The rapidly increasing complexity and dynamics of consumers has led marketers, practitioners and academics alike, to seek a deeper understanding of how consumers and marketers differ in their ways of making purchase decisions. To date, little research examines culture as a factor influencing consumer purchase decisions. There is evidence of cultural differences in consumer decision-making styles for fashion, although, no study has examined whether this effect extends to the purchase of goods or services in general. This study therefore sought to address this gap by establishing the relationship between culture and consumer purchase decisions using Hofstede’s cultural dimensions. The general objective of the study was to establish the influence of Hofstede’s dimensions of culture on consumer purchase decisions among the Kipsigis community. The scope of the study was limited to a set of four independent variables i.e. individualism/collectivism, uncertainty avoidance, masculinity/femininity, and power distance; which were measured against consumer purchase decisions, which was the dependent variable. Respondents were drawn from adult household members from Tumoi sub-location in Bomet County. A descriptive research design was adopted to carry out the study. The study’s target population was the Kipsigis people. Purposive sampling was employed to select the Kipsigis community of Bomet County as respondents, where 236 households were sampled. The researcher used multi-stage sampling method to select a sub-location and simple random sampling to select the respondents. Data was collected by use of questionnaires and analysed using descriptive statistics with the aid of the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) computer software. Multiple regressions were used in testing the effect of Hofstede’s dimensions of culture on consumer purchase decisions among the Kipsigis community. The results on the effects of Hofstede’s dimensions of culture on consumer purchase decisions manifested in individualism/collectivism, uncertainty avoidance, masculinity/femininity, and power distance aspects of members of the society was observed to have influence on consumer purchase decisions. The results demonstrate that most of the expected relationships were present in the data. The multiple regression model of consumer purchase decisions on the four independent variables showed positive significant effects of Individualism/Collectivism, Masculinity/ Femininity and Power Distance on consumer purchase decisions.

Background of the study 
Culture is a powerful force in regulating human behaviour (Schiffman and Kanuk, 1997). The impact of culture is so natural and automatic that its influence on consumer behaviour is usually taken for granted. Often, it is only when we are exposed to people with different cultural values or customs that we become aware of how culture has moulded our own behaviour. Precisely because it shapes behaviour, the understanding of culture is crucial when it comes to consumer marketing. The recognition of its importance has led to an increasing amount of research across cultures (Sojka and Tansuhaj, 1995). 

Michael et al (2002) defined culture as the accumulation of shared meanings, rituals, norms and traditions among members of organizations or societies. The influence of culture on consumption was first emphasized by Max Weber at the beginning of the twentieth century. As Weber famously argued, Protestantism encouraged a culture that emphasized individualism, achievement motivation, legitimating of entrepreneurial vocations, rationality, asceticism, and self-reliance. This ethic was a fundamental element of the spirit of modern capitalism (Weber, 1976). 

Hofstede (1991) defined culture as “a collective programming of the mind which distinguishes the members of one group or category of people from another”. In other words, he regards culture as a collective phenomenon that is shaped by individuals’ social environment, not their genes. Cultural differences are the result of national, regional, ethnic, social class, religious, gender, and language variations. Values are held to be a critical feature of culture and cultural distinctiveness. 

Hofstede’s research shows how a national culture affects workplace values across a range of countries. However, his study ignores the existence of different cultural groups within a country. For instance, Kenya has over 70 distinct ethnic groups ranging in size from about seven million Kikuyu to about 500 El Molo who live on the shores of Lake Turkana (Kenya Population Data Sheet, 2011). According to these statistics, the five largest ethnic groups are the Kikuyu, Luo, Luhya, Kamba and Kalenjin, and they account for 70% of the country’s population. Hofstede’s cultural framework is built on the premise that people from around the world are guided by different attitudes, beliefs, customs, morals and ethical standards (Hofstede, 1980; 2001). Societies are based upon different traditions, rituals, and religions; and promote different views regarding family, work, social, and personal responsibilities. Hofstede’s framework originally comprised of four dimensions (Power Distance, Individualism/Collectivism, masculinity/Femininity, and Uncertainty Avoidance). Hofstede later added a fifth dimension: Confucian Dynamism (Hofstede, 2001). 

This study only addressed the first four dimensions. The first dimension is individualism/collectivism which is widely acknowledged as a defining element of culture. In individualistic societies people are expected to look out for themselves, whereas in collectivist societies there is a greater emphasis on group welfare and loyalty. Individualists value independence and self-expression, and tend to believe that personal goals and interests are more important than group interests. In contrast, collectivists tend to view themselves as members of an extended family or organization, place group interests ahead of individual needs, and value reciprocation of favours and respect for tradition. 

The second dimension is uncertainty avoidance. This represents the extent to which people feel uncomfortable or threatened by ambiguous and uncertain situations, and thus create belief systems and institutions in order to promote conformity. Societies with higher levels of uncertainty avoidance place greater value on security (e.g., financial, social), feel a greater need for consensus and written rules, and are intolerant of deviations from the norm. In contrast, individuals with low uncertainty avoidance rely less on written rules and are more risk tolerant. 

A third dimension is masculinity/femininity which refers to the extent to which a society embraces predominantly male or female values. A masculine society places greater value on success, money, and personal accomplishments, whereas a feminine society places greater emphasis on caring for others and quality of life. In a masculine society individuals are more aggressive, ambitious, and competitive; whereas individuals in feminine societies are more modest, humble, and nurturing. 

A fourth dimension, power distance, reflects the degree to which a society accepts that power in organizations is distributed unequally. Individuals in societies characterized by higher levels of power distance tend to follow formal codes of conduct and are reluctant to disagree with superiors. Individuals in societies that are lower in power distance, on the other hand, do not feel as constrained by perceived or actual differences in status, power, or position. The researcher, therefore, intends to apply Hofstede’s cultural framework to establish the extent to which the Kipsigis culture influences consumer purchase decisions. 

Consumer decision making is complex and involves a number of constructs. Several aspects consumer decision making have been reviewed by researches. Consumer decision-making is defined as the behaviour patterns of consumers that proceed, determine and follow the decision making process for the acquisition of need satisfying products, ideas or services. In addition, some researchers have advised that consumers are “value driven” (Zeithaml, 1988; Levy, 1999). The most widely used consumer decision-making theory was written by Mowen and Minor (2000). There were five steps in decision making process that included recognizing problems, searching for solutions, evaluating alternatives, choosing among options, and evaluating the outcomes of the choice. In 1986, Sproles and Kendall specifically designed Consumer Styles Inventory (CSI) to investigate and describe consumer decision-making styles.

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Item Type: Kenyan Topic  |  Size: 61 pages  |  Chapters: 1-5
Format: MS Word  |  Delivery: Within 30Mins.


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