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How marketing strategies differ across different cultures?

How marketing strategies differ across different cultures?

Why should a marketer take into consideration the differences between cultures?

Culture is a people’s way of life. Within the political boundaries of a nation, there are cultural differences from country to country and usually significant cultural variations among demographic groups. These variations may include different languages/dialects, and often include a set of norms and values.

In addition, cultural distinctions are not limited to national or racial identities that are distinctive. There are complex cultural norms and values between generations, between various social groups (working class, middle class, upper-middle-class, and upper classes), and between men and women, too. So even within the family unit, differences in standards, beliefs, and ‘lingo’ may occur. To accommodate these discrepancies, advertisers must continuously refine their advertising, and it is imperative to consider any marketing and sales strategy from a cultural perspective so that the importance of their product or service is not lost in the translation. This is extremely important for marketers’ potential success in today’s extremely globalized world.

Marketing across cultures requires a special sensitivity to the diversity of human needs, so Companies that employ marketing strategies to attract large groups of people should work towards tailoring campaigns to be culturally appropriate. Understanding the cultural implications of marketing campaigns is essential to success, in terms of income and user satisfaction. To do that you can take these tips:

Understanding Your Audience cultures 

Understanding your customers is of utmost importance; what works for one set of people may not work for others. Although this might seem obvious to others, a lot of businesses have tried to copy popular campaigns in a different country in one part of the world, neglecting to think about cultural factors.

Take Proctor & Gamble for example, and their attempt to sell diapers in Japan. They used a picture of a stork on their packaging delivering an infant, and while that picture appealed to the public in the US, it left Japanese customers completely confused. That’s why storks carrying babies aren’t part of Japanese mythology, so this picture came across as a strange bird with an infant.

With the occurrence of data analytics, it’s simple to make targeted marketing decisions for a particular demographic. Nevertheless, according to Maryville University experts, data governance is rapidly becoming a priority issue for many companies, particularly bigger, global companies. 54% of businesses that use analytics extensively posted higher than average earnings.

Paying Attention to the Details

Cultural values in all areas of the business should be applied; it does not only end at the ad campaigns. Labeling, branding, and logos often need to be customized to suit specific audiences.

E.g., in 2004, China banned a Nike commercial showing LeBron James in battle with kung-fu masters. Chinese authorities reported that this ad violated Chinese integrity, and viewers were highly offended by it. In this way, it is essential to recognize in every marketing campaign the four specific cultural factors of beliefs, symbols, rituals, and processes of thought.

Customer service plays a major role in cross-cultural contact at an individual level. In terms of customer support, one way to transcend barriers is to build a website that can connect across cultures. It is also a good idea to have a diverse collection of landing pages that match different demographics of countries, and most foreign companies adopt this method.

Keeping up with changes and Keeping Current

The universe is evolving all the time, and current problems are changing every day. Some of these things are not really in the hands of people, and can’t be foretold at all. Marketers need to be quick to adjust to changes and respond to local dynamics appropriately.

For example, Hongkiat cites a 2003 Hong Kong Tourism Board advertisement, “Hong Kong will take away your oxygen.” Sadly, this came right before the SARS outbreak; shortness of breath is one of the main symptoms of SARS. This example shows how it ended up being very counterproductive to a poorly planned campaign with no support and inability to respond to local problems.

marketing and cultures


Several factors play a role in intercultural marketing

Effective intercultural marketing involves thorough research across several main variables. Although commonalities exist within Western European and East Asian areas, for example, there are also dramatic variations.

Different cultures are variable receptive to direct or indirect marketing messages; logical or emotional; explicit or implicit; some groups respond better to convincing messages; some resonate more to supportive facts (e.g., the Germans and Americans), and others (e.g., the French and Italians) respond better to imagination appeals.

  • The Japanese prefer indirect messages and are turned off by hard sell. They respond to ads that stress tradition, the family, and respect for the elderly. Like the Chinese, and unlike Americans, they are more receptive to status symbology, aka “brand snob appeal.” That said, the price still trumps brand for the average East Asian consumer.
  • In France and Sweden, foreign advertisers are urged to infuse visual allusions to their marketing messages. Preference for product details correlates to higher education levels and is thus more rooted in established (First World) consumers in Europe and East Asia. As a result, information-oriented print media – including written material on the Internet – have a greater influence in developing nations.
  • Finally, there is a significant difference in the amount of price and guarantee information received between different national cultures (Korean marketing emphasizes this most; Japanese marketing, on the other hand, seldom refers to price information).

Some international marketing mistakes due to the difference of culture

It is not as easy to communicate your marketing message to a foreign audience as entering your message into Google Translate and sending it out to consumers. You have to understand the dynamics of your audience and their language.

Here are some examples of epic marketing failures across cultures for well -known companies, where main messages in the translation are lost


The German automotive giant BMW made the marketing error of misusing the UAE national anthem in a car advert. The ad showed the Al Ain Football Club singing the anthem and then breaking into a run towards several BMW cars when they heard the engine’s vibration. Though the brand tried to arouse intense emotion, instead of that, it evoked rage. Emiratis found it extremely insulting and considered that their announcement shows that their vehicles were more important than the anthem, The business clarified that it never wanted to offend and soon replaced the ad with a less offensive version.


Although most companies aim to make a good impression when spreading to a foreign country, KFC got off on the wrong foot when it opened in China in the late 1980s. In Hong Kong, the KFC slogan, “It’s finger lickin’ good” was translated as ‘Ear your fingers off.’

In the end, a good marketing campaign needs to consider cultural factors. Extensive research is important before campaigning, especially when targeting new and previously untraversed markets. Often, ensuring you don’t get caught up in cultural assumptions and generalizations can also lead to every campaign’s success. The way forward for companies in this interconnected world is to recognize and embrace cultural diversity and use these differences to one’s advantage.

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