"Fish out of water": Understanding Decision-Making and Coping Strategies of English as Second Language Consumers Through a Situational Literacy Perspective

Document Type



Published by Emerald Group Publishing Ltd. in the Journal of Consumer Marketing, volume 27 issue 6, 2010. Bryant users may access this article here.


Emerald Group Publishing Ltd.

Publication Source

Journal of Consumer Marketing


This paper aims to study English as second language (ESL) consumers in the USA. The authors seek to focus on consumers who are literate in their native country, yet akin to fish out of water due to language difficulties and unfamiliarity with the marketplace. Using qualitative interviews of 31 informants and shopping observations of a small subset, the authors examined cognitive predilections, decision making, emotional trade-offs, and coping strategies of ESL consumers. The findings relate to cognitive predilections, decision making and emotional trade-offs, and coping strategies of ESL consumers. The authors analyze ESL consumers from a situational literacy perspective, viewing the situations faced by ESL consumers in terms of functional literacy skills. The findings provide a variety of new insights, and have important theoretical and practical implications for theory and practice.