Published On: Thu, Feb 20th, 2014

Dealing With Globalization of a Business

BusinessGlobal Marketing in the simplest description attempts to understand customers in terms of what they buy, when they buy, why they buy, how much they buy, where they buy it, and with what they buy. Internationally, this means understanding culture. How marketing efforts interact with culture determines the success or failure of a product. There are many examples of cultural differences that have affected marketing success or failure. The relationship with culture comes into play with the realization that each of the consumer behaviour factors noted above varies from culture to culture. In order for their organizations to be globally competitive they must have the ability to influence the customers’ wants and needs, therefore marketers must understand the cultures in which they are operating in.

Lack of understanding of a culture can lead to failure to communicate effectively, which can be extremely detrimental to a business venture. It is important that businesses understand their costumer before communicating with them; introducing a product to them which offends them or interacting in a way which indicates little cultural awareness will alienate customers. Awareness of culture when creating global marketing strategy will be of crucial importance as the worldwide market is rapidly changing. Marketing has a major role in shaping and influencing the intensity of people’s wants and needs. Failing to assess cultures changing impact on consumer behaviour and implement strategies accordingly can prevent a company from planning for potential threats and seizing the potential opportunities available. Being aware of contextual aspects helps to develop effective business relationships with both a firm’s customers and vendors, thus giving clear competitive advantage.

One of the most influential cultural elements is language. Every form of culture is identified in terms of language. Language is a unifying force of diversity in many countries. For example, Hindi is a unifying force in India where there are more than 20 languages and 200 dialects. Spreading of culture is greatly facilitated if there is commonality in language. The language diversity makes it difficult for companies to integrate their workforces and to market their products on a truly national level, as each dialect, nuance and complexity may differ from culture to culture. International marketers will have to understand both the written and spoken language and also the non-verbal language to communicate effectively with the targeted audience. International marketers can run their business more smoothly in countries sharing the same language because expensive and time-consuming translation is unnecessary. In this respect English is the most important language (apart from the primary language in a country) for use in international business. However even in the English language, meanings attached to communicative and on communicative gesture and symbols may vary from culture, for example the American English is totally different from the British English.

With language one should consider whether or not the national culture is predominantly a high context culture or a low context culture. The concept relates to the balance between the verbal and the non-verbal communication. International advertising entails dissemination of a commercial message to target audiences in more than one country. It have to deal with target audiences differ from country to country in terms of how they perceive or interpret symbols or stimuli; respond to humour or emotional appeals, as well as in levels of literacy and languages spoken. It is a big challenge when come to cross-cultural communication environment.

In this cases, language is such an important term for choosing a brand name, selecting copy or text to appear on product packaging, developing advertising slogans and creating advertising messages.

There are dividing to high context and low context culture where how communication is conveyed and perceived. .For example, in “low-context” cultures, speakers assume their listeners understand what they are talking about, thus eliminating the need to explain everything. In cultures that prefer formality in verbal interactions, there is a protocol when speaking to others especially when talk to superiors or elders, for example Korea. However an informal culture is treated everyone equally in an interaction.

Moreover, language is variable. Some language has more different words for describe one thing. For example, hand phone can refer to cell phone or mobile phone in other countries. Besides, there is different meaning of a word in different culture such as “luck”, “out of luck” means to be unlucky in British but “Luck out” means to be lucky in USA or “bathroom” is means a room which contains a bath in British but it is means to toilet in USA. A word may have different meaning or concept in different language due to the different culture so translation is importance in international commercial communication. The translation of brand name, advertising copy, packaging copy and advertising message must acceptable to the particular countries when having international advertising campaign.

For instance, when Kentucky Fried Chicken entered the Chinese market, to their horror they discovered that their slogan “finger lickin’ good” came out with “eat your finger out”. Instead of translation problem in Chinese language, there is also several examples happen in other types of language when enter the global market, for example: “Got Milk” campaign got into trouble in Mexico when the translation came out with meaning “are you lactating?” For example, Japan is low context culture while US is high context culture. Both of Japanese print and broadcast advertisements is briefer in words or picture. In Japanese culture, feelings and sensations can all be created through abstract word associations. So the competition among products advertisements is usually not emphasize on the specific feature whereas create the different tone and appeal in the commercial through the scenery, music or emotional appeal which also known as soft sell approach. On the contrary, US advertising is more characterized by symbolism or indirect verbal expression. The products commercial generally is to emphasize the unique features and dissimilarities of the product itself which refer as hard sell approach. Besides, Japanese advertisements are more focus on merits or value rather than comparative claims in US.

In short, verbal communication no matter language or different context of culture is also a condition that advertiser have to consider well in making strategy in international advertising arena in order to increase sales of products or bring out the brand in foreign market instead of lost money by making of failure strategy.

Non-verbal communication refereed to as silent language, includes facial expressions, eye contact and gaze, body movement, appearance or dress, touching, smell, color symbolism, space usage, time symbolism, and silence. Non-verbal communication is essential because it regulates human interaction in several important ways such as it sends message about humans’ attitudes and feelings, it elaborates on humans verbal messages and it governs the timing and turn-taking between communicators. However non-verbal communication is influenced by different culture. For example a handshake is wisely used to greet each other in business meetings in many countries regardless of gender differences, but a woman may not shake hands with a man in countries like Saudi Arabia. Colours for example conjure meanings that come from cultural experience. In most western countries black is associated with death. White has the same connotation in parts of Asia and purple in Latin America. For example products to succeed, their colours must match the consumer’s frame of reference.

