Marketing-Across-Cultures 4th Edt. 2005 -Usunier & Lee - (2023)

Marketing Across Cultures
Fourth Edition

Jean-Claude Usunier Julie Anne Lee

Marketing Across Cultures

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4th edition

Marketing Across Cultures
Jean-Claude Usunier Julie Anne Lee

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First published 1992 Second edition published 1996 Third edition published 2000 Fourth edition published 2005 © Prentice Hall Europe 1992, 1996 © Pearson Education Limited 2000, 2005 The rights of Jean-Claude Usunier and Julie Anne Lee to be identified as authors of this work have been asserted by them in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without either the prior written permission of the publisher or a licence permitting restricted copying in the United Kingdom issued by the Copyright Licensing Agency Ltd, 90 Tottenham Court Road, London W1T 4LP. All trademarks used herein are the property of their respective owners. The use of any trademark in this text does not vest in the author or publisher any trademark ownership rights in such trademarks, nor does the use of such trademarks imply any affiliation with or endorsement of this book by such owners. ISBN 0 273 68529 5 British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Usunier, Jean-Claude. Marketing across cultures / Jean-Claude Usunier, Julie Lee. – 4th ed. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 0-273-68529-5 (alk. paper) 1. Export marketing – Social aspects. 2. International business enterprises – Social aspects. 3. Intercultural communication. I. Lee, Julie, 1948– II. Title. HF1416.U85 2005 658.8′4—dc22 2004057632 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 09 08 07 06 05 Typeset in 10/12pt Minion by 35 Printed by Ashford Colour Press Ltd., Gosport The publisher’s policy is to use paper manufactured from sustainable forests.

Brief contents

Introduction: Marketing in the global villages Acknowledgements

xv xix 1 2 4 21 50

Part 1 The cultural variable in international marketing
Introduction to Part 1 1 The cultural process 2 Cultural dynamics 1: Time and space 3 Cultural dynamics 2: Interactions, mindsets and behaviours

Part 2 The integration of local consumption in a global marketing environment
Introduction to Part 2 4 Cross-cultural consumer behaviour 5 Local consumers and the globalization of consumption 6 The convergence of marketing environments worldwide 7 Cross-cultural market research

83 84 86 118 155 181 215 216 218 248 285 316 341 371 372 374 409 457 494 534 548 550 567

Part 3 Marketing decisions for the intercultural environment
Introduction to Part 3 8 Intercultural marketing strategy 9 Product policy 1: Physical, service and symbolic attributes 10 Product policy 2: Managing meaning 11 The critical role of price in relational exchange 12 International distribution and sales promotion

Part 4 Intercultural marketing communications
Introduction to Part 4 13 Language, culture and communication 14 Intercultural marketing communications 1: Advertising 15 Intercultural marketing communications 2: Personal selling, networking and public relations 16 Intercultural marketing negotiations 1: People, trust and tasks 17 Intercultural marketing negotiations 2: Some elements of national styles of business negotiation Postscript Author Index Subject Index


Introduction: Marketing in the global villages Acknowledgements

xv xix

Part 1 The cultural variable in international marketing


Introduction to Part 1

2 4 4 6 9 13 15 16 17 17 19 19 19 20 21 21 23 29 35 38 40 42 42 45 45 45 46

1 The cultural process
1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Defining culture Elements of culture Culture and nationality Culture and competence Culture and social representations

Questions Notes References Appendix 1: Teaching materials A1.1 Critical incident: An old lady from Malaysia A1.2 Critical incident: The parable A1.3 Reading: Body rituals among the Naciremas

2 Cultural dynamics 1: Time and space
2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 A model of action based on cultural assumptions Time: Cross-cultural variability Space Cultural borrowing and change in societies Cultural hostility

Questions Notes References Appendix 2: Teaching materials A2.1 Cross-cultural scenario: Inshallah A2.2 Cross-cultural interaction: Engineering a decision A2.3 Cross-cultural interaction: Opening a medical office in Saudi Arabia



A2.4 A2.5

Reading: Language and time patterns: The Bantu case Exercise: World picture test

47 48

3 Cultural dynamics 2: Interactions, mindsets and behaviours
3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 Concept of the self and others Interaction models Culture-based attitudes towards action How to relate thinking to action Dealing with desires and feelings Coping with rules Cultural assumptions and actual behaviour

50 50 56 64 68 70 72 75 77 78 78 81 81 81

Questions Notes References Appendix 3: Teaching materials A3.1 Critical incident: An American in Vietnam A3.2 Rationales for A2.1 (cross-cultural scenario) and sections A2.2 and A2.3 (cross-cultural interactions)

Part 2 The integration of local consumption in a global marketing environment
Introduction to Part 2


84 86 88 93 96 100 102 105 105 105 106 111 111 112 112 115 116

4 Cross-cultural consumer behaviour
4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 Culture and consumer behaviour The influence of culture on selected aspects of consumer behaviour Investigating the cross-cultural applicability of consumer behaviour concepts Ethnic consumption Marketing as an exchange of meanings Conclusion

Questions Notes References Appendix 4: Teaching materials A4.1 Exercise: ‘Ditcher’s consumption motives’ A4.2 Exercise: Investigating the cross-cultural applicability of a consumer complaint scale A4.3 Case: Mobile phones in the European Union A4.4 Exercise: Cross-cultural consumer behaviour and the standardization/ adaptation of service offers A4.5 Exercise: Multidomestic versus Global



5 Local consumers and the globalization of consumption
5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 Free trade doctrine and the denial of cultural variety in consumers’ tastes The global convergence of consumption patterns The emergence of a global consumer culture Local products and consumption experiences Local consumer cultures and resistance to change Emergent patterns of a mixed local/global consumer behaviour

118 119 121 123 126 131 135 138 139 140 145 145 150

Questions Notes References Appendix 5: Teaching materials A5.1 Case: Setting the stage – Disneyland Resort Paris A5.2 Case: Papa Ingvar’s worries

6 The convergence of marketing environments worldwide
6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 6.6 6.7 Local marketing environments Marketing: Borrowed concepts and practices Regional convergence A diverse marketing environment: The European Union A changing marketing environment: Eastern Europe A challenging marketing environment: East Asia Limitations to the worldwide convergence of marketing environments

155 155 159 162 163 168 171 173 174 174 174 177 177 179 181 182 185 189 192 194 198 202 203 203 205 209 209 209

Questions Note References Appendix 6: Teaching materials A6.1 Case: Muslim Cola: Cola wars or cola crusades? A6.2 Case: Odol

7 Cross-cultural market research
7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 7.6 7.7 Equivalence in cross-cultural research Translation equivalence Measure equivalence Comparability of samples Data-collection equivalence Researching internationally Conclusion

Questions Notes References Appendix 7: Teaching materials A7.1 Case: Mobile phones in the European Union A7.2 Exercise: Hair shampoo questionnaire



Part 3 Marketing decisions for the intercultural environment
Introduction to Part 3


216 218 218 225 227 231 236 236 236 241 241 245

8 Intercultural marketing strategy
8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 Cost arguments and global strategies The globalization of competition Globalization of international marketing strategies Market segments Conclusion

Questions References Appendix 8: Teaching materials A8.1 Case: Bollywood A8.2 Exercise: Dangerous Enchantment

9 Product policy 1: Physical, service and symbolic attributes
9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 Adaptation or standardization of product attributes Physical attributes Service attributes Symbolic attributes

248 249 250 255 261 266 266 268 272 272 277 285 286 288 294 304 305 307 312 312 312 314

Questions Notes References Appendix 9: Teaching materials A9.1 Case: Movies worldwide A9.2 Case: Fastfood: Halal or Haram?

10 Product policy 2: Managing meaning
10.1 10.2 10.3 National images diffused by the product’s origin and by its brand name Consumer product evaluation according to country of origin National, international and global brands

Questions Notes References Appendix 10: Teaching materials A10.1 Exercise: Interpreting symbolic attributes A10.2 Case: Soshi Sumsin Ltd A10.3 Case: Derivados de Leche SA



11 The critical role of price in relational exchange
11.1 11.2 11.3 11.4 11.5 11.6 Price as a signal conveying meaning Bargaining Price and consumer evaluations International price tactics Market situations, competition and price agreements Managing prices in highly regulated environments

316 316 317 319 324 330 332 334 335 337 337 338 340 340 341 341 348 350 353 356 360 361 364 364 365

Questions References Appendix 11: Teaching materials A11.1 Case: Saito Importing Company A11.2 Case: Riva International A11.3 Case: Taman SA A11.4 Case: AIDS – Global ethics and the pricing of AIDS drugs

12 International distribution and sales promotion
12.1 12.2 12.3 12.4 12.5 The cultural dimensions of distribution channels: The case of Japanese Keiretsus Criteria for choosing foreign distribution channels The role of distribution as a ‘cultural filter’ Direct marketing worldwide Sales promotion: Other customs, other manners

Questions References Appendix 12: Teaching materials A12.1 Case: ComputerLand in Japan A12.2 Case: The virtual beehive: The online marketing of US honey

Part 4 Intercultural marketing communications


Introduction to Part 4

372 374 375 380 383 388 392 395 396 398

13 Language, culture and communication
13.1 13.2 13.3 13.4 13.5 Verbal communication: The role of context Non-verbal communication Language shaping our world-views Ethnocentrism, stereotypes and misunderstandings in intercultural communication How to improve communication effectiveness in international business

Questions Notes References



Appendix 13: Teaching materials A13.1 Exercise: Multicultural class A13.2 Exercise: I ‘love’ cake A13.3 Case: Longcloud – Languages in cyberspace A13.4 Case: Supreme Canning A13.5 Critical incident: Scandinavian Tools Company

400 400 400 400 405 406 409 411 413 416 425 431 435 436 436 443 443 447 449 450 451

14 Intercultural marketing communications 1: Advertising
14.1 14.2 14.3 14.4 14.5 Influence of culture on attitudes towards advertising Culture and advertising strategy Culture and advertising execution Media worldwide: Technological advances and cultural convergence The globalization of advertising

Questions Notes References Appendix 14: Teaching materials A14.1 Case: BrandUSA – Selling Uncle Sam like Uncle Ben’s A14.2 Case: Excel and the Italian advertising campaign A14.3 Exercise: Borovets – a Bulgarian ski resort A14.4 Exercise: Slogans and colloquial speech A14.5 Case: AIDS (2) – Designing a communication campaign for Mexico

15 Intercultural marketing communications 2: Personal selling, networking and public relations
15.1 15.2 15.3 15.4 15.5 15.6 15.7 Intercultural commerce Networks in business markets Buyer–seller interactions Sales force management in a cross-cultural perspective Public relations across cultures Bribery: Facts Bribery: Ethical aspects

457 457 463 465 467 472 474 477 483 484 484 487 487 488 489 491

Questions Notes References Appendix 15: Teaching materials A15.1 Case: When international buyers and sellers disagree A15.2 Case: Setco of Spain A15.3 Case: Union Carbide at Bhopal A15.4 Case: The Brenzy nouveau has arrived!

16 Intercultural marketing negotiations 1: People, trust and tasks
16.1 16.2 16.3 The dynamics of trust in relational marketing The influence of culture on marketing negotiations Behavioural predispositions of the parties

494 495 498 500


504 510 513 517 522 522 523 527 527 528 532

16.4 16.5 16.6 16.7

Underlying concepts of negotiation and negotiation strategies Time-based misunderstandings in international marketing negotiations Cultural misunderstandings during the negotiation process Differences in outcome orientation: Oral versus written agreements as a basis for trust between the parties

Questions Notes References Appendix 16: Teaching materials A16.1 Case: McFarlane Instruments A16.2 Negotiation game: Kumbele Power Plant A16.3 Case: Doing business in China – A failure in getting paid

17 Intercultural marketing negotiations 2: Some elements of national styles of business negotiation
17.1 17.2 17.3 17.4 Orientals Western styles Negotiation styles in other areas of the world Some basic rules for international marketing negotiations

534 534 537 539 542 542 543 545 545 548 550 567

Questions References Appendix 17: Teaching materials A17.1 Case: Tremonti SpA

Postscript Author Index Subject Index

Supporting resources
Visit to find valuable online resources Companion Website for students n Links to relevant sites on the web n Additional case study materials For instructors Complete, downloadable Instructor’s Manual n PowerPoint slides that can be downloaded and used as OHTs

For more information please contact your local Pearson Education sales representative or visit

Introduction Marketing in the global villages
Classical consumer marketing textbooks generally emphasize world markets and are often cross-border extensions of American marketing thought, blatantly ignoring people, languages and cultures and implicitly arguing in favour of uniformity. Whereas large multinational companies, such as Mars, Pepsi-Cola, L’Oréal or Nestlé, in fact do not follow traditional textbook recipes: their practice is always much more adaptive to and respectful of local contexts. This text offers a different approach to global marketing, based on the recognition of diversity in world markets and on local consumer knowledge and marketing practices. We invite the reader to undertake an exercise in de-centring. We try to break out of our ‘Francocentric’ and ‘Aussie-centric’ boxes, in much the same way as Gorn (1997) invites us to break out of ‘North American boxes’. Understanding international diversity1 in consumer behaviour, advertising, sales and marketing management becomes the central teaching objective for an international marketing textbook. This text adopts a cultural approach to international marketing, which has two main dimensions: 1. A cross-cultural approach, which begins by comparing national marketing systems and local commercial customs in various countries. It aims to emphasize what is country specific and what is universal. Such an approach is essential for the preparation and implementation of marketing strategies in different national contexts. 2. An intercultural approach, which is centred on the study of interaction between business people, buyers and sellers (and their companies) who have different national/cultural backgrounds. This intercultural view also extends to the interaction between products (their physical and symbolic attributes, as well as the messages surrounding them) from a definite nation-culture and consumers from a different nation-culture. Thus, interaction is meant in a broad sense: not only between people, but also between people and messages, and people and products. In this book, commerce is emphasized as much as marketing. When the word commerce is used in this text, it refers to the complex dimensions of business relationships entwined with interpersonal relations. The basic assumption behind this book is that culture penetrates our inner being subconsciously and at a deep level. World cultures share many common features. Nevertheless, when common elements are combined they all display a unique style, vis-à-vis kinship patterns, education systems, valuation of the individual and the group, emphasis on economic activities, friendship patterns, time-related organization patterns, the criteria for aesthetic appreciation, and so on. The examples that are used in this book are by their very nature eclectic. We have chosen examples that seem to be the most striking and pertinent. This book does not try to describe cultures exhaustively, or from an insider’s point of view. What we have attempted to provide for the reader is a method for dealing with intercultural situations in international marketing. The underlying postulate of this book is that international marketing relationships have to be built on solid foundations. Transaction costs in international trade are high: only a stable and firmly established link between business people can enable them to overcome disagreements and conflicts of interest. In international marketing it is advisable to be very methodical and long-term oriented, to select a limited number of partners and opportunities, and to develop them to their fullest extent.


Introduction: Marketing in the global villages

Changes in the fourth edition
The book is now authored with a Euro-Australasian perspective that increases its global character and coverage. The fourth edition has been extensively rewritten in an effort to make the book as accessible as possible. We have also further taken into account the Internet revolution and its impact on international marketing, starting from an even broader perspective that takes into account people, local contexts and their idiosyncrasies as they can be observed from a large number of webpages. The book now comes with additional web references for each chapter and section of the book. References are made directly in the text to websites that allow in-depth and updated access to cultural and business information. Hundreds of additional web references are now accessible about each particular topic at: Marketing%20Across%20Cultures/Mkg_A_Cult_ index.htm. We invite instructors and students to visit this page, to use it jointly with the book, and to give us feedback, suggestions, and information which they think might be relevant for increasing the site’s relevance and exhaustiveness. New cases have been added with web-based references. Some of them are now included in the end-ofchapter teaching materials sections. Such new cases as Muslim Cola (Chapter 6), Bollywood (Chapter 8), Movies Worldwide (Chapter 9), The Virtual Beehive (Chapter 12), Longcloud: Languages in Cyberspace (Chapter 13), BrandUSA: Selling Uncle Sam like Uncle Ben’s? (Chapter 14), are all materials that tackle quite recent and sensitive issues in international marketing. Due to space constraints, some cases are only mentioned in the text with their assignment questions (such as ‘Global ethics and the pricing of AIDS drugs’ in Chapter 11). The text of these cases as well as many other cases can be found on the book website (with click-on references) at: teaching/International%20Marketing%20Cases/cases. htm.

opportunity, rather than a liability or a threat, and who find pleasure in discovering new ways of life and experiencing the challenge of cultural differences in world markets. Marketing Across Cultures is particularly useful and relevant in the case of multicultural, multilingual, and multinational classes, institutions and/or countries. This book is to be proposed as a primary textbook for those instructors who want to emphasize culture, sales, negotiations, and a crosscultural approach to consumer behaviour and market research, and as a secondary text for other IM instructors who want to follow a more traditional approach to international marketing. The fourth edition has been written for:




senior undergraduate students who already have studied a marketing management course; postgraduate students (MBA in particular) for a cross-cultural/international marketing elective course; research students who have a in-depth interest in cultural and comparative aspects of International Business and Global Marketing; and senior executives for developing culturally-sensitive approaches to global marketing strategy.

For instructors
All cases mentioned in the book are freely accessible in their electronic version to instructors using the book. For accessing other cases on the Marketing Across Culture’s Site, contact [emailprotected] (please sign your mail with your institutional signature, indicate the URL of your personal webpage on your institution’s site and attach your course outline). Additional references per chapter and large bibliographies on some particular issues (country-oforigin, cross-cultural advertising, international business negotiations, and so on) are available to instructors on: index.htm. An instructor’s manual with suggested answers for end-of-chapter questions, teaching notes for cases, slides, and additional learning resources is available at

Target audience
This book is designed for instructors and students who consider global diversity as an asset and an

Introduction: Marketing in the global villages


Part 1, comprising the first three chapters, is devoted to the cultural variable. These chapters try to define it, to delineate the components of culture, and finally to emphasize its dynamic nature. Part 2 deals with the globalization of markets, which is the central issue in international marketing; Chapters 4 and 5 examine consumer behaviour, taking both a local and a global perspective, while Chapter 6 deals with local and regional marketing environments and Chapter 7 with cross-cultural market research. Part 3 presents the general impact of globalization on international marketing strategies (Chapter 8), with special emphasis on a key issue for product policy, namely, the dilemma between adaptation and standardization (Chapter 9). Chapter 10 deals with the complex management of meanings related to brand names for international markets and to country of origin images. In Chapters 11 and 12, which concern price policies and the choice of distribution channels, emphasis has been deliberately placed on the culture-

based approaches to such decisions. That is why, for instance, we accentuate bargaining (with its cultural variations) in Chapter 11, and the Japanese keiretsu distribution system, in Chapter 12. Part 4 presents marketing communications in an intercultural environment. It starts with a general overview (Chapter 13) of language, culture and communication issues, which are applied in the next two chapters to advertising issues, personal selling, public relations and bribery and ethical issues in international marketing. Chapters 16 and 17 are devoted to international marketing negotiations. Table I.1 presents a summary of the basic contents of Chapters 4 to 17, linking culture to marketing issues. This book is written from both a European and an Australasian viewpoint with many examples relating to these two areas of the world. As with all international marketing texts, this one is not universal. It may be percieved as being less pragmatically written and less issue-oriented than most. Statements may sometimes be classed as value judgements, since they are not always supported by empirical evidence, as is

Table I.1 The impact of cultural differences on selected aspects of marketing
Area of marketing Consumer behaviour Local marketing environments Market research Overall marketing strategy Targeting market segments Product policy Brand image Price policy Distribution channels Communication Advertising Personal selling Marketing negotiations National style of marketing negotiation: Cultural differences influence . . . Cross-cultural consumer attitudes and decision making Local consumers and global consumption Local infrastructures and marketing knowledge Equivalence and methods in cross-national market surveys Global versus locally customized marketing strategies Cross-border vs. country clustering Adaptation or standardization of product attributes Brand and country-of-origin evaluations by consumers Bargaining rituals/Price-quality evaluations/Price strategies towards consumers, competitors and suppliers Channel style and service, producer–distributor relationships World-views (through language) and communication styles Tailoring messages to local audiences’ cultural traits Selling styles, sales force management, networking and public relations, bribery and ethical issues in an international context Negotiation strategies, processes and outcomes Attitude, organization, scheduling, role of emotions and friendship, communication and interaction style Chapter 4 5 6 7 8 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17


Introduction: Marketing in the global villages

the case in American textbooks. Therefore this book may sometimes seem unusual to native Englishspeaking readers. We regard this approach as part of the message of the book: it is a more contextual, and therefore less explicit. Each chapter concludes with questions and is followed by an appendix comprising some or all of the following: cases, exercises and critical incidents. In addition, many interesting links, cases and exercises have been included on the book’s website ( and in the instructor’s manual. Since different national versions of this book have been published (Dutch, English, French and German), it may be used in cross-cultural training settings.

book, as well as Saskia Faulk for her great contribution in writing new cases. We accept responsibility for any errors and shortcomings.

1. Here, diversity is not meant in its American sense with a strong anti-discrimination stance (reported for instance by Litvin, 1997), but rather in its simplest meaning of ‘state or quality of being different or varied’, with no value judgement about whether ‘diversity’ is good or bad. In fact it is neither good nor bad, as shown by Lian and Oneal (1997) through a cross-national study linking cultural diversity to economic development for 98 countries over the 1960– 1985 period.

We wish to acknowledge the help of the academic institutions that have provided us with the opportunity to teach and research international marketing over the last ten years. We are also indebted to many colleagues for their ideas and assistance and for encouraging us to put more and more emphasis on the cultural dimension of international marketing. We would also like to thank senior editor Thomas Sigel for his support and Peter Hooper, Aylene Rogers and Colin Reed at Pearson Education who have been instrumental in the production of this

Gorn, Gerald J. (1997), ‘Breaking out of the North American box’, in Merrie Brucks and Debbie McInnis (eds), Advances in Consumer Research, vol. 24, Association for Consumer Research: Provo, UT, pp. 6–7. Lian, Brad and John R. Oneal (1997), ‘Cultural diversity and economic development: a cross-national study of 98 countries, 1960–1985’, Economic Development and Cultural Change, vol. 46, no. 1, pp. 61–77. Litvin, Deborah R. (1997), ‘The discourse of diversity: from biology to management’, Organization, vol. 4, no. 2, pp. 187–209.


We are grateful to the following for permission to reproduce copyright material: University of North Carolina Press for extracts from A Scientific Theory of Culture and Other Essays by Bronislaw Malinowski © University of North Carolina Press 1944, renewed 1972; Charles E. Tuttle Co., Inc. of Boston, Massachusetts and Tokyo, Japan for an extract from Read Japanese Today by Leonard Walsh; Pearson Education Inc. for extracts from Marketing in the International Environment by Edward W. Cundiff & Marye Tharp © 1988 and Cultural Dimension of International Business by Gary P. Ferraro © 1998; Editions Economica for an extract from ‘Gestation culturelle du temps: Le cas Bantu’ by Usunier and Napoléon-Biguma published in Management Interculturel: Modes et Modèles by Gauthey & Xardel; HarperCollins Publishers and Victor Gollancz, a division of The Orion Publishing Group, for extracts from Male and Female: A Study of the Sexes in a Changing World by Margaret Mead © Margaret Mead 1949; Association Française du Marketing for extracts from the articles ‘Une conception du comportement du consommateur chinois’ by C-F. Yang published in Recherche et Applications en Marketing 1989 and ‘Quelques facteurs de success pour la politique de produits de l’enterprise exportatrice’ by O. Deher published in Recherche et Applications en Marketing 1986; IUMI for extracts from cases by Saskia Faulk and JeanClaude Usunier; Thomson Learning for extracts from International Marketing by M.R. Czinkota and I.A. Ronkainen; Donald S. Tull for an extract from Research for Marketing Decisions by Green, Tull and Albaum; Advertising Age International for an extract from the article ‘Marketing Director provides Smithkline reasons to smile’ by Dagmar Mussey published in Advertising Age International © Crain Communications Inc. 1997; Harlequin Enterprises II BV for an extract from Dangerous Enchantment by Anne Mather © Anne Mather 1996; Raphael

Sagalyn Inc. for extracts from Going International by L. Copeland and L. Griggs; The Economist Newspaper Limited for an extract from the article ‘Leaders: Regulating the Internet’ published in The Economist 10th June 2000 © The Economist Newspaper Limited, London 2000; AZCA Inc. for an extract from an article written by John T. Sakai; Harvard Business School Publishing for extracts from the article ‘The silent language in overseas business’ by Edward T. Hall published in Harvard Business Review May–June 1960; Emerald Group Publishing Limited for an extract from the article ‘Advertising in Saudi Arabia regulation’ by M. Luqmani, U. Yavas and Z. Quraeshi published in International Marketing Review Vol. 6 No. 1 1988; and The McGraw-Hill Companies for extracts from International Marketing by Philip R. Cateora 1983. Page 1 © Getty Images/Photodisc; page 83 © 2002, Courtney Kealy, Getty Images; page 215 © 2003 Claro Cortes IV, Reuters/Corbis; page 371 © 2003 PersAnders Pettersson, Getty Images. Table 1 reprinted with permission from Innovation (Summer 2002), the Quarterly of the Industrial Designers Society of America; pp: 703, 707, 6000; f: 703, 787, 8501; e: [emailprotected]; w:; Table 2 from TNS Global E-Commerce Report, 2001, Author – Arno Hummerston; Table 3.1 reprinted from Organizational Dynamics, Vol. 9, no. 1. Hofstede, Geert, ‘Motivation, Leadership and Organization: Do American theories apply abroad?’ pp. 42–63, Copyright 1980b, with permission from Elsevier; Table 3.2 Derr, C. Brooklyn & André Laurent, ‘The internal and external career: A theoretical and cross-cultural perspective’, in Michael B. Arthur, Douglas T. Hall, Barbara S. Lawrence, Handbook of Career Theory, 1989, with permission from Cambridge University Press; Table 3.3 reprinted with permission from Hofstede, Geert, Culture’s Consequences, 2nd Edition, 2001. © Geert Hofstede; Table A4.1 Solomon, Michael. R.,



Consumer Behaviour: Buying, Having And Being, 4th Edition, © 1999. Reprinted by permission of Pearson Education, Inc., Upper Saddle River. NJ; Table 7.1 Consumer Behaviour, 4th edn., Craig C. Samuel and Susan P. Douglas, 2001, © John Wiley & Sons Limited. Reprinted with permission; Table 7.3 © March 1978 by ESOMAR ® – The World Association of Research Professionals. This article first appeared in European Research, published by ESOMAR; Table 9.3 Lange, André and NewmanBaudais, Susan (2003), ‘World Film Market Trends’, Focus 2003, Marché du Film, European Audiovisual Observatory, May 2003, (;

Table A12.2 © National Honey Board,; Table 13.2 from Nielsen.NetRatings, 2003, published by Nielsen/NetRatings Oxford, reproduced with permission; Table 14.1 from Branding new and improved wars in FAIR, Norman Solomon, October, 2002. Reprinted with permission; from ‘The art of naming operations’, in Parameters, pp. 81–98. Seiminski, Gregory C. (1995). Reprinted with permission. In some instances we have been unable to trace the owners of copyright material and we would appreciate any information that would enable us to do so.

Part 1 The cultural variable in international marketing

© Getty Images/Photodisc

Introduction to Part 1

In an increasingly interdependent world where barriers to trade and to international exchanges constantly diminish, cultural differences remain the single most enduring feature that has to be taken into account for localizing marketing strategies. Part 1 of this book introduces key concepts in cultural studies that have great influence on the understanding of local markets and the design of international marketing strategies. Chapter 1 starts by presenting the basic elements of culture and international marketing, providing both general definitions of culture and its main components such as language and social institutions. For the sake of simplicity, cultural boundaries are often equated with nationality: the limitations of such an assumption are presented. Finally, the chapter reviews how culture affects the development of skills and how certain forms of social representation tend to emerge as a result of meaning being shared in the cultural community. The objective of Chapter 1 is to enable readers to depart from their own cultural conditioning; the end-of-chapter teaching materials are designed for this. Chapter 2 is an introduction to cultural dynamics, that is, how basic cultural assumptions influence behaviour, and it gives special emphasis to two key dimensions, time and space. These cultural assumptions have an impact on marketingrelated issues such as material culture, sense of ownership, preference for durability, and so on. The chapter starts by presenting a model of action based on our cultural assumptions, which sees the final action as a complex outcome of individual decision

making framed by deep-seated assumptions about a number of fundamental issues such as how humans relate to nature. It proceeds to examine cross-cultural variability in the way time is conceived and experienced as well as how people in different cultures manage their relationship to space. Since a great deal of contact and exchange between cultures has taken place over the centuries, the process by which foreign items and customs are borrowed and reinserted in the local scene by various societies is examined. Another important aspect of the intercultural encounter is hostility towards unknown people; the last section of this chapter discusses how and why cultural hostility develops in the form of prejudices and negative stereotypes. Chapter 3 complements the preceding chapter and continues to explain how basic cultural assumptions influence human behaviour and interactions. It examines, first, how people in a particular culture build their concepts of who they are and who others are; a basic input to the interaction models found in any culture. A number of fundamental issues are then examined, such as: what kinds of attitudes towards action are developed? How do people relate thinking to action? How do people deal with desires and feelings? What is the range of cultural variation for coping with rules? This chapter ends with an examination of how cultural assumptions shape actual behaviour. It shows that the influence of culture on behaviour is most often indirect, profound, and moderated by a number of other influences.

The cultural process

International marketing automatically allocates a prominent place to the cultural variable, but not everything is culture based. It would be dangerous to equate the behaviour of individuals entirely with that of the cultural grouping to which they belong. Furthermore, the perception we have of other cultures often tends to be rather shallow or stereotyped, giving us only an imperfect picture of the operation of a cultural group. At this level, our interpretation can be defensive and our analysis overly simplistic. In fact, the cultural variable is difficult to isolate and operationalize. One of the principal aims in international marketing is to identify, categorize, evaluate and finally select market segments. Country or nationstates are often a primary segmentation basis, due to the ease of implementation. While nation-states are an enduring reality, not all national territories hold homogeneous ethnic, linguistic and religious groups. The cultural variable is more complex, and the way in which it influences behaviour is difficult to analyze. The objective of this chapter is to lay the foundation for arguments that will be developed later in the book. This involves the definition of culture and its major elements, and an examination of its relationship with nationality (i.e. national character) and individual psychology (i.e. personality/individual character). It is important to understand these concepts, in order to assess the impact of our own culture on our actions. Subconsciously, we use culture as a guide for communication and interaction with others in our own community. Perhaps more consciously, it is also used for interaction with people belonging to other cultural communities. Throughout this chapter we have borrowed from the fields of anthropology (particularly

cultural anthropology), sociology, social psychology and cross-cultural psychology. We strongly urge interested readers to use the notes and bibliographical references at the end of this and the following two chapters, and to refer to the original sources wherever possible. In addition, we use the notation WS# to refer to additional resources available on this book’s website at at the specific location


Defining culture
In French the word culture was defined by Emile Littré in his nineteenth-century dictionary, as ‘cultivation, farming activity’. The abstract sense of the word probably originated in Germany where the word Kultur was used as early as the eighteenth century to refer to civilization. In the Anglo-Saxon world the abstract notion of culture came into widespread use at the beginning of the twentieth century. Many definitions have been formulated for culture and because it is a vague, abstract notion, there are many candidates for the ultimate definition. Kroeber and Kluckhohn (1952) even devoted an article to a review of no fewer than 164 definitions of culture. This did not prevent them from adding their own. Most of these definitions are the work of anthropologists, who studied ‘primitive’ societies (American Indians, Pacific Islanders, African natives, and so on). Despite this, their definitions also take into account our ‘civilized’ societies and ‘modern’ cultures. Below,

1.1 Defining culture


we cite several definitions, each one adding to the cultural jigsaw puzzle, to determine the main aspects of this abstract and elusive concept. Further definitions are available at WS1.1.

individuality which survives in every one of us after society and culture have done their utmost. As a simple unit in the social organism, the individual perpetuates the status quo. As an individual he helps to change the status quo when the need arises.

Particular solutions to universal problems
Kluckhohn and Strodtbeck (1961, p. 10) emphasize the following basic points: 1. ‘. . . there is a limited number of common human problems for which all peoples at all times must find some solution.’ 2. ‘While there is a variability in solutions of all the problems, it is neither limitless nor random but is definitely variable within a range of possible solutions.’ 3. ‘. . . all alternatives of all solutions are present in all societies at all times, but are differentially preferred. Every society has, in addition to its dominant profile of value orientations, numerous variant or substitute profiles.’

What use is culture to the individual?
According to Goodenough (1971), culture is a set of beliefs or standards, shared by a group of people, which help the individual decide what is, what can be, how to feel, what to do and how to go about doing it. On the basis of this definition there is no reason for culture to be equated with the whole of one particular society. It is, however, related to activities that are shared by a particular group of people. Thus individuals may share different cultures with several different groups and in a particular cultural situation they can ‘switch into’ the culture that is operational. The term ‘operational’ describes a culture that is shared by those who must cooperate on a task. Goodenough’s concept of ‘operational culture’ assumes that the individual can choose the culture in which to interact at any given moment or in any given situation. This is of course subject to the overriding condition that the culture has been correctly internalized from past experiences. Although the concept of operational culture is somewhat debatable, it does have the advantage of highlighting the multicultural nature of many individuals in today’s societies, such as bi-nationals, multilinguals, and even people who have a particular national identity and an international professional or corporate culture. It also draws our attention to the important issue of the sources of an individual’s acculturation.

How does culture link the individual to society?
Ralph Linton (1945, p. 21) emphasizes the link between culture and the individual with the following definition: ‘A culture is the configuration of learned behaviour and results of behaviour whose component elements are shared and transmitted by the members of a particular society.’ Linton also emphasizes the limits of cultural programming that society can impose on an individual (1945, pp. 14–15, emphasis added):
No matter how carefully the individual has been trained or how successful his conditioning has been, he remains a distinct organism with his own needs and with capacities for independent thought, feeling and action. Moreover he retains a considerable degree of individuality. . . . Actually, the role of the individual with respect to society is a double one. Under ordinary circumstances, the more perfect his conditioning and consequent integration into the social structure, the more effective his contribution to the smooth functioning of the whole and the surer his rewards. However, societies have to exist and function in an ever-changing world. The unparalleled ability of our species to adjust to changing conditions and to develop ever more effective responses to familiar ones rests upon the residue of

How to define the ‘borders’ of a culture?
As Child and Kieser emphasize (1977, p. 2):
Cultures may be defined as patterns of thought and manners which are widely shared. The boundaries of the social collectivity within which this sharing takes place are problematic, so that it may make as much sense to refer to a class or regional culture as to a national culture.

In colloquial language, when we say ‘Parisians’, or ‘Aussies’, or ‘Texans’, or ‘docs’, or ‘showbiz’ we are referring to cultures as well as to the groups of people


Chapter 1 The cultural process

who share them. To determine their culture we must ask: to what extent do the characteristics of these groups, in terms of their patterns of thought, belief or behaviour, really differentiate them from other cultural groups?

Malinowski (1944, pp. 86–7) also evokes the cultural relativity of sexual behaviour:
The specific form in which the sexual impulse is allowed to occur is deeply modified by anatomical inroads (circumcision, infibulation, clitoridectomy, breast, foot and face lacerations); the attractiveness of a sex object is affected by economic status and rank; and the integration of the sex impulse involves the personal desirability of a mate as an individual and as a member of the group. It would be equally easy to show that fatigue, somnolence, thirst and restlessness are determined by such cultural factors as a call to duty, the urgency of a task, the established rhythm of activities.


Elements of culture
Culture is much more a process than a distinctive whole, entirely identifiable by the sum of its elements. Its elements are organically interrelated and work as a coherent set. Thus, it is not only a ‘toolbox’ but also provides people with some ‘directions for use’ in their daily life in the community. Tylor (1913) describes culture as a complex and interrelated set of elements, comprising knowledge, beliefs and values, arts, law, manners and morals and all other kinds of skills and habits acquired by a human being as a member of a particular society. These elements are acquired and also reinforced by our biological foundations, languages, social institutions and material and symbolic productions, as described in the next sections.

The four essential elements of culture
The major significant elements of culture are:
n n n n

Language Institutions Material productions Symbolic productions

The biological foundations of culture
The anthropologist Bronislaw Malinowski (see WS1.2 for information on his life and works) offers evidence for the relationship between the purely biological needs of people and the way in which people are organized and regulated within the framework of the cultural community. As Malinowski (1944, p. 75) states: ‘We have to base our theory of culture on the fact that all human beings belong to an animal species. . . . No culture can continue if the group is not replenished continually and normally.’ He develops the example of eating habits, which must be regarded as both biological and cultural:
Cultural determination is a familiar fact as regards hunger or appetite, in short the readiness to eat. Limitations of what is regarded as palatable, admissible, ethical; the magical religious, hygienic and social taboos on quality, raw materials, and preparation of food; the habitual routine establishing the time and the type of appetite – all these could be exemplified from our civilization, from the rules and principles of Judaism, or Islam, Brahmanism or Shintoism, as well as from every primitive culture.

While each of these is discussed below, it is worth noting that there is nothing to prevent a particular cultural item from belonging to all four elements of culture simultaneously, which then appear as different layers. For instance, music is at once a language, an institution, an artistic production and also a symbolic element.
Language as an element of culture

Language has a prominent role as an element of culture. Linguist and anthropologist Benjamin Lee Whorf (Carroll, 1956, p. 65), a chemical engineer working for a fire insurance company, spent his spare time tracing the origins and grammar of American Indian languages. He is the author of a seminal, and quite controversial, hypothesis, often referred to as the Whorfian hypothesis or Whorf–Sapir hypothesis. Aspects of this theory have been incorporated, either explicitly or implicitly, at many points in this book, particularly those chapters in which language and linguistic issues figure strongly, including market research (Chapter 7), brands (Chapter 10), marketing communication – advertising (Chapters 14 and 15) and negotiation (Chapters 16 and 17). Whorf defines his basic tenet as follows:
The ethnologist engaged in studying a living primitive culture must often have wondered: ‘What do these people think?

1.2 Elements of culture


How do they think? Are their intellectual and rational processes akin to ours or radically different?’ But thereupon he has probably dismissed the idea as a psychological enigma and has sharply turned his attention back to more readily observable matters. And yet the problem of thought and thinking in the native community is not purely and simply a psychological problem. It is quite largely cultural. It is moreover largely a matter of one especially cohesive aggregate of cultural phenomena that we call a language.


In short, Whorf defends the idea that the language we learn in the community where we are born and raised shapes and structures our world-view and our social behaviour. It influences the way in which we select issues, solve problems and finally, act. Although the Whorfian hypothesis has been harshly criticized by many linguists, it remains a fundamental metaphor, though not a fully validated scientific theory. We refer to it as a key issue when describing the pitfalls of intercultural communication (in Chapter 13). Language, especially through tenses and words, shapes time-related behaviour, which in turn has an influence on business attitudes (when negotiating or dealing with delivery times or appointments). For instance, the African Bantu people, unlike most Western cultures, do not have a specific word that clearly differentiates the ‘here’ and the ‘now’. They have a common time–space localizer (see Appendix A2.4 ‘Reading’). (For further information on language and beliefs see WS1.2 and Chapter 13.)
Institutions as an element of culture



Institutional elements are the ‘spine’ of the cultural process. They link the individual to the group. Institutions may include family as well as political institutions, or any kind of social organization within which the individual has to comply with rules in exchange for various rewards (e.g. being fed, loved, paid, and so on). These rules are not static and an individual may also sometimes act as a proactive agent of change. Malinowski (1944) compiled a list of seven universal principles around which institutions are formed across cultures. 1. The principle of reproduction integrates people around blood relationships and marriage as an established contractual framework. It covers all kinds of kinship patterns where the family is the basic institution formed by parents and their children, as well as the extended family, including the




clan organization and its nature (e.g. matrilineal, patrilineal), the regulation of interclan relationships, etc. The reproduction principle also incorporates the ways courtship and marriages are legally organized. The principle of territoriality integrates people around common interests dictated by neighbourhood and vicinity. This type of institution may range from a horde of nomads to a village, a small town community, a region, a province or, at the largest level, the ‘mega-tribe’ composed of all the people sharing the same nationality. Cooperation may be enhanced by a commonly perceived threat of potential foes located outside the common territory. Initially territoriality is concrete, based on physical space and some kind of fencing or borders. In the modern world, it may be extended to abstract territories (associations, alumni and so on). The principle of physiology integrates people around their sex, age, and physical traits or defects. This includes institutions such as the sexual division of labour, sex roles, the relationship patterns between age groups, and the way minority members of the community are treated (e.g. asylums for the mentally ill, or special homes for the disabled). The principle of spontaneous tendency to join together integrates people around common goals. This includes various kinds of associations, such as primitive secret societies, clubs, artistic societies, etc. The principle of occupational and professional activities integrates people around labour divisions and the kinds of expertise that have been developed. In modern societies, this includes industry organizations, trade unions, courts, the police, the army, educational institutions and religious bodies. In fact, it includes all those institutions that maintain the fabric of a society. The principle of hierarchy integrates people around rank and status, including the nobility, the middle class and slaves, or more generally any kind of social class system or caste system. The social hierarchy may follow a variety of criteria, including ethnicity, education, wealth, etc. The principle of totality integrates diverse elements into a reasonably coherent whole. The political process, whatever it may be (feudal, democratic, theocratic, dictatorial, etc.), expresses the need for totality. It deals with the collective decision process


Chapter 1 The cultural process

at the highest level. The various strata of totality, such as the individual striving for identity and the community striving for coherence, may compete with each other. For example, a minority, willing to practise its religion and mores (e.g. polygamy), may be opposed to the state which tries to maintain the global coherence by limiting social customs to the dominant solution (e.g. monogamy). More generally, any sub-group of the ‘mega-tribe’, composed of all the nationals of a particular state, may feel that their particular interests are conflicting with those of the community as a whole. These conflicts will be stronger in nation-states where the nationals are less homogeneous from a cultural point of view, than when they share a common linguistic and cultural background. Obviously, examining any one level of institution in isolation provides only a limited picture of how a culture operates. To gain a more complex picture, some researchers have begun to examine multilevel relationships between institutions and values at the individual level. One such database is the World Values Survey, which tracks the basic values and beliefs of various publics within and across countries (see WS1.0).
Material productions as an element of culture

over achievement and does not place a high value on wealth, acquisition or production. Conversely, the Chinese world-view is based on Confucian Pragmatism with the goal being harmonious social order. It emphasizes meritocracy and hard work, focusing on action in the material, rather than the spiritual world.
Symbolic productions as an element of culture

Productions transmit, reproduce, update and continuously attempt to improve the knowledge and skills in the community.1 These range from physical productions, as well as productions of intellect, artistry and service. Productions are diverse. They include tools, machines, factories, paper, books, instruments and media of communication, food, clothing, ornaments, etc. As a result, we often confuse an influential civilization (which corresponds to the German word Kultur) with a cultural community that successfully produces many goods and services. But material consumption or wealth orientation is not definitive proof of cultural sophistication. There is no hierarchy, apart from the purely subjective, between world cultures. As such, there are many different cultural attitudes to the material world, which, in community resource allocation, includes the priority given to productions and material achievements. For example, Kumar (2000) discusses the differing world-views in India and China. The Indian world-view based on Brahmanism has the goal of inner spirituality. It emphasizes ascription

Symbolic and sacred elements are the basis for the description (and therefore management) of the relations between the physical and the metaphysical world. Cultures range from those where the existence of any kind of metaphysical world is completely denied, to those where symbolic representations of the metaphysical world are present in everyday life. A central preoccupation of cultural communities is to define, through religious and moral beliefs, whether there is life after death, and if so of what kind. The scientific movement, especially at the end of the nineteenth century, seemed close to eliminating these questions by pushing back the boundaries of the metaphysical world. Nowadays, most scientists recognize that the metaphysical question will never be resolved fully by scientific knowledge. What is in fact of interest to us is not the answers to these questions, but rather the consequences of moral and religious assumptions on individual and collective behaviours, which differ widely across cultures. Productions of culture cannot be described only by their physical attributes, as they always contain a symbolic or sacred dimension. Mircea Eliade (1956, p. 79) describes how the arts of the blacksmith and the alchemist, the forerunners of modern metallurgy and chemistry, hold a powerful symbolic dimension:
The alchemist, like the smith, and like the potter before him, is a ‘master of fire’. It is with fire that he controls the passage of matter from one state to another. The first potter who, with the aid of live embers, was successful in hardening those shapes which he had given to his clay, must have felt the intoxication of the demiurge: he had discovered a transmuting agent. That which natural heat – from the sun or the bowels of the earth – took so long to ripen, was transformed by fire at a speed hitherto undreamed of. This demiurgic enthusiasm springs from that obscure presentiment that the great secret lay in discovering how to ‘perform’ faster than Nature, in other words (since it is always necessary to talk in terms of the spiritual experience of the primitive man) how, without peril, to interfere in the processes of the cosmic forces. Fire turned out to be the means by which man could ‘execute’

1.3 Culture and nationality


faster, but it could also do something other than what already existed in Nature. It was therefore the manifestation of a magico-religious power which could modify the world and which, consequently, did not belong to this world. This is why the most primitive cultures look upon the specialist in the sacred – the shaman, the medicineman, the magician – as a ‘master of fire’.

ever since the dawn of civilization, people have not been content to see events as unconnected and inexplicable. They have craved an understanding of the underlying order in the world. Today we still yearn to know why we are here and where we came from.

