Culture In International Marketing And Buyer Hehavior

Index

Introduction

Characteristics of culture

International Marketing and buyer behavior

Examples of Cultural Blunders Made by International Marketers

The Culture Sensitivity of Markets

The Development of Global Culture

Cultural Analysis of Global Markets

Cross- cultural analysis

Conclusion

References

Introduction

Culture is the learned ways of group living and the group’s responses to various stimuli. It is also the total way of life and thinking patterns that are passed from generation to generation. It encompasses norms, values, customs, art, and beliefs.

Culture is the patterns of behavior and thinking that people living in social groups learn, create, and share.

Culture distinguishes one human group from others. A people's culture includes their beliefs, rules of behavior, language, rituals, art, technology, styles of dress, ways of producing and cooking food, religion, and political and economic systems. Anthropologists commonly use the term culture to refer to a society or group in which many or all people live and think in the same ways. Likewise, any group of people who share a common culture—and in particular, common rules of behavior and a basic form of social organization—constitutes a society. Thus, the terms culture and society are somewhat interchangeable.

Characteristics of culture:

Culture is prescriptive. It prescribes that kinds of behavior considered acceptable in the society. The prescriptive characteristic of culture simplifies a consumer’s decision-making process by limiting product choices to those, which are socially acceptable. These same characteristics create problems for those products not in tune with the consumer’s cultural beliefs.

Culture is socially shared. Culture cannot exist by itself. Members of a society must share it. Thus acting to reinforce culture’s perspective nature.

Culture is learned. Culture is not inherited genetically; it must be learned and acquired. Socialization or enculturation occurs when a person absorbs or learns the culture in which he or she is raised.

Culture facilitates communication. One useful function provided by culture is to facilitate communication. Culture usually imposes common habits of though and feeling among people. Thus, within a given group culture makes it easier for people to communicate with one another. But culture may also impede communication across groups because of a lack of shared common culture values.

This one reason why a standardized advertisement may have difficulty communicating with consumers in foreign countries. How marketing efforts interact with a culture determines the success or failure of a product. Advertising and promotion require special attention because the play a key role in communicating product concepts and benefits to the target segment.

Culture is subjective people in different cultures often have different ideas about the same object. What is acceptable in one culture may not necessarily be so in another. In this regard, culture is both unique and arbitrary.

Culture is enduring, because culture is shared and passed along from generation to generation, it is relatively stable and somewhat permanent. Old habits are hard to break, and people and people tend to maintain its own heritage in spite of continuously changing world.

Culture is cumulative. Culture is based on hundreds or even thousands of years of accumulated circumstances. Each generation adds something of its own of culture before passing the heritage on to the next generation. Therefore culture tends to be broader based over time, because new ideas are incorporated and become a part of the culture.

Culture is dynamic. Culture is passed along from generation to generation, but one should not assume that culture is static and immune to change. Culture is constantly changing it adapts itself to new situations and new sources of knowledge.

International Marketing and buyer behavior:

An understanding of buyer behavior is central to successful marketing. To develop effective marketing programs, the marketing manager must have knowledge of the needs and wants of potential buyers, how they arise, and how and where they are likely to be satisfied. Buyer behavior is affected by many factors.

Class, education, age, and psychosocial traits are just four of the many factors useful in distinguishing different buyer groups. Researching the relationships that exist between the marketing-mix variables and buyer needs and response. From this effort have evolved many buyer behavior models, concepts, and techniques.

* International Marketing’s Four Buyer Behavior Tasks

Apparent similarities such as language can hide subtle but important differences between markets. International marketers have often shown a higher propensity to misinterpret a marketing situation when the cultural and economic environments of the foreign market are apparently the same as their own.

For example, Philip Morris lost a considerable amount of money when tried to introduce a U.S. cigarette to the Canadian market. Management was under the erroneous impression that Canadians and Americans had similar smoking habits because the spoke the same language, had similar cultural heritages, dresses more or less the same, and watched many of the same television programs.

