Understanding cultural differences in internatinal marketing

1.0 Introduction

The past few decennaries has witnessed a turning figure of concerns spread outing their operations internationally. This enlargement has led to a figure of selling schemes been adopted by international selling directors sing selling internationally. For concern to run an international market successfully, they must understand cultural differences in their mark states respectivey. “ Directors need to broaden their position, adapt to other civilizations, and do determinations that reflect the demands and desires of those civilizations. ” ( Rugman & A ; Hodgetts 2003 P 126 ) . This treatment critically gives an penetration into cultural differences, conceptualisation


Culture is a complex term that composes of different definations. Several Writers have given assorted definations of civilization. Hofstede ( 1980, p87 ) defined civilization as the “ corporate scheduling of the head which distinguishes members of one human group from the other ” . Leung et Al ( 2005 ) besides defined civilization as the “ values, beliefs, norms, and behavioral forms of a national group ” . Harmonizing to Yapraka ( 2008 ) , Nakata and Huang ‘s ( 2002 ) definition of culure as “ that complex whole which includes cognition, beliefs, humanistic disciplines, ethical motives and wonts acquired by adult male as a member of a society ” defines civilization from an international selling position. He farther said that this beliefs, imposts and wonts influences an international selling directors believing when following selling schemes and accommodating selling mix.Thus Understanding civilization is critical to International selling troughs when developing marketing policies to accommodate a peculiar mark market in a state.

Earlier surveies on civilization research focused on Gert Hofstedes four cultural dimensions and Halls High and low context civilization ( yakram 2008 ) . Harmonizing to yakram ( 2008 ) article, Nakata and sivakuman ( 2001 ) developed a conceptual model of how the construct of selling can be applied in multinationals through hofstedes cultural dimensions.

Similarly, Rutson et Al ( 1997 ) suggested that national civilization plays has a immense impact on work values. He futher stresed that International directors must understand that the determiner of the success or failure of a merchandise depends on how selling determinations made interact with the civilization of a state. For illustration, Kentuck Fried Chiken must recognize that they manner it prepares its chiken in USA for case may non work in Muslim states due to spiritual beliefs and imposts.


Terpstra & A ; sarathy ( 2000 ) stated that Understanding the cultural environment of a state would help sellers to accommodate their selling schemes if they take the ingredients ( elements ) of civilization into consideration.The elements comprises of linguistic communication, ,religion, values & A ; attitudes, instruction, societal organisations, jurisprudence & A ; political relations, Material civilization and aesthetics. This elements are indispensable ingredients that affects the international selling directors believing.

1.21 Language

Harmonizing to Terpstra & A ; sarathy ( 2000, p95 ) Language is a distinguishable cultural difference that must be dealt with. Therefore for international concerns to interact with employees, onsumers, clients they must understand the local linguistic communication. ( Terpstra & A ; sarathy 2000 ) Analyzing a foreign linguistic communication is an indispensable tool for obtaining information about a state. If a foreign state that has several spoken linguistic communications it hence has several civilizations. In Nigeria, they are 3 chief linguistic communications, and over 50 local linguistic communications. This linguistic communications are attributed to different civilizations.

However, linguistic communication could present a barrier for international sellers if they are several linguistic communications spoken in one state. For case, selling is extremely dependent on communicating so it would be hard for markerters to publicize, trade name and box their merchandises. If directors can non talk and understand the local linguistic communication it would be hard for them to advance their merchandises to their mark audience. Another job could originate in incorrect reading.Taking a expression at KFC in China where English is non spoken, Management demand to develop and use the locals of China in other successfully set up their market.

