Introduction The primary goal of marketing is, simply said, gainingcustomer awareness and hopefully convincing them to buy one´s product.Fortunately, all the people within your target market are almost thinkingalike. They have a similar idea of what your product should look like, whichstandards you should apply and how much it should cost.
Well that is maybe whatit 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 theinternet.But what if you made this village global and gave itthis thing called “globalization” accelerating world trade through technologieslike telecommunication and, probably most important, the internet creating aglobal market? Now this “global village”1consistsof more than seven billion inhabitants living all over the globe in countriesfar away from each other. And most important for the upcoming discussion: More culturesemerge, all with completely different concepts of the “right” way of living.Your simple marketing just has become a little more complex. This is theenvironment we are set in for this discussion. Billions of people withdifferent opinions and concepts of what is right or wrong, with differentpreferences, different values and, on top of that, most of them with access toa more and more transparent market, able to compare products, prices and qualityworldwide.
This paper first provides you with a brief rundown ofthe idea of marketing to build a basis for the discussion. Following this, thenext chapter is defining culture and its main variations between differentones, primarily focusing on the cultural dimensions described by GeertHofstede. The last and most important chapter combines the first two chaptersand builds the base of this paper by discussing the main question “How doesculture affect marketing and the advertising of products?” again based onHofstede´s studies2. Marketing The basic idea of marketing is to find arguments whythe consumer should buy your products, instead of your competitor´s ones, whileproviding exactly these arguments over the appropriate channel to the potentialcustomer in form of a message he considers as appealing. So, to establish a successful marketing campaign, onefirst needs to find reasons for the own superiority over the competition, bestprovided by internal and external benchmarking for knowing both, processes andthe final product. This knowledge then builds the base for improvement,uniqueness and innovation leading to an added value for the customer2.
Forthis it is important to not just copy elements of the competition but tosurpass them. Even though this is not the marketing management´s job, it iscrucial for it to communicate this preeminence to the target market. Of course,it is nearly impossible to communicate with or establish innovations in amarket if you have first of all not planned which market to address andsecondly what people in this chosen market are in need of. That leads to thenecessity of a core mindset being formed within the marketing management thatis 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 influencedby one´s direct surroundings like family and friends. Through these influencesthis specific mindset is set up and will most likely not change decisively but,to a certain degree, can develop throughout time.
For example, people beingraised very religiously will most likely adhere to their religion but a personbeing shy as a child may become highly extroverted as a teenager as a result ofpersonality shifts caused by different encounters and experiences throughoutthe whole life.The problem with culture is that it is not tangible orin any kind exhaustively applicable while as a consequence of globalization,culture has become an essential concern for appropriately managing the targetmarket a company is aiming for. Even though there are certain tendenciestowards a specific mindset within a defined region (here: countries) not allpeople within this region are the same. Particular norms and values or evenmores are of different importance for each individual and every one of them hashis/her own preference in products. 3.1 Hofstede Dimensions As humans always aspire simplifying things to makethem more understandable there have been different studies trying to summarizecultural facets, one of the best-known being the cultural dimensions of GeertHofstede4.
Dimension Description Individualism vs. Collectivism (IvsC) 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 (MvsF) Strong ego and pursuit of money and achievements vs. relationship oriented and commitment for equality Long-term or short-term orientation (LTO/STO) Planning ages, decades or even lives ahead vs. spontaneity Indulgence vs. Restraint (IvsR) Simply enjoying life vs. strict control over behavior and stricter norms In his original paper he describes only fourdimensions but thanks to constant updates today there are six different highlyinterdependent dimensions describing cultural characteristics on a 0-100 scalefor each dimension. Important about this model is that no culture is 100% theone dimension or the other, it just describes their average tendency towardsone of them.
It is also necessary to look at the following discussion asobjective as possible since there is no right or wrong in culture and anethnocentric view would distort one´s attitude towards the argumentation.4. How does culture affect marketing and theadvertising of products? In this passage the main question “How does cultureaffect marketing and the advertising of products?” is discussed. As marketingcampaigns in a single country would only encounter minor problems with culturaldiversity the term “marketing” will be considered on an international scale inthis paper. The discussion will start with a short representationof what problems a company´s marketing department needs to deal with on aglobal scale, even when facing facets of everyday life that normally are notbeing thought about. Building up on this there will be a description of whatcriteria a company has to consider when facing those problems based on thecriteria of market segmentation and the findings of Hofstede´s studies oncultural dimensions. 4.1 Managerial Dilemma Decision-making in marketing on an international scaleinvolves complicated arrangements between product standardization to takeadvantage of economies of scale and local or regional adaptation to meet thecustomers´ expectations5.
If these two aspects arebalanced effectively, international marketing can induce improved margin andopportunities of expansion, benefits from foreign competencies and increase ordevelopment of a competitive advantage. At the sametime a company faces increased and more complex risksfor the business as competitors exercise a much greater pressure, governmentalregulations can vary acutely, and of course various cultures have to be takeninto account.6One could argue that humans as a race all have certainbasic needs so there is no need to have largely differing marketing campaignsto advertise for example food, meaning product standardization would lead to abig growth of market share.
