A social institutional approach to identifying generation cohorts in China with a comparison with American consumers

Kineta H. Hung, Fang Gu, Chi Kin Yim

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

95 Citations (Scopus)


Identifying distinctive target segments is a fundamental challenge faced by international marketers. This paper describes an approach to understanding consumer market structures in an important international market, China, and to segmenting Chinese consumers by integrating insights from generational cohort and social institutional theories. We conduct two empirical studies to verify how China's recent momentous ideological events could give rise to and affect the life experiences of different generation cohorts in the country. The results of Study 1 support the conceptual framework and establish three distinct cohorts in China: Red Guards, Modern Realists, and Global Materialists. Study 2 builds on the findings of Study 1: it links cohort differences to differences in consumer values (materialism) and choice behaviors (foreign vs local brands), and then compares them with parallel consumers in the United States. This paper outlines and tests an approach to segmentation that can help international firms identify distinct segments in and design effective marketing strategies for China.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)836-853
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of International Business Studies
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2007


  • China
  • Generation cohort
  • Segmentation
  • Social institutional theory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Business, Management and Accounting(all)
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Strategy and Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation

Cite this