1.22 Religion

Religion is another facet of civilization that multinationals grip with cautiousness. Assorted faiths have impacts on consumer behaviour and buying forms of a state. In the in-between E and Arabic states Islam is the faith. Harmonizing to Terpstra & A ; Sarathy ( 2000 ) Introducing new merchandises in the an Islamic environment could be hard. Religious vacations or festivals such as Ramadan are purely adhered to. Religion is of import to Directors because it influences life styles, beliefs, values and attitudes. It besides affects work and social imposts every bit good as political relations and concern in general. Harmonizing to Wind & A ; Douglas ( 2007 ) in thier article on International selling cleavage, ” Difference in beilef systems between civilizations may impact consumer behaviour and buying forms ” Dietry Torahs associated with one faith could impact selling of nutrient merchandises and service bringing. ( Wind & A ; Douglas 2007 ) For illustration, Harmonizing to Islamic faith, a chiken must be drained of blood before it is cooked or prepared ( Halal ) .It is believed that eating a chiken with blood could impact your spiritualty and workss in Islam. This affects the selling mix of Fastfood companies that are based in Islamic states because they have to stay by the Islamic jurisprudence. Hence faith affects international selling in a figure of ways. The economic function of adult females in Islamic states could impact advertisement.

1.23 Aestheticss

. Acoording to Rugman & A ; Hodget ( 2003 p.131 ) , Aesthetics refers to artistic gustatory sensation of a civilization. This gustatory sensation could in signifiers, colorss, music, design or packaging. Aestheticss values vary depending on the state. International companies need to be cognizant of the different gustatory sensation in civilization. This is because what is by and large accepted in one state may be a tabu in another state. Aesthetic values have an impact on the production and packaging designs of fabrication industries that operate abroad. International directors need to be cognizant of gustatory sensation in colourss and symbols when packaging and administering their merchandises. In 2006, KFC was to a great extent criticized in China for dishonoring civilization by adversing an old Taoist surrounded by his followings keeping a chiken Burger and claiming it as a maestro piece. This caused KFC to alter its advertisement method.

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1.24 Customss and manners

Customss and manners have a important impact on consumer behaviour, ingestion forms and merchandise packaging. A In the United States and Europe black is used for mourning the dead, while in Japan and the Far East white is the colour used for mourning. In states where position quo is higly regarded, Multinationals have to direct a deputation of senior staff to transport out a concern negoitation.

Morality is another thing that differentiates cultures.What is viewed as moral in state may be vied as extremely immoral in another state. For instane, USA it ispermitted for Man and adult female to dress half naked on the beach whereas in Arab states, adult females are non permitted to uncover their faces when traveling out.

1.25 Valuess and Attitudes

Valuess are shared beliefs or group norms that have been internalized by persons. ( Czinkota, M et al 2001, p45 ) An attitude is a relentless inclination to experience and act in a peculiar manner towards an object ( Rugman & A ; Hodgetts 2003, p129 ) . Valuess and attitutudes vary between and within countries.In that instance International markerts need to set their publicity methods or trade name messages.

1.3 Cultural DIMENSIONS

Over the last two decennaries, several research workers discovered different dimensions to civilization. Geert Hofstede proposed four dimensions to civilization, which comprised of roll uping informations ( questionnaire ) from over 40 states. Halls besides developed the high context culure which is characterized by less verbal communicating, household ties, long term relationship ( Bolshevism ) and the low context civilization which is characterized by more interpersonal relationship. ( Hall & A ; Hall 1986 )

In this treatment, Hofstedes cultural dimensions and Hall ‘s high and low context will be analyzed in four states, viz. United land, Australia, China and India because of the cultural similarities and differences between this states.


Geert Hofstede, a Dutch bookman discovered four cultural dimensions which is now used as a model for understanding differences in national civilization in different states of the universe today. In my research, I discovered his dimensions to civilization had strengths and failings. Hofstedes cultural dimesnsions did n’t concentrate different civilizations that exist within a state. In states like Italy, Canada, and Nigeria, different norms, values, and linguistic communications are present. This dimensions to civilization merely analzed people of a peculiar state non people within a state. To farther buttress my statement, Galit Alion ( 2008 ) critized hofstedes observations. He argued that analysing and garnering consequences of research on civilization from a individual multinational ( IBM ) can non be applied to the national level.He farther refuted hofsteds methodological analysis by stating it was invalid.Hofsteds research was carried out from an organisational position instead than a state degree position.

