Cross-culture is the art whereby people compare different cultural behaviors, norms, attitudes and cultural values at the same time, reviewing the relationship between the various cultures. Consumer behavior is the study of individual processes used to select, dispose and secure products and services, as well as experiences and ideas to satisfy their human needs (Geert & Marieke, 2011). Consumer behavior also looks at the effects of such processes on the consumer and society. Cross-cultural consumer behavior is the relation and comparison of different cultures regarding purchase and consumption.
Marketing techniques are ways used to make users aware of the fact that a particular product exists and a new product that was not previously in the market is launching. There are different ways of marketing. They include advertisement, publicity, personal selling, sales promotion and direct marketing (Sumeet, 2014). Marketing considers the possible marketing mix that consists of price, product, promotion and place. Marketing as a way of making users aware of available products makes it possible to understand the possible cross-cultural consumer behaviors. Current essay will focus on the analysis of the potential cross-cultural consumer behaviors and marketing communications.
Online shopping is the buying or purchasing of goods and services via internet. Shopping has evolved since the development of internet and possible communication from one person to another over the internet. Several consumers prefer online shopping because of the benefits that come with it. The benefits comprise ease in bargaining, happen at one’s comfort, existence of a number of varieties to pick from, and are not tiring.
However, in order to influence online shopping from consumers, marketers need to put in mind several factors, which influence a customer to consider shopping online. Marketers should consider the cross-cultural behavior in existence when developing adverts and other promotional messages. Some of the factors to consider comprise religion, education, age, culture, values and attitudes, and non-verbal communication. Considering all these factors will go a long way in influencing consumers to shop online, thus facilitating companies to make huge sales and revenues from online sales.
The Concept of Culture
Culture is the set of attitudes, customs, art, laws, morals, beliefs and ways of doing things by a reasonable set of people. Culture in relation to consumer behavior refers to learned beliefs, values and customs that direct consumer behavior of a particular society (Gaussorgues et al., 2009). Culture is comprehensive as it involves individual thoughts, actions, behaviors and processes. Second, culture is a complex system of interdependent components, morals and customs that are relevant to consumer behavior. Culture is actions and understanding that enables individuals to behave in an acceptable manner in society. Culture sets boundaries for different actions and influences the functioning of institutions (Geert & Marieke, 2011). Violation of culture may lead to penalties and sanctions, such as social disapproval and banishment from the social group.
Cultures are not static either; they evolve over time due to the interaction with other social classes, dramatic events and technological changes. Due to cultural evolution, marketers must continuously monitor the socio-cultural environment to be able to successfully market an existing product or develop a new one. The consumption of culture has specific related features listed as follows: culture is a collection of learning behavior, traditions and it can be created and changed. Other features are: culture determines needs, culture consists of differences and similarities and the cultural organizations are convergent (Gaussorgues et al., 2009). Cultures among consumers of one country and those of another country are usually divergent. When cross-culture consumer behaviors are compared to countries, the differences are found to be prominent.
Cross-Cultural Consumer Behavior and Marketing Communications
Current study focuses on investigating the effects of culture on the different aspect of consumer behavior in various ethnic groups. For proper communications with the general public, it’s important for marketers to understand how different cultures affect consumer behavior. The cultural behavior in relation to consumer behavior and marketing can be discussed below by carrying out an extensive research.
Management tends to agree that the implementation, evaluation and development of different cultures must be undertaken within the underlying traditions and cultural values. Cross-cultural consumer behavior and marketing communications become substantial in international business to business environments. The suppliers and service providers need to understand the nature, circumstances and cultural life of their buyers due to their role in the organizations.
High profits can be achieved through development of individual relationship between the purchaser and the seller of a product. The evaluation and analysis of consumer behavior are aimed at establishing and maintaining an enhanced relationship at a profit so that both parties achieve their objectives. Both the buyer and the seller have the mandate to make decisions on whether to buy or to encourage buyers to purchase the product. Such relationship should be ensured. The process of interpersonal bonding and orientation helps one in understanding the buyer-seller relationship.
The buyer-supplier relationship is a significant way of examining performance of activities in different geographical settings. Businesses can learn more about different cultures through reading of various literatures available. However, the best way to learn about varied cultures is through personal relationship with the people of the various cultures available in different places. Through the personal connection, a business person can study the culture better that will make it easier for him/her to form a well-structured advertisement.
