Brand Meaning Rigidity in China

Giana M. Eckhardt, Anders Bengtsson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Brands are prominent symbols in contemporary Chinese culture. Furthermore, in China, brand meanings are created at the social rather than the individual level. These socially constructed meanings result in brand meaning rigidity. That is, brands tend to have a widespread, societally agreed upon meaning, which is broadly stable across China. Consumers desire congruity between the brand, the person, and the social context, and thus we do not see individual or inconsistent cultural brand meanings. That is, rather than conflict and contested meanings, shared and stable brand meanings arise. These meanings become codified within social circles, and then within society at large. We chronicle how this meaning rigidity, or stability, across society allows brands to play an anchoring role for Chinese consumer identities in flux. This results in brand meanings that are highly structured but limited as to where they can be taken by brand managers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)218-228
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Macromarketing
Issue number2
Early online date23 Jan 2015
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2015

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