CULTURAL ORIENTATION AFFECTS CONSUMER RESPONSES TO CHARITY ADVERTISING YOOJUNG KIM Konkuk University I examined the different effects that source cues (in-group vs. out-group membership) and message approaches (rational vs. emotional appeals) have on the attitudes of consumers with individualistic and collectivistic cultural orientations toward charity advertising and donation intention. Participants (105 and 99 college students from Korea and the US, respectively) viewed a charity donation appeal advertisement, then rated their attitude toward the advertisement and donation intention. Results showed that compared with the individualistic U.S. students, collectivistic Korean students had a more positive attitude toward the advertisement and a higher donation intention when the in-group source cue and emotional message approach were used. In contrast, rational message appeals were more effective for U.S. students, and no significant differences were observed among this group regarding the in-group and out-group source cue types. My findings implied that charity advertising campaigners may need to use different approaches in terms of group membership and message approaches depending on cultural orientation, thereby motivating people to have a positive attitude toward charity advertising and donation intention. Keywords: charity advertising, consumer response, cultural orientation, individualism, collectivism, source cue, group membership, message appeal. Understanding and incorporating cultural differences is considered to be a prerequisite for successful international advertising (Lin, 2001). Consumers with a particular cultural orientation become accustomed to its value systems, beliefs, and perception processes; consequently, advertising messages are typically evaluated more positively if they are congruent with respondents’ cultural values than if they are incongruent (Sobh, Singh, Chun, & Benmamoun, 2015). SOCIAL BEHAVIOR AND PERSONALITY, 2016, 44(7), 1079–1088 © 2016 Scientific Journal Publishers Limited. All Rights Reserved. http://dx.doi.org/10.2224/sbp.2016.44.7.1079 1079 Yoojung Kim, Department of Media and Communication, Konkuk University. Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Yoojung Kim, Department of Media and Communication, Konkuk University, 120 Neungdong-ro, Gwangjin-gu, Seoul 143-701, Republic of Korea. Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 1080 CULTURAL ORIENTATION AND CHARITY ADVERTISING This localization of advertisements for different cultural orientations seems to apply to the nonprofit world as well. Like for-profit organizations, nonprofit organizations initiate advertising campaigns and considerable differences have been observed between countries in terms of the content and format of the advertisements (Laufer, Silvera, McBride, & Schertzer, 2010). Whereas a number of researchers have examined the cultural differences between masculine and feminine cultures in terms of charity advertising effectiveness (Nelson, Brunel, Supphellen, & Manchanda, 2006), there are few studies on the effects of individualistic and collectivistic cultural orientations on charity adverting. Given that individualism–collectivism is perhaps the most central dimension of cultural variability that has been identified in cross-cultural research (Oyserman, Coon, & Kemmelmeier, 2002), I found this dearth to be surprising. The main difference between individualistic and collectivistic cultural orientations is that collectivists tend to be other-focused and concerned with maintaining connectedness, whereas individualists tend to be self-focused and concerned with separating the self from others (Oyserman et al., 2002). The characteristics of collectivism seem to suggest that charity advertising might be more effective in this cultural orientation because charities aim to help others. However, this conjecture might be too simplistic in a broader behavioral context, especially when the role of group membership is considered. In cross-cultural research regarding cooperation and helping behavior, scholars have suggested that the work performance of collectivists is better for in-group than out-group tasks, and that altruism is evoked only for in-group members of collectivist cultures (Conway, Ryder, Tweed, & Sokol, 2002; Koch & Koch, 2007). This suggests that it is appropriate to investigate the differences between individualistic and collectivistic cultural orientations by focusing on in-group and out-group relationships with respect to charity advertising effectiveness. Another potentially important dimension of charity advertising is the role of the message appeal as an execution tactic. Previous researchers have suggested that cultural values should be at the core of advertising messages, and that persuasive advertisements endorse and reinforce these cultural values (Choi, Hwang, & McMillan, 2008). Thus, different cultural orientations seem to emphasize different advertising content, themes, and appeals. For example, advertisements in countries with a collectivistic cultural orientation, such as Japan, typically contain more emotional and less informative appeals than do those shown in countries with an individualistic cultural orientation, like the US (Kalliny, 2010), suggesting that charity advertisers need to use different approaches to effectively communicate their donation-soliciting message across cultural orientations. In this regard, I examined the effectiveness of charity advertising across cultural orientations by focusing on group membership orientation and the message appeal. CULTURAL ORIENTATION AND