Geert Hofstede, in his research on national cultural personalities, identified a key cultural dimension: masculinity vs. femininity. In masculine cultures, there is more emphasis on achievement, control, and power. Conversely, in feminine cultures, there is an emphasis on families, equality, and modesty. Understanding this dimension is critical when advertising in countries such as feminine Sweden.
In masculine cultures, such as the US or Germany, there is a need to be more assertive and competitive in advertising. Key indicators of a masculine advertising campaign include:
- Product information is focused on showing differentiators, particularly as compared to competitors.
- Product information will place a high priority on new technology or innovations.
- There is usually a great deal of technical information, if the product type warrants it.
- The tone is confident, self-assured, and rather bold in its claims.
- Product groups are referred to as models or product lines.
- Corresponding websites will place high emphasis on financial and investor information, assertively claiming long-term company strength.
In feminine cultures, such as Sweden, there is a need to be more modest and caring in advertising. Key indicators of a feminine advertising campaign include:
- Product information is focused on showing the strengths of the product, without reference to competitors (implicit or explicit).
- Product information focuses less on technical information and more on the experience of using the product.
- Photos are artistic, rather than functional.
- Product groups are referred to as families.
- Product descriptions are more relaxed and modest.
- Corresponding websites will place a high emphasis on the “people” side of the business, rather than financial information.
So, if you are planning on using your US-created ad campaign in Sweden, you may want to carefully evaluate the tone, descriptions, photos, and level of technical information. If any of these items is more assertive than modest, more competitive than caring, you may want to make some key adjustments to fit the sensibilities of this market.