The Asian and European Culture
In the context of social exchange and interpersonal relations in China, face and public reputation is a significant value. The Chinese have been able to place loyalty to family and their kin from their young age. Chinese consumers tend to be loyal to their providers (Kwon Jung, KDI School of Public Policy and Management, 2004). The Chinese seek for quality and have a desire for a long-lasting product; it makes them devote more time to search for high-quality products and performance (Soares, 2004). They tend to remain loyal to their families. That makes it difficult for the Chinese to share information regarding product determination, which makes it difficult for marketers to make decisions concerning communication.
The Malays and Indians can exhibit ethnocentric behaviors more compared to the Chinese. Thus, they can easily give information that can be used in marketing communications. Indians tend to show high levels of uncertainty avoidance compared to the Chinese and Malays. Thus, they influence consumer choice more (Kwon Jung, KDI School of Public Policy and Management, 2004). The Indians are considerate in making decisions on a product they buy, which affects consumer behavior in relation to the available products in the market. Ecology is a critical factor in cross-cultural consumer behavior. The way in which the system adapts to its habitat is essential in the use of technology in distribution of various resources. Cultures with limited resources, such as the Japanese, value products designed for efficient use of the open space due to their limited space (Kwon Jung, KDI School of Public Policy and Management, 2004). Conservative individuals mostly from the traditional setting tend to be rigid in decision making in relation to technologically produced items; thus, leaving marketers at a peculiar position.
In the recent years, the youth have developed cultures where they listen to the same music, search for information on the Internet and talk to each other on the phone. By considering such factors, most marketers who deal with production of such services should focus their advertisements on the youth. Such applications as WhatsApp, Tagged, Facebook, and Twitter should be used as they unite many people. The use of the social networks, marketers, can develop global communication channels that can be used in advertising, promotions, publicity, personal selling and sales promotions. Such platforms have made it easy to market a product through the Internet. Hence, online marketing has become a simple task. It is possible due to the fact that everything that a marketer needs to do is to develop an attractive advert that factors in cultural differences.
Sports are also used as a way of marketing products to consumers. Different countries carry out various sporting activities. Britain plays cricket, New Zealand plays Rugby, Netherlands adores cycling, as well as France and Spain (Kwon Jung, KDI School of Public Policy and Management, 2004). Most marketers should focus on such countries when promoting various sportswear and materials. It ensures that they focus on the potential customers, in addition to knowing what they prefer, thus, satisfying their desires. Cultures, such as those from East Asia, are branded conscious. Thus, they have high social perception and power prestige than those from the Western part of the continent. In such areas, marketers should focus more on branding their products. They should develop high-quality and well-branded products that will enable large purchases. From the above explanations, it is understandable that a culture is the foundation of all communities. Therefore, producers have to consider and learn to separate one culture from another. That will enable producers know not only the right kind of information to use on adverts, but also the right mode to use to reach the people. That will promote tremendous online shopping; hence, increased revenue.
Religion is another cultural factor that marketers and businesses need to consider. Looking at the Muslim faith, areas with high Muslim populations, pigs should not be used in the advertisement. The Muslims perceive the pigs as unholy animals to Mohammed to whom they worship. In another scenario, during the year of the pig in 2007, all advertisements containing pictures of pigs were banned. The ban was aimed at maintaining a harmonious relationship with the Muslim brothers (Gaussorgues et al., 2009). The ban constituted pictures of sausage pork and animated cartoon pigs. In another case in France, the France Catholic Church won a court injunction on banning a cloth advertisement based on the Last Supper. Marketers and business stakeholders should consider such factors in decision-making on the type of publication they should use while carrying out product promotion. Other religions restrict the dress code of their church members; in SDA-dominated region organization should develop more decent ways of advertisement.
Dietary is also affected by cultural factors. Religious individuals tend not to eat certain food stuff. Certain animals, such as pigs, donkeys, monkeys and birds, such as eagles, turkey that the Bible is against, can rarely be consumed in a Christian setting (Luna & Gupta, 2001). Businesses that deal with products from such animals, including the sausage industry, should consider the market in which they advertize their products. Church leaders have a role in determining ethical behaviors of their faithful, for instance, where they influenced boycott of Disney. Marketers should seek spiritual advice before developing an advertising medium. Thus, having knowledge on the different religious groups in the world, marketers will be in a position of developing adverts and promotional messages that do not undermine any of the religious groups. Therefore, marketers will succeed in promoting online shopping, thus, increased sales and revenues.
Values and Attitudes
Values and beliefs vary between nations, tribes and races. International companies, therefore, need to carry out a detailed research on an individual area before developing a promotional technique. Research in promotion is necessary as it facilitates the increase in sales and ensures that the target market is aware of the existence of the product. Companies can alter their advertising and branding messages to suit the target market through value and attitudes of various individuals. Companies should avoid developing adverts and promotions that are contrary to people’s values and attitudes. They need to put values first before money. That will require much time to influence the online customers to buy their products.
