1. even the internet. But what if you made

1. Introduction


The primary goal of marketing is, simply said, gaining
customer awareness and hopefully convincing them to buy one´s product.
Fortunately, all the people within your target market are almost thinking
alike. They have a similar idea of what your product should look like, which
standards you should apply and how much it should cost. Well that is maybe what
it could look like if you are running a small bakery in a village with 200 inhabitants.
Provided that this village is mostly isolated from other cities or even the

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But what if you made this village global and gave it
this thing called “globalization” accelerating world trade through technologies
like telecommunication and, probably most important, the internet creating a
global market? Now this “global village”1consists
of more than seven billion inhabitants living all over the globe in countries
far away from each other. And most important for the upcoming discussion: More cultures
emerge, all with completely different concepts of the “right” way of living.
Your simple marketing just has become a little more complex. This is the
environment we are set in for this discussion. Billions of people with
different opinions and concepts of what is right or wrong, with different
preferences, different values and, on top of that, most of them with access to
a more and more transparent market, able to compare products, prices and quality

This paper first provides you with a brief rundown of
the idea of marketing to build a basis for the discussion. Following this, the
next chapter is defining culture and its main variations between different
ones, primarily focusing on the cultural dimensions described by Geert
Hofstede. The last and most important chapter combines the first two chapters
and builds the base of this paper by discussing the main question “How does
culture affect marketing and the advertising of products?” again based on
Hofstede´s studies

2. Marketing


The basic idea of marketing is to find arguments why
the consumer should buy your products, instead of your competitor´s ones, while
providing exactly these arguments over the appropriate channel to the potential
customer in form of a message he considers as appealing.

So, to establish a successful marketing campaign, one
first needs to find reasons for the own superiority over the competition, best
provided by internal and external benchmarking for knowing both, processes and
the final product. This knowledge then builds the base for improvement,
uniqueness and innovation leading to an added value for the customer2. For
this it is important to not just copy elements of the competition but to
surpass them. Even though this is not the marketing management´s job, it is
crucial for it to communicate this preeminence to the target market. Of course,
it is nearly impossible to communicate with or establish innovations in a
market if you have first of all not planned which market to address and
secondly what people in this chosen market are in need of. That leads to the
necessity of a core mindset being formed within the marketing management that
is customer-oriented & considers the market´s perspective3.


3. Culture


Culture is a manmade concept trying to explain peoples´
behavior or taste differences that regional separation entails. There is no definition,
people generally agreed on but most theories involve a mindset being influenced
by one´s direct surroundings like family and friends. Through these influences
this specific mindset is set up and will most likely not change decisively but,
to a certain degree, can develop throughout time. For example, people being
raised very religiously will most likely adhere to their religion but a person
being shy as a child may

become highly extroverted as a teenager as a result of
personality shifts caused by different encounters and experiences throughout
the whole life.

The problem with culture is that it is not tangible or
in any kind exhaustively applicable while as a consequence of globalization,
culture has become an essential concern for appropriately managing the target
market a company is aiming for. Even though there are certain tendencies
towards a specific mindset within a defined region (here: countries) not all
people within this region are the same. Particular norms and values or even
mores are of different importance for each individual and every one of them has
his/her own preference in products.


3.1 Hofstede Dimensions


As humans always aspire simplifying things to make
them more understandable there have been different studies trying to summarize
cultural facets, one of the best-known being the cultural dimensions of Geert



Individualism vs. Collectivism

Minor connections between people vs. close-knit ingroups with
interdependent insiders

Large or small power distance (PD)

Dealing with authority and inequality

Strong or weak uncertainty avoidance (UA)

How well people are able to handle uncertaintyàNeed to plan vs.
trust in faith

Masculinity vs. Femininity

Strong ego and pursuit of money and achievements vs. relationship
oriented and commitment for equality

Long-term or short-term orientation

Planning ages, decades or even lives ahead vs. spontaneity

Indulgence vs. Restraint (IvsR)

Simply enjoying life vs. strict control over behavior and stricter


In his original paper he describes only four
dimensions but thanks to constant updates today there are six different highly
interdependent dimensions describing cultural characteristics on a 0-100 scale
for each dimension. Important about this model is that no culture is 100% the
one dimension or the other, it just describes their average tendency towards
one of them. It is also necessary to look at the following discussion as
objective as possible since there is no right or wrong in culture and an
ethnocentric view would distort one´s attitude towards the argumentation.

