Open Journal of Modern Linguistics
2013. Vol.3, No.4, 348-355
Published Online December 2013 in SciRes (http://www.scirp.org/journal/ojml) http://dx.doi.org/10.4236/ojml.2013.34045
American Values Reflected in Names of US Supermarkets, the
Top Five Values and American Dream
Zhong Wang, Wei wei Fa n
Foreign Languages School, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, China
Email: kristywang201 2 @gmail.com
Received June 26th, 2013; revised J ul y 30th, 2013; accepted August 9th, 2013
Copyright © 2013 Zhong Wang, Weiwei Fan. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative
Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium,
provided the original work is properly cited.
This study based its foundation on a qualitative study of organizations that are closely related to people’s
daily life—supermarkets, more exactly supermarket names and analyzed values represented in these
names. 211 supermarket names were collected and values were extracted from these subjects, then the
frequency and frequency rates of each individual value were calculated by SPSS 17. At last, 20 values
were obtained. Among them, the top five values were individualism, directness, nature, cultural identity,
efficiency and practicality, which respectively took up 19.8%, 7.9%, 5.8%, 5.3% and 5.3%. Individualism,
one of the dominant values in American society, ranked the first in terms of frequency rate, representing
people’s desire in memorizing their achievement and success as well as demonstrating personal responsi-
bilities; directness showed people’s straightforward way of expression; nature demonstrated the fervent
love for nature and the original and simple ways of solving problems, and nature also symbolized the “re-
turn for nature”; cultural identity, also collective identity, meant people’s identificatio n as a member of a
group; efficiency and practicality were to seek the fast and cheapest way of achieving a goal. What was
surprising was the reflection of nature and cultural identity, which were rarely mentioned as belonging to
core American values. Besides, the American Dream values, covering individualism, competition, free-
dom, pioneering spirit, superiority and nationalism, constituted about 27% of the totality of frequency rate,
which proved the unwavering charm of American dream in American society.
Keywords: Supermarket Names; American Dream; Individualism; Directness; Nature; Cultural Identity
Studies on American values were mostly based on logical
reasoning on existing historical, cultural, religious reasons
(Kohls, 1988; Gary, 1999). American values include the fol-
lowing according to L. Robert Kohls, 1988: personal control
over the environment, change/mobility, time and its importance,
equality/egalitarianism, individualism, independence and pri-
vacy, self-help, competition and free enterprise, future-orienta-
tion/optimism, action and work orientation, informality, direct-
ness/openness/honesty, practicality/efficiency and material-
ism/acquisitiveness. While Peppas (2001) noted that “it is gen-
erally accepted that within US society, dominant values include
individualism, self-reliance, equality of opportunity for all,
competitiveness, hard work, materialism, informality, direct-
ness, timeliness, and a belief that change is good (Daniels &
Radebaugh, 1995: pp. 51-66; Griffin and Pustay, 1996: pp.
478-486; Harris & Moran, 1996: pp. 209-218; Hofstede, 1983).”
However, these conclusions were mostly drawn on the founda-
tion of historical events, cultural reasons and general tradition.
Hardly have any researchers used solid proof in American daily
life to support their conclusions.
Nevertheless, supermarkets, bearing super fancy names, have
emerged everywhere in the United States and have attracted
customers to consume with the convenience economy and oth-
ers. Meanwhile supermarket names perform the function of
brand names, which differentiate one supermarket from others
and leave an appealing impression on customers, resulting in
the customer’s preference in shopping in that specific super-
market. In fact, names of supermarkets reflected what aspects
of the supermarket are decided to be presented by a nomencla-
tor, which means that supermarket names reflect values of the
nomenclators and the majority of the customers. Presently,
there are around 23,662 supermarkets in the country. Conse-
quently, there are certainly a considerable number of super-
market names, presenting themselves in various forms and with
different enchantment—people’s values. Just as Williams (1979)
and Bennett (1980) note, values are always associated with sets
of beliefs that link them to societal practices (Feldman, 1988).
