The Collectivisms Versus Individualism Appeals Cultural Studies Essay

‘Love the Internet, love being free-spirited, love acquiring up tardily, love the late dark nutrient bases, love car-racing and Jerseies for 29RMB every bit good. I am non a standard-bearer, nor am I person ‘s spokesman, I am HanHan, I merely represent myself ‘ . When you read this book, do you believe that it is an advert launched in the western markets? Actually, it is an advert run of a manner dress B2C company in China. It is rather interesting to establish an ad which claims I-conscious in a extremely collectivized state. In this essay, the author will chiefly analyse the cultural values behind the ad and discourse how this ad is seeking to alter the attitudes of the Chinese from group-oriented to self-oriented by utilizing consumer behaviour models, such as Maslow ‘s hierarchy of demands, Fishbein ‘s behavioural purpose theoretical account and advertisement battle manners.

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Vancl is a B2C company who sells quality manner vesture and accoutrements on-line in China ( Appendix 1 ) . It was founded in 2007, and now it has become “ the NO.1 Chinese manner dress B2C endeavor who is busying 28.4 % market portion, harmonizing to the ‘Report of e-business on manner dress industry in China 2009-2010 ‘ ” ( hypertext transfer protocol: // ) . As the construct of the company is to supply quality and fashionable dress at a sensible monetary value, it considers urban immature grownups from 18 to 28 old ages old as its mark audiences ( hypertext transfer protocol: // ) . In order to aim more consumers and heighten the influence of the trade name, Vancl launched an advertisement run ( Appendix 2 ) in 2010, which achieved a immense success in China. This survey is aim to analyse the civilization behind the ad run based on consumer behaviour country.

Literature Review

Collectivism versus Individualism Appeals in Chinese Ads

Hofstede ( 1980 ) developed an individualism-collectivism dimension to distinguish civilization. This construct was concluded by Oyserman et Al. ( 2002 ) that Bolshevism could be considered as the antonym of individuality, which was normally reflected in the East Asiatic civilization. In thecollectivistic civilization, construct of ego is relevant to others and the society as a whole ( Mooij 2004 ) , which can non be separated from their societal context ( Phillips 1976 ; Shweder 1984 ) . Therefore, ‘Families, work groups, societal functions, places, or relationships ‘ should be offered as the top precedence in an person ‘s behaviour ( Mooij 2004, p.96 ) .

In the communicating degree, Individualism-collectivism dimension divides the self-concept into independent ego and interdependent ego appealed by low-context and high-context communicating, impacting in the communicating behaviour ( Mooij 2004 ) . In general, high-context communicating occurs more prevailing in collectivized civilization while low-context communicating reflects a communicating manner in individualistic civilization ( Hall and Hall 1987, Zandpour et Al. 1992, Mooij 2004 ) . Therefore, more transcript is used in adverts developed in the individualistic states. By contrast, collectivized states use more ocular elements in their ads ( Mooij 2004 ) .

Harmonizing to Hofstede ‘s ( 2001 ) model of civilization dimensions, China is a extremely collectivized state. Collectivism concept congests in the day-to-day life of Chinese. For case, people are more likely to state, “ ‘I frequently watch hoops games with my household and friends. ” alternatively of “ I am a athleticss fan. ‘ ” ( Liang and Joseph 2010, p.189 ) . Consequently, the degree of Bolshevism may hold an impact on the design of local advertisement. A host of research workers ( for illustration: Dana et al.1993 ; Han and Shavitt 1994 ) have found that collectivized thoughts appear in adverts are more prevailing in the higher Bolshevism states, such as China, Japan and South Korea, etc. Similarly, Carolyn ( 2001 ) pointed out that group consensus entreaties more in Chinese adverts than in American ads. And unlike the commercials in U.S. , Chinese were by and large “ we-conscious ” alternatively of “ I-conscious ” . A research, conducted by Cheng and Schweitzer ( 1996 ) , identified three chief cultural values, in footings of ‘modernity ‘ , ‘youth ‘ and ‘family ‘ dominated in Chinese advertizements, which were much different from the consequences in the United States ( ‘enjoyment ‘ , ‘modernity ‘ and ‘individualism ‘ ) . Besides, the survey besides found that comparing with the thought of individuality and use over nature, harmoniousness of societal position and unity with nature were much more often discovered in the Chinese advertisement ( ibid. ) .

