Chapter 4
Cultural Dynamics in Assessing Global Markets
PowerPoint presentation prepared by:
Professor Rajiv Mehta
Associate Professor of Marketing
New Jersey Institute of Technology
Newark, N.J.
© 2005 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.
Chapter Learning Objectives
1. The importance of culture to an international
2. The origins and elements of culture
3. The impact of cultural borrowing
4. The strategy of planned change and its
Culture refers to “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”
Importance of culture in international marketing
A successful marketer must be a student of
Culture is pervasive in all marketing activities—
in pricing, promotion, channels of distribution,
product, packaging, and styling
Understanding culture can determine success or failure in
international marketing
Culture’s Pervasive Impact
Culture influences every part of our
Cultures impact on birth rates in
Taiwan, Japan, and Singapore
Birthrates have implications for sellers of diapers, toys, schools,
and colleges
Consumption of different types of food influence is culture:
Chocolate by Swiss, seafood by Japanese preference, beef by
British, wines by France and Italy
Even diseases are influenced by culture: stomach cancer in
Japan, and lung cancer in Spain
Definitions and Origins of Culture
Culture is the sum of the “values, rituals, symbols, beliefs, and thought processes
that are learned, shared by a group of people, and transmitted from generation to
Culture has been conceptualized as:
“Software of the mind” culture is a guide for
humans on how to think and behave; it is a
problem-solving tool (Hofstede)
An invisible barrier… a completely different way
of organizing life, of thinking, and of conceiving
the underlying assumptions about the family and
the state, the economic system, and even Man
himself” (Hall)
A “thicket” (U.S. Ambassador Hodgson)
Origins of Culture: Geography
1. Geography, which includes climate, topography, flora, fauna,
and microbiology, influences our social institutions
2. Two researchers
suggest that
everything from
history to presentday cultural
3. First, Jared
Diamond states
that historically
spread faster
east-to-west than
4. Second, Philip Parker reports strong correlations between the
latitude (climate) and the per capita GDP of countries
Origins of Culture: History
1. The impact of specific events in history can be seen reflected in
technology, social institutions, cultural values, and even
consumer behavior
For e.g., American trade
policy depended on tobacco
being the original source of
the Virginia colony’s
economic survival in the
2. The military conflicts in the Middle East in 2003 bred new cola
brands, Mecca Cola, Muslim Up, and Arab Cola
Origins of Culture: The Political Economy
1. For most of the 20th Century three approaches to governance
competed for world dominance: fascism, communism, and
democracy/free enterprise
2. Fascism fell in 1945; Communism
crumbled in the 1990s
3. Necessary to appreciate the influence of the political economy
on social institutions and cultural values and ways of thinking
Origins of Culture: Technology
1. Technological innovations also impact institutions and cultural
2. Jet aircraft, air conditioning,
televisions, computers, and the
internet have all influenced culture
3. Arguably the greatest impact is
the pill that has allowed women
to have careers and freed men to
spend more time with kids
Origins of Culture: Social Institutions
Social institutions including family, religion, school, the media,
government, and corporations all affect culture
• The family, social classes, group behavior,
age groups, and how societies define decency
and civility are interpreted differently within
every culture
(1) Family behavior varies across the world, e.g.,
extended families living together to Dad
washing dishes
(2) Religious value systems differ across the
world, e.g., Muslims not allowed to eat pork
to Hindus not allowed to consume beef
Origins of Culture: Social Institutions
(3) School and education, and literacy rates
affect culture and economic growth
(4) Media (magazines, TV, the Internet)
influences culture and behavior
(5) Government policies influence the
thinking and behaviors citizens of adult
citizens, e.g., the French government
offers new “birth bonuses” of $800 given
to women as an incentive to increase
family size
(6) Corporations influence culture via the
products they market, e.g., MTV
Elements of Culture
International marketers must design products, distribution systems,
and promotional programs with due consideration to culture, which
was defined as including five elements:
Cultural values
Beliefs, and
Thought processes
Elements of Culture: Cultural Values
Differences in cultural values, which is found to exist among
countries, affects consumer behavior
Hofstede, who studied over 90,000 people in 66 countries,
found that the cultures differed along four primary dimensions:
Individualism/Collective Index (IDV), which focuses on
Power Distance Index (PDI), which focuses on authority
Uncertainty Avoidance Index (UAI), which focuses on risk
orientation; and
Masculinity/Femininity Index (MAS), which focuses on
assertiveness and achievement
