A systematic approach to consumer ethnocentrism toward microbreweries in Wisconsin


The quest to explore characteristics that influence consumer buying behaviors is evident in the vast research over the last two decades. Considerable research is dedicated to country-of-origin (COO) influences on consumer’s loyalty, and perceptions that a particular brand or product is better than any other brand or product (Verlegh & Steen Kamp 1999). Cultural perceptions that “local is better” or “made-in” phrases provide a frame of reference within a given country. Economic and political use of food culture by ethnologists (Salomonsson 1984) revitalized attitude and behavior to create regional identity. Regional identity of food products is a cultural expression in a post-modern society (Urry1990). Despite numerous studies on COO and consumer ethnocentrism effects on purchasing decisions, findings for specific product such as Wisconsin cheese, are limited. Regional identity may be a strong case for consumer ethnocentrism related to purchasing foreign product, but where food is tied to regional culture, attitudes and behaviors are grounded by regional ethnocentrisms. The purpose of this study is twofold; to examine Wisconsin consumers’ ethnocentric tendencies to protect Wisconsin cheese products from imported cheese products, and identify Wisconsin consumers’ ethnocentric tendencies to protect Wisconsin cheese products from cheese produced in other states. The study will investigate Wisconsin culture as a systemic concept influencing consumers’ tendency toward local and regionally produced products when making purchasing decisions on Wisconsin cheese products. The geographic setting for this study is Wisconsin a.k.a. “Wisconsin Dairyland,” where food retailers and consumers have a desire to promote, moreover protect Wisconsin cheese products. The CETSCALE instrument used to measure consumers’ ethnocentric tendencies related to purchasing imported versus American products (Shimp & Sharma 1987), provided the context for the study. The aim of the study examines to what extent consumer ethnocentrism [as measured by the CETSCALE] will predict consumers’ desire to protect local market and local producers. The CETSCALE instrument questions used appropriate language relevant to the Wisconsin cheese study. In addition, questions were directed to consumers’ preferences for Wisconsin cheese versus imported cheese. The study will ascertain variables such as age, price, and income measuring preferences in supporting local Wisconsin cheese products. The resulting cultural, societal, and economic influences on consumers’ choice will be measured by consumer ethnocentric tendencies. When Wisconsin cheese product is unavailable, will consumer ethnocentrisms influence consumers’ choice to migrate to other state or imported cheese products.

This publication has been peer reviewed.
Publication Type: 
Journal Article
Weber, M. J.
Lambert, J. T.
Conrad, K. A.
Jennings, S. S.
Adams, J. R.
Year of Publication: 
Journal, Book, Magazine or Other Publication Title: 
Systematic Practice and Action Research
In Press
Publication Language: 
ISSN Number: 
ISSN: 1094-429X (Print) 1573-9295 (Online)
Boyer's Domain: 

Additional content will be provided upon request.