The Impact of Culture Differences on the Global Market

Intercultural Marketing. The Impact of Culture on the Marketing-Mix
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Funny, But True: Cultural Differences Even many multinational companies tend to have a different approach into global marketing by being adaptive to a particular local market. While doing so, the recognition of local consumer knowledge along with marketing practices plays a very pivotal role. As culture is a deep rooted concept to humans, the knowledge on the cultural diversity in consumer behaviour is essential for taking into account, if a particular company wanted to succeed in the international arena.

Otherwise, conflicts of interest, disputes and disagreements may occur disrupting the long term goals of that particular company. Hence, global diversity should be considered as an asset while facing the challenges of cultural difference by localizing marketing strategies.

Culture as a variable in international marketing is very difficult to isolate as well as put into operation though it is given a prominent place. How culture influences the consumer behaviour is also complex to analyze on scientific basis. Many definitions are introduced to culture which is generally a vague notion.

Culture Plays A Vital Role In International Marketing Efforts

At present, some individuals depict multicultural nature by being multilingual and dual citizens in the corporate world. Yet, to have a deeper knowledge we need to know how they differentiate by particular inherent set of elements in culture, such as knowledge, values, morals, manners, habits, ethics, language, customs, beliefs, behaviour, flow of thought etc. Culture is a unique entity and it acts as a fingerprint showing a particular identity to a group of people in the society. Though there are many cultural differences among ourselves, we are not in a position to brand certain cultures as superior or inferior to others.

I say, Ebenezer, of how far the Lord has brought me. My next thanks goes to Mr. Bossman Manso for their contributions to my education and general welfare. Charles Nkrumah remains indeed a greatest friend I have ever had in my life; Aristotle, you are really a true friend. George Nipa and all my siblings I cannot forget you. Albert Segbawu, Amy Luxford, Dr. Beljeet Daffur and Dr. Several multinational firms are expanding their businesses internationally, and or market their products or services abroad- globalization of trade.

This emergence of globalization of trade and the rise of newly industrialized economies have led to an increasing issues of cultural backgrounds and how they impact on international marketing Tan With globalization in full swing many argue that marketing especially international marketing faces numerous challenges among which are different cultural influences due to people and products or services continually traveling abroad or moving across borders. These cultural influences, some people believe translate to successes or failures of international marketing of global products or services.

This report therefore tries to review the literature on whether or not culture has any role in international marketing. Culture is defined as set of values and norms and of the way a group of people live, behave and act. Hofstede defines culture as the behaviours and attitudes of a group of people in a society; distinguishing one group from another. Thus, one culture is different from another culture. Gary states, culture is made up of beliefs, values, knowledge, art, morals, laws, customs and traditions, and habits acquired by people as members of society.

Culture is part of the human environment and it is everything around us as people; the way we think and behave as members of the society. Culture is often defined as ethical habit, made up of values and ideas. Ethical systems give birth to moral communities because shared languages of good and evil give members in the society a common moral life Fukuyama, According to Hofstede , culture is a collective occurrence, for it is shared with people who live or have lived within the same environment.

It is the collective mindset that differentiates the members of one society from another. However, these definitions appear to be limited as it does not include other elements such as the marketing mix-price, promotion and place. In defining international marketing, Czinkota and Ronkainen state, it involves planning and conducting transactions across countries to create exchange that satisfy individual and organizational objectives.

Culture in international marketing therefore looks at how an international business can be promoted considering the cultural environment where the business is located. It is therefore an imperative that the successful marketer must be a student of culture. A marketer is always in constant interaction with the culture of the people the market - promotional message is crafted within local setting with recognizable symbols which is meaningful to the market-the culture Ghauri and Cateora, Hence product design, package, functions and other related marketing activities must be made culturally acceptable.

The extent of success or failures of the marketing effort depends on how such efforts interact with a culture Guillaumin, But, Matthews and Thakkar believe leadership is the key in modern global market. The international business environment is continually changing and global leaders must always develop, map out and diversify marketing strategies to meet global challenges.

Just as human society is dynamic markets are also dynamic; it expands and contracts not only in response to economic change, but also in response to changes in other aspects of the culture.