This study mainly focus on studying the supermarket names in
the United States and analyzing, in a qualitative manner, the
underlying reasons for the name-making of supermarkets,
which in this case are deduced from a perspective of American
Values are closely related to the norms of culture. Matsu-
moto, Yoo, & Nakagawa (2008) noted that similar to norms, it
has also been suggested that internalized culture influences
behaviour (Bardi & Guerra, 2011). Values could be understood
as the principles, standards, ethics, and ideals that companies
Z. WANG, W. W. FAN
Open Access 349
and people lived by (Edvardsson et al., 2008). “Values are not
just words; values are what we live by”. “They’re about the
causes we champion and the people we fight for.” (Senator
Likewise, the American values are values that guide the
American people’s attitudes towards what is right and what is
wrong and they are used to rationalize any action of American
Guo (2007) concluded that the American value was different
because of its multiple ethnicity group, and American value
should be divided into three types: traditional value, modern
value and post-modern value and that the American value
originated from the immigration of Puritans and the Declaration
Apart from all above, the “American Dream” could not be
missed for it influenced generations and generations of Ameri-
can people. To state it simply, the American Dream was that
those who “work hard can find a good job and give their fami-
lies a better life” (Matthew Warshauer, James Truslow et al.).
To dig into the American values, one cannot avoid studying
the cultures, history and society of the United States. Jingqiong
Zhou, generally described the American history and summa-
rized six key values of the American people: individual free-
dom (the most basic of all values), self-reliance, equality, com-
petition, material wealth, hard work. In addition, Zhou thought
that America society should be divided into three classes: the
upper class (with the most social wealth), the middle class and
the working class (Zhou, 2002).
A much detailed list of central American values was made by
Williams, Robin M. Jr. in 1970, as the following (Williams,
1970: pp. 454-500): Achievement and Success, Activity and
Work, Moral Orientation (right or wrong), Humanitarianism,
Efficiency and Practicality (fastest and cheapest), Process and
Progress, Material Comfort, Equality, Freedom, External Con-
formity, Science and Rationality, Nationalism, Democracy,
Individualism, Racism and Group Superiority.
An editorial published on AmericanHospitals.com which
belongs to Spindle Publishing Company, Inc and written by
Thomas E. Grouling, said that the core American values were
individual freedom, education, family and privacy. In the jour-
nal of Peppas (2001), he noted that “it is generally accepted that
within US society, dominant values include individualism,
self-reliance, equality of opportunity for all, competitiveness,
hard work, materialism, informality, directness, timeliness, and
a belief that change is good (Daniels & Radebaugh, 1995: pp.
51-66; Griffin & Pustay, 1996: pp. 478-486; Harris & Moran,
1996: pp. 209-218; Hofstede, 1983).” In addition, Peppas ar-
gued that among different subcultures in the United States,
different values w er e e mp h a si z e d .
Cerulo (2008) admitted that during the 1980s and 1990s,
scholars wrote of rising selfishness, declining civility, of sub-
urban isolation, and the loss of community. By the millen-
nium’s end, many saw Americans as hopelessly disengaged—
from everything but themselves. Indeed, political scientist
Robert Putnam (1998, 2000; Putnam et al., 2004) declared the
“death of Civic America”. Sociologists Miller McPherson,
Lynn Smith-Lovin, and Mathew Brashears (2006) warned that
the United States was quickly becoming a nation of social iso-
Levy (2006) had pointed out the vertigoes of America: the
perplexities of memorial phenomenon, the overgrown of certain
American institutes like churches, supermarket, the division
social, political sections and increasing segregation of social
In conclusion, the American society was experiencing a
downward change under the cu rrent situation.
As to the central value of the United States, in the 2006 Klett
Magazine article “The American Dream Then and Now” (2006),
the status quo of today’s American Dreams was described to
have been reduced to mere materialism and individualism, and
it cared less about the social community.
Presently, researches and articles wrote about how American
Dreams had turned into a delusion and how it should be
changed (Butler, 2011, the Pew Charitable Trusts, et al., 2007).
However, as to the present study, there should be a consid-
erably complete list of American values so that there could be
criteria for analyzing values represented in supermarket names.
Unfortunately, list of values from previous researches were
incomplete in that they did not encompass every aspect of
American people. In order to attain such a complete list, values
from previous researches were selected and combined. After a
comparison of all values presented above, a comparatively
complete list of values were as follows: personal control over
the environment, change/mobility, time ( and its importance),
equality/egalitarianism, individualism, independence and pri-
vacy, self-help, competition, future-orientation/optimism, ac-
tion and work orientation, informality, directness/openness/
honesty, materialism/acquisitiveness, achievement and success,
moral orientation (right or wrong), humanitarianism, efficiency
and practicality (fastest and cheapest), process and progress,
equality, freedom, external conformity, science and rationality,
nationalism, racism and group superiority. This list was mainly
based on value list by Kohls (1988), Williams (1970) and
Daniels and Radebaugh, 1995: pp. 51-66; Griffin and Pustay,
1996: pp. 478-486; Harris and Moran, 1996: pp. 209-218; Hof-
stede, 1983, with some overlapping values erased.
