Critically Evaluating the Role of Intercultural Marketing Communications in Cultivating Relations in the Superdiverse Rainbow Nation

  • Lizette Vorster

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    Contemporary societies can be classed as superdiverse. Existing research indicates that superdiversity translates into daily marketplace interactions between numerous cultural value systems. The experience of living within a superdiverse marketplace creates a range of challenges for consumers. Marketers can help shape society by mitigating these intercultural challenges through their marketing communication strategies. Problematically, the impact of superdiversity on marketing communication strategies and practices is understudied. Concurrently, little is known about consumers’ lived experiences of superdiversity. Thus, marketers are finding it increasingly difficult to communicate effectively with superdiverse consumer groups. As a result, a growing disconnect between consumers and marketers exists. Therefore, the research aim of this study was to critically evaluate the ways in which superdiversity impacts on marketing communications strategy development. To gain a holistic understanding, three research objectives were set. The first was to inspect the role of superdiversity ideology in marketing communications strategy evolution. The second was to examine the influence of consumers’ lived experiences of superdiversity on marketing communications strategy development. The third was to assess challenges prohibiting the social impact of marketing communications in superdiverse marketplaces. To improve understanding with novel insights, this project was set in a non-Western research setting - South Africa (SA). Post-apartheid, SA government sought to resolve tensions in a peaceful manner by establishing a Rainbow Nation (RN) ideology. This required widespread marketing communication. Mirroring the lack of knowledge identified above, SA consumers are increasingly discontent. A conceptual model informed the empirical study undertaken. Three theories underpin the conceptual model. They are embedded in an interculturalism approach, allowing for comparative study of marketing (Neo-Institutional theory) and how intercultural interactions and experiences shape meanings of living in superdiversity (Creolisation and Imagined intercultural contact theories). The conceptual model also supported the adoption of a multi-method qualitative research design. A scoping study reviewed SA campaigns using critical visual analysis approach. A case study examined National Heritage Day, including campaign, marketer and consumer data. A multimodal strategy was used for comparative analysis. The findings show the RN concept has lost its impact and relevancy. The marketplace calls for consumer participation and improved understanding of lived experiences to achieve the welfare stage. A more humanistic approach is needed to establish unity in diversity as a marketplace norm. Based on the findings a new diversity-sensitive marketing communications strategy – intercultural marketing - was proposed and developed. Intercultural marketing strategy is defined as a socially responsible approach to marketing communications strategy, concerned with facilitating intercultural interactions and improving societal welfare.
    Date of Award2021
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • Coventry University

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