Cultural Influences on Marketing Strategies

Thus, markets are a result of culture. As a result marketers are constantly adjusting their efforts to the cultural demands of the market, coupled with the fact they are also act as agents of change whenever the product or service being marketed is innovative Holden, Guillaumin argues that culture encompasses everything around us as people; from dress to mass media and politeness because it has influence on whatever we consume; be it food, dress or knowledge. Meanwhile, Schramm and Roberts suggest, for international marketers to succeed they need to be effective and efficient communicators, able to handle customers issues and attempt to understand foreign expectations.

Also, Zeithaml and Bitner , state that marketing in the international context include differences in thinking processes and decision- making processes which are non-cultural related. So it behooves on the international marketer to have efficient and effective communication skills.

According to Ghauri and Cateora material culture affects demand levels-product types and functional features. For instance, Coca-Cola in had to withdraw its two- litre bottle in Spain after discovering that few Spaniards had refrigerators with large compartments to accommodate it Coy, ; a clear indication that culture has impact on international marketing.

Ghauri and Cateora write, it is important for the international marketer to assess cultural education level in a particular market since such has influence on the marketing strategy and techniques in areas of advertisement and communication. A remarkable example is Hallmark Cards failing in France because French dislike syrupy sentiment and prefer writing their own cards Miller, A condition which clearly depicts cultural impacts on the international marketing.

Cultural impacts are also seen in areas of taste and preferences of marketing products. Not respecting and without appropriately interpreting the cultural aesthetic values of culture can create a negative impression and thus render marketing efforts futile Ghauri and Cateora, This is the more reason why Nestle Corporation adapts its products to suite local cultures, tastes and traditions Robbins and Coulter, All these undoubtedly stress the fact that culture has influence on the international marketing.

Thus, they assume that a firm's performance depends on the qualities of it personnel rather than a firm's social, cultural and environmental influences.

List of Figures

Active international corpora- tions have to decide whether to standardize or to adapt to marketing-mix activi- ties. Therefore, it is a necessity for firms to perceive new trends, create new assets, and adapt to political changes. Besides cultural- centered aspects, it also depicts multicultural, regiocultural and geocultural per- spectives. If a country is homogeneous, then there are certain marked differences among the people in lifestyle too from different parts of the same country. A culture operates primarily by setting loose boundaries for individual behavior. Geert Hofstede, a Dutch researcher, was able to interview a large number of IBM executives in various countries.

For this reason, Sullivan et al. However, Hamel argues that global leadership is the key in unlocking international marketing potentials and to survive since it is critical in setting clear organizational vision which provides way-forward for employees by defining what the organization hopes to achieve in international market. Additionally, insufficient marketing, poor management, and lack of ability to compete with other similar businesses combined with the improper personality traits of the manager or marketer, and external factors cause business failure but not necessary culture Berryman, This holistic approach helps prudent firms to obtain a wider perspective of how to survive the global competition but not relying on either organization or national culture Porter, For instance, Microsoft is using this holistic approach to innovation in its quest to compete with Yahoo and Google in the making of search engines Byron, Meanwhile, Sitkin et al.

All cultures have their own unique sets of customs and taboos. It is important for marketers to learn about these customs and taboos so that they will know what is acceptable and unacceptable for their marketing programs. For example, in Japan, the number four is considered unlucky, and products packages containing four items are avoided by many consumers.

Shape culture

In Middle Eastern countries where Islamic law is strictly observed, images displaying the uncovered arms or legs of the female body are considered offensive. Marketers struggle with whether to portray women with or without the hijab , knowing that they risk offending some of their target audience with either choice. Marketers should seek guidance from native experts familiar with local culture and customers.

Marketing research can also help marketers understand and navigate these complex issues.


The role of values in society is to dictate what is acceptable or unacceptable. Values are also learned through experiences. Not surprisingly, values can influence consumer perceptions and purchasing behavior. For example, consumers in some countries, such as the United States, tend to be individualistic and make many purchasing decisions based on their own personal preferences.

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In other countries, such as Japan, the well-being of the group is more highly valued, and buying decisions are more influenced by the well-being of the group, such as the family. Different cultures have different sensitivities around time and punctuality. In some countries, being slightly late to a meeting is acceptable, whereas in other countries it is very insulting.

For cultures that highly value punctuality, being on time is a sign of good planning, organization, and respect. The fact that a meeting happens is more important than when it happens. You will not insult people by following this rule.

Also, it is wise not to apply popular stereotypes to individual people for whom the cultural stereotype may or may not be true. In business meetings in Japan, for example, it is expected that the most senior person representing an organization will lead the discussion, and more junior-level colleagues may not speak at all.