Values and attitudes can also affect how local employees are managed. Some individuals have attitudes when dealing with their way of dressing. Muslim religion believes that by wearing long dresses, they honor Ala. Marketers in such areas should avoid selling short clothes as they will not have any clients. They will also be inconveniencing the residents of the area. An example was in China where Nike television was banned for showing a commercial American basketball star James LeBron in a battle with Kung Fu animated cartoon masters and two dragons (Soares, 2004). The Chinese argued that the advertisement was aimed at insulting the national dignity of the country. In Britain, a Tourism Australian company launched an advertising campaign that was entitled “so where the bloody are you?” The $130 million campaign that featured on all standard icons of Australia was banned by the British Advertising Standards Authority in the year 2006 (Guang & Trotter, 2012). Companies should, thus, be careful when planning and executing their advertising plans as they determine their fate through them. They could either be loved or hated depending on what they have used in promoting or advertising their products. From the rationalization above, it is clear that values and attitudes vary from one country to another. Hence, by considering the different values and attitudes of people, marketers will always have to watch on their adverts and promotional messages. They should do so, as not to include features or characters that go against the societal values and people’s attitudes. Hence, that will facilitate fast and increased online shopping.
Education level and its quality are other critical points that businesses should not overlook while carrying out marketing. The levels of literacy among individuals vary. The level and quality of education may impact the medium or the type of message to be employed when carrying out marketing. Countries with low levels of literacy need advertisements that avoid written communication. They are likely to concur well with radio advertisements or visual messages with pictures.
One other issue that may be employed is the labeling of items that may not be easy to comprehend. Individuals with high education levels can understand any advertisement as they have the necessary knowledge to comprehend what is being advertised. Such individuals also have limited time to watch ads. In Finland, for example, school attendance is compulsory between the ages of seven years to sixteen years. Primary and secondary education is essential and children go to their local schools. There are vocational and academic systems after primary schooling (Geert & Marieke, 2011). Educations responses vary in global cultures. Such cultures determine the various consumer reactions to marketing communication.
Language barrier is another issue that affects the marketing communication and consumer behavior. Educated individuals tend to know many languages. Hence, they will easily understand an advert, however complex it may be. Such individuals easily understand what an advert presented using a foreign language is trying to communicate. For messages to be understood better, marketers need to use people’s local language as most people tend to know that kind of language more than the other secondary languages. Businesses should consider having their adverts translated to various languages. That will have an immense effect on sales made as the advert reach to a large number of people of different languages. It is obvious that not all individuals are literate. Therefore, marketers and sellers should consider adding pictures, diagrams or graphics when advertising a product, to help everyone understand the product. Doing so will have a huge impact on the sales made and frequency of the product being bought. Thus, online shopping will increase.
Age is a critical factor that determines consumer behavior in relation to marketing communication, as different age groups have different perspectives about various products in the market. Parents tend to make decisions on the purchase of young children’s products. Thus, marketers should consider the parents in making decisions concerning such kind of outputs. The child tends to adapt easy to new technology. Hence, marketers need to develop their products so that they can fit the new advancing technologies (Luna & Gupta, 2001). The youth has fashion at hand and wants to explore new markets and changing trends in the consumer market. Promoters should ensure they customize their products to a competitive level in the market so that they can attract the youth. The child can easily use social networks. For that reason, marketers can use the Internet to share information about their products available in the market. Internet advertisements are cheaper and can reach more people at different destinations. Companies should, therefore, consider age factors when developing promotion messages for their online shoppers (International Communication Association, 2006).
Through use of the Internet, marketers can also sell products. It is caused by the fact that individuals view the ads on the Internet and become interested in the products; thus, can buy goods online. The youth also like music and fashion wear. Hence, clothing marketers should concentrate on the young generation. Furthermore, marketers need to do market research on the products that the youth likes the most. Ladies like beauty, thus beauty products should be sold in female institutions. Older people tend to be conservative. Therefore, marketers should look for ways that are more appealing to the elderly and more convincing to them. The elderly tend to concentrate on more expensive items and luxury items due to the fact that most of them are retired and want to enjoy their time. They also tend to be loyal in purchase of the brands that they used years ago due to their conservative nature. Loyalty can be a disadvantage to them because they do not explore new markets or products.
