A study of cultural influences on consumer behaviour in a small island economy : religious influences on purchasing behaviour in Mauritius
Although researchers have long recognised the significance of religious value systems in sociology and in psychology, the role of religion in consumer research has not yet been completely acknowledged. In the consumer behaviour literature, religion has been studied from two main perspectives namely, religious affiliation and religious commitment. Religious affiliation is the adherence of individuals to a particular religious group while religiosity is the degree to which beliefs in specific religious values and ideals are held and practised by an individual. This research investigated the influence of religious affiliation and religiosity on selected aspects of consumer behaviour: shopping behaviour, retail store preference and external information search among three religious groups, Hindus, Muslims and Catholics. A mail survey was conducted among a sample of heads of households in Mauritius and six hundred usable questionnaires were obtained. Univariate, bivariate and multivariate statistical techniques were employed to analyse the data. Significant differences were found in the purchasing behaviour of Hindus, Muslims and Catholics. Devout consumers, those for whom religion is a central focus in life, also differed significantly in their purchasing behaviour from casually religious consumers, those for whom religion is expedient across all three religious groups. Religiosity and religious affiliation were found to be predictors of consumer behaviour in the presence of demographic and lifestyle variables, implying that the influence of religion on the value systems of the society and the effect of these value systems on consumer behaviour cannot be underestimated. The managerial implications of the research findings were discussed arid suggestions for further research were proposed.