Cultural paradoxes reflected in brand meaning: McDonald's in Shanghai, China

Giana M. Eckhardt, Michael J. Houston

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

74 Scopus citations


Brands are powerful symbols that reflect not only the image with which marketers hope to imbue them but also the cultural milieu in which they are imbedded. If that milieu is in a state of flux, brands can come to represent some surprising ideas and values to which marketing efforts must be sensitive. In this research, the authors relate the nature of societal change, a common occurrence in many developing markets and especially China, to evaluation of a brand by a broad cross-section of urban Chinese consumers. Using the methodology of scenario completion, the authors reveal that the McDonald's brand is evaluated in the context of societal norms and values that are brought up in various usage situations. Brand evaluations can be inconsistent and often paradoxical depending on the context. The results suggest that marketers should be closely involved with the way their brand is interacting with cultural values in transitional markets.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)68-82
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of International Marketing
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2002


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