The anti-consumption movement: Researchers examine resistance to global brands

Jun 15, 2009

What motivates people to rebel against global brands—or consumption in general? A new study in the Journal of Consumer Research examines the connection between nationalism and the anti-consumption movement in India.

Authors Rohit Varman (Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta) and Russell W. Belk (York University, Toronto) examined a movement against Coca-Cola based in the village of Mehdiganj in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. They found that the movement employs a version of the nationalist ideology of swadeshi, an ideology that has been associated with Ghandhi and the overthrow of British colonialism.

"According to swadeshi, indigenous goods should be preferred by consumers even if they are more expensive and inferior in quality," write the authors. "The contemporary processes of globalization have again unleashed a resurgence of opposition, this time involving neo-nationalism. As a result, the ideology of swadeshi continues to shape the ongoing debate about the concept of nationhood in India."

The researchers examined the practices of organizations involved in the struggle against Coca Cola. They conducted interviews with activists, villagers, and Coca Cola workers and managers. They observed protest activities and analyzed written material on the movement.

In the course of their research, the authors found that the concept of swadeshi has morphed from its origins. "Whereas Gandhi's villain was colonialist Britain symbolized by its machine production, postcolonial India faces the invasion of Western branded goods," the authors write. "The anti-consumption movement against Coca Cola in Mehdiganj is shaped by this discourse against globalization." The authors found that the anti-consumption movement invokes imagery of foreign invaders, poisoned farmland, and exploited workers.

"We offer an understanding of how prominent global brands run the risk of becoming anti-national icons of oppression," write the authors. "These results have implications for multinational corporations, policy makers, and civil society groups."

Source: University of Chicago Press Journals

Explore further: When identity marketing backfires: Consumers don't like to be told what they like

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Global markets: Chinese consumers respond to Western brands

Apr 20, 2009

How do Chinese consumers really feel about Western brands? We often hear that magazines and billboards influence Chinese consumers to imitate Western lifestyles. Meanwhile, Chinese "patriots" are thought to reject Western ...

New drink draws criticism

Feb 12, 2007

Connecticut's attorney general has opened an investigation into the calorie-burning claims of a caffeinated drink from the Coca-Cola and Nestle companies.

Recommended for you

Online reviews: When do negative opinions boost sales?

12 hours ago

When purchasing items online, reading customer reviews is a convenient way to get a real-world account of other people's opinions of the product. According to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research, negative review ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Online reviews: When do negative opinions boost sales?

When purchasing items online, reading customer reviews is a convenient way to get a real-world account of other people's opinions of the product. According to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research, negative review ...

Low Vitamin D may not be a culprit in menopause symptoms

A new study from the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) shows no significant connection between vitamin D levels and menopause symptoms. The study was published online today in Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopa ...

Astronomers: 'Tilt-a-worlds' could harbor life

A fluctuating tilt in a planet's orbit does not preclude the possibility of life, according to new research by astronomers at the University of Washington, Utah's Weber State University and NASA. In fact, ...