The world is becoming more and more homogeneous when it comes to the consumption of brands and products because of globalization and increased connectivity. However, things are not so simple for international marketers. When communicating a brand or a product, marketers must be aware of the impact of culture within the market. Culture can be difficult defined, but a pretty succinct definition by Kotabe and Helsen defines culture as “a learned, shared, compelling, interrelated set of symbols whose meanings provide a set of orientations for members of society.” Culture can vary greatly, not just between global regions and countries, but within countries as well. Being cognizant of cultural similarities and dissimilarities is essential to successful marketing communication. A marketer’s success will be dependent on understanding the cultural preferences, ideologies, and behaviors of the consumers you wish to reach.
Culture can assist in better understand the individual consumer in the target market of which you wish to enter. What might have worked for you in one market, might not work for you due cultural barriers that you might have to overcome or adapt to. Cultural barriers can range from the religious, ideological beliefs, to individual preferences v. the collective group, to how the culture consumes products. A company can make a number of mistakes due to cultural misinterpretation, so for them to be successful they must be able to understand the cultural barriers that they must overcome.
In order for a company to better understand and confront the cultural barriers, they must be able to identify the varying cultural dimensions of a market. Unfortunately, understanding these dimensions is not easy and a significant level of analysis and cultural exposure or interaction is needed. One example would by catering your entry to the market based on whether the culture is a high-context culture, such as those China, Korea, and Japan, or whether it is a low-context, such as those of the USA, Scandinavia, and Germany. Again, it is important to note that there may even be a low-context v. high-context divide between different regions and cities within these various countries. This divide, as well as other factors can even determine how complex or sophisticated you wish to be when communicating your offering to their market.
When it comes to communicating to a market, marketers must consider as many cultural dimensions as possible in order for their brand or product to effectively gain traction and maintain a level of stature within in the market. Furthermore, analyzing culture can help marketers prevent “culture jamming” from negatively impacting the message and communication of their brand within the market.