Cultural dimensions – what questions to ask.

Virtually every discussion related to international marketing communications circles back to the idea of cultural dimensions, such as Hofstede, Hall, Schwartz, or project GLOBE. Marketers are cautioned to consider cultural dimensions when developing branding or communication strategies. What most of these discussions omit, however, is what marketers should be asking when learning more about a country’s cultural dimensions.

Krueger and Nandan (2008) offer the following questions as a basis for exploring a new culture:

  1. What social, religious, and political values predominate in the culture?
  2. How are family relationships defined in this culture?
  3. Are there linguistic differences that can affect branding?
  4. How is quality perceived in the culture?
  5. How do the rituals, such as gift giving, and stories impact branding?
  6. Are there local and national attitudes that could affect the branding of a product or service (such as Middle Eastern views of the US)?
  7. Do ethnic subcultures and demographic segments exist within the overall culture?
  8. Is the culture formal or informal?
  9. Does the culture have a low or high tolerance for ambiguity?
  10. How is cleanliness or punctuality perceived?
  11. How is technology perceived in the culture?
  12. How is the local competition perceived in this culture?

While learning about a target market’s laws, tax policies, and trade agreements contribute greatly to the success of an international venture, understanding the local culture is the true key to creating long-term success in a new market. Knowing the right questions to ask before entering the market helps develop that understanding.

References:

Krueger, D. & Nandan, S. (2008). “Branding in the global arena: the role of culture.” The Marketing Management Journal. 18 (1), pp. 30-38.

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