Similarly, Professor Benden mcsweeney in the article “ Hofstedes theoretical account of national cultural differences and their consequences.. A victory of destiny, A faluire of analysis ” critized Hofstedes cultural dimensions. He argued that IBM as a micro- location in a state is non typical of a state itself. Harmonizing to him, Surveies are non an appriopate manner of finding cultural differences and every person in a state can non portion the same national civilization. ( www.geert-hofstede.international-business-center.com ) Regarless of the failing of Hofstedes theoretical accounts, it is still an of import model in finding cultural differences. We will now look at the five ( 5 ) cultural dimensions of hofstede


Harmonizing to Hofstede ( 1980 ) Power distance is the extent to which the powerless members of rganizations and establishments accept that there is inequality in power. In Hofstedes theoretical account, he revealed thatin states characterized by high power distant civilizations, societal stautus or satus quo is really important and priveleges are expected for people in authorization. On the other manus, In low context civilizations, the mutuality between people in power and the less powerful. High power distance includes states like France, India, Nigeria, China and arab states while low power distant coutries include USA, UK, Sweden etc

Looking at figure 1.2 ( Australia ) and figure 1.3 ( UK ) . Both states have a low power distance of 30 which implies that the spread between the those in power or authorithy and the ordinary citizens is small comapered to china ( 75 ) and India ( 72 ) . For illustration, For KFC an American company to be sucessful in India, They must be a high spread difference in power, regard or authorization between Management and surbodinates.


This deals with a socities tolerance for uncertainness and ambiguity. ( www.geert-hofstede.com ) . This dimension indictes how people in a peculiar civilization are willing to accept alteration. It besides shows the extent to which people of a civilization feel in umcormfatabe or comfy fortunes.

Hofstede ( 1980 ) stated that uncertainness avoiding civilizations ever are non receptive to alter and purely adhere to Torahs, regulations and safety steps. On the otherhand, Uncertainty accepting civilizations are more receptive and unfastened to alter or new thoughts.

In Hofstedes Uncertainty turning away index ( UAI ) China scored 60, while UK scored a low mark of 30. This implies that International selling directors in China, will avoid doing hazardous selling determinations otherwise it might adversely impact their employees. It is hence expected that Chinese employees work efficaciously under a formal scene as against an informal scene. In contrast, the UK employees would work better in an informal scene with less rigorous Torahs and will readily accept alteration and hazards.

Therefore selling directors need to be careful non to enforce regulations or Torahs unnecessarily when covering with low UAI states and Plan, prepare, and concentrate on strategic and tactical portion of a undertaking.


Maleness refers to the distribution of functions between work forces and adult females and how much a society sticks with gender roles. ( www.geert-hofstede.com ) . His surveies further revealed that adult females functions differ less among socities than work forces functions. He besides revealed that work forces values from assorted countrues have an self-asserting attack in concern which differentiates it from adult females norms and values which is have a lovingness or modest attitude in work, ( www.geert-hofstede.com ) In hofstedes Mascuniity index, Australia scored a highscore of 55 while UK sored 60.This agencies that they portion similarities in work values.They both have a moderate masculine culure where work forces and adult females work every bit in many penchants.


This dimension focuses on the relationships between persons and groups. Bolshevism is the grade or extent to which individuas are integrated into groups while individuality on the other manus focal points on single taking attention of himself. ( Hofstede 1980 )

In comparing two states that have high individuality and low individuality, Figure 1.2 and Figure 1.4 we will look at austraia and China.

Harmonizing to Hofstede, China has a low mark of 10 which makes it a extremely collectivized state while Australia has a high mark of 90 which makes it a highy individualistic society. The former autumn under a low context civilization while the latter falls under a high context civilization. For International directors, this implies that in China ( leftist ) society, engaging and advancing an employe must be ingroup based while In Australia, emoployee enlisting and publicity must be based on single skills.A on the 1


Figure 1.2 Australia and United Kingdom

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Figure 1.3 China and India


This treatment has been able to look at how civilization could impact International selling.

For international selling troughs to win in an international market they must

Respect the civilization of their mark state

Understand that differences exists within each civilization

Understand the importance of linguistic communication when selling internationally

Acknowlege the differences in faith,