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Can consumer ethnocentrism assist the competitiveness of Jordanian local olive oil? A fuzzy logic based analysis study.

INTRODUCTION

Overall, in a globalized competitive world satisfying consumers is a must practice for all companies and organizations (Ali, 2011). Exploring local and international consumers' culture is important for national and international firms to survive in a globalized competitive context, and, thus, marketers must consider the diversity of factors that influence culture in local and foreign markets (Omar & Porter, 2011, p.386). Most local and international organizations have faced major changes in their environments. These changes are branded by a highly competitive business environment and the saturation of domestic markets particularly in developed countries and the emergence of new communication tools (Keegan & Green, 2011). Complexity and diversity of consumers' behaviours across countries that result from cultural dissimilarities have made it a key challenge to international companies (Pan, 2004).

BACKGROUND

In a very early work Sumner (1906) defined ethnocentrism as scaling and rating issues and things based on one's own group culture and perspective and all other groups are scaled and rated with reference to it. Similarly, Adorno et al. (1950, p. 104) indicated that ethnocentrism is an ideological system pertaining to groups and group relations that entails blind attachment to a specific culture and its values connected to a rejection of other people and their cultures. Building on the concept of ethnocentrism, the concept of consumer ethnocentrism was developed by Shimp and Sharma in 1987 based on the sociological and psychological perspectives of ethnocentrism. According to Shimp and Sharma (1987), consumer ethnocentrism gives individuals a sense of identity and feelings of belongings to the in-group, which will be reflected on their marketing perspective. The consumer ethnocentrism concept could clarify why some consumers have positive attitudes towards purchasing domestic products and negative attitudes towards purchasing foreign products. A review of the marketing literature highlighted the magnitude of results from and concerns of examining ethnocentrism among young consumers. Consumer ethnocentrism implies that purchasing foreign products is wrong, since it has serious consequences on the domestic economy and causes unemployment (Durvasula et al., 1997; Yu & Albaum, 2002; Orth & Firbasova, 2003; Guneren & Ozturn, 2008; Cleveland et al., 2009). Earlier, Herche (1992) found a significant correlation between consumer ethnocentrism and ownership of domestic and foreign products. Shimp and Sharma (1987) developed a consumer ethnocentrism scale (CESCALE) to measure ethnocentric tendencies of consumers towards purchasing domestic products. The CETSCALE measures the extent to which consumers feel that purchasing foreign products is wrong as it is unpatriotic, immoral and it hurts national economy. The CETSCALE is a multi-item scale that reflects a tendency to prefer home country products more than those of foreign origin (Nielsen & Spence, 1997). The scale was developed based on socio-psychological literature on ethnocentrism, authoritarianism, nationalism and marketing literature dealing with group influences on product assessment (Bruning, 1997). The CETSCALE is the predominantly used scale in marketing research to measure consumers' ethnocentric tendencies and it has been used by the vast majority of consumer ethnocentrism studies (i.e Javalgi et al., 2005; Klein et al., 2006; Evanschitzky et al., 2008; Cleveland et al., 2009; Wang et al., 2010). However, the scale can be criticized as it does not classify consumers as ethnocentric or non-ethnocentric, however, all consumers based on the CETSCALE are ethnocentric and their ethnocentrism level ranges from 10 to 50 in a 10-item 5-point Likert scale CETSCALE and from 17 to 119 in a 17-item Likert scale CETSCALE.