Meaning of gestures differs from one culture to the others. Gestures acceptance in one culture may be different with other cultures. Furthermore, amount of gesturing varies from culture to culture. Even simple things like using hands to point and thumbs up gestures brings different meaning ton different culture. For instance, in US, index finger is used to point while in Germans point with their little finger and Japanese with entire hand. Another example is eye contact and gaze. In USA, eye contact indicates the level of attention or interest, influences attitude, regulates interaction, communicates emotion, and defines power and status. In Western cultures direct eye contact is perceived as positive while in Japan, Africa, Latin American, and Caribbean avoid eye contact to show respect.  Touch is another body language and it is culturally determined. However it differs among different culture. Each and every culture has a clear concept or guidelines of what parts of the body one may not touch.  Touch is used to affect or control. Touch affect or control protect, support, and disapprove for example hug, and kick. In USA, handshake is common, even for strangers but for other cultures like Islamic and Hindu, generally don’t approve of any touching between genders, even hand shakes

For example, for a Greek, Turk and Bulgarian “Yes” is indicated by a sideway movement of the head that resembles the negative headshake used in the US and India. In some cases one gesture has several meanings in different countries.

Sign is a visual mark or a part of language that denotes another thing for instance $ denotes money while symbol is a mark representing a concept used to identify institutions, corporations and so on. An index is a sign with a direct connection with its objects for instance smoke is an index of fire. Two basic types to distinguish of symbols are pictograph and combination mark. Pictograph is widely used in airports, stations and other places frequented by international travellers use pictographs because they are not linked with any other language. Combination mark is a symbol and logo used together for example Mercedes Benz logo. Signs and symbols are an important part of association networks in our memory such as the packaging, colours, letters, and signs. Especially colours can have a strong cultural meaning. Colour symbolism also plays a major in different culture. Black signifies mourning sign for western cultures but white represents mourning in Japan, Hong Kong and India. Purple represents royal in Egypt and purple flowers means funeral in Brazil.

Besides that, other signs and symbols like shapes and numbers. For instance group of 4 signifying death in Japan sounds like death in Japanese and Chinese and “loin” in other languages. Animals also have different meaning in different culture. Use of animals in the advertisement can prove problematic to bottom lines of companies. Owl symbolizes wisdom in United States and United Kingdom however in France it is considered to have limited intelligence and in Middle East it symbolizes bad omen. In countries like Thailand, animals represent as a lower level of creation. It is essential for international marketers to understand when and where to use the signs and symbols particularly when dealing with different culture as different culture perceive in a different way or meaning. Another aspect of silent language is the distance between people during conversation, People’s sense of appropriate distance is learned and differs among societies. In the US, the customary distance for business discussion is 5 to 8 feet whereas in Mexico the distance for a business discussion is that of 16 – 18 inches. Germanic people consider a space within 1 year or meter as personal space.

The appropriateness of eye contact varied with culture as well. Americans consider making eye contact while speaking while speaking a sign of trustworthiness. Many Asian cultures, such as that of Korea, can consider it a sign of disrespect. Cultural differences must be taken into consideration as well; what works in this country might be incomprehensible, unintentionally funny or even offensive abroad. Translations need to be accurate to allow the same message to be communicated globally. Adjusting to local languages often requires changes in the product name. Consequently, global companies, when entering a foreign market, need to know what the message they are trying to convey is and what is the message they are actually conveying about their product.

Religion has a major impact on economics and the conduct of economic affairs between individuals, and between countries. Religion has in the past, and continues to significantly affect the role and status of women, political organisations and social relations. Religion is the “core of culture” it offers explanations, meaning, and defines what is considered good and evil. Religious beliefs vary greatly between cultures and impact what is appropriate within a society. For example in Hindu societies it is not appropriate to eat beef and therefore marketing beef to this society would indicate a lack of cultural awareness.

Christianity is the world’s largest religion; however it is celebrated differently throughout Europe. It is important for global businesses to have researched local variations of religious traditions before marketing a product incorrectly or at the wrong time period. Religious beliefs and social organizations can restrict the approach global advertising takes in a business. Religion can have a profound impact on societies. Its traditions and rules may dictate what goods and services are purchased, when they are purchased and by whom.

The economic role of women varies from country to country, and in some cases is severely limited. Women may be restricted as, consumers, workers, respondents to marketing. When it comes to masculinity vs. Femininity, this dimension reflects cultures dominated by roles of males and females. That means the characteristics of masculinity, which are, emphasizing ambition, earning money and showing off possessions. Femininity is seen to be the trait which stresses caring and nurturing behaviours, sexual equality and environmental awareness.

The dimension of “uncertainty avoidance” focuses on how cultures adapt to changes and cope with uncertainty. It measures the extent to which people in a society tend to feel threatened by uncertain, ambiguous, risky or undefined situations. In general, countries like the USA with lower uncertainty avoidance tend to be more tolerant of risk. When it comes to individualism vs. collectivism: This dimension focuses on the relationship between the individual and the group. The people in a collectivist society make a decision that is the best for the group and they have a “we” mentality. The individual people are basically supposed to care for themselves and their immediate family. Power distance: Here the focus is on the nature of human relationship in terms of hierarchy. High power distance means culture with more centralized authority and the hierarchy is strong. Low power distance means people tend to feel equal, close to each other in their daily work relationship. The authority is more decentralized. It can be seen that culture is a factor that creates many challenges for organisations when operating outside of their domestic markets. The extensive research into the area warrants caution in using a standardized approach when entering new markets. Marketers must effectively respond to culture and be aware of cultural shifts in order to remain relevant in the minds of the consumer.

Denisha sahadevan

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Dealing With Globalization of a Business