Campbell Soups lost $30 million in Europe before it accepted the idea that British and U.S. soup consumers were different in three important ways. First British soups consumers have different taste preferences. Campbell soups made no attempt to modify the taste of their soups for the British palate. Second, British soup consumers had not been educated to the condensed soup product concept. Because of the smaller can size. Third, British soup consumers did not respond the same way to U.S. advertisement as U.S. consumer did.

Examples of Cultural Blunders Made by International Marketers:

Language: A U.S. toothpaste manufacturer promised its customers that they would be more “interesting” if they used the firm’s toothpaste. What the advertising coordinators did not realize, however, was that in Latin American Countries “interesting” is another euphemism for “pregnant”.

Food: Chase and Sanborn met resistance when it tried to introduce its instant coffee in France. In the home, the consumption of coffee plays more of a ceremonial role than in the English home. The preparation of “real” coffee is a touchstone in the life of the French housewife, so she will generally reject instant coffee because its causal characteristics do not “fit” into the French eating habits.

Values: In 1963, Dow Breweries introduced a new beer in Quebec, Canada; called “kebec” the promotion incorporated the Canadian flag and attempted to evoke nationalistic pride. The strategy backfired when major local groups protested the “profane” use of “sacred” symbols.

Religion: England’s East India Company once caused a revolt when it did not modify a product.

In 1857, bullets were often encased in pig wax, and the tops had to be bitten off before the bullets could be fired. The Indian soldiers revolted since it was against their religion to eat pork. Hundreds of people were killed before order was restored.

Social Norms and time: A telephone company tried to incorporate a Latin flavor in its commercials by employing Puerto Rican actors. In the ad, the wife said to her husband, “ run and phone Mary. Tell her we will be a little late.” This commercial has two major cultural errors. Latin wives seldom dare order their husband around, and almost no Latin would feel it necessary to phone to warm of tardiness since it is expected.

*The Sociocultural Dimension of Buyer Behavior

Culture does influence Consumption to a great extent. Consumption patterns, living styles, and the priority of needs are all dictated by culture. Culture prescribes the manner in which people satisfy their desires. Not surprisingly, consumption habits very greatly. The consumption of beef provides a good illustration. Some Chinese do not consume beef at all, believing that it is improper to eat cattle that work on farms, thus helping to provide foods such as rice and vegetables.

The Culture Sensitivity of Markets:

Markets can be divided into consumer markets and industrial markets. Consumer markets can be further subdivided into durable goods markets and nondurable goods markets. A further profitable distinction in the international market place is to divide durable goods into technological products and nontechnological products.

Industrial markets: the main distinction between industrial markets and consumer markets is that industrial buyers are interested in solving problems. Generally, these problems are to reduce costs, to increase production administrative efficiency, to produce a particular type of product, or to effect a combination of these goals. Consequently, industrial buyers tend to be rational and emphasize economic goals. Cultural and social considerations play a relatively less important role in the purchase decision. To some extent, industrial markets can be viewed as global markets. There are, however, differences that need to be considered when selecting the products to be marketed and the marketing programs to be used. Government regulations, the size and sophistication of the potential buyer’s operations, and the context within which the product or service is to be used all have an impact on the marketing effort.

Consumer Markets: it consists of buyers interested in satisfying a personal need or want. They are generally more susceptible to cultural and social forces than are industrial buyers. The influence of sociocultural factors is most apparent in the purchase of nondurable products such as clothing, foods, etc. there are expectations, however, that make the international marketer’s task more interesting and challenging.

The Development of Global Culture

Rapid changes in technology in the last several decades have changed the nature of culture and cultural exchange. People around the world can make economic transactions and transmit information to each other almost instantaneously through the use of computers and satellite communications. Governments and corporations have gained vast amounts of political power through military might and economic influence. Corporations have also created a form of global culture based on worldwide commercial markets.