CHARITY ADVERTISING 1081 Conceptual Framework and Hypotheses Development Cultural Orientation: Individualism and Collectivism Cultural orientation is defined as individuals’ shared perceptions of their social environments, and it reflects stable traits that result in almost-automatic processing when the members of a culture discern what behaviors or principles are desirable (Hofstede, 1984). Therefore, different cultural orientations convey different values, attitudes, and behaviors (Hofstede, 2001). One of the most frequently used cultural dichotomies is individualism–collectivism, which is defined as the degree to which the member identities of a particular culture are shaped by either personal choices or by the group to which they belong (Hofstede, 1980). Individualism is the tendency to hold an independent view of the self that emphasizes separateness, internal attributes, and the uniqueness of individuals, whereas collectivism is the tendency to hold an interdependent view of the self that emphasizes connectedness, social context, and relationships (Singelis, 1994; Triandis, 1989). Originating from Hofstede’s work (1980), the concept of individualism–collectivism illustrates different values that are appreciated across cultures, with individualism valued more in the West (e.g., the United States, Canada) and collectivism valued more in Eastern cultures (e.g., Japan, Korea). The effect of group membership on individuals’ behaviors has been proposed as one of the most important distinctions between individualistic and collectivistic cultural orientations (Koch & Koch, 2007). Group membership plays a more significant role in individuals’ behaviors among collectivistic than individualistic cultures (Hofstede, 1980). Members of collectivistic cultures tend to be more concerned about the consequences of their own behavior on in-group members, and to be more willing to sacrifice personal interests for the attainment of in-group interests (Hofstede, 1980). In particular, collectivism is target-specific—that is, it is focused on the collectivist with whom question (Hui & Triandis, 1985). For example, a person can be a collectivist to some in-group members and an individualist to all others (i.e., out-group members). This group orientation seems to suggest that those with a collectivistic cultural orientation pay more attention to other in-group members than to out-group members. It is, therefore, especially important to consider the role of group membership in order to understand both individualism and collectivism. Activating Cultural Values Through Source Cues A dynamic view of cultural orientation suggests that an individual’s cultural values regarding thoughts and actions may depend on which knowledge structures are accessible in the memory at the time (Hong, Benet-Martinez, Chiu, & Morris, 2003). The accessibility of latent values can vary in the human memory; therefore, it is possible that they are spontaneously activated and 1082 CULTURAL ORIENTATION AND CHARITY ADVERTISING applied in given situations (see Hong et al., 2003). Researchers have found that including source cues in advertisements can activate cultural values or identity (Brumbaugh, 2002; Whittler & Spira, 2002). The visually salient physical traits of the members of a group (skin color, hairstyle, facial structure, etc.) are among the source cues that nearly always co-occur with memory traces of experiences with and about the cultural group (Brumbaugh, 2002). When activated cultural values are self-relevant, assimilation effects may occur in line with sociocultural expectations. However, if activated values are not self-relevant or are in opposition to one’s values, then contrast effects may occur (Morimoto, 2012; Nelson et al., 2006). In the context of helping behavior, people with a collectivistic cultural orientation may help an in-group member out of obligation, but would not feel obligated to help an out-group member, even if he or she belonged to that same culture (Nelson et al., 2006). In contrast, people with an individualistic cultural orientation have relatively weaker boundaries of group membership, whereby personal goals are typically valued over the goals of in-groups. As such, individualistic behaviors are usually based on individual attitudes rather than in-group norms. Accordingly, an individualist may be more likely to help out-group members than a collectivist is. Thus, using an in-group source cue in charity advertising that is targeted at people with an individualistic cultural orientation might not activate the same values or sense of obligation that are activated for those with a collectivistic cultural orientation. Hypothesis 1: People with a collectivistic, compared to individualistic, cultural orientation will have more positive attitudes toward charity advertising, and be more likely to donate to the charity when the charity advertisement shows an in-group versus out-group source cue. Persuasion Effects and Message Appeals The approach for soliciting donations in a charity-advertising context is a further consideration for message design. Traditionally, the creators of advertising seem to take either a soft-sell or hard-sell approach (Okazaki, Mueller, & Taylor, 2010). Practitioners of the soft-sell approach typically create advertisements that appeal to viewers’ emotions, and try to build affective or subjective impressions of a product’s intangible aspects (Okazaki et al., 2010). In contrast, practitioners of the hard-sell approach to advertising focus on claims about the practical, functional, or utilitarian value of the product itself (Okazaki