Marketing the anti-smoking message to immigrant adolescents: Are cultural values risk or protective factors ?

Document Type

Conference Proceeding


Faculty of Business and Public Management


School of Marketing, Tourism and Leisure




Ganeshasundaram, R.. & Henley, N. (2005). Marketing the Anti-smoking Message to Immigrant Adolescents: Are Cultural Values Risk or Protective Factors? Australian and New Zealand Marketing Academy Conference 2005 Perth, Western Australia. Conference website available here.


One of the keys to successful social marketing is segmentation, the process of identifying appropriate subgroups so that a marketing mix can be designed to match their specific needs. This paper reports an investigation into smoking intentions amongst Sri Lankan immigrant adolescents living in Western Australia. Four focus group discussions were conducted to explore how cultural values are expressed in this group’s beliefs and attitudes towards smoking and non-smoking and how these values may influence their smoking-related behaviour. We investigated what smoking means to Sri Lankan teenagers and the protective or risk factors that may influence their decision to smoke or not smoke. Most of the participants had never tried a cigarette. Females and males attached similar values to smoking, arising from their perceived social norms and cultural contexts. These values appeared to protect them against smoking uptake. However, differences were found between male and female adolescents’ perception about the reasons their peers smoke. Males saw peers’ smoking as a way to be cool and popular. Females saw peers’ smoking as a way to solve stress and other personal problems. Both should be considered as risk factors for smoking uptake in this subgroup. It would not be cost effective to design a separate marketing strategy for Sri Lankan adolescents in Australia as this market segment would be too small. However, these preliminary findings form the basis of more extensive work looking at immigrant adolescents in Australia and could lead eventually to the development of social marketing messages that are specifically tailored for this previously neglected segment.