Numerous illustrations of the strength of the symbolic dimension are given throughout the book. In the area of marketing communication, symbolic dimension is of the utmost importance. That is, products and their advertising communicate through the symbolism of colour, shape, label, brand name, and so on, but the interpretation of symbols is strongly culture bound. Traditional societies have always been more consciously involved in symbolic thought and behaviour than modern societies. Since less is explained, more must be related. For example: Why does the sun shine every day? Should its disappearance be considered ominous? What should be done to satisfy it so that it goes on spreading its generous rays on the fields and rivers? The bloody ritual sacrifices in the preColumbian civilizations were heavily charged with symbolic content.2 Human sacrifices were dedicated to the sun, as were the blood and the living heart, which was pulled out of the bodies of living people. The Spanish conquerors were utterly horrified by these sacrifices because they did not understand their meaning. The Spaniards were helped in their conquest by a myth. The Mayas and Aztecs were waiting for the return of Quetzalcoatl, a sort of man-god, who had been a benevolent ruler over his people and whose return was to herald a golden age. When the bearded Hernando Cortès landed in Mexico, accompanied by strange creatures (the Indians believed that horses and their riders were a single body), they saw him as Quetzalcoatl. Of course, symbols are not only related to religious and metaphysical matters; they also extend into everyday life. It is a common mistake to believe that the symbolic dimension has largely disappeared in modern life. That it has been forgotten by modern people who have progressed along the road towards science and knowledge and pushed back the boundaries of the metaphysical world. The illusion of the pre-eminence of science, generated by technological breakthroughs in the nineteenth century, is now largely abandoned by today’s top scientists. As Stephen Hawking points out (1988, p. 13):

Culture as a collective fingerprint: are some cultures superior?
Culture is identity: a sort of collective fingerprint. There are no ‘good’ or ‘bad’ elements of a particular cultural group. Cultural differences exist, but this is no reason for judging a particular culture as globally superior or inferior to others. Cultures may be evaluated and indeed ranked, but only on the basis of facts and evidence according to precise criteria and for very specific segments of culture-related activities. Some people may be said to make better warriors, others to hold finer aesthetic judgement, or to be more gifted in the composition of music and so on. But culture is a set of coherent elements. Straightforward comparison might allow us to indulge in the rather dangerous illusion that it is possible to select the best from each culture and make an ‘ideal’ combination. However, as we will see later on, it is not quite as easy as that. A joke about Europeans illustrates this. It goes: ‘Heaven is where the cooks are French, the mechanics are German, the policemen are English, the lovers are Italian and it is all organized by the Swiss. Hell is where the policemen are German, the mechanics are French, the cooks are British, the lovers are Swiss and it is all organized by the Italians.’ Not only would it be difficult to take the best traits from a culture, while rejecting the worst, but also any attempt to combine the best of several cultures could eventually turn out to be a disaster. This is because coherence is needed at the highest level (corresponding to identity at the individual level).


Culture and nationality
Nationality is one way to divide individuals into larger groups – it is operational and obviously convenient. However, the direction of causality between the concepts of nationality and culture is not clear. It


Chapter 1 The cultural process

is likely that, historically, shared culture has been a fundamental building-block in the progressive construction of modern nation-states. But as soon as these states began to emerge, they struggled against local particularisms, patois and customs, and tried to homogenize institutions. Conflicts in large countries have often had a strong cultural base, including the War of Secession in the United States, the rivalry between the English and the Scots in the United Kingdom, and the progressive elimination of local powers in the highly centralized French state. They all have distinctive cultural elements at stake, including language, values, religion, concepts of freedom, etc. Nevertheless, an attempt to equate culture directly with the nation-state, or country, would be misguided for a number of convergent reasons: 1. A country’s culture can only be defined by reference to other countries’ cultures. India is a country culture in comparison with Italy or Germany, but the Indian subcontinent is made up of highly diversified ethnic and religious groups including Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, etc., and, with over 20 principal languages, is deeply multicultural. 2. Some nation-states are explicitly multicultural – Switzerland, for instance. One of the basic levels of organization is the canton (Gau in German), which defends local particularisms. Precise staffing levels have been established in public bodies, companies and banks, which prevent discrimination between linguistic communities whose numbers are unequal: the German-speaking Swiss make up almost three-quarters of the total population, the French-speakers a little more than 20 per cent, Italian-speakers 3 – 4 per cent and Romanschspeakers about 1 per cent. However, there is a common misconception that Switzerland administers its multiculturalism without encountering any difficulties.3 The Swiss political system, which was established more than seven centuries ago, enables the people to manage successfully the complex trade-off between an exacerbated compliance with local peculiarities and a common attitude towards anything that is not Swiss. 3. Political decisions, especially during the last century, have imposed the formation of new states, particularly through the processes of colonization and decolonization. The borders of these new states, sometimes straight lines on a map, were

often fixed with little respect for cultural realities, and international negotiators obviously had very little in common with the people for whom they were making decisions. Many significant national cultures, such as that of the Kurds (split between the Iraqis, the Syrians, the Turks and the Iranians) have never been accorded the right to a territory or a state. Eritrea, in East Africa, became an independent country in 1993 after a 30-year struggle that culminated in a referendum vote for independence.

Sources of culture
The national element is not always the main source of culture when regarded from an ‘operational culture’ perspective (Goodenough, 1971). Figure 1.1 shows the basic sources of cultural background at the level of the individual. For instance, medical researchers or computer hardware specialists, whatever their nationality, share a common specialized education, common interests, and largely the same professional culture. This is developed through common training, working for the same companies, reading the same publications worldwide and contributing to research where international cross-cultural comparability of purely scientific methods and results is fundamental. Likewise, the sense of belonging to an important ethnic group may override, and even nullify, the feeling of belonging to a particular nation-state. The Tamil population in Sri Lanka, which makes up about 20 per cent of the total Sri Lankan population and is mostly centred around Jaffna in the north of the island, is strongly linked with the large Tamil community in southern India (numbering 55 million), which supports them in their claim for autonomy. The Tamils are involved in a brutal struggle with the Singhalese community, which comprises the largest part of the population. The sense of belonging to a large ethnic group is, in this case, much stronger than the feeling of belonging to a national group. National/cultural territories with specific, recognized borders are rarely fully homogeneous. The transition from one to another is often facilitated by ‘cross-border’ cultures. Examples of this are numerous. In the area around the border between France and Spain, for instance, two cultures, which are almost national cultures, exist side by side and offer continuity between the two countries: the Basque country to

1.3 Culture and nationality


Figure 1.1 Sources of culture


In 1948 the anthropologist Margaret Mead published Male and Female, which draws on her in-depth knowledge of several South Pacific and Balinese cultures. It not only depicts their organization of relationships between men and women, the division of labour and roles in the community, but also explains how these patterns may be compared to those of contemporary American society. Male and Female, which has continued to be a best-seller, is an excellent and detailed introduction to sex cultures. Although rarely mentioned in this book, which is principally concerned with territory and national culture, the difference between masculine and feminine culture is in fact the most basic cultural distinction. b Social class may be a distinctive source of culture, to a greater or lesser degree, depending on the country. For instance in France and England, where there are traditions of accepted birth inequalities and a strong historical orientation, social class is a very distinctive source of culture; the way one speaks immediately reveals one’s social class. However, in the United States, Australia, Japan or the Scandinavian countries, this is not so marked. Social class like sex, but unlike most other sources, is not a territory-based source of culture.

the west and Catalonia to the east. The painter Salvador Dali, a Catalan born in Figueras, Spain, which is 20 km from the French border, was fascinated by the train station at Perpignan in France – the French part of Catalonia. In reality these two places, on either side of the border, belong to the same Catalan culture, which is sustained by the use of the Catalan language. Other examples show that some people have been able to reach a compromise: the Swedishspeaking minority on the west coast of Finland, for instance, or the Alsatians in France. Alsatians speak a mostly German-based patois, behave in the workplace like Germans and traditionally lean towards a sense of French nationality and the adoption of the French lifestyle outside the workplace. People who

belong to these ‘cross-border’ cultures generally have a privileged position as ‘exporters’ from one country to another. Physical and climatic conditions are also a fairly systematic source of differentiation, although subtle rather than fundamental. Almost every apparently unified country is made up of a ‘North’ and a ‘South’. Even in a country that is homogeneous from a linguistic, ethnic, religious and institutional point of view, such as Sweden, has a fairly marked difference, at least for the Swedes, between the culture and lifestyle of a southern city and a northern town. This difference may not be as strongly perceived by foreigners, who initially appreciate only their own differences from Swedes and Sweden as a whole.


Chapter 1 The cultural process

Cultural homogeneity and relevant segmentation
Most international market segments are based on geographical/geopolitical divisions, which are convenient and may also be efficient segmentation criteria depending on homogeneity. However, sociodemographic variables or lifestyles may also be relevant. In fact, firms have difficulty deciding on whether to target a transnational ethnic segment, a national segment or a cross-border regional segment. Lenartowicz and Roth (1999) suggest a process that begins with a review of the cultural literature to gather information that identifies and details cultural groupings before segmenting the market. Chapters 6 and 8 examine the issue of regional versus national segmentation, which is particularly important in large countries like the United States and in economic areas such as the European Union (EU). Homogeneity clearly favours the emergence of a coherent culture in a nation-state, perhaps leading to the possible confusion of culture and country and the treatment of country as a culturally unified, coherent segment. A better understanding of the following sources of differentiation may lead to more cohesive sociodemographic microsegments: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. Linguistic homogeneity. Religious homogeneity. Ethnic homogeneity. Climatic homogeneity. Geographical homogeneity. Institutional and political homogeneity. Social/income homogeneity.

3. ‘Perceived homogeneity’, which is the perception of acceptable differences within the national community. For instance, people may observe huge differences in wealth and income but tolerate them for various reasons, including fatalism, indifference or on metaphysical grounds. It is easy to see that global homogenization is unlikely. Hannerz (1991) offers an alternative view of how interactions and exchanges impact cultures. He discusses the Creolization of cultures, which is a continual process where information, meanings and symbolic forms are absorbed by a culture and then transformed to make them their own. The concept and assumptions behind globalization are further discussed in Chapter 4 and 5. Logically, we might expect cultural homogeneity to directly impact national identity, but in fact the elements that tie subcultures together can strengthen nationality. For instance, Sweden is culturally more homogeneous than the United States and as such might be expected to hold a stronger national identity, but in reality it is the United States that has a stronger national identity (Keillor and Hult, 1999).

The concept of national culture
National culture reflects the culture of a nation and as such relies on the concept of within-country homogeneity and between-country differences. There are two major frameworks of national culture, which we will briefly introduce and then discuss in more detail in Chapter 3. First, Geert Hofstede (1980, 1991) empirically derived four dimensions of culture (individualism/collectivism, power distance, masculinity/ femininity, and uncertainty avoidance) and later added a fifth dimension (long/short-term orientation). Hofstede’s framework has been used extensively to investigate marketing issues. More recently, Schwartz (1994, 1997) and colleagues proposed an alternative framework with three dimensions at the country level: conservatism/autonomy, hierarchy/egalitarianism, and mastery/harmony. This framework has only received limited attention in marketing. The overlap between these frameworks is discussed in Chapter 3 (see Steenkamp, 2001).

The word ‘homogeneity’ implies one of the following: 1. The existence of a unique modality throughout the whole population (that is, only one religion, or one language) or a reduced standard deviation in comparison with the mean value of the characteristic across the whole population (e.g. in per capita income across all social strata). 2. An accepted diversity that is officially recognized and financed by the state. For instance, an agreement for maintaining several languages (as in Canada), more or less spoken and/or understood by everybody, or several different religions (as in Germany).

1.4 Culture and competence


The concept of national culture may seem dangerous in many respects, because it sums up a complex and multiform reality. In short, culture has many levels or layers, and national culture is at a level that is too general to avoid the traps of cliché and stereotype. To attain a better grasp of the concept, the following two questions need to be addressed: 1. Is the concept of national culture coherent and substantial enough to constitute an explanatory variable, not only in the scientific sense, but also from a pragmatic point of view? 2. How does national culture influence behaviour? The answer to the first question is clear: the concept of national culture suffers a systematic lack of coherence. It is an ‘intersection’ of concepts, one being the result of the merging of culture (a mostly anthropologybased concept), and the other, being the more official nation-state. This is due to the fact that, in modern times, the most frequent mode of political organization of individuals within a particular society is that of the nation-state. As discussed earlier, cultures do not often correspond to nation-states but to linguistic, ethnic, religious or even organizational entities. The multiplicity of this concept probably explains why it has been systematically underestimated, especially in international trade theory. Theory-builders, who generally seek to construct formally convincing theoretical explanations, tend to remove such vague variables from their models even if they are explanatory. However, the fact that a construct is not easily measurable is no justification for ignoring it. Despite its limitations, the concept of national culture can still be an interesting Pandora’s box. (For examples from the ex-Soviet Union see WS1.3.) The second question merits consideration, but the two possible responses as to whether culture directly influences individual characteristics cannot be assessed on a scientific basis. On one hand, some people favour the idea that the cultural variable directly influences individual psychological characteristics, that is, culture has a distinct imprint on personality. Personality traits exist for which the average individual in one culture scores significantly higher (or lower) than individuals belonging to another culture. This corresponds to the idea of national character, or more precisely, the concept of modal personality, which has been developed in greater detail by Inkeles and

Levinson (1969).4 The modal personality approach largely grew out of enquiries as to why certain people are more violent, more aggressive, more domineering, and collectively more prone than others to declare war on foreign nations or to organize and implement genocide. These questions stemmed from the Second World War, especially the Nuremberg trials. Numerous empirical studies have been undertaken, particularly during the 1950s and 1960s, taking as a starting point the process of forming national character, which includes child-rearing practices, education systems, the socialization process of children, etc. Generally the results neither prove nor disprove the existence of national character. On the other hand, some people favour the idea that individual psychology and therefore personality traits are largely free from the influence of culture. According to the anthropologist Ralph Linton (1945, pp. 14–15), the individual’s ‘integration into society and culture goes no deeper than his learned responses, and although in the adult the greater part of what we call the personality, there is still a good deal of the individual left over.’ The question of whether personality is modal (culture-bound) or culture-free is not just academic. In Linton’s view, individuals may have personalities quite separate from their cultural background. From a ‘national character’ perspective, one would expect to meet people with an average personality that reflects their culture. (For a biography of Linton see WS1.3.)


Culture and competence
Some environmental predispositions
Some peoples are considered to be more work oriented and more efficient when it comes to producing material goods. Climate has often been considered an environmental variable which has a strong influence on performance. Box 1.1 contains the beginning of Montesquieu’s theory of climates (1748). While the physiological explanations are scarcely credible now, it is nevertheless a starting point for the north/south stereotype. The question is: do some countries/climates tend to harden (or soften) people, with the result that


Chapter 1 The cultural process

Box 1.1

Of the difference of men in different climates
A cold air a constringes the extremities of the external fibres of the body; this increases their elasticity, and favors the return of the blood from the extreme parts to the heart. It contractsb those very fibres; consequently, it increases also their force and elasticity. People are therefore more vigorous in cold climates. Here the action of the heart and the reaction of the extremities of the fibres are better performed, the temperature of the humors is greater, the blood moves freer towards the heart, and reciprocally, the heart has more power. This superiority of strength must produce various effects; for instance, a greater boldness, that is, more courage; a greater sense of superiority, that is, more frankness, less suspicion, policy, and cunning. In short, this must be productive of very different tempers. Put a man into a close warm place, and, for the reasons above given, he will feel a great faintness. If, under this circumstance, you propose a bold enterprize to him, I believe you will find him very little disposed towards it: his present weakness will throw him into a despondency; he will be afraid of every thing, being in a state of total incapacity. The inhabitants of warm countries are, like old men, timorous; the people in cold countries are, like young men, brave. If we reflect on the latec wars, (which are more recent in our memory, and in which we can better distinguish some particular effects, that escape us at a greater distance of time), we shall find that the northern people, transplanted into southern regionsd, did not perform such exploits as their countrymen who, fighting in their own climate, possessed their full vigor and courage.
a This appears even in the countenance: in cold weather people look thinner. b We know it shortens iron. c Those for the succession to the Spanish monarchy. d For instance in Spain.

(Source: Montesquieu, [1748], 1792, vol. 1, book XIV, ch. 11, pp. 224–5.)

they become more (or less) inclined towards activities of war, commerce or industry,5 and more (or less) efficient in pursuing these activities? (See WS1.4 for more information about Montesquieu.) Climate may directly influence culture through heat, which physically discourages effort and action, or indirectly influence culture through the development of skills to adapt to climatic conditions. If the influence is purely direct, it may be controlled, as air conditioning will control heat, but this will be limited to specific contexts: battlefields remain at the mercy of the elements. If climate has both a direct and an indirect influence, via progressive genetic adaptation and/or cultural traits acquired through education and socialization, then air conditioning is still necessary but not enough. The indirect is likely to combine with the direct influence as climate has a long-term influence on the culture, which in turn influences skills and behaviour. Interestingly, climate has been found to have an indirect effect on a country’s competitiveness. For instance, Van de Vliert (2003) found that temperate (less cold or hot) countries are more

likely to overpay their workers, relative to the countries standing on the worldwide ladder of wealth.

National character and educational practices
Research into national character emphasizes the influence of educational practices on the development of adult personalities. Margaret Mead for instance, in her description of American character, notes that the United States is seen as an adolescent peer culture. In this setting, education favours diffuse, depersonalized authority where children face a demand for strong inner moral control. In many European countries, the cheerful, easy-going, informal Americans are often jokingly referred to as being big children. One of the most efficient ways to study the formation process of national character is to observe education systems and child-rearing practices, particularly up to the age of 5 or 6. Some of the key

1.5 Culture and social representations


elements of personality develop during this time, due to such factors as feeding and nourishing, weaning, personal hygiene and toilet training, the degree and modes of socialization into various parts of the community (with other children, with adults, with the opposite sex), the demands and prohibitions imposed on small children, and finally the reward/sanction systems that help to orientate their behaviour.6

Culture and skills
It seems that cultural background has an influence on perceptual and cognitive skills. Segall et al. (1990) clearly demonstrate the existence of differences in perception of visual illusions. They base their findings on the following simple theory: if people belonging to various human groups differ in their visual inference systems,7 it is because the physical environment at which they are used to looking differs widely from group to group. Some people live in a constructed environment, based on straight lines and sharp angles (especially those of modern buildings and industrial objects), whereas other people live in a more rounded and curvilinear physical setting. The daily environment shapes people’s visual inference. That is, the very same objects are seen differently. Thus, vision is considered to be a culturally built interpretation of specific retinal signals. The variation in levels of competences and skills across cultural groups is another important issue. The first research on the intellectual abilities of nonEuropean people was undertaken by researchers such as Levy-Bruhl, who classified the thought patterns of primitives as ‘pre-logical’. Little by little this somewhat extreme attitude, that ‘primitives’ could never conceive of anything in the way that we do (‘we’ being the modern, Westernized people of European culture or origin), has given way to a more reasonable position. Franz Boas became interested in the idea of the psychic unity of mankind. That is, every human group studied presents common traits such as the ability to remember, to generalize, to form concepts and to think and reflect logically on abstract concepts. In fact it seems more likely that differences in ability in specific activities should be attributed to the cultural relativity of skills and competences developed by the individuals in the specific cultural grouping where they have been raised.

The scores on intelligence quotient (IQ) tests will always remain relative to the type of questions asked and the situations evoked in the verbal part of the test (reading, memorization and understanding of texts). Even that part of the test which is clearly quantitatively oriented (i.e. mathematics, geometry, statistics, logic), requires handling abstract and mathematical signs. One cannot claim that any test encompasses all the possible facets of human intelligence, or even that it offers total objectivity in the experimental and empirical methods used to evaluate them. It is therefore necessary to accept that definitions of intelligence are culturally contingent. This does not mean that all people are equally intelligent or that IQ tests are of no interest or have no practical benefits. It simply means that the results should be interpreted cautiously when tests are administered to people who do not originate from the culture where these tests were conceived and/or are not familiar with that culture.


Culture and social representations
The notion of social representation will be used throughout this book, even where there is no explicit reference to it. For instance, the acceptance (or prohibition in some countries) of comparative advertising is related to social representations of the necessity to inform consumers, to allow price competition and even to risk the denigration of one company by another through a comparative advertising campaign (see Chapter 14). Moscovici (1961) considers social representation (SR) a ‘forgotten concept’. He traces it back to Durkheim, for whom it was a class of psychic and social phenomena that relate the individual to the social aspect of collective life. Social representations are miniatures of behaviour, copies of reality and forms of operational knowledge used to reach and implement everyday decisions. For instance, people may use a combination of social representations in order to make their health-care decisions. Moscovici gives the following example that in the south-west of the United States Hispanic populations concurrently use four bases of knowledge for classifying and interpreting illnesses: the traditional popular medical knowledge, which relates mainly to pains and


Chapter 1 The cultural process

sufferance; the medical knowledge orally transmitted within Amerindian tribes; the modern (English) popular medical knowledge; and the medical scientific knowledge (established and recognized). According to the seriousness of the illness and the availability of money for paying for the cure, Hispanic populations let themselves be guided either by collective representations or by scientific information in order to choose which one of these four sources should be pursued in search of a cure. Social representations are collective images that are progressively formulated within a particular society. As such, they can be surveyed by public opinion polls. Robert Farr (1988, p. 383) explains that social representations of health and sickness may have a strong influence on consumption patterns. For instance, villagers in many European countries tend to moan over the invasion of the countryside by urban development. The entire population compares the constraints of city life to the natural pace of country life. These social representations help to explain the development of natural and organic products, direct from the farm, with no additives or industrial processing, and the diffusion of ecological ideas in modern society. Jodelet (1988, p. 360) posits that social representations are at the very intersection of the psychological/ individual and social/collective levels. They serve as artificial reference images, or frameworks ‘which enable us to interpret what happens to us, possibly

even to give sense to the unexpected; categories which serve to classify circumstances, phenomena, individuals with whom we have to deal and theories which enable us to make a decision on these issues’. The interpretation of our daily reality with this sort of preconceived reference framework could be considered pejoratively as merely reflecting our prejudices. However, this portrays a simplistic idea of the dynamic, collectively verified and validated nature of social representations, which are constantly updated through social situations, individual behaviour and social activities. The media, public opinion polls, news summaries, court decisions and legal penalties are all sources from which people derive their opinions and stimulate debate and social information processes, which in turn continuously update dynamic social representations. Social representations do vary across societies. Therefore, they have a cultural value when we have to decide what is, what can be, how to feel, what to do, and how to go about doing it (operating culture). Social representations are less profound than basic cultural orientations, as they alter within shorter time spans (10 to 20 years versus centuries). Social representations are nonetheless important. They may oppose basic cultural orientations since their timescale is short term and they are more suited to the urgent need for collective and individual adaptation to reality. (For more information on funerals, rites of passage, marriage, etc., see WS1.5.)

1. In light of the definitions of culture given in this chapter, is it possible for a culture to disappear? Why, or why not? Give an example. 2. A common problem, across cultures, is to attract/be attractive for potential partners. Discuss how, in Kluckhohn and Strodtbeck’s terms, there is a range of possible solutions, and how they are differentially preferred across societies. Outline possible consequences for marketing. 3. Discuss the case of multi-language/multi-religion countries (e.g. India, Canada, Switzerland): how can people in these countries share a common culture? On which segments of culture? 4. Discuss the role of education (at home, at school and elsewhere) in the transmission of culture. 5. What is national character?



1. One may be wary of the ethnocentric (Western/modern) bias of the authors, i.e. an overemphasis on culture as striving only for the improvement of material productions; in some cultures, the dominant values may be extremely antagonistic towards material preoccupations. 2. The conquest of Mexico by Hernando Cortès is a fascinating example of the almost total destruction of a culture heavily loaded with symbolism (mostly that of the Aztecs and the Mayas), by only a very small group of Spanish invaders. When Cortès’s army left the island of Cuba, sailing to Mexico, it numbered only 508 soldiers, 100 sailors and 10 horses. At that time Mexico City had half a million inhabitants. The Mayas, the Totonacs and the Mexicans were deeply religious people, totally subservient to the will of their gods and the sovereignty of their priest-kings. These people waged a ritualistic war on each other which was based on magic as much as military strategy and in which the desired outcome, decided in advance by the mysterious agreements of celestial powers, was not the conquest of land or the amassing of riches but the triumph of the gods, who received in sacrifice the heart and the blood of the vanquished. Disturbed by the mythical return of the ancestors and of the divine feathered serpent, Quetzalcoatl-Kukulcan, the Indians were blinded, unable to see the actual intentions of those whom they had termed the Teules, the Gods. And when the Indians understood that the Spaniards, whom they considered as demi-gods, were involved in a massive slaughter of Mexican Indians, from which none of them would emerge unscathed, it was too late. The Spaniards had taken advantage of their hesitation to penetrate deep into the Mexican empire, to provoke dissension, and to conquer lands and take slaves (Le Clézio, 1988, p. 19). See also Historia Verdadera de la conquista de la Nueva España, written by a member of the Cortès troop, Bernal Diaz del Castillo (1968), and Historia General de las cosas de la Nueva Espana, written by Bernadino de Sahagun a few years after the conquest (which took place around 1520) and the destruction of the Aztec and Maya cultures, with the objective of preserving as far as possible the traces of this civilization that had suffered such an abrupt disappearance. For a thorough analysis of culture collisions in colonial history see Urs Bitterli (1989). A famous Swiss novelist, Charles Ferdinand Ramuz, has often set the relations between communities as a background to his novels. La Séparation des races, for instance, is the story of the kidnapping of a young girl from Bern by her Valaisan lover and the consequent mobilization of their respective communities. The literature review carried out by Inkeles and Levinson (1969) is certainly the most exhaustive one (100 pages) available. It might appear somewhat dated, but since national character changes over decades and centuries, their review remains largely up to date. War is assimilated here with commerce and industry because, from a historical perspective, war was a normal activity. The idea that war produces the vanquished and the victorious but that they are all losers, is rather a new one. When pursuing colonial wars, commerce and industry were legitimately included in the ultimate goals. The idea of bringing civilization to the barbarians included the extirpation of ‘evil’ beliefs, magic and sorcery, and their substitution by Christianity. An important figure in these studies of childhood and society is Erik Erikson (1950), who has developed a theory of ego development stages (in the Freudian sense) on the basis of field observations of American Indians, Sioux and Yurok, US Americans, Germans and Russians. It is clearly beyond the reach of this book to sum up, even very briefly, the richness of the empirical and theoretical research on national differences that has been published by anthropologists, sociologists and psychologists. The references at the end of this chapter suggest two reviews of such crossnational research: Inkeles and Levinson (1969) and Segall et al. (1990). By ‘visual inference’ is implied the mental system that enables people to transform retinal perceptions into a ‘brain image’ (Segall et al., 1990, ch. 4).






Bitterli, Urs (1989), Cultures in Conflict, Polity Press: Oxford. Carroll, John B. (1956), Language, Thought and Reality: Selected writings of Benjamin Lee Whorf, MIT: Cambridge, MA. Child, J. and A. Kieser (1977), ‘A contrast in British and West German management practices: Are recipes of success culture bound?’, paper presented at the Conference on Cross-Cultural Studies on Organizational Functioning, Hawaii. Diaz del Castillo, Bernal (1968), Historia Verdadera de la Nueva España, Espasa-Calpe: Madrid. Eliade, Mircea (1956), Forgerons et Alchimistes, Flammarion: Paris. English translation (1962), The Forge and the Crucible, University of Chicago Press: Chicago. Erikson, Erik (1950), Childhood and Society, Norton: New York. Farr, Robert M. (1988), ‘Les Représentations sociales’, in Serge Moscovici (ed.), Psychologie sociale, PUF Fondamental: Paris.


Chapter 1 The cultural process

Goodenough, Ward H. (1971), Culture, Language and Society, Modular Publications, 7, Addison-Wesley: Reading, MA. Hannerz, Ulf (1991), Scenarios for Peripheral Cultures, King, A.D., Culture, Globalization and the World System, MacMillan: London, pp. 107–28. Hawking, Stephen (1988), A Brief History of Time, Guild Publishing: London. Hosftede, Geert (1980), Culture’s Consequences: International differences in work-related values, Sage: Beverly Hills, CA. Hosftede, Geert (1991), Cultures and Organizations: Software of the mind, McGraw-Hill: London. Inkeles, Alex and Daniel J. Levinson (1969), ‘National character: the study of modal personality and sociocultural systems’, in Gardner Lindzey and Elliot Aronson (eds), Handbook of Social Psychology, vol. IV, Addison-Wesley: Reading, MA, pp. 418–506. Jodelet, Denise (1988), ‘Représentations sociales: phénomènes, concept et théorie’, in Serge Moscovici (ed.), Psychologie sociale, PUF Fondamental: Paris. Keillor, Bruce D. and G. Thomas M. Hult (1999), ‘A fivecountry study of national identity: Implications for international marketing research and practice’, International Marketing Review, vol. 16, no. 1, pp. 65–82. Kluckhohn, Florence R. and Frederick L. Strodtbeck (1961), Variations in Value Orientations, Greenwood Press: Westport, CT. Kroeber, Alfred L. and Clyde Kluckhohn (1952), Culture: A critical review of concepts and definitions, Anthropological Papers, no. 4, Peabody Museum. Kumar, Rajesh (2000), ‘Confucian pragmatism vs. brahmanical idealism understanding the divergent roots of Indian and Chinese economic performance’, Journal of Asian Business, vol. 16, no. 2, pp. 49–69. Le Clézio, J.M.G. (1988), Le Rêve Mexicain ou la Pensée Interrompue, Gallimard: Paris. Lenartowicz, Tomasz and Kendall Roth (1999), ‘A framework for culture assessment’, Journal of International Business Studies, vol. 30, no. 4, pp. 781–98.

Linton, Ralph (1945), The Cultural Background of Personality, Appleton-Century: New York. Malinowski, Bronislaw (1944), A Scientific Theory of Culture and Other Essays, University of North Carolina Press: Chapel Hill, NC. Mead, Margaret (1948), Male and Female, William Morrow: New York. Montesquieu, Charles de (1748), The Spirit of Laws, translated from the French by Thomas Nugent (1792), 6th edn, McKenzie and Moore: Dublin. Moscovici, Serge (1961), La Psychanalyse, son Public et son Image, Presses Universitaires de France: Paris. Schwartz, Shalom H. (1994), ‘Beyond individualism/ collectivism: new cultural dimensions of value’, in Uichol Kim, Harry C. Triandis, Çigdem Kâgitçibasi, Sang-Chin Choi and Gene Yoon (eds), Individualism and Collectivism: Theory, method and applications, Sage: Thousand Oaks, CA, pp. 85–119. Schwartz, Shalom H. (1997), ‘Values and Culture’, in Donald Munro, John F. Schumaker and Stuart C. Carr (eds), Motivation and Culture, Routledge: New York. Segall, Marshall H., Pierre R. Dasen, John W. Berry and Ype H. Poortinga (1990), Human Behavior in Global Perspective, Pergamon: New York. Steenkamp, Jan-Benedikt E.M. (2001), ‘The role of national culture in international marketing research’, International Marketing Review, vol. 18, no. 1, pp. 30–44. Tylor, Edward (1913), Primitive Culture, John Murray: London. Van de Vliert, Evert (2003), ‘Thermoclimate, culture, and poverty as country-level roots of workers’ wages’, Journal of International Business Studies, vol. 34, no. 1, pp. 40–52. Weeks, William H., Paul B. Pedersen and Richard W. Brislin (1987), A Manual of Structured Experiences for Cross-cultural Learning, Intercultural Press: Yarmouth, ME.

Appendix 1

Teaching materials

A1.1 Critical incident An old lady from Malaysia
The frail, old, almost totally blind lady appeared at every clinic session and sat on the dirt floor enjoying the activity. She was dirty and dishevelled, and obviously had very little, even by Malaysian kampong (local village) standards. One day the visiting nurse happened upon this woman in her kampong. She lived by herself in a rundown shack about 10 by 10 feet [3 × 3 m]. When questioned how she obtained her food, she said she was often hungry, as she only received food when she worked for others – pounding rice, looking after the children, and the like. The nurse sought to obtain help for the woman. It was finally resolved that she would receive a small pension from the Department of Welfare which would be ample for her needs. At each weekly clinic, the woman continued to appear. She had become a centre of attention, laughed and joked freely, and obviously enjoyed her increased prestige. No change was noted in her physical status, however. She continued to wear the same dirty black dress and looked no better fed. The nurse asked one of the rural health nurses to find out if the woman needed help in getting to a shop to buy the goods she seemed so sorely in need of. In squatting near the woman, the rural health nurse noted a wad of bills in the woman’s pocket. ‘Wah,’ she said, ‘It is all here. You have spent nothing. Why is that?’ The woman laughed and then explained: ‘I am saving it all for my funeral.’
(Source: Weeks et al., 1987, pp. 24–5.)

A1.2 Critical incident The parable
The leader tells the following parable to the group, illustrating with rough chalkboard drawings if desired:
Rosemary is a girl of about 21 years of age. For several months she has been engaged to a young man – let’s call him Geoffrey. The problem she faces is that between her and her betrothed there lies a river. No ordinary river mind you, but a deep, wide river infested with hungry crocodiles. Rosemary ponders how she can cross the river. She thinks of a man she knows who has a boat. We’ll call him Sinbad. So she approaches Sinbad, asking him to take her across. He replies, ‘Yes, I’ll take you


Chapter 1 The cultural process

across if you’ll spend the night with me.’ Shocked at this offer, she turns to another acquaintance, a certain Frederick, and tells him her story. Frederick responds by saying, ‘Yes, Rosemary, I understand your problem – but – it’s your problem, not mine.’ Rosemary decides to return to Sinbad, spends the night with him, and in the morning he takes her across the river. Her reunion with Geoffrey is warm. But on the evening before they are to be married. Rosemary feels compelled to tell Geoffrey how she succeeded in getting across the river. Geoffrey responds by saying, ‘I wouldn’t marry you if you were the last woman on earth.’ Finally, at her wit’s end, Rosemary turns to our last character, Dennis. Dennis listens to her story and says, ‘Well, Rosemary, I don’t love you . . . but I will marry you.’ And that’s all we know of the story.
(Source: Weeks et al., 1987, pp. 25–6.)

Discussion guide
1. Before any discussion, participants should be asked to write down individually on a piece of paper the characters of whose behaviour they most approve, plus a sentence or two explaining their first choice. 2. Participants may be split into small groups of four or five, to share their views and raise relevant issues. 3. The discussion should centre around the cultural relativity of values and their relation to one’s own cultural background.

A1.3 Reading Body rituals among the Naciremas
(See WS1.A.)

Cultural dynamics 1: Time and space

The Swedish writer Selma Lagerlöf defines culture as ‘what remains when that which has been learned is entirely forgotten’.1 Thus depicted, culture may appear to be quite a nebulous or practically limited concept. Its main use would be as a ‘synthesis variable’: an explanation that serves as a last resort when all other concepts or more precise theories have been successfully validated. It would also serve as an explanatory variable for residuals, when other more interpretive explanations are unsuccessful. However, Lagerlöf ’s definition does have the advantage of identifying two basic elements of cultural dynamics (at the level of the individual): 1. Culture is learned. 2. Culture is forgotten in the sense that we cease to be conscious of its existence as learned behaviour. Yet culture remains present throughout our daily individual and collective activities, and is therefore entirely oriented towards our adaptation to reality (both as a constraint and as an opportunity). To this extent it is almost unthinkable that a culture could stand perfectly still, except in the case of primitive societies, which are located in remote places and subject to no exterior interference, thus offering a stable natural and social environment. At the periphery of a fixed set of basic cultural assumptions, other sources of culture intervene, and as a result new solutions are used for tackling existing issues or for solving entirely new problems. This chapter begins with a model of action based on cultural assumptions (section 2.1), to provide a framework for the explanation of culture-related behaviour that extends throughout this chapter and the next.

Basic cultural assumptions explained in this chapter relate to time (section 2.2) and space (section 2.3). But these are not static, as cultures borrow from each other through time and space. Section 2.4 is dedicated to this and the corresponding changes in the importing society. The last section (2.5) is dedicated to cultural hostility. Territoriality is the organizing principle of cultures across space and hostility arises from prejudiced views of others and the fear of having to share with members of alien cultural groups.


A model of action based on cultural assumptions
Figure 2.1 presents how basic cultural assumptions in three major areas (time, space and the concept of the self and others) influence interaction models, which, in combination with basic assumptions, shape attitudes towards action. Fundamental assumptions about time, space and the concept of the self and others are explained in greater detail in this chapter and the first section of the next. Cultural assumptions are statements about the basic nature of reality. Some of them are based on the ‘value orientations’ of the anthropologists Florence Kluckhohn and Frederick Strodtbeck (1961) which are often cited – an indication of their analytical power, at least as far as it is perceived by the social scientists. (For more information about their research see WS2.1.) Cultural assumptions are basic responses, expressed in a rather dichotomous manner, to fundamental human problems. They


Chapter 2 Cultural dynamics 1: Time and space

Figure 2.1 A model of cultural dynamics

provide the members of a particular cultural community with a framework for the evaluation of solutions to these problems, combining a cognitive dimension (people think it works that way), an affective dimension (people like it that way) and a directive dimension (people will do it that way). Kluckhohn and Strodtbeck (1961, pp. 11, 12) have collated these common human problems under six main categories: 1. What is the character of innate human nature (human-nature orientation): good or evil, neutral, or a mix of good and evil? Is this state of human nature mutable or immutable? 2. What is the relation of humans to nature and supernature (nature orientation): subjugation to nature, harmony with nature or mastery over nature? 3. What is the temporal focus of human life (time orientation): past, present or future? 4. What is the modality of human activity (activity orientation): should people be (being), should

people do (doing) or should they do in order to be (being in becoming)? 5. What is the modality of the relationship between humans (relational orientation): linearity, collaterality or pure individuality? 6. What is the conception of space? Is it considered predominantly private, public or a mix of both? Naturally these modalities are to be found in every society. People are and do, and there are always children and parents, in the sense that some kind of family nucleus exists everywhere. But different assumptions result in variations as to the kind of response that is dominant in a particular society. We have combined Kluckhohn and Strodtbeck’s approach with those adopted by other authors (Hall, 1959, 1966, 1976, 1983; Hofstede, 1980; Triandis, 1983, 1994; Trompenaars, 1993) to depict differences in five tables: time related differences in Table 2.1, space related differences in Table 2.2, the concepts of self and

2.2 Time: Cross-cultural variability


others in Table 3.1, interaction models in Table 3.2, and attitudes towards action in Table 3.5. Each of the five tables highlights common problems across cultures, depicts the most important solutions, and explains the dominant differences. This leads to a detailed inventory of basic differences in cultural assumptions and interaction models, which are mostly the result of learned behaviour. We have tried to give some country-specific illustrations, without too often citing ‘typical’ cultures, because to do so would be at the risk of stereotyping. Except for Hofstede’s dimensions, which are considered mostly in the realm of ‘interaction models’, little empirical data is mentioned. For those interested in figures, rankings and scores, we have indicated where they can find such information, to the extent that it is available and significant. The objective is not to classify countries or cultures, but rather to provide readers with an understanding of how cultures differ, and to let them combine this with their own knowledge and experience in order to build their own view of how culture affects our relationships with others and our way of acting. In doing this, we could not ignore the profound impact of technology on culture. There is the risk that many basic assumptions could be called ‘modern’ and their contrast would be naturally ‘traditional’. The real world is fortunately more sophisticated: individualism is globally ‘modern’, but collectivism is not ‘traditional’ nor even ‘conservative’. Many collectivist nations, especially in Asia, have been brilliant achievers in the past twenty years. ‘Modern culture’ is predominantly based on the Western values held by philosophers, scientists and politicians in Europe, during a time of industrial revolution and colonization, and later by the United States as the dominant political and cultural actor on the twentieth century world scene. The idea of a cultural assumption being ‘modern’ and therefore more legitimate is a misconception and sometimes taken to the extreme is considered as the only possible belief. Thus other assumptions tend to be repressed, leading to complex situations where people finally imitate behaviour that does not correspond to the assumptions really prevailing in their culture. As such, we try to refer to why and how a certain cultural assumption, interaction model or attitude towards action belongs to ‘modern’ culture. (For more information on cultural assumptions see WS2.1.) At this point, some readers may be wondering about the relevance of culture to managerial issues

and international marketing, which represent the focus of this book. They will find an initial response in Table 3.5, point (c): we come from ideologycentred cultures where issues are most often addressed first at a very broad level. Later, attempts are made to link culture to action-related issues. We try to build convincing intellectual frameworks, occasionally at the expense of data. Some readers may consider a number of statements to be unsupported by data and evidence. We claim to be culturally relative. The next response is that, part of the cross-cultural learning experience resides in being confronted with a different mindset. Our belief is that developing cultural awareness is possible just from reading something written with a culturally alien mindset. Cultural assumptions are not completely in the realm of unbewußtsein (unconsciousness, deep-seated and inaccessible); in fact, they are rather in the realm of unterbewußtsein, that is located at a subconscious level, where interaction and self-questioning can reveal them. In order to make the link to international marketing, we will refer as often as possible, to areas of international marketing on which these cultural differences have an impact. In subsequent chapters in the book they are also used as an explanatory framework for consumer behaviour (Chapter 4), market research (Chapter 7), marketing management (Chapters 8 to 12), advertising communication (Chapter 14), buyer–seller interactions and marketing negotiations (Chapters 15 to 17). The last four chapters build on Chapter 13, which is dedicated to language, culture and communication, and explains how language shapes our world-views. Point (e) in Table 3.2 (communication styles) is developed in Chapter 13. Using Figure 2.1 as a guide, our exploration starts with the cultural variability in the concept of time.


