International Marketing


According to Catiora and Ghouri International Marketing can be defined as the ‘performance of business that direct company's goods and services to consumers in more than one nation for a profit.' In 2000 Kumar defined International Marketing research as ‘marketing research conducted either simultaneously or sequentially to facilitate marketing decisions in more than one country'.


Culture is widely shared norms or patterns of behaviour of a large group of people. Cross cultures can influence on language, etiquette, non-verbal communication, norms and values, etc. Here there are some examples:


There was a soft drink which was selling into the Arab countries with some attractive label and six-pointed stats on it. Arabians took decisions after having discussions among themselves that they won't buy any Israeli products. Again another product was in Hebrew and for that purpose Arabs refused to buy that (payne, website)


An American firm didn't know about Japanese custom/culture. They were waiting for an acceptable price from the Japanese company. But the Japanese company was silent for a long time. So consequently two times American company lowered their selling price and even that time Japanese were quiet. Then American company told to Japanese company that was their last price and this is the lowest price. The Japanese accepted this offer after a brief silence. The Japanese later said the first price was within an acceptable range, but it was their custom to consider the proposal silently before giving their decision. So the Americans lost a lot of profit.



Coca-cola started selling two litter bottle of coke into Spain. But Spaniards did not have that much room in their fridges. So coca-cola company could not enter into the market.


Once PepsiCo advertised Pepsi in Taiwan with the ad ‘Come alive with Pepsi'. After watching the ad people understood that it would be translated into Chinese as ‘Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the dead.


Actually, cultural factors are considered by many writers on international marketing, such as Usnier (1996), to be the ‘central core' of marketing policy. To understand these words at first we need to understand what Self Reference Criterion (SRC) is. SRC is the influence of one's culture on the behaviour in a given situation. In international marketing scenarios, in different cultural environments may not be the correct from the present culture. In domestic marketing the cultural difference is not a major fact.

In international marketing understanding and dealing with the self-reference criterion are two important facets. Cultural difference is very important to understand otherwise we will fail to recognise the need to take action. Like Westerners do a common mistake when they are offered to have some drinks or food. Europeans are polite if they refuse to accept the offer. But in Asia, Middle East if anyone refuses to accept the food or drinks there are chances to be offended. If we segment the market then we will see social and cultural, legal, economic, political, and technological (SLEPT) groupings.


International Marketing Strategy by Isobel & Robin Lowe P9

The influence of SRC is very important. Because the most perfect way to control the influence the self reference criterion is to recognise that's existence in our attitude. And it is very difficult for someone to learn all culture in depth and to be conscious about all the differences. Not only that but also we have to remember that every marketing programme is different from one country to another. Might be there are some similarities or some differences among or between those marketing cultures. So when a market wants to go to foreign market they will have to remember about the foreign market's culture to succeed. Many markets/companies slowly change their marketing methods or strategies to survive.


International Marketing (2nd edit) by Catiora and Ghouri

Now to understand about cultural impact on international marketing we have to understand about the elements of culture. According to Catiora and Ghouri we can divide culture into six terms.

1) Material culture;

2) Social institutions;

3) Education;

4) Belief systems;

5) Aesthetics;

6) Language.

1) Material culture: We can divide material culture into two parts: technology and economics. Material culture affects on international marketing. Demand, quality, and types of products and their functional features can be affected by the material culture.

2) Social institutions: Culture can impact on social institutions. People's positions in the society, family, societies are the parts of every culture. So every institution has an effect on international marketing.

3) Education: One of the most important things to know for a marketer is what is the role and level of education in a particular market.

4) Belief systems: For international marketers it is necessary to remember about the belief systems. Because every religions has an impact on people's nature, trusts, way of life, life style, habits of eating, habits of wearing, etc. So culture can influence on these things.

5) Aesthetics: The aesthetics of a nation is very important for cultural impact. The aesthetics means the arts, music, dance, story etc.

6) Language: To success in an international market language can take a big step. A company can do very well business if they can adapt the local culture and moreover if they can speak in the same language fluently.


International marketing (2nd edit) Catiora and Ghouri / p82-88

The world is becoming more and more international and interrelated. International sales, foreign investment etc are increasing gradually. Not only that but also multinational operations and multiculturalism of organisations and interactions also increasing day by day. And all these are depending on culture. The organisational behaviour on countries and cultures are the cross culture. So the marketer should know about the foreign means local culture to success in the business. That means culture is the central core of marketing policy.


Online journal (Academy of management review, 1983, vol-8, no 2, 226-232)

Cross-Cultural marketing:

The strategic process of marketing among customers whose culture differs from that of the marketer's own culture at least in one of the aspects, such as language, social norms and values, education, and the living style. If the international marketers want to be the winners then they will need to implement the cross culture marketing mix to meet the customer's values on a right to their culture. The effects of cultural differences on ethical decision making becomes day by day very important for avoiding business and for designing international marketing management. Vitell, Lumpkin, and Rawwas (1991) state that ‘since marketing is the functional area, within business, that interfaces with the consumer, it tends to come under the greatest scrutiny, generates the most controversy and receives the most criticism with respect to potentially unethical business practices. Advertising, personal selling, marketing research and international marketing are all the subjects for frequent ethical controversy' (p.365).