The concept of supermarket was forwarded by M. M. Zim-
merman (2011) of the United States. In his work, The Super-
market and the Changing Retail Structure, he noted that super-
market was a highly departmentalized retail store, managed
entirely by the store-owner or by agents, that sold food or other
products, which including dry foods, daily commodities were
all sold by self-service. It was equipped with abundant parking
lot and was rewarded with minimum annual revenue of 250,000
It was characterized by its physical appearance of its size, the
huge stock inventories, its departmental character, the check-
ing-out counters, and the carrier baskets, the freedom to shop at
leisure through the tremendous floor space, and its location at
the fringe of towns. Whereas, the location of supermarkets
decided that advertising was the priority for attracting the traf-
The first supermarket opened in the United States. It has
been determined that the first true supermarket in the United
States was opened by a former Kroger employee, Michael J.
Cullen, on August 4, 1930, inside a 6000-square-foot (560 m2)
former garage in Jamaica, Queens in New York City.
Studies on supermarket were rather limited given its brief
history of about 80 years. There are studies about the influence
of supermarket invasion on local cultures. Isaacs et al. (2010)
researched into the changes happening to cultures surrounding
Z. WANG, W. W. FAN
supermarkets in Thailand, and how the cultures were sustained,
adapted and transmitted; There are others focusing on super-
market marketing and health issues (Berry & McMullen, 2008).
There were also research into economy (Bird-David, & Nurit,
2009), religion (Gill, 2003), sexism and other connotations in
The most comprehensive study about supermarket might be
“The supermarket and the changing retail structure” by Zim-
merman in 2011. In the study Zimmerman concluded two
characters of supermarket: its physical characteristics, including
its “size, the huge stock inventories, its departmental character,
the checking-out counters, the carrier baskets, the freedom to
shop at leisure through the tremendous floor space”, and its
location at the fringe of towns. Besides, he researched into the
rapid development of supermarkets (its expansion and others),
the influence supermarkets had on general distribution, its de-
velopment trend a n d its future.
On the other hand, a Chinese research into supermarket
names was highly relative to this study—A Linguistic Aesthetic
Perspective on the Naming of Supermarket by Liu (2011). In
this study, LIU collected Chinese supermarket names from the
Internet and then analyzed these names for the aspect of the
phonological features, the character patterns and the charm of
their semantic connotation. He found that there were repeated
words and structures in the names and that the tones were
bright and crispy. These characters, as a result, helped the tem-
perament of supermarket names incline to be clangorous and
metrical. Besides, the semantic aspect of supermarket names
suggested that nomenclators of supermarkets chose words as-
sociated with happiness, fortune, goodness, talent, beauty,
prosperity and other positive conceptions. In the end, he con-
cluded that that under the broad background of a developing
market economy, customers were longing for a happy, harmo-
nious family life, and the supermarket owners took supermarket
names as a bridge to communicate with customers by telling
them of the advantageous characteristics and the promises they
made to the customers. From Liu’s paper, it might be concluded
that supermarket owners named supermarkets in a certain way
so as to appeal to customers’ emotions and imply to them that
they would attain certain spiritual things once they shop in that
supermarket. However, this article just analyzed from language
level rather than digging into the cultural reasons. However,
this article served as a reference of how to carry out this study.
Having reviewed all accessible previous researches, the con-
clusion might be that few researches have been conducted to
delve into the characteristics and qualities of supermarket ex-
cept the ones made by Zimmerman (in his journal, The Super-
market and the Changing Retail Structure), most researches
about supermarkets have been focused on the realm of econ-
omy, cultural influence, health issues, religion, sexism and all,
which excluded the research into the relation between super-
market names and American values.
•What American values are connotated in Supermarket Names
in the United States?
•What are the frequency rates of each American Values and
what are the implications?