Some researches ( for illustration: Belk et Al. 1985 ; Belk and Pollay 1985 ; Belk and Bryce 1986 ; Mueller 1987 ; Paek et Al. 2004 ) , nevertheless, revealed that the manner of the advertizements in some eastern states was be givening to be ‘Americanized ‘ and going more individualistic orientations. Zhang and Shavitt ( 2003 ) , for case, analyzed 463 Chinese advertizements and found that both modernity/individualism values and tradition/collectivism values existed or dominated in Chinese Ads. The former values were more prevailing in personal usage merchandises ads, while the latter were more common in the ads advancing shared merchandises.

Difference in Appearance and Fashion Advertising Appeals across Culture

Mooij ( 2004 ) used three civilization dimensions, in footings of unsure turning away, power distance, and individualism-collectivism, to explicate the different demands of visual aspect in different states. A map ( Appendix 3 ) was designed to exemplify the importance of visual aspect in the different cultural valued states by utilizing individualism-collectivism and unsure turning away dimensions, harmonizing to the state tonss calculated by Hofstede ( 2001 ) . Mooij ( 2004 ) claimed that the grades of unsure turning away determined the proportion of ingestion disbursement of persons, while the dimension of individualism-collectivism differentiated the intent of well-dressing between suitableness of juncture and gaining face. Besides, the higher power distance of civilization was, the more degrees people would depend on others. Furthermore, Mooij ( ibid. ) mentioned that uneasiness was another factor to place the differences in visual aspect.

Similarly, Phillips and McQuarrie ( 2010 ) reviewed legion of researches ( for illustration: Green and Brock 2000 ; Holbrook and Hirschman 1982 ; Petty and Cacioppo 1981 ) and concluded five manners of manner advertisement battle ( Appendix 4 ) to exemplify the current state of affairs of manner ads worldwide. Among these five manners, many bookmans ( e.g. , Murray 2002 ; Bannister and Hogg 2004 ; Thompson and Haytko 1997 ; Richins 1991 ) found that the engage for individuality manner was the most common and traditional theoretical account appealed in the manner adverts, which precisely coincided with Evan ‘s ( 1989 ) decision of three tendencies in manner industry:

‘ ( 1 ) People ‘s usage of manner reflects a desire to attest the ego ;

( 2 ) the desire for self-expression is turning ; and

( 3 ) there is a go oning demand to fit female ( still the chief purchasers of vesture and cosmetics ) self-images and trade name images in more congruous ways ‘ ( p. 10-11 ) .

Evan ( ibid. ) besides suggested that self-expression and stigmatization image were more of import than manner and titling newness when advancing a manner trade name.

In General, the advertisement entreaties in collectivized counties were more group-identity, while self-identity adverts worked more expeditiously in individualistic states ( Cheng and Schweitzer 1996 ) . However, Vancl uses a contrary ad entreaties to advance the trade name. In the following portion, a elaborate semiotic analysis will be conducted to research the different entreaties in this advert.

Semiotic Analysis

Harmonizing to Solomon ( 2008 p.103 ) , semiologies is a ‘study of the correspondence between marks and symbols and their functions in how we assign meanings’i??which can be interpreted into different information based on the cognition, civilization values, personality and accomplishments of different translator. Therefore, analysis of semiotic elements incorporating in the advert, can assist the research worker understand detailed information the advert wants to present. There are three constituents in every selling message, which should be combined when analysing an advert, viz. an object ( merchandise ) , a mark ( symbol ) , and an interpretant/meaning ( Schiffman and Kanuk, 2004 ) . Vancl ‘s advertisement run is developed to two versions divided by gender. Each version includes big sum of marks and symbols which ccn be interpreted. For illustration, the monetary value of the vesture marked in the advertizement gives a unsmooth thought of the mark audiences. Then the audiences analyze this information utilizing their cognition, personality and accomplishments based on the different civilization, such as sing the mean monetary value of this sort of vesture in the market, and calculate that the monetary value is low-cost and sensible. Another reading of monetary value can be considered as high unsure turning away. More specifically, if consumers have known the monetary value before they purchase, they can avoid the hazard of purchasing inappropriate merchandises. Therefore, in this ad, pronounced monetary value can be interpreted into both price-friendly and turning away of hazard ( Figure 1 ) .