Generally, there is a dearth of studies which examine the influence of socio-psychological variables on consumer ethnocentric tendencies. This study extends previous research concerning consumer ethnocentrism by examining the influence of socio-psychological variables, namely nationalism, patriotism and internationalism, on Jordanians' ethnocentric tendencies towards purchasing national olive oil. Overall, consumers prefer national products in countries where there is strong patriotism and nationalism and low internationalism (Lee et al., 2003; Phau & Chan, 2003; Ahmed & d'Astous, 2004). Alternatively, internationally oriented customers are more likely to be low-ethnocentric consumers and to evaluate foreign products positively (Nijssen & Douglas, 2003). Earlier, Kosterman and Feshbash (1989) showed that one could identify three distinct and interpretable factors, patriotism (feelings of attachment to 'America'), nationalism (the view that 'America' is superior and should be dominant) and internationalism (attitude towards other nations). There is a clear difference between patriotism and nationalism; patriotism is the level of love for a person's country, while nationalism focuses on the perception of national superiority (Lee et al., 2003). Nationalism is commitment plus exclusion of others, a readiness to sacrifice bolstered by hostility towards others (Druckman, 1994, p. 47-48). Nationalism is a national attitude and an ultimate people's loyalty towards a nation-state, having significant effects on attitudes and consumers' purchase intentions (Rawwas et al., 1996; Dekker, 2003). It is not an ideology; however, it is a territorial and cultural identity of a particular country and offers a form of representation and connection to the state and its culture (Friedland, 2001). Lee et al. (2003) argued that "Nationalism focuses on the perception of national superiority and an orientation towards nationals' dominance, implying (America's) rightness and downward comparisons to other nations" (p.492).

"Patriotism is devotion to the local group to which one belongs by birth or the other group bond and a kind of fellowship and cooperation in all hopes and suffering of the group" (Sumner, 1906). "Patriotism is derived from the Greek word (noraip 'father') and means a brotherhood and union through faithfulness and love of one father" (Morray, 1959, p.5). Morray (1959, p.173-174) stated that: "the most realistic hope of mankind lies in the civilisation of a prevailing patriotism.... , love of country is the desire for her good." For example, the history of a country is a central element of how that country perceives itself and other countries (Cateora et al., 2009). And thus, such an important issue should be taken into consideration while developing company's marketing activities and while making branding decisions. Moreover, it is important to specify that heritage contains cultural elements such as language, religion, customs and traditions along with national elements such as the country's flag, national monuments, and national natural resources (Maldonado et al., 2008). In addition, religions have many clear implications in people's daily life consumption (Varul, 2008). Hence, exploring the influence of religious beliefs on consumer behavior is very useful for global marketers (Pepper et al., 2011).

Internationalism represents emotional support for international sharing and welfare and helping and understanding individuals from other ethnic groups (Lee et al., 2003). It is a state of mind use humankind as reference group (Shankarmahesh, 2006).

Generally, it is important to examine the influence of socio- psychological antecedents such as nationalism, patriotism and internationalism on consumer ethnocentrism. That should help managers to better segment their consumers and to conduct their marketing activities more effectively. Dissimilarities between consumers in different countries still exist due to diversities in culture. The concept of consumer ethnocentrism can help global marketers and mangers differentiate markets and strategies and to position their products in domestic and global markets. Overall, it is dangerous for domestic and global marketers to suppose that consumers all around the world are similar. Nevertheless, they need to know more about consumers and their attitudes all around the world. Overall, international marketers should be certain that their strategies do not help to convert patriotism and nationalism into consumer ethnocentrism. Thus, researchers need to investigate the influence of nationalism, patriotism and internationalism on consumer ethnocentric tendencies.

Food preparation and eating habits can be of the means of understanding culture; however, the study of eating and drinking behavior has not attracted as much attention from consumer behavior researchers, especially in the cross-cultural arena (Roberts & Micken, 1996). Olive oil is preferred by the majority of consumers worldwide and it is used by a wide range of them in cooking. Exploring consumers' behavior towards olive oil consumption is important due to the growing consumption of olive oil all around the world for health concerns (Ga'zquez-Abad & Sanchez-Perez, 2009). Jordan is the world's eighth largest producer of olive oil, with 17 million olive trees producing 170 000 tons of olive oil which yield around 24 tons of oil every year and generate a yearly income of JD100 million, with an average export worth JD20 million per year (JDOS, 2010). As cheese can be considered as a part of the French national identity (Roberts & Micken, 1996), Jordanians consider their olive oil a mean component of their identity. Hence, it is important to study the behavior of Jordanian consumers regarding their local olive oil.

