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Customer Perception Towards The Japanese Automobile Marketing Essay

Info: 5452 words (22 pages) Essay
Published: 1st Jan 2015 in Marketing

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2.0 Introduction

The purpose of this study is to investigate the customer perception towards Japanese automobile. This chapter reviews the relevant journals and case studies pertaining to brand name, features, consumer behavior, reliability and price, and customer purchase satisfaction. The sources of these literatures obtain from many sources such as ebscohost.com and emeraldinsight.com. Previous experimental findings relating to each construct will be explored. Next, theoretical supporting that form the basis of the current study will be provided. In the end, hypotheses and brief definition and for this study will be presented. In fact, the historical approaches allow us to create a richer mode of description and understanding (Booth, 2003)

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This chapter include the proof regarding of the factors that influencing the Malaysians in choosing Japanese automobile. As all industries trying to move forward to gain competitive advantage, it is necessary for the car manufacturers to know about the factor such as brand name, features, consumer behavior, reliability and price that playing a vital role affecting the customer’s decision-making in choosing Japanese automobiles.

The automobile industry is considered the single largest manufacturing sector in the world (Turnbull et al., 1992). More than 10 percent of the Japanese and American output and employment are derived from this industry. Its contribution to the European Union’s trade surplus amounted to ECU22 billion in 1991 (Wells and Rawlinson, 1994). The car industry might be the most outstanding and develop industry in the world with dominated by three forces which is USA, Japan and Europe (Donnely, Mellahi and Morris, 2002).

The Malaysia automobile industry can be dividing into 2 stages. The first stage was started from 1960s. At that time, most of the car was imported in Completely Built up (CBU) form (Siti Iswalah Arshad, 2009). After year 1966, many of the foreign car manufacturers is import using Completely Knock Down form (CKD), which is import the raw material and assemble in Malaysia. For example, Peugeot was assembled by Asia Automobile Industries Sdn. Bhd. and Nissan cars which assembled by Tan Chong Motors. According to Siti Iswalah Arshad (2009), the second stage is from 1984, at that time Malaysian have launch the National Car Project and have own brand of the car which is Proton. This program is joint-venture with Japan’s car manufacturer which is Mitsubishi Motors Corporation. In year 1992, the second national car was built which is Perodua. Nowadays, Malaysian automobile’s market share was dominated by this two local car.

Recvently, Malaysia is one of the biggest car market in ASEAN, accounting for one-third of sales in the region by volume (Automotive Forecast World, 2005). Malaysia exhibiting a “strong driving culture” and “one of the highest penetration rates of cars per capita in the world” (Bonami, 2005). Therefore, there are various stimulatory and protective measures, such as investment incentives, a local content policy, and tariff and non-tariff barriers were implemented to stimulate the development of both local automotive and parts production (Rosli and Kari, 2008).

The automobile plays a virtual role to Malaysian daily life (Momeni and Nazemi, 2009). According to the result from Malaysian Automotive Association (2010), the total vehicle sales in Malaysia has dropped from 605,156 units in year 2010, surpassing the previous record of 552,316 units achieved in 2005. (Thestar, 2011). The Japanese automobile, Toyota had the third highest sales volume at 91,559 units and this accounted for 15.2 per cent share of the overall industry sales. Toyota has been the leader for the non-national makes for 20 consecutive years in Malaysia and it is just a challenge behind the national carmaker Proton and Perodua. Non-national makes Honda and Nissan maintained their second and third positions within the non-national car segment. The Japanese car manufacturers which are the Toyota, Honda and Nissan also gain a large market share in Malaysia although Malaysian automobile market is still dominated by Malaysian’s national car which is Perodua and Proton.

The industry of automobile can be seen as an important sector in the world. Especially in Malaysia, this industry is to be entrusting to accomplish the vision 2020 that can let Malaysia become developed country by that time (Siti Iswalah Arshad, 2009). According to Shamini (2008), the imported of the foreign car also allows the country to earn huge taxes which is to protect the market share of the local car.

According to Mahidin and Kanageswary (2004), Malaysian local car was protected by Malaysian automotive policy which collects the import taxes for foreign cars to increase their selling price. Others than that, the local content policy set a minimum value of local parts that automobile producers have to source from local parts suppliers to be assembled in their end automobile units (Rosli, 2006). This statement will cause a big decrease on the competitiveness between the Japanese and local car in Malaysia.

