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The influence of culture on consumer behavior in Malaysia comparing with Australia Essay Example

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The influence of culture on consumer behavior: Australia and Malaysia analysis


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Without a doubt, cultural dimensions do influence consumer behavior in a big way. Research has shown that national culture has a considerable impact on a person’s values and attitudes, thereby influencing consumer behavior (Schiffman et al, chapter 12, pp.3). It is therefore important for regional or international managers and investors to understand and make strategic business decisions based on the prevailing ethnic and cultural issues (Schultz & Pecotich 2005, pp.41).

The influence of culture on consumer behavior can be well demonstrated by comparing consumer behavior in culturally different countries such as Australia and Malaysia. The two countries can be said to be culturally different. Australia is an example of a country with a Western culture while Malaysia is considered a Multi-ethnic Eastern country comprising of Malays, Chinese, Indians as well as indigenous communities (Adapa 2008, pp. 2). While a large majority of Australians identifies themselves with the Christian faith, Malaysia has a large number of Muslims and a considerably smaller number of Christians (Nisbett 2003, pp. 27). However, both countries are considered developed economies and they have strong economic links in exporting goods and services since Australia is part of the Association of South East Asia Nations free trade area (Schultz & Pecotich 2005, pp.56).

Through Hofstede’s research on cross cultural dimensions, it can be seen that Malaysians are more brand conscious compared to Australians (Hofstede 2001, pp.97). This can be attributed to the fact that Malaysian culture upholds the concepts of power distance and ‘face’ as well as collectivism (Adapa 2008, pp.5). Thus, consumers in Malaysia have a greater need to maintain prestige, hence a higher level of brand recognition than Australia.

Australians consumers are also less innovative than their Malaysian counterparts (Schultz & Pecotich 2005, pp.56). This is because the Eastern culture is often identified with low uncertainty avoidance, unlike the western culture. Thus, innovativeness is more among the Malaysians. However, innovativeness is not absent on the side of the Australians due to high individualism aspects of the Western culture (Schultz & Pecotich 2005, pp.35).

Another significant difference is that Australian consumers tend to be more confused by over choice than Malaysians. This can be attributed to the high uncertainty avoidance and high individualism aspects in the Western culture (Nisbett 2003, pp.21). According to Hofstede (2001 pp.106), the Eastern culture is more collective than the Western culture.

Over and above this, Australian consumers are more likely to do impulse buying than Malaysians (Nisbett 2003, pp.24). This can be attributed to the collectivist aspects in the Eastern culture whereby most Asians tend to suppress the desire of impulse buying and act along their cultural norms (Hofstede 2001, pp.98). On the other hand, Westerners are more independent minded.

However, there is no major difference between the Australians and the Malaysian in terms of brand loyalty as well as price consciousness (Schultz & Pecotich 2005, pp.41). Both cultures have aspects of quality and price consciousness, even though the Easterners may be said to be a little bit more quality conscious than the Westerners (Adapa 2008, pp.10).

In conclusion, an Australian exporter can take advantage of the cultural values in Malaysia such as quality consciousness to export high quality goods to Malaysia, making good profit in the process. Malaysians are also more likely to purchase expensive goods due to the power distance aspect in their culture.


Schiffman, L., et al. 2007. Consumer Behavior, [5th Edition]. Pearson Education Australia chapter 12

Shultz, C. & Pecotich, A. 2005. Handbook of Markets and Economies: East and Southeast Asia, Australia and New Zealand. M.E Sharpe publishers. pp 35-60

Adapa, S. 2008, “Factors Hindering Heritage Destination Promotion in Malaysian Context”, ASEAN Journal on Hospitality and Tourism, 7 (2), 1-15.

Hofstede, G. 2001. Culture’s consequences: Comparing Values Behaviors, Institutions and Organizations across Nations. London: Sage Publications. Pp. 95-106

Nisbett, R. E. 2003. The geography of thought: How Asians and Westerners think differently… and why. New York: The Free Press. Pp.20-35