The night market in Taiwan is not only a very successful tourism industry but also a traditional cultural event, and it also brings a large number of commercial profits for Taiwanese. However, there might be certain difficulties while attempting to import the Taiwanese-style night market into Australia because of different cultures and lifestyles between two countries. The article scrutinises possible challenges with regard to location, business items, service and atmosphere, and provides some practical and feasible recommendations below in the context of each category for bridging this cultural gap in the cause of establishing a night market successfully in Australia.
- Organise night markets in a metropolitan city to overcome limitations of population density and partiality of living environment.
- Give out free samples to eliminate variations in eating habits.
- Suggest from friends to clear up bouts about having too many choices for Australians.
- Expend the opening hours of night markets and utilize appropriate advertisements to enhance people's motivations of visiting night markets.
- Hold cultural campaigns or traditional Australian ceremonies regularly to bridge the cross-cultural gap.
"Night Market", which is a street market operating after sunset, is the most famous social scene in Taiwan. Numerous street stalls, sidewalk vendors and small canteens occupy in each Taiwan's major city every night to attract residents and tourists. According to the Statistical Information of Taiwan Tourism Bureau (2009), the night market is the most attractive tourist destination voted by 5506 tourists from various countries, that is to say about 67% of foreign tourists intend to visit some famous night markets while travelling in Taiwan.
Between the 1950s and the 1960s, traditional Chinese ceremonies and activities usually took place around the temple and they were the most popular lifestyle in the agricultural society of Taiwan. Selling traditional Chinese herbs and martial arts were major activities of Taiwanese night markets at that time. Night markets had sprung up after the end of the temple fair, and served as a main entertainment for Taiwanese when there were no other entertainment developed, such as televisions, films and computers. However, with the rapid modernization of lifestyle, the night market has gradually transformed from a group of mobile hawkers into an organisation of tourist night markets operating with certain trading hours until present time.
Australia is a multicultural country which embraces a variety of cultures and cuisines all over the world. In recent years, an increasing number of Asians have immigrated to Australia and expressed interests in establishing night markets in Australia to enrich their nightlife and release their stress. Australians can benefit from night markets because they can prosper the economics by increasing the total sales of products, and improve residents' welfare and national infrastructures by raising the government's business tax revenue. However, there may be certain difficulties in transferring the Taiwanese night market to the context of Australia because of different lifestyles and cross-cultural conditions.
The report depicts the characters of night markets in Taiwan, investigates potential issues of living and cross-cultural variations in transplanting them to the Australia, and provides suggestions about how to deal with these challenges.
Night Market in Taiwan
Organising a night market in Taiwan requires taking numerous components into consideration. The first step is to search an appropriate location to establish it. Moreover, the main features of Taiwanese night markets can be described in terms of business items, service and atmosphere.
The location of night markets is closely related to the traditional religious culture in Taiwan. Based on the developmental history of Taiwan's economy, the majority of nationals settled down near traditional temples for the worship of gods and prayed for a peaceful life. Areas around these temples gradually developed into the business centre of cities as well as traditional markets where selling various commodities and foods. After dusk, traditional markets transformed into night markets in which foods and games were provided to entertain people.
The business items of night markets are comprised of four main categories. The first and the largest amount of these sorts are xiaochi foods, which are offered at low price (usually around $1 to $2 AUS) and come in a variety of choices to satisfy diverse appetites of Taiwanese customers. According to Chang and Hsieh (2006), the main motives for Taiwanese to visit night markets were a broad choice of foods, and 36% of customers went there due to inexpensive pricing. Besides xiaochi foods, night markets also feature various novelty handmade bags, trinkets, trousers and fashionable T-shirts. The third category is cheap domestic commodities including hardware, video game consoles, tea leafs and detergents. Due to the lower rent of street stalls, night markets supply shoppers more affordable clothing and household appliances than supermarkets. Finally, carnival-style games, such as pinball playing, balloons shooting, and fish catching, are also popular in the night market that are available for young clients to have fun in their spare time.
Long operation time and the face-to-face service are indispensable elements of successful night markets in Taiwan. Night markets generally open from after sunset (around 7 pm) to before sunrise (about 3 am) in order to content with the demands of people with different occupations. Labourers, who have late shift, can have their dinner at night markets while students maintain companionship by playing carnival-style games before falling asleep (Chang & Hsieh, 2006). Besides prolonged operation time, friendly service could motive customers to visit night markets every night.
The atmosphere of night markets in Taiwan is always populous and cheerful with numerous enthusiastic peddlers merchandising their products, hawkers shouting and electronic music playing over loudspeakers. Each vendor works hard to attract shoppers' attention by loud street chants and conducting banter with customers. Furthermore, hawkers sometimes use short slogans, tunes and jingles to advertise their products and to impress their customers. Haggling over price is another characteristic phenomenon in Taiwanese night markets, as such is often very positive as well as creates a win-win situation for both sides of commerce. Customers enjoy bargaining prices with the sellers because they can release their stress from work when winning the battle for prices. Vendors can make profits from this circumstance as a result of keeping patrons coming again by their haggling strategies.
Based on pronounced differences of culture between two countries, the following section will analyse these cultural issues more specifically to indicate whether the Taiwanese night market can be successfully reproduced to the marketing of Australia or not .
The preference of residential environment for Australians is significantly different from Taiwanese. Based on the framework developed by Trompenaars (1994, in Morrison, 2006), in an individualism culture, which individual living space is more highly valued than living functions and conveniences, Australians tend to live in the suburbs. On the contrary, the collectivism and particularistic nature of the Taiwanese culture make residents prefer living together near local temples or downtown.