Table 1.1: The top 10 total vehicle sales by make (year2010)c:usersdarkheavendesktopvehiclesales2001.jpg

Sources: Malaysian Automotive Association (2010)

According to Malaysian Automative Association (2010), it shows that the Proton and Perodua have the largest market share and sales in year 2010. The local car market share is more than 50% of total sales. Besides, Japanese car manufactures Honda and Toyota are among the top competitors for the local car in Malaysia. From the table 1, the overall sales of the Japanese cars increase rapidly from year2009 to year2010. This can consider as a threat for the Malaysian local car.

According to Ahasanul et al (2007), different customer will have a different perception when come to decision-making. Sometimes it can be related to different culture diversity. Malaysia has three major races which are Malay, Chinese and Indian (Krishnan, 2004). Their factor of consideration may be different from other country before make the purchase decision. This research is aim to examine what factors affecting Malaysian to go for Japanese cars in Malaysia automobile market.

History of Japanese automobile industry

The Japanese automotive industry is one of the most prominent industries in the world and has grown constantly over a long time and has finally surpassing U.S. auto industry as number one producer of cars in world at 2006, according to a recent survey by the International Organization of Motor Vehicle Manufacturers. (Kyodo News, 2007). Major manufacturers of cars in Japan – Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Suzuki, and Mazda are also amongst largest manufacturers of cars in world (EconomyWatch).

The Japanese automotive industry began in 1902, with limited production of small (12 horsepower) vehicles by a number of companies on a trial basis but they were unable to compete against imported cars after the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake. (http://www.roaring.jp/jp-car-technology.html). By late 1910s, Japanese zaibatsu (business conglomerates) began building their first automobiles in the middle and they were involved in joint ventures to produce and sell cars in Japan under license. (http://www.bookrags.com/wiki/Japanese_automobile_industry).

Overcoming ill effects of defeat in Second World War that had destroyed national economy, was not an easy process on part of Japanese industries. Car manufacturers belonging to Japanese auto industry were commissioned to supply army trucks to South Korea by Federal Government of U.S. during Korean War between 1950 and 1953. This was main reason behind upswing of Japanese auto industry that began in 1960s. (http://www.economywatch.com/world-industries/automobile/japanese-auto-industry.html)

During the 1960s, Japanese automakers launched a bevy of new kei cars in their domestic market. These tiny automobiles usually featured very small engines (from 360cc to 600cc) to keep taxes much lower than larger cars. The average person in Japan was now able to afford an automobile, which boosted sales dramatically and jumpstarted the auto industry toward becoming what it is today. (http://automobile-information-update.blogspot.com/2010/06/automotive-industry-in-japan.html)

Rapidly increasing domestic demand and the expansion of Japanese car companies into foreign markets in the 1970s further accelerated growth. Automobile production in Japan continued to increase rapidly after the 1970s, as Mitsubishi (as Dodge vehicles) and Honda began selling their vehicles in the US. Even more brands came to America and abroad during the 1970s, and by the 1980s, the Japanese manufacturers were gaining a major foothold in the US and world markets (http://www.roaring.jp/jp-car-technology.html).

After 1980s, the Japanese automobile industry is moving into a new era of internationalization when the US automobile began to lose its competitiveness and went into decline after the second oil crises. Compared with the late 1940s when just 20,000 units or so a year produced in Japan – mainly small and medium trucks- the output, mostly of automobiles, surpassed 13 million in 1991 for thirty year in succession, making it largest in the world. (http://books.google.com.my/books?id=6O7ZnT018z0C&printsec=frontcover&dq=japanese+automobile+industry&source=bl&ots=QeNDqiVUou&sig=YZPgsbRUC5iWSN-ngnR5dBYFJPg&hl=en&ei=ay2ATeOrGcWtrAep3KTIBw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=13&ved=0CIcBEOgBMAw#v=onepage&q&f=false)

2.1 Definition

2.1.1 Consumer’s decision-making

Consumer’s decision-making can be defined as a mental orientation characterizing a consumer’s approach for making choices (Sproles and Kendall,1986). This mean that when a consumer would like to have or to make the purchase decision, they will pass through the process through recognition, search information, evaluation, purchase, feedback (Blackwell, Miniard, and Engel, 1995). Therefore, the consumer will choose a product or brand to consume from various choice that available in the market. According to Bettman, Johnson and Payne (2000), different situation will be affected by different factors.

