Diverse and multicultural


The 21st century workforce is highly diverse and multicultural. To effectively manage and to lead in this environment, cross-cultural factors both on domestic and global fronts and to practice those in global marketing policy conveys the same importance.

Cultural versus personal knowledge is the determinant of cultural matters in making purchasing decisions. General cultural knowledge includes implicit theories about the world in which we reside and those are largely shared by the members of society. But in addition to this shared set of ideas, there may also have personal knowledge that can conflict with accepted and culturally derived practices. Generally it is relied on cultural norms. It is more likely to engage in an internal debate, and waver in making a thoughtful deliberation.

Cultural differences are often the basis for international marketing communications as well as global brand management strategies throughout the world.[1] The importance of cultural issues has been increasing. It is fueled by new technologies which allow marketers to reach consumers across country boundaries and over the countries. To cope up with demand, marketers are spending increasing amounts of time and effort trying to understand subtle cultural differences as the efforts of Nike, IBM, and Google.

Part- 1

Culture is the widely used term as it there often comes different cross cultural issues. Culture is the way by which things are done around. Culture could relate to a country or with a distinct section of the community or within an organization (known as corporate culture). So, culture includes all values and norms, customs and traditions, beliefs and religions, rituals and artifacts of a society which varies over one to another. For example, a boy growing up in China may generally accept the importance of his relationships with others, and they seek to keep harmony with family members. But boys of same age may take the family bond in more flexible way in American society.

Cultural Factors

Culture includes the set of beliefs, moral values, traditions, language, and laws which are commonly held by a nation, a community. Culturally determined characteristics include- language, religious observances, customs, acceptable roles of gender and occupation, intellectual, artistic and other aspects of behavior. Nations with large immigrant populations has to face a wide range of cultural diversity, religious beliefs, customs, and values. This mingling of nationality reduces the diversity with successive generations. At the same time, they distinguish rural from urban, African American from European and religious believers from secularists.[2]

Culture is broad and multifaceted idea. Culture influences persons as individuals, families, communities, professions, industries, organizations and nations. It makes interaction within and across regional and national borders. Culture provides a sense of identity within language, communication styles, history and religion to norms, values, symbolism and ways of being.

Culture as Marketing Policy

Culture influence marketing as well as marketing influences culture. Marketers can act as agents of changes within or across a culture. The interactions between marketing and culture can be examined from three perspectives. [3]

  • First, culture defines acceptable purchasing behavior for both consumers and business. For an example, it can be taken that in cultures where a business gift is expected but not presented; it is an insult of to the host. On the other hand, in countries where gifts generate an obligation (such as in Japan), it may be beneficial to engage in the practice. Though offering a business gift could be misinterpreted as inappropriate in other cultures.
  • Secondly, each element of culture profoundly influences each component of the marketing mix. Promotion is strongly influenced by the language of countries, product acceptance is largely influenced by culturally based attitudes and distribution is influenced by social institutions (such as relationship within groups).
  • Thirdly, marketing influences culture by contributing to cultural change. Marketing mix increases with the rate of increase of cultural changes with global and standardization markets.

Sometimes cultures may change slowly for specific products. The duty of marketers is to locate the similarities in various markets. At the same time, they should strategically make them available for entering into the cross cultural new markets. Cross-cultural marketing is a process in which marketers need to continuously adjust their behaviors and marketing programs in order to find out targeted markets. It is a crucial tool to capture the attention of target market. Marketers frequently feel the pitfalls of unconscious application of cultural experiences and values to a market in another culture. One may also feel superiority for own culture, but there is no room for such attitudes in the global marketing practice.

Impact of culture on international marketing mix

International marketing needs to take into consideration the culture of the country in which the trade is supposedly to take place. There are a number of theories regarded cultural impacts on marketing in practise. The cultural framework of Terpstra and Sarathy helps marketing managers to assess the cultural nature of an international market. They analyze eight categories in this context. [4]


Language is an integral part of cultural influence over marketing mix. Language holds the idea of high context culture or a low context culture (Hall and Hall 1986). This consists of both the verbal and the non-verbal communication. In a low context culture verbal communication is mostly desired. Whereas countries of high context culture like Japan and some Arabic nations, non-verbal form of communication is used. For global marketing, balance between these two is a must.


