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HomeScienceA study reveals that consumer preferences are significantly influenced by historical memories.

A study reveals that consumer preferences are significantly influenced by historical memories.


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Zachary Chung had heard his grandparents’ stories of the 1944 Japanese invasion of neighboring provinces in his native China. As the Japanese army continued to advance, civilians were killed and wounded, while others fled the path of the invaders, some taking shelter in his family’s ancestral home.

Those events are deeply embedded in the memories of the local population. Curious about the impact of a reignited territorial dispute between Japan and China in 2012, Zhong, now an assistant professor of marketing at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, looked at what happened to car sales in Guangxi province around the region. the same time. Guangxi experienced the highest rate of civilian casualties of any Chinese province during the war.

“Through generations, these historical memories are passed on to today’s consumers,” said Professor Chung.

The work was published in Marketing Science.

The invaded provinces saw a 6.8% drop in sales of Japanese cars and a 5.3% increase in Chinese cars after the height of the conflict in 2012, compared to the non-invaded Guangxi provinces. These effects were strongest for larger and more expensive cars and in counties with a greater percentage of people born before 1936. The effect was not short-lived, lasting more than two years.

Professor Chung and co-investigator Nan Chen of the National University of Singapore looked at vehicle registration data in China for the top 100 best-selling car models as well as provincial archival data on casualties and casualties by province during the Imperial Japanese Army’s “Operation Ichi-Go.” between late September 1944 and early January 1945, the Imperial Japanese Army occupied about two-thirds of the Guangxi region.

Sino-Japanese relations normalized in 1972. However, a long-running dispute remained over the sovereignty of a group of islands in the East China Sea. The conflict broke out in August and September 2012 after the Japanese government nationalized the main islands and there were large protests in several Chinese cities.

The effects of car buying were seen despite the fact that Japanese cars were produced in China through Sino-Japanese joint ventures. However, models with less well-known Japanese names did not suffer as much.

Meanwhile, sales of the independent domestic brand created through a Japanese joint venture were not affected by the “history effect,” providing clues as to how foreign brands can mitigate the effects of past conflicts on consumer behavior.

“Start a local brand,” Professor Zhong said. “You can benefit from the local association.”

Foreign companies can also try to downplay the association of their products with their country of origin.

But in the current era of geopolitical tensions and protectionism, perhaps the best way to avoid the business hangovers of history is: “Our paper shows that you should not invade other countries,” said Professor Chung. “If you do that, people will have a long grudge.”

more information:
Nan Chen et al., Influences of History and Country of Origin, Marketing Science (2023). DOI: 10.1287/mksc.2023.1440

Provided by the University of Toronto

the quoteStudy (2023, May 18) Historical Memories Have Long Lasting Effect on Consumer Preferences, Retrieved May 18, 2023 from https://phys.org/news/2023-05-historical-memories-consumer.html

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