Towards a framework for understanding ethnic consumers’ acculturation strategies in a multicultural environment: A food consumption perspective

Bidit Lal Dey*, Sharifah Alwi, Fred Yamoah, Stephanie Agyepongmaa Agyepong, Hatice Kizgin, Meera Sarma

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)
27 Downloads (Pure)


Purpose: While it is essential to further research the growing diversity in western metropolitan cities, little is currently known about how the members of various ethnic communities acculturate to multicultural societies. The purpose of this paper is to explore immigrants’ cosmopolitanism and acculturation strategies through an analysis of the food consumption behaviour of ethnic consumers in multicultural London. Design/methodology/approach: The study was set within the socio-cultural context of London. A number of qualitative methods such as in-depth interviews, observation and photographs were used to assess consumers’ acculturation strategies in a multicultural environment and how that is influenced by consumer cosmopolitanism. Findings: Ethnic consumers’ food consumption behaviour reflects their acculturation strategies, which can be classified into four groups: rebellion, rarefaction, resonance and refrainment. This classification demonstrates ethnic consumers’ multi-directional acculturation strategies, which are also determined by their level of cosmopolitanism. Research limitations/implications: The taxonomy presented in this paper advances current acculturation scholarship by suggesting a multi-directional model for acculturation strategies as opposed to the existing uni-directional and bi-directional perspectives and explicates the role of consumer cosmopolitanism in consumer acculturation. The paper did not engage host communities and there is hence a need for future research on how and to what extent host communities are acculturated to the multicultural environment. Practical implications: The findings have direct implications for the choice of standardisation vs adaptation as a marketing strategy within multicultural cities. Whilst the rebellion group are more likely to respond to standardisation, increasing adaptation of goods and service can ideally target members of the resistance and resonance groups and more fusion products should be exclusively earmarked for the resonance group. Originality/value: The paper makes original contribution by introducing a multi-directional perspective to acculturation by delineating four-group taxonomy (rebellion, rarefaction, resonance and refrainment). This paper also presents a dynamic model that captures how consumer cosmopolitanism impinges upon the process and outcome of multi-directional acculturation strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)771-804
Number of pages34
JournalInternational marketing review
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 15 Aug 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Acculturation
  • Consumer cosmopolitanism
  • Cultural hybridity
  • Food consumption
  • Multicultural London


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