Local culture and social structure are now shaped by large and powerful commercial interests in ways that earlier anthropologists could not have imagined. Early anthropologists thought of societies and their cultures as fully independent systems. But today, many nations are multicultural societies, composed of numerous smaller subcultures. Cultures also cross national boundaries. For instance, people around the world now know a variety of English words and have with American cultural exports such as brand-name clothing and technological products, films and music, and mass-produced foods.

Many anthropologists have become interested in how dominant societies can shape the culture of less powerful societies, a process some researchers call cultural hegemony. Today, many anthropologists openly oppose efforts by dominant world powers, such as the U.S. government and large corporations, to make unique smaller societies adopt Western commercial culture.

Cultural Analysis of Global Markets:

Whether a firm is pursuing a national-market or global-market strategy, it is interested in increasing the effectiveness and efficiency of its marketing programs within and across foreign markets. It must therefore know to what degree it can use the same product, pricing, promotion, and distribution strategies in more than one market.

Unfortunately, the dual goals of program effectiveness and efficiency are in conflict. Market effectiveness is achieved by adapting marketing programs to marketing characteristics and conditions within markets. While doing so incurs additional marketing and production costs, the firm strengthens its market competitiveness by being more responsive to the needs of the marketplace. Efficiency, on the other hand, is achieved by minimizing marketing program changes across markets. Thus the firm minimizes marketing and production costs and strengthens its competitiveness vis-à-vis its competitors. The economic and competitive implications of both goals need to be taken into account when making program adaptation decisions.

Both goals depend on understanding the cultural context of each market and the degree to which they are culturally similar. Thus, global companies need to develop a capability to conduct cross-cultural analysis of buyer behavior. Such a capability can help these companies optimally balance the competitive benefits to be derived from effectiveness and efficiency.

Cross- cultural analysis:

“Cross-cultural analysis is the systematic comparison of similarities and differences in the material and behavioral aspects of cultures.” In the marketing, cross-cultural analysis is used to gain an understanding of market segments within and across national boundaries. The purpose of this analysis is to determine whether the marketing program, or elements of the program, can be used in more than one foreign market or must be modified to meet local conditions.

The approaches used to gain this understanding draw on the methods developed by such social sciences as anthropology, linguistics, and sociology. Standard marketing research techniques, such as multi attribute and psychographic techniques, can be used. For example, Berger, Stern and Johansson used to multi attribute method to study Japanese and American car buyers, and Boote used a psychographics approach to study the segmentation of the Europe community.

In marketing, cross-cultural analysis most often involves identifying the effects culture may have on family purchasing roles, product function. Product design, sales and promotion activities, channel systems, and pricing. One approach suggested by Engel, Blackwell, and Miniard to the study of the effects of culture on buyer behavior, and thus in the marketing- mix elements.

This involves answering a comprehensive list of questions, although these are neither exhaustive nor specific. For example, a manufacturer of processed foods would be interested in knowing the impact that culture has on such things as taste, purchasing habits, and eating habits. A manufacturer of household appliances, on the other hand, would be particularly interested in how potential buyers view a product’s reliability, durability, and reparability.

Conclusion:

There is no doubt that the international marketing process do faces a large set of variables as it take place over different countries and it does act in different environments. One of the most determinant environments to the success of the international marketing process is Culture, which hold the reason for many human acts and behavior. Reaching to that point international marketer should study deeply culture treaties of a country the company is planning to act in. so that special amendments in the organization overall plans and actions is made to act in accordance with the new market variables.

References:

· International Marketing, Sixth Edition. Vern & Ravi. Dryden Press.

· International Marketing, Ninth Edition. Philip Cateora. IRWIN.

· International Marketing, Sixth Edition. Michael & Ilkka. Harcourt.

· International Marketing, Tenth Edition. Phillip & john graham.

· Consumer Behavior, Eighth Edition. James F. Engel & Roger Blackwell, Bowel Miniard.

Word Count: 2338

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