Individualism/Collectivism Index
• Individualism/Collectivism Index:
The Individualism/Collective Index refers to the preference
for behavior that promotes one’s self-interest
High IDV cultures reflect an “I” mentality and tend to
reward and accept individual initiative
Low IDV cultures reflect a “we” mentality and generally
subjugate the individual to the group
Collectivism pertains to societies in which people from
birth onward are integrated into strong, cohesive groups,
which protect them in exchange for unquestioning loyalty
Power Distance Index
• Power Distance Index:
The Power Distance Index measures power inequality
between superiors and subordinates within a social system
Cultures with high PDI scores tend to be hierarchical and
value power and social status
High PDI cultures the those who hold power are entitled to
Cultures with low PDI scores value equality and reflect
egalitarian views
Uncertainty Avoidance Index
• Uncertainty Avoidance Index:
The Uncertainty Avoidance Index measures the tolerance
of uncertainty and ambiguity among members of a society
High UAI cultures are highly intolerant of ambiguity,
experience anxiety and stress, accord a high level of
authority to rules as a means of avoiding risk
Low UAI cultures are associated with a low level of anxiety
and stress, a tolerance of deviance and dissent, and a
willingness to take risks
Elements of Culture: Rituals, and Symbols
Rituals are patterns of behavior and interaction that are learned
and repeated vary from country to country, e.g., extended lunch
hours in Spain and Greece
Language as Symbols: the
“languages” of time, space, things,
friendships, and agreements
French attempting to preserve the
purity of their language
Elements of Culture: Rituals, and Symbols
In Canada, language has been the focus of political disputes
including secession
Differences in language vocabulary
varies widely
Aesthetics as Symbols: the arts,
folklore, music, drama, and dance
of a culture influences marketing
Fractured Translations
English Translations made by Japanese firm that were added to
labels to increase prestige for their products being sold in China
English Translation
Equivalent to Japanese Spam
Liver Putty
Toilet Paper
My Fanny Brand
Ready to Eat Pancakes
Strawberry Crap Dessert
Antifreeze Spray
Hot Piss Brand
Pediatrician’s Slogan
Specialist in Deceased Children
SOURCE: “Some Strawberry Crap Dessert, dear?” South China Morning Post, Dec 9,1996 p. 12.
Elements of Culture:
Beliefs and Thought Processes
Beliefs, which stem from religious training, vary from culture to
• The western aversion to the number 13 or refusing
to walk under a ladder
• Japanese concern about Year of the Fire Horse
• The Chinese practice of Feng Shui in designing
Thought processes also vary across cultures
“Asian and Western” thinking
In summary, marketers must consider larger cultural consequences
of marketing actions
Factual versus Interpretive
Cultural Knowledge
There are two kinds of knowledge about cultures both of which are
Factual knowledge
is usually obvious
and must be learned,
e.g., different
meanings of colors,
and different tastes;
it deals with a facts
about a culture
Interpretive knowledge is the ability to
understand and appreciate the nuances
of different cultural traits and patterns,
e.g., the meaning of time, and attitudes
toward people
Interpretive knowledge requires a
degree of insight
It is dependent on past experience for
It is prone to misinterpretation if one’s
SRC is used
Cultural Change and Cultural Borrowing
• International marketers should appreciate how cultures
change and accept or reject new ideas
• How cultures change, e.g., war (changes in Japan after
World War II) or by natural disaster
• Hofstede has shown that consumers’ acceptance of
innovations varies across cultures – innovation was
associated with higher individualism (IDV), and lower
power distance (PDI) and uncertainty avoidance (UAI)
• International marketers should be aware the extent to
which cultures borrow ideas and learn from other
• Helps in the marketing of products from one culture to a
different culture
Whose English?
United States
United Kingdom
Convertible Top
Tub or Shower
Resistance to Change
Although some cultures embrace change,
others are resistant to it
Examples of cultures that resist change:
Working women in Masculine societies like
Saudi Arabia
Acceptance of genetically modified foods
(or “Frankenfood”) in Europe
Planned and Unplanned Cultural Change
• Cultures that are resistant to change represent a major hurdle in
marketing products
Cultural change can be accomplished by:
• First, determine which cultural factors conflict with an innovation,
thus creating resistance to its acceptance
• Second, change those factors from obstacles to acceptance into
stimulants for change
• Third, marketers can cause change by introducing an idea or
product and deliberately setting about to overcome resistance and
to cause change that accelerates the rate of acceptance
• Firms can use a strategy of planned change by deliberately
changing those aspects of the culture offering resistance to
predetermined marketing goals, e.g., introducing western foods
and baseball into Japan