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Essay: The Importance of Cultural Understanding for Brands

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  • Published: 1 October 2019*
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  • Words: 845 (approx)
  • Number of pages: 4 (approx)

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Throughout his existence, an individual will be influenced by his family, his friends, his cultural environment or society that will “teach” him values, preferences as well as common behaviors to their own culture.

For a brand, it is important to understand and take into account the cultural factors inherent to each market or to each situation in order to adapt its product and its marketing strategy. As these will play a role in the perception, habits, behavior or expectations of consumers.

For example, in the West, it is common to invite colleagues or friends at home for a drink or dinner. In Japan, on the contrary, invite someone home does not usually fit into the local customs. It is preferable to do that this kind of outing with friends or colleagues  in restaurant.

A significant specificity to take into account for the brands in markets such as savory snacking or sodas and alcoholic beverages. Usage and consumption moments are not the same in all regions of the world.

While if a Japanese offer you a gift, the courtesy is to offer him an equivalent gift in return.

McDonald’s is a brilliant example of adaptation to the specificities of each culture and each market. Well aware of the importance to have an offer with specific products to meet the needs and tastes of consumers from different cultures, the fast-food giant has for example: a McBaguette in France (with french baguette and Dijon mustard), a Chicken Maharaja Mac and a Masala Grill Chicken in India (with Indian spices) as well as a Mega Teriyaki Burger (with teriyaki sauce) or Gurakoro (with macaroni gratin and croquettes) in Japan.

While all the ingredients used by McDonald’s in arabic and muslim countries are certified halal. The fast food chain not offering, of course, any product with bacon or pork.

Sub-cultures :

A society is composed of several sub-cultures in which people can identify. Subcultures are groups of people who share the same values ​​based on a common experience or a similar lifestyle in general.

Subcultures are the nationalities, religions, ethnic groups, age groups, gender of the individual, etc..

The subcultures are often considered by the brands for the segmentation of a market in order to adapt a product or a communication strategy to the values ​​or the specific needs of this segment.

For example in recent years, the segment of “ethnic” cosmetics has greatly expanded. These are products more suited to non-Caucasian populations and to types of skin pigmentation for african, arab or indian populations for example.

It’s a real brand positioning with a well-defined target in a sector that only offered makeup products to a caucasian target until now (with the exception of niche brands) and was then receiving critics from consumers of different origin.

Brands often communicate in different ways, sometimes even create specific products (sometimes without significant intrinsic difference) for the same type of product in order to specifically target an age group, a gender or a specific sub-culture.

Consumers are usually more receptive to products and marketing strategies that specifically target them.

Social classes:

Social classes are defined as groups more or less homogenous and ranked against each other according to a form of social hierarchy. Even if it’s very large groups, we usually find similar values​​, lifestyles, interests and behaviors in individuals belonging to the same social class.

We often assume three general categories among social classes : lower class, middle class and upper class.

People from different social classes tend to have different desires and consumption patterns. Disparities resulting from the difference in their purchasing power, but not only. According to some researchers, behavior and buying habits would also be a way of identification and belonging to its social class.

Beyond a common foundation to the whole population and taking into account that many counterexample naturally exist, they usually do not always buy the same products, do not choose the same kind of vacation, do not always watch the same TV shows, do not always read the same magazines, do not have the same hobbies and do not always go in the same types of retailers and stores.

For example, consumers from the middle class and upper class generally consume more balanced and healthy food products than those from the lower class.

They don’t go in the same stores either. If some retailers are, of course, patronized by everyone, some are more specifically targeted to upper classes such as The Fresh Market, Whole Foods Market, Barneys New York or Nordstrom. While others, such as discount supermarkets, attract more consumers from the lower class.

Some studies have also suggested that the social perception of a brand or a retailer is playing a role in the behavior and purchasing decisions of consumers.

In addition, the consumer buying behavior may also change according to social class. A consumer from the lower class will be more focused on price. While a shopper from the upper class will be more attracted to elements such as quality, innovation, features, or even the “social benefit” that he c

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