In recent time during these economic crisis businesses all over the globe are faced with many challenges and making a considerable amount of profit by exploiting the resources and venturing out into unknown territory makes the business vulnerable but prior knowledge about the business environment and its key factors enables the business to adopt and get in sync with the ever changing business environment and an important entity of the business is the demographics, multi cultural people and their own interests creates challenge for the business to come up with a wide variety of products which match the interests of multi cultural consumers. Nowadays businesses face yet another challenge which is due to the Trans-cultural effect i.e. acculturation where traces of a primary culture either entirely or partially adapted to secondary culture and this breeds into a new culture. This research deals about how acculturation occurs and its impact on the business and how it can lead to acquire an insight about consumer behavior especially the ethnic minority consumers with appropriate theories and supporting evidences.
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The term acculturation sheds light into to the path of cultural mergence. Culture plays a vital role in the dynamic business environment. People tend to change their views every now and then with a constraint of a wide variety of cultural ethics. In general the impacts of one culture with another creates unity and in some worst cases leads to cultural disarray. The impacts of acculturation in terms of business help to understand behavior of consumer, in this case the ethnic minority consumers. The ethnic minority consumer's hail from different cultural practices which induces pressure on to businesses, this is due to the fact that businesses located in a particular country or area sometimes misrepresent or inadvertently distress these cultures by being insensitive to their cultural ethics. This essay deals with the key issues of acculturation and the consumer behavior of ethnic minorities with appropriate examples and underpinning literature.
Acculturation - a cultural mergence:
Acculturation is a process in which different cultures merge with each other and give way unto a modified culture with traces of the cultures from which it originally evolved. This cross culture mergence affects the way the people behave in terms of living, consumption of goods, etc. Each and every culture from a different ethnic background have a cultural value of its own and when similar cultures merge together then the outcome will give way to a unique culture of its own. But in some cases these cultural mergence creates a barrier. There are two different models of acculturation which can give an insight about the depth of the cultural mergence. There are linear and two-dimensional models. The first model i.e. the linear model briefs that the ethnic priorities and properties are omitted by the group of people who merge into new culture but adapt themselves in such a way that they become more generalized and open minded without any cultural constraints thus this type of model gives way into weakening of cultural values and ethics. In contrast the two-dimensional model explains about the influence of either of the culture creates a reasonable impact in such a way that people tend to follow or adapt themselves to a stronger or most influential culture (J.W.Berry, 1996).
Impacts of Acculturation:
Acculturation plays an important role in terms of a country with multicultural backgrounds and as well as the activity of economical factors such as businesses. In a multicultural country such as the United Kingdom, the impacts of acculturation has its up's and down's. Since there are millions of people who tend to follow their own cultural and religious ethics it's important that the businesses respect and value each and every culture with oneness. In some cases - certain businesses without an insight about a particular culture tend to venture into the community and with the ignorance of the sensitive issues of the culture tend to loose out their market in that particular community. In the economic point of view - cultural factors influence more than what the researchers have imagined, there are certain negative aspects of acculturation. Acculturation in business point of view creates a wide variety of problems to the business organizations. For example, if a particular retail manufacturer manufactures certain product and releases in a market without knowing the percentage of influence of the multiethnic group then people from a particular ethnic group might stand up against that product if the product doesn't abide with the particular cultural values. These are some of the impacts of acculturation.
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In case of business and in particular, Marketing. Acculturation must be take seriously this due to the fact that different cultures have different prospective and if any business tends to be insensitive to these cultural and moral issues then it will become harder for the organisation to gain or attract that particular group of people. In case of advertising there are issues such as literacy ratio among a particular group of people who find it hard to understand certain advertisements which are focused upon western cultures and certain advertisements and advertisement campaigns might become offensive to certain cultures. In certain cultures a family group decides to buy certain large purchases so the marketing campaign must focus upon consumer families as whole in order to sell their products. In the UK there is a wide variety of people from multiple ethnic backgrounds who tend to adapt or stick to a new or their traditional culture. So the manufactures now have the difficult job of focusing and targeting on certain cultures or manufacture certain products which are suitable to people from different cultural backgrounds.
Consumer Behavior of Ethnic Minority Consumers:
With the help of acculturation the businesses can easily identify the clusters of minority ethnic groups and their adoption towards the primary or the new culture. While advertising a new product to an ethnic minority group the simplest and easy way to attract customers is to produce advertisements with that particular ethnic minority group actor as brand ambassadors which will create a positive attitude towards that particular product focusing upon the particular ethnic group. In ethnic minority groups the way the react to certain issues are far more different than the primary majority group. In an ethnic minority group the family chain remains the essential part of the group so each and every decision is made through the consultation of the family members so the decision making in ethnic minority groups in most cases solely depend upon the family groups and these people who belong to the ethnic groups are influenced through their workplace and other external factors, this in turn makes an influence to adapt to new culture but successful in only a few cases. In the UK people belonging to ethnic minority groups tend to adapt to the ordered and non prioritized culture but in case of morality and family values they tend to fall back. So there are both positive and negative aspects involved in adapting of minority groups.