Subject of this Thesis is names of Supermarket in the United
States. The simplest access to supermarket names in the United
States is the Internet websites, which in this case is an Ameri-
can website called the Supermarket Page
(http://supermarketpage.com/index.php), on which supermar-
kets, totaling more than 20 thousand, including big scale su-
permarket chains, are listed by alphabetic order, or if browsers
are interested they can be listed according to the local states.
This kind of categorization benefits the process of data selec-
tion (which can be further explained in the next section), with-
out which the data analysis will post a vastly time-consuming
task to data processing.
On deciding the source of information, the subjects are per-
fectly identified: there are totally 23,662 supermarkets in the
United States and many of them are under the same name and
the control of the same group. However, our subjects are just
the vast variety of supermarket names, therefore the final sub-
ject should be a list of certain chosen supermarket names. That
means that certain repeated names should be eliminated and
these names are called types.
Instruments for this Thesis and for the above subjects in-
cludes SPSS 17 for frequency description, WPS Office Excel
18.104.22.16863 , Internet search engines, mostly Google, Wikipedia,
and all other Internet resources that helps verify the true mean-
ing of a supermarket name, as well as on-line dictionary You-
dao Dict 22.214.171.12425.
To be exact, when identifying the reasons behind supermar-
ket name, and then reveal the underlying values in it, the best
thing happens if the access to the official website of the super-
market can be gained. Because, naming reasons can be attained
in signs or symbols in company logo, or in website sections like
Company History, or About Us etc.
If without luck of gaining the access, the next thing to do is
to ensure that the American supermarket as is described on the
Supermarket Page really exist by discovering any entry about
the target supermarket with information at least covering the
address of the supermarket so that there is evidence that the
information provided by the Supermarket Page is authentic.
Then what is left is to implement a small on-line study in
search of the elements that constitute the target supermarket
names. For example, there could be a supermarket name, “Red
Apple Supermarket”, if the attempt to log on the supermarket’s
website fails, then the direction should be pointed at finding out
the connotations in “Red Apple”, its cultural meaning and its
indications in the supermarket field.
Regarding to Youdao Dict, it provides a vast variety of
translations from various principles or difference jargons or
slangs, which are important reference in data analysis.
On checking out the reliability of the information on the Su-
permarket Page, random sampling was the simplest and most
feasible method. In this case, 30 supermarkets on the super-
market list are randomly selected, among which 30 supermar-
kets really existed and the target information, which in this case
was names of supermarket, was clearly exact. Except that two
supposedly different supermarket records in the sample, turned
out to be the same supermarket, which means that there is an
overlapping of information in the supermarket. Therefore, the
conclusion was that the credibility of information from the
Supermarket Page website is more than 96.667%, which earned
the website enough credibility to be the data source of this The-
First, as to data collection, the total number of supermarket
names in the website was 23,662 and the manual work of
Z. WANG, W. W. FAN
Open Access 351
searching for naming reasons for each individual supermarket
cast down a vastly time-consuming as well as energy-consum-
ing mission to the Study. To reduce the workload and secure
the credibility and effectiveness of this Study, we selected su-
permarket names and reduced the number of supermarkets un-
der study. The selection was made according to the population
density of local states or district of supermarkets. Due to the
target of identifying the most typical of American values, the
effective selection standard is population density, which is cal-
culated based on 2011 census statistics publicized on the Cen-
sus Bureau of the United States.
The ranking was as shown in Table 1.
Therefore, with population density raising up among the tops
of states and district of the United states, District of Columbia
along with seven states including New Jersey, Rhode Island,
Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maryland, Delaware, New York
are selected, and the supermarkets located in those respective
states and the District of Columbia are listed into subjects for
study. Besides, as some supermarkets have chains spreading
over the nation, names of supermarket may reappear in other
states or in the D.C. In order to get an accurate percentage of
American values reflected in individual supermarket names,
repetition must be cleared.
Therefore, the finalized data collection must be a list of su-
permarkets whose chains must be removed and whose location
must be among the top eight in the population density ranking
of the United states, which leaves only 1782 supermarkets and
211 supermarket names.
Information integration consists of information gathering,
information analyzing, among which data gathering aims at
locating and recording the reasons behind supermarket naming
through Internet search engines and all other instruments men-
tioned above, and information analyzing targets at analyzing
what American values are contained in it, and then comes a
table comprised of list of values performed in supermarket
naming and the utility rate of each values, which was the result
of data processing.
