Subjective Social Inclusion and Socially Inclusive Marketing: Conceptualization, Measurement and a Theoretical Model

  • Tana Licsandru

Student thesis: Phd


The representation of ethnic minority consumers in marketing communications has sparked debate recently. Global brands are criticized for using stereotyping or exoticizing portrayals of race and ethnicity in marketing communications that misrepresent or exclude certain consumer segments. Yet, a review of the ethnic marketing literature shows a paucity of research aimed at understanding the psychological and social mechanisms that dictate consumers' responses to such representations of ethnicity in marketing communications, as well as their respective impact on individual feelings of inclusion in the host society. Although social inclusion is a top priority on policy makers' agenda, there is a notable lack of consensus as to what social inclusion means at the individual, subjective level. This calls into question the effectiveness of attempts by businesses and policy makers for social inclusion. In order to address this gap in the extant literature, this thesis draws on a multi-disciplinary theoretical background and a multi-method approach to data collection and analysis to achieve a twofold aim. First, this project presents a conceptual analysis and a qualitative study to conceptualize and define the construct of subjective social inclusion and develop its measurement scale, emphasizing its value to the marketing literature as an effective tool to target and reach to the ethnic consumers. Second, the thesis draws on the new conceptualization of subjective social inclusion and key insights from in-depth interviews with ethnic consumers to develop and test an emergent theoretical model of inclusive marketing communications, using experimental design and structural equation modelling techniques. This model investigates the effect of mono- and multi- ethnic marketing communications on ad-triggered social inclusion, attitudes towards the ad, purchase intentions, and the intervening effects of product ethnic congruence, ethnic self-identification and self-referencing. Overall, this thesis demonstrates how ethnic cues can be best depicted in marketing communications for enhanced advertising effectiveness and positive conviviality and inclusion of multicultural consumers in culturally diverse marketplaces. The research processes and findings are reported in four research papers presented in four chapters, each paper having an independent rationale, methodology and contribution to the overarching thesis aims and objectives. This research project makes an original contribution to the extant literature on social inclusion, conceptualizing and developing a measurement scale for the new construct of subjective social inclusion and demonstrating the construct's versatility and dynamic capability to predict consumer behaviour and measure advertising inclusiveness. In addition, this project contributes extensively to the literature on international marketing and ethnic consumer research, by challenging and re-visiting seminal theories such as the common in-group identity model (Gaertner, Dovidio, Anastasio, Bachman, & Rust, 1993), intergroup contact theory (Allport 1954), distinctiveness theory and ethnic identity salience (Deshpande & Stayman, 1994; McGuire, McGuire, Child, & Fujioka, 1978), the persuasion knowledge model (Friestad & Wright, 1994) or the optimal distinctiveness theory (Brewer, 1991), among others, to build and test an emergent theoretical model of inclusive marketing that has critical implications to social policy, marketing research and practice.
Date of Award31 Dec 2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorCharles Cui (Supervisor) & Helen Bruce (Supervisor)


  • moderated mediation
  • structural equation modelling
  • mediation
  • multiple-methods
  • in-depth interviews
  • experiment
  • inclusive marketing
  • subjective social inclusion
  • multicultural marketing
  • ethnic marketing
  • inclusive advertising
  • scale development

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