One of the problems that may encounter by consumer during decision making process is information overload. Information overload will increase the complexity of the consumer decision-making (Bettman, Johnson and Payne, 2000). The information can be obtained by advertisement, display, brochures and etc. Lynch and Srull (1982) suggested that decision-making can be categorised into 3 categories which are stimulus-based, memory-based and mixed. When consumer is being affected by the some outsource or external information or factor can be categorized in stimulus-based. When consumer makes certain decision based on their memory or internal perception, it can be classified in as memory-based. The combination of this two is mixed.

Consumer has different tastes, needs, motivation and lifestyle when they want to purchase a product (Chisnall, 1985). There are some of consumer preferred high qualities and they are more willing to pay more in term of price but some of them are not (Monroe, 2003). Furthermore, the consumer decision-making can be investigated through the consumer characteristics. It includes brand conscious, price conscious, quality conscious, recreation conscious, innovation conscious, confused by over choice, impulsive and brand (Leo, Bennett, and Hartel, 2005). Therefore, it is important to find out the relationship between those characteristics and the consumer decision-making.

Consumers are demanding an increased variety of products and customized products (Ahlstrom and Westbrook, 1999). Furthermore, customized producers tend to involve consumers early in the production process in order to increase the degree of customization (Duray, 2002). In order to operate in a truly customer-oriented way, a company’s goal is not to be led exclusively by consumers’ expressed needs butto amaze consumers by anticipating and fulfilling their unarticulated needs (Stalk, 1988). Consequently, understanding decision process by which consumers purchase customized products is of practical importance.

The decision of selecting the most effective positioning strategy constitutes

a main challenge for marketers since it is central to consumers’ perceptions and choice

(Aaker and Shansby, 1982; Pham and Muthukrishnan, 2002). If positioning is done

effectively it has the potential to build powerful brands; however, if done incorrectly, it

can also result in disaster (see, for example, Haig, 2005; Ries and Trout, 1986).


2.1.2 Brand name

According to Rotfled (2009), brand name is a unique and is to mark off product itself to the consumer. The main advantageous of brand name is that it can help the company to deliver the information and communicate quality to the market (Hoyer and Brown, 1990). The recognition of brand name is half the battle for a business (Church, 2008.) because it helped to create a brand name with well-established associations. It is one way to create competitive advantage for the firm in competitive market. Somehow, it is a very costly process but has many returns once success is achieved. ( Arslan and Altuna, 2010 ). It provided the primary point of differentiation between competitive offerings and so such they can be critical to the success of companies (Wood, 2000).

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Consumer may tend to perceive the product from an overall perspective, associating with the brand name of all the attributes and satisfactions experienced by the purchase and use of the product (Murphy, 1990; Ambler, 1996). They normally based their purchasing decisions on information cues; either intrinsic cues (e.g. product design) or extrinsic cues e.g. brand name (Jacoby et al 1977).

Brand image research has long been recognized as one of the central area of the marketing research field but somehow not only because it serve as a foundation for tactical marketing mix issues but also because it play an integral role in building long term brand equity (Keller, 1993). High brand equity implies that consumers may look upon a higher positively association that may related to the brand name, over and above those of the product itself (Rio, Vazquez and Iglesias, 2001).

Brand-origin is defined by Thakor and Kohli(1996) as “the place, region, or country where brand is perceived to belong by its target consumers”. There has a strong relationship between the brand and brand-origin. The research on effects of country of origin has made up the largest number in international buyer behavior (Heslop et al 1998; Verlegh & Steenkamp, 1999). Somehow, there are some effect he effect of country image on brand image which moderated by both brand and country reputation (Hui and Zhou, 2003). It can be summarized that the brand image of a product produced in a establish or developed country is likely to be affected differently from the brand image of a product produced in unknown country.