Time: Cross-cultural variability
Many marketing concepts are time based: product life cycle, sales forecasting or the planning of new product launches to name but a few.2 Normative time in marketing and management seems indisputable, and its very nature is rarely questioned. It is perceived as linear, continuous and economic. However, time, in


Chapter 2 Cultural dynamics 1: Time and space

a cross-cultural perspective, is probably the area where differences are both the largest and the most difficult to pinpoint, because (1) assumptions are very deep seated and (2) formally we adopt a common model of time. People’s relationship with time changes with respect to periods of history and levels of human development, the technology available for measuring time, the emphasis given to natural and social rhythms, and the prevailing metaphysical views. Each vision of time (Zeitanschauung) corresponds to a vision of the real world, its origins and destiny (Weltanschauung). Time appears predominantly through its social functions, in that it allows people to have a common framework of activities and helps to synchronize individual human behaviour. Encyclopaedic approaches to the concept of time (Attali, 1982) show that one time pattern has never eliminated a previous one. Each new time pattern superimposes itself on the one that previously prevailed. As a consequence, individual time perceptions may result from adding or mixing different basic patterns of time. Most of the literature in cultural anthropology considers time perceptions as cultural artefacts. As Gurevitch states (1976, p. 229): ‘Time occupies a prominent place in the “model of the world” characterizing a given culture’. (For more on the concepts of time see WS2.2.)

Economicity of time

Dimensions of time orientations
Table 2.1 shows time-related cultural assumptions, which correspond to four common problems: 1. To what extent should time be regarded as a tangible commodity (economicity of time)? 2. How should tasks and time be combined (monochronic versus polychronic use of time)? 3. Should lifetime(s) be seen as a single continuous line or as combining multiple cyclical episodes (linearity versus cyclicity of time)? 4. What are the appropriate temporal orientations: towards the past, the present and the future? As you will see, there is some overlap between the prevailing solutions to these four questions. However, we have noted all four basic time assumptions because they need to be considered in a cultural model of time, which is exemplified at the end of this section by the Japanese Makimono time.

Time may be seen as external to us, and as such to be treated like a tangible commodity. The concept of economic time is based on accurate time reckoning, dependent on precise dating and defined duration. It results in people using their time as ‘wisely’ as possible in scheduling or establishing timetables and deadlines. Measurement of parking meter time by units of 7.5 minutes or sport performance by the hundredths of a second is typical of precisely measured economic time with direct and explicit financial consequences. Many European countries as well as the United States and Australia are representative of the ‘time-is-money’ culture, where time is an economic good. Since time is a scarce resource, or at least perceived as such, people should try to achieve an optimal allocation between competing ways of using it. Norms tend to be very strict regarding time schedules, appointments and the precise setting of dates and durations. (For studies of time in crosscultural psychology see WS2.2.) Needless to say, attitudes towards money and the money value of time are inseparable from marketing (Jacoby et al., 1976; Spears et al., 2001). A strong economic time assumption has wide-reaching influences on consumer behaviour, because products may save time, as household appliances do, or services may be based on time values such as bank loans or life insurance policies. Economicity of time also has an impact on buyer–seller interaction, in the waiting process as well as the negotiation.
Monochronic versus polychronic use of time

Hall (1983) described two extreme behaviours of task scheduling which he calls monochronism (M-time) and polychronism (P-time). Individuals working under M-time do one thing at a time and tend to adhere to preset schedules. When confronted by a dilemma (e.g. a discussion with someone that lasts longer than planned), M-time people will politely stop the conversation, in order to keep to their schedule. In M-time societies, not only the start of a meeting but also its finish is often planned. P-time, on the other hand, stresses the involvement of people who do several things at the same time, easily modify preset schedules and seldom experience time as ‘wasted’. P-time may seem quite hectic to M-time people: ‘There is no recognized order as to who is to be served next, no queue or numbers indicating who has been

2.2 Time: Cross-cultural variability


Table 2.1 Time-related cultural differences
Basic problem/Cultural orientations Is time money? (a) Economicity of time Time is regarded as a scarce resource or, conversely, as plentiful and indefinitely available. Contrasts across cultures

How to schedule tasks (b) Monochronism versus polychronism Only one task is undertaken at any (preset) time, following a schedule (‘agenda society’), versus dealing simultaneously with different tasks, actions and/or communications (polychronism) for convenience, pleasure and efficiency.

Is time a continuous line? (c) Linearity (L) versus cyclicity (C) of time Time is seen as linear-separable, cut in slices (L), versus an emphasis on the daily, yearly and seasonal cycles (C).

How should we emphasize past, present and future? (d) Temporal orientations (i) towards the past People with high past orientation consider that the past is important, that resources must be spent on teaching history and building museums, referring to oral and written traditions and past works. Their basic assumption is that their roots are implanted in the past and no plant can survive without its roots. The converse is true for low past orientation. People with high present orientation consider that they basically live ‘here and now’. Although not always enjoyable, the present must be accepted for what it is: the only true reality we live in. People easily and precisely envisage and plan their future. They are project oriented, prepare for the long term, appreciate the achievements of science, and so on. For them the future is inevitably ‘bigger and better’. The converse is true for low future orientation.

(ii) towards the present

(iii) towards the future

waiting the longest’ (Hall, 1983, p. 47). P-time people are more committed to persons than to schedules. When confronted with a conflict such as the one described above, they prefer to go on talking or working after preset hours interrupting their schedule, if they have one. The PERT (programme evaluation and review technique) method is an example from a typical ‘agenda culture’, where M-time is the central assumption. PERT explicitly aims to reduce a universe of polychronic tasks (they really take place simultaneously, which is part of the problem) to a monochronic solution (the critical path). Management methods, originating in the US and Europe, favour pure monochronic

organization. They clearly push aside polychronic attitudes, which tend to make plans and schedules rather hectic. When it comes to delays and being ‘on time’, precise monochronic systems give priority to meeting dates and commitments to schedules (Usunier, 1991, 2003). To illustrate sources of tension between people who have internalized different time systems, Hall (1983, pp. 53–4) takes the example of a monochronic woman who has a polychronic hairdresser. The woman, who has a regular appointment at a specific time each week, feels frustrated and angry when she is kept waiting. At the same time, the hairdresser also feels frustrated. He inevitably feels compelled to


Chapter 2 Cultural dynamics 1: Time and space

‘squeeze people in’, particularly his friends and acquaintances. The schedule is reserved for people he does not know personally and keeping to this schedule is not important to him. M- or P-time is important for business negotiations, buyer–seller interactions in general, or dealing with a foreign distributor (e.g. scheduling a promotional campaign). Recent developments illustrate that M- and P-time represent simplistic assumptions of time-related behaviour. Recent studies about time and international business negotiations challenge the view held by Hall, that Americans are typical M-time people and Japanese or French people typical P-time persons (e.g. Kaufman et al., 1991; Bluedorn et al., 1999; Kaufman and Lindquist, 1999). An enlightening discussion of the dimensions of P-time and M-time is offered by Palmer and Schoorman (1999) who distinguish three different dimensions in Hall’s M- and P-time. These dimensions include: 1. time use preference: referring to narrowly defined polychronicity, that is the extent to which people prefer to engage in multiple tasks simultaneously; 2. context: M-time is associated with low context communication, conveying only explicit meaning in messages, and P-time with high context communication, where the information that surrounds an event as well as many indirectly meaningful cues are used to interpret a messages; and 3. time tangibility: referring to economic time, that is the extent to which time is viewed as a commodity that can be bought, sold, saved, spent or wasted. Palmer and Schoorman (1999) suggest that these three dimensions interact to produce eight types of individual temporality. They surveyed 258 middle and senior executives, mostly American (78 per cent), from 25 nations. They found the majority to be Type A (44 per cent): polyphasic, time urgent and low context. The next highest proportion was M1 classic monochromic (32 per cent): monochromic, time urgent and low context. Thus, it is important to look at the interaction between time use and preference.
Linearity (L) versus cyclicity (C) of time

A strongly economic view of time, when it is combined with monochronism, emphasizes the linearity of time. Time is viewed as being a line with a point at the centre (the present). Each portion of the line can

be cut into slices, which are supposed to have a certain value. Basic religious beliefs play a key role in supporting such a linear view of time. Christianity has a one-shot interpretation of worldly existence. Only on the final judgement day will Christians know if they are to be granted eternal life. However, the Asian religions, including Hinduism and Buddhism, assume that on the death of the body, the soul is born again in another body. The belief in regular reincarnation, until a pure soul is allowed to escape the cycle and go to nirvana, radically changes the nature of time in a specific life. This is not ‘all the time I have got’, it is simply one of my ‘times’ across several lives. For most Asians, cyclicity is central in their pattern of time. Nirvana is the final release from the cycle of reincarnation. It is attained by extinction of all desires and individual existence, culminating in absolute blessedness (in Buddhism), or in absorption into Brahman (in Hinduism). Naturally, patience is on the side of the people believing in cyclical reincarnation of the soul. For Christians, it is more urgent to achieve, because their souls are given only one worldly life. But, as the New Testament puts it clearly, those who do right, even in the very last moment, will be considered favourably. (For examples of time use in Indonesia and the USA see WS2.2.) Another element that favours a cyclical view of time is the degree of emphasis put on the natural rhythms of years and seasons, the sun and the moon. It largely contrasts so-called ‘modern’ with ‘traditional’ societies, in as far as ‘modern’ means technology, mastering nature and, to a certain extent, the loss of nature-related reference points. The Japanese are known for having maintained a strong orientation to nature, even in a highly developed society. Their floral art of Ikebana and the emphasis on maintaining a contact with nature, even in highly urban environments, are testimonies to their attachment to the natural rhythms of nature. Even within a country, the relationship to nature influences the model of time adopted by urban as compared with rural people. Elements of cyclicity are based mostly on metaphysical assumptions or on astronomical observations, but they also include some arbitrary divisions, which are more social than natural. The example of the duration of the week is a good example of the social origins of time cycles. Sorokin and Merton (1937) give the following illustrations of the variability of the week in terms of the number of days.

2.2 Time: Cross-cultural variability


Our system of weekly division into quantitatively equal periods is a perfect type of conventionally determined timereckoning. The Khasi week almost universally consists of eight days because the markets are usually held every eighth day. A reflection of the fact that the Khasi week had a social, rather than a ‘natural’, origin is found in the names of the days of the week which are not those of planets (a late and arbitrary development) but of places where the principal markets are held. In a similar fashion the Roman week was marked by nundinae which recurred every eighth day and upon which the agriculturists came into the city to sell their produce. The Muysca in Bogota had a three-day week; many East African tribes a four-day week; in Central America, the east Indian Archipelago, old Assyria (and now in Soviet Russia), there is found a five-day week . . . and the Incas had a ten-day week. The constant feature of virtually all these weeks of varying length is that they were always found to have been originally in association with the market.

Elements of cyclicity of time therefore have three main origins: (1) religious assumptions about reincarnation of the soul; (2) natural rhythms of years, seasons and days; and (3) the social division of time periods, which is more arbitrary, less natural and ‘given’, than we assume. Time is naturally both linear and cyclical. We do not argue that one vision of time is ‘better’ than the other. Generally cultures have definite time patterns that combine both views, as is shown later in this section by the example of Japanese Makimono time, and in reading A2.4, which presents the Bantu concept of time.
Temporal orientations: Past, present, future

Asian people. They will tend to restore old buildings, invest in museums, teach history at school, etc. It does not mean that temporal orientation to the past is only based on cultural assumptions. It also depends on individual psychological traits (Usunier and Valette-Florence, 1994). Furthermore, in societies undergoing a rapid process of economic change, past orientation is often temporarily underplayed. Present orientation is the most logical assumption, in terms of quality of life at least. It means that people favour the ‘here and now’, believing that the past is over and the future is uncertain, theoretical and difficult to imagine. Religion may play an important role in pushing people towards a present orientation, if it emphasizes that only God decides the future. In terms of temporal orientations, the Arabic–Muslim character has been described as fatalistic and shortterm oriented (Ferraro, 1990). As stated by Harris and Moran (1987, p. 474):
Who controls time? A Western belief is that one controls his own time. Arabs believe that their time is controlled, to a certain extent, by an outside force – namely Allah – therefore the Arabs become very fatalistic in their view of time . . . Most Arabs are not clockwatchers, nor are they planners of time.

The perception of time also tends to be related to temporal orientations vis-à-vis the arrow of time. As stated by Kluckhohn and Strodtbeck (1961, pp. 13– 15):
The possible cultural interpretations of temporal focus of human life break easily into the three point range of past, present and future . . . Spanish-Americans, who have been described as taking the view that man is a victim of natural forces, are also a people who place the present time alternative in first position . . . Many modern European countries . . . have strong leanings to a past orientation . . . Americans, more strongly than most people of the world, place an emphasis upon the future – a future which is anticipated to be ‘bigger and better’.

Being past oriented means that people emphasize the role of the past in explaining where we are now. Europeans are typical of this assumption, as are some

In contrast, future orientation is naturally related to the view that people can master nature, and that the future can in some way be predicted or at least significantly influenced. In societies where future orientation is strong, it is backed by the educational system and by an ‘imagination of the future’ supported by reports on scientific breakthroughs and technological developments. The dimensions of past, present and future time orientation were found to be important in the Chinese Value Survey (CVS), which was developed by Michael Bond in Hong Kong to measure values suggested by Chinese scholars (Chinese Culture Connection, 1987). The purpose was to introduce a deliberate Eastern bias into value surveys that had been historically developed by Western scholars. This new instrument was tested with students in 22 countries. It uncovered a dimension they termed Confucian Work Dynamism, which corresponds to a future-orientation on one hand and a post- and present-orientation on the other. East Asian countries scored highest, followed by Western countries and finally developing countries. Hofstede (2001) in his review of the CVS referred to this


Chapter 2 Cultural dynamics 1: Time and space

as Long Term Orientation (LTO) and Short Term Orientation (STO):
Long Term Orientation stands for the fostering of virtues oriented towards future rewards, in particular, perseverance and thrift. Its opposite pole, Short Term Orientation, stands for the fostering of virtues related to the past and present, in particular, respect for tradition preservation of ‘face’ and fulfilling social obligations.

on Sundays. In Europe it is very common to find people taking recreational walks, bike rides, visiting a park or sitting in the cafe. These are not completely foreign to the United States, but seem to exist in Europe on a much grander scale. The use of time in quiet visiting seems to be much greater.

The following summarizes some of the main connotations of LTO differences cited in Hofstede (2001). In LTO cultures delayed gratification is accepted and longterm virtues such as frugality, perseverance, savings, investing are emphasized. The most important events in life will occur in the future and persistence is an important personality trait. Conversely, in STO cultures, immediate gratification is expected, and short-term virtues such as social consumption and spending are emphasized. The most important events in life occurred in the past or present. Several studies have found interesting correlations with these dimensions. According to Hofstede (2001, p. 351) LTO scores are strongly correlated with national economic growth: ‘Long-term orientation is thus identified as a major explanation of the explosive growth of the East Asian economies in the latter part of the 20th century’.

Combined cultural models of time: The Japanese Makimono time
Economic time usually goes with linear time, monochronism and future orientation. It is our ‘modern’ time, near to R.J. Graham’s (1981, p. 335) concept of the ‘European-American (Anglo) perception that allows time to have a past, present and future, and to be sliced into discrete units and then allocated for specific tasks.’ This view holds that time can be saved, spent, wasted or even bought, just like money. Even among the cultures that share this pattern of time, there may be significant differences. Lane and Kaufman (1992, p. 15) contrast the prevailing patterns in Northern Europe with those in the US:
The closed stores on Saturday afternoons and Sundays and short weekday hours are extremely limited by United States standards. Such customs limit the actual clock hours that are available for shopping, reduce weekend employment, etc. The result is a system which encourages recreation and/ or social time in the evenings and on weekends, particularly

Graham has tried to represent a synthesis of time perception dimensions, not only as a set of different perceptual dimensions, but also as complete temporal systems. He contrasts ‘Anglo’ time, which he describes as being ‘linear-separable’, with the ‘circular-traditional’ time of most Latin-American countries. This perception arises from traditional cultures where action and everyday life were not regulated by the clock, but rather by the natural cycles of the moon, sun and seasons. Graham proposes a third model, ‘proceduraltraditional’, in which the amount of time spent on an activity is irrelevant, since activities are proceduredriven rather than time driven. This system is typical of the American Indians, and to a large extent it also typifies Bantu time (reading A2.4). Graham’s ‘procedural-traditional’ time is hardly a ‘time’ in the Western sense. But it is not as simple as it might appear: some people may share different cultures and move from one time model or another, depending on the other people involved and the particular situation, tapping into different ‘operating cultures’ (Goodenough, 1971). As Hall states (1983, p. 58): ‘The Japanese are polychronic when looking and working inward, toward themselves. When dealing with the outside world . . . they shift to the monochronic mode . . . The French are monochronic intellectually, but polychronic in behaviour.’ A naive view of Japanese temporal orientations would lead one to assume that the Japanese are simply future oriented. In fact, a very knowledgeable observer of Japanese business, Robert Ballon, argues (in Hayashi, 1988) that the Japanese are neither future nor past oriented. For him the Japanese are present oriented and focused on the here and now. Hayashi explains the difficult attempt at finding cross-culturally equivalent terms by asserting that: ‘Many kinds of Japanese behaviour are extratemporaneous’ (p. 2), meaning that they are not time based. Hayashi explains further what he calls the Makimono time. In their model of time, the Japanese tend to posit the future as a natural extension of the present. The Japanese are basically people who work with a cyclical view of

2.3 Space


Figure 2.2 Japanese Makimono time pattern

organizing principle of territoriality, which we mentioned in the previous chapter. People are by nature territorial. They must define who has ownership and control over certain spaces. Table 2.2 contrasts space-related cultural assumptions, which correspond to four common problems and cultural orientations: 1. Whether people are insiders or outsiders (personalization versus depersonalization). 2. What the rights and obligations are for ingroup members (ingroup orientation). 3. Whether it is possible for outsiders to gain insider status, or a limited part of it (concrete versus abstract territoriality). 4. What the group membership conditions are for those willing to ‘enter this space’ (group versus individualistic cultures).

(Source: Hayashi, 1988, p. 9.)

time, based on their Buddhist background. They believe that souls of dead people transmigrate to newly born human beings, in an eternal cycle. As Hayashi states (1988, p. 10): ‘In Japanese cultural time, the past flows continuously toward the present and also the present is firmly linked to the future. In philosophical terms, we might say the past and the future exist simultaneously in the present’. Therefore, the linear-separable model of time, found in Western cultures, does not predominate in Japan. The notion of continuity is central in Japanese time, just as the notion of discontinuity is central in Western models of time. A Japanese definition would say ‘the present is a temporal period that links the region of the past with the world of the future’ (Hayashi, 1988, p. 18). The notion of continuity as well as the arrow of the future targeted to the present is central in the Makimono time pattern (Figure 2.2).

Personalization versus depersonalization
Whereas a being orientation results in ‘personalization’, a doing orientation results in ‘depersonalization’. While we discuss each of these below, the words should be interpreted cautiously, as they will be discussed in more detail in Chapters 13 to 17 (dedicated to language and communication, advertising personal selling and international business negotiations). ‘Personalization’ means that assumptions about what a person can do (and what can be done with this person) depend fundamentally on who this person is. Therefore, it is of prime importance to obtain information on who this person is. Since not all is prima facie visible, it means that it will be necessary to spend time exploring who this person is. This is evident in cultures with a being orientation. In the ‘being’ orientation emphasis is put on belonging, based on shared characteristics: 1. A set of people sharing family ties, a particular social class, a certain ethnic background, a religion, or a nationality. 2. Age (youngsters versus older people), sex (male versus female), marriage (married versus unmarried people). What is specific in a strong being orientation is the underlying assumption that what people are, naturally, legitimately and forcefully, influences the roles,


The key words for space-related cultural assumptions are ‘in’ and ‘out’, member and non-member, belonging or not. Here space is meant in its most general sense: the three-dimensional expanse in which all material objects are located. Let us assume that it is mainly occupied by people, more precisely groups of people and their properties. Spaces can be physical, grouping people by a town, a county or a country. Space can also be abstract, grouping people by common characteristics including education, religion and professional associations. Space is the basis for the


Chapter 2 Cultural dynamics 1: Time and space

Table 2.2 Space-related cultural differences
Basic problem/Cultural orientations Contrasts across cultures

Is emphasis put on what people do (i.e. doing) or on what they are (i.e. being) based on belonging to family, age, sex, religious or social status groups? (a) Personalization versus depersonalization Necessity of being personally acquainted with other people if one is to communicate and interact with them efficiently versus ability to communicate easily with unknown persons.

Who is a member of the group and what are the relevant ingroups? (b) Ingroup orientation Belonging to the ingroup (or reference group: family, tribe, clan, club, professional society, nation, etc.) may be a necessary condition for being considered a reliable, bona fide partner.

How to gain membership? (c) Concrete versus abstract territoriality What are the group membership conditions? For an individual who belongs to the outgroup, what are the prerequisites for assimilation (if any)?

How to deal with physical space? (d) Group cultures with close physical contact versus individualistic cultures desiring private space Tendency to live near to one another, and to be undisturbed by such intimacy. Conversely, tendency to feel the need for private space around one’s body, and to resent intrusion into this space (Hall, 1966).

power and capacities they have in the society. In the next chapter we will see that there is a strong link between a being orientation and the concept of the self and others, which mediates the being orientation and helps translate it into interaction models. A typical causal chain in the being style is: she is a woman, thus she belongs to the group of people in charge of reproduction and nurturing roles, thus she cannot work. A strong being emphasis is manifested in what people call themselves and others. In many traditional societies, language designates people by a term meaning ‘human being’. ‘Bantu’ for instance, means human being. This, more or less, assumes that others are not real human beings. Without going so far, the Japanese language gives a good example of a strict division between ‘we’ and ‘they’. Japanese people call themselves Nihon-jin and foreigners Gai-jin (those from the outside). Similarly, Pakistanis in the UK call themselves Apney (our own people) and white English Gorey (Chapman and Jammal, 1997).

In contrast, ‘depersonalization’ means that it is not important to know who a person is, to decide what this person can do (and what can be done with him or her). Therefore, it is not necessary to spend a lot of time discovering who the person is (especially if time is strongly economic). ‘Depersonalization’ means that their belonging to certain space characteristics (class, ethnic, age groups, etc.) is considered rather unimportant compared with purely individual, non-space-related characteristics. This is evident in cultures with a doing orientation. A doing orientation assumes that what people are does not naturally, nor legitimately, influence the roles, power and capacities individuals have in the society. Thus, what is important is what people can achieve, given their talents and abilities. In the purest version of the doing orientation, character and personality would be considered as unimportant in what individuals can achieve. Tasks are viewed as standard and people as interchangeable. Deeds are separated from

2.3 Space


emotions and doing belongs to a world of its own, radically separated from the being.

Ingroup orientation
Who is a member of the ingroup?

As explained by Triandis (1983, p. 144):
In every culture some people are defined as trustworthy, worthy of cooperation or even self-sacrifice for (ingroup), and other people are seen as ‘outsiders’ (outgroup). The basis of such distinction varies. In most cultures, tribe and family are crucial; in other cultures, nation, religion, language, or political ideology may be important; in still other cases, occupational group may be all-important. Thus the content of ingroups differs from culture to culture. Also, a person may belong to one, or to many, ingroups.

ground: it is private but not closed to outsiders, who may enter under definite conditions. Outgroup orientation, in contrast to ingroup orientation, is based on the assumption that there is a fundamental unity of mankind beyond the borders of ingroup spaces, including families, nations and cultures. If the two orientations are roughly opposed, it is not a complete opposition. In certain cultures they coexist, as in the Nordic European cultures, which combine a strong sense of national identity (ingroup) with a universal focus manifested in their strong commitment to peace, development of the poorest nations and international organizations (outgroup).
What does membership involve in terms of rights and obligations?

There is a natural relationship between the being orientation and the emphasis on group belonging, which has to do with natural law and the right of people to occupy a certain territory. The largest possible ingroups are nations. For many older countries, legitimacy is largely based on having ancestors in the place for a long time. Nationality, being legally based on jus sanguinis (law of the blood), may only be granted if at least one of their parents is a national. On the other hand, certain countries (e.g. the United States, Australia and France) base nationality on jus soli (law of the soil), that is, being born in the place is enough for a person to obtain citizenship.3 Benefits related to nationality are strongly space-related: the right to live, work and enjoy citizenship on a definite territory. This strict opposition delineates two different ways of defining the content of the ingroup (in this case a national group): on the one hand, people emphasize blood and kin; on the other, they do not. But ingroup orientation goes further. It is structured around kin-based loyalties and involves patterns of loyalty and obligation. The family is the most basic and smallest ingroup unit. Strong ingroup orientation is most often accompanied by a rhetoric based on family relationships, with a dominant father (outside oriented), a protective mother (inside oriented) and sisters and brothers, alternately considered as rivals within the ingroup (because they are competing for parents’ love, affection and preference) and allies vis-à-vis the outgroup (because they share the same fundamental identity; they are of the same kin). The family space is that of the house and the surrounding

The ingroup bonds involve relationships of loyalty. This loyalty does not extend beyond the borders of the ingroup space. Loyalty is basically about showing allegiance, respecting the values of the ingroup and maintaining a sense of the honour of the group. Loyalty is fundamentally non-reciprocal: people do not expect other ingroup members’ loyalty for being loyal themselves. Loyalty is not based on time, except for a sense of eternity: one may wait for 50 years to be rewarded for loyalty or one may never be rewarded; it just does not matter. Loyalty can be based on kinship or patronage, which is often an extended form of kinship based on symbolic adoption, that is, taking another’s child as one’s own. The virtue manifested in loyalty is that of maintaining allegiance, even in the face of conflicts with other members of the ingroup or when experiencing unfair treatment from the most powerful members. Strong ingroup orientation increases an insider’s loyalty, but simultaneously decreases the feeling of obligation towards outsiders. Morality is space related. It might, for instance, be considered as perfectly virtuous to lie to or steal from people to whom no loyalty is owed. The Mafia is a good illustration of an ingroup-oriented society. Morality is based on a set of values favouring strict loyalty, treason being punished by death sentence; the godfather who has ordered it goes to the burial ceremony because he still ‘loves’ the betrayer. Ingroup orientation partly explains behavioural relativity. Some national groups have a reputation for their compliant behaviour at home (where rules are strictly enforced) and for looser conduct when abroad. When they are away, they no


Chapter 2 Cultural dynamics 1: Time and space

longer feel the need to observe the rules that apply at home. They also consider that, when out of the ingroup space where bonds and loyalty are strong, they do not need to respect others’ rules (even those that are similar to their ingroups) since outsiders do not deserve loyalty or even interest and respect. Rights and obligations may be defined according to membership of particular ethnic groups, as in Africa, where only certain ingroups are allowed to be merchants. Mistrust of and disdain for retail activities explain why merchants are most often foreigners (Lebanese in West Africa, Indians in Zaire), particular local ethnic groups (Dioulas in Ivory Coast) or women (the ‘mama Benz’ in Benin). Ingroup or outgroup orientation has a deep influence on the system of ethics and morality in a particular society. Impersonal rules applied by judges to people irrespective of the group to which they belong are typical of low ingroup orientation. A typical case where such orientations are important is when a family member has committed some crime, the family knows about it, but there is no evidence; what does the family do: denounce one of its members or keep silent? Outgroup orientation values universal rules, applied to everybody. Human rights ethics are a typical feature of outgroup orientation. Objectivity and reciprocity are preferred over loyalty; or, to put it another way, loyalty is not to the group, not to people, but to the impersonal rules and values that govern the society as a whole, which is largely why the terms above are ‘personalization’ (people orientation) versus ‘depersonalization’ (rule orientation). However, people with an outgroup orientation, precisely because they have a more ‘depersonalized’ approach, are more sensitive to the problems of other human beings, far from their own space. Their tendency to behave in a more universal way, in no way means that they are less human. These differences have a major impact on international business negotiations and personal selling, in particular in relation to how to make contacts. What information should be sought if one is to understand connections between the people one confronts? How are decisions made in a particular ingroup? These differences also impact consumer behaviour, especially where ingroup orientation exerts pressure on consumers’ attitudes and buying decisions. Any society combines to various degrees, ingroup and outgroup

orientation and organizes them in particular ways. For example, ‘affirmative action, equal opportunity’ is a strong outgroup motto, typical of the US. However, the global rule is still that human beings cannot choose their favourite nationality. Yet if such a choice were available, it would be the purest form of outgroup orientation.
Pitfalls of excessive ingroup and outgroup orientations

Because extreme positions in space-related assumptions present drawbacks, there is always a combination of both, to varying degrees. On one hand, the pitfalls of ingroup orientation are: (1) tribalism – only people of an ingroup based on kin are considered worth interacting with and caring for; (2) localism – only people belonging to a small geographical unit are considered interesting people; and (3) provincialism – only values and behaviour that are in use in the community are considered appropriate. On the other hand, the pitfalls of excessive outgroup orientation are: (1) unrealistic universalism – the complete cancelling of borders will produce global welfare: a highly dubious assumption;4 and (2) global village ethnocentrism – if we ‘see’ what happens everywhere on Earth at any moment a global consciousness will emerge; unfortunately although images are global, a common interpretation of them is not.

Concrete versus abstract territoriality
If people are very territorial, it is important to know how to gain access to them, even as an external partner, such as a business partner in a joint venture (bearing in mind that loyalty and morality are mostly values that are applicable to group members only). Group membership may be gained on the basis of either concrete or abstract territoriality. If we combine the ingroup/outgroup and the being/doing divides, a simple contrast is as follows: 1. When ingroup and being orientation are strong, membership is mostly gained on the basis of concrete territoriality. 2. When outgroup and doing orientation are strong, membership is based on abstract territoriality. If membership is based on concrete territoriality, some necessary characteristics are innate or cannot be

2.3 Space


acquired by adult people, simply because the criteria are related to birth, socialization and education within the ingroup. In cases where it is impossible to gain membership, one must behave as a friendly and realistic outsider, who can target three possible positions in the long run: 1. A ‘tolerated outsider’ who is considered as different but useful for practical purposes. This status allows comfortable relationships and, in most cases, is a possible role for developing business. But two aspects have to be kept in mind: (a) such people should not imitate insider status or try to acquire it by too active an involvement in the community – ‘proactive outsiders’ will be reminded, at some stage, of their limited status as a full person; and (b) they should not play insider people off against each other to acquire power and influence: in general, they should not attempt to take advantage of conflict in the ingroup; ingroup conflicts are considered ‘in-house business’, not to be shown overtly, and never to be solved to an outsider’s benefit. 2. A ‘recognized outsider’: this status is closer to membership, yet is still far from it. Generally a ‘recognized outsider’ will have been living in the culture for a long period of time, will speak the language fluently and will have established strong relational networks. At a conference some years ago, Robert J. Ballon, a Belgian Jesuit living in Japan for more than 30 years and knowledgeable about Japanese business (mentioned above in relation to Japanese time patterns), explained how he was always considered a pure foreigner, despite his profound knowledge of Japanese society and his very deep involvement with the country. ‘Recognized outsiders’ often serve the purpose of ambassadors, cultural translators or mediators from the outside world of foreign groups to the ingroup. They are recognized as useful and friendly people by the insiders, yet they would lose their usefulness if they were to become insiders. 3. ‘Newly accepted insiders’ have taken a further step, crossing the cultural group border. They often can do so because they crossed early enough to be considered as still educable persons, suitable for a profound transformation of their being, as in the case of foreigners who arrived as young adults, completed their education and married locally.

Such persons will, however, remain somewhat on the fringes, near to the external borders of the cultural community, often considered as adequate ambassadors or mediators from the ingroup to outgroups. Membership based on doing and abstract territoriality corresponds largely to ‘modern culture’: outgroup orientation is highly valued and ingroup orientation is often, too quickly, equated with narrowmindedness, provincialism, hostility towards foreigners and the like. What people have done up to now is evidenced by their curriculum vitae (CV). The interview guide for affirmative action compliance programmes considers as discriminatory such enquiries of applicants concerning age, citizenship, marital status, birthplace, education that is not job related, language, etc. – information that, in most countries outside the United States, is considered legitimate for ascertaining who the applicant is. In France, CVs include this information and are accompanied by a photograph and a handwritten letter, which is sometimes used for assessing the person’s character by means of graphology. Abstract territoriality is mostly based on professional achievements, evidenced by diplomas, membership of professional bodies, being an alumnus of an ivy-league university, and so on. The epitome of abstract territoriality is represented by the golden boys. For them insider trading is a fraud, showing that the use of their natural ingroup advantages is viewed as evil. The space of ‘golden boys’ is a mix of top MBA schools, market dealing rooms and a ‘club of people constantly connected worldwide’. We can only imagine the profound differences between the ‘golden boy’ and the Bengali farmer. Business school graduates (Grandes écoles in France), or those holding the title of doctor in Germany belong to these ‘modern groups’ that are based on doing and competence rather than being, age, sex and group membership. It is assumed that access to membership is organized on a non-discriminatory and objective basis and that it is in the best interest of society as a whole because the ‘best people’ are doing the ‘appropriate job’. However, even in a doing framework, relational competence never disappears in favour of pure professional competence, simply because managing relationships is a dark side yet an important part of the doing competences. Paradoxically, when abstract


Chapter 2 Cultural dynamics 1: Time and space

territoriality is very strong, it largely re-creates primitive ingroup behaviour, but based on different criteria. The world of academia, for instance, is very ‘outgroupist’ for sex, nationality, religion or age, but it is very ‘ingroupist’ when it comes to doctoral degrees and the journals where people publish. Group membership assumptions are important for marketing negotiations, when facing a national competitive environment as a foreign firm, for making public relations contacts, for the recruitment and promotion of salespeople, especially in Africa and the Middle East, and for any situation involving business ethics. The favouring of one party over another, on the ground of personal relationship, in either political or economic affairs, is viewed dimly – indeed it is often called corruption – by outgrouporiented people, whereas it remains standard practice for ingroup-oriented people.

– the term he coined for the interrelated observations and theories of man’s use of space as a specialized elaboration of culture. According to Hall, in Western cultures, there are three primary zones of space: the intimate zone (0 to 18 inches; 0–45 cm), the personal zone (18 inches to 3 feet; 0.45–1 m), and the social zone (3 to 6 feet: 1–2 m). Touch can occur for westerners in the intimate and personal zones, but sensory involvement and communication is less intense in the social zone. (For more information on proxemics and US culture see WS2.3.) In fact, what differs across cultures in terms of physical space assumptions is the following: 1. What are the sizes of the three zones? To what extent do they overlap? 2. Who is allowed to enter these zones of physical space? 3. What is considered adequate sensory exchange within definite interpersonal distances? The last question is important in marketing terms. It relates to the senses (sight, sound, touch and smell), in as much as sensory perception is directly related to interpersonal distance. Americans, for instance, are famous for their suppression of personal odours in public spaces and this has created a mass market for room deodorizers, antiperspirants, mouthwashes and deodorants. Although smell suppression is globally ‘modern’, having also developed strongly outside the United States, it is not clear whether it will remain so in the future, with people striving for a more natural expression of themselves. Chapter 9, which deals with product policy, gives examples of how our sense of physical space mixes with sensory codes in a culturally significant way that enables consumers to attribute meaning to product characteristics. The list of basic space-related cultural assumptions in Table 2.2 is not exhaustive. Some other aspects need to be mentioned. The availability of inhabitable physical space and the density of population vary greatly across countries, with profound impact on material culture. The high population density in Japan and in many Asian countries has made it essential to make things ‘smaller’ so that more can fit in. The assumption is that ‘smaller is better’. This is one important reason why the Japanese have such a talent for miniaturizing objects. As shown in Chapter 12, Japanese space limitations at least partly explain the distribution system that prevails in that country. Conversely,

Group versus individualistic cultures
Territoriality refers also to possessiveness, control and authority over an area of physical space. Individuals need to refer to culture based rules concerning space because they have to defend their space against invasion or misuse by others. Chapman and Jamal (1997, p. 141) illustrate the impact of misinterpreted boundaries in their discussion of Pakistani immigrants in Bradford, UK:
the immigrants found the Bradford ‘garden’ incomprehensible. The immigrants perceived the frontier between the private domestic space and the public space to be the house-wall itself. The garden was treated as ‘outside’ the domestic space; the garden hedge, wall or fence, so carefully tended and guarded by the host community, was irrelevant; it was a classificatory boundary that was, in important senses, invisible. In consequence, the immigrants treated the ‘garden’ as a place to put things that were not desired in the house; this included household waste (food remains, general household rubbish), unwanted furniture, old mattresses, and so on.

The ‘language of space’ is culturally determined and provides the codes concerning social distance, such as how far should one stand from other people in order to respect their area of private space? A complete approach to relations with space was proposed by Edward T. Hall (1966) in The Hidden Dimension. In this book he developed the concept of ‘proxemics’

2.4 Cultural borrowing and change in societies


the availability of space and other resources in North America is a reason for the largeness of objects, be they cars, restaurant servings, or advertising billboards. The prevalent assumption that ‘bigger is better’ is probably a significant background explanation for the failure of US car manufacturers to adapt to smaller car sizes after the oil crisis of the mid-1970s. Contrasts in physical spaces should also be considered carefully in physically heterogeneous countries. A good example is Nepal, which has both the Himalaya mountains and subtropical plains in Tharuwan province near to India. Cultures adapt to their existing reality. The Nepali mountain people exhibit, on average, different values and behaviour from people in the lower areas. Their interpersonal solidarity and work orientation are stronger, because people would not survive otherwise. A last area where significant space-related cultural differences are displayed can be found in urban planning. This includes how towns are organized and how urban and rural landscapes are integrated and interrelated.

Isolated cultures, united cultures
Cultures are rarely pure, except in a few areas where people have been almost untouched by foreign influences. An example of such cultural isolation might be Japan, which, during the era of the Tokugawa shoguns, withdrew from all contact with outside people and cultures. The Tokugawa period lasted for more than two centuries before the Meiji era, which began in 1868 and initiated a period of increased accessibility of foreign influences to Japan. Reischauer, a specialist in Japanese history, explains in his book Japan: Past and present (1946, 1990) that two centuries of complete peace were enforced with extreme vigour by the Tokugawa regime. The Tokugawa shoguns have left their mark on the behaviour of the Japanese people. In the sixteenth century the Japanese were keen, adventurous and somewhat bellicose. By the nineteenth century they had become docile and humble subjects, awaiting orders from their hierarchical superiors, which they implemented resignedly. Reischauer hypothesizes that the collective regimentation under the Tokugawa shoguns led to an inwardlooking people who indulged in conformism, which served as consensus. He further notes that, at the beginning of the nineteenth century, antagonism in Japanese society was almost non-existent: the rules of propriety were strictly observed, and violence was extremely rare. Reischauer argues that when the Japanese were confronted with an unknown situation, they displayed very little ability to adapt, much less than other peoples.5 The Tokugawa period appears good in many ways, especially as regards the general level of education and the development of the arts. However, it largely interrupted the natural evolution of economic and social change. The Tokugawa shoguns preserved an outdated political and social order. Only after the beginning of the Meiji era in 1868 did the Japanese begin to interact with Europeans, who had achieved enormous advances in scientific knowledge during the previous two centuries. The succession of these two periods, one of great isolation and one of openness towards foreign cultures, probably explains the paradoxical relationship of the Japanese with international trade and marketing. In one sense they are very ethnocentric, but simultaneously they are quite capable of overcoming their ethnocentrism to become, ultimately, highly successful international marketers.


Cultural borrowing and change in societies
It would be wrong to give the impression that cultures are truly different and exclusive in their assumptions. Through time and space, cultures intermingle. Negative events such as wars and colonization convey cultural exchange. It is fascinating to consider the naivety with which, in the process of cultural borrowing, successful cultural artefacts are borrowed from other cultures without the cultural assumptions underlying these artefacts being understood or even imagined. Yan (1991, pp. 51–2) for instance, quotes the reformer Liang Quichao, who wrote in 1897 on the subject of European countries, considered, unlike China, as innovative:
In innovative countries the sovereigns are wise, their mandarins faithful and courageous, their people intelligent and heroic, their politics successful, their business prosperous, their products excellent, etc. Travel in their country brings you such pleasure and joy that you forget to return home. Will you then pose further questions as to the prosperity of these countries?


Chapter 2 Cultural dynamics 1: Time and space

In many other cases, cultures do mix. Contact may be bellicose, owing to the conflicting interests of countries and their cultures (religion, language, social and political systems) over borders. The perennial conflicts between the region south of the Mediterranean Sea (mostly Arab and Muslim) and the northern region (mostly Christian) are an example of this pattern of conflict and cooperation. That is, cultural encounters occur even in wartime. When besieged by the Turks in the fifteenth century, the Viennese were introduced by their opponents to a new, tasty and stimulating beverage known as coffee. It is through the Viennese as intermediaries that coffee was introduced into the West. Even during the Crusades (tenth to twelfth centuries), warriors on both sides had quiet moments during which they enjoyed each other’s food. In The Crusades through Arab Eyes (1985, pp. 128–9), Amine Maalouf describes how the Templars grew accustomed to understanding and accepting the customs and beliefs of the Muslims. In the following extract, Templars, although themselves Christians, side with a Muslim visiting Jerusalem, the Damascene emir Usamah, in defending Islamic religious practices:
When I was visiting Jerusalem, I used to go to Al-Aqsa mosque, where my Templar friends were staying. Along one side of the building was a small oratory in which the Franj [an Arab word designating the French, or more generally European, Crusaders] had set up a church. The Templars placed this spot at my disposal so that I might say my prayer. One day I entered, said Allahu Akbar, and was about to begin my prayer, when a man, a Franj, threw himself upon me, and turned to the east, saying, ‘Thus do we pray.’ The Templars rushed forward and led him away. I then set myself to prayer once more, but this man, seizing upon a moment of inattention, threw himself upon me yet again, turned my face to the east, and repeated once more, ‘Thus do we pray.’ Once again the Templars intervened, led him away, and apologized to me, saying, ‘He is a foreigner. He has just arrived from the land of the Franj and he has never seen anyone pray without turning his face to the east.’ I answered that I had prayed enough and left, stunned by the behaviour of this demon who had been so enraged at seeing me pray while not facing the direction of Mecca.