et al., 2010). For information-oriented or rational advertisements, it is the “matter, not manner” that counts (Fox, 1984, p. 324). These different message approaches might be critical for increasing the effectiveness of advertising in different cultures because they activate different cultural values in viewers’ memory (Brumbaugh, 2002). Previous cross-cultural CULTURAL ORIENTATION AND CHARITY ADVERTISING 1083 researchers have applied the concept of high- versus low-context communication methods to advertising. In general, advertising in low-context (i.e., individualistic) cultural orientations is often information-oriented, and typically employs direct rhetorical styles, confrontational appeals, and hard-sell approaches (Cutler & Javalgi, 1992; Lin, 1993). Conversely, advertising in high-context (i.e., collectivistic) cultural orientations tends to be more emotional and symbolic, involving more frequent use of soft-sell approaches and indirect verbal expressions (Cutler & Javalgi, 1992; Lin, 1993). Considering such different message appeals and their implications for advertising effectiveness, I expected that people with an individualistic (low-context communication) cultural orientation would show more favorable attitudes toward rational compared to emotional appeals, whereas those with a collectivistic (high-context communication) cultural orientation would favor emotional over rational message appeals. Hypothesis 2: People with a collectivistic, compared to individualistic, cultural orientation will have a more positive attitude toward charity advertising, and be more likely to donate to a charity presenting emotional, rather than rational, appeals. Method Study Design and Participants I used 2 (cultural orientation: individualistic vs. collectivistic) × 2 (source cue: in-group vs. out-group) and 2 (cultural orientation: individualistic vs. collectivistic) × 2 (message appeal type: rational vs. emotional) between-subjects analyses of variance (ANOVA) to test the hypotheses. Hofstede (2001) reported that the United States, with a score of 91 on a 100-point scale, was the most individualistic among the 53 countries that were analyzed, whereas Korea was highly collectivistic, with a score of 18. Therefore, college students from large universities in Korea (N = 105; 68 men and 37 women; Mage = 23 years; SD = 1.81) and the US (N = 99; 21 men and 78 women; Mage = 26 years; SD = 2.33) were selected to represent collectivistic and individualistic cultural orientations, respectively. They participated in an online experiment in exchange for course credit. Because Korea is a homogeneous nation, I selected only Caucasian participants from the US. Procedure Four versions of a print advertisement containing different source cues and message appeals were created as stimuli. For the source cue, Caucasian and Korean children were used as in-group source cues for the U.S. and Korean participants, and Hispanic children were used for the out-group source cue. 1084 CULTURAL ORIENTATION AND CHARITY ADVERTISING The message appeals asked respondents to donate money to the International Children’s Aid Fund. Advertisements with rational appeals contained the copy, “Save the children. Over 49 million American children struggle with hunger. Every dollar you give can help provide seven meals for these hungry children. Don’t you want to help in the fight against hunger?” Advertisements with emotional appeals included the copy, “Save the children. Just look into the eyes of these children. They are suffering from malnutrition and disease. But they don’t have to fight it alone. Don’t you want to help them smile again?” For the Korean version, the copy and questionnaires were translated from English into Korean and then back-translated by two bilinguals. Measures Attitudes toward the advertisement ( = .91) were measured using six 7-point semantic differential scales (e.g., good–bad, pleasant–unpleasant) that were developed by Nelson et al. (2006). Three items were used to assess intention to donate to the charity ( = .96), with responses made on 7-point Likert scales (e.g., “I am willing to donate my money to the charity”), which were used by Kim and Lee (2014). Results Although gender was included as a covariate, there was no significant variance according to gender in attitude toward the advertisement or donation intention. Thus, no further analysis of gender was conducted. As predicted in Hypothesis 1, a two-way ANOVA yielded a significant interaction effect between cultural orientation and source cue on both attitudes toward the advertisement, F(1, 200) = 25.57, p < .001, and donation intention, F(1, 200) = 14.71, p < .001 (see Figure 1). Participants with a collectivistic cultural orientation had a more positive attitude toward the advertisement with an in-group (M = 5.01) compared to out-group (M = 3.62) source cue, whereas participants with an individualistic cultural orientation had similar attitudes toward advertisements with in-group (M = 4.04) and out-group (M = 4.09) source cues. In addition, collectivists had a higher donation intention for the in-group (M = 4.53) than the out-group (M = 2.99) source cue advertisement, whereas individualists had a similar donation intention for both in-group (M = 2.69) and out-group (M = 2.24) source cue advertisements. In support of Hypothesis 2, a two-way ANOVA revealed a significant interaction effect between cultural orientation and message appeal on both attitudes toward the advertisement, F(1, 200) = 38.47, p < .001, and donation intention, F(1, 200) = 67.20, p < .001 (see Figure 2). Participants with a