Cultural meanings of brands and consumption: A window into the cultural psychology of globalization

Carlos Torelli*, Shirley Y Y CHENG

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

    20 Citations (Scopus)


    With globalization, the number of individuals with knowledge about multiple cultures is on the rise. This article illustrates how studying consumer reactions to brands that are loaded with cultural meanings can contribute to developing a cultural psychology of globalization. Our review demonstrates that brands can be considered cultural 'products'- they are tangible, public representations of meanings and ideas shared in a culture. As such, incidental exposure to culturally symbolic brands can spontaneously evoke its attendant cultural meanings and trigger culturally appropriate behavioral decisions. Because globalization makes these brands readily available in diverse cultural contexts, consumer reactions to culturally symbolic brands often reflect people's views about the cultural effects of globalization. Consumers would respond favorably to these brands when the associated cultural meanings reinforce the consumers' cultural identity. In contrast, consumers would react negatively toward these brands when they are perceived to be a threat to the local culture. We identify the factors that promote one type of reaction over the other, and discuss how this line of research can further contribute to building a cultural psychology of globalization.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)251-262
    Number of pages12
    JournalSocial and Personality Psychology Compass
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - May 2011

    Scopus Subject Areas

    • Social Psychology


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