4. How does culture affect marketing and the
advertising of products?     


In this passage the main question “How does culture
affect marketing and the advertising of products?” is discussed. As marketing
campaigns in a single country would only encounter minor problems with cultural
diversity the term “marketing” will be considered on an international scale in
this paper.

The discussion will start with a short representation
of what problems a company´s marketing department needs to deal with on a
global scale, even when facing facets of everyday life that normally are not
being thought about. Building up on this there will be a description of what
criteria a company has to consider when facing those problems based on the
criteria of market segmentation and the findings of Hofstede´s studies on
cultural dimensions.


4.1 Managerial Dilemma

Decision-making in marketing on an international scale
involves complicated arrangements between product standardization to take
advantage of economies of scale and local or regional adaptation to meet the
customers´ expectations5. If these two aspects are
balanced effectively, international marketing can induce improved margin and
opportunities of expansion, benefits from foreign competencies and increase or
development of a competitive advantage. At the same

time a company faces increased and more complex risks
for the business as competitors exercise a much greater pressure, governmental
regulations can vary acutely, and of course various cultures have to be taken
into account.6

One could argue that humans as a race all have certain
basic needs so there is no need to have largely differing marketing campaigns
to advertise for example food, meaning product standardization would lead to a
big growth of market share. Logically, if in need, every human being would just
buy the food he hungers for, irrespective of the associated commercial. People
need food to survive – people eat food to survive. It is as easy as that. But
in this globalized world luckily almost nobody suffers such hunger that he/she
would need to eat anything and that is why preferences come to light,
especially if one has access to a global, very competitive, market with a huge
variety of products.

As a consequence of many preferences taking shape,
depending on societal differences, marketing gets even more complicated. The
troublesome aspect, at least for providers of products and services around the
food industry, is that people are growing up with a particular kind of cooking7 since they are most likely,
as a child, are getting cooked for by their parents. Growing up with this
specific style of food, sometimes even passed on for generations in family
recipes, it becomes a part of one´s identity and people normally do not like
deserting their identity. Thus, food is not only physical but also exists on an
emotional level in form of a value8. Summarizing, this means
that despite obvious similarities between communities caused by simply being
human, people still live out their culture even in things as fundamental as
basic needs or as Jean-Claude Usunier fittingly puts it “Similarities are too
substantial and differences go too deep to be ignored”9, outlining the dilemma
companies have to face in a global market.

4.2 Market Analysis

As a company cannot just expand into a foreign market
and then try to adapt on-the-spot, a good (marketing) management, first needs
to define its exact target

market. Let’s take for example a producer of kitchen
utensils. The management would make a fatal mistake choosing a target group
below the age of 20. Although there are some younger people buying those
kitchen utensils, they are by far not the majority and do not provide the
producer with a high percentage of his margin.

But age only is one factor when defining the most
appropriate target market. There are too many factors to consider every little
one, but an orientation is to split up each of the factors into 3 groups of
criteria as described by the market segmentation model10 that will be used as
orientation in the following chapter supplemented by references to Hofstede11.

The first one, the socio-demographic criteria are
mostly measurable data like gender, age, income, profession, region one lives
in and size of household12. These are rather easy to
determine but not less important for a successful marketing management, as they
are the basic information needed to portray a rough image of the client base a
company potentially desires to address.

The other two sets of criteria are impacted stronger
by culture and its diversity. The first of them, the psychographic criteria, is
the dimension most heavily influenced by cultural aspects. It is split up into
two subdivisions where one can observe most of the consumer´s preferences,
explainable through their character traits. The problem with portraying a target
market using these criteria is that they are not as easily measurable as the
socio-demographic criteria which are often just numbers and figures. This is
where the first heavy influence of culture on companies is observed.