Cultural context varies with religion too. The organization needs to make sure that their products and services are not offensive, unlawful or distasteful to the local nation. This includes marketing promotion and branding. For an example, in 2007 China banned all advertising which included pictures of pigs to maintain harmony with the country's Muslim population of around 2%.

Values and Attitudes

Values and attitudes vary between and within nations. In producing product or service overseas it is highly necessary to learn the values and attitudes of that particular area for altering promotional material or managing local employees.

For example, in France workers tend to take vacations for the whole month of August, while in the United States, employees may only take a couple of week's vacation in an entire year.


Education can be considered as an important cultural factor. The level and nature of education in each international market varies. For example, in countries with low literacy levels, advertisers would avoid communications which depended upon written copy. They may favor radio advertising with an audio message or visual media such as billboards. The presentation of products may also be an important issue here.

The nationwide system of public education system is different. In China, it includes primary schools, middle schools, and universities. Nine years of education is compulsory for all Chinese students. Whereas in Uganda schooling includes 7 years of primary education, 6 years of secondary education and 3 to 5 years of post-secondary education.

Societal Organizations

The social aspect of cultural framework relates to how a national society is organized like the role of women in a society and the way of governing a country. For example, India has an established caste system and many Western countries still have an embedded class system. So social mobility could be restricted where caste and class systems prevail.


Technological development is taken into account in analyzing global marketing policy. Once Trevor Baylis launched the clockwork radio in African market. Since batteries were expensive in Africa and power supplies in rural areas are non-existent, the innovation was a huge success.

China's car market grew 25% in 2006. It has overtaken Japan to be the second-largest car market in the world with sales of 8 million vehicles. With just six car owners per 100 people (6%), the potential for growth of Chinese market is immense.

Law and Politics

The social culture is mostly driven by the political and legal factors. The political ideology on which the society is based will impact upon decisions to market in a particular place. For example, the United Kingdom has a largely market driven democratic society with laws, while Iran has a political and legal system based upon the teachings and principles Islam and a Shariya tradition.


Aesthetics is important as it is externally affect the marketing policy of goods and services. It relates to the senses or appreciation of the artistic nature of something, including color, smell or taste. For example, whether a product contains fashionable design depends upon the customers.

Cross cultural marketing mistakes may show poor cultural awareness. In 2002, Umbro the UK sports manufacturer had to withdraw its new trainers (sneakers) called the Zyklon. The firm received complaints from many sources that it was the name of the gas used by the Nazi regime to murder millions of Jews in concentration camps which hurts their sentiment.

Part- 2

'For the inexperienced marketer, the 'similar but different' aspect of culture creates an illusion of similarity that usually does not exist'. -Cateora and Ghauri (2006)

The term illusion represents a multidimensional concept which consisting of the three concepts: self-enhancement, illusion of control, and realistic or unrealistic optimism.[5] Illusion can be both positive and negative. Self-aggrandizement is the perception of one's self, past behavior, and enduring attributes. Illusion of control is a belief in one's personal control, involving the perception which may primarily positive but not negative outcomes. Unrealistic optimism is the perception that the future holds various opportunities and an absence of adverse events. These illusions are common in marketing arena which may deceives people. [6]

An Illusion of Similarities in Cultural Factors

Similarities in cultural factors often confuse inexperienced marketer and make them bewildered. They found it difficult to identify the similar but different aspect of culture at the same time. These aspects create illusions of similarity which may not exist. For an example, several nationalities can speak the same language or have similar race and heritage, but it does not necessarily follow the similarities exist in other respects too. A product acceptable to one culture may not readily acceptable to the other culture. There is a common misconception among marketer that people from similar culture may share similar cultural to meet individual needs.[7]

Linguistic Illusion

As a cultural factor, language plays great importance. But a common language does not guarantee similar understanding of words or phrases. For an example, both British and Americans speak English, but their cultures are sufficiently different. A single word or phrase has different meanings to each of them. So there prevails the possibility of misunderstanding and mismatch. In England, one asks for a lift instead of an elevator and an American, when speaking of a bathroom, generally refers to a toilet, whereas in England a bathroom is a place to take a tub bath.

