Marketing across cultutre

Marketing across cultutre

Culture is the most basic cause of a person's wants and behaviour. Growing up, children learn basic values, perception and wants from the family and other important groups.

Marketing are always trying to spot “cultural shifts” which might point to new products that might be wanted by customers or to increased demand. For example, the cultural shift towards greater concern about health and fitness has created opportunities (and now industries) servicing customers who wish to buy:

• Low calorie foods
• Health club memberships
• Exercise equipment
• Activity or health-related holidays etc.

Similarly the increased desire for “leisure time” has resulted in increased demand for convenience products and services such as microwave ovens, ready meals and direct marketing service businesses such as telephone banking and insurance.

Each culture contains “sub-cultures” - groups of people with share values. Sub-cultures can include nationalities, religions, racial groups, or groups of people sharing the same geographical location. Sometimes a sub-culture will create a substantial and distinctive market segment of its own.

For example, the “youth culture” or “club culture” has quite distinct values and buying characteristics from the much older “gray generation”

Similarly, differences in social class can create customer groups. In fact, the official six social classes in the UK are widely used to profile and predict different customer behaviour. In the UK's socioeconomic classification scheme, social class is not just determined by income. It is measured as a combination of occupation, income, education, wealth and other variables:

World markets can also be classified on the basis of the following:


When the population is higher, the bigger is the market. However, it is necessary to look into the following.
(a) Age groups and Sex- Different age groups of people, their taste & interests, preferences along with sexual differences, the trend of outlook and attitude people focus and prefer to adopt matters a lot.
(b) Social class or groups- This refers to the economic class of living and groups which they belong in the living environment, which also has an impact for product selling.
(c) Educational background-This refers to the background of the corresponding person who is actually involved in international markets, it doesn't specify anything in the form of an individual acquiring management degree, it specifies something more in the form of his/her family and circle of friends including peers with many people who give support for him to flourish well in international markets.

Culture encompasses the set of beliefs, moral values, traditions, language, and laws (or rules of behavior) held in common by a nation, a community, or other defined group of people. Culturally determined characteristics include: the language spoken at home; religious observances; customs (including marriage customs that often accompany religious and other beliefs); acceptable gender roles and occupations; dietary practices; intellectual, artistic, and leisure-time pursuits; and other aspects of behavior. In the United States, and in other nations with large immigrant populations, there is a wide range of cultural diversity, religious beliefs, customs, and values, reflecting the scattered origins of the people. The "melting-pot" concept of nationality reduces this diversity with successive generations, but considerable variation remains—distinguishing rural from urban, African American from European, East Asian from South Asian, religious believers from secularists.

Anthropoligists and epidemiologists have identified many associations between culture, customs, and risks to health. Those who, for religious reasons, abstain from tea, coffee, alcohol, and tobacco have smaller risks of getting cancer of the gastrointestinal or respiratory tract than others of similar social, economic, and residential background. Seventh-day Adventists, who are strict vegetarians and are very health conscious have low death rates from coronary heart disease when compared to neighbors of similar socioeconomic backgrounds. Though often called "lifestyle factors," in such cases these differences are culturally determined because the related behaviors are associated with religious beliefs and practices. Jews who practice circumcision have lower incidence and death rates than gentiles from cancer of the male genital tract, perhaps related to sexual hygiene and reduced risk of infection with carcinogenic viruses.

Many cultural characteristics, and the health states related to them, are associated with education, occupation, income, and social status. These factors influence one's awareness of the world, and whether one will seek improvement or accept things as they are. Well-educated white-collar workers may be more aware of the benefits of exercise than those lacking education—they are more likely to play than watch sports, and are more likely to have better-paying jobs that enable them to afford sporting equipment. Values related to these perceptions also shape the relative priority accorded to intellectual versus athletic pursuits, motivating some working-class parents to encourage their children to study and remain in school in hopes of a better life for the children than the parents have had. The clash of competing values between environmental sustainability and economic development also has a cultural component. Appreciation of the fact that health is ultimately dependent on the integrity of the earth's life-supporting ecosystems is part of a value system. Such values may sometimes be over-ridden by short-term priorities such as job security or financial gain.


