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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter November 13, 2020

The Examination of Cultural Values and Social Media Usages in China

Ge Xiao, HyeRyeon Lee, Kedir Tessema and Shaokang Wang


Both social media usage statistics and recent studies outlined the importance for marketers to tap into China’s massive market with rapid growth rate. However, there is limited research focusing on investigating and explaining how the underlying values contribute to the social media usage behavior change. This research is aimed to fill the gap by examining the effect of cultural values on social media usage (e.g., shopping, interaction and information sharing) in China. It also explores the mediating effect of materialism on the relationship between cultural values and social media usage, along the male and female gender categories. While the size and scale of China’s social media market is astonishing, its market composition varies considerably from the rest of the world due to the Chinese government’s Internet censorship. As the study of major Chinese social media sites remains largely unexplored in the literature, this study studied the usage on different social media platforms in China. The survey were conducted online in China in 2018, and a total of 600 usable samples (n = 300 for males; n = 300 for females) were obtained. A principal components factor analysis with quartimax rotation was conducted in this study for a scale reduction purpose. Five cultural dimensions, namely power distance, collectivism/individualism, uncertainty avoidance, masculinity/femininity, and long-term/short-term orientation, were obtained. Then, regression analyses were used to test the hypotheses on main and mediating effects for both male and female social media users. The hypotheses were partially supported. The following summarizes major findings: 1) a significant and substantial effect of materialism on social media usages, as well a significant and moderate effect of cultural values on materialism were observed in this study; 2) the results showed that higher levels of collectivism predict higher levels of social media usage for the purpose of shopping, interaction and sharing information; 3) this study found, only for female users, a positive effect of long-term orientation on social media usage for the purpose of shopping, interaction and sharing information; 4) this study only identified one negative relationship, which is the relationship between power distance and using social media for the purpose of interaction for male users; 5) This study found users in China mainly use social media for information sharing and shopping, but not interaction purpose. Meipai (The Flickr of China), Zhihub(The Quora of China), and Tudou Youku (Youtube of China) were the top three social media sites used to share information such as photos, videos, and knowledges. On the other hand, Baidu Tieba (A Search Engine Forum), Tencent QQ (Popular Instant Messaging App) and Sina Weibo (Twitter of China) were the top 3 platforms people used to research and find product information or shop directly.

Corresponding author: Ge Xiao, The Sidhu School of Business and Leadership, Wilkes University, Wilkes-Barre, USA, E-mail:

Funding source: Wilkes University Provost Research and Scholarship Fund

  1. Research funding: The authors wish to thank the Wilkes University Provost Research and Scholarship Fund for supporting this research.


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Received: 2020-07-01
Accepted: 2020-10-11
Published Online: 2020-11-13

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