Another issue regarding location is the notably dissimilar population distribution. The territory in Australia is approximately two hundred times bigger than Taiwan whereas there are almost equal numbers of dwellers in both countries. Hence, population density of Taiwan is much higher than Australia. According to Peterson and Smith in Thomas (2008), the topographical factor affects the exchange and transmission of culture. The lower population density in a huger territorial area might be an invisible barrier to expand the culture of night markets. Consequently, the geographical issue resulting from a low density of population probably limits opportunities for establishment of night markets in Australia.
As the xiaochi is proposed to attract Australians, challenges could be foreseen in the diversity of eating and shopping habits. Vrontis and Vronti (2004) point out that the demographic factor has a considerable effect on establishing international markets of products. Countries differ in their tastes and gastronomy of foods may create barriers in relation to the acceptance of particular foods. For example, most Australians are loath to taste internal organs of animals and pigs-blood cakes whereas these xiaochi foods are well-known in Taiwan. Moreover, Australians might experience undesirable shopping due to confusion about multiple choices whilst customers in Eastern culture are expected to be more innovative (Leo et al., 2005).
Distinct working routines might impact on the development of night markets within the aspect of service. According to the Hofstede's model of culture, the nature of long-term orientation culture resulting in long hours at work probably contributes to change in the Taiwanese eating habits. Most workers in Taiwan usually finish their jobs after 8pm and they need to have dinner at some places other than restaurants which are usually about to close at that time. In contrast, Australians, who score high on the short-term orientation and emphasize more on leisure time, generally finish work before 6pm and have dinner at home (Eunson, 2008).
What is also worth noticing in the issue of service is the reverse lifestyle for people from both nations. Australians, as pointed out by Trompenaars (1994), determine a clear demarcation line between work and private life in a specific culture. They prefer to stay with family or close friends at home after work and are unwilling to go out at night. However, in Taiwan, people in the diffuse culture have to build and maintain relationships with their business partners. Therefore, employees frequently have dinner and do night activities, such as strolling in night markets, singing songs and drinking in night clubs, with their colleagues or employers.
The atmosphere in night markets comprises several indispensable elements, such as religion, ethnic natures and social-culture. Fewer temple fairs are held in Australia because of different religious traditions and attitudes toward religion between Australians and Taiwanese, Christian religion and ancestor-worshipping custom, respectively (Thomas, 2008). Hence, the religion factor may increase challenges to build a Taiwanese-style night market in Australia, which is formed around temple fairs.
Different ethnic natures develop distinct behaviours and cultures. While the Taiwanese collectivist and particularistic characters might gather local residents to enjoy their leisure time and to share their foods as well as creative products, the development of night markets may be a problem for Australians whose cultural natures are individualism and universalism (Trompenaars, 1994, in Morrison, 2006).
Social-cultural factor is likely to change the way to promote products on market. The importance of social-cultural factors can be supported by Vrontis and Vronti (2004), haggling over price is hardly found in Western countries. However, it is a traditional culture in Taiwan to bargain over the price, which always happens in traditional markets. Therefore, vendors in Australia have to redesign their tactics to sell their goods without haggling over the price.
In order to successfully establish a Taiwanese night market in Australia, several recommendations are made below to deal with the issues mentioned above.
Organising night markets in a metropolitan city is the best approach to reduce influences resulting from the limited population density and the partiality of living environment for Australians. Downtown could offer more opportunities to attract customers to visit the night market and cater to the needs of city's employees than suburbs with limited residents. Urry in Hsieh and Chang (2006) pointed out that eating out could help people to escape from their ordinary life and entertain their life. Therefore, people who live in the suburbs can switch their moods by strolling in the night market and enjoying their carefree night after finishing their work and before they go back home.
In response to the issue in adaptation of particular comestibles from different countries, giving out free samples could be considered as a way to attract people to try new things. Majority of Australians are unwilling to taste unfamiliar foods. If vendors supply one of their representative foods for free to encourage Australians to experience every day, this special foods will be much easily accepted. For instance, Easy Way Tea is a triumphant story to gratify Australians' appetites since it arrived in Sydney at the end of 2001. In addition to free sampling of foods, word-of-mouth can also prompt the locals to savor these foods. Friends' recommendation will not only motivate Australians to experience things that they have never tried before, but also clear up their doubts about having too many choices.
In order to resolve problems resulting from distinct working routines, operation time and marketing strategies are indispensable factors to upgrade services of night markets successfully. Advancing the time of operation from 7pm to 5pm will easily promote employees who work in downtown to taste some snacks or between-meal nibbles and to have dinner in night markets, especially for those who live alone in Australia. Besides, both direct and indirect styles of advertising are essential to urge Australians for tour in night markets rather than staying at home. At first, the direct marketing is to distribute the leaflets and brochures on the street or in offices, which are printed in English introducing the distinctive foods or products. In addition to the direct advertising, the management committee of night markets should also advertise indirectly through the websites or the newspapers. For example, the MX newspaper is the most popular publication for commuters who are likely to become potential customers of night markets in Sydney.
The old saying "when in Rome, do as the Romans do" is never more authentic than when transferring the Taiwanese-style night markets to Australia. Holding some cultural campaigns or traditional Australian ceremonies regularly would be appropriate to make Australians fascinated with night markets and enhance their motivation to visit these. It is a good example to take place festival parties in night markets combined with local religion and culture during the Christmas or Halloween. Despite of fact that most Australians have greater acceptability of products from foreign cultures, it is necessary to integrate the differences between both cultures for the sake of promoting night markets to set up in Australia successfully.
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