Share these talks and lectures with your colleaguesInvite colleagues
Bilingual memory: The impact of acculturation on the cognitive structure of foreign-born Hispanics
For more than three decades, the prevailing view in Hispanic marketing is that US Hispanics have a ‘preference’ for Spanish. This paper contends that this is an over-simplification, and applies two theories of bilingual memory — the Revised Hierarchical Model and the Conceptual Feature Model — to help examine the cognitive structure of foreign-born Hispanics in the USA. Cognitive structure refers to a mental framework or schema that organises and retains learned facts. This study proposes that the cognitive structure of foreign-born Hispanics changes based on their level of acculturation. Using experiments, the study finds statistically significant differences in the cognitive structures of first-generation Hispanics across three levels of acculturation — low, moderate and high. These results suggest that the optimal way to target foreign-born Hispanics depends on their level of acculturation. This challenges the commonly held view that first-generation Hispanics are a monolithic group and that Spanish is their language of ‘preference’. This study has the potential to influence how organisations develop segmentation and communication strategies to target first-generation Hispanics, who make up an estimated 40 per cent of the total Hispanic population, and clarify the role that Spanish plays in marketing to this segment. Although conducted in the context of Hispanics, this study has similar implications for other ethnic groups and thus has implications beyond Hispanic marketing.
The full article is available to institutions that have subscribed to the journal
Sharmila C. Chatterjee is Senior Lecturer and Academic Head of the Enterprise Management Track at MIT Sloan. Her work, which has been published in numerous peer-reviewed journals, examines issues in the domains of distribution channels, salesforce management and relationship marketing. She has also researched the areas of brand trust, financial literacy and multicultural marketing. She graduated from the Birla Institute of Technology and Science before earning her PhD in marketing from the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.