To make the process conveniently understandable, an exam-
ple of “Big Bear Natural Foods” is given. When dealing with
this subject, the priority is to access to the official website of this
Population density ranking of states and districts of the United States in
in 2010 Land Area
1 District of Colombia 601,723 158 3808.373418
2 New Jersey 8,791,894 19,211 457.6489511
3 Rhode Island 1,052,567 2706 388.9752402
4 Massachusetts 6,547,629 20,306 322.4479957
5 Connecticut 3,574,097 12,548 284.8339974
6 Maryland 5,773,552 25,314 228.0774275
7 Delaware 897,934 5060 177.4573123
8 New York 19,378,102 122,283 158.4693048
supermarket. In this case, the official website was available,
and on the website, the supermarket logo was an idly walking
bear with the supermarket name on the margin, and the About
US section of the website failed to provide its naming reasons.
Then the next step, was to identify the symbolic meaning of
bear and analyze the American values that contributed to this
supermarket name. The context here included supermarket
naming, the fact that the supermarket name was “Big Bear
Natural Foods” and the image presented in the logo, a bear idly
walking in a yellow backgr o u n d with radiating yellow lights.
Having searched information with Internet engines (in this
case, Google.hk was preferred for its complete and resourceful
information, especially English information), and obtained a
website describing bear meaning from Native Americans’
views. Between information, related source presented itself
about nature: Bear meanings were enhanced by observations
made by tribal sages. These vital tribal figures were inclined to
contemplate how nature communicated intent in all her forms.
They found connection between human and beasts and endeav-
ored to utilize it to produce fruits in human activities. A Sho-
shone sage once, in his trance walking, witnesses a group of
bears, on their hind legs, dancing in the golden rays of the sun.
He understood it as a way of expressing gratitude and payer for
their children. At this enlightenment, Shoshone developed a
Sun Dance, where the bear is a central figure of the ritual sym-
bolizing protection, strength and continuation of the progeny of
The above belonged to information gathering, and the next
step was information analyzing, which should base on the given
conditions like the supermarket logo, the co mpa ny histo ry etc.
The information provided reverberated with the images in the
supermarket logo, and made sense in the context of supermar-
ket naming. Therefore, the conclusion was that the value behind
naming was nature worship.
Concerning the context of the study, the supermarket names,
it should be noted that supermarkets context had some influ-
ence on supermarket naming. As to supermarket, it was identi-
fied with its characteristic physical appearance like “its size, the
huge stock inventories, its departmental character, the check-
ing-out counters, the carrier baskets, the freedom to shop at
leisure through the tremendous floor space. All these give the
supermarket the atmosphere of beehive activity never seen
before in food retailing units” as well as its essential parking lot.
(Zimmerman in 2011) These meant that supermarkets were
highly possible to use these classical characteristics which
made a supermarket the supermarket that made itself popular
world wide, to attract customers. Other major elements that
forged the supermarket names the way they looked, most
probably included the values the nomenclators had imprinted in
In Table 2, there are a total of 20 values, among them some
were not from the complete list of American values concluded
above, because they did not belong to any of those values. They
are nature, family/hometown, cultural identity, happiness,
healthy/safe, cultural tolerance, superiority and sports.
What was surprising was the notion of cultural identity, and
cultural tolerance. Because cultural identity was seldom men-
tioned as one of American values, however, supermarket names
indicated that American people use names of their community
Z. WANG, W. W. FAN
List of values reflected in American supermarket names.
No. Values Definitions
1 Individualism Individual names we r e used to memorize personal achievement or they used words assoc iated with individual r esponsibility.
2 Nature Supermarke ts were named after plants, flowers, natural matters, natural phenomena as well
as the word “Nature”. It represented peopl e’s love in nature.
3 Directness It shows attributes of supermarkets like the scale, completion, qua lity service or it may directly slogan the
customers into shopping in the superma rket.
4 Cultural Identity People use names of their local community, city or even states, which represents people’s cultural or regional identity.
5 Efficiency and Practicality The supermarket names attrac ted customer s b y indicating a low price for produ cts and convenience of a general type.
6 Competition Due to a de si re to being the better one or the be s t one in a group, people gave supermarket names a touch of
competition and the concept of win and l o se.
