Why cultural factors are considered in Marketing

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The word Culture derived from Latin word clutura followed by colere which means to grow/to improve, the culture have several meanings according to context. The culture can be defined according to geographical boundaries but it does not mean one geographical boundary have same pattern of culture such as; culture differ in England and Wales, North and South America, Canadian English and French tertiary, etc. According to organizational context the culture is form of mission, vision, goals, shared values, etc. The culture is basically known as complete way of life or the way you complete your tasks in an organization.

According to Linton, R. (1945), a culture is a component of learned behaviour, whose elements are shared among the member of society. In context with marketing point of view the study of consumer behaviour according to learned beliefs, values and customs which serve them in a particular tertiary. The belief defined as, how customer perceive products or services, Values also known as appropriate consumer behaviour and customs is defined as behaving at special events in a life such as; child birth, marriage, death, etc. or special events in a year such as; Eid, Christmas, Easter, etc. these are essential part of any society. Being a part of any society we know our culture but when we go to another society we have to face some problems, the same situation with an organization when they move to international market they face many problems and issues and they might fail due to not understanding their beliefs, values and customs (as citied in Doole and Lowe, 2008 pp72-73).

According to Taylor E. B. (1832 - 1917), the art, food, music, etc. forms the culture, its very delicate tool of way of life because its only exist in mind and can be change very often and easily. Mr. Taylor (1832 - 1917), defines that there are three layers of culture as whole such as; first is complex multi-ethnic culture, and second and third are known as subcultures. There are many different opinions that culture is only limited to the human being or animal life also have so sort of culture, but its been agreed that animals also have culture in their life style (anthro.palomar.edu 'culture').

Source: [http://anthro.palomar.edu/culture/culture_2.htm]

According to Hofstede (2003), there are number of cultural layers in one nation such as given below;

National Level - defines basic assumptions according tertiary.

Religious Level - defines basic beliefs

Gender Level - distinguishes according to gender

Generation Level - distinguishes everybody according to age and relations such as; grandfather/mother, father/mother, kids.

Social Class Level - distinguishes according to level of education or occupation.

We learn from our surroundings such as; environment leaves great impact of our behaviour and creates beliefs and norms. This is not authenticity that culture of one tertiary only for born people it can also be adopted by any body or organization according to needs (as citied in Doole and Lowe, 2008 pp72-73).

Elements of Culture

According to Sarathy et al. (2006), culture has eight components as per marketing perspective which can influence as illustrated in following figure;

Figure: Sarathay et al. (2006) Components of Culture

[Source: Doole, I and Lowe, R (2008), International Marketing Strategy: analysis, development and implementation, 5th edition, Thomson Learning, London]

International Marketing

Before discussing international marketing we need to know what is marketing so according to charter institute of marketing, is a 'Management process responsible for identifying, anticipating & satisfying customer requirements profitably'. The marketing process mainly focuses on customer needs and wants and tries to satisfy them. The international marketing is more or less manufacturing product or services as per foreign market requirements and developing strategies to promote them outside their territories known as International Marketing (Kotabe and Helsen, 2000). The Kotabe & Helsen (2000) tries to explain international marketing and saying it's a strategy where organizations just recognizes that what the difference between their tertiary and other markets culture differences which is very important to identify before entering in new market with new or same product, it seen in the past the organizations who fails to recognize cultural differences they always fail. The Kotler (2003, p 141) identifies some main reasons for the failure such as; less observation then required, did not offer adequate product, did not adopt suitable marketing mix, etc. Jeannet & Hemmessey (1992) added when company deciding to go in international market they should evaluate their current marketing strategy.

How to Conduct International Marketing Research?

International Marketing Research is very complicated process because the organization who wanted to research out its tertiary may face many problems (Aaker et al 2004). Some organizations have their in house research team, but sometimes it's not effective to conduct international market research without taking help from local research agencies. According to Mathotra (2001), marketing research is the process to identify, collect and analyze the data taken from the international market to identify the solution of problems and find the chances to enter in particular market. Karsaklian (2004) added and argued that when any organization make strategy to promote its products outside its tertiary to maximize its profit then market research becomes essential. Paul and Kumar (2008) constructed some point which organization has to answer before undertaking any international marketing research as following;

Who is suitable to conduct research?

In-house research team is suitable for this task or we should outsource agency to best utilize our resources.

How should undertake the international marketing research with the best interest of all concern groups.

Why Organizations consider Culture Factors in International Market Research?

There are eight main culture components as per discussed in figure-1, now we will discuss them one by one that how they influence international market research as following;


The literacy rate of any country makes huge difference between low literacy rate and high literacy rate country. Suppose any company want to enter in new market where literacy rate is high so they can promote their product very easily because most of the population can understand them on the other hand with low literacy rate its very difficult. So when any organization wants to go in market with prestige product/service they will definitely choose high literacy rate country. Doole and Lowe (2008) added that in low literacy rate countries the company be extra careful with hazardous labeling products such as; medicines, etc. In low literacy rate territories marketing research agencies may face such problems; difficulty in conducting marketing research effectively, unable to explain complex products, difficult to maintain good relations with relative agencies, etc (www.fao.org).