Because of the economic unification of Europe , there creates many obstacles in doing business in Europe which may be eliminated as the European Union takes shape, but to the marketers, it can't draw any conclusion that an economically unified Europe means a common set of consumer wants and needs. Cultural differences among the members of the European Union are the product of centuries of history. The United States itself has many subcultures. With mass communication and rapid travel, they may defy complete homogenization. The same is applied to assume the unification of Germany has erased cultural differences that arose from over 40 years due to political and social separation.

Illusion in Marketing Policy

Marketers must assess each country thoroughly in terms of the proposed products or services and they never rely on that if it sells in one country, it will surely sell in another. Worldwide mass communications and increased economic and social interdependence of countries grow increase the similarities among countries and develop common market behaviors, wants, and needs. With this process, the tendency will be rely more on clear similarities when they may not exist. A marketer is wise to remember that a culture adapts and customizes to its own needs a quirk. It may appear to be the same on in its cultural meaning.

Respecting the differences in case of illusion

Marketers will want to know how to translate an understanding of cultural differences into effective cross-cultural marketing strategies and how to turn them into a direct plan of action. [8]

Two theories of Geert Hofstede and Edward T. Hall about cultural differences are often referenced. These theories are nearly three decades old, but their categories for considering differences are still valid in particular ways. They discuss cultural differences within the framework of Uncertainty Avoidance, Individualism vs. Collectivism and low-context vs. high-context communication. Two interesting ideas might provide to the thinking of marketers

Non-convergence of Cultures

"Too many non-cultural hard factors and cultural soft factors still exist or arise as constraints on international marketing that have to be dealt with continuously, utilizing various strategies of adaptation or localization," Hermeking.

The prediction of a convergence of culturally different markets into a similar culture would facilitate standardization of global marketing activities. It can be turned out to be an illusion.

Preference of People for local brands

For many products there play "not-invented-here-syndrome" or "country-of-origin" effect. It indicates products or services from the home country garner a more positive image than those from foreign countries. As a result, many smart marketers localize their products and advertise them as if they were local brands.


Culture contains broader scope. It covers every aspect of behavior within a society. The task of foreign marketers is to adjust marketing strategies and to plan to fulfill the needs of the culture in which they operate. Innovation is important in this regard. Innovations develop internally through invention, experimentation. They may introduced from outside through a process of borrowing or immigration.

The notion that culture sometimes guides consumer judgments and behaviors. There are some other times when it does not could be helpful in understanding conflicting findings. Marketers may often face illusive conditions. But they can remove those with careful guidance. It should keep in mind that as culture contains multidimensional phases, cultural dynamics always seem to take on both positive and negative aspects.


  1. "When Does Culture Matter in Marketing?" by Alice LaPlante
  2. TAYLOR, S. E., J. D. BROWN, Psychol. Bull., 103 (1988) 193.
  3. CATINA, P. D., S. E. ISO-AHOLA, Internat. Sports J., 8 (2004) 80.
  4. International Marketing 13E(Sie) by Cateora
  5. Effects of Personal Knowledge on the Correction of Culture-Based Judgments by Donnel Briley and Jennifer Aaker
  6. http://www.citeman.com/8240-similarities/
  7. http://www.answers.com/topic/cultural-fa...
  8. http://www.studyoverseas.com/america/usaed/crosscultural.htm
  9. www.e3network.wordpress.com
  1. "When Does Culture Matter in Marketing?" by Alice LaPlante
  2. http://www.answers.com/topic/cultural-fa...
  3. http://www.studyoverseas.com/america/usaed/crosscultural.htm
  4. http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_impact_could_culture_have_on_the_international_marketing_mix
  5. TAYLOR, S. E., J. D. BROWN, Psychol. Bull., 103 (1988) 193.
  6. CATINA, P. D., S. E. ISO-AHOLA, Internat. Sports J., 8 (2004) 80.
  7. http://www.citeman.com/8240-similarities/
  8. www.e3network.wordpress.com

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