Keller (1993) mentioned that consumer brand knowledge may determine on how consumers think about a brand. According to Durgee (1988), images of brands often create notions about the performance of their product stereotypes, their key characteristics, and benefits and related services. Consumers base on their level of preferences to see whether the brand is fulfilling their requirement or not (Urbany, Dickson, and Wilkie, 1989). According to Hutchinson (1983), the knowledge of the consumer has a positive relationship with the brand name. According to Srinivasan and Till (2002), the consumer will perceived the globalisation (foreign) product have a better quality than the local product. As a result, the consumer who is required high quality will prefer to select the foreign car.

The power of brand lies in the minds of consumers or customers (Keller, 2000). Brand name assures customers that they will receive the quality that the product claims to deliver (Miranda and Konya, 2007). According to Baltas and Saridakis (2009), for those consumers who are affected by brand-name and will only buy branded good usually is more concern on the quality of product rather than the price of the product. That is because brand names play a traditionally important role in purchase car decisions because car quality is often difficult to evaluate prior to purchase and buyers may have to rely on carmakers’ reputations. (Baltas and Saridakis 2009). For some consumer, they are not willing to pay more to purchase the brand name but some will (Monroe, 2003). According to Muncy (1996), consumers are more flexible in selecting lower price product and normally are lower brands loyalty, more prices sensitive for perceived the different between products. Brand name exerts a significant influence on new car prices (Baltas and Saridakis, 2009).


2.1.3 Features

Features can be defined as something that to satisfy the customer’s needs and wants through the belonging, use, consumption for a product (Kotler, Philip, Armstrong, and Gary, 2007). According to Mowen and Minor (1998), the product attributes can be seen as a feature that might have on a product. This can actually influence the consumer on their decision making during purchase. Prior to product evaluations, consumers are often exposed to data that permits them to judge the covariation relationship among different product attributes (Jacoby, Szybillo and Busato, 1977). The features of an automobile which can be provide include customer services, fuel efficiency, safety, quality and design of a car. Those features will be investigating detail in this research.

The customer services can be consider as a feature of a product (Chung and Young, 2003). According to Lohse and Spiller (1998), consumer wants the customer services which include careful, valuable and continuous. Salesperson’s recommendations or suggestions are important especially before consumer make decision. This can help as a main factors that can influence the consumer decision-making process besides price, features and brand (Karjaluoto, Karvonen, Kesti, Koivumaki, Manninen, Pakola, Ristola, and Salo, 2005). In addition, Yi and Gong (2008) stated that although company offered the low prices, promotion and competitive advantage may not gain market if they neglect the customer service.

Somehow, feature may relate to complementary product. The fuel efficiency affects the demand. The price of gasoline rise during this few years. According to German Agency of Technical co-operation (2005), the price of gasoline in year 2004 in Malaysia is USD 0.37 per litre, and then increased about USD 0.20 per little if compared with year 2002. Therefore, it also directly affects the demand of automobile of the market decreased (Kandapa, Thanyawee, Vanvisa and Yingyot, 2009). As result, some of the consumer will choose the car which are more fuel efficiency or the car which are use diesel or “gasohol”.

Furthermore, the consumer will consider the safety of the car. The airbag of a car can provide the safety of the driver and passenger when the car was accident. Some of the consumers are willing to pay to obtain the safety when choosing between local and foreign car. It has a positive relationship (Kandapa et al., 2009). According to Liu and Bai (2008), the consumer will take safety as an important factor when they make comparison between local car and foreign car.

Thirdly is the quality of the product. Different brand have a different quality (Obermiller and Wheatley, 1985). The foreign car and local car are different especially in term called quality. According to Steenkamp (1989), the quality of the product can influence the consumer decision. Steenkamp (1989) also categories the consumer into 2 groups with is the consumer who is high quality conscious and low quality conscious. The people who are in high quality conscious category are willing to pay more to have a better quality product, and the consumer who are falls into low quality conscious will not willing to pay more to obtain greater quality brand (Nor Khasimah et al, 2007). According to Uncles and Saurazas (2000), the consumers who are living in developing countries will perceive foreign product have a higher quality than local product, therefore the consumer in Malaysia who falls into high quality conscious categories will preferred the foreign car which includes Japanese car rather than local car.

Lastly is the design of a car may be one of the feature. The consumer will tend to choose a larger car and which are more have a fashionable design that is attractiveness (Liu and Bai, 2008). According to Liu and Bai (2008), the design of a car also can let the consumer have an “image” which is discussion earlier in the brand name. They will feel have “imaged” if their car have a good design. It can let them have the greatest satisfaction (Chung and Pysarchik, 2000.)

