Culture deals with a group’s design for living. It is pertinent to the study of marketing especially international marketing. If you consider the scope of the marketing concept – the satisfaction of consumer needs and wants at a profit – the successful marketer clearly must be a student of culture. For example, when a promotional message is written, symbols recognizable and meaningful to the market (the culture) must be used. When designing a product and other related marketing activities must be made culturally acceptable (i.e. acceptable to the present society) if they are to be operative and meaningful. In fact, culture is pervasive in all marketing activities in pricing promotion channels of distribution, product, packaging and styling – and the marketer’s efforts actually become a part of the fabric of culture. The marketer’s efforts are judged in a cultural context for acceptance resistance or rejection. How such efforts interact with a culture determines the degree of success or failure of the marketing effort.
The manner in which people consume, the priority of needs and the wants they attempt to satisfy, and the manner in which they satisfy them are functions of their culture that tamper, mould, and dictate their style of living. Culture is the human made part of human environment – the sum total of knowledge, beliefs, art, 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 contact in response to marketing effort, economic conditions and other cultural influences. Markets and market behaviour 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. Marketers are constantly adjusting their efforts to cultural 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 the marketer becomes a change agent.
A discussion of the broad concept of culture as the foundation for international marketing is presented in this article. The next is Business Culture in Global marketing discuss culture and how it influences business practices and the behaviours 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 country nor a thorough marketing science or epidemiological study of the various topics. Rather, it is designed to emphasize the importance of 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 affects every part of our lives, every day, from birth to death and everything in between. It affects how we spend money and how consume in general. It even affects how we sleep. For example, we are told that Spaniards sleep than other Europeans and Japanese children often sleep with their parents.
As countries move from agricultural to industrial to service economies, birth rates decline. 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 favoured. 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.
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 birth rate 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 birth rates in Japan.
Culture’s influence is also seen in the consumption data. The focus there is on the six European Union countries, but data from the two other major markets of affluence in the world – Japan and the US – are also included. The products compared are those that might be included in a typical (American) romantic dinner date.