Cultural context can profoundly affect the transmission of disease. A tragic example is the spread of HIV/AIDS (human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome), particularly in Africa, where economic necessity shapes choices that are often hazardous to health. The combination of limited education, migratory labor that separates men from their wives and families, and the breakdown of traditional family networks creates a context in which men may seek multiple sexual partners. Women often lack the social power to negotiate condom use, and their need for economic and social survival outweighs the risk that they know they are taking by having unprotected intercourse. In Thailand, where culturally condoned intravenous drug use is widespread among the large population of sex workers, HIV/AIDS and other blood-borne viral diseases became epidemic in the 1990s, creating a national public health emergency.

The health of girls and women is particularly sensitive to cultural influences. In societies where women are able to make decisions for themselves, especially about their education and their reproductive choices, have longer life expectancy, lower fertility rates, and better overall health. When political totalitarianism and religious zealotry flourish, women usually suffer oppression disproportionately compared to men, and this can adversely affect their health and longevity.

Patriachal values can also be harmful to the health of girls and women. Such values have a pervasive influence in many settings, mainly in traditional agricultural societies, but also in some urbanized economies. In some strict Islamic societies where girls and women are segregated and allowed to appear in public only if totally covered from head to toe, deprivation of sunlight can impair the cutaneous synthesis of vitamin D, causing a deficiency of this vitamin and putting the women at risk for rickets or osteomalacia.

Another cultural practice with severe health consequences is female genital mutilation, which is performed on young girls in many African and Middle Eastern nations. In its most extreme form, the procedure can be life threatening. It deprives women of sexual fulfillment and makes childbirth a hazardous process for both mother and infant. While performed in many predominantly Islamic countries, this procedure is not a religious ritual, and is not condoned by any Islamic scripture. Anthropologists have described the complex cultural meanings of ritual purity associated with female genital mutilation that serve to perpetuate this practice despite its serious adverse effects on health. The majority of women and men in cultures that perform genital mutilation support the continuation of the practice which makes change all the more difficult. Both international and national efforts are underway to stop or change this practice, with some of the most promising initiatives coming from within the cultures themselves. Female genital mutilation was banned in the United States in 1995, and is also outlawed in Britain, France, Canada, Sweden, Switzerland, and some African countries.

In Western societies the female body is often altered for cultural reasons. Women in the nineteenth century constricted their waists and compressed their breasts with rigid corsets. Many women today wear high heels and tight shoes that deform their feet, with painful consequences in old age. Some undergo painful cosmetic surgery in the quest for an idealized physical form, with reshaped ears, eyes, and nose; facelifts; liposuction; and breast implants. Some girls and women strive to achieve a very low body weight, a modern, culturally shaped notion of beauty that has supplanted the former "ideal"—the plump female form depicted in the paintings of Rubens and Renoir. The pursuit of very low body weight may be associated with the development of anorexia nervosa, an illness that can be fatal. Men in Western society in the late twentieth century also began seeking an "improved" body image by taking muscle-enhancing steroids or having muscle grafts to enlarge pectoral and calf muscles.

In modern industrial societies an adolescent culture has developed. This culture often fosters rebelliousness and defiance of adult authority s, leading some young people to smoke, take drugs, and expose themselves to dangerous and unhealthy practices. Such actions have, unfortunately, often been encouraged by the tobacco industry and advertisers of beer and other alcoholic drinks. The pervasive influence of the media, especially television, in almost all contemporary societies projects cultural values and behavior that emanate from the American entertainment industry. Many of these messages, such as encouraging the use of mood-altering substances and sexual promiscuity, are potentially harmful to health.

Public health specialists must be aware of these and other cultural trends, and they must endeavor to mobilize beneficial cultural influences while discouraging unhealthy ones. The task of public health professionals is particularly challenging when influential and economically motivated interests glorify aspects of culture that are harmful to health.

The task of marketing is to identify consumers' needs and wants accurately, then to develop products and services that will satisfy them. For marketing to be successful, it is not sufficient to merely discover what customers require, but to find out why it is required. Only by gaining a deep and comprehensive understanding of buyer behaviour can marketing's goals be realised. Such an understanding of buyer behaviour works to the mutual advantage of the consumer and marketer, allowing the marketer to become better equipped to satisfy the consumer's needs efficiently and establish a loyal group of customers with positive attitudes towards the company's products.

Culture is ‘learned' behaviour that has been passed down over time, reinforced in our daily lives through the family unit and through educational and religious institutions. Cultural influences, therefore, are powerful ones and if a company does not understand the culture in which a particular market operates, it cannot hope to develop products and market them successfully in that market.

