본 연구는 시장이 세계화되고 글로벌기업의 활동이 활발해지면서 소비문화 이해의 중요성이 점점 더 커지고 있다는 점에 착안하여 한국, 미국, 스웨덴 삼국의 소비문화를 비교하고 성별, 세대별 소비문화 차이를 살펴보았다. 한국, 미국 및 스웨덴 삼국의 20~40대 성인 각 500명 등 총 1,500명을 조사대상으로 온라인조사를 실시하였으며, 조사도구는 김선우와 김난도(2011)의 연구에서 개발된 소비문화 차원 척도를 적용하였다. 연구결과, 세 국가에서 모두 상징지향적 소비수준보다 기능지향적 소비수준이 높게 나타났고, 사회지향적 소비수준보다 개인지향적 소비수준이 더 높게 나타나 소비의 의미는 보편적으로 기능적이고 개인적인 특성를 지닌다고 할 수 있다. 한국, 미국, 스웨덴의 소비문화적 특징을 살펴보면, 한국은 집단주의 문화권에 속하여 타자승인지향적이고 미국은 개인주의 문화권의 영향으로 개인지향적이었으며, 한국과 미국이 상징적 소비성향이 높은데 반하여 스웨덴은 전반적으로 소비성향이 낮고 개인적 기능지향 차원에 대한 고려가 발견되었다. 성별과 연령대에 따른 소비문화 수준을 살펴본 결과, 상징적 소비차원에서 두드러진 차이를 발견할 수 있었다. 성별에 따라서는 여성이 개인적 상징에 더 큰 비중을 두는 반면 남성은 사회적 상징에 상대적으로 더 큰 비중을 두고 있었다. 한편 젊은 층일수록 상징 차원의 소비수준이 더 높게 나타났는데, 기능적 소비차원의 경우 성별과 연령대에 따른 차이가 상대적으로 미미하거나 없는 것으로 나타났다. 이상의 연구결과를 바탕으로 글로벌마케팅에 대한 시사점을 도출해보면, 한국에서는 사회적 상징, 미국에서는 개인적 상징으로 소구하고 스웨덴에서는 기능적 혜택을 제공하는 것이 중요하다. 또한 여성은 개인적 상징에 더 어필하며 남성에게는 사회적 상징을 강조하는 것이 소구 포인트가 될 수 있겠다. 아울러, 20대는 상징적 소비에 매 우 적극적이었으므로 20대를 대상으로 한 마케팅 커뮤니케이션을 원활하게 하기 위해서는 20대가 원하는 상징의 기원 및 유포과정에 대한 보다 심층적인 후속연구가 필요할 것으로 보인다.
In the era of globalization since 1990``s, many global companies are actively pursuing crosscultural consumer understanding for optimized marketing decision. A lot of marketing efforts may be wasted or even hurt its brand due to the cultural or linguistic failure. With this background, culture has been a major research theme in the field of consumer studies, business management and consumer psychology. But the early researches with cross-cultural perspectives were mostly adopted qualitative ethnographic research methods to understand various aspects of the consumer culture. Empirical researches for cross-cultural consumer understanding from the global point of view are still emerging area. This research aimed to understand consumer culture and investigate gender and generation difference in the global context. An online survey was conducted to the 1,500 respondents in 20``s to 40``s of three metropolitan cities in Republic of Korea, USA and Sweden: Seoul, New York, and Stockholm. The dimensions and measures of consumer culture were adopted which was developed by S. Kim and R. Kim in 2011. Shortly introducing the dimensions and measures of consumer culture, consumer culture can be defined as an interaction of meaning via consumer goods, and herein, a meaning and an interactivity can be the main analysis unit. A consumer culture is classified into two dichotomies by meaning and interactivity; functional-symbolic and individual-social. These two dichotomies are combined into a 2×2 cross-classification, and four-celled dimensions of consumer culture are produced; individual-functional, socio-functional, individual-symbolic and socio-symbolic. Each dimension has two sub-dimensions; ‘economical efficiency’ and ‘frugality’ (individual-functional dimension), ‘fun pursuing’ and ‘self expression’(individual-symbolic dimension), ‘approval by others’ and ‘brand-good preference’(socio-symbolic dimension), and ‘ethical action’ and ‘pro-environmental action’(socio-functional dimension). The main findings from the study are as below. First, consumption is dominantly perceived as a functional and individual human activity with the finding that the functional consumption level was apparently higher than the symbolic and the individual consumption level was higher than the social. There was no significant difference in the ‘economical efficiency’ by country while it was scored around 4 points among 5 points likert type scale. ‘Economical efficiency’ is perceived as the main consideration point for consumers in the developed market economy countries to achieve a consumption task. Second, Korean consumers scored higher in ‘approval by others’ based upon their collectivism culture, while American consumers concerned more on ‘self expression’ influenced by their individualism culture. Swedish preferences were more located in individual-functional dimension, while Korean and American were striving more individual or social symbolic consumption. This finding supports the theory that culture and consumption is interdependent. Third, there was an apparent difference in symbolic consumption by gender and generation but there was no significant difference by age and generation in the functional consumption. By gender, female was more focused on individual symbol but social symbol and ‘brand good preference’ was more important to western male. This is an evidence that the consumption is a mechanism to form and reinforce culture and habitualize its fixed stereotype systematically. In the perspective of generation, the younger was attached more to the symbolic consumption than the older. Generational commons were found in 30``s and 40``s in Korea and 20``s and 30``s in America and sweden. This can be explained that the maturity of the market economy and that of the consumer culture is closely related with each other. In western society, the market economy was already matured in early 1970``s and the generation X in 30``s and the early 40``s is the first generation born to be a consumer. But Korea was transformed to the consumption society after the middle of 1980``s and the generation Y in their 20``s and early 30``s has its own identity as homo consumens. One more discussion point from the generation difference perspective is that the younger in America and Sweden is more eager to the ethical and pro-environmental consumption activity while the older has higher tendency in the socio-functional consumption activities in Korea. This can be explained that the long civic engagement tradition in the western country affects consumer culture as well. To expand ethical and pro-environmental consumption in young generation, it is important for them to provide an well-organized education program to reinforce Korean civil society and enhance their identity as consumer citizen. This research tried to provide business managerial implication from the global marketing``s point of view and ultimately to contribute to the expansion of empirical consumer culture study. The research findings imply several managerial implications for efficient global marketing. Frist, Korean``s aspiration is a social symbol but an individual symbol appeals to American, while Swedish is mainly focusing on the functional benefits. In addition, female prefers to individual symbols but social symbols are the key for the male targeted marketing. Furthermore, Y generation in their 20``s and in early 30``s is eager to consume the symbolic images, which need to be deeply explored more on to understand the nature of the symbols and their preferred touch points. This research has some limitations as below. First, this research didn``t limit the product category and measured the overall consumer culture. If the different category dynamics can be considered in the future research, it will be much more clear to understand the cultural differences and to provide more sharpened implications. Furthermore, there was a tendency of lower score in some question items from Swedish consumers even though the author tried to make a best effort to achieve equivalence of the measures. More thorough approach should be considered to understand the cross-cultural differences in the response styles for the elaborate cross-cultural comparison study. Finally, this research only included countries with matured market economy but it is suggested to consider developing countries or eastern european countries as well to investigate the consumer adjustment process and their identity as consumer.
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