7 Nationalism The supermarket was named after nation al pride, or the name directly complimented the nation
8 Good People tend to hope for the good and thus they u se some good adjectives and nouns.
9 Superiority People used words like king, president to suggest the supreme authority, th e high quality of the supermarket.
10 Pi one e ring Spi rit People directly use “pioneer” or som ething related with pioneering spir it in the names.
11 Moral Orientation The supermarket names indicated that cust o mers shoul d shop right and it was r ight to shop in their supermarkets.
12 Friendship Supermarket directly use d words like “friendship” or “friendly” in their names, indicating the impo rt ance
American people put o n friends.
13 Unity The superm arket names directly used words related with teamwork and unity in their name s.
14 Family/Hometown Words related to family and hometown were u sed to appeal to pe ople’s positive feelings to the supermarket,
which represent the importance of family.
15 Cultural tolerance The nomenclators used exotic elements in supermarket names, which showed the cultural tolerance of American people.
16 Wisdom Wor ds like “wisdom”, “smart” were adopted to show people’s desire for wisdom.
17 Freedom “Freedom” directed appeared in supermarket names.
18 Happiness Nomenclators assoc i ated supermarket names with ha p pi ness.
19 Healthy/Safe Supermark et names su ggested that foods i n th e supermarket were healthy and safe,
reminding the customers to keep fit and advertising for it self.
20 Sports Supermarket names were associated with events, places or subjects related with sports.
and city to draw people closer. This value was shared by people
who felt a strong regional or cultural identity. Besides, even
though the United Sates was regularly referred to as a “melting
pot”, cultural tolerance was never mentioned as one of Ameri-
can values. In fact, nomenclators who named supermarkets with
a thought of cultural tolerance in mind were mostly foreigners
in America, like Koreans and Indians.
Frequencies of Each Reflected Values
The frequency rate was calculated by frequency description
of SPSS, and the frequency rates of each value were listed in
Table 3 showed the frequency rate of each value. This table
was calculated by descriptive frequency in SPSS 17 with ir-
relevant informa tion deleted.
As shown in Table 3, there was a gap between frequency
rates of different values. For example, frequency of individual-
ism was 75 while the next value in the rank just had a fre-
quency of 30, less than half of 75. This might indicate that in-
dividualism was the most significant value in American society.
Likewise, individualism, directness, nature cultural identity and
efficiency and practicality were the core values in the United
According to the Table 2, values reflected in supermarkets in
the United States were individualism, directness, nature, cul-
tural identity, efficiency and practicality, competition, good,
nationalism, superiority, moral orientation, pioneering spirit,
friendship, hometown/family, unity, c ultural toleranc e, wisdom,
health/safe, freedom, happiness and sports. This meant that
values in American daily life were the 20 values as listed above.
Among them, individualism, directness, nature cultural identity
and efficiency and practicality were most valued.
Individualism was rampant in supermarket naming in the
United States, making up 19.8% of the total frequency rate. The
common situation of how individualism came to influence the
Z. WANG, W. W. FAN
Open Access 353
Frequency rate of each value reflected in supermarket names in US.
Rank Values Frequency Per Cent
1 Individualism 75 19.8
2 Directness 30 7.9
3 Nature 22 5.8
4 Cultural Identity 20 5.3
5 Efficiency Practicality 20 5.3
6 Competition 9 2.4
7 Good 8 2.1
8 Nationalism 6 1.6
9 Superiority 6 1.6
10 Moral Orientation 5 1.3
11 Pioneering Spirit 5 1.3
12 Friendship 4 1.1
13 Hometown/Family 3 0.8
14 Unity 3 0.8
15 cultural tolerance 2 0.5
16 Wisdom 2 0.5
17 Health/safe 2 0.5
18 Freedom 1 0.3
19 Happiness 1 0.3
20 Sports 1 0.3
naming of supermarket was like that, decades ago, a person or
couples of persons was or were struck by the idea of starting up
a supermarket which mainly sold food at that time, then he or
they overcame various difficulties and had successfully opened
one. When naming the brainchild of his or their efforts, a per-
son’s name was selected to be fused into supermarket name to
commemorate his or their contribution and great endeavor, and
to declare ownership to the supermarket. These people had
imprinted the thought that individual endeavor and hard work
could lead to success and wealth, which was the essence of the
In fact, it was no surprising that individualism was list No. 1
in all reflected values, because individualism was long regarded
as dominant values in the American society (Kohls, 1988; Pep-
pas, 2001). In this study, individualism in supermarket context,
mainly referred to the inclination to memorize individual
achievement and success rather than individual responsibility
(with a frequency of only one in this study).