Adapted from Solomon, 2008. “ A Semiotic Relationship ” .


Vancl vesture


Marked monetary value



& A ;

Hazard turning away





Figure 1: An Example of a Semiotic Relationship in Vancl Advertising

In order to understand the messages interpreted in this advertisement run by different marks, the author interviewed five people who spoke Mandarin by inquiring them to utilize three words to depict the personality incorporating in this ad. The top three personalities referred most often were self-aware, lively and enjoyment in life. Here, ‘self-conscious ‘ agencies that the ad is ‘I-conscious ‘ oriented, expresses a sense of assurance, self-respect and self-fulfillment. ‘Lively ‘ can be explained that the ad entreaties are more related to day-to-day life and realistic, while ‘enjoyment in life ‘ means that a sense of merriment, enjoyment and felicity towards life. Based on this interview consequence, a elaborate semiotic analysis is conducted and summarized ( Appendix 5 ) .

Harmonizing to Maslow ‘s hierarchy of demands theory ( 1987 ) , vesture can be categorized to the physiological demands, which is the most basic demand of worlds. However, from the consequences of semiologies reading, the author found that Vancl focused on aiming the audiences to the forth degree demands – self-pride demands ( Appendix 6 ) . As it is shown from the study, Vancl encourages people to be confident and self-respect, vesture is no affair the basic demands of human existences. Wearing Vancl dress can assist the consumers achieve to self-esteem degree.

Furthermore, another determination is discovered. The three personalities concluded by the respondents are much similar to the elements ( exhilaration, merriment and enjoyment in life, self-fulfillment, self-respect, etc. ) of the List of Value ( LOV ) , a value attack developed by Kahle and Timmer ( 1983 ) . Surprisingly, these three personalities, which by and large occur in the most western counties, are opposite to the civilization value in China concluded by Hofstede ( 2001, Figure 2 ) . As it is shown by the individuality index, the mark ( 20 ) is lower than the norm of other Asiatic states ( 24 ) , which means that China owns a extremely collectivized civilization. Chinese see ‘group ‘ as their precedence, concentrate more on their households, friends and society as a whole, than themselves ( Mooij, 2004 ) . The author analyzes the ads in deepness on the footing of the Hofstede ‘s civilization values ( Appendix 7 ) and finds that, although Bolshevism profoundly influences on the development of Chinese advertizements, Vancl ‘s ad run, nevertheless, pays a batch attending to self construct. Take the book as an illustration. The transcript of two versions keeps the format of ‘Love aˆ¦ , I am non aˆ¦ , I am aˆ¦ ‘ , which is much different from the ‘we-conscious ‘ adverts in collectivized states. It emphasizes self, and gives the sentiments of the persons alternatively of groups, which reflects an individualistic cultural value.



Power Distance






Low Individualism ( 20 )


( 66 )


( 80 )


( 30 )


( 118 )

Figure 2: Hofstede ‘s Framework for Assessing Culture – China

Furthermore, this run seems to reform the advertisement layout from a traditional manner to a new manner. As it is shown, there are two versions entirely designed by gender. The layout of these two versions is similar: there is an image of the spokesman in the left of the image, while a book incorporating big information in the right. This is besides an uncommon manner of the traditional Chinese advertizements.

Last, harmonizing to Fishbein and Ajzen ( 1980 ) , trade name attitude and capable norm are two constituents which influence the purpose and eventually find the buying behaviour. In extremely collectivized states, subjective norm stands for an of import place in this rating procedure ( Lee, 1991 ) . In this instance, nevertheless, Vancl shifts consumers ‘ focal points from subjective norm to trade name attitude ( Figure 3 ) . Therefore, it can be considered that Vancl ‘s ad is seeking to alter Chinese ‘s attitudes from Bolshevism to individuality.

Adapted from Fishbein and Ajzen, 1980. ‘Fishbein ‘s Drawn-out Model of Behavioral Intention ‘ .






Normative Beliefs

Friends recommend the trade name to me, it seems suit me.