Cultural borrowing is general . . . and disguised
The basic requirement for the introduction of a new cultural item (a product, a lifestyle, a word, a dance,

a song) is that it looks (and in fact is) coherent with the culture that adopts it. That is why cultural borrowing is often disguised, by a change of name or by means of ‘reinvention’, whereby a local inventor/discoverer is found. It is fascinating to see how many countries seek to claim credit for particular inventions (the Xerox machine, for instance) at the same time. (For examples of cultural borrowing see WS2.4.) One may view culture as the accumulation of the best possible solutions to the common problems faced by the members of a particular society. This definition, very Anglo-Saxon in its problem-solving orientation, does have an advantage: it emphasizes the ‘shopping’ aspect of cultural dynamics. This concept is illustrated by Savishinsky (1998, p. 371) who describes the ‘spiritual pilgrimage’ of the Nacirema (to read more about their body rituals see A1.3): ‘While the Nacirema generally took great pride in their culture, they were also uneasy and restless about it, and unsure whether people in other tribes might be enjoying some things that they didn’t even know about . . . the Nacirema liked to leave the homeland they loved so much in order to search for clues to a better life.’ Similarly, perhaps, young Australians often spend lengthy periods of time abroad, immersing themselves in foreign cultures and diverse lifestyles their own geographical isolation would otherwise not have allowed them to experience. There have always been different kinds of travellers (explorers, warriors, merchants, colonials, etc.) who have brought back foreign innovations to their native country. Usually by accident, and sometimes by an almost systematic process, societies may find good imported solutions, as the Japanese have, because they are very conscious of their insularity and cultural isolation. For instance, Jeans, as informal trousers for casual wear, have made their way through all cultures. The fabric originally came from France (de Nîmes – denim) and the name from Italy – short for Jean Fustian from Genes (Genoa). Afterwards this ‘American’ invention made its way back to Italy and most other countries of the world. Some words and concepts are easily borrowed in their original form despite being obviously related to some well-established stereotype of a particular country: ersatz (the high reputation of German chemistry), leitmotiv (German music), showbiz (US dominance), élégance (the French reputation for style), kamikaze or hara-kiri (the Japanese capacity for self-sacrifice),

2.4 Cultural borrowing and change in societies


mamma (the Italian sense of the motherly role in the family). Sherry and Camargo (1987) show that the English language has had a profound influence on Japanese marketing: they report a heavy use of English loanwords in Japanese promotional texts and labels. Mai (English ‘my’), for instance, is used extensively in compounds such as mai homu (my home), because the Japanese equivalent would sound too selfish and stress the private over the collective. Beyond the imported word, it is the foreign value, individualism that is also imported. Although cultural opportunism is understandable, it is often hidden by the need to maintain cultural identity. Few societies are prepared to accept that a large part of their culture is really foreign: cultural borrowing is therefore somewhat hypocritical or at least disguised. Thus, cultural borrowings are disguised and they finally disappear. Numerous words, goods and even lifestyles (the ‘weekend’, for instance) have been largely borrowed. Such words as ‘magazine’

and ‘assassin’ have been directly imported from Arabic. During the Crusades, the Crusaders played endless games of dice, which Arabs call az-zahar : a word that the Franj adopted to designate not the game itself but hazard, the concept of chance (Maalouf, 1985). The example of the Japanese borrowing of Chinese writing more than fifteen centuries ago is a true example of imitation, but also of reinterpretation, which makes this appropriation a genuine element of Japanese culture (see Box 2.1). The Japanese, when they first read ideograms (which they later called kanji) did not immediately recognize them as representing ideas, but experienced them more directly as sounds. Therefore the kanji system works as a pictogram system representing both ideas and sounds. It is further completed by two syllabaries, which represent only sounds: hiragana for native words and katakana for imported words. The katakana syllabary is typical of the Japanese attitude towards cultural imports: they do not object (as the

Box 2.1

The origins of Japanese writing
The Japanese write their language with ideograms they borrowed from China nearly two thousand years ago. Some two thousand years before that, the ancient Chinese had formed these ideograms, or characters, from pictures of things they knew. To them the sun had looked like this , so this became their written word for sun. This form was gradually squared off and simplified to make it easier to write, changing its shape to a. This is still the way the word sun is written in both China and Japan today. The ancient Chinese first drew a tree like this . This was also gradually simplified and squared, to b which became the written word for tree. To form the word for root or origin the Chinese just drew in more roots at the bottom of the tree to emphasize this portion of the picture, , then squared and simplified the character to c. This became the written word for root or origin. When the characters for sun a and origin c are put together in a compound they form the written word ac, Japan, which means literally origin-of-the-sun. A picture of the sun in the east at sunrise coming up behind a tree forms the written word for east d. A picture of the stone lantern that guarded each ancient Chinese capital squared off and simplified to abstract form e, forms the written word for capital. These two characters put together in a compound form the written word de, Eastern-capital, TÔKYÔ. The characters may look mysterious and impenetrable at first approach, but as these examples show, they are not difficult at all to understand. The characters are not just random strokes: each one is a picture, and has a meaning based on the content of the picture. The Japanese written language contains a number of these characters, but fortunately not as many as Westerners often assume. To graduate from grammar school a student must know 881 characters. At this point he is considered literate. A high school graduate must know 1,850. To read college textbooks, about three thousand characters are necessary. All these thousands of characters, however, are built up from less than 300 elements, or pictures, many of which are seldom used.
(Source: Len Walsh, 1969. Reproduced with permission.)


Chapter 2 Cultural dynamics 1: Time and space

French do, for instance), but at the same time it is a necessity to signal clearly the foreign origin of some words and concepts by writing such words in katakana, which represent the same syllables as hiragana (an apparent waste of effort). Other examples of cultural borrowing are numerous: music, clothes, architecture, building techniques, food, recipes, etc. Borrowing sometimes goes as far as pure and simple copying, and possibly product counterfeiting. The Japanese have been remarkably skilful at borrowing European music, becoming the most important producers of musical instruments worldwide. Even castañets – an ethnically Spanish product – are made in Japan for sale in Spain. With the advent of the Internet and e-commerce, the potential for cultural borrowing has expanded exponentially (Borenstein and Saloner, 2001). For example, e-books may evolve to have built-in translators and culture-specific annotations, so that they adapt to different modes of thought and reading styles (Ohler, 2001). In this case, the reader would have no idea of its origin. Still, there appears to be resistance to this change, even within universities, where computer competencies are much higher than in the general population.

business managers perceptions of cultural closeness (using twenty cultural elements, including language, religion, food, drink, politics, etc.). They found that managers tended to like those overseas markets they perceived as more similar. In reality, this relationship is not as simple as it sounds. Cultural similarity has been viewed in terms of distance, but it is not an objective symmetrical distance (Shenkar, 2001). The extent of perceived similarity or distance can be influenced by many factors, including the tolerance of other cultures, the extent of interaction, cultural ‘attractiveness’, and the geographical proximity (Shenkar, 2001). In fact, some countries might be similar in many aspects of culture, but the proximity of their borders may increase their perceptions of cultural distance and their hostility.

Racism is often confused with cultural hostility, whereas in fact it precedes cultural hostility. But cultural hostility does not necessarily imply racism: one may be hostile to people of (some) other cultures, without being a racist. Behind racism there is a theory: that, because of their race (i.e. physiology), some human beings are inferior at various levels (intelligence, creative abilities, moral sense, etc.). The theories of Gobineau and Hitler’s Mein Kampf are writings that clearly developed and propagated racist views (for information on Mein Kampf see WS1.4). The following passage on slavery, written by Montesquieu in 1748 (book XV, ch. 5, p. 242, my emphasis), exemplifies racism:
Were I to vindicate our right to make slaves of the Negroes, these should be my arguments. The Europeans, having extirpated the Americans, were obliged to make slaves of the Africans, for clearing such vast tracts of land. Sugar would be too dear, if the plants which produce it were cultivated by any other than slaves. These creatures are all over black, and with such a flat nose, that they can scarcely be pitied. It is hardly to be believed that God who is a wise being, should place a good soul, in such a black ugly body.


Cultural hostility
Limits to borrowing clearly appear when it is seen as a threat to cultural coherence. This is especially true of religious practices, social morals and even daily customs. For instance, it is not easy to import polygamy or clitoral excision for babies into cultures where monogamy and child protection are strongly established practices. As previously stated, there must be a minimum level of coherence and homogeneity in cultural assumptions and behaviour if people are to synchronize themselves and live peacefully together. In fact, cultural similarity has been found to influence many factors, including the attractiveness of markets (Swift, 1999), relationship development (Anderson and Weitz, 1989), international cooperation (Van Oudenhoven and Van der Zee, 2002), trade relationships (Yu and Zietlow, 1995; MartinezZarzoso, 2003) and country image (Wong and Lamb, 1983). For example, Swift (1999) examined export

Racist theses and opinions have been progressively abandoned (as scientific theories, at least) over the last two centuries. An issue that is still discussed is that of differing intellectual capacity among people of different races or ethnic groups. It is always measured

2.5 Cultural hostility


by IQ tests, which are of Western/US origin. Although observed differences across ethnic groups are indisputable, their explanation is debated: some people argue about genetic differences being the explanatory variable, others attribute these differences to a series of non-genetic factors (Segall et al., 1990). Environmental factors, for instance, such as the absence of a formal education system, on average tend to diminish IQ scores. Such detrimental factors are often found among groups with low and median IQ scores. The IQ test itself is biased in as much as it penalizes, by its very construction, those who have been designated from the start as ‘culturally inferior’. The IQ test does not take into account many skills and competences that were unknown to the authors of the test. Moreover, recent studies show that the inter-individual variability of genetic characteristics is much larger than the inter-racial groups’ variability (Segall et al., 1990, p. 102). In other words, genetic differences among Europeans, or genetic differences among South African Zulus, are automatically significantly higher than the genetic differences between the average European and the average Zulu – a strong anti-racist argument.6 (For a free web-based IQ test see WS2.0.)

in Ulster; etc. Identity is a matter of culture rather than race. It is not only territorial conflicts but also economic competition that may cause cultural hostility. The Japanese are sometimes considered negatively in the United States, which has a large trade imbalance with Japan. In his controversial best-selling book, The Japan that Can Say No, Shintaro Ishihara (1991) argues that anti-Japanese racial prejudice is the main cause of ‘Japan-bashing’ in the United States. (For more information on Japan bashing, pamophjobis and other forms of cultural hostility see WS2.5.) Ishihara, a member of the Japanese diet, quotes what he said to politicians in Washington (p. 27):
I admit that Caucasians created modern civilization, but what bothers me is you seem to think that heritage makes you superior. In the thirteenth century, however, the Mongols under Genghis Khan and his successors overran Russia and Eastern Europe Caucasians adopted Mongolstyle haircuts and shaved eyebrows . . . Just as Orientals of today are crazy about the clothing and hairstyle of the Beatles, Michael Jackson and Sting, Occidentals of Genghis Khan times copied Mongolian ways.

Cultural hostility
In contrast to racism, cultural hostility does not imply prior prejudices as to who is inferior or superior according to race or culture. Culture is part of one’s own patrimony as a person. There is a strong affective dimension, when one feels that one’s proper cultural values are threatened. This feeling may result from either of the following: 1. Simple interactions with people whose cultural values are quite different. One does not feel at ease, communication is experienced as burdensome and there is little empathy. A defensive response may then develop, frequently the case of unconscious (and minor) cultural hostility. 2. Collective reactions. Cases are so numerous worldwide that it would need many pages to quote them exhaustively: Transylvanian Hungarians and Romanians, people in ex-Yugoslavia, Armenians of High Karabakh and Azeris of the Azerbaijan enclave in Soviet Armenia; Walloons and Flemings in Belgium; Protestant and Catholic communities

Cultural hostility, when directed at successful nations, is often a fairly ambiguous feeling, whereby admiration and envy for the other’s achievements go along with contempt for many traits of the envied people and obvious unwillingness to understand the root causes of the other’s success. This also results in naive copies of selected cultural artefacts as magical ways of becoming stronger – in Robinson Crusoe savages were about to eat Man Friday in order to gain his qualities. In the case of immigrants, Mauviel (1991, p. 73, our translation) comments on the frequent confusion between racism and cultural hostility:7
the dominant ideology has been so interiorized that a new, very subtle rhetoric enables us to avoid any direct, frank response to the problems concerning immigrants – the most important issue is not to be accused of ‘racism’. And one places under this word the most dissimilar elements, which often have nothing to do with race in its biological acceptance . . . The media especially like the meaningless expression ‘everyday racism’. As for the phrase ‘ethnic group’, which has replaced the word ‘race’, those who use the expression would have a hard time trying to define it.

There are differences across countries: Mauviel shows that the Italians are not so reluctant to speak openly on cultural hostility problems. The Italian


Chapter 2 Cultural dynamics 1: Time and space

press ‘lets reality be seen, it does not cover it with an embarrassed veil, it allows the publication of the most diverse opinions’. He describes, for instance, the case of the Nigerian women at Chambave (near Torino), which ‘as revealed by the press, demonstrates the irresponsibility of those who vow to have multiracial or multi-ethnic societies’ (Box 2.2).

Part 4 further examines the mechanism of cultural hostility, which is sometimes increased by language and communication problems. Intercultural misunderstandings may stem from a lack of competency in the other’s language, or from the natural tendency to adopt defensive stereotypes. It often results in a snowballing cultural hostility.

Box 2.2

Nigerian women of Chambave
Hundreds, if not thousands, of Nigerian women – graduates in chemistry, law and other subjects, nurses, etc. – came to Italy in search of a better life. Most of them end up walking the streets, or are love traders on the tangenziali, the freeways round cities, and even on country roads. The most striking example to me, because of its symbolic meaning, is that of the ‘train of sin’, from Turin to Aosta, which brings thirty to forty Nigerian women every summer evening on the 9.15 p.m. bus to Chambave, which is located between Aosta and San Vincenzo; they are joining their ‘shift’ on highway 26. These pendolari del amore (commuters) have lost the dream that they previously held, namely that of being salespeople for Italian shoes. One should not be astonished that the mayor [of Chambave], surrounded by the local council and the population of the valley, has organized a silent protest march. However, there is clearly a flourishing market, if one just looks at the evidence of the numerous cars with roaring engines that wait for the women. One may guess what the relations are between this village of nine hundred people and the African women, who are no longer prepared to accept being kept out of sight. In these matters, the most shocking hypocrisy is the rule; only conspicuous incidents that attract people’s attention, like those at Chambave, help us to become aware of these new forms of shameful exploitation, a direct consequence of the under-development of the countries of the South.
(Source: Mauviel, 1991, pp. 81–2.)

1. Discuss cultural variation in the solutions that have been found across societies to the four common problems listed below: (a) How to secure oneself (to feel secure, subjectively, and to protect oneself, objectively) against unforeseeable negative events (a grave illness, an incident, etc.). (b) How to treat the eldest in the community, when they cannot work any more. (c) Who should have access to education, on what criteria, and how should its cost be financed, given that the resources available for education, private and public, are not infinite? To what extent should education be given to all members of a particular society, irrespective of their age, social class and personal capacities? On which bases should access to education be organized? (d) How should couples, the basic unit for the reproduction of the species, be formed? What role should love, common ethnic or social belonging, age or (even) sex play in such a process?



2. Discuss the marketing implications of differing cultural solutions to points (a) and (b) in question 1, in terms of the existence of certain products or services, provided by the market, the state or mutual bodies, organized within the family group or by a traditional community. 3. What is the influence of space availability (mostly determined by population density in a definite country or area) on material culture? Give examples. 4. Indicate how the following products and services are ‘loaded’ with time, in terms of time used in consumption, time-saving device, durability, waiting time, seasonality, time projections in the past and the future, etc. (as an example, Box 7.1 describes the time load in life insurance policies): (a) a dishwashing machine; (b) a haircut; (c) obtaining cash from your bank; (d) spending two-week vacations at Club Méditerranée; (e) fresh orange juice versus dried orange juice (i.e. concentrated powder). 5. How would you expect consumer behaviour to vary across cultures for the five products/services above? (Cite one example per case.) 6. You try to park your car. A sign indicates that parking in this area is limited to 15 minutes. Another sign reads: ‘Long term parking, 300 metres’. What do these explicit signs suggest concerning temporal culture in this country? 7. Define what would be the most important criteria for recruitment in a being-oriented society as compared with a doing-oriented society. 8. In most countries, police and judiciary positions are subject to a condition of nationality (being a national is a requirement for entering the service) whereas in universities and research centres positions are open to applicants regardless of their nationality. Why? 9. Find examples of cultural borrowing (in everyday life, in the press, in people’s behaviour, in work as well as leisure activities, the arts, etc.). 10. The scooter was invented just after the Second World War on a Californian airport, by putting a body on a motorcycle; this allowed quick movement on the tarmac. The invention was industrially developed by the Italians in the 1950s and 1960s. In the 1970s, the Japanese began to sell scooters worldwide. What does this suggest in terms of cultural borrowing? 11. Try to elaborate on the following assertion: ‘The usual traffic in marketing and business texts is that this generally starts with the American text and this is then translated into other languages or sometimes used in the original version’. What are the problems likely to be encountered by non-US educators and practitioners when using such materials? On the other hand, what are the advantages of using them?


Chapter 2 Cultural dynamics 1: Time and space

1. This aphorism (my translation) is attributed to the Swedish writer Selma Lagerlöf by Karl Petit (1960, p. 100). Selma Lagerlöf is the author of, among other works, Gösta Berling (1957), Editions Je sers: Paris, a unique account of the Swedish soul. 2. The concept of time, and therefore of time-related behaviour, has been studied in numerous fields (Jacoby et al., 1976; Feldman and Hornik, 1981). Contributions are to be found in such diverse disciplines as psychology, economics, sociology, theology, linguistics, mathematics, physics, literature and anthropology. 3. In the real world nationality laws are much more complicated and, in many cases, combine the two bases, kin and soil, as relevant criteria for the award of nationality. 4. The rules of the GATT, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, are partly based on such open-space assumptions. 5. Reischauer’s book is now published under the title Japan: The story of a nation. The text has been updated since it was first published as Japan, Past and present, and the new version does not contain the ideas about the consequences of the Tokugawa period on Japanese behaviour, perhaps because they were resented by Japanese readers. Even distant historical events and periods may still be controversial today, when different interpretations are at stake. 6. See ch. 5 of Segall et al. (1990, pp. 93–112), which asks ‘Are there racial differences in cognition?’ and offers an in-depth review of the empirical studies of the difference in intellectual performance across ethnic groups. 7. Mauviel remarks that numerous studies have been dedicated to immigrant populations as such, but little research is concerned with the relations between the native lower-class population and the immigrant communities (this is true of France, and probably many other countries). This explains why we know little about cultural hostility, which has been more or less taboo as a research topic, probably because of the fear that unveiling somewhat negative attitudes could encourage their expression. This taboo is especially strong in countries with a significant colonial history (the United Kingdom, France, the Netherlands), which explains a certain feeling of guilt. 8. The rationales behind the alternative explanations for A2.1, A2.2 and A2.3 can be found in section A3.3.

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Hofstede, Geert (1980), Culture’s Consequences: International differences in work-related values, Sage: Beverley Hills, CA. Hofstede, Geert (2001), Culture Consequences, 2nd edn, Sage: Thousand Oaks, CA. Ishihara, Shintaro (1991), The Japan that Can Say No, Simon & Schuster: New York. Jacoby, Jacob., George J. Szybillo and Carol K. Berning (1976), ‘Time and consumer behavior: an interdisciplinary overview’, Journal of Consumer Research, vol. 2, pp. 320–39. Kadima, K. and F. Lumwanu (1989), ‘Aires linguistiques à l’intérieur du monde Bantu: Aspects généraux et innovations, dialectologie et classifications’, in Théophile Obenga (ed.), Les Peuples Bantu, migrations, expansion et identité culturelle, Editions L’Harmattan: Paris, pp. 63–75. Kagame, Alexis (1975), ‘Aperception empirique du temps et conception de l’histoire dans la pensée Bantu’, in Les cultures et le temps, Payot/Unesco: Paris, pp. 103–33. Kaufman, Carol., Paul M. Lane and Jay D. Lundquist (1991), ‘Exploring more than 24 hours a day: a preliminary investigation of polychromic time use’, Journal of Consumer Research, vol. 18, December, pp. 392–401. Kaufman-Scarborough, Carol and Jay D. Lundquist (1999), ‘Time management and polychronicity: comparisons, contrasts, and insights for the workplace’, Journal of Managerial Psychology, vol. 14, no. 3/4, p. 288. Kluckhohn, Florence R. and Frederick L. Strodtbeck (1961), Variations in Value Orientations, Greenwood Press: Westport, CT. Lane, Paul M. and Carol Felker Kaufman (1992), ‘The United States chases time; Europeans pursue life: a cross-cultural comparison of perceived time’, Proceedings of the First Conference on the Cultural Dimension of International Marketing, Odense, pp. 1–18. Maalouf, Amine (1985), The Crusades through Arab Eyes, Schocken Books: New York. Martinez-Zarzoso, I. (2003), ‘Gravity model: An application to trade between regional blocs’, Atlantic Economic Journal, vol. 31, no. 2, pp. 174–88. Mauviel, Maurice (1991), ‘La Grande Misère de l’antiracisme français’, Intercultures, no. 12, January, pp. 69–82. Montesquieu, Charles de (1748), The Spirit of Laws, translated from the French by Thomas Nugent (1792), 6th edn, McKenzie and Moore: Dublin. Ohler, Jason (2001), ‘Taming the technological beast’, The Futurist, January–February, pp. 16–21. Palmer, David K. and F. David Schoorman (1999), ‘Unpackaging the multiple aspects of time in polychronicity’, Journal of Managerial Psychology, vol. 14, no. 3/4, p. 323. Pearson, Emil (1977), People of the Aurora, Beta Books: San Diego. Petit, Karl (1960), Dictionnaire des Citations, Marabout: Verviers.

Reischauer, Edwin O. (1946), Japan: Past and present, Alfred A. Knopf: New York. Reischauer, Edwin O. (1990), Japan: The story of a nation, 4th edn, McGraw-Hill: New York. Savishinsky, Joel (1998), ‘The Nacirema and the Tsiruot’, International Journal of Intercultural Relations, vol. 22, no. 3, pp. 369–74. Segall, Marshall H., Pierre R. Dasen, John W. Berry and Ype H. Poortinga (1990), Human Behaviour in Global Perspective, Pergamon: New York. Shenkar, Oded (2001), ‘Cultural distance revisited: towards a more rigorous conceptualization and measurement of cultural differences’, Journal of International Business Studies, vol. 32, no. 3, pp. 519–35. Sherry, John F. Jr and Eduardo G. Camargo (1987), ‘ “May your life be marvellous:” English language labelling and the semiotics of Japanese promotion’, Journal of Consumer Research, vol. 14, September, pp. 174–88. Sorokin, Piritim and Robert Merton (1937) ‘Social time: a methodological and functional analysis’, American Journal of Sociology, vol. 42, pp. 615–29. Spears, Nancy, Lin Xiaohua and John C. Mowen (2001), ‘Time orientation in the United States, China, and Mexico: measurement and insights for promotional strategy’, Journal of International Consumer Marketing, vol. 13, no. 1, pp. 57–75. Swift, Jonathan B. (1999), ‘Cultural closeness as a facet of cultural affinity’, International Marketing Review, vol. 16, no. 3, pp. 182–201. Triandis, Harry C. (1983), ‘Dimensions of cultural variation as parameters of organizational theories’, International Studies of Management and Organization, vol. XII, no. 4, pp. 139–69. Triandis, Harry C. (1994), Culture and Social Behavior, McGraw-Hill: New York. Trompenaars, Fons (1993), Riding the Waves of Culture, Nicholas Brealey: London. Usunier, Jean-Claude (1991), ‘Business time perceptions and national cultures: a comparative survey’, Management International Review, vol. 31, no. 3, pp. 197–217. Usunier, Jean-Claude (2003), ‘The role of time in international business negotiations’, in Pervez N. Ghauri and Jean-Claude Usunier (eds), International Business Negotiations, 2nd edn, Oxford: Elsevier, pp. 171–203. Usunier, Jean-Claude and Constantin Napoléon-Biguma (1991), ‘Gestion culturelle du temps: Le cas Bantou’, in Franck Gauthey and Dominique Xardel (eds), Management Interculturel: Modes et Modèles, Economica: Paris, pp. 95–114. Usunier, Jean-Claude and Pierre Valette-Florence (1994), ‘Perceptual time patterns (“Time styles”): a psychometric scale’, Time and Society, vol. 3, no. 2, pp. 219–41. Van Oudenhoven, J.P. and K.I. Van der Zee (2002), ‘Successful international cooperation: the influence of cultural similarity, strategic differences, and international experience’, Applied Psychology, vol. 51, no. 4, p. 633.


Chapter 2 Cultural dynamics 1: Time and space

Walsh, Len (1969), Read Japanese Today, Charles E. Tuttle: Rutland, VT, and Tokyo. Weeks, William H., Paul B. Pedersen and Richard W. Brislin (1987), A Manual of Structured Experiences for Crosscultural Learning, Intercultural Press: Yarmouth, ME. Wong, C. and C. Lamb Jr. (1983), ‘The impact of selected environmental forces upon consumers’ willingness to

buy foreign products’, Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, vol. 11, no. 2, pp. 71–84. Yan, Chen (1991), ‘L’Europe vue par l’empire du milieu’, Intercultures, no. 12, January, pp. 45–56. Yu, C.J. and D.S. Zietlow (1995), ‘The determinants of bilateral trade among Asia-Pacific countries’, Asean Economic Bulletin, vol. 11, no. 3, pp. 298–305.

Appendix 2

Teaching materials

A2.1 Cross-cultural scenario Inshallah
Stefan Phillips, a manager for a large US airline, was transferred to Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, to set up a new office. Although Stefan had had several other extended overseas assignments in Paris and Brussels, he was not well prepared for working in the Arab world. At the end of his first week Stefan came home in a state of near total frustration. As he sat at the dinner table that night he told his wife how exasperating it had been to work with the local employees, who, he claimed, seemed to take no responsibility for anything. Whenever something went wrong they would simply say ‘Inshallah’ (‘If God wills it’). Coming from a culture which sees no problem as insoluble, Stefan could not understand how the local employees could be so passive about job-related problems. ‘If I hear one more inshallah,’ he told his wife, ‘I’ll go crazy.’

What might you tell Stefan to help him better understand the cultural realities of Saudi Arabia?8
(Source: Ferraro, 1990, p. 118. Reproduced with permission.)

A2.2 Cross-cultural interaction Engineering a decision
Mr Legrand is a French engineer who works for a Japanese company in France. One day the general manager, Mr Tanaka, calls him into his office to discuss a new project in the Middle East. He tells Mr Legrand that the company is very pleased with his dedicated work and would like him to act as chief engineer for the project. It would mean two to three years away from home, but his family would be able to accompany him and there would be considerable personal financial benefits to the position – and, of course, he would be performing a valuable service to the company. Mr Legrand thanks Mr Tanaka for the confidence he has in him but says he will have to discuss it with his wife before deciding. Two days later he returns and tells Mr Tanaka that both he and his wife do not like the thought of leaving France and so he does not want to accept the position. Mr Tanaka says nothing but is somewhat dumbfounded by his decision.


Chapter 2 Cultural dynamics 1: Time and space

Why is Mr Tanaka so bewildered by Mr Legrand’s decision? 1. He believes it is foolish for Mr Legrand to refuse all the financial benefits that go with the position. 2. He cannot accept that Mr Legrand should take any notice of his wife’s opinion in the matter. 3. He believes Mr Legrand is possibly trying to bluff him into offering greater incentives to accept the offer. 4. He feels it is not appropriate for Mr Legrand to place his personal inclinations above those of his role as an employee of the company.
(Source: Brislin et al., 1986, p. 158.)

A2.3 Cross-cultural interaction Opening a medical office in Saudi Arabia8
Dr Tom McDivern, a physician from New York City, was offered a two-year assignment to practice medicine in a growing urban centre in Saudi Arabia. Many of the residents in the area he was assigned to were recent immigrants from the much smaller outlying rural areas. Because Western medicine was relatively unknown to many of these people, one of Dr McDivern’s main responsibilities was to introduce himself and his services to those in the community. A meeting at a local school was organized for that specific purpose. Many people turned out. Tom’s presentation went well. Some local residents also presented their experiences with Western medicine so others could hear the value of using his service. Some of Tom’s office staff were also present to make appointments for those interested in seeing him when his doors opened one week later. The meeting was an obvious success. His opening day was booked solid. When that day finally arrived, Tom was anxious to greet his first patients. Thirty minutes had passed, however, and neither of his first two patients had arrived. He was beginning to worry about the future of his practice while wondering where his patients were.

What is the major cause of Tom’s worries? 1. Although in Tom’s mind and by his standards his presentation was a success, people actually only made appointments so as not to hurt his feelings. They really had no intention of using his services as modern medicine is so foreign to their past experiences. 2. Given the time lag between sign up and the actual day of the appointment, people had time to rethink their decision. They had just changed their minds. 3. Units of time differ between Arabs and Americans. Whereas to Tom his patients were very late, the Arab patient could still arrive and be on time. 4. Tom’s patients were seeing their own traditional healers from their own culture; after that, they could go on to see this new doctor, Tom.
(Source: Brislin et al., 1986, pp. 160–1.)

Appendix 2 Teaching materials


A2.4 Reading Language and time patterns: The Bantu case
Cultural and linguistic unity of the Bantu area
The Bantu area spreads along the southern side of a line that starts from Douala, Cameroon, by the Atlantic Ocean, and finishes at the mouth of the Tana river in the Indian Ocean. It divides northern and southern Africa. The Bantu area covers most of the southern cone of this continent. These wide territories (several million square kilometres) are occupied by Bantu people, with the limited exception of some other small ethnic groups. The cultural unity of this people has been established on the basis of common linguistic features. As early as the middle of the nineteenth century, W. Bleek (quoted by Kadima and Lumwanu, 1989) had recognized that Bantu languages shared common lexical elements and many grammatical forms. In taking Bleek’s work one stage further, anthropologists, historians and linguists have tried to identify the common social and cultural traits which allow a particular area to be classified as Bantu. Alexis Kagame (1975), for instance, has studied Bantu linguistic systems, especially their underlying structures. He has collated what he terms ‘compared Bantu philosophy’. The convergence of authors when describing the conception of time in Bantu cultures is quite marked.

The unification of time and space
At the heart of the Bantu’s intuition of time lies the postulate of a very close relation between time and space. Within this postulate none of these basic dimensions of reality exist without the others. Alexis Kagame reveals this conceptual link. Ontologically, Bantu culture puts whatever may be conceived or said into one of four categories: 1. 2. 3. 4. The being – of intelligence (man). The being – without intelligence (thing). The being – as localizer (be it place or date). The being – modal (incidentality, or modification of the being).

The major assumption made by Kagame is that translation of Bantu words in metaphysical categories is possible. He therefore translates ha-ntu by the being-localizer. This common word expresses the unity of space (place) and time (date). In the Bantu language this term means both the ‘there’ of locus and the ‘now’ of time. It is an indivisible localizer, both spatial and temporal. The localizing prefix ha-, which forms ha-ntu, and its variants pa-ntu and ka-ntu are found in the eastern zone of the Bantu territory. Its equivalent in the western zone is va, whereas it is go in the south-eastern part of the Bantu area. The idea of unification between space and time in Bantu languages is shared by Emil Pearson, who has lived in the south-east of Angola since the 1920s. He writes in his book People of the Aurora (1977, p. 75):


Chapter 2 Cultural dynamics 1: Time and space

In the Ngangela language there is no word, as far as I know, for ‘time’ as a continuous, flowing passage of events or the lack of same. Time is experiential or objective, that is, it is that which is meaningful to the person or thing which experiences it. Time and space are cognate incidents of eternity. The same word is used for both ‘time’ and ‘space’ (the latter in the sense of ‘distance’). ‘Ntunda’ can either express meaningful time or meaningful space. For example: ‘Ntunda kua i li’ – ‘There is some distance’; and ‘Ntunda i na hiti’ – ‘Time has passed’. The related verb ‘Simbula’, means ‘delay’, the thought being of awaiting ‘meaningful time’. To the European the African may seem to be idling away useful time, whereas the latter, according to his philosophy, is awaiting experiential time, the time that is right for accomplishing his objective. ‘Time’ is locative, something that is virtually concrete, not something abstract. The locatives ‘Ha’, ‘Ku’ and ‘Mu’ are used for expressing ‘time’ as well as ‘place’. Example: ‘Ha Katete’ – ‘In the beginning’ (as to either time or place); ‘Ku lutue’ can mean either ‘in front’ or ‘in the future’. ‘Mu nima’ can mean ‘behind’ as to place, or ‘after’ as to time.

Bantu time experience
Two significant points sharply contrast the way Bantus experience time with the Western way of experiencing it within a technological environment. First, Bantus have no theoretical substantive to designate time as an entity per se, which can be quantified and measured. Second, for Bantus, the temporal dimension is intrinsic to the event itself. It is not an abstraction as in most Occidental developed cultures. To these cultures it appears as a content which flows regularly from the past to the future, through the present; a flow in which everything moves at the same speed, being ‘in time’. For Bantu peoples time has no real value, no meaning, without the occurrence of an event which will serve as a ‘marker’. The intuition of time only becomes effective when an action or an event happens: warriors’ expedition, arrival of the train, rainfall, starvation on the increase. Time then becomes individualized. It is drawn out of anonymity. It is not anybody’s time which would be abstractedly defined. It is concrete time concerning people I know. Instead of considering time as a straight railway track, where events may happen successively, it will only be spoken of as ‘the time of this . . .’ or ‘the time of that . . .’, or time which is favourable for this and that. That is why, on many occasions, there is no point in giving dates, that is to refer oneself to ideal time coordinates. History is not a series of dates, but a link between various events. Everything possesses its own internal time. Each event occurs at its own time.
(Source: Usunier and Napoléon-Biguma, 1991, pp. 95–114. Reproduced with the kind permission of the publisher and the co-author.)

A2.5 Exercise World picture test
To clarify participants’ understanding of countries and cultures of the world through their knowledge of geography.
n n n n

Participants: Three or more persons. Facilitator. Materials: Paper and pens. Setting: No special requirements. Time: At least 30 minutes to one hour.

Appendix 2 Teaching materials


1. Each participant is given a sheet of paper and a pen and asked to: (a) draw a map of the world as best they can within a five-minute time period; (b) name as many of the countries as they can; (c) mark any country they have visited for a week or longer; (d) exchange papers with other members of the group and discuss what differences are evidenced in what the other person put into their drawing and/or left out of the drawing. 2. Discuss the following points: (a) Does a person’s awareness of the shape of a country reveal that person’s awareness of the shape of the culture? (b) When a person leaves out a country, what does this mean? (c) When a person leaves out a continent, what does this mean? (d) What country did the person place in the centre of the map and what does that mean? (e) When a person draws a country out of place in relation to other countries, what does this mean? (f) Were they better acquainted with countries they had visited? (g) When the person objects violently to doing the drawing, what does that mean? (h) How well did persons draw home countries of other group members? (i) What do the persons plan to do as a result of what they learned in this exercise?
(Source: Weeks et al., 1987, pp. 107–8.)

Cultural dynamics 2: Interactions, mindsets and behaviours

There is a paragraph in Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations, where he comments about the ‘Education of youth’ ([1776], 1976, p. 286):
‘If the teacher happens to be a man of sense, it must be an unpleasant thing to him to be conscious, while he is lecturing his students, that he is either speaking or reading nonsense, or what is very little better than nonsense. It must too be unpleasant to him to observe that the greater part of his students desert his lectures; or perhaps attend upon them with plain enough marks of neglect, contempt, and derision. If he is obliged, therefore, to give a certain number of lectures, these motives alone, without any other interest, might dispose him to take some pains to give tolerably good ones.

discusses how basic cultural assumptions translate into everyday behaviour, especially in the work environment.


Concept of the self and others
The concept of the self and others does not relate directly to how a society is organized. It deals with how the organization of a society is internalized by people and is reflected in the view we have of ourselves in comparison with others. It is largely about people within a society responding positively and unconsciously to membership conditions, and thus being largely unaware of the conditions necessary for becoming an ‘appropriate’ member of the society. In fact, men and women, children and older people have to make assumptions about the why and how of their presence in this society, and these assumptions differ across societies. The concept of the self is a kind of modal view of what people are in society and therefore what they are allowed to do. Our assumptions are related to the main sociodemographic categories (age, sex, social class), as well as to idealized conduct in particular roles (the perfect man, businessman, child, etc.). These ideal patterns are depicted in books, films, TV series, and any other kind of cultural artefact that conveys subliminal normative messages. For instance, we have an abundance of identification possibilities from films, such as Harry Potter, Charlie’s Angels, and Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings. In viewing these, we constantly

There are few domains in which cultural relativity is as strong as in education and teaching. This chapter will enable the reader to give some reasons, based on culture, why such a teacher as the one imagined by Adam Smith may survive perfectly well as a teacher, even if many students have left his class. This chapter complements the previous one. Figure 2.1 illustrates that basic cultural assumptions are related to cultural models of time and space, and that both time and space influence our concept of the self and others. The first section in this chapter is dedicated to concepts of the self and others, which are central to the explanation of how people interact (section 3.2) and thus, their attitudes towards action (section 3.3 on why and how to act; 3.4 about relating thinking to action; 3.5 on wishes and feelings as they relate to action; and 3.6 on coping with rules). This material is all organized around common problems, explained in the three tables (3.1 to 3.3) that relate to Figure 2.1. The last section in the chapter (3.7)

3.1 Concept of the self and others


receive messages on how to behave. We find heroes to be desirable role models, even though we know that these characters are fictional. The concept of the self has major implications in the area of consumer behaviour (Belk, 1988), many of which are discussed in Chapter 4. Briefly, our possessions are a major contributor to and reflector of our identities. As we ascribe meaning to what we buy and consume, our possessions become the means by which we strive to assert, complete, or attain our ‘ideal’ self (Wong and Ahuvia, 1995). One of the most studied aspects of self-concept across cultures is the tendency toward an independent or interdependent self-construal. Markus and Kitayama (1991) identified these two relatively stable self-construals which emphasize the degree to which people see themselves as separate from or connected

to others. They described the Western or individualist self as independent, ‘containing significant dispositional attributes, and as detached from context’, whereas the Eastern or collectivist self is interdependent ‘with the surrounding context, [where] it is the “other” or the “self-in-relation-to-other” that is focal in individual experience’ (p. 225). While each of us is able to draw on either aspect, the one that is salient determines which influence is most likely in a situation. Thus, in collectivist societies, the interdependent self is more likely to be salient, leading to norms, roles and values of the in-group becoming the ‘obviously’ correct way to behave (Triandis, 1990). Table 3.1 presents major categories in the area of concepts of the self and others. From Table 3.1 there are four basic problems that we will address below: (1) Is human nature good or bad; (2) How do we

Table 3.1 Concepts of the self and others
Basic problem/Cultural orientations How should we treat unknown people? (a) Is human nature basically good or bad? Unknown people are considered favourably and shown confidence or, conversely, they are treated with suspicion when met for the first time. Contrasts across cultures

Appraising others (b) When appraising others, emphasis placed on: (i) age (ii) sex (iii) social class Who are the persons to be considered trustworthy and reliable, with whom it is possible to do business? (i) older (younger) people are seen more favourably. (ii) trustworthiness is based on sex or not. (iii) social class plays a significant role (or not) in concepts of the self and others.

Appraising oneself (c) Emphasis placed on the self-concept perceived as culturally appropriate: (i) self-esteem: low / high (ii) perceived potency: low / high (iii) level of activity: low / high Relating the individual to the group (d) Individualism versus collectivism The individual is seen as the basic resource and therefore individual-related values are strongly emphasized (personal freedom, human rights, equality between men and women); versus the group is seen as the basic resource and therefore group values are favoured (loyalty, sense of belonging, sense of personal sacrifice for the community, etc.). To give the correct appearance one should behave: (i) Shy and modest versus extrovert or even arrogant. (ii) Power should be shown versus hidden. (iii) Busy people or unoccupied/idle people are well regarded.


Chapter 3 Cultural dynamics 2: Interactions, mindsets and behaviours

assess or appraise others; (3) How do we appraise ourselves; and (4) How do we relate to the group?

Is human nature good or bad?
A basic assumption about innate human nature concerns whether it is good, evil or neutral. However we characterize it, human nature is subject to both positive and negative influences. This is complicated further by the view that this basic nature may or may not be changeable. Indicative of these hidden and largely unconscious assumptions, are attitudes on first contact. A friendly and open-minded attitude towards people one does not know is a good indicator of the assumption that innate human nature is good. When visiting the United States or Australia, Europeans are often amazed by how well they are received by people they have never been in contact with before. Although this cannot be explained solely by assumptions about human nature, it is clear that there is a strong positive belief towards new people. That is, they are viewed as basically good and able to improve themselves by education and perseverance (human nature is also seen as changeable). One may interpret this as having a functional side in relatively new countries. Generally, twentieth-century films of the ‘Western’ genre portrayed ‘bad’ Indians and ‘good’ European settlers. The assumptions of this human nature orientation are fairly straightforward: ‘civilized’ = good; ‘uncivilized’ (Indians, gamblers, desperadoes) = bad. In contrast, the Latin Europeans and South Americans do not start from similar premises, which makes first contact with them more difficult. This can be seen in novels that reflect a view of basic human nature held by a particular people. For instance, the novels of the Colombian writer Gabriel Garcia Marques are typical of the view that human nature is basically bad (for more information on Gabriel Garcia Marques see WS3.1). In reality, the complete assumptions about human nature are of a dialectic nature. That is, the apparent contradiction between the two assumptions is resolved at a higher level of thinking. They would read more as:
n n n

The two sides of each basic assumption coexist in most religions, which strive to improve individuals, especially through the social morals they develop. For ourselves, we still need to have reference points from which to evaluate others. These are largely culture based. The dynamics of friendship necessarily relate to assumptions about human nature. If human nature is assumed to be good, then friendship develops quickly, but it is not necessarily very profound: since many people are supposed to be good, it is not as necessary to select a small group of ‘true’ friends. When it is assumed that human nature is generally bad, friendship develops more slowly because there is some initial distrust. Friendship will generally be more limited in terms of numbers, but more profound: a circle of friends may be a protective barrier against a society perceived as somewhat unfriendly, if not overtly hostile. Human nature orientation, although fundamental, is not directly related to action. It is indirectly related to marketing through collaboration, competition and the messages we create, which depict bad versus good characters, etc.

How do we appraise others?
Appraising others serves a multitude of purposes: making friends, choosing business partners, targeting potential customers, and so on. Apart from personality traits, which we judge by intuition, there are a number of clues, such as age, sex and behaviour, which we use to appraise others depending on our culture. Let us illustrate the basic clues and how culture-based interpretations may diverge. Age may be associated with inexperience, doubtful character and lack of seriousness, or, by way of contrast, with open-mindedness, creativity, and the ability to change things and to undertake new ventures. Naturally, both sets of qualities are found in young people of all cultures. What is more interesting is how certain cultures, like Japan and Africa, place a higher value on older people, while others, like the United States, value younger people in society. This divergence of attitude probably occurs because the qualities typically found in the more highly valued age group are implicitly perceived as more congruent and favourable for the overall development of the society. An emphasis on age is associated with other cultural orientations such as power distance, which is

Human nature is basically good, but . . . Human nature is basically bad, but . . . Human nature lies somewhere between good and bad, and . . .