Directness was shown by direct description of advantages of
supermarkets like the large scale, quality service, and a com-
plete collection of products. Sometimes the supermarket names
even use slogans to ask people to “stop n shop”. In 2007 Ph.D.
dissertation, Jia Xuerui wrote that “Unlike the English writings
of the Chinese, those of the Americans adopt a direct style, or
linear logic mode.”, which indicated directness in American
writing. Besides, Kim et al. (2010) wrote about the European
American’s tendance to give favorable self-evaluations in pub-
lic and private situations, indicating that European Americans
In this Study, directness emerged as the second biggest val-
ues extracted in the subjects, taking up 7.9% of the totality of
frequency rate, and was identified with a down-to-earth manner
of exhibiting one’s merits, virtues or unique characteristics
without holding back in modesty. This ranking of directness
conformed the importance position of directness in US central
Nature rated the third in frequency rate in Table 3, constitut-
ing 5.8% of the totality. In this study, supermarkets were named
after plants, flowers, natural matters, natural phenomena as well
as the word “Nature”. It represented people’s love in nature.
Transcendentalists thought nature as a symbol of spirit and a
cover of oversoul. According to their point of view, the vigor-
ous vitality of nature could purify human heart (Lu, 2003).
Besides, an article in China’s Foreign Trade (1994, issue 1,
Oversea Penchant volume), “American Return to Nature” had
wrote “with an increasing consciousness of environmental pro-
tection among American people, a new trend has been quietly
emerging—their quest for things simple and plain and a return
to nature. If you make a trip to supermarkets in the United
States, you will discover that what finds favor is no longer
those well-made pastries and exquisitely-cooked fish and meat,
nor those tinned food with beautiful labels. The favorite food
are fresh produce just arrived from farms.” “To meet people
who have followed this trend, some supermarkets have set up
special departments or counters selling ‘green foods’”. The
same tendency to return to nature was also prominent in clothes
market, toys and arts and crafts markets.
In this study, supermarket names with an emphasis over na-
ture mostly have “nature”, “natural”, “farmland” in them. Oth-
ers were named after plants, animals and fruits. Therefore, the
conclusion might be that the overwhelming charm of nature in
supermarket naming was due to American people’s tendency to
return to nature and probably, people turned to nature to re-
trieve vitality and wish to be purified.
In this study, cultural identity referred to the phenomenon
where people use names of their local community, city or even
states, which represents people’s cultural or regional identity.
The high frequency of cultural identity was unexpected, rank-
ing the forth with a frequency rate of 5.3%, because cultural
identity, also called collective identity was considered a typical
feature of Asian countries. However, according to this study,
cultural identity occupied a prominent position in American
values. Raymond Williams thought that one’s social position
and identity was decided by one’s surroundings. Besides, in
modern society, culture and identity usually combined to pro-
duce cultural identity which served as a group signal that
helped a group of people to define themselves, to tell them-
selves from other group of people, to intensify people’s sense
of a group. It was a sign of shared cultural connotations of a
Z. WANG, W. W. FAN
group. Moreover, cultural identity was an agreement on central
local values of a community where the group of people had
been living for a long time. It was a spiritual connection to
gather the nation, region together (Guo, 2012). In this study
besides the influence of cultural identity in both the nomencla-
tors of supermarkets and the customers, there might be an in-
fluence of marketing on the high frequency rate, for the name
of community or the city drew people closer together so that
people of the same region preferred to shop in that supermarket.
However, there was the irreversible impact of cultural identity
on the naming of supermarkets. This showed an intense and
clear cultural identity of American people.
Efficiency and Practicality
Efficiency and practicality was defined by Williams in 1970,
as seeking the fast and cheapest way of achieving something. In
supermarket naming context, the supermarket names indicated
a low price for products and convenience of a general type to
attract customers. In fact, this value was mostly reflected by
emphasizing the low price of supermarket products. The high
frequency rate of this value might be largely influenced by one
of supermarket’s attributes: big scale and low price. As a result,
this value could not reflect how much significance this value
was to Americans.