Norm Evaluations

When have oning Vancl, I am more acceptable among friends and experience that I am one in the group.





Brand Beliefs

Merely be yourself

Belief Evaluations

When have oning Vancl, I seem to accomplish a alone and self-esteemed life like the famous persons own.

Self witting

Trade name


Figure 3: Model of Behavioral Intention of Vancl

How to Change Attitudes

Undoubtedly, it is non facile for a trade name to alter the attitudes of consumers, particularly altering an deep-rooted impression which has rooted for 1000s of old ages. Harmony is a cardinal construct of Confucian, which consequences in the group-oriented behaviours in Chinese. Harmonizing to the visual aspect map ( Mooij, 2004 ) , China is categorized in the left-bottom quarter-circle, represents a civilization of low unsure turning away and extremely collectivized. Peoples in this sort of civilization pay a batch attending on face, context, low-structured and conformance, who by and large buy dressing based on others ‘ sentiments. What is Vancl making is to switch the visual aspect construct of Chinese from the left-bottom quarter-circle to the right-bottom quarter-circle, where UK and U.S. are, stand foring an individualistic civilization. Consequently, Vancl engages the ad with self-identity construct. During this attitude altering procedure, the ad focuses on the elements of famous persons and books to arouse the ‘ideal ego ‘ of the consumers ( Figure 4 ) .

Adapted from Phillps and McQuarrie, 2010. ‘Modes of Advertising Engagement in Women ‘s Fashion ‘ .

Manner of


Ad Component






Engage to



& A ; Scripts






Figure 4: Manner of Advertising Engagement of Vancl

From analysing the ad, some hints of the ground why Vancl successfully changes the attitudes of its consumers can be discovered. First, the roar of Chinese economic system contributes to the procedure of civilization exchange. An Increasing figure of foreign endeavors develop their concern in China and convey their civilization. Besides, the development of engineering helps Chinese entree to the civilization from different states via Television, Internet, etc. All these are unconsciously act uponing the cultural values of Chinese, which provides a requirement for Vancl to implement this advertisement run.

Furthermore, the consequence of famous person plays an of import function in the attitudes altering procedure. As what suggested by Malhotra ( 1988 ) , utilizing a interpreter was an indispensable selling scheme to assist to fit the trade name image with consumers ‘ self-concept. HanHan and WangLuoDan, the two spokesmen Vancl selected, ain high penchants among Chinese young person, and their characters run into the image of Vancl as good. As famous persons represent a sense of recognition, attraction and power ( Kelman, 1961 ) , consumers can be easy influenced. Particularly in the collectivized states, consumers are eager for the credence from equals and society, following famous persons is a cagey manner to do them acceptable.

Finally, the executing of the ad aids in accomplishing the intent of attitude altering. The different version by gender designed on the footing of different cultural value of males and females, marks to audiences widely and accurately. The books express the sentiments of a alone attitude towards life from the famous persons, which influence consumers strongly. Since China ranks high mark in Bolshevism, the books are designed on this particular state of affairs: claim to be I-conscious ; meanwhile, meet the traditional cultural values of Chinese. More specifically, although most of the books advocate self-identity, at the terminal of the books, Vancl utilizes the collectivized civilization to name for in-group and offers a sense of engagement. The last sentence, ‘I am like you ; I am Vancl ( common people ) ‘ , gives the consumers a intimation that it is non hard to accomplish such life as the two famous persons own, have oning Vancl helps to be this ideal ego both in the private context and societal context.

Therefore, it can be concluded that three factors contribute to assist Vancl alter the attitude of Chinese consumers, viz. impact of other civilization, influence of famous persons, and luxuriant ad executing ( such as books and ocular design, etc. ) . These three factors combined as the persuasion stimulation, affect on the attitude altering procedure from Bolshevism and group-oriented to individualism and self-aware. This impact is non merely act upon the mark audience, but besides powerful to populaces. Consequently, have oning Vancl is a personal pick, which helps consumers achieve their ideal ego. As the attitudes of populaces are changed as good, it unifies the sentiment of what others think of you and what you truly desire to be ( Figure 5 ) .