The elderly people do not tend to advance in new technologies. Thus, manufacturers are limited in the ability to produce products that are competitive, such as OLX application (International Communication Association, 2006). Different games are associated with people of different age and position. For example, the game such as golf is believed to be a game of the rich people. Games, such as football and rugby, are associated with the young, aged less than forty years. Such games have become famous nowadays, consequently, creating a market for products, such as sports t-shirts of a particular team, such as a Manchester United Jersey. Games, such as athletics, motorsports, tennis, car racing, are associated with the young generations who are energetic. As a result, marketer should use such events to attract customers, as well as make more sales. Games are also a way through which different cultures can be developed. Such habits enable increased sales and people’s perceptions of various products in the market.
For example, in the World Cup held in South Africa, a new culture of the vuvuzela use was introduced as a way of supporting different games. The vuvuzela led to investment development of new markets that dealt with production, distribution and marketing of such products to fit the consumer needs and demands. The vuvuzela was later banned from use in most nations due to its sound that could lead to destruction of the eardrum. The prohibition of vuvuzela affected many companies that had started the production of the commodity.
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Gender portrayal is used in communication to reflect the cultural and social norms. Some of the norms tend to evoke consistent responses, such as male-female romance, mother-child love and care relationship, parental family affection and nature’s soothing effect. In cultures such as India, there is high cultural homogeneity to the extent that market solutions are generated, developed and applied to large populations with greater efficiency (Kwon Jung,KDI School of Public Policy and Management, 2004). The decisions represent a unique market, multiple cultures, ethnic groups and languages. Thus, in order to influence people of various ages, marketers should develop adverts that easily fit into the various age groups. Depending on the bracket the marketer is targeting with its products, the adverts, and promotional messages must be age considerate. That will influence immense online shopping from the targeted consumer.
Consumer behavior can be affected by language as the language is a critical issue in marketing communications. Different communities use different languages that affect business activities across the globe. There are three categories of language difficulties that include language translation, variations in culture among the same language and problem of conveying subtle distinctions from one language to another.
The error of interpretation is less likely to cause conflict between parties, unlike other languages. Language translation can be easily detected when barriers start occurring in communication, and the total translations will be useless or ludicrous. Errors that cause a grave concern are those that continue to be logical both in the original and translated version. Gross translation errors waste time and cause fatigue to the parties involved. In other cases, the translation errors are due to disrespect from the person whose language and the messages are being brought. The individual tends to give false messages concerning his or her tribe. In business negotiations, crucial subtle shadings are weakened when parties involved do not share a similar control of the same language. Subtle shadings are caused by misinterpretation and misunderstanding of words (Sumeet, 2014). During promotions, most adverts contain words that confuse the target audience, thus, leading to language problems. Marketers should not to use such words when carrying out different advertisements because it can result in the reduction of sales.
Attitudes toward accents and dialects create barriers to global marketing communications, as well. Most people view that particular accents are a way of loyalty and familiarity to a particular geographic region. Marketers should make proper use of such accents in carrying out adverts in such areas so that the people could understand the advert. The use of slang can lead to increased sales, although, in some regions, the elder people can take that as an abuse of language and their dignity (Sumeet, 2014). Marketers, thus, need to understand the people correctly in the area before they carry out the advertisement. In certain regions, individual language accents represent different social classes in geographical location and it represents the social patterns of a culture. Racism and regional prejudice mostly cause the accents. For example, in the United States, Bronx accent is associated with individuals in the urban area; Appalachian accent is associated with individuals in rural areas (Luna & Gupta, 2001). Such accents represent the business ability, economic class and educational level among American subgroups. Marketers must consider coming up with adverts that can be translated to different languages, making them easy to understand by all language groups. Doing so will facilitate widespread market for the product; thus, facilitating immense online shopping.
Non-verbal behavior is whereby knowledge of culture, when conveyed by what a person says, represents a portion of what a person has communicated. Non-verbal behavior is divided into: body language, eye contact, touching behavior, use of body space, dress code and paralanguage. Such means of communication give valuable information in an individual culture. People interpret the dress code differently, for example, a shoe polish company can do an advert showing polished shoes that will not be understood in a culture in which individuals wear sandals as the standard footwear.
In another case, most investment companies use adverts of women wearing suits to promote their banking products. Therefore, it can look strange or unacceptable in a community where women are not allowed to wear business suits. Even when a culture has a similar form of dressing, the message communicated by a choice of clothing is not always the same. In most cases, people bring the issue of proper dressing in cross-cultural meetings through ethnocentric prejudice. It is evident that dress codes affect different cultures as people tend to take an example from other cultures.
