The movement of meaning across cultures: A conceptual model for understanding cross-cultural consumption

Helene De Burgh-Woodman

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter asks the questions of whether traditional marketing tools and practices are sufficiently reflexive to deal in the international environment and how we might refine our understanding of cross-cultural environments. Starting from the vantage point that "international" occurs within national boundaries rather than across them, this chapter conducts a qualitative ethnographic study of Arabic and North African people who participate in a visible "street culture" on the streets of France. This ethnographic project models consumption habits in these groups. It asks why they consume certain things, what value or meaning discourses are articulated through these things within their group, and what cultural, social, or personal relevance or symbolism this kind of consumption represents. It also unravels the broader social discourses spun out of these symbolisms and "meaning-makings." Based on the data discussed, a conceptual model is then offered to explain the process the marketing message undergoes and how meaning is transformed when taken from one cultural context to another. Some conclusions are drawn on how postcolonial analysis provides a new tool for our understanding and practice of international marketing.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInterdisciplinary Approaches to Product Design, Innovation, Branding in International Marketing
EditorsScott Swan, Shaomin Zou
Number of pages24
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameAdvances in International Marketing
ISSN (Print)1474-7979


  • Cross-cultural consumption
  • Ethnography
  • Marketing communication
  • Postcolonialism
  • Subcultural consumption


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