Does Culturally Adapted Online Communication Work? A Study of American and Chinese Internet Users’ Attitudes and Preferences Toward Culturally Customized Web Design Elements

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Abstract

Various scholars have argued that today's multicultural online marketplace necessitates cultural adaptation of Web communications. This argument has largely been based on the assumption that culture, as a source of acceptable norms and behaviors, influences online expectations, preferences, and experiences. Few, however, have questioned the validity of this assumption. Our study aims to fill that gap. It examines whether Internet users’ cultural backgrounds are reflected in the attitudes toward Web design elements. A survey of American and Chinese Internet users and a content analysis revealed that cultural backgrounds play a substantial role in determining Web design preferences and attitudes. The findings of this study represent an important step in developing and validating a framework that international marketers can use to customize Web sites and improve targeting in online environment. The findings also suggest that cultural customization of online communication is particularly effective when users have strong ethnic identities.

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