2.1.4 Price


Nagle and Holden (2002) stated that price can be seen as a monetary value that seller must give to consumer in order to exchange it with the services or product provide. Price always is the major concern of customer for making purchase decision (Smith and Carsky, 1996). Price has been one of several product attributes considered relevant (Voss et al., 1998).When faced with performance or quality uncertainty, consumers are more likely use external indicators, such as price, in order to compare and take a decision (Urbany et al., 1997). Importance of price as a quality indicator is likely to be greater, when there are only a few other attributes that indicate quality, or when the product is difficult to evaluate. ( Mitchel and Greatorex 1997).

According to Munnukka (2005), customer can be divide into 2 categories which are moderate usage customer and intensive usage customer. It was discovered that consumer differ significantly in their price sensitivity levels when choosing between foreign car and local car. The consumer with moderate usage of the product will be less sensitive of the price but the consumers who are intensive users will be more sensitive to the price changes (Munnukka, 2005).

For the moderate users of consumer, the marketers will focus on quality rather than price. For intensive users the marketers will focus on low price rather than quality (Munnukka, 2005). In this research, it is important to find out our target respondent whether they are moderate user or intensive user.

The price of a product is one of the most important marketing-mix tools (Vogel et al, 2004). That is because it influences consumer’s willingness to paid and buying decision (Monroe, 1973). According to BusinessDictionary, Price promotion is the sales promotion based on a price discount offer. Retailers use various types of advertised price reductions to boost store trsaffc and increase sale (Messinger et al, 2010).By some estimates, price promotions account for almost a quarter of the marketing budget of some companies (Blattberg and Neslin, 1989). Despite the positive effect price promotions have on consumers’ perceptions and purchase decisions, they also have some negative effect such as lowering consumers’ perception of quality (Dodson et al., 1978), lowering consumers’ expectations for the brand (Monroe, 1971), and doubting the value proposition, that is positioning of the brand and creating a perceivable distinction in the competitive market, of the firm (Daun and Klinger, 2006) Therefore, knowledge on how consumers respond to price promotions is essential in making critical decisions concerning price promotions (Oliveira-Castro et al., 2008). Understanding how consumers perceive price promotions and respond to them should be of interest to retailers. It is important for researchers to understand the appropriate match between price promotions and the specific product types. The level of price is found to positively affect behavioural intentions mainly because price establishes image of the brand in the eyes of the consumers (Yoo et al., 2000).

Consumer consistently used price as a predictor of quality, particularly when they have limited knowledge of product category offerings (Bredahl, 2003). Conspicuousness (willingness to spend a great amount of money to demonstrate their social status) plays an important role on brand purchases. (Swani, 2010). Wilcox et al. (2009) found that high-priced brands are highly related to consumer conspicuousness. When price deals lower the final price they pay, conspicuousness will be damaged, which makes consumers unhappy. Low-priced brand buyers are not concerned with conspicuousness or exclusivity desires. Instead, they would be pleased with the increased value garnered by the price deals. Consumers looking for quality, status, self expression, and image will gravitate toward high-priced brands to fulfill their goals. In contrast, price deals are expected to have a positive effect on low-priced brands because they provide transaction value, the major purchase goal towards low-priced brands. Negative consumer reactions to perceived unfair prices can result in customer boycotts and lower sales (Grover, 1994).

Buying a new car is an important decision for most consumers (Herrmann et al., 2007).That is because they perceived the risk for buying a car is relative higher than other product such as food or clothes. The complexity of buying process makes the consumer had to consider many factors before make the purchasing decision. Therefore, when they face the uncertainly information such as the features of the car or the quality of the car, they will consider the price for making comparison (Urbany, Bearden, Kaicker, and Smith-de-Borrero 1997).

According to Aliman N. and Othman M. (2007), the local product normally will have a price advantages if compared with the foreign product. Aliman N. and Othman M. (2007) stated that if the foreign product would like to maintain the competitiveness, they should have the advantages of brand name and features. Besides, price and quality also have a positive relationship (Etgar and Malhotra, 1981). Consequently, if the price are high but the quality or features are aim to fulfil the expectation of buyers, the consumer will perceive that it is fair and more willing to pay a higher price for the quality demanded (Monroe, 2003). It means that most of the consumer will perceive high price as high quality. In Malaysia, the local car normally has a lower price than the foreign car. It is dangerous that the consumer perceive local car has a lower quality compare to imported car.