3.1 Concept of the self and others


explained later in this chapter. It is also related to the dominant family models in a particular society. Where the family is nuclear and the structure is fairly weak, the authority image linked to parents’ roles will also tend to fade, as will the positive view of older age groups as being in the ‘adequate’ age bracket. On the contrary, where an extended family is dominated by a patriarch, his role will favourably influence the image associated with the corresponding age bracket. On average, ‘modern culture’ values younger people because changes are extremely rapid (e.g. TV advertising revolves around young blonde women, shaggyhaired surfer boys or yuppie-like professionals), whereas in ‘traditional culture’ the elders are a source of wisdom and guidance for the community and as a consequence their age is valued. Sex is probably the most important cultural difference, because of the definite roles and self-concepts imposed on boys and girls by culture. In Male and Female, Margaret Mead (see WS3.1) puts it in the following terms (1948, pp. 7–8):
The differences between the two sexes is one of the important conditions upon which we have built the many varieties of human culture that give human beings dignity and stature. In every known society, mankind has elaborated the biological division of labour into forms often very remotely related to the original biological differences that provided the original clues. Upon the contrast in bodily form, men have built analogies between sun and moon, night and day, goodness and evil, strength and tenderness, steadfastness and fickleness, endurance and vulnerability. Sometimes one quality has been assigned to one sex, sometimes to the other . . . Some people think of women as too weak to work out of doors, others regard women as the appropriate bearers of heavy burdens . . . some religions, including our European traditional religions, have assigned women an inferior role in the religious hierarchy, others have built their whole symbolic relationship with the supernatural world upon male imitations of the natural function of women. In some cultures women are regarded as sieves through whom the best guarded secrets will sift; in others it is the men who are the gossips.

– Appenzell). For a variety of roles and capacities in the society, women are dependent on men, mostly on an economic basis. In some traditional Muslim countries, women are not allowed to work outside the home, and are often not permitted to go outside to shop or to manage the family budget. Worldwide differences in the self concept of women, and the concept of women held by men, are striking. Gisela Frese-Weghöft, a teacher working for the German development agency in Gadima, North Yemen, explains the case of a young woman, aged 24, who is too old to be married and works at home with her sewing machine as a dressmaker. She earns money – which she does not need because she is cared for by the family.
From time to time she asks her brothers to buy some jewellery with the money. Sometimes she gives presents of jewellery to her sisters or gives the money to her brothers when she has too much. It is understood that a woman cannot manage money. The sewing supplies are purchased by the men of the family, since like most women in Gadima, she is strictly forbidden to go to the souk (market place). Some of the simplest women have invented a trick to bypass this prohibition. They disguise themselves with a dirty black sharshaff and old plastic sandals, and pretend to be one of the country women who sell their vegetables at the souk. In doing this, they should not speak much, so that nobody may recognize their voice or their pronunciation; women recognize each other, even when veiled. During these secret walks to the souk, they procure what their husbands never bring back or return what they have erroneously purchased. (Frese-Weghöft, 1989, p. 90, our translation.)

The place of women in society has changed greatly over the last century. Some basic rights, such as voting, were long denied to women, and in many societies the place of women is still very different from that of men. Not all that long ago, the electoral status of women was still inferior to that of men even in advanced countries like Switzerland (in very traditional cantons

All societies place people in particular strata, such as social classes and castes. In economic-oriented societies they may divide people into the ‘haves’ and the ‘havenots’, but other feasible criteria may be based on birth or education, even in the absence of obvious wealth or income criteria. Wong and Ahuvia (1995, p. 82) argue that ‘Americans generally see one’s social class as primarily reflecting one’s personal income level which in turn is believed to reflect (at least in part) one’s individual professional merit. But to the interdependent Chinese, class does not belong to oneself, but also to one’s group, usually one’s family, relatives, and kinship clan.’ Like many other elements of the concept of the self and others, social class is important for consumer behaviour, as people express their class differences, real or fantasized, by consumption.


Chapter 3 Cultural dynamics 2: Interactions, mindsets and behaviours

Social stratification is based on somewhat different criteria across cultures, even though social classes consistently appear across cultures. For instance, in India castes (a special order of social stratification) include four major hereditary classes into which the Hindu society is divided: the Brahman, Kshatriya, Vaisya and Sudra (see WS3.1). Thus, it is not the existence of social classes that differs, but the degree of emphasis placed on social stratification varies across societies. In countries where this emphasis is strong, people in higher classes see themselves as being substantially different from others in lower classes. This can extend to speaking the language differently (or even a different language), prohibiting inter-class marriages, and distinguishing oneself by specific tastes and lifestyles. Bista (1990, p. 79) describes the Hindu caste system in the following terms:
one has to engage in activities that are appropriate to one’s caste. Those whose fate is to be workers continue to work, but this work does not necessarily lead to any form of result or reward. The caste principle admonishes that actions have to be without desire, i.e. without a goal. There is a purpose to action, but it is a purpose known only to a supernatural agency. Individual aspirations are inconsequential and behaviour is submissive to a controlling force that is unknown. Learned Hindus emphasize that the material world is maya, an illusion, and claim that this is not worth taking seriously.

on the distinction between self-esteem and narcissism see WS3.1.) The second contrast is perceived potency, which means the extent to which people view themselves as powerful and able to accomplish almost any task, or exercise power. The French proverb ‘Impossible n’est pas français’ is a typical highperceived-potency saying. The third contrast is the level of personal activity. When the appropriate level of personal activity is seen as high, people will boast about their being ‘workaholics’, will work weekends, and generally be satisfied with overworking. When, by contrast, the appropriate image of the self is based on a low level of activity, as in the Hindu case quoted above, the standard attributes of a normal selfconcept will be: few hours spent in the office, low involvement in work-related issues, and having time available for pure inactivity. These three dimensions interact, so that people who are low on self-esteem, perceived power and perceived activity feel powerless and often accept the world as it is. Conversely, people with high self-esteem, perceived power and perceived activity are more likely to be overconfident and take on difficult tasks, even to the extent of failure.

How do we relate the individual to the group?
The common problem, across all societies, is how to define the boundaries between people and the groups they belong to, in order to ensure the smooth and efficient functioning of society. Individualism and collectivism are mentioned in Table 3.1, in the box ‘Concept of the self and others’, because our belief is that they are deeply ingrained in the ‘borders’ of our self. People from individualist cultures have a more clear-cut view of where ‘oneself’ stops (‘I, me, mine’ as John Lennon’s song says) and where ‘others’ start, whereas people from collectivist cultures have much fuzzier borders between their self and that of near others. The ‘rice argument’ is frequently used to explain the differences between individualism and collectivism. Rice culture needs the coordinated flooding of rice fields, which promotes dependence among the group members and requires common action. Conversely, the basic staples in the West are ‘individualist’ cereals (wheat, barley, oats, etc.), where the farmer’s achievements depend mostly on his or her own individual efforts.

How do we appraise ourselves?
People hold a certain view of themselves, and prefer spontaneously to choose the one that will be perceived as culturally appropriate by others in the ingroup. Triandis (1983) distinguishes three main areas of cultural contrasts: self-esteem, perceived potency and perceived activity. First, self-esteem can be low or high according to whether we think of ourselves as good or not good. Low self-esteem results in displaying a modest and self-effacing behaviour, whereas higher self-esteem results in demonstrating more assertiveness and self-assurance. Asians, on average, clearly display lower self-esteem than westerners. The reader must be cautious when interpreting these observations as it is a standard assumption about their culture; it does not mean that Asians deserve less esteem, but rather that they assume that they deserve less as an individual. (For more information

3.1 Concept of the self and others


Individualism is based on the principle of asserting your independence and individuality. All societies have individuals and groups, but individualism stresses the smallest unit as being that where the solution lies. Common individualist assumptions are as follows: 1. It is at the level of individuals that initiative, effort and achievements can best be developed, because people are separated and different (divisibility). 2. Individual achievements can be added to each other without loss (the sum equals the parts: the additive model). 3. Society has to maximize individual freedom, emphasize high individual achievers, and value individuals (the freedom orientation). These assumptions are not necessarily ‘true’. One may ascribe to them because of intellectual conviction, especially assumption 1, or to get personal leeway, as is the consequence of assumption 3. They are ‘true’ to the extent that they are largely a self-fulfilling prophecy. The obvious problems arise from assumption 2: collective action is, generally, not the direct result of simply adding individual deeds. The process is more complex, and this brings grist to the collectivist mill, which makes its own assumptions: 1. It is at group level, and not at the individual level, that initiative, effort and achievements can best be developed, because people are not really separate from each other; they belong to a common reality (the organic view). 2. Collective achievements are fundamentally different in nature from individual achievements, and the combination of parts (if such a computation is even possible) is much greater than the parts themselves (the multiplicative model). 3. Therefore, society has to maximize group coherence and social harmony, even at the expense of individual freedom, and if need be, by downsizing individual achievements (the concord orientation). Collectivism is associated with ‘traditional culture’, whereas individualism is a strong component of ‘modern culture’, especially in the area of consumption, a splendid domain for enjoying individual freedom and expressing difference from others. Belk (1985), for instance, notes that, since the Middle Ages, the awareness of self has become less shared and more individualistic, which is evidenced by the growing popularity of self-oriented objects such as

mirrors, self-portraits, chairs (rather than benches), etc. Modern individualism has its roots in sixteenthand seventeenth-century England. It is based on the ideas of English and Scottish philosophers (More, Bacon, Hume and Locke) and was effected by the Act of Habeas Corpus, the first legal edict forbidding the Sovereign from jailing somebody without lawful reason. This was furthered by the French Déclaration des droits de l’homme et du citoyen, in 1789. The French were only followers of the British, but they have been good exporters of the concept of human rights, even though neither the British nor the French practised them all the time, especially in their colonies. The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights is in the same vein: it favours an individualbased view of what is a ‘good’ society. The individualist view of human rights is also typical of Amnesty International, which has heated debates with some Asian governments holding a different view of what human rights are. The individualist/collectivist divide is a strong but not a simple difference. In individualist societies, people still belong to groups, live in communities and think of themselves as integrated into a larger whole. In collectivist societies, people still feel a need to express their personal identity, and strive often for individual success and self-actualization. Cooperation takes place in all societies, but the way people cooperate is likely to be driven by what is culturally appropriate. People from individualist societies are more likely to rely on individuality and rationality as motivations for cooperation, while those from collectivist societies are likely to be driven by collective rationality and social forces (Chen et al., 1998). Similarly, conflicts need to be handled in all societies. People from collectivist societies are more likely to rely on formal rules and procedures to handle disagreements, which preserves ingroup harmony, while those from individualist societies rely more on their own experience and training to handle disagreements, which emphasizes self-sufficiency (Smith et al., 1998). Notably, problems are likely to occur across cultures, as has been found with management teams. The ‘modern’ aspect of individualist assumptions is now heavily challenged by the rise of collectivist nations in Asia and in South America, with their achievements in international trade and their high rate of economic growth. Robertson (2000) links the


Chapter 3 Cultural dynamics 2: Interactions, mindsets and behaviours

Box 3.1

From Chanel chick to individualist
‘Brand auntie’, ‘Chanel chick’
These curious turns of phrase reflect Japan’s obsession with brands. From her Luis Vuitton bag to her Gucci shoes the ‘Brand auntie’ thinks nothing of draping herself in luxury brands from head to toe. The ‘Chanel chick’ is a high-school girl with a bit of cash on her hands. She will do what it takes to get those hands on a Chanel or Hermes wristwatch (quite beyond her means at a cost of several hundreds of thousands of Yen), paying by monthly instalments if she has to. Her dinner, on the other hand, is a pre-packaged meal bought at the local convenience store. Why do the Japanese, as represented by such chicks and aunties, cluster around these exorbitantly expensive luxury brand goods in a frenzy of consumption, where each buys exactly the same thing as everyone else? The Japanese as a people have been dominated by conformity – the Me Too-ist obsession ‘so-andso has one, so for me not to is, well . . .’. The sharing of identical values was seen as the only way to create a comfortable society. This tradition saw the ‘wa’, or harmony, as most precious, and conforming with others was an unbreakable rule of communities at all levels of society. Doing something different from others, making a statement as an individual, meant ‘murahachibu’ – banishment from the group . . . Not straying from the herd continues to be seen as a prime virtue in Japan. This fundamental value of ‘seeking to be like others’ has created a ‘desire to have the same things as others’, which has further evolved into a sense that one ‘must have the same things as others’. The result is a society where consensus on what is good or fashionable is easily reached, and the population quickly falls into step behind recognised innovators and opinion leaders.

Chanel chicks, Gucci grandmas, and Hermes honeys
In looking at which brands became the prime targets of this brand boom, we need to understand the Japanese obsession with Europe. Impressions of ‘Western Prestige Brands’ tend to lean heavily towards associations with Europe, seen generally as having an image of high quality, heritage, craftsmanship, elegance, and spirituality. Europe was seen as the model of modern civilisation by 19th Century Meiji-Era literati after the country opened its doors to the outside world after 200 years of isolation and the reverberations of this interaction with the colossus of European civilisation continue to echo in Japan to this day. The popularity of brands such as Luis Vuitton, Chanel, Gucci, and Hermes is without question intimately related to perceptions of the distinctive identities of each of these brands. But it is also extremely important to keep in mind that all these brands are at the same time wrapped inextricably with the generalised aspiration and obsession with European culture that has characterised Japan for the last 130 years.
(Source: Ohye, 2003.)

recent economic success in many Asian nations to traits associated with Confucian Dynamism or Long Term Orientation (LTO) as discussed in Chapter 2. This is the tendency toward a future-minded mentality (Hofstede and Bond, 1988). At the individual level, it manifests itself in scholarship, hard-work and perseverance, which have been instrumental in the success of many Asian nations. Thus, it is not individualism and collectivism that predict economic prosperity alone, but the interaction between many aspects of culture. The debate between individualism and collectivism is not yet finished; like water and oil

they do not readily mix: even if they seem to blend when shaken vigorously, they separate when left to settle.


Interaction models
Individualism and collectivism refer to concepts of the self and others (as assumptions located within persons) as well as to a model of interaction between people. Table 3.2 lists a series of other aspects of what

3.2 Interaction models


Table 3.2 Interaction models
Cultural orientations Equality or inequality in interpersonal interactions (a) Power Distance (PD) Hierarchy is strong, power is centralized at the top (high PD); power is more equally distributed and superior and subordinates have a sense of equality as human beings (low PD). Contrasts across cultures

Interacting with others or for others (b) Masculinity versus Femininity Assertiveness and personal achievement are favoured (masc.) versus caring for others, adopting nurturing roles and emphasizing quality of life (fem.).

Dealing with uncertainty (c) Uncertainty avoidance (UA) Tendency to avoid risks (high UA), to prefer stable situations, uncertainty-reducing rules and risk-free procedures, which are seen as a necessity for efficiency. Or, conversely, a risk-prone attitude (low UA) where people as individuals are seen as the engine of change, which is perceived as a requirement for efficiency.

Relying on oneself or on others (d) Self-reliance versus dependence Do people rely on their own forces, find motivation and control within themselves (self-reliance) or do they need to find outside support, motivation and control from their environment (dependence)?

Developing appropriate communication with others (e) Communication styles See Chapter 13 on Language, culture and communication.

are considered to be culturally appropriate interaction models in particular societies. Most of these factors are based on Hofstede (1980a, 1980b, 2001). Although Hofstede developed these concepts in relation to organizational issues and through collection of data at the corporate level, they are largely transferable to the society as a whole. There are many publications devoted to the impact of cultural differences on management and organization (that is, within companies). The impact of these dimensions of national culture on various issues has been assessed such as structure, hierarchical relationships, management of expatriate personnel and variation in motivation patterns across cultures (e.g. see Hofstede, 2001; Adler, 2002). These issues are clearly outside the principal scope of this book, which is to consider the interaction of companies with their environment, that is, markets, customers, distribution

channels or various influential groups (consumer movements, regulatory authorities, etc.). Nevertheless, a summary of the advances made in cultural differences is worth while, for three reasons at least. First, Hofstede’s four dimensions of national cultures, although they have been measured for management and organization practices, also make sense for marketing and sales and, as such, have been studied extensively in international marketing. Second, replications show that the dimensions are fairly stable, at least in terms of the distance between cultures (Sondergaard, 1994; Hofstede, 2001; de Mooij and Hofstede, 2002). Third, although Hofstede’s dimensions were developed at the national level, researchers have made progress in the measurement of some of these dimensions at the individual level. Measuring the dimensions at the individual level offers the opportunity to increase the validity of claims as well as the variance explained.


Chapter 3 Cultural dynamics 2: Interactions, mindsets and behaviours

National cultures and the relativity of managerial practices
The cover picture of an issue of Fortune magazine accurately features the difficult question of the transposability of management styles: it shows an American with slanting eyes attempting to eat a hamburger using chopsticks. This metaphor illustrates how difficult it is to transpose elements of one culture onto another. Geert Hofstede was one of the first researchers to question the adaptability of US management theories and practices to other cultural contexts. Empirical studies for Hofstede’s work were undertaken between 1967 and 1973 within a large multinational company, in 66 of its national subsidiaries. The database contains more than 116,000 questionnaires: all categories of personnel were interviewed, from ordinary workers to general managers. Out of 150 questions, 60 deal with the values and beliefs of the respondents on issues related to motivation, hierarchy, leadership, well-being in the organization, etc. The questionnaire was administered in two successive stages (1967–9 and 1971–3) so as to verify validity by replication. Versions of the questionnaire were drafted in 20 different languages. Not all subsidiaries were included in the final analysis; depending on the data under review, 40–55 countries were finally comparable. The results drawn from this data have been further validated by a systematic comparison with the results of 140 other sources of data (see Hofstede, 2001, appendix 6; for more information about Hofstede and his dimensions see WS3.2). Interviewees all belonged to the same multinational corporation, IBM, which has a very strong corporate culture shared by its employees. Consequently there was no variance on this dimension across the sample. Each national sample allowed for a similar representation of age groups, sex and categories of personnel, thereby avoiding a potential source of variance across national subsidiaries’ results. Finally, the only source of variance was the difference in national cultures and mentalities. Hofstede, by means of factor analysis of the respondents’ scores, was able to derive four main conceptual dimensions on which national cultures exhibit significant differences. One of these four dimensions is individualism/collectivism, which, as we mentioned in the previous section, has been studied extensively. In collectivist countries there is a closeknit social structure, where people neatly distinguish

between members of the ingroup and members of the outgroup (see Box 3.1): people expect their group to care for them in exchange for unwavering loyalty. In individualistic societies, social fabric is much looser: people are basically supposed to care for themselves and their immediate family. Exchange takes place on the base of reciprocity: if an individual gives something to another, some sort of return is expected within a reasonable time span. The three other dimensions are explained below. They correspond to the first three cells in Table 3.2.
Power distance

Power distance measures the extent to which a society and its individual members tolerate an unequal distribution of power in organizations and in society as a whole. It is shown as much by the behavioural values of superiors who display their power and exercise it, as by the behavioural values of subordinates who wait for their superiors to show their status and power, and are uncomfortable if they do not personally experience it. In low power distance societies, members of the organization tend to feel equal, and close to each other in their daily work relationships. They cope with situations of higher hierarchical distance by delegating power. In high power distance societies, superiors and subordinates feel separated from each other. It is not easy to meet and talk with higher ranking people, and the real power tends to be very much concentrated at the top. At society level, power distance translates as shown in Box 3.2 (for more information on power distance see WS3.2).

When responding to the common problem: ‘do we interact with others or for others?’ responses are made on the basis of dominant value systems, which roughly corresponds to male/assertive and the female/nurturing roles. A society is masculine when the dominant values favour assertiveness, earning money, showing off possessions and caring little for others. Conversely, feminine societies favour nurturing roles, interdependence between people and caring for others (who are seen as worth caring for, because they are temporarily weak). The masculinity/femininity dimension has been so called because, on average, men tended to score high on one extreme and women on the other, across societies. In typically feminine societies, such as northern European countries, the welfare system is highly

3.2 Interaction models


Box 3.2

More equal than others
In a peaceful revolution – the last revolution in Swedish history – the nobles of Sweden in 1809 deposed King Gustav IV whom they considered incompetent, and surprisingly invited Jean Baptiste Bernadotte, a French general who served under their enemy Napoleon, to become King of Sweden. Bernadotte accepted and he became King Charles XIV; his descendants occupy the Swedish throne to this day. When the new King was installed he addressed the Swedish parliament in their language. His broken Swedish amused the Swedes and they roared with laughter. The Frenchman who had become King was so upset that he never tried to speak Swedish again. In this incident Bernadotte was a victim of culture shock: never in his French upbringing and military career had he experienced subordinates who laughed at the mistakes of their superior. Historians tell us he had more problems adapting to the egalitarian Swedish and Norwegian mentality (he later became King of Norway as well) and to his subordinates’ constitutional rights. He was a good learner, however (except for language), and he ruled the country as a highly respected constitutional monarch until 1844. One of the aspects in which Sweden differs from France is the way its society handles inequality. There is inequality in any society. Even in the most simple hunter-gatherer band, some people are bigger, stronger or smarter than others. The next thing is that some people have more power than others: they are more able to determine the behaviour of others than vice-versa. Some people are given more status and respect than others.
(Source: Hofstede, 1991.)

developed, education is largely free and easily accessible, and there is openness to admit that people may have problems: patience and helpfulness are shown to those who are in trouble; both boys and girls learn to be modest and to have sympathy for the underdog. In typically masculine societies (whether individualist like the United States or collectivist like Japan) weaker people find, on average, less support from the society at large; people learn to admire the strong, like Rambo or Vin Diesel in the United States. The common problem behind the masculinity/femininity divide could perhaps be phrased differently: should we help people (at the risk of their being weakened by a lack of personal effort) or should we not (at the risk, for them, of being even worse)? Obviously, the response is not easy.
Uncertainty avoidance

A common problem faced by people in any society is how to deal with uncertainty. There are basically two ways: the first is based on the assumption that people have to deal with uncertainty, because it is in the very nature of the situations we face. The future is by definition unknown, but it can be evaluated, and people and institutions can deal with uncertainty. The other

extreme is marked by uncertainty aversion, which results in the assumption that uncertainty is bad and everything in society must aim to reduce uncertainty. The dimension of uncertainty avoidance measures the extent to which people in a society tend to feel threatened by uncertain, ambiguous or undefined situations. Where uncertainty avoidance is high, organizations promote stable careers, produce rules and procedures, etc. ‘Nevertheless societies in which uncertainty avoidance is strong are also characterized by a higher level of anxiety and aggressiveness that creates, among other things, a strong inner urge to work hard’ (Hofstede, 1980a). Hofstede (1991, p. 116) points out that ‘uncertainty avoidance should not be confused with risk avoidance . . . even more than reducing risk, uncertainty avoidance leads to a reduction of ambiguity’. Hofstede notes that risk is more specific than uncertainty and is often expressed as a probability that a specific outcome will occur, whereas uncertainty is a situation in which anything can happen. In fact, some people may engage in risky behaviour in order to reduce ambiguities, ‘such as starting a fight with a potential opponent rather than sitting back and waiting’ (Hofstede, 2001, p. 148). (See WS3.2 for more information on uncertainty avoidance.)


Chapter 3 Cultural dynamics 2: Interactions, mindsets and behaviours

The cultural relativity of management theories
Table 3.3 shows the value of the dimensions discussed above for 53 countries/regions. Figure 3.1 presents a diagrammatic map of countries when individualism and power distance are combined. Hofstede’s main tenet concerns the cultural relativity of management theories. These management theories are rooted in the cultural context where they were developed, with the result that any simple direct transposition is difficult. For instance, Hofstede shows the link that exists between US-based motivation theories and US culture. Abraham Maslow’s ‘hierarchy of needs’ and McClelland’s theory of the achievement motive are directly related to two dimensions of US culture: its

strong masculinity and individualism. People are seen as being motivated in an overtly conscious manner by the expectancy of some kind of results from their acts. They are basically motivated by extrinsic reasons and rewards. In contrast, Freudian theory, which has not been greatly applied by US management theorists, represents the individual as being driven by internal and largely unconscious forces, a complex interaction between the id, the superego and the ego. According to Hofstede, Austria, the birthplace of Sigmund Freud and his theories, scores significantly higher than the United States on uncertainty avoidance and lower on individualism. This may explain why motivation is more related to internalized social values. ‘Freud’s superego acts naturally as an inner uncertainty-absorbing device, an internalized boss’ (Hofstede, 1980a).

Figure 3.1 Map of 53 countries ranked on power distance and individualism indices

(Source: Hofstede, 1980b. Reproduced with permission.)

3.2 Interaction models


Table 3.3 Values of Hofstede’s cultural dimensions for 53 countries or regions
Dimensions Country/region Arabic countriesa Argentina Australia Austria Belgium Brazil Canada Chile Colombia Costa Rica Denmark East African regionb Ecuador Finland France Great Britain Greece Guatemala Hong Kong India Indonesia Iran Ireland Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Malaysia Mexico Netherlands New Zealand Norway Pakistan Panama Peru Philippines Portugal Salvador Singapore South Africa South Korea Spain Sweden Switzerland Taiwan Thailand Turkey United States Uruguay Power distance 80 49 36 11 65 69 39 63 67 35 18 64 78 33 68 35 60 96 68 77 78 58 28 13 50 45 54 104 81 38 22 31 55 95 64 94 63 66 74 49 60 57 31 34 58 64 66 40 61 Uncertainty avoidance 68 86 51 70 94 76 48 86 80 86 23 52 67 59 86 35 112 101 29 40 48 59 35 81 75 13 92 36 82 53 49 50 70 86 87 44 104 94 8 49 85 86 29 58 69 64 85 46 100 Individualism 38 46 90 55 75 38 80 23 13 15 74 27 8 63 71 89 35 6 25 48 14 41 70 54 76 39 46 26 30 80 79 69 14 11 16 32 27 19 20 65 18 51 71 68 17 20 37 91 36 Masculinity 53 56 61 79 54 49 52 28 64 21 16 41 63 26 43 66 57 37 57 56 46 43 68 47 70 68 95 50 69 14 58 8 50 44 42 64 31 40 48 63 39 42 5 70 45 34 45 62 38 Long-/Short-Term orientation – – 31 31 38 65 23 – – – 46 25 – 41 39 25 – – 96 61 – – 43 – 34 – 80 – – 44 30 44 0 – – 19 30 – 48 – 75 19 33 40 87 56 – 29 –


Chapter 3 Cultural dynamics 2: Interactions, mindsets and behaviours

Table 3.3 (continued)
Dimensions Country/region Power distance 81 77 35 76 57 22 Uncertainty avoidance 76 54 65 88 65 24 Individualism Masculinity Long-/Short-Term orientation – 16 31 – 39 22

Venezuela West African regionc West Germany Yugoslavia Overall mean Standard deviation
a b c

12 20 67 27 43 25

73 46 66 21 49 18

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, United Arab Emirates, Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon and Libya. Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and Zambia. Ghana, Nigeria and Sierra Leone.

Note: For further information on individual countries, see the CIA Factbook at WS3.2. (Source: Hofstede, 2001. Reproduced with permission.)

Interaction clashes
As will be shown in Chapter 15, the differences on dimensions illustrated above have to be taken into account when designing sales force stimulation systems across national subsidiaries with different cultural contexts. In masculine, individualistic countries, where there is also lower uncertainty avoidance, extrinsic rewards should be preferred (bonuses, gifts, holidays, monetary incentives). In societies that are more feminine, and/or more collectivist, and/or with higher uncertainty avoidance, intrinsic rewards should be chosen because they fit better with profound inner values. In addition, Oliver and Cravens (1999) found that the choice of employee benefits available also differed depending on the level of uncertainty avoidance and power distance. For instance, managers from countries with weak uncertainty avoidance and low power distance were more likely to offer cafeteria plans, where workers could choose how their benefit dollars were spent. This level of choice can create anxiety in people who are used to less uncertainty and are comfortable with the power being concentrated at the top. Hofstede also examined the direct transposition of the American MBO (Management By Objectives) in France, where it became the DPPO (Direction Participative Par Objectifs). MBO stems from the United States where: 1. Subordinates are independent and feel sufficiently at ease with their bosses to negotiate meaningfully with them (low power distance).

2. Subordinates as well as superiors are willing to face ambiguity (low uncertainty avoidance). 3. The outcome is considered important by superiors and subordinates (high level of masculinity). DPPO enjoyed brief success at the end of the 1960s but had become a flop by the mid-1970s. Indeed in the French cultural context DPPO created anxiety, in a country where hierarchy is traditionally strong (high power distance) and where that structure protects people against uncertainty. MBO assumes a depersonalized authority (role authority) whereas, according to Hofstede, from their childhood French people are used to high power distance and strongly personalized authority. Despite efforts to introduce Anglo-Saxon management methods, French bosses do not easily decentralize management and delegate authority. In a study at Insead, reported by Hofstede, O.J. Stevens asked students of various nationalities to write their own diagnosis of and solution to a small case study about a conflict between the sales department and the product development department. The French saw the problem basically as one that the hierarchy should solve, a solution being sought from the chairperson. The Germans blamed the absence of formal rules and written procedures. The English saw the problem as resulting basically from a lack of interpersonal communication. Stevens concluded that ‘the implicit model of the organization for most French was a pyramid (both centralized and formal); for German a well-oiled machine (formalized, but

3.2 Interaction models


not centralized); and for most British a village market (neither formalized, nor centralized)’ (Hofstede, 1980a, p. 60). Organization types may be more adapted to some cultures than to others. In a matrix organization, for instance, there is a double hierarchical linkage (with a product division at the European level and a subsidiary general manager at the country level): this is not accepted very well by either the French or the Germans. For the French, it violates the principle of unity of command; for the Germans, it thwarts their need for organizational clarity and will not be deemed acceptable unless individual roles inside the organization are unambiguously defined.

Self-reliance versus dependence
Being self-reliant versus showing dependence has naturally to do with assumptions about the concept of the self. For example, valuing elders in the community will tend to decrease the legitimacy of self-reliance among younger age groups. Similarly traditional sex roles promote the dependence of women. Even social class may have an influence in as much as an implied family model reigns over cross-class relationships; people in higher social classes behave patronizingly towards those in lower classes. In industrial relations for instance, the ‘paternalist’ orientation of factory owners towards their workers typifies the role of the boss as a father and the employees as ‘children’. Self-reliant people rely on their own forces and find motivation and control within themselves, whereas dependence implies that they need to find outside support, motivation and control from their environment. As summarized in Table 3.4, low power distance and uncertainty avoidance, combined with

Table 3.4 Self-reliance versus dependence
Hofstede’s dimension Influence on selfreliance/dependence Increases self-reliance Promotes dependence Increases self-reliance Promotes dependence Promotes dependence

Individualism Power distance Masculinity Uncertainty avoidance Long-term orientation

high individualism and masculinity will be related to more self-reliance (e.g. the United States and Australia; the best extreme contrast are Latin countries like Chile, Portugal or Brazil, see Table 3.3). The typical westerner is on average more self-reliant than the average easterner. And the typical northern European is more self-reliant than the typical Latin European. Two assumptions are central in developing either self-reliance or dependence among individuals: (1) the locus of control – whether a person considers that events are contingent upon his or her own behaviour or are under the control of powerful, unpredictable and complex external forces; and (2) the implicit family role that underlies typical interaction patterns. The first basic issue in relation to self-reliance versus dependence is whether people consider they have an external or an internal locus of control (Rotter, 1966). People with internal locus-of-control will show more self-reliance, because they believe in their ability to manage their own world and to control it by themselves. The locus-of-control concept was developed by Rotter at an individual level, but it applies fairly well as a contrasting dimension across cultures. (For more information on Rotter see WS3.2.) The second issue in relation to dependence versus self-reliance is the kind of family role that a particular culture favours. In Latin societies, for instance, the parent/child relationship remains a very strong underlying model for interaction, and even in situations which are normally assumed as being between equals, some people may unconsciously and spontaneously develop parental attitudes. If conflict develops the superior will easily develop the attitude of a ‘critical’ parent (in the terms of Eric Berne’s transactional analysis:1 see WS3.2), leaving little option for their counterparts, but to behave in the manner of a ‘compliant child’ by obeying, or on the contrary, like a ‘rebel child’, or by leaving. Where parent/adult roles underlie models of interaction, many relationships will be in the realm of dependence: functional relationships will be based on filial dependence, whereas dysfunctional relationships will be played in the conflict mode. For people who come from societies where selfreliance is standard behaviour, it is often extremely irritating not to be treated as an adult, equal in rights and obligations, but, symbolically, as a child. France is a good case in point: many aspects of the French culture favour dependence, with the major exception of a strong individualist orientation. This results in a


Chapter 3 Cultural dynamics 2: Interactions, mindsets and behaviours

pattern of varying dependence, where people constantly play a game of dispute and reconciliation in teamwork, where true self-reliance can only be fostered by creative activity and/or working independently.

Relationship with other frameworks
There are three major studies that have provided national level cultural scores, of which Hofstede’s is by far the most influential. Of the other two Schwartz culture-level dimensions (Schwartz, 1994, 1999) is likely to be more relevant to marketing than Trompenaars (see Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner, 1998), although it is yet to be applied widely. Schwartz (1999) analyzed responses (from mostly teachers and students in 63 countries) to the Schwartz Values Scale at the country level to validate his culture-level framework. He found support for seven country-level value orientations, which are summarized as three dimensions: conservatism versus autonomy (intellectual and affective), hierarchy versus egalitarianism and mastery versus harmony. They are briefly defined below:

positively correlated with harmony. Mastery is positively correlated with masculinity. Steenkamp (2001) found similar overlap when he factor analyzed Hofstede’s four dimensions and Schwartz’s seven value types for the 24 countries that were in both data sets (Hofstede, 1991; Schwartz, 1994). He found a very similar pattern to that of Schwartz, except for his second factor, which included three of Schwartz value types; egalitarianism, hierarchy and harmony.


Culture-based attitudes towards action
Action is about changing the world, even in a minuscule way. Many actions do not involve problem solving: they are repetitive and programmed; they are daily or seasonal routines. Non-routine tasks require a more complex course of action, because they involve problematic features: 1. They must be based on a clear sense of purpose (why act?). 2. They involve a largely unpredictable future, and hence risk taking. 3. They need input from the past (taking lessons from previous experience). 4. They imply the need to articulate collective and individual interests. 5. They need to ‘relate the hand to the brain, the heart and the mouth’. Expressed metaphorically, this last feature means that action (hand), in a cross-cultural perspective, can hardly be separated from how people think (brain), how they relate their wishes and desires to actions (located somewhere between brain, heart and mouth), and how they mix feelings (located clearly in the heart, for most cultures) with deeds. Table 3.5 details the main contrasts across cultures in terms of attitudes towards action. Most marketing and managerial action displays the problematic features given above. They are nonroutine tasks, especially in an international context. Individuals and organizations naturally have a lot of leeway in making and implementing decisions, but most interpretive clues are from their own cultural background.



n n n

Conservatism emphasizes maintenance of status quo, propriety and restraint of anything that might disrupt the group or the traditional order. Autonomy emphasizes intellectual autonomy (pursuing their own ideas and independent direction) and affective autonomy (pursuing affectively positive experiences). Hierarchy emphasizes unequal distribution of power, roles and resources. Egalitarianism emphasizes the welfare of others. Mastery emphasizes self assertion. Harmony emphasizes preserving the world as it is.

Schwartz dimensions are stronger in terms of the theoretical link between the constructs and items, but there has only been limited and mixed support for this framework in marketing (e.g. Watson et al., 2002). In addition, there is significant overlap with that of Hofstede. Schwartz correlated his culture-level value types with Hofstede dimensions finding significant overlap. That is, individualism is positively correlated with autonomy and egalitarian commitment and negatively with conservatism and hierarchy. Power distance is positively correlated with conservatism and negatively with autonomy. Uncertainty avoidance is

3.3 Culture-based attitudes towards action


Table 3.5 Attitudes towards action
Basic problem/Cultural orientations Why act? (a) Degree of fatalism: mastery of nature versus subjugation to nature; existence and degree of legitimacy of a Promethean (proactive) view of human life People believe that it is possible to cope with any problem or any situation and that, to mankind, nothing is impossible; evil is when one does nothing (‘master of destiny’); the converse is the belief that there are many situations where people cannot do anything; destiny binds us and we should not try to find alternatives (fatalistic orientation); evil is when one does not accept one’s own destiny (‘subjugation’). Contrasts across cultures

What is action? (b) ‘Speech’ versus ‘deed’ orientation Contrast between cultures that value speech as action and those that separate them; contrast between a clear sequencing of action and a fuzzy view of action.

How to relate thinking to action (1) (c) Ideologism versus pragmatism Ideologism: thinking patterns, communication (style of speech) and actions should always be set within the context of broad ideological principles (religious, political, social, legal, etc.); versus pragmatism: precise issues must be addressed; a practical attitude is favoured: orientation towards problem solving and concrete results.

How to relate thinking to action (2) (d) Intellectual styles Differences in assigning a dominant role to theory, data, speech, modesty and virtue in assessing truthful propositions that need to be put into action.

How to relate wishes and desires to action (e) ‘Wishful thinking’ orientation (WT) WT cultures tend to emphasize enthusiasm, imagination of the future and the capacity of desires to shape reality; non-WT cultures emphasize the principle of reality: desires and wishes have to be checked objectively against the constraints of the real world.

How to relate feelings to action (f ) Affective (A) versus Neutral (N) cultures People in N cultures separate feelings from actions, do not mix friendship with business; in A cultures, mixing both is seen as inevitable and positive.

How to deal with rules (g) Obeying practical rules versus coping with ideal rules Rules can be made which are respected, discussed and implemented quite strictly or there may be a discrepancy between ideal rules and what people can actually do, leading them to undertake behaviour that involves exploring and bypassing rules.


Chapter 3 Cultural dynamics 2: Interactions, mindsets and behaviours

Basic cultural assumptions, and combinations of these, have an influence on the way we cognitively evaluate real-world situations and the issues that face us. Some examples will demonstrate that we do know how to construct our reality but only within our native cultural community.

The idea that we have a soul plays a substantial role in the sense of purpose that feeds our actions. It is only in the recent, ‘modern’ times that people have adopted the view that we are only made of material substances, whose molecules are recycled through flame or decay at the end, according to burial customs. As the Swiss psychologist, Carl G. Jung (see WS3.3), explains, it is a fairly new idea in world cultures:
Under the influence of scientific materialism became all that was not to be seen with eyes and touched with hands dubious, and even more, questionable, because suspected of metaphysics. Was only considered as ‘scientific’, and thus as altogether admissible, either what was recognized as material or what was derived from sensory perceptible causes. (Jung, [1931], 1990, p. 9, author’s translation.)

Why act?
Not everyone is preoccupied with doing, acting, being efficient and achieving tangible results that can be appraised by others. From an existential point of view this preoccupation with ‘doing’ is not really justified: in the long term we will all be dead, as Keynes said. Moreover, assuming that we all care about efficiency, there are many different ways of achieving it. Montesquieu ([1748], 1792, pp. 228–9) illustrates the spontaneous irritation of people who are ‘doing’ oriented towards those who are more ‘being’ oriented when, in The Spirit of Laws, he comments on what he calls indolent nations:
The Indians believe that repose and non-existence are the foundations of all things, and the end in which they terminate. Hence they consider entire inaction as the most perfect of all states, and the object of their desires. To the supreme Being they give the title of immoveable. The inhabitants of Siam (Thailand) believe that their utmost happiness consists in not being obliged to animate a machine or to give motion to a body.

Not only are the Indians and Siamese2 (the Thai people) more ‘being’ oriented, they also have a quite different view of their relationship with nature from westerners (i.e. subjugation to nature rather than mastery over nature). As noted previously, their religions include belief in reincarnation: on the death of the body, the soul transmigrates or is born again in another body. Life therefore is not seen as ‘one shot’, but more as a cyclical phenomenon. This puts less pressure on people to be ‘doing’ oriented and means there is more inducement to be blameless and virtuous since it is these factors that will influence the status of further reincarnations; inaction is one of the surest ways to lead a blameless life. As Kumar (2000, p. 54) notes: ‘Although brilliant in helping an individual cope with social reality, it is perhaps less attuned to dealing with the complexities of the larger social systems’.

Both ideas (having a soul or not) have their merits and it is obviously difficult to find supportive evidence for either one. Thus, it is more interesting to investigate the consequences for action of the assumption that we have a soul. When Kumar (2000) discusses the consequences of Brahmanism in India, he points out that the emphasis on ‘thought’ (being) over ‘action’ (doing) means that implementation receives less attention: there is ‘an emphasis on developing grandiose schemes without concern for implementation at all’ (p. 59). The idea of a soul generally coexists with that of God. Metempsychosis (the migration of the soul from one body to another) is a very strong belief that arises as a response to an important common human problem: what is the relation between the physical world and the metaphysical world? Believers (people raised in the cultures where this belief is prevalent) are more patient, seemingly less ‘doing’ oriented, simply because achieving position in lives to come is more important than what is achieved in this life. Without discussing metempsychosis, let us look at some fundamental monotheist assumptions: 1. God as supernatural force, both protective and threatening. 2. God being almighty and therefore easy to offend. 3. God asking human beings to accept their destiny as it comes to them. 4. God also asking them to do as much as they can to act rightly and justly. Fatalism is a belief that directly influences action, not necessarily in terms of acting less, but rather in terms

3.3 Culture-based attitudes towards action


of acting differently. It clearly posits the locus of control as being outside, in the metaphysical environment. It also provides convenient explanations for unpredictable events, which allow people to resume activity quickly after catastrophes (earthquakes, fires, car accidents). Fatalism makes mourning easier and facilitates the acceptance of strongly negative personal events, a bankruptcy for instance. (For more information on Fatalism see WS3.3.) Where Christianity fundamentally differs from Islam is on assumption 3. The Christian creed more strictly separates the worldly from the heavenly sphere (‘Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s’). Furthermore, there is a less personal and direct relationship to God than in Islam, since, at least in Catholicism, it is largely mediated by the Church. This frees the tendencies towards mastery over nature, since God gives mankind leeway in relation to worldly enterprises. To a large extent, the punishment in the Promethean myth is forgotten about. In Christian religions, the way is cleared for proactive attitudes.

are a prophet, perform a miracle for us, so that we may believe in You.’ And the messenger of God invariably answered: ‘O Arab People, is not the miracle powerful enough, that your everyday language has been chosen for the Book, in which a single verse makes us forget about all your poems and all your songs?’ It is said that, on hearing this response, non-believers committed themselves to convene all the poets of Arabia, so that they might create at least one verse, a few words, the beauty of which would match that of the Koran. The poets arrived at Caaba and began to perspire under the torrid sun. They toiled, they spared themselves no anguish in seeking to perform what had been requested of them. But as soon as they began to recite their works, even the fiercest opponents to the Prophet themselves were compelled to admit that none of their words could rival the verses of the Koran. Poetic spirit is so greatly esteemed among Arabs that many of those who were in the Caaba at that moment knelt down and were converted to Islam. The unrivalled beauty of the language had convinced them of its heavenly origin. (Mohammed Essad Bey, 1934, pp. 98–9, author’s translation.)

