10 Consumer Behavior Differences between Developed and Developing Countries

It’s very difficult to group all economically developed countries on one side and compare them with the less developed ones based on their consumer behavior. This is due to the fact that each country possesses different sub-systems that make it unique from others. This can be easily visualised in a Venn diagram; where each country represents a set that intersects, but does not necessarily coincide, with other sets. Therefore, below I will shed light on these areas of intersection (similarities) in developed countries and try to compare them with their developing counterparts:

  1. Consumers in developing countries tend to be more ethnocentric than those in developed ones. Products from the western hemisphere are seen by developing cultures, as carrying western values that might harm their society as well as the local workforce. In developed countries, price, quality, durability and other product-related aspects are the major factors that influence buying decisions.
  2. Consumers in developing countries discount the impact of the price-quality relationship (which holds true for developed countries), as the higher inflation rate in most of those countries tends to make the majority of products’ prices relatively high. Consequently, they resort to other ways to determine the quality of products.
  3. Consumers in developing countries tend to be less individualistic than in developed ones. They care more for a larger local community, and like to be identified as part of it.
  4. Cultures of developing countries are high context cultures (mainly western); whilst the developed countries contain low context cultures. Although there is no empirically proved relationship between economic prosperity and the degree of explicitness, it is worth mentioning the relationship as it has a direct impact on advertising strategies.
  5. Promotion of consumer products tends to have a greater impact on sales in developing countries than on their developed counterparts. This price-elasticity factor is mainly driven by the limited PPP of consumers from developing nations.
  6. Consumers in developing countries tend to exhibit higher levels of brand loyalty than developed countries. This is due to higher levels of consumer risk-aversion arising from the spotty quality of products and lack of sufficient information about existing alternatives.
  7. Western values are finding their way to new generations in developing countries, even within the cultures that carry immense contempt for western countries. This relation is one-way. Cultures of developed countries show no sign of adopting values from more inferior societies.
  8. Consumers in developing countries are generally less educated. Therefore, they often show no care as to how products are disposed. Hence, the environmental conditions are much worse in those countries than in developed ones.
  9. Consumers in developed countries are more health conscious than in the developing countries. Thus, food packaging is extremely important in developed countries because lack of sufficient data about the product can lead to loss of sales.
  10. Advertising which exhibits local values and traditions has a greater impact on consumers from developing countries. Whereas the more individualistic consumers from developed countries are more influences by advertising where the product differentiates itself specifically from other products in the market.

Image by Galaygobi


Laurel Anderson, Marsha Wadkins, ‘JAPAN – A Culture of Consumption?’, Association for Consumer Research.

P.S Raju, ‘Consumer behavior in global markets: The A-B-C-D paradigm and its application to Eastern Europe and the Third World’, Journal of Consumer Marketing.

Consumer Behavior in Japan and Indonesia

Marieke De Mooji, ‘Convergence and Divergence in Consumer Behavior: Implications for Global advertising’, International Journal of Advertising.

Marieke De Mooji, Geert Hofstede, ‘Cross Cultural Consumer Behavior: A Review of Research Findings’, Journal of International Consumer Marketing.

This entry was posted in BizDev, Emerging Markets, Marketing, Strategy and tagged by Ahmed El-Khatib. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ahmed El-Khatib

I'm a graduate Materials Engineer from the German University in Cairo (GUC). I have aquired a work experience as a Systems Engineer in ABB, as well as a Key Accounts Manager in Pepsi Cola Arabia. I'm currently pursuing my M.Sc. in Business Development at Grenoble Graduate School of Business (GGSB). My research interests include -but not limited to- quantitative strategy, game theory, sustainable business models and financial engineering. I believe that one should not be one more head added to the 7 billion head count occupying this planet. One should stand out to help the remaining 6,999,999,999 in his/her own way. This is success. This is "Development".

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