Actual Self



Impact of other civilization

Elaborate executing of ad

Influence of famous persons

Attitude Changing

Focus on ego

Merely be yourself


Idea Self



Enjoyment of life

Social Self



Enjoyment of life


Entreaty to

Individuality oriented


In group

Figure 5: Model of Attitude Changing Process of Vancl Advert

In decision, self-concept dramas an of import function in Vancl advert run. The ad delivers the message that Vancl “ represents ‘who you are and what you are non ‘ ” ( Rune and Rosemary 2006, p.868 ) . Therefore, have oning Vancl can advance self-concept of consumers, and correspondingly bolster up their existent or ideal position of themselves ( Fournier 1998 ) . Based on this intent, Vancl uses two interpreters, who own high repute among Chinese young person and besides have a alone life style, to assist the trade name promote self-concept. As Carroll ( 2009 ) referred, this is an efficient manner for a trade name to switch the civilization from that trade name to consumer. Furthermore, utilizing famous persons besides helps Vancl persuade or alter the attitudes towards their consumers ( Kardes et al. 2010 ) from group-oriented to self-aware. Just like Kelman ( 1961 ) claimed, attitudes could be changed through three procedures: internalisation, designation and conformity. For consumers, HanHan and WangLuoDan represent a believable, attractive and powerful image. Therefore, their persuasion could assist the trade name reform a new attitude or behaviour to pull the consumers to copy through the referred three procedures ( ibid. ) , and eventually accomplish the intent of altering the attitudes of their consumers.


True, the article may non hold analyzed the advert roundly, and still hold some restrictions as good. First, as it is an ad in China, the interlingual rendition of the transcript may non really accurately due to different linguistic communication look, which may do some different readings of marks or symbols and correspondingly act upon the different apprehension of this advert.

Furthermore, the models developed in this survey are entirely suited for Vancl. Although famous person indorsement has become progressively popular since 1970s ( Tom et al. , 1992 ; Agrawal & A ; Kamakura, 1995 ) , there are non adequate surveies to turn out that it works on most of adverts which try to alter the attitudes of their consumers. Thus, Further quantitative and qualitative researches are required for determine whether the theoretical account of this survey besides suit for other trade names or industries in China.

Finally, consumer behaviour across is a deep and broad subject, which can be reflect to other topics, such as psychological science, sociology and history, etc. Therefore, there may be still some factors across other topics act uponing the attitude altering procedure of Vancl advert.


This article begins with a unsmooth debut and background of the Vancl advert run in China. The literature reexamine portion focuses on collectivism-individualism civilization dimension and cultural entreaties in Chinese adverts, difference in visual aspect and manner advert entreaties between different cultural values. Furthermore, self-concept and famous person indorsement are besides included. Semiotic analysis gives an lineation of the advert and helps to understand the advert exhaustively. In order to get more accurate message and cultural values incorporating in the ad, a study is conducted among five Chinese talkers. Consequently, three chief advert personalities are determined, viz. self-aware, lively and enjoyment in life, which could be explained to the self-esteem demands by Maslow ‘s hierarchy of demands. Then Fishbein ‘s drawn-out theoretical account of behavioural purpose aid to specify the influence of the Vancl ad on the buying behavioural purpose. The following portion explains the methods Vancl used in the ad to alter the attitudes of consumers from group-conscious to self-aware by utilizing an altered advertisement engagement theoretical account. And so a model of attitude altering procedure of Vancl advert is eventually developed.


Based on the restrictions and decision parts, the author summarizes some recommendations both for farther research and trade name directors. For farther research, more quantitative and qualitative researches should be conducted to make a theoretical account, which suits for different trade names in other classs who want to develop a self-identity advert run in a extremely collectivized state. Besides, more topics, such as psychological science, sociology, history, economic sciences, etc. , should be related to find other factors which affect the attitude altering procedure, so that the theoretical account can be modified.

For directors, the Bolshevism degree of different merchandises is different. Therefore, claiming self-identity in the ad is another manner when advancing a less collectivized merchandise in a extremely collectivized state, such as vesture and cosmetics. In the collectivized states, it seems to be a alone manner to advance a trade name and assist the advert outstanding among other ads, nevertheless, it is non almighty. What should directors make, is to analyse the market accurately and border an advert run which exactly suit the trade name.


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