Dr. Kukar-Kinney is a professor of marketing, the F. Carlyle Tiller Chair in Business, and serves as the Marketing Department Chair. She has recently published an article in the Journal of Business Research with co-authors Heping He from Shenzhen University and a fellow University of Richmond professor, Dr. Nancy Ridgway, about compulsive buying behavior in China.

In previous research, Dr. Kukar-Kinney and Dr. Ridgway created a scale to measure compulsive buying behavior, which they now use to determine to what extent it can be applied to the Chinese consumer culture. Using two survey data collections, one with a student sample and one with a general population recruited via a consumer panel, they found that the scale works as intended in China.

One of the most important findings from this study, unique to China, is that there is a strong link between the consumers’ compulsive buying tendency and their face consciousness. Chinese people may have a stronger urge to enhance their reputation and image in front of others, and compulsive buying helps them achieve this. Compulsive buying may not be seen as negatively in China as it is in the U.S., because it can signal status and prestige, enhancing one’s face.

However, an implication for Chinese society is that compulsive buying can still cause harm, as it can negatively affect personal wealth, as consumers may feel pressured to compulsively buy even when they cannot afford it. Recommendations from this study are that 1) businesses should focus less on promoting materialism and using high pressure sales tactics, such as flash sales, and 2) businesses should focus more on the post-purchase period that would allow consumers to experience the feeling of positive gratification from buying for a longer period of time so as to lessen their need to buy again.

Dr. Kukar-Kinney is currently working on a research project with her colleague Dr. Sara Hanson on consumers’ motivations for sharing coupons.