout, and Phillips 1981). Using data from the 403 subjects, factor analysis with eight-factor solution constrained was firstly adopted for CSI confirmatory comparability with Sproles and Kandell’s original work and was then followed by a non-constrained condition in the basis of igenvalue over 1. The principal components method with varimax (orthogonal) rotation was used. For appropriateness confirmation of running factor analysis for CSI construct, Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin (KMO) measure of sampling adequacy was run. Since one of the purposes of the study was to confirm and compare several related studies on their internal consistency, Cronbach’s Alpha was also used and it was decided that reliabilities should not below .4, the same level used by Sproles and Kendall (1986).


The Eight-Factor Model

In Table 1, the eight-factor model explained 49.5% for the Chinese sample which was higher than the 46% of US sample of Sproles and Kendall (1986), as well as slightly lower than the UK sample with 50.5% variance explained (Mitchell & Bates, 1997). The KMO test proved that the scale was adequate for running factor analysis. In general, the factor loadings were high in comparing to those of previous studies, suggesting that the eight-factor model is a reasonable fit for the Chinese data. Table 2 depicts the internal consistency of the CSI’s eight-factor solution of Chinese sample. Eight factors were found relatively adequate in internal consistency except the factor of "Recreational-Shopping Conscious"(0.1962 in italic). Table 3 shows a comparison of factor loadings of four CSI studies.

The Chinese Eleven-Factor Solution

When the factor analysis was not constrained, an eleven-factor solution was extracted which accounted for 58.52%. (See Table 4). The eleven-factor model confirms all the factors of Sproles and Kendall (1986) as well as the "Time-Engergy Conserving" traits of Hafstrom et al (1992). For Chinese sample, two additional factors were found. The first one was labeled as "Store-Brand-Hopping Consumer" with items of "To get variety, I shop different stores and choose different brands" (0.672); "I change brands I buy regularly" (0.621); "A product doesn’t have to be perfect, or the best, to satisfy me" (0.485) and "It’s fun to buy something new and exciting"(0.461). The "Store-Brand-Hopping Consumer" reflects a trait of "walking (hopping) from store to store for fun with or without any intention to make any purchase." This trait matches the findings conducted by the IMI [IMI China Consumer Behavior & Life Patterns Yearbook (2000-2001)] national survey findings that "hopping" was the secondly ranked activity consumer Chinese favorably do in their leisure time. The second factor was labeled as "Shopping Indifference Consumer" with items of "Shopping is not a pleasant activity to me"(0.749). This reflects that being indifferent to shopping or no interest to shopping might be one of the decision-making characteristics of Chinese consumers.





A Comparison of Cronbach Alpha With Several Related Studies

For comparing a cross-cultural generalizability for the CSI scale in various related studies, a reliability coefficient of 0.6 is marked as a lowest acceptable limit. This is a lower limit for Cronbach’s Alpha for exploratory research (Robinson et al, 1991). Table 5 depicts a cross-cultural internal consistency comparison of previous CSI studies. As shown, shaded cells represent those being lower than 0.6, and the italic-bolded ones represent those with "poor" Cronbach Aplha coefficient which suggests the questionnaire items are not measuring these factors effectively and this scale items need to be re-designed for further improvement for trait measurement. As shown in Table 5 that the "Perfectionism" was a poor measurement items for UK sample; the "Price-Value" was poor measurement items for Korean samples; the "Recreational, Hedonism" was poor measurement items for UK and particularly for Chinese sample (0.196). However, the "Recreational, Hedonism" held a higher score of factor loading than other studies of US, Korean, and New Zealand samples; the "Habitual, Brand Loyal" was also found to be a poor "Recreational, Hedonism" for Korean and Greece samples; and the "Time-energy Conserving" was poor for Korean samples. In general, the internal consistency of the factor "Habitual, Brand Loyal" was apparently not an adequate questionnaire items for measuring decision-making traits for all the countries mentioned above but except China.


In summary, the traits of consumer decision-making of young Chinese was studied and the similarity and differences of both in factor loadings and reliability consistency were also compared in different cross-cultural samples (such as US, Korean, New Zealand, India and Greece) (See Table 3). In general, the CSI was found to be appropriate for Chinese sample. The internal consistency of the eight-factor model was found to be acceptable which ranged from 0.52 to 0.79, with the exception of "Recreational, Hedonism" factor, which had a 0.796 Cronbach’s Alpha. The eleven-factor solution was also found for Chinese sample. The Cronbach’s Alpha for this eleven-factor was comparatively better than the eight-factor model and the majority of the factors of were high in Cronbach’s Apha from 0.60 to 0.74, except the "Time-energy Conserving" factor (0.34). However, it is a known fact that errors may occur in CSI generalizability studies due to researcher bias, coding and decoding and data analysis. Nevertheless, an indication of generalizability of some decision-making characteristics was found in China. The Chinese Eleven-Factor Model confirms Sproles & Kendall’s (1986) decision-making traits as well as the "Time-Energy Conserving" trait identified by Hafstrom et al (1992) and it further identifies two new factors of common traits labeled as "Store-Brand-Hopping" and "Shopping Indifference". Accurately identifying consumers’ decision-making styles and profiling their buying characteristics not only determines the success of marketing segmentation strategy in the real business world, but also improves academic research in consumer research discipline. To have a more parsimonious version of the inventory scale, researchers are encouraged to develop a more robust decision-making style inventory to account for the variation of findings, particularly if research is germane to other nation-settings.








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Sio Wang Ng, Macao Polytechnic Institute, Macao


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

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