Department of Management

A comparative analysis of the influence of economic culture on East and West German consumers' subjective product meaning

Research output: Working paperResearch


  • Wp14

    Final published version, 113 KB, PDF document

  • Department of Marketing and Statistics
  • MAPP - Centre for Research on Customer Relations in the Food Sector
Executive summary: 1. Consumers in central planning economies have developed different skills from consumers in market economies: while the former have developed skills in locating products, the latter have developed skills in comparing and deciding between products. Even now, some of these differences probably remain. 2. In the food area, the former East Germany was characterized by a range of products that was quantitatively sufficient, but offered little variety and had low to medium quality. Products were sold at uniform prices in the whole country. Now, the variety and quality range of products is the same as in the West, and there are considerable price differences. 3. Differences between East and West German consumers were analysed by comparing samples of consumers in Kiel and Rostock. It was analysed how they perceive food products (frozen ready meals and cheese), and how they relate them to values (means-end approach). 4. While product perceptions are more focussed in the West and more fuzzy in the East, the basic perceptual dimensions are the same: they are based on concrete product attributes. 5. An analysis of the fundamental life values of East and West German consumers (using the Schwartz value inventory) showed that the East German sample scored higher on collectivistic values and the West German sample scored higher on individualistic values. 6. An analysis of how consumers link concrete product attributes (for frozen ready meals and for cheese) to fundamental life values showed that (1) there are slight differences in values, (2) West German respondents did get to the value level more quickly, (3) West German respondents started with more abstract attributes. 7. These differences indicate that East German consumers are, compared to West German consumers, at a lower level of habitualization of their shopping behaviour. While the purchase of food products in West Germany is to a large extent characterized by low involvement and inertia, the same purc in East Germany seem to be characterized by high involvement and real decision-making. 8. These differences have implications for appropriate marketing communication. The West German food consumer will generally be difficult to influence, because s/he is not highly interested in the product, and communication therefore requires media and messages that attract attention, are based on peripheral (eg emotional) cues, and are highly repetitive. East German food consumers will be interested in the p and in information about the product, and communication should therefore be more informative, based on functional product attributes.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages31
Publication statusPublished - 1993

    Research areas

  • HHÅ forskning, MAPP

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ID: 32299614