Alcohol consumption motivations and behaviours in Hong Kong
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Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to investigate the way Hong Kong drinkers have internalised the meanings associated with alcoholic beverages and how these meanings influence the motivation to drink. Also of interest was how symbolic meanings and motivations are similar or different to those in Western nations and the implications for the marketing of alcohol products. Design/methodology/approach – An ethnographic approach comprising participant observations and interviews is used to generate data relating to alcohol consumption. Observations are conducted at 11 venues including pubs, clubs, restaurants, and a convention centre. More than 40 h of observations yield data pertaining to public drinking while the interview data also provides insight into the nature of private drinking in Hong Kong. Findings – Alcohol consumption in Hong Kong may be primarily a function of the need to convey desired images to specific and generalised others. The finding that product symbolism dominates taste considerations supports previous research relating to beer consumption but varies somewhat from identified motivations for wine consumption in developed markets. Practical implications – Alcohol marketers may benefit from adapting their products to suit the specific taste preferences of Chinese consumers, although care would need to be taken to ensure the symbolic value of the beverage is not diminished in the process. A focus on the situational context and moderate consumption in promotional messages may increase perceived salience. Originality/value – Little previous research on alcohol consumption motivations has been conducted in Hong Kong. The findings provide insight into likely characteristics of the future alcohol market in mainland China.
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