Logically, if in need, every human being would justbuy the food he hungers for, irrespective of the associated commercial. Peopleneed food to survive – people eat food to survive. It is as easy as that. Butin this globalized world luckily almost nobody suffers such hunger that he/shewould 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 hugevariety of products.
As a consequence of many preferences taking shape,depending on societal differences, marketing gets even more complicated. Thetroublesome aspect, at least for providers of products and services around thefood 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 thisspecific style of food, sometimes even passed on for generations in familyrecipes, it becomes a part of one´s identity and people normally do not likedeserting their identity. Thus, food is not only physical but also exists on anemotional level in form of a value8. Summarizing, this meansthat despite obvious similarities between communities caused by simply beinghuman, people still live out their culture even in things as fundamental asbasic needs or as Jean-Claude Usunier fittingly puts it “Similarities are toosubstantial and differences go too deep to be ignored”9, outlining the dilemmacompanies have to face in a global market. 4.2 Market AnalysisAs a company cannot just expand into a foreign marketand then try to adapt on-the-spot, a good (marketing) management, first needsto define its exact targetmarket.
Let’s take for example a producer of kitchenutensils. The management would make a fatal mistake choosing a target groupbelow the age of 20. Although there are some younger people buying thosekitchen utensils, they are by far not the majority and do not provide theproducer with a high percentage of his margin.But age only is one factor when defining the mostappropriate target market. There are too many factors to consider every littleone, but an orientation is to split up each of the factors into 3 groups ofcriteria as described by the market segmentation model10 that will be used asorientation in the following chapter supplemented by references to Hofstede11.The first one, the socio-demographic criteria aremostly measurable data like gender, age, income, profession, region one livesin and size of household12.
These are rather easy todetermine but not less important for a successful marketing management, as theyare the basic information needed to portray a rough image of the client base acompany potentially desires to address.The other two sets of criteria are impacted strongerby culture and its diversity. The first of them, the psychographic criteria, isthe dimension most heavily influenced by cultural aspects. It is split up intotwo subdivisions where one can observe most of the consumer´s preferences,explainable through their character traits.
The problem with portraying a targetmarket using these criteria is that they are not as easily measurable as thesocio-demographic criteria which are often just numbers and figures. This iswhere the first heavy influence of culture on companies is observed.Beginning with the subdivision of personality traits acompany has to consider values, activities, interests and opinions of theirtarget market13.Personality traits can alter strongly with a difference in the culturaldimensions, so only taking two of the six dimensions will be enough to show thedifficulty to adjust to a culture. Taking MvsF and IvsR both have a stronginfluence 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 themfeel self-fulfillment.Because reaching a high level of self-fulfillment isdesirable for every human being, people are looking for ways to reach thisstage. This is where marketing management can step in and address exactly thisdesire, provided that they know what saturates this thirst. Approaching amasculine marked society, a commercial should stand for a strong and successfulman backed by his family living a life in abundance. It could be a watch makinghim look so professional everybody is following his orders or a snack givinghim the energy to fulfill every task. No matter what, it often cannot be tooexuberant. With having a great career, one can orientate him- or herself onmaking more and more money through analysis, forecasting and planning or onusing the money to experience life to its fullest. Approaching wealthier milieus, businesses would needto know if its target market favors a more indulgent or restrained lifestyle.
Insocieties built on feminine values relationships would have a much highersignificance in the community than accumulating money, meaning activities withfriends and family would play a major role in people´s lives. Therefore, themarketing department would need to approach a society tending to be indulgent,laying focus on delivering a feeling of freedom and belonging. For example at alake with some friends sipping on an ice-cold beer, which coincidentallyappears to be the one your company is producing. At the same time this would betotal chaos for a restrained population as the people would not like thepredominant disarray.
In this case a commercial should rather stand for aprofessional, maybe a bit conservative, lifestyle where your beer is enjoyed ina traditional pub from people still wearing their shirt and tie because theycame here after a rough but successful day at work.The second sub-division in the dimension ofpsychographic criteria, the product-specific features, looks at personalpreferences, motives for buying products and the expected benefits from thecustomer when purchasing something14. Again, taking two ofHofstede´s cultural dimensions as an example, IvsC is highlyconnected to the dimension of PD, as collectivisticsocieties tend to have a larger PD where people respect a certain hierarchywithin their different ingroups but also heavily rely on the “leaders” of theseingroups. On the other side Individualistic societies often favor a smaller PD.People are relying on themselves instead of superiors and are also facing eachother as mostly equal individuals instead of being obedient or just existing asa group.Marketing´s challenge now would be to find out howpronounced these dimensions are within different societies and adapt theircampaigns to the values shifting with the extent of the cultural dimensions.They would have to consider if it is necessary to create a feeling ofindependence and unboundedness or of belonging and an improvement of face asthis is a major factor in collectivistic societies, especially in Asia.