It is important to recognise that culture, although immensely powerful, is not fixed forever. Changes in culture tend to be slow and are not fully assimilated until a generation or more has passed. An example of this is the custom of marriage, which has been openly challenged in the UK over the past twenty years. When couples first began to set up home together and raise families outside marriage, society, for the most part, adopted an attitude of condemnation, whereas today there is a much more relaxed attitude to those who choose to ignore the convention.

The twentieth century has witnessed significant cultural changes, for example, changing attitudes towards work and pleasure. It is no longer accepted that work should be difficult or injurious to mind or body, and many employers make great efforts to ensure that the work-place is as pleasant an environment as possible, realising that this probably increases productivity. Employees now more frequently regard work as a means to earn the money to spend on goods or services that give them pleasure, and not just to pay for the necessities of life. The shortened working week, paid holidays and labour-saving devices in the home have all led to increased leisure time that influences how, when and what the consumer buys. Another major cultural change in this century is the changing role of women in society. Increased independence and economic power have not only changed the lives of women, but have also influenced society's and women's own perception of their socio-economic role.

In most Western societies today, when considering culture, we must also consider subcultures. Immigrant communities have become large enough in many countries to form a significant proportion of the population of that country, and marketers must consider them because of their interactive influence on society and because, in some cases, they constitute individual market segments for certain product areas. Subcultures can also exist within the same racial groups sharing common nationality. Their bases may be geographical, religious or linguistic differences and marketers must recognise these differences and should regard them as providing opportunities rather than posing problems.


Although factors have been identified that are common to consumer and organisational buying behaviour, it is emphasised that the two markets should be approached differently. The requirements of consumers are established and the marketing response is communicated mainly through the mass media and direct response marketing methods like ‘individualised personal mailings' from a mailing list. In organisational markets, buyers and sellers also communicate through the mass media, but to a lesser extent as they also rely upon personal interaction. Organisational buyers tend to work to obtain satisfaction in relation to the company's commercial needs. Much consumer behaviour has a psychological foundation. Although organisational purchasers have an explicit rationale for their actions, this does not imply that they are inflexible to receiving psychological influences. Marketers should not overlook the psychological factors that drive industrial customers. Nowhere is this more important than in a market where products or services on offer are broadly similar. It is here that organisational marketers must attempt to modify their marketing advances to serve specific idiosyncratic needs and requirements.


The marketing communications mix is made up of personal selling, a range of conventional advertising media and a range of non-media communication tools. The conventional media tools, which involve ‘renting' space on television, newspapers, posters, radio etc. are referred to as ‘above-the-line' promotional techniques. Other marketing communications techniques, such as sales promotion, sponsorship and exhibitions do not involve the commissioning of space or air-time in or on conventional media. These techniques are referred to as below the line techniques. Marketing effectiveness depends significantly on communications effectiveness. The market is activated through information flows. The way a potential buyer perceives the seller's market offering is heavily influenced by the amount and kind of information he or she has about the product offering, and the reaction to that information. Marketing, therefore, relies heavily upon information flows between the seller and the prospective buyer. To many people marketing communications, such as television advertising, direct mail and poster advertising is marketing. This is because marketing communications is certainly the most highly visible aspect of marketing activity and it impacts on everyday on life. Marketing communications, whether above or below the line activity, is collectively just one of the ‘4P's' of the marketing mix. However, it is a very important part. No matter how good a firm's product or service offering is, the benefits to the consumer need to be communicated effectively. Marketing communications, in the form of above and below the line promotion, lies at the very centre of any marketing plan


We can now appreciate how marketing begins to work. Having defined the purpose of segmentation we have looked at the obvious and the less obvious bases for segmentation in both consumer and industrial markets. We have also ascertained that used well, the techniques and concepts described in this chapter can contribute significantly to overall company marketing success. Market segmentation, targeting and positioning decisions are thus more strategic than they are tactical.

Segmentation variables should be examined in detail, especially new segments. These should then be authenticated in terms of viability and potential profit.

Targeting investigates specific segments in terms of how they should be approached.

Positioning relates to how the product is perceived in the minds of consumers and a suitable marketing mix should then be designed.

9 Summary

PR is an important and versatile marketing communications ‘tool'. It forms an intrinsic part of the integrated marketing communications mix. There is a PR application to most marketing communications variables whether this is personal selling, sponsorship, exhibitions, direct mail or telephone marketing.