What is action?
Another important distinction to be made is whether a culture tends to classify words, speeches and, more generally, acts of communication, in the ‘deeds’ category. In many cultures there are popular sayings that effectively condemn speech on the basis that it is not real action (‘do, not talk’). In the real world, life is more complicated: communications are a category of act, and their potential influence on others is beyond doubt. But whether communication (in what particular form?) is considered as being significantly related to action differs across cultures. Let us take the example of poetry, which in Islam is highly esteemed. One can be fascinated by poetry, by the beauty of words and songs (and the fact of being fascinated can lead to the message of the poetry being acted on), as this commentary on the life of the Prophet illustrates:
Thus, Mohammed was sitting in the great courtyard of the Caaba, surrounded by the faithful, foreigners and Qureichits. The melodious music of the verses of the Koran was playing while the Prophet was gazing at the audience; the sparkle in His eyes and the beauty of the songs held the people spellbound. The people kept on repeating: ‘If You

The word ‘poetry’ comes from the Greek word poio, a verb meaning to ‘make’, to ‘produce’, to ‘build’. Such an etymology, which is at first sight surprising, sheds some light on the opposing value judgements of the usefulness of poetry, which are made according to different basic cultural assumptions. On the one hand it may be seen as rather distanced from action in the real world, on the other as a direct source of inspiration for action. Indeed if a ‘classical’ model of action is assumed, i.e. one that is culturally European/ Western based, the following sequence occurs: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Analysis of the problem and the issues at stake. Gathering of relevant information. Listing and evaluating possible solutions. Selecting the ‘best’ decision. Implementation: that is, mainly articulating individual and collective action since the implementation process is generally scattered among numerous diverse agents, whereas the decision itself tends to be more individualized, or at least taken by a limited number of people. 6. Appraisal of the outcome, control of the difference between target and actual outcomes, and possibly feedback to a previous step in the sequence. This sequence may be easily criticized for being culturally non-universal: Japanese people have no word for decision making (Lazer et al., 1985), and action/ decision/control processes are viewed mainly as


Chapter 3 Cultural dynamics 2: Interactions, mindsets and behaviours

implementation issues. This is why they first insist on consulting each one of a large group of people at various levels in the organization, who will comment on how to do something (not necessarily on why). But even if we were to accept that this sequence is true, it would still involve a great deal of cultural relativity.


How to relate thinking to action
In relating thinking to action, the following categories are considered: 1. How should issues be addressed: broadly, with the premise that the parts always represent the whole, or narrowly, considering that focus is the key to relevance when acting? 2. What are the proofs that a certain course of action, based on previous reflection, is the right one: (a) data; (b) theory; (c) personal conviction; (d) virtue because it is morally correct to think and do so?

Ideologists versus pragmatists
If future partners do not share common ‘mental schemes’, it could be difficult for them to solve problems together. Buyers and sellers, for instance, should share some joint views of the world, especially on the following questions: 1. What is the relevant information for acting? 2. How should this information be sought, evaluated and fed into the decision-making process? An important distinction in the field of crosscultural psychology opposes ideologism to pragmatism (Glenn, 1981; Triandis, 1983). Ideologists will use a wide body of ideas that provide them with a formal and coherent description of the world: Marxism or liberalism, for instance. Every event is supposed to carry meaning when it is seen through this ideologist framework. On the other hand, the pragmatist attitude first considers the extreme diversity of real-world situations, and then derives its principles inductively. Reality will be seen as a series of rather independent and concrete problems to be solved (‘issues’). These issues will make complete sense when related to practical, precise and even down-to-earth decisions.

Typically, ideologists will take decisions (prendre des décisions), that is, pick a solution from a range of possible decisions (which are located outside the person who decides). Conversely, pragmatists will make decisions, that is, they will both decide and implement them: decisions will be enacted, not selected. (For more information on pragmatism versus ideologism see WS3.4.) Triandis (1983) hypothesizes that complex traditional societies will tend to be ideologist ones, whereas pluralistic societies or cultures experiencing rapid social change will tend to be pragmatist. This distinction may also be traced back to the difference between the legal systems of common law (e.g. UK and USA) and of code law (e.g. French and German). Whereas the first one favours legal precedents set by the courts and past rulings (cases) the latter favours laws and general texts. These are intended to build an all-inclusive system of written rules of law (code). Codes aim to formulate general principles that embody the entire set of particular cases. (See WS3.4 for more information on code law versus common law.) The ideologist orientation, which is to be found mostly in southern and eastern Europe, leads negotiators to try to set principles before any detailed discussion on specific clauses of the contract. They have a tendency to prefer and promote globalized negotiations in which all the issues are gathered in a ‘package deal’. The pragmatist attitude, which is found mostly in northern Europe and the United States, leads negotiators to define problems of limited scope, then solve them one after the other. They tend to concentrate their thinking on factual aspects (deeds, not words; evidence, not opinions; figures, not value judgements) and are willing to reach real-world decisions, even if they have to be down-to-earth ones. Thus, communication may be difficult when partners do not share the same mental scheme. The most unlikely situation for success is an ideologistoriented contractor/supplier who tries to sell to a pragmatist-oriented owner/buyer. The ideologist will see the pragmatist as being overly interested in trivial details, too practical, too down-to-earth, and incapable of looking at issues from a higher standpoint. Pragmatists will resent ideologists for being too theoretical, lacking practical sense, concerned with issues that are too broad to lead to implementable decisions.

3.4 How to relate thinking to action


What information is relevant for action? How should it be used?
The dimensions of ideologism and pragmatism are not mutually exclusive. It would be a mistake to consider Americans as pure pragmatists with no leaning towards ideology. From a pragmatic view they identify problems clearly and precisely as ‘issues’ and collect evidence systematically. Their attitude is matter of fact. To be ‘down to earth’ is a positive expression in English, whereas its French equivalent is often pejorative (être terre à terre).3 But it is also true that free-market/individual-oriented ideology has a strong presence in the United States, enshrined in the Constitution, in anti-trust legislation, in corporate law, and so on. However, ideology is rarely present on a daily basis, when information directly relevant to action is gathered or discussed. Ideology is generally accepted unquestioningly. It is therefore somewhat irrelevant to debate practical matters, as an ideologist would. Thus, they are more likely to be conscious of pragmatic considerations when ideology and ideas are the object of debate. In international business negotiations there is often a discussion of principles, but these may lead to a substantive outcome later on. The fundamental skill of diplomats (who are, in many respects, experts in matters of culture) is to obtain the acceptance and underwriting of basic principles by their counterparts, the effectiveness of which is only apparent at a later date.

1. Our perceptual apparatus is partly culturally formed (see sections 1.4 and 9.4). 2. We implicitly choose to limit the search to certain categories of facts and represent them in a particular way. 3. We assess the truthfulness of these facts according to criteria that are determined in part by our cultural background. When and how they are established as true (meaning that there is a consensus about their being a part of the real world) is also culture-based.4 4. Even when these facts have been established as true, there still remain different interpretations of them, depending on culture-based values and social representations.5 We may favour either actual/empirical or potential reality. Actual empirical reality is the way in which we experience reality here and now (the way it is revealed by empirical science). Potential reality is the reality we imagine and dream about but which also motivates us to achieve. It is in a sense the possible future of actual reality. Our sense of potential reality relies much more on imagination than on actual perceptions. Since it is beyond the reach of our perceptions and we cannot experience it, we have to envisage potential reality. Potential reality is a rich ground for action, because it directly supports our Promethean desires to exert mastery over nature. It helps us to achieve objects and to undertake projects which can make us feel equal to gods (‘space conquest’ projects, for instance). Galtung (1981) uses the distinction between actual reality and potential reality in order to contrast what he calls the ‘intellectual styles’ of four important cultural groups:6 the Saxonic (prototype: the British and the Americans), the ‘Teutonic’ (prototype: the Germans), the ‘Gallic’ (prototype: the French), and the ‘Nipponic’ intellectual style (prototype: the Japanese). Saxons prefer to look for facts and evidence that result in factual accuracy and abundance. As Galtung states (1981, pp. 827– 8) when he describes the intellectual style of Anglo-Americans:
data unite, theories divide. There are clear, relatively explicit canons for establishing what constitutes a valid fact and what does not; the corresponding canons in connection with theories are more vague . . . One might now complete the picture of the Saxonic intellectual style by emphasizing its weak point: not very strong on theory formation, and not on paradigm awareness.

Actual (empirical) reality versus potential reality: Which should be preferred?
It is a frequent mistake to believe that reality is simple, in the sense that it is directly related to our perceptions and the ways in which we act on it and try to change it. It is what we call ‘common sense’, that is, shared meaning which makes sense in the cultural community simply because we share it, even though it may appear nonsense to people belonging to other cultural communities. The English language is more realistic than the French language here, saying common sense (shared meaning) as opposed to the French bon sens (good sense), a value judgement that is sometimes wrong. Indeed our relation to the real world is heavily filtered by a series of convergent factors:


Chapter 3 Cultural dynamics 2: Interactions, mindsets and behaviours

Galtung contrasts the Saxonic style with the Teutonic and Gallic styles, which place theoretical arguments at the centre of their intellectual process. Data and facts are there to illustrate what is said rather than to demonstrate it:
Discrepancy between theory and data would be handled at the expense of data: they may either be seen as atypical or wholly erroneous, or more significantly as not really pertinent to the theory. And here the distinction between empirical and potential reality comes in: to the Teutonic and Gallic intellectual, potential reality may be not so much the reality to be even more avoided or even more pursued than the empirical one but rather a more real reality, free from the noise and impurities of empirical reality. (Galtung, 1981, p. 828.)


Dealing with desires and feelings
Management is based on the principle of reality, and not on the principle of pleasure (in Freudian terms), and therefore there is little interest in looking at people’s desires and feelings, which are considered to be in the realm of the purely subjective, and deserving to be treated as almost non-existent. However, in a cross-cultural perspective, they are important, because people have different ways of relating their actions to their desires and feelings. In this section we are dealing with the two corresponding cells, (e) ‘wishful thinking’ orientation and (f) affective versus neutral cultures, in Table 3.5.

However, Teutonic and Gallic intellectual styles do differ in the role that is assigned to words and discourse. The Teutonic ideal is that of the ineluctability of true reasoning (Gedankennotwendigkeit),7 that is, perfection of concepts and the indisputability of their mental articulation. The Gallic style is less preoccupied with deduction and intellectual construction. It is directed more towards the use of the persuasive strength of words and speeches in an aesthetically perfect way (élégance). Words have an inherent power to convince. They may create potential reality. Finally the Nipponic intellectual style, imbued with Hindu, Buddhist and Taoist philosophies, favours a more modest, global and provisional approach. Thinking and knowledge are conceived of as being in a temporary state, open to alteration. The Japanese ‘rarely pronounce absolute, categorical statements in daily discourse; they prefer vagueness even about trivial matters . . . because clear statements have a ring of immodesty, of being judgements of reality’ (Galtung, 1981, p. 833). (For more information on Galtung see WS3.4.) These distinctions are important for any situations where a certain course of action has to be based on favourable arguments, for instance, in assessing the quality of a marketing strategy and when doing market research. After the failure of a marketing campaign, people will tend to emphasize different issues: should they for instance (1) find supporting evidence of what went wrong, (2) convince salespeople to be more enthusiastic about the product, (3) re-think the theory behind the strategy, or (4) improve the quality of the troops in charge of implementation?

How to relate wishes and desires to action
As previously noted, words and deeds may either be classified in two separate categories or combined. They may be in opposition to each other in that words are empty or hollow, or complimentary in that words act on others: speech implies influencing and sometimes causes others to act. Most acts of authority are only words. To illustrate some culture-based misadventures in the relationship between words and deeds, Box 3.3 presents the role of wishful thinking (WT) in the international negotiation of a delivery date. An important issue for cultural action styles is the problematical link between what one says and what one does. As previously discussed every culture mixes their use of actual/empirical and potential realities. But cultures differ in the ranking of these, and in the degree of distrust of potential reality. Obviously potential reality is more dangerous to deal with: it is easier to speak about it than to act on it. WT is related to any action that deals with the future and with potential reality: in bidding situations, the management of delivery delays, the announcement of prices, attitudes towards new projects, or in an advertising campaign where arguments unknowingly based on wishful thinking may ‘explain why’ the audience should be convinced by the message. (For more information about wishful thinking see WS3.5.)

3.5 Dealing with desires and feelings


Box 3.3

Wishful thinking
When selling industrial equipment or turnkey projects on world-wide markets, one or more delivery dates are usually stipulated. The effects of such an announcement may be severe: the buyer may cancel the order because the date is too late. However, this date rarely depends exclusively on the person who sets it. Wishful thinking (WT) is a necessary input in this process: it explains why the initially announced delivery date (an actual reality) may be very different from the ultimate one (a potential reality). Wishful thinking is a true ‘art of communication’ which is preferred more in Latin cultures than in AngloSaxon cultures. There is no expression in French for wishful thinking (except perhaps des voeux pieux), so the English expression is used in French. The negative consequences of WT, such as deceitful behaviour, are much less emphasized in Latin than in Anglo-Saxon cultures. The fact that the phrase ‘wishful thinking’ is rather pejorative, shows that, normatively, in Anglo-Saxon cultures, it should be avoided, whereas in Latin cultures expressing desires appears more natural. Naturally, in addition to the cultural background there are also some personalities and psychological profiles which are more prone to wishful thinking.8 WT consists in first thinking, then saying, how one wants things to be, not how they are. Since nobody knows exactly how things will be in the future, a non-WT oriented person will try to say how he or she thinks quite realistically they will be, not as he or she wants them to be. WT is easier when a culture is present oriented, as people do not worry about periods which they do not clearly envisage: it is a convenient way to escape from the constraints of longer-term realities by focusing on the here and now. It dodges problems to be solved, and hides divergences and possible conflicts. But this is only in the short term. It is more inhibited if a culture clearly divides words from deeds (do what you say, say what you do). Conversely, if speech is considered an action, WT may possibly become a necessity (to galvanize people, while at the same time evoking an improbable future). A seller with a strong WT communication has the tendency to tell a client spontaneously that the delivery date requested is entirely feasible. The seller also manoeuvres verbally around past realities which may not be wholly reassuring: a six-week delay in the last shipment, for instance. The buyer may also have a WT communication framework, and is in fact ‘buying’ friendly relations rather than hard data, preferring to be ‘happy now’. On the other hand, if the buyer is not WT-prone, the seller is judged negatively and the order is not placed, unless there is some compelling rational argument such as a shortage of this type of supply, particularly high quality or exclusive technology.
(Source: Adapted from Usunier, 1989, pp. 89–90.)

Affective versus neutral cultures
The contrast between affective and neutral cultures is described by Trompenaars (1993, p. 63; see WS3.5): ‘Members of cultures which are affectively neutral do not telegraph their feelings but keep them carefully controlled and subdued. Neutral cultures are not necessarily cold or unfeeling, nor are they emotionally constipated or repressed.’ Countries were classified according to their response to a question

asking if they would express their feelings openly if they felt upset about something at work. The highest score of neutrality was for the Japanese (83 per cent), followed by (the former West) Germany (75 per cent) and the United Kingdom (71 per cent). The Dutch are in the middle (55 per cent), whereas American people express their emotions more easily than the British, with only 40 per cent in favour of neutrality. Finally Italy and France are clearly more affective cultures, with only 29 per cent and 34 per cent


Chapter 3 Cultural dynamics 2: Interactions, mindsets and behaviours

respectively agreeing that they would not express their feelings openly. The contrast between affective and neutral cultures is closely related to the being/doing divide in basic cultural assumptions and to dependence in the models of interaction. If people are strictly doing oriented they generally tend to disregard expressions of being. Feelings and affectivity are seen as being in the purely personal and private, individual, domain. Thus, Anglo-Saxon cultures tend to suppress these feelings and view their direct expression as inappropriate for effective interaction. This practical problem which all cultures have to face is not an easy one. Over-suppression of emotions and feelings may result in flawed interaction and poor results in terms of action: people may discover quite late in a situation that personal antipathy is a major obstacle to further interaction. On the other hand, giving people a free hand to express all that they feel is somewhat dangerous, because feelings may be superficial or short-sighted and may needlessly offend the other party. The feelings/action issue is important for the choice of partners to improve communications in marketing negotiations, managing sales personnel, establishing relationships with foreign distribution channels, or preparing locally appropriate advertising materials. Every culture has certain codes and rituals that allow for a compromise between the two extreme positions. What varies is the starting assumption: 1. Expressing emotions is legitimate and useful for action (affective cultures). 2. Expressing emotions needs to be separated from action (neutral cultures). It needs, however, to be refined, by the addition of two further caveats. First, as emphasized by Trompenaars, people have no fewer emotions in neutral cultures than in affective cultures; perhaps the contrary is true. Since feelings and emotions are contained, they may pile up and result in hidden negative feelings. Second, much is based in personality traits and individual interaction; culture, in this area, should not be overestimated. Much is universal rather than culture-specific in the area of feelings and emotions. Chapter 13 on language, culture and communication explores the issue of affectivity versus neutrality in more detail.


Coping with rules
Rules and basic assumptions
A rule is an authoritative regulation or direction concerning method or procedure. Rules are formalized norms that generally comprise a scale of sanctions according to the gravity of the breach. Rules can be made which are respected, discussed and implemented quite explicitly, or there may be a discrepancy between ideal rules and what people can actually do, leading them to behaviour involving the exploring and bypassing of rules. Some typical indicators of rulerelated behaviour deal with speed limits, traffic lights, queuing at banks or bus stations, how income statements are filled in, and so on. A naive interpretation of rules would be that they are made to be respected. The real function of rules is more complex. Written rules are fairly standard across cultures. But, the first precaution is to read rules in the light of basic assumptions and interaction models (see Tables 3.6 and 3.7): 1. A positive human nature orientation (HNO) leads to rules where sanctions are small and often positively reinforced with a reward for respecting the rule being preferred to a penalty. People are viewed as capable of being trusted to respect the rules and gain benefit from them (HNO good), whereas high sanctions and severe enforcement are the case in cultures with an HNO-bad assumption. 2. The level of power distance in a particular society has an influence on (a) the design of rules and (b) their implementation. Low power distance generally results in people being associated in some way with the design of rules, and in their being applied with a sense of fairness and equity to everybody, including those with larger power in the society (Hofstede points out that power is unequally distributed, even in low power distance societies). In contrast, high power distance results in people being subject to rules, in the design of which they were not involved. Furthermore, rules apply more strongly to those with less power, the most powerful being seen as somewhat beyond the reach of rules that apply only to ‘ordinary people’. 3. As noted in the discussion in the previous chapter on space-related assumptions, strong ingroup

3.6 Coping with rules


Table 3.6 Type of rules and behaviour according to HNO and power distance
Power distance Low Human Nature Orientation Good Pragmatic rules (responsible compliance) Mechanical rules (automatic compliance) High Challengeable rules (exploring behaviour) Oppressive rules (bypassing behaviour)


orientation often leads to the syndrome that rules are ‘applicable only here’ (that is, in the native community, not outside). 4. The inner drive to respect the rule: guilt (inner feeling of responsibility for committing an offence) versus shame (a painful emotion, directed to the outside, resulting from an awareness of having done something dishonourable as a group member). Table 3.6 presents four ideal types of rule, and behaviour in relation to rules based on the type of HNO and the level of power distance. In this table, the HNO assumption must be understood in a somewhat comparative way between the ruler and the ruled: ‘good’ means that the ruled view themselves as ‘better’ than or equal to the ruler; ‘bad’ means that the ruled view themselves as ‘as bad’ as or ‘even worse’ than their rulers.

Types of rules and rule-related behaviour
Anglo-rules, including those of northern European countries, are basically ‘pragmatic’ rules: people generally comply with the rule out of a sense of responsibility built on positive motivation; rules are understood as helping society to work more smoothly and efficiently and everyone is supposed to benefit from their being respected. In this picture, people are universally at ease with their rules; even if they sometimes break them (nobody is perfect). ‘Challengeable rules’ correspond to those that exist in Italy or France where power distance is fairly high and ordinary people view themselves as having a better human nature than those at the top. It is not seen as wrong to investigate the extent to which rules can

be transgressed. Most often rules come directly from the top, without any ‘instructions for use’. Rule exploring means looking for the margins of interpretation. The only way to explore a new rule is to breach it discreetly from the start in order to know whether it is intended to be applied seriously or whether it is one more empty text that nobody will respect. ‘Mechanical rules’ would be found in the German or Swiss case; they are made democratically because power distance is low, but there is distrust of people. Sanctions are explicit and implemented fairly literally: as in the well-oiled machine model of Stevens (the German model of organization as described by Hofstede; see section 3.2), respect for rules has a fairly mechanical and automatic side: they are applied literally. The last stereotypical case is to be found in many developing and Third World countries with high power distance and negative assumptions as to the nature of human beings, powerful or not. Rules are often very strict, formal and somewhat unrealistic. Chapter 11 develops the example of foreign exchange control systems, which lead to the bypassing of the rule by over- or under-invoicing. Oppressive rules oblige people who have been subject to long-term rule to bypass the law and induce rulers into corrupt behaviour (they can implement unimplementable rules with some leniency in exchange for a bribe). Oppressive rules lead to a strange atmosphere, where there is a high discrepancy between what people say they will do and what they actually do, a sort of systematic social schizophrenia (for instance the policeman will change money in the forbidden parallel exchange market). The idea of possible discrepancies between ideal patterns and actual behaviour was expressed by Linton (1945, pp. 52–4):


Chapter 3 Cultural dynamics 2: Interactions, mindsets and behaviours

All cultures include a certain number of what may be called ideal patterns . . . They represent the consensus of opinion on the part of the society’s members as to how should people behave in particular situations . . . comparison of narratives usually reveals the presence of a real culture pattern with a recognizable mode of variation . . . it [the ideal pattern] represents a desideratum, a value, which has always been more honoured in the breach than in the observance.

Table 3.7 Universal versus local rules
Type of rule Ingroup orientation Inner compliance dynamic Universal rules Weak Guilt Local rules Strong Shame

Box 3.4 shows how rules can be more complicated than those officially displayed as a result of opportunistic behaviour and their being difficult to respect. In any country, an examination of the basic rules relating to the functioning of society (e.g. traffic, queuing, taxation) and how they are actually implemented, quickly provides a fairly good idea of local patterns in dealing with rules. (For more information on coping with rules see WS3.6.)

Universal versus local rules
Table 3.7 contrasts universal with local rules: universal rules are assumed to be applicable even beyond the borders of cultures and countries. An example lies in US laws being applicable extraterritorially, such as

anti-trust rules or the anti-corrupt legislation, FCPA, examined in Chapter 15. The legal concept of extraterritoriality is typical of outgroup orientation, and the US legal extraterritoriality is often resented by other sovereign states as an intrusion into their home affairs. On the other hand, strong ingroup orientation leads to the feeling that rules are only local, they apply to the people here, on their territory and not outside. People who favour universal rules are characterized by an inner compliance dynamic based on guilt, that is, self-reproach caused by an inner feeling that one is responsible for a wrong or offence. The moral punishment is to a large extent interiorized within the psyche as in the Freudian concept of schuld (in

Box 3.4

Brazilian traffic lights
When I travel to Brazil, I stay in Rio de Janeiro with friends who work for the Brazilian census bureau (IBGE). There, I have learnt that the rules for traffic lights are not really the same as elsewhere. It is not as simple as ‘red = stop’, ‘green = go’. Sometimes cars just do not stop when it is red for them. There seems to be no rule. Investigating more carefully, I gradually discovered that the rule is largely situation-specific. In the case of heavy traffic, it tends generally to be well respected, which shows a certain common sense on the part of Cariocas. In the case of lighter and smoother traffic, it depends mostly on the relative size of streets (not to mention the driver’s personality and propensity to take risks). Those coming from a smaller street must take care before they benefit from their green light: people on the larger street may cross the red lights after slowing down a little bit, but without stopping. Thus, out of rush-hours traffic lights are semi-optional for those driving on major avenues. The last case comes at night: one should never stop at red lights even when lawfully required to do so. One night as we were coming back from an IBGE party at Jacarepagua (a nice suburb of Rio), Roberto explained to me, as he drove across the town to Flamengo without apparently noticing traffic lights, that, a year ago, he had been assaulted by a man who had threatened to shoot him through the side window of his car. Naturally, he had given him all his money and was fortunate enough to get back home unhurt. The rule at night is therefore: never stop at a traffic light, it is better to slow down to catch the green and if necessary cross on the red.

3.7 Cultural assumptions and actual behaviour


German: debt, fault, culpability). Conversely, the inner compliance dynamic for ingroup-oriented people is based on shame and is more outer directed: it has to do with losing face, having one’s honour threatened, that is, risking rejection by the other group members. Local rules are territory bound and concern breach of loyalty to the ingroup. Adopting a more open view of how people attribute meaning to rules makes sense for a large array of international marketing issues. As far as consumer behaviour is concerned, rules on waiting, attitudes towards queuing, theft from stores by consumer or sales staff, the attention paid by consumers to instructions for use (of pharmaceuticals, food), the attitude towards filling in market research questionnaires, giving truthful information and, more generally, any ethical issue that involves social responsibility of manufacturers, service providers or consumers have to be examined with a view to their cross-cultural relativity.


Cultural assumptions and actual behaviour
As outlined in Chapter 1, all societies face common problems, and although there is a dominant solution, alternatives are always present, and they combine in a dialectic way. Let us take the example of how individual and collective actions are to be combined. Japanese people are often depicted as collectivist, in contrast to Americans who are deemed more individualistic. There is undoubtedly an element of truth in this distinction, but it is necessary to outline its limits. Who is more humane, more personal and more sensitive in interpersonal relations, more attentive and understanding than the average Japanese person? Who cares more about the community than the average American, whose objective is to ‘socialize in the community’? In the United States the word ‘community’ is used extensively. Indeed Americans and Japanese share a common problem (as defined by Kluckhohn and Strodtbeck, 1961): that of combining individual actions and collective undertakings. This problem may be solved only by a process which is essentially dialectic. In any society there exists a dominant cultural assumption about what the first

(but not the sole) priority should be: either the individual (as in the United States); or else the group is the basic survival unit to which the individual must be subordinated (as in Japan). Then comes the secondary cultural assumption, which dialectically complements the basic assumption: that the community is where people integrate to build a common society, and their reciprocal links should be strictly and explicitly codified (United States); or that the utmost level of sensitivity must be developed in interpersonal relations so that the working of the group is kept as smooth as possible (Japan). The basic cultural assumptions described in the previous sections are in fact deep-rooted beliefs that generate basic values. Indirectly they guide our daily behaviour, but they may also clash with it. By their very nature they are subconscious, as is the process by which they shape our interaction with others and our conduct. There is some leeway for other sources of influence: for instance, we use social representations to make decisions. We are influenced by other values and other standards of demeanour, such as work rules, company codes of conduct, lifestyles or friendship patterns which work closer to the surface than basic cultural assumptions. These standards of demeanour help people to manage adjustments in the short term; they change over much shorter periods of time (ten or twenty years) than basic cultural assumptions (probably formed over centuries). This leads to two questions: 1. To what extent do less profound levels of culture, e.g. corporate culture or educational culture, influence people? 2. To what extent do people, more or less consciously, feel a contradiction between these different sources of prescriptive behaviour? From Schein’s (1981) culture model, Derr and Laurent (1989) present what they call the ‘levels of culture triangle’ (see Figure 3.2). Basic assumptions are at the bottom of the triangle. These influence the values and behavioural norms which derive from the society in its present state. At the top of the triangle are behavioural standards, which are prescribed in a much more direct and explicit way, which Derr and Laurent call ‘artefacts’: for instance, company procedures, business ethics codes and generally all those standards that unashamedly seek to shape employees’ behaviour (inside the company). Whereas cultural


Chapter 3 Cultural dynamics 2: Interactions, mindsets and behaviours

Figure 3.2 Basic cultural assumptions and actual behaviour

(Source: Derr and Laurent, 1989. Reproduced with permission.)

assumptions are based on national culture, ‘artefacts’, values and norms are based on organizational culture. Multinational companies (MNCs) offer their employees the most fruitful opportunities for intercultural exchange. One might believe that, despite differences in national culture, the values shared by executives in MNCs will converge, as they spend years working with different people. In order to grasp differences in cognitive styles, Laurent (1983) asked managers of different nationalities to indicate their agreement or disagreement with the following statement (item 24 of Laurent’s questionnaire on management styles): ‘It is important for a manager to have at hand precise answers to most of the questions that his subordinates may raise about their work.’ (For more information on corporate and national culture see WS3.7.) Figure 3.3 reproduces the percentage of respondents replying in the affirmative for various national groups. Obviously Swedes do not need omniscient managers (10 per cent). Among westerners, the Italians (66 per cent) and the French (53 per cent) believe that managers should have precise answers to most of their subordinates’ questions. It seems that most Anglo-Saxon and northern European people tend to see managers as problem solvers, whereas Latin and Asian people see them more as experts. These differences were observed in people working in their home country. In a later study, Laurent (1989) asked the same question of executives who had been working for a long time in MNCs where teams had

been built up from a large number of different nationalities. One would expect to observe a decrease in the differences between national groups of managers. Surprisingly, the situation is exactly the opposite. Laurent observed an increase of differences across national groups. This suggests that, behind superficial agreements, people’s basic cultural assumptions are reinforced. When a corporate culture tries to shape a manager’s (or more generally an employee’s) daily behaviour, it may succeed from the outside (because people are concerned about their job and career), but it only scratches the surface. It does not significantly affect the two bottom levels of Figure 3.2, values and basic cultural assumptions. Moreover, since this is forced upon them, not only do they fail to impinge on basic cultural assumptions, but they even reinforce them. Does this mean that international experience has no effect on managers? It is more likely that international experience will influence our ‘newer view’ of the way the business world works than the basic cultural assumptions that guide our behaviour. For instance, Lee et al. (2000) in a study of Japanese and Korean manager’s views on marketing tactics, including pricing, found that the importance of brand names and superior product design were more similar in firms that had a high level of internationalization, than those whose focus was domestic. Thus changes occur in the realm of organizational learning (see Kim, 1993), rather than in our fundamental cultural assumptions.



Figure 3.3 National differences in subordinates’ expectations towards their superiors

(Source: Laurent, 1983, and Adler et al., 1989.)

1. What do you think the cultural roots to personal modesty might be? 2. Which examples would you suggest to exemplify American individualism? 3. In many countries, there is an institution called ‘parliamentary democracy’. On which basic cultural values is it based, in your opinion? Is there a relationship between the development of marketing and parliamentary democracy? 4. Given country scores on Hofstede’s four dimensions, what do you expect would be the problems encountered by a typical boss from country X in managing a typical employee from country Y (even at the risk of some stereotyping and sweeping generalization)? (a) An American boss managing Japanese subordinates. (b) A Japanese boss managing French subordinates. (c) A French boss managing Swedish subordinates. (d) A Swedish boss managing Japanese subordinates. 5. A conversation is in progress between a British manager and a French manager concerning a common (large) project. The project is at a very early stage (examining its feasibility, setting deadlines for construction, planning of steps in building process, etc.). The Frenchman is very enthusiastic and argues: ‘Let’s go, we can do it; impossible n’est pas français!’ [‘impossible is not a French word’]. The Englishman feels somewhat uneasy about the turn of the conversation. Why? 6. Are there Japanese individualists? Why? 7. A sign indicates: ‘Parking time limited to 10 minutes. Be fair.’ Which views of time and rules does this reveal? Try to imagine signs with different information for people who have a different approach to rules.


Chapter 3 Cultural dynamics 2: Interactions, mindsets and behaviours

1. Berne’s theory (Berne, 1961, 1964) is based on a view of the self as composed of three stratas: the Parent, the Adult and the Child. Transactions between human beings can take place at the same level or across levels of the self, for instance when a person sends a message based on his Parent to the Child of another person. What we suggest here is simply that some cultures may favour Adult–Adult transactions in interpersonal relationships whereas others tend to promote Parent–Child transactions, especially in hierarchical situations. 2. Siam is the name originally given by the French to the present Thailand: Siamese are therefore Thai people. 3. This means implicitly: compared to Latins, such as myself. We are generally much less cautious in taking such steps, if indeed we ever stop to identify them clearly. Even the style of this book reveals that I come from an ideologist-oriented society (French). The expressions ‘matter of fact’ and ‘down to earth’, which are both positive in English, may be translated by être terre à terre. The French language also has two expressions, but one is pejorative and the other is positive – avoir les pieds sur terre (Harrap’s Concise French–English Dictionary, 1984, Harrap: London, p. 369). 4. Those who wish to enlarge their world-view by freeing themselves, at least partially, from the mental programmes brought to them by culture, risk being misunderstood. This is in fact a legitimate reaction on the part of other members of the group. By trying to escape a single cultural programming, such people exhibit a definite lack of humility in setting themselves apart from the community. Furthermore, any homogeneous human group feels quite threatened when members of the group overstep the threshold of non-conformity. They may finally be understood (because the message is useful as an instrument of change that is needed in the society), or live alone, or be beheaded (e.g. Sir Thomas More). 5. Clifford Geertz in Local Knowledge (1983) quotes a long passage from a Danish traveller and trader, L.V. Helms, who when travelling in India accurately reports the ritual of the cremation of a dead man and his three (living) widows. Helms describes very carefully the background to the incident, which took place around 1850. He is horrified by the ritual, amazed by the absence of reaction of the crowd attending the event and stunned by the lack of fear of the three women who throw themselves alive into the flames. Geertz emphasizes the relationship of culture to moral imagination: what is seen as shear barbarism by one culture is experienced as wholly normal by another. Another more recent example of cross-cultural differences in the interpretation of facts is given by the totally divergent views during the Gulf War about Saddam Hussein (whose actions are well known): bloodthirsty dictator to some, hero of the Arab world to others. When Saddam Hussein fired Scud missiles at Saudi Arabia and Israel, interpretations of this simple act were also totally divergent. For an interpretation of the Gulf War reportage as representing advertising for weapons, see Ottosen (1992). 6. The article by Johan Galtung that we quote deals with the intellectual style of academics. Since it describes ‘intellectual styles’ in general (not only the style of the intellectuals), this framework is used as depicting ‘ideal types’. Johan Galtung, a Norwegian, is a renowned scholar in the field of peace research. His numerous articles and books are an important source of reflection on national culture and the conflicts between cultural communities. 7. The concept of Gedankennotwendigkeit is typical of German thinking patterns, where abstraction is taken to its limits. It is not by chance that German philosophers have a worldwide reach. The German language is probably the richest in the world in terms of abstract words. It favours pure conceptual thinking. The construction of Gedankennotwendigkeit is itself proof (sorry: an illustration) of this: denken means ‘to think’, Gedanken are ‘thoughts’; Not means ‘necessity’, wenden is ‘to turn’, -keit is a suffix that abstracts the whole as ‘the state of being . . .’. As a result of this rebus, Gedankennotwendigkeit is something like ‘the state of being turned into necessary (unavoidable, pure) thoughts’ (Langenscheidt German–English Dictionary, 1970, Basic Books: New York, used for the translation of component words). 8. To use a (very elementary) Freudian distinction: the denial of WT employs the anal principle of tightening oneself up and controlling one’s behaviour, when strongly integrating reality as a constraint; conversely, the use of WT denotes oral behaviour: favourable words (paroles), which describe reality in a much more pleasant way than it actually is, provide wishful thinkers (and above all, wishful speakers) with a mouth pleasure. This oral behaviour thwarts the frustrations of reality, like the little child that sucks its thumb when unhappy.

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Chapter 3 Cultural dynamics 2: Interactions, mindsets and behaviours

Smith, Adam (1776), The Wealth of Nations, University of Chicago Press edition: Chicago, IL., 1976. Smith, Peter B., Shaun Dugan, Mark F. Peterson and Kwok Leung (1998), ‘Individualism: collectivism and the handling of disagreement. A 23 country study’, International Journal of Intercultural Relations, vol. 22, no. 3, pp. 351–67. Sondergaard, Michael (1994), ‘Hofstede’s Consequences: a study of reviews, citations and replications’, Organization Studies, vol. 15, no. 3, pp. 447–56. Steenkamp, Jan-Benedict (2001), ‘The role of national culture in international marketing research’, International Marketing Review, vol. 18, no. 1, pp. 30–44. Triandis, Harry C. (1983), ‘Dimensions of cultural variation as parameters of organizational theories’, International Studies of Management and Organization, vol. XII, no. 4, pp. 139–69. Triandis, Harry C. (1990), ‘Cross-cultural studies of individualism and collectivism’, in J. Berman (ed.), Nebraska Symposium on Motivation, 1989, University of Nebraska Press: Lincoln, Nebraska, pp. 41–133.

Trompenaars, Fons (1993), Riding the Waves of Culture, Nicholas Brealey: London. Trompenaars, F. and C. Hampden-Turner (1998), Riding the Waves of Culture: Understanding Cultural Diversity in Global Business, 2nd edn, McGraw-Hill: New York. Usunier, Jean-Claude (1989), ‘Interculturel: la parole et l’action’, Harvard-L’Expansion, no. 52, Spring, pp. 84–92. Watson, John, Steven Lyonski, Tamara Gillan and Leslie Raymore (2002), ‘Cultural values and important possessions: a cross-cultural analysis’, Journal of Business Research, vol. 55, pp. 923–31. Weeks, William H., Paul B. Pedersen and Richard W. Brislin (1987), A Manual of Structured Experiences for Cross-cultural Learning, Intercultural Press: Yarmouth, ME. Wong, Nancy and Aaron Ahuvia (1995), ‘From tofu to caviar: conspicuous consumption, materialism and selfconcepts in east-Asian and Western cultures’, Proceedings of the Second Conference on the Cultural Dimension of International Marketing, Odense, pp. 68–89.

Appendix 3

Teaching materials

A3.1 Critical incident An American in Vietnam
An American in Vietnam recalls an illuminating story told him by a Vietnamese who complained about a lack of understanding between the two allies. They were discussing the fate of a province chief named Vong, once hailed by the Americans as the best province chief in Vietnam. Vong was accused of embezzling some 300,000 American dollars earmarked for an airstrip, and was tried and sentenced to be executed. It seemed a harsh sentence, considering the corruption prevalent at the time, and the American asked the Vietnamese if he agreed. ‘No,’ the Vietnamese said, ‘Vong should be executed because he’s a stupid man’. ‘Stupid? Because he got caught?’ the American asked. The Vietnamese impatiently shook his head. ‘No, no, not because he took the money,’ he said. ‘That is not important. But you know what this stupid man did? He pacified six more hamlets than his quota. This caused the general who gave him the quota to lose face, and that is stupid.’ The perplexed American said, ‘In America, he’d get a medal for exceeding his quota.’ The Vietnamese shook his head and said, ‘You Americans will never understand the Vietnamese.’

What aspects of the incident are significant in describing the difference in opinion between these two persons?
(Source: Weeks et al., 1987, p. 22.)

A3.2 Rationales for section A2.1 (cross-cultural scenario) and sections A2.2 and A2.3 (cross-cultural interactions)
A2.1 Scenario: Inshallah
This scenario can best be understood by first appreciating the very different views in US culture and Saudi culture concerning ‘locus of control’. In the US it is believed that ultimately people are responsible for their own destiny. If something goes wrong, it is believed, it is frequently possible for the individual to do something (that is, to change certain behaviour) to


Chapter 3 Cultural dynamics 2: Interactions, mindsets and behaviours

bring about the desired outcome. In Saudi Arabia, and indeed throughout the Arab world, people are taught from an early age that all things are subject to the direct will of Allah. All plans for the future (including, of course, business plans) are viewed with a sense of inevitability and will be realized only if God wills it. This is not to say that people in the Arab world would not work hard to help bring about the desired results. Rather, they believe that despite the effort, the desired ends will not happen unless God is willing. Perhaps Stefan would have been less frustrated if he had translated inshallah to mean ‘if possible’ or ‘God willing’ rather than as a knee-jerk response used to absolve oneself of all responsibility for one’s actions.
(Source: Ferraro, 1990, p. 162. Reproduced with permission.)

A2.2 Interaction: Engineering a decision
1. There is little evidence for this in the story. While the financial benefits are relevant, to Mr Tanaka they are probably a minor consideration in the situation. Please choose another response. 2. It is quite probable that coming from a male-dominant Japanese society he does think it odd that Mr Legrand should mention his wife’s opinion. However, the decision not to go to the Middle East also appears to be Mr Legrand’s personal inclination so this does not fully account for Mr Tanaka’s bewilderment. There is another explanation. Please choose again. 3. It is unlikely that Mr Tanaka would consider this. There are factors far removed from personal gain dominating his concern. Please choose again. 4. This is the most likely explanation. In Japanese and many other collectivist societies a person is defined much more as a collection of roles (parent, employee, servant, official) than by his or her individual identity. Therefore, fulfilling these roles to the best of one’s ability is regarded as more important than one’s personal inclinations. Thus Mr Tanaka would see that Mr Legrand’s responsibility as a company employee would be to accept the position whether or not he is personally happy about the idea. Mr Legrand’s refusal is thus bewildering and makes him think that his belief in Mr Legrand’s dedication has been completely misplaced. Mr Legrand however comes from a culture where individual freedoms are highly valued and so exercises his right to refuse the offer with little compunction. The cultural conflict thus resides in different strengths of values applied to the roles occupied by a person in the culture.
(Source: Brislin et al., 1986, pp. 177–8.)

A2.3 Interaction: Opening a medical office in Saudi Arabia
1. It is unlikely that people would sign up solely to satisfy a newcomer’s feeling. There is a better explanation. Please select again. 2. If there is a considerable time lag between when a person makes a decision and the action upon it, it is possible that they may change their mind. However, there is no indication in the incident to support this. Please select another response. 3. Units of time reference differ markedly between Arab and American cultures. To an American, the major unit of time is five minutes. Fifteen minutes is a significant period of time. To an urban Arab, the unit of time that corresponds to our five-minute block is fifteen. Thus, when the Arab is 30 minutes late (by the clock), he is not even ten minutes late by his standards. This is the best answer. Tom’s patients may still arrive. 4. While the patients may be seeing their own traditional healers, they would not necessarily do so in the strict sequence suggested by this alternative. There is a more precise explanation. Please choose again.
(Source: Brislin et al., 1986, p. 179.)

