Cultural Factors As Central Core Of Marketing Policy
This part of the assignment is related to the cultural factors which are central core of the marketing policy.Importance of knowing culture has been mentioned briefly.All the elements of culture have bben explained in details along with suitable country examples.The last part of the assignment deals with conclusion.
Culture is the human made part of the environment where human beings live.It is the sum total of knowledge, art, morals,beliefs, laws customs and any other capabilities and habits acquired by humans as members of society.Culture is 'everything that people have, think and do as members of their society.' (Gary p.Ferraro,1994,pp.17)
According to Hofstede, Culture is always a collective phenomenon, because it is atleast partially shared with people who live or lived within the same environment ,which is where it was learned.It is the collective programming of the mind that distinguishes the members of one group or category of people from another.
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( Hofstede.G, 1991, pp.5)
In the light of above definitions it can be said that culture is an outcome of past actions of a group or its members.Culture is learned and it shapes our behaviour and our perception of the world.
Every group or every society has a culture.Culture covers everything from food to dress,from househeld techniques to industrial techniques.Culture includes every part of life.cultural factors are those elements with which marketing efforts interact and these are essential in order to understand the marketing system of any society.These cultural factors are as follows.
Elements Of Culture
(1)Material culture: It is categorised into two parts;(a) Technology (b) Economics.
(a)Technology: It is the know-how that people of a society possess.It includes the techniques used in the creation of material goods.
Example: In Germany, Japan , USA or other countries with high levels of technology, their population has a broad level of technical understanding that helps them to learn and accept new technology more easily than countries who have lower levels of technology. A high level of technology consists of simple repairs and preventive maintenance. An important reason behind China's economic growth is that China has provided its working population with a modest level of mechanical skill, that is , a level of technology.
(b)Economics:Economics of a nation includes production of goods and services, their distribution,their consumption,means of exchange and the income that is derived from the creation of utilities.Material culture plays an important part in affecting the level of demand ,the quality of products, the types of products that are demanded and means of production of these goods and their distribution.
For example: Electical appliances are frequently sold in England or France, but in countries where very few homes have electricity, the number of buyers of these appliances are also very low.Level of income and its distribution may also put some limitations on the desirability of products ,like in USA there is a frequent use of electric can openers and electric juicers, but countries who are less affluent these products are not only unattainable but they are unwanted too, because people would prefer to spend their income on essential goods like better houses, clothing or food. (Ghauri.p and Cateora,2006,pp.83)
(2) Social institutions: Social institutions include family, religion, school, the media,government and corporations. All these affect the relationship of people with one another,the ways in which people organise their activities to live with harmony with one another.Social institutions teach what acceptable behaviour is. Each institution has certain effects on marketing because each influences behaviour, values and overall pattern of life.
Example: In culturally divided Canada ,travel advertising has pictured a wife alone for English speaking market segment on the other hand for Frech-speaking segments of population a man and wife together are pictured because The French are closely bound by family ties.
(3)Education: It is also an important cultural factor. In every society it is taught to generation what is acceptable or not acceptable, right or wrong and other ways of behaviour. The literacy rate of each society influences the behaviour of people. It becomes necessary for a marketer to know the level of education in a particular society so that the marketer can choose the type of advertising and communication to be used.No country has been successful economically with less than 50% of literacy according to World Bank.Literacy has a profound effect on marketing.It is easier to communicate to a literate market than to one in which marketer is dependent on symbols and pictures.( Philip.R Cateora ,Joh, L Graham, 2007, pp.105)
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(4) Belief system: This cultural factor includes religion, superstitions and their related power structures. Religion has an impact upon people's habits, the products they buy, the way they buy them. Even the news-papers they read. Certain types of food, clothing and behaviour are affected by religion.This influence sometime becomes the point of acceptance or rejection of promotional messages as well.
Example : countries which are dominated by muslim population have food outlets like Mc Donald's offering Halal non-vegetarian food, which is an important religious aspect for muslims.While in countries.
Superstition plays a larger role in some societies than it does in western culture.For example in Asia, palmistry, fortune-telling, ghosts, phases of the moon and soothsayers are all integral part of certain cultures. In India and Thailand Astrologers are called quite frequently to determine the best location for a structure .Thais believe that houses should have an odd number of rooms for luck, and they should be single storey because they consider it unlucky to have another foot on your head.
Example: There was mass hysteria from fear of evil spirits in a factory in Malaysia.Every worker refused to come to factory until a 'bomoh' was called ,a goat sacrificed and its blood sprinkled on the factory floor, the goat was roasted and then eaten. The next day the hysteria was over and every one came back to work.
(Ghauri.p and Cateora, 2006.pp.85)
(5)Aesthetics: These include the arts , folklore, music, drama and dance. Aesthetics are very important to the marketer because they play an important role in interpreting the symbolic meanings of various methods of artistic expression, standard of beauty and colour in each culture.If a country's aesthetic values are not interpreted correctly ,it may give rise to a lot of marketing problems .Product styling must be in such a way that it should please aesthetically to become successful to match with advertisements and package design. Avoiding aesthetic values can offend any one, create an impression which is negative and make marketing effort ineffective.
Example: The Japanese give regard to the crane as being very lucky , because it is considered to be working for thousand years; however, the use of the number four should be discarded because in Japanese the word four, shi is used for death.
(6) Language: It is an important cultural factor that is the central core of marketing policy.The successful marketer must have expertise in communication, must have thorough understanding of the language as well as the ability to speak it. Quite often there is a difference between spoken and written language.This is proved through the following examples.
Example: Pepsi's familiar 'come Alive with Pepsi', when translated into German, conveyed the idea of coming alive from grave.
Example: Electrolux's advertisement 'Nothing Sucks Better than Electrolux' for its vacuum cleaner is not liked in Ireland. If any advertising statement is translated carelessly ,it not only loses its intended meaning but also gives a wrong impression.
Culture plays a prominent role in all marketing activities like pricing, promotion,channels of distribution, product, packaging and styling.The marketers's efforts are judged on the basis of cultural context like acceptance or rejection. .(Ghauri.p and Cateora, 2006.pp.87)
Some examples of cultural factors:
The number 10 is bad luck in Korea.
The number 4 means death in Japan.
Red represents witchcraft and death in many African countries but it is a positive colour in Denmark.
The triangle is considered a negative shape in Hong kong, Korea and Taiwan.
The number 7 is considered a bad luck in Kenya and good luck in Czech Republic.It has a magical connotation in Benin, Africa.
Conclusion: Culture is a total picture of related elements.It can not be separated into parts and fully understood.Every facet of culture is intertwined and can not be viewed singly.Culture has developed over time.It has passed down from generation to generation.In a market , basic patterns of consumption like, who buys, what they buy, frequency of purchases, sizes purchased and so on are are established by cultural values of right and wrong, acceptable and unacceptable.Culture is not static.It keeps on changing.Some countries try to plan cultural change like Russia, China and Japan.The dynamic character of culture plays a prominent role in assessing new markets.The knowledge of cultural factors prove fruitful for the development of a business.Thus culture is the cetral core of marketing policies because all the decisions related to the market are in one way or the other realated to the culture of that market.
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(1) (Gary p.Ferraro, The culture dimension of international business,2nd edition(Englewood cliffs, NJ:Prentice Hall, 1994), pp.17
(2) (Geert Hofstede,'cultures and McGraw Hil'l,1991, organisations;software of the mind London) pp.5