Since advertising attempts to communicate the literal and symbolic meaning attached to a brand, and since cultures differ in the ways in which they construe and communicate meaning, successful advertising obviously requires a through understanding of the culture within which that advertising message is communicated. Thus even if a foreign advertiser were to create an advertising message for a local marker entirely from scratch – a strategy of localizing the advertising message- the task would be hard, and it would be easy to make cultural or consumer behavioral blunders. Obvious, the task of “standardizing” the advertising message so that it can be used unchanged worldwide is even harder, for now one has to find a message that is equally effective in all these multiple cultures, and so as the consumer behaviors, at the same time.

Just how similar or different are consumers across the world – there are many view points.  TedLevitt’s view that world was moving toward greater cultural convergence is being evinced now, and it is certainly true that with political and customs barriers crumbling, with television channels like MTC and CNN and STAR-TV being bounced off satellites into homes across the globe, with more people traveling and vacationing in other countries, and with global-fast food franchises such as McDonald’s appearing at street corners from Beijing to Buenos Aires, it often appears that we are indeed all moving toward one homogenized global community.

Such tendencies toward globalization of tastes, and of trends, are especially apparent when one looks at particular demographic subcategories. Teenagers the world over, for example, are more exposed than most to cultural influences from other countries, through fashions in music, clothing, food, personal appearance, and sports. While regional and national differences still persist, teenagers the world over increasingly watch the same TV and channels and movies, listen to same music, idolize the same music and sports stars, and play the same video games. Their lives and aspirations are shaped worldwide by the same global trends of increasing divorce among their parents, a fear of AIDS and environmental concerns.

Similarly women the world over are seeking more actively to participate in workplace success and identify less closely than before with the traditional roles of mother/nurturer and wide/homemaker. Thus although very important differences still undoubtedly persist, there can be no doubt that consumers the world over are becoming more alike each other. Global marketers and ad agencies such as Coca Cola or McCann-Erickson, seek to monitor and understand these global trends very closely, in order to better market and advertise their brands on a global basis.

It seems paradoxical that at the same time that consumer preferences are supposedly becoming homogenized, we also find a widely reported trend to micromarketing and direct marketing. Consumers are also supposedly becoming more differentiated in their wants and needs. One way of reconciling these is to understand that while consumer segments do indeed exist across the world, these segments are increasingly defined not by geographical and national boundaries, but instead by universal consumer wants and needs. Thus to end the article with a quote from Saatchi & Saatchi:-

An affluent, college-educated, white-collar, dual-income American couple in midtown Manhattan may indeed have more in common with one in the 7th arrondisement in Paris than with one in the Bronx.

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