Beginning with the subdivision of personality traits a
company has to consider values, activities, interests and opinions of their
target market13.
Personality traits can alter strongly with a difference in the cultural
dimensions, so only taking two of the six dimensions will be enough to show the
difficulty to adjust to a culture. Taking MvsF and IvsR both have a strong
influence on everyday life´s behavior.

Not saying other dimensions do not have this influence,
these two fittingly describe lifestyles and contrasting character traits,
especially focusing on circumstances making people happy or rather making them
feel self-fulfillment.

Because reaching a high level of self-fulfillment is
desirable for every human being, people are looking for ways to reach this
stage. This is where marketing management can step in and address exactly this
desire, provided that they know what saturates this thirst. Approaching a
masculine marked society, a commercial should stand for a strong and successful
man backed by his family living a life in abundance. It could be a watch making
him look so professional everybody is following his orders or a snack giving
him the energy to fulfill every task. No matter what, it often cannot be too
exuberant. With having a great career, one can orientate him- or herself on
making more and more money through analysis, forecasting and planning or on
using the money to experience life to its fullest.

Approaching wealthier milieus, businesses would need
to know if its target market favors a more indulgent or restrained lifestyle. In
societies built on feminine values relationships would have a much higher
significance in the community than accumulating money, meaning activities with
friends and family would play a major role in people´s lives. Therefore, the
marketing department would need to approach a society tending to be indulgent,
laying focus on delivering a feeling of freedom and belonging. For example at a
lake with some friends sipping on an ice-cold beer, which coincidentally
appears to be the one your company is producing. At the same time this would be
total chaos for a restrained population as the people would not like the
predominant disarray. In this case a commercial should rather stand for a
professional, maybe a bit conservative, lifestyle where your beer is enjoyed in
a traditional pub from people still wearing their shirt and tie because they
came here after a rough but successful day at work.

The second sub-division in the dimension of
psychographic criteria, the product-specific features, looks at personal
preferences, motives for buying products and the expected benefits from the
customer when purchasing something14. Again, taking two of
Hofstede´s cultural dimensions as an example, IvsC is highly

connected to the dimension of PD, as collectivistic
societies tend to have a larger PD where people respect a certain hierarchy
within their different ingroups but also heavily rely on the “leaders” of these
ingroups. On the other side Individualistic societies often favor a smaller PD.
People are relying on themselves instead of superiors and are also facing each
other as mostly equal individuals instead of being obedient or just existing as
a group.

Marketing´s challenge now would be to find out how
pronounced these dimensions are within different societies and adapt their
campaigns to the values shifting with the extent of the cultural dimensions.
They would have to consider if it is necessary to create a feeling of
independence and unboundedness or of belonging and an improvement of face as
this is a major factor in collectivistic societies, especially in Asia. In
fact, many companies exploit the high concern for upholding face by engaging in
a premium price strategy15. This is, because through
the consumers´ focus on face they tend to try to improve their face and by that
their position within their ingroups. Wanting to achieve this, consumers often
rather go with a more expensive product to boost their societal status16.

Certainly, people in more individualistic societies
may also favor more expensive products to serve as status symbols or enjoy
being part of a group while some people from collectivistic countries like to
be seen as individuals and only care about their close relatives and friends.
That is what makes it difficult after all. People, even if part of a specific
culture, still are individuals with their own personal character traits and

The last group of criteria, the behavior-related
criteria consist of product choice, price-related behavior, media usage and
choice of place of purchase17. Even though this segment
is not as much influenced by culture as the psychographic criteria there still
are plenty of overlaps. Beginning with the product choice people could, based
on their cultural background, try to stay with a product they already

know and trust or choose a new one to maybe discover a
benefit. This would be influenced by different factors. LTO and high UA would
lead to brand loyalty while the opposite could lead to a more pragmatic choice.
Further there could be a case of group think in which most of the other members
of one´s ingroup prefer one specific product creating a feeling of obligation
to like the same.

