This study examines the development of materialistic values from a historical generation perspective. On a macro level, we examine critical societal events such as the Cultural Revolution and the globalization that may affect the materialistic values embraced by parents and adolescents in China. On a micro level, we delineate the impacts of financial resources and media exposure on individuals’ materialism. Based on the historical generation theory, we hypothesize differing levels of materialism, and differential mechanisms of materialistic development for the two generations. The hypotheses are tested on the survey data of 2,860 adolescents (age 15‐19) and 11,920 adults (age 40‐49, the parent generation). The results show that adolescents are more materialistic than the parent generation in terms of acquisition centrality, novelty‐seeking, and susceptibility to social influence. The results also show that media exposure exerts a strong influence on adolescents’ materialism while income does not register any significant effects. The effects are sharply reversed for the parent generation, with income as the key determinant and media exposure having no impact. The article closes with managerial and research implications.
Journal of Asia Business Studies – Emerald Publishing
Published: May 21, 2009
Keywords: Materialism; China marketing; Adolescents; Generation; Media effects