collectivistic cultural orientation had more positive attitudes toward the advertisement when it had CULTURAL ORIENTATION AND CHARITY ADVERTISING 1085 an emotional (M = 4.89), rather than informational (M = 3.67), appeal, whereas those with an individualistic cultural orientation had more positive attitudes toward advertisements with an informational (M = 4.36), rather than emotional (M = 3.81), appeal. Furthermore, participants with a collectivistic cultural orientation showed a greater donation intention in response to an emotional (M = 4.33), compared to informational (M = 3.02), appeal, whereas participants with an individualistic cultural orientation had a greater intention to donate after viewing the advertisement with an informational (M = 1.95), rather than emotional (M = 3.04), appeal. Figure 1. Interaction effects of cultural orientation and source cue on attitude toward advertising. Figure 2. Interaction effects of cultural orientation and message appeal on attitude toward advertising. 5.00 4.75 4.50 4.25 4.00 3.75 Attitude toward advertising Cultural orientation Individualistic Collectivistic Source cue type out-group in-group 5.00 4.75 4.50 4.25 4.00 3.75 Attitude toward advertising Cultural orientation Individualistic Collectivistic Message appeal type informational emotional 1086 CULTURAL ORIENTATION AND CHARITY ADVERTISING Discussion My purpose in this study was to examine how both source cue and message approach affect responses to charity advertising among consumers with individualistic and collectivistic cultural orientations. As expected, the results showed that people with a collectivistic, compared to individualistic, cultural orientation had a more positive attitude toward charity advertising and were more likely to donate to a charity that used an advertisement with an in-group source cue and emotional appeals. This suggests that group membership plays a more important role in a collectivistic, compared to individualistic, cultural orientation in the context of charity advertising. In addition, emotional message appeals work better for collectivists, whereas rational message appeals are more effective for individualists. I have contributed to the rich body of individualism–collectivism research by focusing on the role of group membership, which has been relatively neglected in the existing literature in the context of charity advertising. The cultural notion of individualism has often been associated with the pursuit of one’s self-interest rather than group interest (Kemmelmeier, Jambor, & Letner, 2006). Because donations benefit and support the greater public, some researchers have found that individualist members are less cooperative and averse to prosocial action (Allik & Realo, 2004). However, my findings demonstrate that people with a collectivist cultural orientation have more firmly drawn in-group and out-group boundaries, and thus collectivists are less likely to help out-group members. In addition, I am one of the first researchers to link individualism–collectivism to charity advertising effectiveness in an international context. Few researchers have examined charity advertising effectiveness in a global setting, and they examined charity advertising in different contexts, such as the masculinity-femininity dimension in Denmark and the US (Nelson et al. 2006) and the individualismcollectivism dimension in Mexico and the US (Laufer et al., 2010). Another contribution of the current study is to further support the notion that advertising with emotional message appeals is preferred in a collectivistic cultural context, whereas advertising with rational messages is favored by people with an individualistic cultural orientation. Thus, my results show cultural differences in charity advertising message by indicating that the message compatible with the cultural orientation of individualism–collectivism is more effective than an incompatible message. This research also has important implications for charity fundraisers in terms of ways to obtain donations. When creating charity advertising, using an in-group source cue and emotional appeals will be more beneficial for targeting people with a collectivistic, rather than individualistic, cultural orientation. With numerous charities competing for donations, fundraising is a critical issue CULTURAL ORIENTATION AND CHARITY ADVERTISING 1087 for international charities that solicit contributions in multiple countries. Thus, investing time and money to tailor the advertising message appeals to the cultural context should result in increased levels of donations in a global setting (Laufer et al., 2010). There are several limitations to this study that provide an agenda for future research. The generalizability of my findings is somewhat limited because the sample was composed of students. Therefore, a sample drawn from the general population should be employed in future studies. I compared only two countries, one with an individualistic and one with a collectivistic cultural orientation; thus, more countries should be included in future studies to cross-validate the findings. At a more fundamental level, consumer perceptions of charities or donations in general may vary across cultural orientations; therefore, gauging general attitudes toward charity organizations and donation behavior across cultural orientations would provide deeper insight. Last, further research is needed to investigate within-cultural-orientation differences in a charity-advertising and donation context between individualism and collectivism. 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