Then there is price-related behavior leading to people
having a closer look at the price of a product, interpreting different meanings
into it18. A high price could be an
indicator for good quality or luxury, addressing masculine societies but also
collectivistic ones who want to improve their face. At the same time feminine
and indulgent people would not care that much about the effect the price of a
product has but the effect the product itself has, as for example it having a
great advantage over others or just making their time more enjoyable.

Media usage is less a cultural affected criterion
rather than a wealth and age affected one19. As different
technological advances, here the important one being communication
technologies, are extremely costly, it is less rewarding to have banners on
apps as commercials in less developed countries. The reason being that most of
the population is not able to afford smartphones. This would be an appropriate
approach in developing and a very rewarding one in developed countries. In
countries where it is almost guaranteed that the public owns
all kinds of technological devices, different groups, preeminently different
generations, prefer other channels. Older generations often like TV-commercials
more while younger ones favor everything online and of course the smartphone.
Of course, culture also plays a role for this aspect of market segmentation as
well. Similar to the measures of product choice, it includes group think and UA
but as there is a rather small share of population not going with the fast
evolution of technology it plays less of a role than for other criteria.

The last measure, the choice of place of purchase looks
at business loyalty and what type of business consumers prefer20. Loyalty almost always
equals LTO and high UA making this factor simple to define. But what type of
business consumers

prefer is a little more complicated. They could prefer
traditional or new innovational ones, could be modest or love luxury
representing masculinity vs. femininity. It would also be possible that consumers
don´t even like a certain brand that much but prefer it since it could improve
their reputation in society. So they would be collectivistic what is often
connected to high PD.


5. Conclusion


The phrase “Similarities are too substantial and
differences go too deep to be ignored” used on page 4 probably is the one
reflecting the dilemma described in this paper the best. There always are
similarities across cultures and they should not be considered completely
different but at the same time this appears to often be the case. People
regularly do not understand others´ attitude towards different aspects since
they naturally keep an ethnocentric view most of the time. But gaining a
neutral, open-minded attitude enables persons to realize the diversity throughout
the world but also within societies. Exactly this attitude helps marketing
management to set up their strategy for effective market penetration. It
enables them to get to know their target market and how it generally thinks
while simultaneously adapting to its preferences.

This is managed by not only considering the facts and
figures but scrutinizing them. In this case the tool for scrutinization would
be a culture analysis with the help of cultural dimensions to understand the
mindset behind one´s customers decision making. Undertaking these steps will
create a better understanding of a company´s target market setting them up for
a more effective marketing campaign hopefully leading to a successful

1 Marshall McLuhan,1 popularized this term in his
books The Gutenberg Galaxy: The Making of
Typographic Man (1962)


2 Cf.
Scharf & Schubert 2009, p.3

3 Cf.
Scharf & Schubert 2009, p.3

Cf. Hofstede 1983, p. 78 ; Hofstede Insights; https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newLDR_66.htm
; Udi Chadasch 2017, ch.14 p. 11-13

5 Cf. Jean-Claude Usunier 2018,
p.189 (Advances in global marketing)

6 Cf. Leonidas C. Leonidou
2018, p.4

7 Cf. Teresa Johanna Bless
2008, p. 1

8 Cf. Teresa Johanna Bless
2008, p. 1

9 Jean-Claude
Usunier 2018, p.189 (Advances in global marketing)

10 Cf.
Scharf & Schubert 2009, p.213

Cf. Hofstede 1983, p. 78 ; Hofstede Insights ; https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newLDR_66.htm
; Udi Chadasch 2017, ch.14 p. 11-13


12 Cf.
Scharf & Schubert 2009, p.213

13 Cf.
Scharf & Schubert 2009 p.213

14 Cf. Scharf & Schubert 2009

15 Cf. Sha Zhang, 2018, p. 213 (Advances in global marketing)


16 Cf. Sha Zhang, 2018, p. 213 (Advances in global marketing)


17 Cf.
Scharf & Schubert 2009 p.213

18 Cf.
Scharf & Schubert 2009 p.213

19 Cf.
Scharf & Schubert 2009 p.213

20 Cf.
Scharf & Schubert 2009 p.213