A society can be defined on a variety of parameters, regional, linguistic, ethnic, religious etc. Nation is a more useful definition of a society for international marketing perspective due to the following reasons;
• Business employs, sells to, buys from, is regulated by and is owned by people
• Human differences give rise to different business practices in various parts of the world
• Nations is useful definition of society
• Laws apply primarily along national lines.
The concept of culture in international market is the collection of values, beliefs, rules, behaviors, customs, attitudes, institutions and artifacts that characterize human population. The elements of the culture are as follows:
• Individuals and their attitudes, families, groups
• Social stratification
• Social mobility across the social / economic strata’s’
Affect of Cultures on Business Practices
Cultural value systems are set early in the life and are difficult to change. In any culture, the businesses are affected the variety of sundry behavioral practices. Some of the common behavioral practices affecting businesses are given below;
• Group affiliations
• Role of competence
• Attitudes towards gender, age and family
• Importance of occupation
• Attitude towards work
• Other behavioral differences
• Degree of self-reliance
• Preference for autocratic v/s consultative management
• Attitude towards self-determination v/s fatalism
Scholars like Herzberg have researched cultures of countries around the world and have categorized countries according to business practices;
• Theory X workers are generally irresponsible, unwilling to work and must be persuaded to perform their obligations.
• Theory Y workers, if given an appropriate work environment and in absence of exceptional disincentives, workers are dedicated to their tasks and are generally self motivated.
• Decision Making: (a) USA- Authoritarian (b) Western Europe – limited co-determination (c) Japan – with consensus (d) Latin America- paternalistic.
• Corporate emphasis: (a) North America – short-term profit (b) Western Europe – employee and corporate interests (c) Japan – close cooperation between govt. and business (d) Latin America – highly govt. regulated
The cultural influences on the consumer behavior:-
• Hierarchy of needs which distorts demand across the product categories
• Culture based values, especially on individualistic or collective orientations, which influence purchase behavior and decision process
• Institutions which influence consumer behavior
• Influences through cultural variations in personal factors of consumer behavior, brand loyalty, consumer involvement, perceived risk, cognitive style.
Material Culture & Marketing
• Types of products suitable for individual markets
• Types of media available
• Distributions systems / storage facilities
Language as a Culture
• Most obvious difference between cultures
• English has large vocabulary of commercial and industrial words
• Eskimos have many words to describe snow
Cultural Events and Marketing Opportunities
• Chinese new year etc
Managers must be aware of what cultural differences are and how these differences would influence basic functions of international marketing. Moreover they must decide carefully whether and to what extent they should adopt home-country practices to foreign environment. International managers need to identify the roles that individuals play in process of cultural change and in the acceptance of change.