Apart from the above top four values, there were other values
with lower frequency rates. Among these values good, friend-
ship, hometown/family, wisdom, healthy/safe, and happiness
were common human wishes, constituting about 5.3% of the
total utility rate. The deployment of these values in supermarket
names was to imply that whoever shopped in these supermar-
kets could be blessed with good traits, happiness, family, wis-
dom and friendship. The considerably low frequency rate of
these good wishes in this study might indicate an influence of
American people’s self-reliance or self-help. They inclined to
strive for these by themselves.
The “American Dream Value”
Apart from these good wishes, there was considerably tradi-
tion and general values like competition, nationalism, superior-
ity, moral orientation, pioneering spirit, unity, cultural tolerance
and freedom. Among them, competition, pioneering spirit, na-
tionalism, superiority and freedom belonged to the realm of
American dream values. As was mentioned above, American
dream was the core of American culture. In this study, competi-
tion, pioneering spirit, nationalism, superiority and freedom
together with individualism, one prominent features of Ameri-
can Dream, constituted about 27% of the total frequency rate. If
American Dream values were integrated into one value called
“American Dream Value”, then this value must be the No. 1
value in terms of its frequency rate or rather its importance in
American people. These meant that American Dream was still
the core of American culture and values.
Besides American dream values, moral orientation, unity and
cultural tolerance were considerably traditional ones.
The last value to be discussed was sports with its frequency
of one in all those supermarket names. Because, the frequency
of this values was low and was not normally discussed, this
study would not further discussed this value.
Values Expressed in American Supermarket Names
In summary, the values that were demonstrated through su-
permarkets in the United States were listed as follows in a
top-down order: individualism, directness, nature, cultural iden-
tity, efficiency and practicality, competition, good, nationalism,
superiority, moral orientation, pioneering spirit, friendship,
hometown/family, unity, cultural tolerance, wisdom, health/safe,
freedom, happiness and sports.
What was surprising was cultural identity or collective iden-
tity. As a typical feature of Asian countries like Japan and
China, it was rarely mentioned in American culture. However,
the high frequency rate of cultural identity was an evidence of
the cultural belongingness and the collective ideals of American
Top Five Values in Supermarket Environment
The five most popular values in supermarket naming context
were individualism, directness, nature, cultural identity, effi-
ciency and practicality. Among these four values, the frequency
rate of nature and efficiency and practicality might be greatly
influenced by the supermarket’s intention to use natural green
food and the advantageous characteristic of low price in super-
market to advertise the safety and quality and economic nature
of their produce. As a result, it could be concluded that the five
values, only individualism, directness, cultural identity, were
among the core values of American people.
Besides, among the five values, each one had its specific
connotations as follows:
Individualism, meaning the belief in the importance of the
individual and the virtue of self-reliance and personal inde-
pendence, was most overly emphasized, and was also a primary
part of the American Dream.
Directness emerged as the second biggest values extracted in
the subjects, and was identified with a down-to-earth manner of
exhibiting one’s merits, virtues or unique characteristics with-
out holding back in modesty.
Nature symbolized the fervent love of nature in American
people and their desire of returning to nature. In the situation of
this study, people injected natural elements in supermarket
names including some plants, flowers, weather and all nature-
Cultural identity revealed American people’s emotional need
of belonging to a group and sharing signals or marks of a
Efficiency and practicality meant the fastest and cheapest
way of solving problems, while in this study and situation of
supermarket naming, this values paid special attention to the
cheapest way of buying products.
The American Dream Values
The set of values ranging from individualism, freedom, na-
tionalism, superiority, competition, pioneering spirit was cate-
gorized in the values that were embedded in the American
Dream, called the American Dream values. According to statis-
tics in Table 3, they constituted 27% of the values abstracted
from all subjects. It suggested that the American dream was a
significant part of the American value system and even today it
still occupied a salient part in the American value system, with
Z. WANG, W. W. FAN
Open Access 355
an overwhelming emphasis on individualism.
Problems to Be Solved
The problem in this Study is that some values reflected in
supermarket names were inter-related, thus making the fre-
quency rate an inaccurate result. For example, the distinction
between nature and healthy/safe in this study was blurry be-
cause in some names nature functioned as healthy and safe, but
in another sense, natural did not necessarily mean healthy or
safe. As a result, whether a name reflected the value of nature
or the value of healthy/safe was at times controversial.
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