METHODOLOGY

To examine the influence of socio-psychological variables namely, nationalism, patriotism and internationalism on Jordanians' ethnocentric tendencies towards purchasing their domestic olive oil, a survey was conducting during the spring of 2012. Data was collected from a total number of 196 Jordanians who live in Amman city, the capital of Jordan. The subjects were asked to answer a modified 10-item 5-point Likert format of CETSCALE scale. The subjects were asked to answer a 10-item CETSCALE Jordanian/olive oil version. Moreover, they were asked to answer a Jordan version of 4-item patriotism, 5-item nationalism and 4-item internationalism scales developed by Kosterman and Feshbach (1989) and designed as a five point scale. The Cronbach's alpha measure of internal consistency was carried out to assess the overall reliability of the used scales. All used scales have been found reliable as Cronbach's alpha values have exceeded 0.60 for the four scales. Questionnaires were given to a random sample of 100 undergraduate and postgraduate business students who are studying at Al Zaytoonah University of Jordan. Each student was given 4 copies of the survey and was asked to let his/her family members and mates fill the surveys. Out of a total 400 distributed surveys, 235 were returned and 196 of them were usable. It is important to indicate that business research in most of Arab countries has been influenced negatively by the lack of ready sampling frames. In addition, it is very hard to reach female subjects in many parts of Jordan and most Arab countries.

DATA ANALYSIS

Overall, fuzzy logic has been used to analyze data in the current study. Traditional statistical techniques such as regression is the common tool which most business researchers do utilize to analyze their data and to examine the strength and the direction of relationships between the variables of their studies. The highly competitive business environment and the increase risk of direct increase in strategic choices of the businesses have motivated many researchers to focus on business intelligence (Papatya & Papatya, 2011). Business intelligence refers to different software solutions such as technologies and methodologies which are help managers and marketers to obtain the needed information to improve the decision-making process (Wang & Wang, 2008). It is important to indicate that business intelligence helps researchers and organizations to identify the sources and outcomes of certain occurrences which aid the companies to make better predictions, calculations and analyses. More specifically, business intelligence is related to a variety of analytical software which can supply companies and organizations with the needed information; however, there is a stress on the real-time information which supports reporting on every organizational level (Kursan & Mihic, 2010).

It is vital to indicate that the fuzzy approach provides not only intelligence but also allows such knowledge to be effectively captured in an enterprise-wide data warehouse (Krishna & De, 2001). Liu (2009) maintained that the fuzzy logic approach helps managers to develop a group decision making model to increase their knowledge regarding their customer preferences. Overall, researchers should work on improving data analysis techniques in a way that provides more information regarding customers' preferences. For example, for years business research data analysis has been conducting by a heavily relay on regression analysis. In this context, it is important to indicate that fuzzy logic can be very useful in giving more precise information regarding customers' preferences. Fuzzy logic can advance data analysis in business research and can help researchers to probe new insights in their data (Enache, 2010). Al Ganideh et al. (2011) argued that fuzzy logic can improve consumer behavior research by providing international marketers with more accurate insights than regression analysis can do. Fuzzy mathematics has started to change the perspectives in many management and marketing areas (Enache, 2010). Generally, analyzing business data using the fuzzy logic approach can help marketers and managers to probe new insights in their data (Al Ganideh et al., 2011). Fuzzy logic can help in developing the research of consumer behavior by giving accurate insights to local and global international marketers regarding every single customer preferences. On the other hand, traditional statistical techniques such as regression analysis can help researchers to get insights regarding the nature and the strength of the relationships between the variables.

