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An Investigation into the Impact of Income, Culture and Religion on Consumption Behaviour: A Comparative Study of the Malay and the Chinese Consumers in Malaysia
Fatt Sian, Lai
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
The study of consumer behaviour has attracted much attention from researchers. Models have been postulated and re-postulated in many attempts to explain the decision process of consumers as it changes over time and space, as well as in different environments such as culture, race and religion. The growing interest in investigating the relation between psychographics and consumer behaviours with regard to their purchase preferences has helped marketers in segmenting the market more accurately so as to ensure certainty of profitability. This is especially relevant in the modern market where “crossing culture” (Davies and Fitchett, 2004, p.315) and acculturation, as well as the process of cultural integration, are common as a result of many factors such as travelling both for leisure and business, emigration and re-location, etc. Nevertheless, these studies have mainly focussed on a single community or ethnic group. This current study differs in that it attempts to compare two ethnic groups of diverse culture and religious background, i.e. the Malays and the Chinese, within a single Malaysian community. The political and social environments in Malaysia make the current study unique in that the Malays receive financial aids and incentives from the ruling Malay-dominant government while the Chinese have little or no assistance at all. Therefore, apart from looking at the psychographical aspects of consumption habit, the current study also includes source of income as a variable factor in comparing the presume differences in spending between the two ethnic groups – the Malays receive extensive financial aids and benefits from the ruling government while the Chinese work hard and save as much as possible to ensure a better future. 5 The current study focuses on University Technologi Mara (UiTM) and University Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR) because of their respective racial composition of Malay and Chinese youths. The findings in this study elucidate that there seems to be no apparent difference in spending behaviour between the Malays and the Chinese despite their cultural and religious differences. This could be the result of the many years of co-existence and the influence of global media and culture on both the Malay and Chinese youths. The current study also does not find any strong basis in supporting the perception that the Chinese would be more frugal in their spending because of unfavourable economic support for them in the country. On the contrary, the study shows that the Chinese are indeed financially wealthier than the Malays because of their life-long culture of prudence in savings. Another reason for this could be the failure of the government’s New Economic Policy in addressing the economic needs of the masses of the Malay population. Rather, the policy only favoured the selected few with strong political link or clout. This study also shows that there are significant differences in the spending behaviour between the genders. This study also highlights the differences in spending behaviour of the cluster groups with their respective attached inherent value-traits. The study also reveals that the Malays are no longer the homogenous group as previously thought. Rather they indicate distinct differences in their spending behaviour. It is hoped that in future, wider and in-depth studies can be conducted to further examine the consumption behaviour of races according to their value-traits.
Borgerson, Janet L.
PhD Management Studies