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UW Professor’s Book: How Religion Influences Consumption Behavior

December 8, 2014
head portrait of woman
Elizabeth Minton

A University of Wyoming marketing professor’s recently published book focuses on how people’s religious views align with their purchasing powers -- especially during the holiday season with so many religious undertones.

Religion is a topic that businesses often ignore, despite the fact that 70 percent of the world’s population is religious, says Elizabeth Minton, a UW Department of Management and Marketing assistant professor in the College of Business.

The correlation between religion and business is the focus of “Belief Systems, Religion and Behavioral Economics: Marketing in Multicultural Environments,” written by Minton and Lynn Kahle, the Ehrman Giustina Professor and head of the Department of Marketing at the University of Oregon.

According to the book, many people do not realize or simply resist the idea that religion is a key contributor to a consumer's core values, which then contribute to consumption decisions, voting practices, reaction to pro-social messages and public policy, as well as donating behavior.

The book provides one of the first comprehensive investigations into the relation between religion and marketing, and offers key “takeaways” for businesses on the influence of religion and behavioral economics.

For instance, why should business owners care? Minton’s book answers that, with the increase in globalization, it creates new means for targeting various religious consumers. Religion is equally important, if not more important, for international advertisers to understand, Minton says.

She cites five tips for success: know your customer; recognize adherence/religiosity level; be conscious of limited consumer time; address religious community; and be ready for change.

The book also looks into advertising, new product development, and market strategy and business interactions among the religious sector.

She says consumers would benefit from reading the book to understand how their belief systems -- whether religious or other -- influence their behavior. Consumers may understand marketing tactics that incorporate religious references, identify ways in which religion influences health and ethical behavior, and also further understand how different aspects of religion differentially influence consumption.

“The book overviews each major religion, their beliefs and how these beliefs influence consumption to provide a more well-rounded view of the diverse population around us, especially in America,” Minton says. “The case studies at the end of the book will get the average consumer thinking about how businesses advertise during the holidays, the intertwining of religion and sustainability, as well as the influence of religion in political discussions.”

Her stream of research explores religion’s effect on consumer behavior. Among Minton’s focuses, she explores how religion influences sustainable attitudes and behaviors, specifically examining differences between Western (Christian, Jew, Muslim), Eastern (Hindu, Buddhist, Taoist/Confucianism), and non-religious consumers.

Minton received both her master’s and doctoral degrees in marketing from the University of Oregon; her MBA from Idaho State University; and a BBA in marketing from the University of Alaska Southeast.

The book, published by Business Expert Press, is available at Amazon.com at http://www.amazon.com/Belief-Systems-Religion-Behavioral-Economics/dp/1606497049/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1417646809&sr=8-1&keywords=minton+religion.


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