The manner in which people consume, the priority of needs and the wants they attempts to satisfy, and the manner in which they satisfy them are functions of their culture that temper, mold, and dictate their style of living. Culture is the human made part of human environment – the sum total of knowledge, beliefs, arts, morals, laws, customs, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by humans as members of society.
Markets constantly change; they are not static but evolve, expand and contract in response to marketing effort, economic conditions, and other cultural influences. Markets and market behavior are part of a country’s culture. One cannot truly understand how markets evolve or how they react to a marketer’s effort without appreciating that markets are a result of culture. Markets are the result of the three way interaction of a marketer’s efforts, economic conditions and all other elements of the culture demands of the market, but they also are acting as agents of change whenever the product or idea being marketed is innovative. Whatever the degree of acceptance in whatever level of culture, the use of something new is the beginning of cultural change, and marketer becomes a change agent.
A discussion of the broad concept of culture as the foundation for international marketing is presented in this chapter. Business culture in Global Marketing discusses culture and how it influences business practice and the behaviors and thinking of managers.
This article’s purpose is to heighten the reader’s sensitivity to the dynamics of culture. It is neither a treatise on cultural information about a particular country nor a thorough marketing science or epidemiological study of the various topics. Rather, it is designed to emphasize the importance if cultural differences to marketers and the need for study of each country’s culture(s) and all its origin and elements and to point out some relevant aspects on which to focus.
Culture’s Pervasive Impact:
Culture affects every of our lives, very day, from birth to death, and everything in between. It affects how we spend money and how we consume in general. It even affects how we sleep. For example, we are told that Spaniards sleep less than other European and Japanese children often sleep with their parents. You can clearly see culture operating in the birthrates tables. When you look across the data from the three countries, the gradual decline beginning 1960s is evident. As countries move, from agricultural to industrial to service economy birth rate declines. Immediate causes may be government policies and birth control technologies, but a global change in values is also occurring. Almost everywhere smaller families are becoming favored. This cultural change now leads experts to predict that the planet’s population will, actually begin to decline after 2050 unless major breakthroughs in longevity intervene as some predict.
Please notice the little peaks in 1976 and 1988 in the Singapore data. The same pattern can be seen in birthrate data from Taiwan. Those extra births are not a matter of random fluctuation. In Chinese cultures being born in the Year of the Dragon (12 animals – dogs, rats, rabbits, pigs etc – correspond to specific years in the calendar) is considered good luck. Such birthrate spikes have implications for sellers of diapers, toys, schools, colleges, and so forth in successive years in Singapore. However, superstitious have an even stronger influence on the birthrates in Japan. A one year 20 percent drop in Japanese fertility rates in 1966 was caused by a belief that women born in the Year of the Fire Horse, which occurs every 60 years will lead unhappy lives and perhaps murder their husbands. This sudden and substantial decline in fertility, which has occurred historically every 60 years since Japan started keeping birth records, reflects abstinence, abortions, and birth certificate fudging. This superstition has resulted in the stigmatization of women born, in 1966 and has had a large impact on market potential for a wide variety of consumer goods and services in Japan. It will be interesting to see how technological innovations and culture will interact in Japan in 2026 the next Year of the Fire Horse.