Part 2 The integration of local consumption in a global marketing environment

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Introduction to Part 2

Globalization has taken place at a rapid pace over the last half-century. The continuous expansion of cross-border marketing has been backed by the progressive elimination of barriers to trade, and the emergence of a global consumer culture. Although global convergence seems undeniable, some basic traits of local consumption experience tend to resist change. The general objective of this part is to show how global and local patterns coexist in both consumer behaviour and marketing environments. The cross-cultural approach to international marketing that is presented in Chapters 4 to 7 should enable future international marketers to understand local consumer behaviour in its full complexity. This approach allows adaptation of the design and implementation of market research across national markets when research instruments and data collection procedures are not similarly understood and do not produce equivalent findings cross-nationally. Quite often basic concepts have been developed in a specific cultural environment, generally that of the United States, and it is necessary to investigate whether the consumer behaviour concepts and theories used cross the borders of cultures without losing part of their relevance and explanatory power. Consequently, Chapter 4 deals with the cross-cultural dimension of consumer behaviour theories. It starts by assessing how culture affects consumer behaviour and highlights its influence on selected concepts such as loyalty, involvement and dissatisfaction. The chapter also examines the topic of ethnic consumption. The last section in this chapter takes as its premise that marketing is based on exchanges of meanings between marketers and consumers. This perspective makes much sense in international marketing since meaning is directly based on language, and linguistic diversity remains quite high cross-nationally. The encounters between local consumers and increasingly globalized consumption items are complex, contradictory and sometimes problematic. Chapter 5 first explains how the trend to globalization has been ideologically supported over the last two centuries by the free trade doctrine and how this doctrine tended to view products merely as commodities and to deny cross-national variety in consumers’ tastes and consumption habits. Analysis of global trends in consumption patterns shows striking convergence at a broad, quantitative level: the utilitarian needs for reasonably priced, mass-produced products and services are strong drivers behind this fastpaced change. The emergence of a global consumer culture is based on increasing aspirations for a world-standard package of goods and services whose performance is highly predictable. However, the meaning attributed to products and consumption

experiences remains to a large extent embedded in local contexts, that of shared habits within the cultural and linguistic groupings. Examples are given of how products whose consumption is becoming global, such as beer, are locally reinterpreted and vested with specific meanings, which must be taken into account when designing marketing strategy. In some cases, local consumer cultures can be strong enough to develop resistance to globalized consumption if it is perceived as detrimental to local cultural and economic interests. In most cases, however, the emergent pattern is that of a mix of local and global consumer behaviour based on kaleidoscopic ways of assembling diverse consumption experiences and making sense of them in everyday life. Because of increased economic integration worldwide, marketing environments and practices converge at regional and global levels. Chapter 6 first shows how local marketing environments have borrowed and transformed concepts and practices coming mainly from the United States. Regional convergence is also taking place because of free trade areas and customs unions: three sections examine diversity and change in three major regional areas (the European Union, Eastern Europe and the CIS, and East Asia). The chapter concludes with a consideration of the limitations to the worldwide convergence of marketing environments, showing that some key distinguishing features, such as language, will remain deep obstacles to wholly standardized marketing strategies. When market research takes place across borders, a number of survey instruments, such as questionnaires, scales, sampling techniques, interview techniques, etc., may not fit with the target contexts where data has to be collected. Chapter 7 exposes the technicalities of cross-cultural market research, that is, the problems posed by the possible inequivalence of instruments and methods across research contexts. The chapter reviews equivalence issues, such as conceptual, functional, translation and measure equivalence, which are examined in successive sections and illustrated by real-life examples. The issue of samples and sampling procedures is addressed because of the need of international marketing decision makers for findings that can be consistently compared across cultures and markets. Chapter 7 also examines how local respondents may react to survey instruments and which sort of data biases result from their unfamiliarity with the chosen data collection techniques. As a consequence, international research is often less technical than domestic research in terms of scientific survey instruments and needs more inputs of action research: this is illustrated in the last section with the example of the Japanese style of researching markets.

Cross-cultural consumer behaviour

‘Sehen Sie Mercedes mit anderen Augen. Die neue E-Klasse ist da’ says a 1995 Daimler-Benz poster for their new E-Class car (‘Look at Mercedes with other eyes. The new E-Class arrives’). That is what this chapter is all about: looking with other eyes. It basically deals with the influence of culture on consumer behaviour. Looking with the ‘same eyes’ means that theories, underlying models, concepts and views of what consumers are, what their motives are, and how they behave are assumed to be universal. One may ‘add glasses to the same eyes’ so that what was previously invisible comes to light. But what Mercedes asks its potential consumers to do may be necessary: changing the eyes in order to have a different perspective. Table 4.1 sums up four perspectives, starting from the view that both consumers (the object) and underlying consumer behaviour theories (the eyes) can be either universal or specific. When reading Table 4.1, it is important to note that no cell corresponds to a better perspective than any other. The first perspective, in its purest form, is now rarely found except in the text on globalization of markets by Levitt (1983) and more generally when

consumers are viewed as truly global. It may make sense for particular classes of consumers, such as business people travelling worldwide, and their families (‘the global nomads’). The global perspective has been widely used and in some cases has led to the design of successful marketing strategies. Kotler’s Marketing Management is now in its eleventh edition (2003): it is a worldwide success that started at position 1 and has steadily shifted to position 2. It has been translated into many languages and is used in various national contexts. For instance, the adaptation of Kotler’s book to the French context by Dubois is in its eleventh edition. Hirschmann (1985) describes the ideological base of American consumer behaviour research as promoting conceptualizations and conjectures in a definite framework, where individuals actively seek information and make personal decisions that lead to pragmatic goals. She challenges these assumptions by looking at primitive aspects of consumption in definite US ethnic groups (Black, Italians, Jews, WASPS – White Anglo-Saxon Protestants). The view that underlying theories and concepts have to be

Table 4.1 Consumer behaviour in a cross-cultural perspective
Consumer behaviour theories Universal (etic) Consumers Universal Specific (1) Global perspective (2) ‘Imported’ perspective Specific (emic) (3) Ethnic consumption perspective (4) Cultural meaning perspective

Chapter 4 Cross-cultural consumer behaviour


challenged is even more clearly relevant when one is looking at international markets. In the imported perspective, the offerings are tailored to the local markets and marketing environments but the basic underlying theories are not changed. The imported perspective may sometimes enable one to discover significant differences in consumer behaviour (CB) that require adaptation, but it is not always sufficient. For instance, initially the behavioural intentions models were assumed to be universally applicable. Then, when looked at from the imported perspective researchers found different weightings between attitude and norms. That is, for consumers in individualist cultures attitudes were more influential on intentions than norms, while the reverse was true in collectivist cultures (Lee and Green 1991; Bagozzi et al., 2000; Lee, 2000). Then, researchers began to look with new eyes finding that different models better suited different cultures (Malhotra and McCort, 2001; Bagozzi and Lee, 2002). In fact, as early as 1978, Van Raaij called for ‘researchers in other cultures to study their own reality rather than to replicate American studies’ (p. 699). In this chapter we will progressively move to question the cross-cultural transposability of CB theories. This is not to say that similarities do not exist between cultures. The commonalities are demonstrated by the success of products and services designed in perspectives 1 and 2. But it is important to assess the cultural relativity of both consumers and the underlying models that are applied if we really want to understand their behaviour. For instance, Marieke de Mooij (2000, p. 104) investigated the convergence in CB, finding that: ‘Although there is evidence of convergence of economic systems, there is no evidence of convergence of peoples’ value systems. On the contrary, there is evidence that with converging incomes, people’s habits diverge.’ It is important to know what one is looking for: similarities or differences (see WS4.1). Both exist; it is just a matter of being clear about which models one applies: those that let differences emerge or those that favour the discovery of similarities. This corresponds with the etic (universal) approach and the emic (specific) approaches. Luna and Gupta (2001) used this division in their integrative review of the crosscultural consumer behaviour literature. Section 4.1 discusses the influence of major cultural traits on consumer behaviour. We start with the

question of whether the hierarchy of needs applies cross-culturally. Not only whether people locate their needs at different levels in the hierarchy, across cultures, but also, are the major assumptions in this model valid across cultures? This influences the motivations behind consumption. The next topic is the influence of individualism and collectivism on consumers’ attitudes and buying behaviour. We also include a section on the individual level independent and interdependent self-concepts that are more or less likely to be salient in individualist and collectivist cultures. Finally, the influence of institutions, social conventions, and customs on consumer behaviour is discussed. Section 4.2 examines the impact of culture on selected aspects of consumer behaviour. Since it is not feasible to deal with all aspects of consumer behaviour, Table 4.2 lists the types of cultural values and behaviours that have an impact on consumer attitudes, decision-making and buying behaviour. The table also suggests issues to be addressed in order to reach a better understanding of cultural differences in the area of consumer behaviour. The final sections review how consumers’ loyalty, involvement, perceived risk, cognitive style, and the legal environment are affected by cultural variation. Section 4.3 goes further, analyzing the difficulties of transferring certain consumer behaviour constructs across cultures, based on the example of consumer dissatisfaction. Marketers tend to apply consumer behaviour concepts in an ethnocentric manner, whereas they would learn more by focusing on a common problem: how do cultures solve a similar problem in a different way? Section 4.4 examines the influences of ethnicity on consumption patterns. As we argued at the end of Chapter 2, cultural borrowing is intense, and immigrants bring with them their values and behaviour. Ethnic consumption is a major dimension of crosscultural consumer behaviour in two respects: (1) ethnic consumption has introduced modified consumption patterns in those countries that have been opened to immigration for some time; and (2) some ethnic products have reached world-class status by being adopted in most countries of the world, through migration and international travel, such as Asian food. Marketing is a process involving communication and exchange: consumers buy meanings as well as objects. Accordingly, section 4.5 focuses on the way in which cultural background influences communication


Chapter 4 Cross-cultural consumer behaviour

and exchange. Two examples are used to illustrate this: the role of emotions in Japanese marketing and the role of symbolic linkage between objects and persons in the Italian style of marketing.


Culture and consumer behaviour
Although consumer behaviour has strong universal components, its cultural variations cannot be ignored. Without presenting an exhaustive list, there are some essential points of cultural influence on consumer behaviour that are worth considering in some detail: 1. Hierarchies of needs, which shape demand across product categories. 2. Culture-based values, especially individualist or collectivist orientations, which influence purchasing behaviour and buying decisions (individual versus family). 3. Institutions, which influence consumer behaviour, given that most consumption is rooted in social life, a large part of which is institutionalized.

less developed economy, people usually focus on more basic survival needs. However, some cultures (e.g. Hindu) encourage the need for self-actualization, the highest level (the satisfaction of which does not necessarily imply material consumption). Thus, the basic need for safety (shelter, basic personal protection) is not satisfied according to the same criteria in different cultures. For instance, in certain developing countries, people may deprive themselves of food in order to afford a refrigerator, thereby satisfying the social status and self-esteem need before satisfying their physical need (Belk, 1988). The well-documented area of conspicuous consumption also contradicts the hierarchy of needs. As noted by Solomon (1994, p. 426), the term conspicuous consumption was coined by Veblen, who was initially inspired by anthropological studies of the Kwakiutl Indians.
These Indians had a ceremony called a potlach where the host showed off his wealth and gave extravagant presents to their guests. The more one gave away, the better one looked to the others. Sometimes, the host would use an even more radical strategy to flaunt his wealth. He would publicly destroy some of his property to demonstrate how much he had. This ritual was also used as a social weapon: Since guests were expected to reciprocate, a poorer rival could be humiliated by inviting him to a lavish potlach. The need to give away, even though he could not afford it, would essentially force the hapless guest into bankruptcy.1

Hierarchy of needs
Culture influences the ‘hierarchy of needs’ (Maslow, 1954) on at least two levels: first, one of the basic axioms of Maslow’s theory is not true in every culture – namely, that needs at a definite level must be satisfied in order for higher-order needs to appear; and second, similar kinds of needs may be satisfied by very different products and consumption types. In Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, physiological needs are at the lowest level because they are the most fundamental; safety needs (being sheltered and protected from dangers in the environment) emerge when physiological needs are satisfied; and then come what Maslow calls social needs, which include friendship and love relationships. The next level, esteem, is the desire for respect from others, which is strongly supported by status-improving goods. The last and final need, when all other levels have been satisfied, is the need for self-actualization, encompassing the development of one’s own personality. (For more information on Maslow’s hierarchy see WS4.2.) Naturally, the level of economic development has some influence on the satisfaction of our needs: in a

The potlach example suggests that consumer motivations are rooted in the dynamics of social life. Thus one of the basic axioms of Maslow’s theory – that needs must be satisfied at one level in order for the needs in the next level to appear – is not true from a cross-cultural point of view. Slightly caricatured, Maslow’s picture of motivation describes an individual, starting from the belly and extending to the brain: although relevant, it cannot provide a universal view cross-culturally. After a review of the literature Mendenhall et al. (1995) illustrate the limited support for the cross-cultural applicability of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. That is, seven studies support it strongly, three give it partial support, and ten research studies refute it. In sum, the needs described by Maslow are themselves fairly consistent across cultures, but their rank ordering varies. The degree of emphasis on specific needs and the link to satisfaction at different need levels is also culture bound. Rather than needs, which have a distinct rational and utilitarian connotation, consumer

4.1 Culture and consumer behaviour


desires may be a more useful concept for crosscultural consumer behaviour.2

Individualism and collectivism
Most of the available marketing literature depicts individual consumers who make their own decisions. While the individualistic conception remains very much at the heart of the mental picture of marketing, there has been recent recognition of shared or social intentions (Bagozzi, 2000). For instance, Bagozzi and Lee (2002, pp. 229–30) describe the concept of social intentions termed ‘we-intentions to perform a group act . . . In this case a person plans to participate in a joint activity, but conceives of the activity less as individuals performing personal acts that contribute to a group performance than as a group action in which one is a member of the group’. While there is a great deal of support for attitudes and subjective norms explaining individual intentions, they suggested a greater influence of the group on we-intentions, including group norms and social identity. They found mixed support for their propositions when they examined American and Korean students’ intentions for their group to eat lunch together. They did however find multiple group influences on we-intentions, including social identity for Koreans and group norms and subjective norms for Americans. In a similar study, Lee and Soutar (2004) also found that group norms strongly influence Singaporean’s weintentions to travel to Australia. Two other areas of research have a history of examining group decisions: the industrial marketing literature in regard to organizational purchasing and buying centres; and the family decision making. The family is often seen as an interacting group of individuals, all influencing each other. While an organic conception of the family as a single decision-making unit is not easily grasped, some cross-cultural CB researchers have depicted the family group as an organic entity, as opposed to a casual collection of individuals who share information and some common interests and constraints, living together within the family cell. This is especially true in Asia.3 Redding (1982, pp. 104, 112–13), for instance, emphasizes that:
In most Asian cultures there is a particular grouping to which a person belongs, which involves him in patterns of obligation and behaviour of a special kind . . . It would, for

instance, be naive to suppose that the buying power of a teenage market in a Western country would be equivalent to one in, say, Hong Kong or Singapore. The discretion over the use of income is heavily influenced, in the case of the Chinese teenager, by the expected contribution to the family. The tradition of deference to parental wishes also affects buying patterns in clothing, leisure expenditure, etc., especially as it is normal to live at home until marriage.

The influence of collectivism on family decision making has been well reported in the literature especially in Asia. For instance, a Chinese individual must take into account members of the family when making a purchase decision, in contrast with the Western husband’s or wife’s interactive decision-making process regarding important household expenditures. This is supported by Chen et al. (1999) who found that both Taiwanese and Japanese families reported a high level of joint decision making. In addition, Rose (1999) found that Japanese mothers restrict their children’s consumption, allowing less autonomy, while at the same time reporting a higher level of children’s influence, than American mothers who encourage the development of independent consumption relatively early. Similarly, in a study of Thai and American families, Viswanathan et al. (2000) found stronger family ties, greater communication and a greater influence on consumption behaviour with Thai respondents as compared with Americans. Wimalasiri (2000) also found a stronger need for harmony in Fijian families where parents complied with a polite request from their children 28 per cent of the time but they only complied with a demand 9 per cent of the time, as compared to 30 per cent of American parents. In the East, the extended family model has survived apparently Westernized ways of life (Laurent, 1982); it has a powerful influence on many purchase decisions. Even Chinese people, who may sometimes appear quite individualistically oriented when outside their national context, remain strongly bound by their family ties. Yang (1989) describes the influence of what she calls ‘familism’ on their behaviour as individuals, as family members and as consumers (Box 4.1).

Independent versus interdependent self
Consumers buy objects and services for the value they provide. In valuing things, consumers may attribute private and/or public meanings. Richins (1994, pp. 505–6) defines public meanings as the subjective


Chapter 4 Cross-cultural consumer behaviour

Box 4.1

The role of familism in Chinese consumer behaviour
The single most essential concept to characterize Chinese culture is undoubtedly familism (Ballah, 1970; Yang, 1972). Confucius himself defined five fundamental human relations, three of which relate to family relations: parent and child, husband and wife, and brother and sister. All five of them had roughly equal weight in terms of importance. Later, some of his influential disciples, however, made filial piety the most important among the five (Hsieh, 1967). In any event, a Chinese individual’s relationship with family members is a permanent one, which is never grown out of. The Chinese definition of family is often very broad, including various lineages and generations. The single most influential group on an individual’s behaviour is his family members, usually extended family members. The influences of family members on an individual’s behaviour are extremely extensive; often they extend to areas definitely considered private by Western standards. In contrast to their relationships with their families, Chinese people’s relationships with secondary groups beyond the family are usually ill-defined and sometimes non-existent. The consequences of this emphasis on familism and filial piety are many. First, a Chinese individual’s behaviour often cannot be considered as an act reflecting his own preferences or will. It is often the result of a consensus or compromise of himself and his family members, or a take-over by his family’s, most often his parents’, preferences or wills. Second, social harmony is highly valued in a society whose basic social unit is the extended family (Chien, 1979). To maintain stable and peaceful coexistence is more important than anything else when there are a lot of people who are interdependent and interconnected with each other, constantly involved at any given time and place. Third, an individual’s relationships with core family members are not only strong and spontaneous but also collective. The bonds are so natural that they are also very casual. They usually do not need deliberate cultivation by way of saying ‘I love you’ all the time or showering each other with gifts (Hsu, 1971). Finally an individual’s relationship with other nonfamily members are usually formalized but peripheral. The affections of strangers are not deliberately sought after but can be naturally developed. Strangers are also likely to become a part of the ‘extended’ family and to be treated accordingly but not until trust has been established between them and a Chinese individual (Fei, 1948). In other words, the Chinese intergroup relationships are often limited to two types; i.e., family (inside) and non-family (outside). Other group memberships are not usually sought and therefore not easily established.
(Source: Yang, 1989.)

meanings assigned to an object by outside observers (non-owners) of that object, that is, by members of the society at large. Public meanings emerge through socialization and participation in shared activities and are reinforced in social interchanges. Private meanings are the sum of the subjective meanings that an object holds for a particular individual. Some of the private meanings may derive from socially shared interpretations, but some of them are unique to the consumer because they are associated with private and even intimate experiences. Both Asians and westerners see the self as divided into an inner private self and an outer public self

based on social roles. It is important to go beyond the individualism/collectivism divide in order to understand how the concept of self distinguishes westerners and Orientals (and how this concept is articulated with the concept of others). The divide between individualism and collectivism may be considered as the other side of this reality, at the social rather than personal level. At the personal level, Markus and Kitayama (1991) proposed two relatively stable dimensions of the self: as independent and interdependent. The independent self corresponds to the Western conception; it is based on assumption of individualism discussed in

4.1 Culture and consumer behaviour


section 3.1, whereby people are seen as inherently separate and distinct. The inner self is the regulator of activity and personal consumption preferences are supposed to reflect a person’s tastes, values and convictions. Self-expression is encouraged, especially in the area of consumption. The slogan is ‘be yourself’, that is, act in accordance with your private self (Wong and Ahuvia, 1995). On the other hand, the interdependent self of most Asians is based on an assumption of collectivism. People are seen as not fully separable, that is, they are connected to each other by a multitude of overlaps and links: they share a common substance. So as a result, identity lies in familial and social relationships. People with interdependent selves tend to value the criteria of appropriate social conduct in their consumption behaviour. These distinctive self-concepts are not mutually exclusive. All of us carry aspects of independence and interdependence; which one is used depends on the situation and reference group (Triandis, 1994). Consequently, people from collectivist cultures are more likely to rely on an interdependent self-concept and people from individualist cultures are more likely to rely on an independent self-concept in any given situation. Research into the influence of an interdependent or independent self-concept is relatively recent for consumer behaviour. It has been made possible by the development of scales to measure these concepts.4 These scales have been used to assess many aspects of consumer behaviour including reasons for purchase (Lee and Kacen, 1999), impulsive buying behaviour (Kacen and Lee, 2002), references for consumption symbols (Aaker and Schmitt, 2001), associations embedded in persuasion appeals (Aaker, 2000) and the persuasion of approach and avoidance appeals (Aaker and Lee, 2001) and emotional appeals (Aaker and Williams, 1998). Chiou (1999) conducted an experiment with students in Taiwan and the United States, finding that consumers in individualist cultures used products to express their inner value, while consumers in collectivist cultures were more likely to use products to reinforce their social relationships. Similarly, Lee and Kacen (1999) examined the influence of the interdependent and independent self-concepts with students from Australia, the United States, Malaysia and Singapore, finding that the independent self-concept

was more strongly related to purchase reasons associated with uniqueness, while the interdependent self-concept was more strongly related to reasons associated with group affiliation.

Institutions, social conventions, habits and customs
Institutions, such as the state, the Church and trade unions also have an influence on the marketing environment. For example, the French Catholic hierarchy has generally been opposed to Sunday trading. In Germany, trade unions strongly oppose an extension of store opening hours. Stores generally close at 7 p.m. each working day, at 2 p.m. on Saturdays, and are closed on Sundays. These hours are legally mandated and contravening shops are heavily fined. The result is that many German consumers must shop quickly on Saturday mornings. Catalogue-based mail order and online shopping are good substitutes for consumers kept at their offices during shop opening hours. As a result, mail order sales are highly developed in Germany, with giant enterprises having developed in the industry, such as Neckermann, Bertelsmann and Quelle. Other products are in a sense institution dependent, whatever their mode of distribution or consumption: examples include marriage-related goods such as a wedding dress or the products featured on wedding lists, or many kinds of traditional gift that are offered for specific occasions. One example is the initiative by a Parisian Catholic priest to take action against Halloween in favour of the next day, All Saints Day, traditionally an important holiday in France. In conjunction with the French Association of Bakers, a ‘Gâteau de la Toussaint’ was developed to increase respect for the day of honouring the dead, thereby creating an institution-dependent product. Of all the cultural conventions that structure daily life in the consumption domain, the most important is probably eating habits. (For information on Chinese eating habits, see WS4.2.) As emphasized by Wilk (1995, p. 372): ‘Food is both substance and symbol; providing both physical nourishment and a key form of communication that carries many kinds of meanings.’ Cultural variations, in addition to the social interpretation of eating habits, include the following:


Chapter 4 Cross-cultural consumer behaviour

Box 4.2

Café au lait and ‘slow food’
In France, many people start the day with a simple café au lait, coffee with milk (a real poison according to doctors). In Germany, the UK and the US, people start with a larger breakfast, but eat less than the French at noon. American students in France are always astonished by the two-hour break for lunch: they tend to consider it as a ‘loss of time’, without seeing that this was part of the socializing process in and out of the family, depending on whether the meal is at home or outside. The regularity of meal hours is another difference that may have far-reaching consequences. Americans are more ready than other people to eat at ‘nonstandard’ hours. For McDonald’s and other fast-food restaurants this is a big opportunity in terms of peak scheduling because Americans do not rush to eat at very specific hours. In some European countries, it is quite difficult to maintain the ‘fast’ aspect of service, since staff must face high peak demand, especially at noon. As a result, the restaurants become ‘slow food’ restaurants, with customers waiting up to 20 minutes to be served. But European people do not mind that very much because what they want from McDonald’s is not speed. On the contrary, they like to stay longer than the restaurant itself would like them to stay. In all likelihood what they seek is cheap and pleasant food, with a modern American image.

1. The number of meals consumed each day. 2. The standard duration of a meal, and the position of meals in the daily schedule. 3. The composition of each meal. The portions may differ in size, comprising various kinds of food (local ingredients or cooking style); the nutritional content may be composed so that the eater can cope with long or short time periods without further calorific input during the day. 4. Which beverages accompany the meal (water, coffee, tea, wine, beer, and so on) and what their ‘status’ is – refresher, energizer, coolant, relaxer, etc. (See Box 4.2.) 5. The social function, whether ‘fuel’ or daily ‘social event’. The meal may be a communal event where people entertain themselves by eating and chatting together, or it may simply be a means of feeding oneself without any symbolic, personal or collective connotation. 6. Is the food ready-made or is it prepared from basic ingredients? Do servants help prepare the meal? What is the cultural meaning of the meal being prepared by the housewife or by her husband, for whom, in which particular situations? The list of cultural variations in eating habits is endless, because nothing is more essential, more universally vital and at the same time more accurately defined by

culture than eating habits. Eating habits should be considered as the whole process of purchasing food and beverages, cooking, tasting, and even commenting on them. For instance, Brunsø, et al. (1996) developed an instrument in western Europe to assess food-related lifestyles which included five areas: ways of shopping (e.g. information importance, joy of shopping); quality aspects (e.g. health, price-quality relation); cooking methods (e.g. involvement, convenience); consumption situations (e.g. snacks versus meals, social event); and purchase motives (e.g. self-fulfilment in food, social relationships). Askegaard and Brunsø (1999) tested the instrument in Singapore, by asking students to take the survey home and have the member of the household who does the most cooking and shopping for food fill it out. While 89 per cent of the respondents were female, 11 per cent were maids. They found that the ‘cooking patterns in Singaporean families are definitely very different from the European ones. First of all, the presence of a maid and the regular habit of dining out makes the “woman’s task” more diffuse to define in terms of responsibility for the family’s health and nutrition. Furthermore, the issue of carrying out tasks (maid) versus controlling these tasks (wife or husband) may cause problems in terms of who is to respond to various sections on the survey’ (p. 80). In many countries, commercials advertising ready-made foods, such as canned or dried soups,

4.2 The influence of culture on selected aspects of consumer behaviour


faced resistance from the traditional role of the housewife, who was expected to prepare meals from natural ingredients for her family. As a result, advertisers were obliged to include a degree of preparation by the housewife in the advertising copy for such foods. (For more references on food and eating habits cross-nationally see WS4.2.)


The influence of culture on selected aspects of consumer behaviour
Table 4.2 presents selected aspects of consumer behaviour that can be influenced by cultural differences. This table is not designed to be an exhaustive list or review of the literature, since there has been a dramatic increase in the cross-cultural analysis of consumer behaviour. For more comprehensive reviews of the literature see Luna and Gupta (2001) and Sin et al. (1999). Some of the issues listed in Table 4.2 are developed at greater length later in this and other chapters, as indicated in the table.

Consumers can be loyal, that is, they repeat their purchases on a regular basis, buying the same brand or product, or buy at the same store or from the same catalogue or website. Loyal consumers prefer to be sure of what they buy. However, by doing this they reduce their opportunity to find other, and perhaps better, choices which would provide them with more value for their money. Disloyal consumers try new brands, shift from one brand to another when a new one is promoted, and take advantage of temporary price reductions. Disloyalty is the natural counterpart of loyalty (to a brand, a product, a store, etc.). What is culturally meaningful is to observe which one of these two opposite attitudes is considered as the legitimate, fundamental behaviour. In the United States, brand loyalty is very carefully surveyed, and explanatory variables such as demographics, lifestyles or situational variables are researched. Standard behaviour is assumed to be disloyal, although there are large classes of loyal consumers. American consumers may switch brands

because it is standard behaviour to test several competing products, thereby fostering price competition. In this culture, it is standard behaviour to respond spontaneously to advertising and sales promotion. Equally, it is assumed that consumers are not rewarded by buying the same brand (i.e. ‘brand loyal’) and/or shopping in the same store (i.e. ‘store loyal’). The fact that consumers may enjoy the same stable environment, of which their favourite products would form a basic constituent, is somewhat underestimated.5 Stated in a different way, it is assumed that American consumers enjoy change more than stability. Of course there are large groups of loyal consumers; habits and stability are a reality for many Americans. The number of these groups is, however, probably less than in other countries where brand loyalty is normal behaviour. Loyalty is a key concept in collectivist cultures, which spreads from people to product, in as much as products are extensions of the self. There is an unusual level of single brand dominance in many Asian markets (Robinson, 1996) with one brand accounting for 40–50 per cent of market share over quite a long period of time. Chiou (1995) argues that consumers in collectivist (Asian) societies tend to be more loyal on average, for two reasons. First, they tend to rely more on information found in their reference group – often by word-of-mouth communication – rather than on information diffused by the media. Second, they tend to follow the group consensus until there is significant evidence that the new product is better. In one of the few studies examining loyalty outside Western cultures, Kim et al. (2002) found that consumers from China and South Korea tended to buy the same brands because these products fulfilled their experiential, social and function needs. Steenkamp et al. (1999) assessed the influence of national culture on consumer innovativeness, which is defined as a predisposition to buy new and different products and brands, rather than remain with previous choices. In a sample of eleven western European countries, they found that consumer innovativeness was higher for people from more individualist cultures, from more masculine cultures and from cultures with less uncertainty avoidance. Similarly, Straughan and Albers-Miller (2001) studied cultural influences on loyalty in the United States, Australia, France and South Korea. They found that uncertainty avoidance and collectivism were both positively


Chapter 4 Cross-cultural consumer behaviour

Table 4.2 Possible impacts of cultural differences on selected aspects of consumer behaviour
Aspect of consumer behaviour Perception Motivation Impact of cultural differences: values involved/issues to be addressed Perception of shapes, colours and space varies across cultures. Motivation to own, to buy, to spend, to consume, to show, to share, to give. Literacy levels. Memory as it is shaped by education. Familiarity with product classes shaped by education. Do people know their exact age? Value of younger and older people in the society. Influence processes across age groups. How is purchasing power distributed across generations? Section

2.3; 9.4 4.3

Learning and memory

4.2; 4.3



Self-concept Group influence Individualism/collectivism. To what extent are individuals influenced in their attitudes and buying behaviour by their group? How does consumer behaviour reflect the need to self-actualize individual identity or to manifest group belonging? Are social classes locally important? Is social class belonging demonstrated through consumption? What type of products or services do social-status-minded consumers buy? Are there exclusive shops? The sexual division of labour; who makes the decisions? Shopping behaviour; who shops: he or she or both of them? Resistance to change in consumer behaviour (possibly related to high level of uncertainty avoidance, past orientation, fatalism), especially when change could clash with local values and behaviour (e.g. resistance to fast-food restaurants in France). Family models (nuclear versus extended family). Involvement. Compulsive buying. Loyalty. Environmental factors, especially legal. Influence of salespersons on clients. Perceptions of product quality. Consumer complaining behaviour. Dissatisfaction/Consumerism.

3.1; 4.1 3.1; 3.2 4.1

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Social class

3.1; 4.1

Sex roles

3.1; 3.2

Attitudes changes


Decision making

4.0; 4.1 4.2


4.2 15.1 15.3 4.3; 9.1 9.2; 9.3 10.2; 10.3; 11.3


related to loyalty, suggesting that companies entering markets with these characteristics will face more obstacles. Where consumers are more loyal, it may be necessary to build a loyal consumer base from

scratch. Where consumers are less loyal, it may be more effective to persuade brand shifters to switch from other established brands, and then to try to turn the newly developed consumer base into a loyal one.

4.2 The influence of culture on selected aspects of consumer behaviour


Thus, marketing strategies may need to differ where consumers are fundamentally more loyal, often less brand-conscious and less used to rational comparisons (such as price/quality cross-brand or cross-product comparisons), from those where consumers frequently shift from one brand to another.

Consumer involvement
The involvement of the consumer in product purchase or consumption varies across cultures. Yang (1989) depicts the Chinese consumer as being in a low-involvement situation when products are used for private consumption. In this case, Chinese consumers are likely to adopt a rather simple cognitive stance, favouring the physical functions of the product and being mostly concerned with price and quality. Conversely, there is a high level of purchase involvement when Chinese consumers buy products for their social symbolic value. These consumers greatly value social harmony and the smoothness of relationships within the extended family, therefore the social significance of a product is very important because it may express status, gratitude, approval or disapproval. While Kim et al. (2002) did not examine involvement; they did examine the relationship between needs and loyalty for women in their clothing purchase, which is likely to have a high level of involvement. In line with Yang’s research, they found that Chinese female consumers bought the same brands to primarily satisfy experiential needs (fashion trends) and social status needs, and only to a much lesser extent for functional needs.

petrol is so cheap, there is a low perceived financial risk; but an engine breakdown may be seen as a disaster, because there is little or no available maintenance, therefore there is a high perceived reliability risk. These perceived risks are quite different from those experienced by the average purchaser of a car in a western European country. However, when purchase contexts are highly standardized worldwide, such as in the case of compact disks, there are only minor differences in risk-reducing behaviour across cultures (Mitchell et al., 1996). Bao et al. (2003) studied risk aversion and face consciousness and their impact on decision-making styles with students from the United States and China. They found that the Chinese were more risk averse and face-conscious than the Americans. Further, risk aversion was positively associated with being confused by too many choices and negatively associated with fashion-consciousness and novelty, as well as the recreational and hedonistic characteristics of the shopping experience.

Consumer cognitive styles
The cognitive style assumed by the classical models of consumer behaviour (Howard and Sheth, 1969; Engel et al., 1986) is that of an individual reviewing opportunities, evaluating alternatives, rationally searching for information, relying on opinion leaders and word-of-mouth communication, and who is influenced by social environment and situational factors. The consumer is also swayed by marketing stimuli (particularly advertising and sales promotion), tries to choose the best alternative, progressively forms the intention to purchase, and finally (perhaps) actually buys the product. Consumer behaviour models have a rather linear, analytical and abstract style. Many authors claim that Asian consumers tend to have a different cognitive style: the Chinese as well as the Japanese have a more synthetic, concrete and contextual orientation in their thought patterns (Lazer et al., 1985; Yau, 1988; Yang, 1989; Liefeld et al. 1999). For instance, Liefeld et al. (1999) found that information acquisition by attribute was not the dominant style of information processing employed by consumers, that processing by choice alternative or some combination of attribute and choice alternative strategy are equally common.

Perceived risk
Perceived risk is an important variable in consumer behaviour, and differs according to its breakdown into various components: physical risk, financial risk, social risk, and so on (Van Raaij, 1978). Whereas people in certain cultures may be more susceptible to physical risk (because the mortality rate is low, death is feared and avoided), others may be more sensitive to social risk (because a purchaser may risk the loss of face in other people’s eyes). Let us take an example of perceived risk: when buying a car, in a country where road safety is not a high priority the perceived physical risk is low; where mileage is not relevant, because


Chapter 4 Cross-cultural consumer behaviour

Legal marketing environment
To a large extent marketing regulations reflect the view that either consumers are predominantly considered to be self-reliant (consumers are informed and responsible people), or that they are dependent individuals who are disadvantaged in relation to the marketer. If considered self-reliant, they still need to be protected if they have not reached the age of self-reliance (children) or against what is considered as harmful to public morality. Even if assumed to be dependent, they need to be protected against abuses. The following examples reflect the divergence of moral perceptions, and differing attitudes to the status of consumers. 1. Many Latin countries consider that private interests cannot exploit the taste of the public for gambling, and, as a result, lotteries are state monopolies. Promotional campaigns that take the form of competitions are considered to be immoral, whereas they are permitted in Anglo-Saxon countries. Certain countries forbid promotional gifts or strictly limit their value, whereas other countries authorize them without any restriction. A possible reason for these diverging regulatory attitudes derives from the different responses to the following question: are people capable of a rational economic evaluation of the value of the gift and relating it to the full price they pay? Finally, are they considered capable of making a sound buying decision, even though they may have been unduly influenced? Section 12.5 examines the cultural relativity of regulatory approaches and consumer responses to sales promotion. (See also WS12.5.) 2. The moral content of certain practices often leads to public debate, which in turn influences the regulator introducing legislation. For example, there are different levels of acceptance of naked bodies in television or magazine advertising, which lead to moral controversies in the public domain when foreign advertisements, in imported magazines, satellite broadcasts or Internet sites, are perceived as shocking by the local audience. Another example is offered by the attitudes of regulators towards advertising targeted at children. Children are easy to influence, and it is sometimes argued that the excessive creation of desires, which parents cannot always satisfy, may destabilize family relationships.

The following topic is also often debated: how should children be hired and remunerated for taking part in a television commercial? Some European countries have such stringent regulations that many local commercials targeting children are produced in the United Kingdom, where regulation is more flexible. 3. There are many moral arguments about how women and stereotypically ‘ideal’ people are represented in commercials, which leads to a desire to identify oneself with those depictions. Chapter 14 presents the cultural relativity of attitudes towards advertising in general, advertising copy and the type of media used.


Investigating the cross-cultural applicability of consumer behaviour concepts
Any element of consumer behaviour is seen and filtered through cross-cultural lenses. For example, word-of-mouth communication seems a fairly universal concept: in any culture, people discuss and informally exchange information on their consumption experiences. Where little relevant information is available, as in the case of films for instance, or new products, or when consumers have a low level of familiarity with a complex product, people tend to seek information from acquaintances. However, it may be hypothesized that word-of-mouth communication will be stronger in collectivist and ingrouporiented societies, where outside information provided by an impersonal marketer will be seen as less reliable than opinions from relatives and acquaintances. The best solution for investigating cross-cultural applicability is always to start from the ‘common problem’ in Kluckhohn and Strodtbeck’s (1961) terms. For instance: why and how can a consumer express dissatisfaction with a product or a service? The basic concept found in the consumer behaviour literature is not based on all solutions to the common problem, but on the dominant normative solution in a particular culture, generally Western and more specifically, American. Other alternatives must always be looked for, especially the alternative that the problem may not have a solution.

4.3 Investigating the cross-cultural applicability of consumer behaviour concepts


The example of consumer dissatisfaction
Reynolds and Simintiras (2000) suggest that we need to investigate the equivalence consumer satisfaction and dissatisfaction by assessing the comparability of (1) antecedent factors, (2) formation processes and (3) behavioural outcomes. First, are the antecedent factors including economic, temporal, cognitive and spatial resources comparable, in terms of the perceptions of the range and scarcity of resources as well as the criteria and processes used for allocation of resources? Are the categories and substitutability of resources comparable? Are the contextual or situational influences, such as spatial aspects, social surroundings, and tasks comparable? For instance, in Chapter 2 we looked at the variability of time and space. Where time is considered a resource, consumers are more likely to trade-off or substitute time for money. In this situation money may be less important and, thus, have a different meaning. Second, are the formation processes (including ideal, expected, deserved and minimum tolerable product performance) the same (Miller, 1977)? Do they perceive discrepancies in the same way? Third, will it influence action in the same way, such as repeat purchasing and switching behaviour? Some cultures have a higher social desirability bias and as such high reported satisfaction is unlikely to lead to the same level of repeat purchase as those from cultures with a lower social desirability bias (Reynolds and Simintiras, 2000). Certainly attitudes towards consumerism vary across national contexts and the importance given to the consumer movement varies according to certain basic premises: 1. Is it legitimate that consumers should make their dissatisfaction known? This is not the case in societies where very long periods favourable to supply (such as locations where, for decades, the local supply has been systematically lower than the demand) have implanted the opposite idea. Shopping in eastern Europe illustrates the extent to which a customer complaint can seem an absurd step to take. 2. Is it legitimate for consumers to force a producer, whose product is of dubious quality, to close down? In other words, may consumers cause job losses and take away the livelihood of workers who are not ultimately responsible for the situation?

3. Will it make any difference for the individual or for the larger society? These questions are posed not out of a desire to adopt any particular position but merely to demonstrate that it is not inherently obvious that the defence of the consumer has a wholly positive social value. Thus expressing dissatisfaction frankly and openly may be considered to be partially illegitimate. In an empirical examination of consumer complaint behaviour, Liu and McLure (2001) found confirmation that consumers in different cultures have different complaint behaviours and intentions. They found that the US respondents voiced their dissatisfaction more frequently than the South Korean respondents, including discussing the problem with the manager, asking for the firm to fix it and telling them so they can do better in the future. Conversely, the South Koreans responded privately more often, including avoiding the firm’s product, buying from another firm or telling others about their bad experience. Richins and Verhage (1985) studied the differences between US and Dutch consumers in their dissatisfaction and complaining behaviour. Their questionnaire was reviewed by a panel of Dutch experts and as a result they made some minor changes to the wording of the questions. They looked for conceptual equivalence of the dissatisfaction concept: does it have the same meaning, socially and individually, for the US and Dutch consumers to be ‘dissatisfied with a product or a service’? They found 29 per cent of the variance to be attributable to national differences, the most salient ones being as follows:
Dutch consumers perceive more inconvenience and unpleasantness in making a complaint than do American consumers . . . Dutch consumers were less likely than Americans to feel a social responsibility to make complaints . . . Seemingly contradicting this finding, however, Dutch consumers are more likely than Americans to feel bothered if they don’t make a complaint when they believe they should, a sort of guilt. Perhaps this seeming contradiction indicates that Dutch respondents tend to feel a personal rather than social obligation to make complaints. (1985, p. 203.)

The word construct relates to a concept that has several underlying dimensions, and may be measured quantitatively by identifying these various dimensions. The construct consumer dissatisfaction and complaint behaviour (Richins, 1983) identifies five domains of attitude towards complaining:


Chapter 4 Cross-cultural consumer behaviour

1. Beliefs about the effect experienced when one complains. 2. Perceptions of the objective cost or trouble involved in making a complaint. 3. Perception of retailer responsiveness to consumer complaints. 4. The extent to which consumer complaints are expected to benefit society at large. 5. The perceived social appropriateness of making consumer complaints. Cross-cultural applicability may be investigated by enquiring whether each of these subdimensions makes sense in a particular national/cultural context. In the case of developing countries, Cavusgil and Kaynak (1984) proposed that micro-level sources (e.g. excessive prices, misleading advertising, lack of performance) and macro-level sources of consumer dissatisfaction (e.g. low income, inflation) may interact. They state: ‘In general micro-level sources appear to lead, over time, to a diffuse, latent discontent with the state of the marketplace; that is to macro-level dissatisfaction. Unsatisfactory experiences with specific products and services seem to be reflected in a disillusionment with all institutions in the society’ (p. 118). In addition, complaining behaviour does not have the same meaning at all if buyer and seller know each other personally, as either acquaintances or relatives: ‘Personal relationships with vendors often prove advant-

ageous. Usually food shoppers get to know how far they can trust a food retailer, and can negotiate prices and other terms’ (Cavusgil and Kaynak, 1984, p. 122).6

Looking with other eyes: questioning consumer behaviour
‘Looking with other eyes’ implies decentring yourself. This is illustrated using a personal experience (Box 4.3). If we apply the perspectives from Table 4.1, the universal or global approach provides few clues for understanding the case in Box 4.3. The other perspectives provide many more insights by focusing on consumer specifics. First, the driving licence requirements: people are allowed to learn and take the licence exam only with a manual car. Otherwise, as in the United Kingdom and Australia, one may take the test in an automatic and receive a licence that is restricted to automatics. The only exclusion is that handicapped persons are allowed to use automatic cars to obtain their licence. Thus, learning plays a key role in the resistance to change: having been educated on manual drive, they tend to stick to what they know. Second, many Europeans still believe that automatic gearbox cars are reputed to have high petrol consumption (or poor gas mileage in US terms). Nowadays this is not true, since technology has progressed to the point where the difference is almost nil, and in fact

Box 4.3

Differences between Europeans and North Americans in the use of automatic cars
Europeans overwhelmingly have manual gearboxes. This is in sharp contrast to the US where the opposite situation prevails. When in the US, I enjoyed the smoothness of automatic cars and long drives with less fatigue, because I saved hundred of movements. Back in France, I decided to buy a Ford with an automatic gearbox. It is not a standard feature of cars in Europe and I had to pay an extra $1,500 (manual cars are usually cheaper than automatic in the US) and wait a little longer to get the automatic car. After two years, I had to sell the car, because I was leaving the place for some time and I could not take it with me. Selling a car with an automatic gearbox in a European country turned out to be a difficult task. I had started with an attractive price, but I found no prospective buyer, although the car had not done many kilometres and was well maintained. Finally, after several weeks of inserting advertisements in local newspapers, I found a bus driver who was sick of changing gears and bought it for a little more than one-third of the price I had paid two years before. Europeans do not ‘like’ automatic cars.