Voss et al. (1998) stated that satisfaction is a function of price, performance and expectation with support for the expectation- satisfaction link being weak.In contrast to performance, perceived price fairness an important factor influencing overall customer satisfaction judgments. (Herrmann et al., 2007). This influence is both direct, and indirect via price fairness perceptions. If consumers perceive that the price they are charged for a given service or good are unfair, they are likely to adopt behavior that is directed against the interests of the selling company (Xia et al., 2004).

The study of Bolton et al. (2003) showed that consumers decide their minds about what prices should be charged for a service or a product. This evaluation is important because it implies that consumers may care for the input and output ratios comparison with the seller in the absence of a comparative other. For example, a car dealer’s price offer for an automobile may be accompanied with an explanation of the prices of various options and delivery charges, as well as required down payment and financing arrangements. In such situations, both the initial price of the car quoted by the sales person (i.e., price offer) and the terms associated with the price and how these terms are handled and explained to the consumer (i.e. price procedure) will influence consumers’ fairness perceptions (Herrmann et al., 2007)

Lastly, the depreciation value of the car also can influence a consumer decision to choose between local and foreign car (Baltas and Saridakis, 2009). The consumer will choose the car which are have highest depreciation values. According to Terry (November 1, 2005), the foreign car has an annual depreciation rate which are about 13% to 16%. The Malaysian car has a depreciation rate which about 40%. The foreign car have a highest depreciation values, therefore those consumer will be affected by this issues.

2.1.5 Reliability

2.1.6 Consumer Behavior

According to the American Marketing Association, consumer behavior is defined as the dynamic interaction of affect and cognition, behavior, and environmental events by which human beings conduct the exchange aspects of their lives. Examples of consumer behavior include watching a TV commercial, visiting a store, or purchasing a product. Chinese consumers typically pay more attention to the informational content than entertainment features of the advertisements. One study found that Chinese customers considered themselves to be sophisticated and knowledgeable in their purchasing choices (Shen & Zhao, 1995).

According to Rosenblatt (1964), the ethnocentrism will usually have a positive attitude or manner for same group or the product made by their country, and a negative attitude toward the different group or the product made by different country. This means that a customer will make purchase decision which consider of the country of product or country-of-origin. Country of origin is generally described as the ”source country” for a product or service provider, which may differ from the country of brand, assembly or design. Several studies has been found to significantly influence consumer perceptions of product performance and quality, these include price, brand, retail outlet and country of origin (Veale and Quester, 2009).

According to Safiek et al. (2001), those consumers who are having high tendency of ethnocentric will more prefer to buy domestic product. They will feel that if buying foreign product will hurt their country’s economy. In essence, a highly ethnocentric people was proud to their own values, culture, symbols and hold in values and object for the different group because they will feel that buying foreign or import product will directly hurt their country’s economy and bring the impact such as unemployment. In contrast, low tendency of ethnocentric are more preferred to purchase the foreign products. They will view the foreign product or import product as a symbol of status, and they are more prefer to buy foreign product to make them have a highest status.

According to Triandis (1994), collectivism means that the people will dependence with other people in the same group and get together with group which include their family and friends. Besides, according to Sharma et al. (1995), collectivist will consider the outcome before they take the actions. Consumers who are collectivism will choose the product which are easily accept by other people (Wickliffe and Pysarchik, 2001). In Malaysia, some of the research has found that there are more influenced by the collectivism culture (Burns and Brady, 1992; Bochner, 1994).

The people who are collectivism also try to look for the similarity with other people and concern about the view of others people (Wickliffe and Pysarchik, 2001). The consumers who are more importance of the others people in the society, they will also more considered against the result of brand selection that decoded by them (Wickliffe and Pysarchik, 2001). The collectivism will influence the consumer when make choice between local car and foreign car. The marketers also can use advertisement if they are targeting those are collectivist (Kropp et al, 2005). The people who are highly collectivism will easily influence by the opinion leader, therefore the marketers of local ca


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