Kinesics, such as how individuals walk, gestures, how someone stands, sits, and bows, are in some instances determined by culture. For example, in Indonesia and most of the Arab world it is offensive to expose feet soles to another person. Japan has an elaborate bowing style that is common unlike in the United States. During George Bush’s visit to Australia, he held up two of his fingers in V-shape and that was interpreted differently as in the US. The V-sign in the US is a sign of goodwill, while in Australia it signifies a sexual meaning. When marketers concentrate on such activities, they can produce international adverts that do not violet any culture (Sumeet, 2014).
The use of eye contact is important in personal selling, although not all cultures support such aspect. In most cultures, direct eying is seen to be disrespectful to the elderly and people of high status, more so when the process becomes prolonged. Eye contact[ CITATION Gua121 l 1033 ] affects personal selling, although marketers can avoid such behaviors when doing promotions in certain regions with such phenomenon.
The social class is another factor that affects consumer behavior across cultures. Social classes pronounce their preferences when speaking about clothing, furniture, games, entertainment, automobiles and certain products and brands. Social class also determines differences in media. The upper social classes prefer the use of books and magazines, while the sub-class consumers use television. Taking into consideration the television, it should be mentioned that the high-class users prefer drama and news, while the low-class consumers prefer sports and film programs. Advertisers should take it into account due to the difference in the language used by both social classes.
Technology is very significant in dealing with the issue of globalization and marketing communications, as it varies between cultures. Technology enables secure connection between people across the globe within a moment’s notice; although some cultures treat the matter differently (Liu-Thompkins, 2011). For example, before making an international video conferencing call, a marketer should be conscious of the time at the other end. Also, it is important to note that cultural differences determine availability. In a Muslim religion, there is time that they usually carry out their prayers. Hence, in such case, marketers should ensure they set a period that will guarantee the availability of the individual client. A meeting set during lunch time will not mean that everybody will be available at that particular time. In the Spanish culture, they have very long lunch breaks lasting for two to three hours (Liu-Thompkins, 2011). Asking for availability before making the call is the best way to avoid any confusion. Once connected, speak clearly so that you are understood by all the target individuals in the market. It makes promotion easy to convince consumers buy a particular product.
Political influence is another cultural issue that requires discussion. Past and present political influences affect the way marketing communication is done. Some cultures have government pride and a sense of nationalism. Thus, they tend to purchase their products from companies that have political backing. If there are ongoing political dispute negotiations between parties from one country, business can be affected by negotiations.
If the ruling party discovers that the opposition has conspired with another nation, the ruling party can stop all business with that country. Business also fails as marketers from such countries cannot come to market in the other country. The product can lose its name in such area in case the political party loses its popularity. Consequently, it will be difficult to come back to the market sell the product and there will appear the need for rebranding.
Due to the emergence of many diseases, cultures have shifted. People want to be fit and healthy. It has created an enormous change to exercise equipments and clothing, low-fat foods and health and fitness services. Health and fitness have led to the circulation of more casual clothing and simpler home furniture as people tend to invest more in health and fitness. Due to such factors, marketers can start manufacturing products that suit such consumer needs and wants. New products will not only create new markets but enable the organizations to make profits from them. Marketers should use promotional means that reflect the true nature of their products rather than providing false information to the customers. The use of correct information enables users to give suggestions on areas that companies need to improve on, thus, leading to high-quality products that satisfy consumer needs. In another circumstance, some consumers tend to shift to another product when they discover that the product being offered to them is vague or it does not fit their personal requirements. Consideration of all non-verbal behavior while developing adverts and promotional messages have a great impact on the extent of online shopping. Performing all the non-verbal cues facilitate immense online shopping. Thus, that contributes to huge sales and increased revenues to companies.
Socio-cultural factors comprise of different cultural, economic and instrumental variables, which determine different consumer buying patterns. Different people react differently to such factors, thus, the need for marketers to seek cultural guidance in the making of promotional plans for specific products. They should develop designed marketing strategy that will not violate the cultures of the people involved.
It is a part of the marketers’ effort to convince consumers to buy their products by overlooking the factor of culture through giving customers a reason to buy that particular product. Marketers should move across cultural boundaries to ensure they increase their sales, as well as create a rapport with their clients. It is their role to determine how the users will perceive their products in the future and whether they will still retain the market base that they have today. Many researches should be carried out to determine different international marketing trends and their relationship to various cultures available in different societies. Products should be promoted differently from one nation to another as each nation has its code of conduct. What is acceptable in one nation may not be acceptable in another country. Hence, marketers need to improve the marketing communications.