Wenyu Ou.


This strategic communication project examined overspending behavior using credit cards among a non-American millennial group: college-aged Chinese students currently enrolled in U.S. institutions of higher education. Two main research questions were posed: (a) how do Chinese college students studying in the U.S. make sense of their credit card overspending behavior regarding luxury goods? and, (b) why do they want to overspend on products that are over their budget? In-depth interviews (n = 12) were conducted with a purposeful sampling of Chinese college-aged students at a variety of Southern California universities, followed by thematic analysis. For the first question, two distinctive groups were identified: perceived-overspending participants and denied-overspending participants. For the second question--consistent with motivation, opportunity, and ability (MOA) theory--various motivation, opportunity, and ability-related themes to overspend emerged. Using the study's findings, a budgeting app, BudgetPet, was proposed. BudgetPet is an online service for managing money and credit card overspending. Further, a strategic communication promotional campaign targeting foreign millennial students was developed for this app. The promotion campaign aims to increase awareness of the new app among its target audience. Research-based data on the target audience, media planning, and creative promotional materials are also provided.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Dissertations (MA) -- Communication; Chinese students -- Education (Higher) -- California, Southern; Compulsive shopping; Generation Y -- Education (Higher)

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Seaver College



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Ahn, Hoyoung