Social Organization

Social organization is defined as the society's life style. For example, in Pakistan the housewife totally responsible for housing because there are very few women who work outside home otherwise they stay at home and take care of their children. So, it's very easy to sale home essential products to sell them.


In Hong-Kong it was workers habit to come late at work but keep working late night but their manager tried to change their habit and made them to come before time and leave on time but after some time he realized when his workers finish in evening penalty of work still left to do. After some time he returned them at their old way of life, this shows that manager did not study their social life and tried to impose western way of job which led him to failure at work (Payne 18/12/2005).

Technology & Material Culture

This component refers to the capacity to cope with the new technology of any country. And it is important access ability and facilities such as; transportation facilities, communication means, energy facilities, etc in any tertiary these are main factors which affects the marketing. The material culture may bring change in any country.


Before 1990s Zimbabwe's Govt. did not allow canned drinks because they did not had any production facilities and environmental issues. The Govt. already seen huge amount of empty cans in Botswana so they were scared about litter problem in country. The liberation reforms the program and Govt. allowed to import canning drinks in country and then experiment regarding litter problem and that was really successful after that a huge amount of cans were imported by them in country. That shows cultural change can be bought in country (www.fao.org).


Religion is important part of culture in some countries more likely Islamic countries such as; Saudi Arabia you can't violate the religion in product and promotion practices otherwise you will be punished by Govt. or consumer (Doole and Lowe, 2008). For example, the organization can't access the customer in the month of Ramadan especially fast food industry.


Men perfume ad showing dog in his hand which was big blunder in Islamic countries because according to Islamic values dog is dirty pet (Payne 18/12/2005).


The year of pig was 2007 in which almost every company show pigs in their ads whether real or animated but Chinese Government banned all such ads to show harmony with Muslims in country, which was really good cross-culture study otherwise all Muslims reuse to buy such products (www.marketingteacher.com).


Language leaves its foot print on culture values in any country. Some countries have more than two languages like in Canada English and French depends on tertiary. In some countries the communication problem can occur due to language (www.fao.org).


The following example explained the launch of their car called 'Fitta' in Scandinavian countries in 2001 but they did not took time on name meanings difference in cross culture while undertaking international marketing research which they came to know afterward that 'Fitta' was slang word in old ages. So afterward they had to rename their product as 'Honda Jazz' (www.proz.com).


A United Kingdom food manufacturer lost its £6m when launching new product named 'Bundh' which is use as slang in Punjabi (Pakistani/Indian Language), that was such a big blunder by Sharwoods (www.proz.com).

Silent Language/ Non-Verbal Language

In some countries non-verbal communication have more importance than verbal communication, population of these countries is very sensitive. Non-verbal communication is very important in business meeting and for internal communication especially for those who been hired from other countries.


Broken wine glass is well recognized symbol for fragile products but once it happened on African sea port the crew member though these all broken items in boxes and through them in a sea as though it's just a waste of space to keep it (www.proz.com).


In Latin America 'OK' finger sign shows offensive means but one company made mistake and printed 'OK' on every page of their catalogue and lost money and time because they had reprint whole lot (Payne 18/12/2005).


A telephone service provider promoted their product and services in Saudi Arabia with the ad that shows boss ringing some one with feet on the table which is bed gesture in Saudi Arabia (Payne 18/12/2005).


According to scholars and writers, 'Aesthetics meanings are beauty's philosophy' when we talk about culture of any tertiary so that's means, particular culture's philosophy of art, music, etc and who they express it in their own way. It differs from tertiary to tertiary. For example, the music and dramas in Europe and in Asia are quite different with following art most of times in paintings the European artist shows nudity scene which can't be express in Asia especially Pakistan (www.fao.org).

Law and Politics

While undertaking marketing research, the marketing researcher should consider the laws of any territory which they are considering for next possible market before entering there. The laws might include property rights, patent and trade mark laws, packing and labeling laws, etc. there are two main bodies to regulate international trade are, USA International Trade Commission and GATT. The political stability also another issue for international market researchers, suppose how long one Govt. switch to other, etc. For example - In Pakistan there unstable political environment which might be big barrier to enter in that market but on the other hand its quite stable in UK or USA. When considering political environment of any country the researchers should consider; which ideology followed by concerned country like, Islamic, Socialism, Capitalism, etc. (www.fao.com). Doole and Lowe (2008) added and argued that legal and political environment is a important element of culture.

Values and Attitude

These two elements vary territory to territory or nation to nation, so market researchers have to be vigilant before entering in new market. They can handle this situation by just changing in promotional message because one message might mean wrong in other place. The attitude of local employees also most important you should know about their working and holiday's schedule. For example in France workers take whole August vacations and in USA scattered weeks in whole year (www.marketingteacher.com).


Greet Hofstede define culture as, 'Culture is more often a source of conflict than of synergy. Cultural differences are a nuisance at best and often a disaster' (www.geert-hofstede.com). He tried to explain culture as barrier between two territories because it differs even in same territory and can cause great disaster for companies. As Sarathay et al. (2006) defined eight essential elements of culture which can help marketer to win heart of consumer or cause to fail in any market. As we seen many big brands examples they did not bother about them and lost market, money with their precious time.