In order to market a specific product to an ethnic minority group a business organisation must be able to acquire a substantial amount of knowledge about the particular community. For example, promoting offers to the ethnic minority groups during their local festivals and functions. This enables the customers to remain faithful to the organisation. The media plays a vital role in the ethnic minority customers buying strategy. Due to the influence of televised marketing these target customers are most likely buy products which have some or more of its culture merged into it for example the McDonalds introduced their fast food chain in the middle-eastern countries without an important factor which is very sensitive to the Islamic community. They have completely ignored the Halal meat processing concept which is considered to be of very high significance in terms of their culture as well as their religion. McDonalds got a severe beating in those countries by loosing out their market share and market value. Then they came to know about their mistake and introduced Halal meat processing technique which enabled them to market their products and their fast food restaurants and gain back the value and name of the organisation. Many businesses loose their market share by being insensitive to these issues which are not considered important to the western culture. The Asian minority groups have their own cultural and ethical issue which in turn proves to be more of a challenge. This due to multi-culture within the specific group, It is important to know the behavior of the ethnic minority customers in the Asian communities. The Hindus in India consider the cow as a sacred creature and in some rural parts they even worship the cows but in the western culture it is considered as a delicacy. With respect to this factor the meat processing and manufacturing companies especially the beef manufacturing companies have little or no place in processing or promoting there meats in India. This gives us an insight about the influence of culture towards a community. In the acculturation process these groups of people from other countries who migrate into the western countries obviously become minority group of people and there way of living might change due to the influence of the new culture or the cling on to their old culture. This in turn affects the business due to the fact that the buying power of the people influences the economy as a whole. So the manufacturing and production companies must take into consideration the ethical and moral values of these ethnic minority groups and must be sensitive towards their views.
Effects of Acculturation in business:
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Acculturation creates a unique culture with values and traces of the primary and secondary cultures. The main issue in acculturation is that the business need to device new strategies in order to meet the needs of the consumers. People who are influenced by acculturation tend to have traces of both the cultures they hail from so this leads into critical decision making in terms of buying the products. Before buying a new product the consumer decides what are their actual needs and wants. In the ethnic minority groups the usual decision making power rests upon the family as whole. Since the decision is made by consulting the members of the family the cultural influence is higher in selecting the product. So the consumers tend to look up for products which suits their needs in terms of their cultural aspects i.e. the products must adapt to their cultural values. For example the Islamic groups of people tend to consume meat which has the Halal meat processing certification. Since this type of meat processing is in fact a cultural issue and a law in some Islamic communities. If a business processes without this meat processing technique then that product will not be able to create any profit for that particular minority community and as well as it creates a bad impression on the company for being insensitive to minority customers cultural values. Similar problem rises in the Indian culture where most of the people follow the Hindu religion where they prohibit the consumption of beef. Since the cows are considered to be sacred deity and they must not be used as food. This leads in to conclusion that different cultures have different rituals and rights which highly influence the people who follow that particular culture. So these rituals play a vital role in the buying power of the customer as well. The businesses tend to learn and adapt to this decision making effects and manufacture products which suits these customers needs.
The buying power of consumers influences the business to produce products which suits the customers. There are two types of culture where it is categorized into high and popular cultures. The high, this type of culture is categorized as being the elite are the most influential in terms of buying power and usually they are biased to a specific group the second type is popular, where it reflects the day to livelihood of people around either rich or poor. With the influence of the culture and ethical values of the customers lead them to make decisions. Culture plays a vital role in the decision making process of closely clustered groups generally the ethnic minority groups whose decision making criteria are mostly influenced not by a single individual but as a family. But a few people from different ethnic minority groups tend to adapt to the western culture due to the influence of the culture and tend to follow the western culture irrespective of their primary culture. The ethnic minority group consumers have a unique way of selecting and buying the products which creates a challenge for the companies to research and develop new products which can suit the needs of the ethnic minority consumers. Ethnic minority people tend to get influenced by marketing strategy where if the brand ambassador of the products hails from the specific minority group. To conclude with, culture creates a positive effect as well as negative effect. But the business organisation has the responsibility and challenge to create innovative products and provide service which will satisfy the needs of the ethnic minority customers in terms of sales and which leads to profit for the organisation.
The research concludes that acculturation process creates a barrier for the businesses but the challenge lies in handling this challenges and producing and manufacturing products which suits the needs and wants of the consumers in this case the ethnic minority consumers. To gain a higher profit the research recommends that the companies which focus upon reaching these ethnic groups must get a clear insight about the culture and their moral values. On acquiring such knowledge about the cultural values of the consumers will surely yield a positive result for the organisation in terms of sales in the business and a good will among the ethnic minority customers. The cultural values help the business to adapt itself to sync with the peoples way of living and which in turn leads the organisation to provide as well as gain profits with ease…