Economic Topics
Brand Promotion Tools
Optimum stimulation level and exploratory consumer behavior in an emerging consumer market
Time:2022-01-20 17:22

Jan-Benedict E.M. Steenkamp a,*, Steven M. Burgess b 

a Department of Marketing, Tilburg University, P.O. Box 90153, 5000 LE Tilburg, The Netherlands

b Graduate School of Business, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa



More than 80% of the world’s consumers live in emerging consumer markets and transitional economies (ECMs). A fuller understanding of consumer behavior and further advancement of consumer research as an academic discipline require that the validity of theories and models of consumer behavior developed in a Western cultural context be examined in ECMs as well. In this paper, we examine the measurement invariance and nomological relations involving optimum stimulation level (OSL) in one of Africa’s most important ECMs—South Africa. Our research setting presents an especially stringent context for testing consumer behavior theories. Many respondents are challenged by severe economic and educational disadvantages, many have probably never had a job, and some are illiterate. Nevertheless, the results provide evidence on the cross-cultural generalizability of OSL and exploratory consumer behavior theory. We found a high degree of stability in the OSL structure across the three major cultural-ethnic groups in South Africa. Meaningful and theoretically predictable nomological relations are obtained with values, sociodemographics, and exploratory consumer behaviors. Moreover, we find systematic effects of gender, income, and level of education on exploratory consumer behaviors. Suggestions for future research on OSL and for consumer behavior research in general in ECMs are discussed. D 2002 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.


Keywords: International marketing; Optimum stimulation level; Exploratory consumer behavior; Emerging consumer markets; Cross-cultural research; Values; Sociodemographics

To link to this article: