The embryonic consumer
Overall, the paper explores the extent to which consumers in Eastern Europe are similar to or different from consumers in the West, and presents some original data on consumer values which indicate that not only are values in Eastern Europe somewhat different from those in the West, but that these also vary from country to country, as might be expected from countries with different histories and at different stages of development. The paper starts with an analysis of the general marketing environment In Eastern Europe: underlying country differences, economic outlook, the business environment, the marketing infrastructure and social factors, It then examines consumer perceptions, with particular reference to a recent large qualitative study in the former East Germany, specifically examining responses to Western goods and advertising. The paper then examines aspects of consumer values. First, it explains the background to the measures chosen, which are based on the academic work of Milton Rokeach and Geert Hofstede. It then summarises very recent pilot survey work on young women in Poland, Hungary and former East Germany and shows outline results from these countries compared with data from West Germany, France and the UK. Results from Czechoslovakia are in preparation, and the presented paper will be able to show further data in more detail. The data represent a start in the slow process of building an understanding of consumers in Eastern Europe, as they move in transition towards market economies which may themselves prove to be different from Western forms.
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