The central goal of this research was to investigate whether selected price heuristics are culturally specific or universal. The dissertation's three experiments explore selected price heuristics in the context of tourism services among samples from the U.S., Korea and China; the U.S. represents an individualist and low context culture, while Korea and China represent collectivist and high context cultures.
Study 1 investigated potential tourists' price decisions when confronted with inexpensive functional items (buying a sandwich and a pizza) and an expensive hedonic option (purchasing tickets for a show); in two consuming situations (consuming alone or with another person); in two social group contexts (with an acquaintance or with a family member). The collectivist cultures showed social groups and cultures had a significant impact on price decisions, although they differed in their reactions when the group was a family member or an acquaintance. Hence, these variables had mixed influence on the U.S. sample's responses.
Study 2 measured the extent to which 9-ending digits were used in prices by suppliers of five tourism services both within and across the three different cultures represented by New York City, Seoul, and Shanghai. 9- and 8-ending prices were dominant in New York City and in Shanghai, respectively, but these culture specific endings were complemented by the universality of the 0- and 5-digit endings of prices which were ranked first and second, respectively, in Seoul, second and third in Shanghai, and third and second in New York.
Study 3 investigated the relative strength of symbolic meanings of 9-ending prices (i.e. low quality, enhanced value, discount price, and misleading action) among samples from the U.S., Korea and China, and their effectiveness in influencing tourists' purchases. The analyses found no differences among the three cultures' samples in either their relative importance across cultures, or in the likelihood of tourists selecting 9-ending rather than even-ending prices when purchasing a sandwich, a pizza or show tickets. In the context of a hotel room, the 9-ending discount was perceived to be a greater discount than even-ended prices, but its effectiveness could not be explained by the different symbolic meanings associated with 9-ending prices.
- Crompton, John Distinguished Professor