Infact, many companies exploit the high concern for upholding face by engaging ina premium price strategy15. This is, because throughthe consumers´ focus on face they tend to try to improve their face and by thattheir position within their ingroups. Wanting to achieve this, consumers oftenrather go with a more expensive product to boost their societal status16.Certainly, people in more individualistic societiesmay also favor more expensive products to serve as status symbols or enjoybeing part of a group while some people from collectivistic countries like tobe 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 specificculture, still are individuals with their own personal character traits andpreferences.The last group of criteria, the behavior-relatedcriteria consist of product choice, price-related behavior, media usage andchoice of place of purchase17. Even though this segmentis not as much influenced by culture as the psychographic criteria there stillare plenty of overlaps. Beginning with the product choice people could, basedon their cultural background, try to stay with a product they alreadyknow and trust or choose a new one to maybe discover abenefit. This would be influenced by different factors. LTO and high UA wouldlead 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 membersof one´s ingroup prefer one specific product creating a feeling of obligationto like the same.Then there is price-related behavior leading to peoplehaving a closer look at the price of a product, interpreting different meaningsinto it18.
A high price could be anindicator for good quality or luxury, addressing masculine societies but alsocollectivistic ones who want to improve their face. At the same time feminineand indulgent people would not care that much about the effect the price of aproduct has but the effect the product itself has, as for example it having agreat advantage over others or just making their time more enjoyable.Media usage is less a cultural affected criterionrather than a wealth and age affected one19. As differenttechnological advances, here the important one being communicationtechnologies, are extremely costly, it is less rewarding to have banners onapps as commercials in less developed countries. The reason being that most ofthe population is not able to afford smartphones. This would be an appropriateapproach in developing and a very rewarding one in developed countries.
Incountries where it is almost guaranteed that the public ownsall kinds of technological devices, different groups, preeminently differentgenerations, prefer other channels. Older generations often like TV-commercialsmore while younger ones favor everything online and of course the smartphone.Of course, culture also plays a role for this aspect of market segmentation aswell. Similar to the measures of product choice, it includes group think and UAbut as there is a rather small share of population not going with the fastevolution of technology it plays less of a role than for other criteria. The last measure, the choice of place of purchase looksat business loyalty and what type of business consumers prefer20.
Loyalty almost alwaysequals LTO and high UA making this factor simple to define. But what type ofbusiness consumersprefer is a little more complicated. They could prefertraditional or new innovational ones, could be modest or love luxuryrepresenting masculinity vs. femininity. It would also be possible that consumersdon´t even like a certain brand that much but prefer it since it could improvetheir reputation in society. So they would be collectivistic what is oftenconnected to high PD.
5. Conclusion The phrase “Similarities are too substantial anddifferences go too deep to be ignored” used on page 4 probably is the onereflecting the dilemma described in this paper the best. There always aresimilarities across cultures and they should not be considered completelydifferent but at the same time this appears to often be the case. Peopleregularly do not understand others´ attitude towards different aspects sincethey naturally keep an ethnocentric view most of the time. But gaining aneutral, open-minded attitude enables persons to realize the diversity throughoutthe world but also within societies.
Exactly this attitude helps marketingmanagement to set up their strategy for effective market penetration. Itenables them to get to know their target market and how it generally thinkswhile simultaneously adapting to its preferences. This is managed by not only considering the facts andfigures but scrutinizing them. In this case the tool for scrutinization wouldbe a culture analysis with the help of cultural dimensions to understand themindset behind one´s customers decision making. Undertaking these steps willcreate a better understanding of a company´s target market setting them up fora more effective marketing campaign hopefully leading to a successfulintegration.1 Marshall McLuhan,1 popularized this term in hisbooks The Gutenberg Galaxy: The Making ofTypographic Man (1962) 2 Cf.Scharf & Schubert 2009, p.
33 Cf.Scharf & Schubert 2009, p.34Cf. Hofstede 1983, p.
78 ; Hofstede Insights; https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newLDR_66.htm; Udi Chadasch 2017, ch.14 p.
11-135 Cf. Jean-Claude Usunier 2018,p.189 (Advances in global marketing)6 Cf. Leonidas C. Leonidou2018, p.47 Cf.
Teresa Johanna Bless2008, p. 18 Cf. Teresa Johanna Bless2008, p. 19 Jean-ClaudeUsunier 2018, p.189 (Advances in global marketing)10 Cf.Scharf & Schubert 2009, p.21311Cf.
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.21313 Cf.
Scharf & Schubert 2009 p.21314 Cf. Scharf & Schubert 2009p.21315 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.21318 Cf.Scharf & Schubert 2009 p.21319 Cf.Scharf & Schubert 2009 p.21320 Cf.Scharf & Schubert 2009 p.213