High personal taxation

During this period, taxes rose with the top rate of personal taxation being 98% on investment income. Strangely nowadays perhaps, investment income, being deemed to be ‘not worked for' income, attracted extra taxation of 15% on top of 83% which was the top rate insofar as earned income was concerned.

Redistribution of wealth

The net effect of all of this was to redistribute wealth such that the rich became less rich and the poorer became much better off. The polarization within society that existed before the second world-war disappeared as we moved towards a more egalitarian society. In terms of the net effect of all this upon marketing, it meant that goods which had hitherto been classed as luxury products had become utility products which were needed as part of everyday living. A good example of this is the telephone which was a luxury service well into the nineteen-sixties, but which is nowadays very much a utility item and required as a virtual necessity for those wishing to pursue a ‘modern' lifestyle

Social class

This is the most prominent social influence. Traditionally, one of the chief determinants of social class was income. Since pay structures have altered a great deal in terms of the lower C2, D and E categories moving more towards levels previously enjoyed by the higher A, B and C1 categories over the past thirty years or so, classification of consumers on the basis of ‘life style' is becoming more meaningful today. Income aside, social class is an indicator of life style and its existence exerts a strong influence on individual consumers and their behaviour. There is evidence to suggest that whatever income level a consumer reaches during his or her lifetime, basic attitudes and preferences do not change radically. As consumers, we usually identify with a particular class or group, but often it is not the actual social class that is revealing, but that which the consumer aspires to. Income and/or education allows young people to ‘cross' social class barriers and adopt life styles which are different from those of their parents. They will tend to absorb the influences of the group to which they aspire and gradually reject the life styles of their parents and relations. It can thus be seen that occupation is a strong determinant towards an individual's behavioural patterns, which includes buyer behaviour.

Reference groups

This can be described as group of people whose standards of conduct mould an individual's dispositions, beliefs and values. This group can be small or large. Reference groups can range from the immediate family to the place of work. They can also be found in a person's social life. An individual is unlikely to deviate too far from the behavioural norms laid down by the members of a club or hobby group. Reference group theory does not state that individualism cannot exist within a group, but it does suggest that even rigid independent thinkers will at least be aware of what is considered ‘normal' within a group.

The family life cycle traditionally contains six stages, although more recently different divisions have been quoted. These divisions are:

Unmarried Here, financial commitments and family responsibilities tend to be low, with disposable income being high. These younger unmarried consumers tend to be more leisure-orientated and more fashion conscious. This segment thus comprises a very important market for many new and innovative products.

Young newly married couples - no children This group focuses its expenditure on those items considered necessary for setting up home.

Young married couples with children Outlay here is children-orientated, and there is little surplus cash for luxury items. Although they are receptive to new product ideas, this group sees economy as being the over-riding factor when making purchases.

Older married couples still with children at home Disposable income will probably have increased, often with both parents working and children being relatively independent. In some cases children may be working and the parents are able to engage increasingly in leisure activities often in the form of more than the ‘standard' annual holiday. Consumer durables, including major items of furniture, are often replaced at this stage. Such purchases are often made with different motivations to the original motivations of strict functionality and economy that was necessary at an earlier life cycle stage.

Older married couples with no children living in the home Here, disposable income can be quite high. However, tastes are likely to be firmly rooted reflected in unchanging purchasing patterns. Thus marketers will have difficulty when attempting to change predispositions, so the best policy will be through attempts to refine and add value rather than to introduce new concepts and ideas.

Older retired couples and single people At this stage, most consumer durables have been purchased although occasional replacements will be required. Purchasing is low and patterns of purchasing are conservative and predictable. This group of consumers is increasing rapidly. Such people tend to be less reliant solely on the ‘State pension', many having subscribed to occupational pensions from former employers, which boosts the State pension. This allows this group to lead more active lives and the tourist industry now actively targets this particular market segment.


Hahn, R. A., ed. (1994). Anthropology in Public Health. New York: Oxford University Press.

Helman, C. (1990). Culture, Health and Illness. Oxford, UK: Butterworth-Heineman.

McElroy, A., and Townsend, P. (1996). Medical Anthropology in Ecological Perspective, 3rd edition. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.

Paul, B. D., ed. (1955). Health, Culture and Community. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

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