What You Need to Know About Cross-Cultural Marketing

Culture is a set of beliefs, norms and traits of a particular group. Any marketer who knows his job understands the importance of culture. Culture is an extremely important factor which can influence any marketing decision. It is very simple to consider your product a winner from your own perspective but it is important that you realize that other people might not consider it so. When you sit down to create a marketing strategy or an advertisement, you must have complete information about your target audience and their culture. Using the same advertising campaign in all the parts of the world can be dangerous. People in different parts of the world will have a different set of perceptions and thinking, hence, you must keep their sentiments in mind when you go out to do marketing.

For instance, not long ago Coca-Cola made a silly mistake of launching a product in China and translating that name into their local language. They were dumbstruck when they realized that the Chinese felt insulted because the name literally meant “bite the wax tadpole” in their local language. Therefore, it is vital to any cross-cultural campaign to understand the cultures you are going to advertise to. There are a few things that can be kept in mind when diversifying to other regions like:

• Language: First and foremost thing that should not be forgotten is the language. In the case of Ford Pinto’s launch in Brazil, they translated the name in their local language which unfortunately meant “tiny man’s genitals”. So make sure when you translate something in a local language, you don’t hurt people’s sentiments.

• Religion: This is another influential factor. There are thousands of cases reported every year where MNC’s have made blunders in marketing campaigns by pressing the wrong (religious) nerve of the residents of the country. Recently a game manufacturer’s marketing tagline for its new game was “Challenge everything”. The residents immediately revolted as they felt that THE GOD cannot be challenged. You might for a minute consider this outrageous but this is a very serious issue.

• Colors: There are places everywhere in the world where a particular color will either attract the crowds or distract them. Colors have different meanings in different places. For eg- in China, red is considered to be a lucky color while black in Japan is thought to be unlucky.

• Numbers, images and photos: Another thing that can raise issues while marketing is the use of numbers as well as pictures which can be considered offensive by a certain group or cultural society. For eg- Women in bikinis on billboards in USA can be a good selling strategy but can be very offensive for citizens of UAE.

These are small things and can easily be ignored by many businesses. But then the results of it can only lead to a failure. If you stick to these small points you can be sure of winning hearts all over. Try to find out things that can be appealing and exciting to people. Like in Caribbean communities, using sketches in ads can prove to be very effective and useful. Also try and get as much information from the locals about people’s interests and buying habits. Do not think twice before doing a solid research. Keep an eye on what’s new and the overall developments taking place.

For example- In Europe, using strong language and nudity is more acceptable than in the USA. Make sure there is something that can connect well with the audience. People connect because of culture. It binds them together as one, hence, making it easier for you to target a particular set of audience. The game seems to be tough initially and it is without a doubt, but once you have set an impression, it doesn’t take too long to be successful.

This is how culture plays a really important role in marketing. Some of the tips and suggestions mentioned here can be very useful for your business and marketing plans.

1 thought on “What You Need to Know About Cross-Cultural Marketing”

  1. Very interesting article, I write on cross-cultural communication and you have a good summary here. I like your Coke example, but my favorite is for Gerber baby food. I live in France, and if you pronounce the word Gerber as a French person would, it means ‘to vomit’. Not really a good word for baby food.
    Stumbled your post.

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