Cultural trends away from cultural standardization

Many marketers want to believe that the world is becoming a smaller place for selling products. Indeed, many new products, particularly technology products, are “born global”, allowing their marketing teams to standardize rather than localize their global advertising campaigns.

These marketers point to the following trends as evidence that consumers are becoming more homogenized:

  • English as a global language – For the most part, due to British and then American dominance in many areas, English has become the primary language for business, science, technology, and finance. The distribution of American popular culture, such as movies and music, mean that millons of non-English speakers are at least exposed to the English language. And the willingness to learn English as a second language has not abated, with demand for classes expected to grow until 2030.
  • Expansion of media channels – Channels like CNN, Disney, and MTV are broadcast around the world, allowing for the same message to reach audiences in every country.

However, Hollis and Fitch (2009) note that there are several cultural trends that are emerging that somewhat challenge the trends listed above:

  • Neglected languages are gaining prominence – In Wales, there is a renewed interested in Welsh nationalism, with compulsory Welsh language education for students up to age 16 and the establishment of Welsh television and radio programming. This trend is also seen in Spain and France with the revival of the Catalan, Basque, and Breton culture and languages.
  • Web 2.0 technology is the alternate media channel – Blogs are huge. Hollis et al. note that of the 100 most popular online sites, 22 of those sites were blogs. And blogs represent cultural global diversity at its best. People are writing about issues that matter to them, in their towns, in their native language. For example, in 2007, Farsi became one of the top ten languages used in blogs. And many people are turning to blogs for information, opinions, and recommendations, rather than relying on advertising appeals to make their decisions.

From a marketing standpoint, it is important to remember that there is usually a yin/yang quality to most cultural dimensions – as one aspect changes, there is frequently a pull in the opposite direction as well. These opposing aspects should be considered when developing international marketing plans.

References:

Hollis, N. & Fitch, D. (2009). “Is global brand marketing as rewarding as it first appears?” Journal of Sponsorship. 2 (3), pp. 206-214.

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