International marketing completely depends on culture, so the marketers should find out the cultural factors for the market. The successful marketers obviously will find out and make the differentiation between those factors. Anyways, culture may change and so that the marketers must find out the new place for the same product and have to wait or give a little time to be adjusted cross culturally.



To describe culture we can say it is a human made part of the environment - the sum total of knowledge, beliefs, art, morals, laws, customs. It can be defined as ‘inherited ethical habit'. Hosfted described culture as; it is always a collective phenomenon. We can gather about knowledge in two ways: one is factual knowledge and another one is interpretive knowledge. Factual knowledge needs to be learned properly and it is obvious and in another hand the interpretive knowledge is -an ability to understand and to appreciate fully the nuances of different culture traits and patterns.

When a marketer goes to foreign market, needs to think about the influence and impact of the uncontrollable environmental elements on the marketing plan for each foreign market. The inexperienced marketers always face the uncontrollable elements that are culture. They have to adjust with the local culture. The most challenging and important one confronting international marketer's task is culture. So the marketers will have to be aware of the frames of reference they are using in making their decisions of a market. When a marketer goes to other culture, might fail because of the unconscious responses of a culture. That means the inexperienced marketers must take some specific steps to make them aware of their own culture reference in their decision making.

In 2006 Cateora and Ghouri stated that ‘for the inexperienced marketer, the similar but different aspect of culture creates an illusion of similarity that usually doesn't exist'.The new foreign marketers need to adapt the domestic market environment to success. The primary obstacle for a foreign marketer is a person's self-reference criterion (SRC) in making decisions. In international marketing scenarios, in different culture and referenced behaviour may not be the correct. The impact of the SRC is very important in international marketing. Westerners always keep a certain physical distance between themselves and others when talking each other. But in some cultures, proper acceptable distance among in the group is less than that comfortable to Westerners. This might make a problem for a non Westerner. A Westerner might not know about other culture distance and if anyone from other culture comes too close to the Westerner, the Western will react by backing away to restore the proper distance. So the Westerners assume that the foreigners are pushy, and foreigners also think negatively that the Westerners are not friendly. This is a cultural misunderstanding.

To avoid those sorts of mistakes the international marketers should be aware of the principle of marketing relativism. We are not aware of cultural conditioning, it's as like as an iceberg


International marketing (2nd edit) Cateora and Ghauri (2006)

Language and cultural differences have a very strong impact on the product's brand name and advertisement campaign. Spaniards did not have large compartments for two litter bottle of coca-cola. So that coca-cola had to withdraw their two-litter bottle from Spain. Another best example is Johnson's floor wax. It was very slippery and Japanese didn't wear shoes inside the home. So Johnson could not do their business in Japan. Another best example for SRC is Coca-Cola again. In China coca-cola sounded like ‘kooke koula'. In Chinese Language it means, ‘a thirsty mouthful of candle wax'. After that coca-cola company had to find a name and it was ‘Kee Kou Keele' which means ‘joyful tastes and happiness'.


International Marketing, Ghauri & Cateora, 2nd Edition


In 1966 James Lee used the term SRC. He suggested a four-step approach to highlight SRC.

1) SRC define the problem and goal in terms of home country, culture, traits, habits and norms.

2) SRC define the problem or goals in terms of the foreign culture, traits, habits and norms.

3) Isolate the SRC influence the problem and examine it carefully to see how complicates the problem.

4) Redefine the problem without the SRC influence and solve for the foreign market situation.


International Marketing Strategy, by Isobel & robin Lowe P77-78

In 1987 Hall and Hall's stated that every culture will be different from another if it understands and communicates in different ways. He classified cultures into ‘low context cultures' and' high context cultures'.

** Low context cultures: It relies on spoken and written language.

** High context cultures: In high context cultures the social importance, knowledge of the person and the social setting and extra information will be perceived by the message receiver.


International Marketing Strategy by Isobel & Robin Lowe P79

The inexperienced marketers will have to be aware that not all the things are different in the marketing programme. It depends on country to country, place to place. Like McVites biscuit company. In the United State of America and in the United Kingdom the packaging is same. But it's not that for this we can say it is wrong. If it matches with the self reference criterion then we have to think that it's a problem of international marketing. These sorts of similarities sometimes make some problems.



So many nationalities speak in the same languages. But the same or common language sometimes cannot give the right interpretation and their cultures are completely different from each other. Americans and English people speak in the same language, but their culture is different. So sometimes when they speak some of the word's meanings are different. Like Americans say BATHROOM, where English people say Toilet. They wanted to mean the same thing but the meanings are different. Again Americans say elevator but English say lift. Between these two words there is a big difference in meaning. Another example: Americans say vacuum but English people say hover.



Marketing Strategy by Isobel & Robin Lowe P9

International marketing (2nd edit) Catiora and Ghouri

Jean-Claude Usunier, Marketing Across Cultures (Hemel Hempstead: Prentice Hall, 1996).

S.C.Schneider and J.-L. Barsoux, Managing across Cultures, 2nd edn (Harlow, UK: Pearson, 2003).


Online journal (Academy of management review, 1983, vol-8, no 2, 226-232)


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