Evaluations of Bilingual Product Descriptions on Boxes

Gopinath, Mahesh; Glassman, Myron
January 2008
Advances in Consumer Research;2008, Vol. 35, p673
Academic Journal
The desire to make English the official language of the U.S. seems to have grown from concerns about immigration. On one side of the argument are those who see America as a "melting pot." They argue that one must speak English to be a "Good American." Opponents of making America an English-only country feel that America is not a melting pot, but a "stew" where hyphenated Americans of diverse backgrounds can live together in harmony. Perhaps one reason for this debate is that more and more marketers are targeting the Hispanic market and are using Spanish to reach them. This desire to reach Hispanics is not surprising since the Hispanic market represents over $600 billion in buying power. This paper asks three questions. First, do typical consumers, i.e., consumers who speak only English, respond differently to bilingual versus English-only packaging? Second, do prejudice and ethnocentrism (Shimp & Sharma, 1987) affect the typical consumer's responses to bilingual packaging? Finally, does the type of information processing task, i.e., central or peripheral information processing, affect the typical consumer's responses to products in bilingual packaging? Prejudice: According to Crandall, Eshelman, and O'Brien (2002), prejudice is a negative evaluation of a group or individual on the basis of group membership. We investigate prejudice as one variable that explains the difference in evaluations of products in English-only versus bilingual packages by typical consumers. Ethnocentrism: Ethnocentrism is anchored in the belief that one's own group (the in-group) is superior to other groups (outgroups) (Adorno et al., 1950). We argue that typical consumers who are highly ethnocentric will form negative beliefs about a product based on the presence of Spanish on the package. In turn, these negative beliefs will result in lower product evaluations. Information Processing: The Elaboration Likelihood Model (ELM) (Petty & Cacioppo, 1986) distinguishes between two routes to persuasion: the central route and the peripheral route. The basic premise of this study is that a product in a package with an Englishonly product description will be evaluated more favorably than the same product in a package with a bilingual product description.


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