Date of Award

Spring 1999

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)


Marketing and Analysis

First Advisor

Richard Huston


The purpose of this study was to determine if there were any significant differences in the search and purchase behavior between white and black consumers due to ethnicity, ethnic identification, ethnic salience and ethnic situation.

The sample was chosen from two universities, one predominately white, the other predominately black. Of the 360 questionnaires administered, 345 were usable. The sample was representative of the student population of each university with respect to age, gender, and ethnicity. Statistical techniques used were ANOVAs, t-tests and paired comparisons.

The findings indicate that ethnicity plays an important role in an individual's sources of information used for purchase decisions and purchase behavior. Statistically significant differences were found between black and white consumers in the sources of information used for purchase decisions and the products they purchased. Black consumers used different sources of information when making purchase decisions, relying heavily on store-related sources and advertising such as television and newspaper. Differences between black and white respondent's perceptions of each other's expenditures were also reported. The study found that black respondents predicted white respondents' purchase behavior better than white respondents predicted black respondents' purchase behavior. Although, ethnic identification was expected to affect an individual's search and purchase behavior no statistically significant differences were found. The effect of ethnic situation on ethnic salience was not statistically significant, but was in the right direction, offering partial support for distinctiveness theory. Limited support for the effect of ethnic situation on purchase behavior was reported.