Responses of Chinese consumers to sex appeals in international advertising : a test of congruency theory

Geng CUI, Xiaoyan YANG

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)

18 Citations (Scopus)


While the use of sex appeal is on the rise in China to advertise products ranging from beer to cars, their effect on Chinese consumers is largely unknown and may be incongruent with the Chinese culture. This study adopts the congruency theory to examine the effects of sex appeal in international advertising and proposes several testable hypotheses. In an experiment, we adopt a three × two design including three levels of sex appeal and two models (Chinese and Caucasian) and test the advertisements with a group of Chinese consumers. The results suggest that the subjects respond more favourably to advertisements with non-sex appeal than those using sex appeal in terms of their attitudes toward the advertisement (Aad) and brand (Ab), and buying intention (BI). Chinese consumers also prefer advertisements featuring Chinese models to those using Caucasian models, even when strong sex appeal is used. Thus, international advertisers are cautioned with standardized strategies in advertising to Chinese consumers using sex appeal and Caucasian models.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)229-245
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Global Marketing
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2009



  • Chinese consumers
  • Congruency theory
  • International advertising
  • Product evaluation
  • Sex appeals

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