The mechanism of a fuzzy logic system depends on in an input and output, however, there are four main components of a fuzzy system, namely, fuzzification module, inference engine, knowledge base and defuzzification. Fuzzification module transforms a crisp input to its corresponding fuzzy value. In the current study, MATLAB[R] ANFIS has been used to model the relationship between three inputs, namely, nationalism, patriotism and internationalism and one output (consumer ethnocentrism) (figure 1). The following are the specifications of the used fuzzy inference system: type: FIS = name: 'FIS' type: 'sugeno' and Method: 'prod' or Method: 'probor' defuzzMethod: 'wtaver' impMethod: 'prod' aggMethod: 'sum' input: [1x3 struct]output: [1x1 struct] rule: [1x27 struct].

[FIGURE 1 OMITTED]

[FIGURE 2 OMITTED]

It is important to know that fuzzy logic has the central criteria of describing the influence of two inputs at one time on the overall output while traditional statistical techniques have no such criteria. Figures 3(a), 3(b) and 3(c) represent three dimensional graphs that describe the effect of two inputs at a time on the ethnocentrism level for Jordanians towards local olive oil. Figure 3(a) show that consumers with high nationalism and low patriotism expressed the highest ethnocentrism level and the lowest ethnocentrism level achieved by consumers who have expressed the lowest patriotism and nationalism levels. It can be seen from figure 3(b) that consumers who score high nationalism levels and low internationalism levels expressed the highest ethnocentrism while consumers with low nationalism and high internationalism showed the lowest ethnocentric tendencies towards purchasing Jordanian olive oil. Figure 3(c) does not show clear relationships of the influence of patriotism and internationalism at a time on Jordanians' ethnocentric tendencies towards Jordanian national olive oil.

[FIGURE 3 OMITTED]

The main benefit of applying fuzzy logic is that it can help to predict an outcome based on an input. Figures 4(a), 4(b), 4(c) and 4(d) clarify such an idea by selecting 4 random customers. For example, a Jordanian consumer did score the following scores: patriotism (20), internationalism (7), and nationalism (23). The fuzzy logic system predicts that such a customer should score 38 on his/her ethnocentrism level. The real ethnocentrism scale that such customer did score by answering his/her survey CETSCALE questions was 36.

Table 1 shows the fuzzy logic system predictions for the four selected random customers and their real scores (based on their answering to the ethnocentrism section in the survey).

[FIGURE 4 OMITTED]

CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS

The results reveal that Jordanians' ethnocentric tendencies towards their national olive oil are inflamed by their nationalist feelings. The high ethnocentric tendencies Jordanians did express towards national olive oil can add to the competitiveness of the local olive oil. Overall, the used fuzzy logic to model the relationships between socio-psychological variables, namely, nationalism, patriotism and internationalism as inputs and consumer ethnocentrism as output has proved that it works well to predict Jordanian consumers' ethnocentric tendencies they express towards purchasing local olive oil. Local and international marketers who are targeting Jordanian consumers will be in a better position when they understand the important set of cultural elements that influence Jordanian consumers. This study can be considered a step towards more understanding of fuzzy logic and its applications in business and marketing studies. The current study encourages academics and researchers to go on with applying fuzzy logic methodology in business and marketing research. For example, further research should examine the ability of fuzzy logic mathematics to predict output based on input employing different marketing models.

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Saeb Farhan Al Ganideh, Al Zaytoonah University of Jordan
TABLE 1
Fuzzy Logic System

Customer    Patriotism    Internationalism   Nationalism
Number     (Real Value)     (Real Value)     (Real Value)

77              20               7                23
38              17               17               11
78              16               18               25
70              17               12               18

                                   Consumer
                                Ethnocentrism
Customer   Ethnocentrism   (predicated based on the
Number     (Real Value)      Fuzzy logic system)

77              36                   38.0
38              10                   10.7
78              50                   49.4
70              29                   31.6
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Author:Ganideh, Saeb Farhan Al
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Date:Jun 1, 2012
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