4.3 Investigating the cross-cultural applicability of consumer behaviour concepts


favours automatic cars in urban traffic conditions. Third, automatic vehicles are associated with high social status. Large and expensive cars have automatic drive more often than do medium or small cars. Fourth and probably the strongest insight is symbolic: ‘c’est une voiture d’infirme’: Most people saw automatic cars, in the middle range of the market, as being specifically for handicapped persons, rather than for those who are not disabled. If we sum up on the basis of the perspectives presented in Table 4.1: 1. The global perspective assumes both universal theories and universal consumers. This perspective may miss the specific consumer insights from the market. 2. The imported perspective assesses specific consumer insight assuming universal theory. This perspective may allow the discovery of the social status and resistance to change arguments. 3. The ethnic consumption perspective applies specific theories but assumes consumers are universal. This perspective may allow the researcher to identify a small ‘ethnic’ target, that of North American expatriates (although many of them love manual gearboxes, which to them look more sporty). 4. The cultural meaning perspective applies specific theories to specific consumers. It is the only perspective that reveals the symbolic argument (automatic being associated with handicap), which is the major obstacle to selling the automatic car in Europe, even though they are much more comfortable to drive, as speedy and as fuel efficient as other cars.

that is, the rights of individuals over objects, is much more limited in scope. Motivation to spend may also be radically altered by negative views of money. Motivation to save may be altered by a lack of future orientation, and the feeling that one should not bet on one’s future (see Box 7.1). Motivation to buy may be low when objects and material culture are discarded, independent of purchasing power, as in Hindu culture. Motivation to consume may be largely hindered by a strong ecological stance, as in Denmark or Germany where sensitivity to environmental problems has practically eliminated plastic bottling in favour of reusable glass. Motivation to display is naturally related to the self-concept and the prevailing pattern of property. Motivation to give also varies across cultures: it is widely practised in Japan, where the size of the gift is codified according to the type of social exchange. Joy (2001) examined gift giving in Hong Kong, finding that it is embedded in sociocultural influences. She described a continuum that guides gift exchanges on the basis of the most intimate to the least intimate friendship. In other cultures, however, gift-giving practices may be less frequent, based on the view that it might embarrass the recipient, be necessary to reciprocate and finally both participants may resent being obliged to participate in the ritual. Park (1998) investigated gift giving in Korea and the United States using focus groups and indepth interviews as well as a survey. The following is a quote from a Korean respondent (p. 580):
I do have a lot of occasions to give a gift for face saving. Because saving face is very important in social life, I should give a gift on those occasions in order not to lose face. But I can’t afford them always. Actually, there are too many occasions to afford with my income. The most frequent gift occasions for face saving are weddings, funerals, New Year’s Day and Choo Suk [Korean Thanksgiving]. When I receive a gift, I feel pressure to reciprocate sometime in the future. In fact, face saving gifts are not pleasant at all.

Radical questioning
The application of different eyes requires radical questioning. Coming back to the differences in ‘motivation’ presented in Table 4.2, let us attempt to assess the extent that motivations may be radically different. One way to question consumer behaviour crossnationally is simply to examine motivation in each of these basic actions: own, spend, save, buy, consume, display, share and give. The motivation to own, for instance, is based on the notion of ownership.7 The English verb ‘to own’ has no equivalent in Swahili, the dominant language in East Africa. Possession,

In his survey Park found that Korean and Americans both cited altruistic motivation more than 50 per cent of the time, but it was higher for the American sample (86 per cent). In addition, Koreans more often gave out of obligation (17 per cent), self-interest (11 per cent), group conformity (7 per cent) and facesaving (5 per cent).8 (For other examples of cultural differences in learning see WS4. One such example is


Chapter 4 Cross-cultural consumer behaviour

Figure 4.1 Two different ways of learning how to read

the difference between learning and memory in the French–Brazilian contrast, see Figure 4.1 and WS A4.6.)


adaptation and adjustment processes is Berry et al.’s (1987) acculturation model. This model is based on two dimensions: maintenance of their ethnic or home culture and their relationship with the host culture. These dimensions lead to four basic strategies: 1. Assimilation – acquiring the host culture while not maintaining their home culture. 2. Integration – acquiring the host culture while maintaining their home culture. 3. Separation – rejecting the host culture while maintaining their home culture. 4. Marginalization – rejecting both the host and home culture. These strategies can be seen in the consumer behaviour of ethnic groups. For instance, elements of an integration strategy can be seen in the interesting description of an immigrant culture’s eating and consumption habits given by Herbert Gans (1962) in his classic book The Urban Villagers, about the life of Italian-Americans in a New York neighbourhood, which he calls ‘West End’.

Ethnic consumption
Ethnicity as a thwarted ingroup orientation
The reality of ethnic consumption is a strong component of modern consumption culture. Ethnic products have been popularized worldwide and ethnic food and restaurants are the fastest-growing segments in the food industry. Ethnicity reflects the internationalization of lifestyles in two respects: (1) because people move internationally through migrations and (2) by doing this they introduce new consumption opportunities. Ethnic consumption also has a great deal to do with mixing consumption patterns of the home and host country. One of the most influential models of migrants’

4.4 Ethnic consumption


Their actual diet, however, bears little resemblance to that of their Italian ancestors, for they have adopted American items that can be integrated into the overall tradition. For example, although their ancestors could not afford to eat meat, West Enders can, and they spend considerable sums on it. Typically American meats such as hot dogs, hamburger and steak are very popular indeed, but they are usually prepared with Italian spices, and accompanied by Italian side-dishes. The role of American culture is perhaps best illustrated by holiday fare. Turkey is eaten on Thanksgiving, but is preceded by a host of Italian antipastos, accompanied by Italian side-dishes, and followed by Italian desserts. This amalgamation of ethnic and American food is, of course, not exclusive to the West Enders, but can be found among all groups of foreign origin. (p. 184.)

Some families brought the curtains from Turkey, thinking that the curtains in Odense were too simple. Their furniture reminded the Turkish author of the 1960s urban middle class furnishings in Turkey: chandeliers, then a symbol of wealth, a prominent buffet, and ‘Turkish’ crochéed covers hanging from the shelves. They displayed many knickknacks – small decorative souvenirs, currently sold for tourists in Turkey . . . Several homes had Turkish flags. One male informant, who displayed such a flag, in addition to posters of the Turkish national anthem and Istanbul, rosary beads, a Turkish soccer team key chain, and a Koran, and who was wearing a small flag pin on his sweater, explained that the Danes always have flags in their houses. Unlike ‘some who try to hide the fact that they are Turks’, he wants everyone to know that he is Turkish. His e-mail messages end with ‘We Love Turkey’.

On the maintenance of culture dimension, ethnic subcultures are based on shared beliefs and habits and the sense of belonging to a specific group of people, different from the society at large. Ingroup orientation is central to ethnicity, but to a large extent, the sense of belonging to the subcultural community is thwarted, because it is simultaneously necessary – and difficult – to identify with the values and behaviour of the dominant ingroup, the nationals of the country of residence. Hispanics in the United States have to cope with this dilemma: they have to adjust to a predominantly WASP (White Anglo-Saxon Protestant) culture, while their basic assumptions, interaction models and sense of belonging would drive them towards the Hispanic community. Ethnicity is a matter of shared belief about a common ancestry. Bouchet (1995) lists six main attributes of ethnic community: (1) a collective proper name; (2) a myth of common ancestry; (3) shared historical memories; (4) one or more differentiating elements of common culture (e.g. language); (5) an association with a specific homeland; and (6) a sense of solidarity. Because ethnic belonging in the host country is taken from the culture’s original territory and inhabitants, people often try to maintain their subculture by means of ethnic stereotyping. In marketing, this gives rise to opportunistic use where, for instance, 3M has used Scottish imagery to denote value in ‘Scotch’ tape, since the Scottish stereotype of supposed frugality is viewed favourably in the United States (Solomon, 1994). Elements of a separation strategy can be seen in Ger and Østergaard’s (1998, p. 49) description of Turkish students in Denmark as more ‘Turkish’ than those who live in Turkey:

On the more negative side, Caetano et al. (1998) discuss the stresses related to social adjustments to the host culture leading to alcohol abuse. This resembles a marginalization strategy, where people may lack clear behavioural guidelines that can result in selfdestructive tendencies.

The acculturation strategy
It may be wrong to equate consumers from a definite ethnic group to a specific market segment, which seeks specific products or service benefits; as noted in the section above it is more complex. Lee et al. (2002) questioned the usefulness of observable ethnicity as a market segmentation basis in international consumer marketing. They state that the dual cultural influences result in mixed schemas of cultural values, norms and behaviours. This reflects the integration strategy, but we also see an assimilation strategy reflected in consumer behaviour. For instance, Yankelovitch et al. (1982) found Hispanics to be more American than Anglo Americans in many characteristics. Similarly, Kim and Kang (2001) examined the effects of ethnicity among three main ethnic consumer groups in the United States: blacks, Hispanics and whites. They found that both blacks and Hispanics were more influenced by media in their purchase of clothing than whites, and concluded that ethnic minority groups look for symbolic cues from the media in their desire to belong to mainstream society. Assimilation takes place when the relative influence of the culture of origin diminishes and immigrants hold faster to the values and behaviours of the country of residence. Assimilation is evidenced in the following


Chapter 4 Cross-cultural consumer behaviour

areas: consumption patterns, employment, marriage with people originating from the host culture, participation in the political process as a candidate, and having acquaintances outside the ethnic community. The process of assimilation is a lengthy one, which may require several generations to be fully accomplished. In the assimilation process, two mechanisms are at work (Wallendorf and Reilly, 1983). The first is based on structural constraints where compliance is compulsory, not voluntary: if people drive on the other side of the road, the individual will be obliged to adapt. The second is based on the newcomer’s willingness to adjust to the new culture’s behaviour and rules: it depends on the enthusiasm for what the new culture brings, in terms of increased freedom and improved material status. As Calantone et al. (1985, p. 208) explain it:
lack of availability may force some immigrants to make changes in the foods they purchase. Thus, behavioural change may occur without a concomitant change in values or beliefs. In making empirical comparisons, therefore, it is crucial to include only those behavioural patterns that reflect free choices by immigrants and to exclude adaptation to structural constraints.

It gives birth to strange mixtures, such as the ChinoLatino cuisine, a fusion of Asian and Cuban cuisine to be found in New York, which has its roots in the Chinese immigration to Cuba in the early 1900s (Straus, 1992). When dealing with ethnic consumption, the following points must be kept in mind: 1. Translation or spelling mistakes or inadequate wordings may be resented as offending the group’s honour. For instance, a burrito was mistakenly called in Spanish a burrada, which means ‘big mistake’ (Solomon, 1994). This results in minority group people having a sense of being rejected because their language is not used properly, or at least not understood, or respected. 2. In ethnic behaviour, the status of membership, that is, the claim of being ‘different’, is central and may be pushed to its extreme. Smaller ingroups are stronger platforms for identification. Hispanics will therefore break down further into Mexicans, Puerto-Ricans, Cubans, etc. 3. The level of acculturation, or the degree to which people have learned the ways of the host culture, influences ethnic consumption. Age is also significant: older people and less acculturated people tend to display a stronger attitude as ethnic consumers. 4. Identification needs are ‘reversible’, creating ambiguous and even contradictory demands. Most people belonging to ethnic communities strive for both integration into the society at large and maintenance of their specific cultural roots. In some areas of consumption, such as housing and furnishing, they may express their belonging to the larger national ingroup and in another area, such as food, they may maintain strong ethnic behaviour.

Ethnicity as identity
When assimilation has fully taken place, probably by the third or fourth generation, those now assimilated may share much more with the society at large than with their subcultural group. However, there is often resurgence of ethnicity; as Bouchet (1995) remarks, ethnicity has more to do with the evolution of identity in general rather than with the origin of one’s historical identity. For instance, Oswald (1999, p. 307) illustrates how Haitian consumers in the United States ‘culture swap’, using goods to move between one cultural identity and another as they negotiate relations between home and host cultures:
Odette insisted she was so mainstream as to provide nothing at all about Haitian culture, having lived in the United States for 30 years and having served in the U.S. Army . . . Odette planned to hold the children’s party at Chuck E. Cheese, a pizzeria chain, but invited relatives to the home for a Haitian barbecue and the ubiquitous rice and beans.


Marketing as an exchange of meanings
Consumers buy meanings and marketers communicate meanings through products and advertisements (see WS4.5 for more information on semiotics). As suggested by McCracken (1991), consumer goods are vehicles of cultural meanings and consumers choose and then make use of these cultural meanings. In order to understand this, however, we have to look

Thus ethnic consumption should be considered as a complex and unstable reality, which marketers need to look at with quite an open mind (see WS4.4 for examples of the effects of ethnicity on consumption).

4.5 Marketing as an exchange of meanings


with other eyes. For instance, Penaloza (2001, p. 373) investigated the cultural meaning of the Old West in the United States, finding that it has different meaning for whites and non-whites: ‘For whites, popular depictions of adventurous explorers, miners, and ranchers accompany those of land thieves, murderers, and forced religious converters. For Native Americans, popular depictions of hostile savages stand beside romantic naturalists and spiritualists, wealthy casino owners, and movement activists fighting ongoing battles for land, mineral, and water rights’. She uses this information to understand the workings of the contemporary Stock Show and Rodeo. Marketing may be seen primarily as a process of exchange where communication, broadly defined, is central. As Richard Bagozzi (1975, p. 35) states:
In order to satisfy human needs, people and organizations are compelled to engage in social and economic exchanges with other people and organizations. This is true for primitive as well as highly developed societies. Social actors obtain satisfaction of their needs by complying with, or influencing, the behaviour of other actors. They do this by communicating and controlling the media of exchange, which in turn, comprise the links between one individual and another. Significantly, marketing exchanges harbour meanings for individuals that go beyond the mere use of media for obtaining results in interactions.

room composition odd, missing their sofa groups with coffee tables which are integral to Danish ideas of togetherness (pp. 1314–15).

Culture, as noted by Bagozzi, may be considered as a sort of meta-language central to the marketing process when viewed as exchange and communication. It works as a kind of game rule, implicitly indicating how people will interact in an exchange relationship, influencing their constraints and their leeway in behaviour and decisions. The attitudinal differences toward market research between American and Japanese people (section 7.6) are a good example of this: what is the ‘right’ way (that is, legitimate or appropriate) to communicate with the market? What is the market (actual buyers versus potential consumers)? In each case the objective is seemingly the same: to collect relevant information and market data, in order to decide on marketing strategies. Two examples will help illustrate the differences in marketing meta-communication: first, the role of emotions in Japanese marketing, and second, the emphasis on the symbolic relationship between person and object in the Italian style of marketing.

The role of emotions in Japanese marketing
There is wide range of books on Japanese marketing, which are unfortunately written only in Japanese Kanji and Hiragana, thereby limiting access for non-Japanese (Gai-jin) readers. But the Japanese provide details in English in the review of the largest Japanese advertising agency, Dentsu Japan Marketing/Advertising. Koichi Tanouchi, a professor of marketing at Hitotsubashi University, depicts the Japanese style of marketing as being fundamentally based on emotions and sensitivity. He first insists, as many authors do, that Japan is oriented towards rice production, and is not a nation of hunters and gatherers. This means more collective organization and interpersonal sensitivity: the cultivation of rice requires the simultaneous flooding of paddy fields, which cannot be decided by an isolated landowner. This involves a strong collective solidarity, serious planning and individual tenacity. Tanouchi states that, in his opinion, ‘masculine’ values are less developed in Japan than ‘feminine’ values, which he illustrates by the example of marital relationships in household and personal spending (1983, p. 78):

Many of the meanings in marketing exchanges are culture based: they are inter-subjectively shared by a social group (D’Andrade, 1987). Inter-subjective sharing of meanings signifies that each person in the group knows that everyone else knows the cognitive schema. Therefore in the process of exchange through buyer–seller relations, marketing communications or product consumption, interpretations are made spontaneously, as if they were obvious realities, and a great deal of information in the process of marketing as exchange and communication need not be made explicit. For instance, Kragh and Djursaa (2000) explored the meanings carried by Danish and English dining and living rooms by having respondents view photographs from the other country. They noted that:
The English respondents complain that Danish modernist rooms look old fashioned, . . . the English respondents also think the Danish rooms are boring and bare . . . Returning the complement, the Danes complain that the English rooms are tasteless, and pinpoint the syntactical features which convey this message: they find them overdone, with too many flowers and patterns. In addition, they find the


Chapter 4 Cross-cultural consumer behaviour

In Japan, the husband is supposed to hand all his income over to his wife. If he doesn’t, he is criticized by people around him. If she complains about this to his boss in his business company, the boss is very likely to take the wife’s side, and advise him to give all his salary to his wife and add that that is the best way to keep peace at home and that everyone else is doing so. The wife has the right to decide how much money her husband can have for daily lunch and coffee. Regularly, about once in a half year, Japanese newspapers carry a research report about the average amount of the money the average husbands get from their wives. Wives decide about their husbands’ lunch money watching these figures.

Tanouchi argues that sensitivity and emotions permeate most aspects of Japanese marketing. This is evidenced by the high level of sensitivity and response to actual consumer needs and by the search for social harmony between producers and distributors (see section 12.1 on Keiretsu distribution). It is also prominent in Japanese sales force compensation arrangements, where collective reward systems are often used. They foster cooperation, avoid threatening individual competition and promote social harmony in the sales team (section 15.4). It needs to be borne in mind that traditional collectivist mindset in Japan is being tempered by the influence of more traditionally Western ideas. Research indicates profound changes occurring in

Japanese society. Rose and Shoham (1999) examined the differences in the United States and Japan among mothers of young children. They found that: ‘Selfrespect, warm relationships with others, and security were cited as the most important values by American respondents. In contrast, Japanese respondents cited fun and enjoyment, followed by security, accomplishment, and self-fulfilment. These findings represent an intriguing contrast to the view of Japan as a monolithic collectivist culture, and illustrate the blending and inherent dualism of Japanese society . . . Thus, both individual and collectivist elements have been incorporated into Japanese society, particularly among the post Second World War II generations’ (p. 58).

The role of the symbolic link between object and person through the medium of design in Italian marketing
It can be said that a specific Italian marketing style is emerging. This style is characterized by heavy emphasis (and corresponding financial commitment) devoted to product appearance and design. The article sold is intended to act as a link between the producer–seller and the consumer–purchaser: both appreciate the aesthetic qualities of the object. The Italians concentrate

Box 4.4

The functional form of the cigarette lighter
The stylized fluidity of the ‘functional forms’ testifies to the connotation of mental dynamics, the semblance of a lost relationship, in an attempt to reconstruct a purpose through the accumulation of signs. For example, a lighter in the shape of a pebble was successfully launched by advertising some years ago. The oblong, elliptic and asymmetrical form is ‘highly functional’, not because it provides a better light than another lighter, but because it fits exactly into the palm of the hand. ‘The seas have polished it into the shape of the hand’: it is an accomplished form. Its function is not to give a light, but to be easy to handle. Its form is, so to speak, predetermined by Nature (the sea) to be handled by man. This new purpose is the sole rhetoric of the lighter. The connotations are here twofold: as an industrial object, the cigarette lighter is supposed to recall one of the qualities of the handicraft object, the shape of which furthers the gesture and the body of man. Moreover the allusion to the sea brings us to the myth of Nature, itself cultured by man, which follows all his desires: the sea plays the cultural role of a polisher; it is the sublime handicraft of nature. As the stone rolled by the sea, furthered by the hand producing light, the cigarette lighter becomes a wonderful flint, a whole prehistoric and artisanate purpose comes into play in the very practical essence of an industrial object.
(Source: Baudrillard, 1968, pp. 82–3. Author’s translation.)



on the style and functionality of the object, and its integration in the environment. The focal point is the symbolism of the object and its fit with the meaning attributed to it by consumers, as such increasing importance is given to qualitative studies. It is of course unrealistic to claim that the Italians are alone in having an awareness of the symbolic meaning of possessions for consumers. But they incorporate it at a very high level and make it an essential element of their marketing communication. Baudrillard (1968) and his ‘system of objects’ (see WS4.5 for a list of Baudrillard’s works), which was fairly successful in France, ultimately achieved real success in Italy, where he is regarded as a guru of marketing semiology (Box 4.4).


The other side of the poster mentioned at the start of this chapter says ‘Bei Mercedes bleibt alles anders’ (‘With Mercedes everything remains different’). In international marketing, where similarities abound, it is wise to examine particular differences in consumer behaviour with different eyes. This will provide a method of enquiry which favours the discovery of significant differences in how consumers behave across cultures and offers insights into the way consumers invest meaning into their purchases.

1. What would you expect to be the relation of consumer loyalty with the following cultural variables? Argue why, in your opinion, consumers having a certain cultural trait would be more, or conversely less, loyal: (a) strong future orientation; (b) strong ingroup orientation; (c) high individualism; (d) high uncertainty avoidance. 2. Discuss how a strong emphasis on group belonging in a particular culture may influence buying decisions. 3. Discuss possible cross-cultural variability in the concept of ‘status-seeking consumers’. 4. Why can ‘word-of-mouth communication’ among people be considered as a fairly robust consumer behaviour concept cross-culturally? 5. What is ethnic consumption?

1. Potlach still exists in modern societies, especially in the context of fund-raising where appreciation banquets, kickoff luncheons and campaign parties present ritualized, symbolic gift giving which induces participants into the social dynamics of philanthropy (Hanson, 1997). 2. Belk et al. (1997), illustrated evidence of substantial convergence across American, Danish and Turkish subjects on three dimensions: (1) desires are interpersonal, (2) desire can be dangerous and (3) desires follows a cycle where emotions and feelings differ in the ‘before’, ‘during’ and ‘after’ stages, suggesting that ‘the thrill lies more in the desire than in its realization’ (p. 26). 3. See for instance: Kushner (1982), Laurent (1982), Redding (1982), Yau (1988), Yang (1989) and Robinson (1996). 4. While there are 27 distinct scales that have been designed to measure aspects of individualism and collectivism (Oyserman et al., 2002), three scales that been designed to measure the independent and interdependent self concepts: Gudykunst et al. (1994, 1996); Leung and Kim (1997) and earlier versions; and Singelis (1994). 5. See for instance Olsen (1995), who explains how brand loyalty builds on memories, past experiences and consumer nostalgia, with personal and family histories being deeply enmeshed in the cultural biography of brands.


Chapter 4 Cross-cultural consumer behaviour

6. Watkins and Liu (1996) offer a complete discussion of how collectivism, individualism and ingroup membership can have an impact on consumer complaining behaviour. This may be of assistance for exercise A4.2. 7. On cross-cultural differences in materialism see Ger and Belk (1996, 1999), Eastman et al. (1997) and Lundstrom et al. (1999). 8. Arunthanes et al. (1994) distinguish between high context cultures (to which Asian countries typically belong) where business gifts are imperative, accepted as a normal social practice and have reciprocal effects, and low context cultures (the prototype being the United States or Northern Europe) where they are optional, and even sometimes perceived as attempts at bribery. Some studies suggest major cultural differences between gift-giving behaviour in Oriental and Western cultures (Green and Alden, 1988; Beatty et al., 1991). For instance, reciprocation and moral obligations are central in the Japanese gift-giving tradition. Japanese tourists travelling abroad must bring back home omiyage, that is, local specialities purchased as gifts for families and friends at home (Applbaum and Jordt, 1996). Omiyage are, for many Japanese tourists Louis Vuitton luggage or other French luxury brands, of which they are major purchasers when they stay as tourists in Paris. As emphasized by Wong and Ahuvia (1995, p. 81): ‘Unlike souvenirs which are purchased for the self, omiyage are tokens for others to share in one’s travel experience.’ Buying gifts for oneself is more often a pattern to be found in societies that value an independent self, a typical statement about such purchases being that it is ‘a present from me to me’ (Mick and DeMoss, 1990, p. 322). Laroche et al. (2000) investigate in-store information search strategies for Christmas gifts. 9. Anonymous (2002) ‘La télephonie Européene pour un recentrage sur le client’, Freesurf Actualité Hi Tech, November 21, 2002. Retrieved April 30, 2003 from index.html. 10. Anonymous (2003) ‘News’, Analysys News, 26 March, 2003. Retrieved April 30, 2003 from http://www.analysys. com/default.asp?Mode=article&iLeftArticle=1192. 11. Phillips, Leigh (2003) ‘Messaging and entertainment services to boost mobile operator revenue and ARPU, report’, March 27, 2003. Retrieved April 30, 2003 from Mode=article&iLeftArticle=5&m=&n=. 12. Erkki Liikanen (2002) Conference address: Mobile Europe 2002 Conference, Bremen, Germany,,


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Lee, Julie Anne and Geoffrey Soutar (2004), ‘Singaporeans I- and We-intentions to come to Australia’, Australian and New Zealand Marketing Academy Conference (ANZMAC) Proceedings 2004, Victoria University: Wellington, New Zealand. Leung, T. and M.S. Kim (1997), ‘A revised self-construal scale’, Unpublished manuscript, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu. Levitt, Theodore (1983), ‘The globalization of markets’, Harvard Business Review, vol. 61, May–June, pp. 92– 102. Liefeld, John P., Marjorie Wall and Louise A. Heslop (1999), ‘Cross cultural comparison of consumer information processing styles’, Journal of Euro-Marketing, vol. 8, no. 1/2, pp. 29–43. Liu, Raymond R. and Peter McClure (2001), ‘Recognizing cross-cultural differences in consumer complaint behavior and intentions: an empirical examination’, The Journal of Consumer Marketing, vol. 18, no. 1, pp. 54–75. Luna, David, and Susan Forquer Gupta (2001), ‘An integrative framework for cross-cultural consumer behavior’, International Marketing Review, vol. 18, no. 1, pp. 45–69. Lundstrom, William J. and D. Steven White (1999), ‘Intergenerational and cultural differences in materialism: An empirical investigation of consumers from France and the U.S.A.’, Journal of Euro-Marketing, vol. 7, no. 2, pp. 47–65. Malhotra, Naresh K. and J. Daniel McCort (2001), ‘A crosscultural comparison of behavioral intention models’, International Marketing Review, vol. 18, no. 3, pp. 235–69. Markus, Hazel Rose and Shinobu Kitayama (1991), ‘Culture and the self: implications for cognition, emotion and motivation’, Psychological Review, vol. 98, no. 2, pp. 224–53. Maslow, Abraham H. (1954), Motivation and Personality, Harper and Row: New York. McCracken, Grant (1991), ‘Culture and consumer behaviour: an anthropological perspective’, Journal of the Market Research Society, vol. 32, no. 1, pp. 3–11. Mendenhall, Mark, Betty Jane Punnett and David Ricks (1995), Global Management, Blackwell: Cambridge, MA. Mick, David Glen and Michelle DeMoss (1990), ‘Selfgifts: phenomenological insights from four contexts’, Journal of Consumer Research, vol. 17, December, pp. 322–32. Miller, J.A. (1977), ‘Studying satisfaction modifying models, eliciting expectations, posing problems and making meaningful measurements’, in H.K. Hunt (ed.), Conceptualization and Measurement of Customer Satisfaction and Dissatisfaction, Marketing Science Institute: Cambridge, MA, pp. 72–91. Mitchell, V.W., M. Yamin and B. Pichene (1996), ‘A crosscultural analysis of perceived risk in British and French CD purchasing’, Journal of Euromarketing, vol. 6, no. 1, pp. 5–24.

Olsen, Barbara (1995), ‘Brand loyalty and consumption patterns’, in John F. Sherry, Jr. (ed.), Contemporary Marketing and Consumer Behavior, Sage Publications: Thousand Oaks, CA, pp. 245–81. Oswald, Laura R. (1999), ‘Culture swapping: consumption and the ethnogenesis of middle-class Haitian immigrants’, Journal of Consumer Research, vol. 25, March, pp. 303–18. Oyserman, Daphna, Heather M. Coon and Markus Kemmelmeier (2002), ‘Rethinking individualism and collectivism: evaluation of theoretical assumptions and meta-analyses’, Psychological Bulletin, vol. 128, pp. 3–72. Park, Seong-Yeon (1998), ‘A comparison of Korean and American gift-giving behaviors’, Psychology and Marketing, vol. 15, no. 6, pp. 577–93. Penaloza, Lisa (2001), ‘Consuming the American West: animating cultural meaning and memory at a stock show and rodeo’, Journal of Consumer Research, vol. 28, no. 3, pp. 369–98. Redding, S. Gordon (1982), ‘Cultural effects on the marketing process in Southeast Asia’, Journal of the Market Research Society, vol. 24, no. 2, pp. 98–114. Reynolds, Nina L. and Antonis Simintiras (2000), ‘Establishing cross-national equivalence of the customer staisfaction construct’, EBMS Working Paper, 2000/7. Richins, M. (1983), ‘Negative word-of-mouth by dissatisfied consumers: a pilot study’, Journal of Marketing, vol. 47, Winter, pp. 68–78. Richins, Marsha (1994), ‘Valuing things: the public and private meaning of possessions’, Journal of Consumer Research, vol. 21, no. 3, December, pp. 504–21. Richins, M. and B. Verhage (1985), ‘Cross-cultural differences in consumer attitudes and their implications for complaint management’, International Journal of Research in Marketing, vol. 2, pp. 197–205. Robinson, Chris (1996), ‘Asian cultures: the marketing consequences’, Journal of the Market Research Society’, vol. 38, no. 1, pp. 55–62. Rose, Gregory M. (1999), ‘Consumer socialization, parental style, and developement timetables in the United States and Japan’, Journal of Marketing, vol. 63, July, pp. 105–19. Rose, Gregory M. and Aviv Shoham (1999), ‘The values of American and Japanese mothers: an application of LOV in the U.S. and Japan’, Journal of Euro-Marketing, vol. 8, no. 1/2, pp. 45–62. Sin, Leo Y.M., Gordon W.H. Cheung and Ruby Lee (1999), ‘Methodology in cross-cultural consumer research: a review and critical assessment’, Journal of International Consumer Marketing, vol. 11, no. 4, pp. 75–96. Singelis, T.M. (1994), ‘The measurement of independent and interdependent self-construals’, Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, vol. 20, pp. 580–91. Singh, Jagdip (1988), ‘Consumer complaint intentions and behavior: definitions and taxonomical issues’, Journal of Marketing, vol. 52, January, pp. 93–107.


Chapter 4 Cross-cultural consumer behaviour

Solomon, Michael R. (1999), Consumer Behavior, 4th edn, Prentice Hall: New Jersey. Steenkamp, Jan-Benedikt E.M., Frenkel ter Hofstede and Michel Wedel (1999), ‘A cross-national investigation into the individual and national cultural antecedents of consumer innovativeness’, Journal of Marketing, vol. 63, April, pp. 55–69. Straughan, Robert D. and Nancy D. Albers-Miller (2001), ‘An international investigation of cultural and demographic effects on domestic retail loyalty’, International Marketing Review, vol. 18, no. 5, pp. 521– 41. Straus, Karen (1992), ‘Go hog wild with Chino-Latino pork dishes’, Restaurants and Institutions, vol. 102, no. 19, pp. 43–57. Tanouchi, Koichi (1983), ‘Japanese-style marketing based on sensitivity’, Dentsu Japan Marketing /Advertising, vol. 23, July, pp. 77–81. Triandis, Harry (1994) Culture and Social Behavior, McGraw Hill: New York. Van Raaij, W.F. (1978), ‘Cross-cultural methodology as a case of construct validity’, in M.K. Hunt (ed.), Advances in Consumer Research, Association for Consumer Research: Ann Arbor, vol. 5, pp. 693–701. Viswanathan, Madhubalan, Terry L. Childers and Elizabeth S. Moore (2000), ‘The measurement of intergenerational communication and influence on consumption: development, validation, and cross-cultural comparison of the IGEN scale’, Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, vol. 28, no. 3, pp. 406–24. Wallendorf, Melanie and Michael D. Reilly (1983), Ethnic migration, assimilation and consumption’, Journal of Consumer Research, vol. 10, December, pp. 292–302.

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Appendix 4

Teaching materials

A4.1 Exercise ‘Dichter’s consumption motives’
Discuss the cross-cultural variability of the major motives for consumption as identified by Ernest Dichter some 30 years ago. Choose five associations between motives and associated products for your discussion.

Motive Power, masculinity, virility

Associated products Power: Sugary products and large breakfasts, bowling, electric trains, pistols, power tools. Masculinity, virility: Coffee, red meat, heavy shoes, toy guns; buying fur coats for women, shaving with a razor.

Security Eroticism Moral purity, cleanliness Social acceptance

Ice-cream, full drawer of neatly ironed shirts, real plaster walls, home baking, hospital care. Sweets, gloves, a man lighting a woman’s cigarette. White bread, cotton fabric, harsh household cleaning chemicals, bathing, oatmeal. Companionship: ice-cream (fun to share), coffee. Love and affection: toys, sugar and honey. Acceptance: soap, beauty products.

Individuality Status Femininity Reward Mastery over environment Disalienation (a desire to feel connectedness to things) Magic, mystery

Gourmet foods, foreign cars, cigarette holders, vodka, perfume, fountain pens. Scotch [whisky], ulcers, heart attacks, indigestion, carpets. Cakes and cookies, dolls, silk, tea, household curios. Cigarettes, candy, alcohol, ice-cream, cookies. Kitchen appliances, boats, sporting goods, cigarette lighters. Home decorating, skiing, morning radio broadcasts. Soups (have healing powers), paints (change the mood of a room), carbonated drinks (magical effervescent property), vodka (romantic history), unwrapping of gifts.

(Source: Solomon, 1999, p. 168.)


Chapter 4 Cross-cultural consumer behaviour

A4.2 Exercise Investigating the cross-cultural applicability of a consumer complaint scale
A scale of consumer complaint behaviour (CCB) developed by Singh (1988) is portrayed below. US respondents were asked to express their degree of agreement or disagreement on a six-point Likert scale on the items listed below (possible behavioural responses to dissatisfaction with a consumption experience). Factor analysis allowed three dimensions to be distinguished for CCB. 1. Voice CCB (a) Forget about the incident and do nothing. (b) Definitely complain to the store manager on your next trip. (c) Go back or call the repair shop immediately and ask them to take care of your problem. 2. Private CCB (a) Decide not to use that repair shop again. (b) Speak to your friends and relatives about your bad experience. (c) Convince your friends and relatives not to use that repair shop. 3. Third party CCB (a) Complain to a consumer agency and ask them to make the repair shop take care of your problem. (b) Write a letter to the local newspaper about your bad experience. (c) Report to the consumer agency so that they can warn other consumers. (d) Take some legal action against the repair shop/manufacturer.

Investigate the cross-cultural applicability of such a scale. Since you cannot do this with a full psychometric design, conduct your investigation mostly into the meaning, situations, institutions and behaviours depicted by the items.

A4.3 Case Mobile phones in the European Union
European mobile telecommunications are in a crisis, stated Jean-Michel Hubert, director of the French Telecoms Regulation Authority at an international mobile technology conference. The main reason is a relatively saturated market, and low average revenue per user (ARPU), at 29 euros in Europe versus 50 euros in the USA.9 According to the Western European Mobile Forecasts and Analysis 2003–2008 report, the number of active subscribers is forecast to grow just five percent in 2003 to 309 million.10

Appendix 4 Teaching materials


There is still ARPU growth in France, Germany, Spain, and the UK, but ARPU in Italy is static, and in Sweden it is declining.11 Mobile sector growth has been exponential in the European Union (current penetration at 70%, see Table 4.4), and linear in the USA (current penetration at 50%) and Japan. In China, growth is exponential but penetration is still relatively low, partly due to the size of the population.12 Penetration is mainly dependent on age: in Finland, for instance, penetration among youth aged 13–18 is 90 per cent.13 In terms of new subscribers, the European market is near saturation point. For an understanding of this phenomenon, one must look to cultural differences among European countries.

The cultural roots of the European mobile phone predicament
Zbigniew Smoreda, sociologist at France Telecom and researcher on the Eurescom P903 study that examined mobile habits in nine countries, explains that overall, in countries like Denmark, Germany, and the UK, the primary reason for obtaining a mobile subscription was to keep one’s life organized. For the French, the primary reason was to be available at all times.14 However, the most striking differences were found between urban and rural settings. The city user, whether in Copenhagen or Rome, is likely to use the phone often – perhaps partly due to the complications of city life, and partly due to age (they tend to be younger).15 From an aesthetic perspective, Samsung handset designers speak of ‘global localization’ and the balance of ‘reason and feeling’ attributes that govern the design, then subsequently the marketing process16 (see Table 4.3).
Table 4.3 Samsung’s ‘reason and feeling’ attributes for mobile phone design
Region Asia Europe North America Attribute: ‘reason’ high tech Minimal Durable Attribute: ‘feeling’ Cuteness Emotion Dynamic

(Source: Mark Delaney et al., ‘Global design and cultural identity’, Innovation (Industrial Designers Society of America), Summer 2002.17)

According to the Eurescom P903 study, Italians were the fastest adopters of the mobile telephone, quickly overtaking the Nordic countries where the standard was first launched. Italian youth take the credit for this; age being the ‘most important factor for predicting the adoption of the mobile phone’.18 It is not a cliché to say that Italians are talkative, according to Alessandra Bianchini, communications head at Italian mobile operator Wind, it is one of the reasons that mobile phones are ubiquitous in Italy. She goes on to say that another cliché about Italians – love of family – is another reason: the mobile phone is ideal for keeping in touch with relatives and friends. In fact, mobile technology was promoted more as a tool of rather than business from the outset in Italy. It is not a rare sight to see young Italians chatting on their phones, perched on the back of a scooter in the midst of city traffic – phones are used everywhere. In 2002, there were 50 million mobile numbers in Italy owned by 86 per cent of the population, and one quarter of these have multiple subscriptions. The Netherlands, where 76.6 per cent of the population is a mobile user, presents a contrast to the Italian attitudes towards mobile use. In accordance with clichés about the Dutch, their use of the technology is economical: they are one of the least talkative on their mobile phone in Europe, partly due to concern over talk rates. According to Marc Gommers of mobile operator Dutchtone, another reason for this is the precision of the Dutch language that allows


Chapter 4 Cross-cultural consumer behaviour

them to express themselves rapidly. There are also social norms that frown upon over-use of the phone in public; in restaurants they are banned, as they are in Denmark.19 In France, the lack of such social norms triggered increasing frustration about the inconsiderate use of mobile phones, inciting the government to legalize mobile phone jamming in public places – a measure agreed with by 85 per cent of the population.20
Table 4.4 Mobile phone penetration in Europe
Penetration Western Europe ≥ 74% Finland Italy Netherlands Norway 62%–73% Belgium Denmark Germany Portugal UK 45%–61% France Spain ≤ 44%

Eastern Europe

Czech Republic Estonia

Hungary Latvia Lithuania Poland Ukraine

(Source: Taylor Nelson Sofres Global E-Commerce Report, 2001; TNS A-P M-Commerce Report, 2001.21)

According to a Gartner G2 report, 41 per cent of European adults use SMS, even more than those who use email (30%). That figure rises in Germany, where 43 per cent of adults prefer SMS to using email (29%).22 Britons send more SMS than other Europeans (31 versus 26 per month on average). Europeans overall use SMS much more than Americans. Schuyler Brown of Euro RSCG Worldwide’s S.T.A.R. (Strategic Trendspotting and Research) team believes that commuting and PC use determine SMS use. European teenagers tend to use public transport, an ideal situation for chatting via SMS, whereas American teens tend to drive to school and work. Likewise, the European teen spends more time in public spaces, where time can be spent sending and receiving SMS, compared with the American teen who is more likely to be sitting at home which is likely to be equipped with a PC, wide-screen TV, and games consoles, competitors for time and attention deviated to SMS in Europe.23

Third Generation (3G) applications
Regarding mobile applications in addition to voice and text messaging, there is interest in Europe in so-called third-generation (3G) (or UMTS) capability for specific applications, such as information (including maps and directions, news, and financial), m-banking, and m-trading.24 Most of the year-on-year growth in phone sales is attributed to these ‘smart phones’. However, overall interest is tepid. A Taylor Nelson Sofres study of 7,000 subscribers in 10 European countries found that Poland and Turkey were the most likely countries to adopt 3G, while 58 per cent ‘other’ Europeans, and 66 per cent Britons were ‘not interested’ in 3G phones. Britain, one of the most mature mobile markets in world, is mainly happy with 2G phones, and is not interested in going beyond pre-pay. The implication is that Europeans are likely to keep their trusty old handsets, and only a minority will be interested in purchasing 3G phones.

Appendix 4 Teaching materials


In order to develop the 3G market, operators have ideas to increase non-voice revenue, forecast to attain 24 per cent of mobile service revenue by 2005. Most of this revenue now comes from person-to-person messaging, and increasingly includes downloadable music and games.25 Web logging (known as blogging) is now offered for mobile phone users whereby a personal webpage (known as a Foneblog by its Irish creator,, complete with photos and even short videos, is created and may be viewed by other mobile phone users via WAP or a standard web browser. Many games are already available, like Sweden’s Botfighters game that combines SMS and Global Positioning Systems (GPS), informing players via SMS that they are approaching another player. The first to respond to the message receives extra ‘life’ game points.26 More simple games based on the sports, driving, puzzle, and arcade formats are affordable and easy to procure. A realistic example of a phone game is the Finnish football team Helsinki PK-35 pay-per-shot game whereby their approximately 3,000 fans may send text suggestions from their mobile phones for game strategy, including defense and substitutions.27 If only mobile phone users could send text suggestions regarding strategy to their mobile operators, they could help these companies at a crossroads to navigate an uncertain future.

1. How can mobile operators, software designers, and handset producers inspire Europeans to use their mobile phones for longer lengths of time and for more applications? 2. Using the cultural differences highlighted in the case, outline a 3G strategy targeted to one northern and one southern European country, that will explicitly take these differences into account. 3. Taking the case of mobile operator Orange (see, what would you advise as a pan-European 3G marketing strategy?
Saskia Faulk and Jean-Claude Usunier prepared this case solely to provide material for class discussion. The authors do not intend to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a business situation. The authors may have disguised certain names and other identifying information to protect confidentiality. (© IUMI/HEC, 2003.)

A4.4 Exercise Cross-cultural consumer behaviour and the standardization/adaptation of service offers
Based on a discussion of variations in consumer behaviour across countries, review arguments in favour of standardizing or adapting service operations in one or several of the following service industries:
n n n n

private banking, telecommunications, hairdresser, motor insurance,


Chapter 4 Cross-cultural consumer behaviour
n n n n

life insurance, hotels, Haute Cuisine restaurants, satellite launch.

You may distinguish different subsets of the service industry or different market segments within this service industry; consider two aspects in each industry: 1. whether the service and its characteristics are more or less standard world-wide; 2. whether consumer behaviour and especially the service encounter differs across domestic markets; You may take into account the following issues in your discussion of the cross-cultural variability of service encounters and consumer behaviour:
n n


n n

Does language have an influence on the service encounter? Does religion have an influence on attitudes towards the service and on the service encounter itself? Do time attitudes (waiting, long term orientation, fatalism, linear vs. cyclical views of time, etc.) have an influence on the service encounter (pre-process, in-process, post-process)? Are there standards for this service industry? What is their reach? How does culture influence both the service customer and the service provider?

You may Google to get some additional insights on the issues above.

A4.5 Exercise Multidomestic versus Global
For the following industries or products discuss to what extent: 1. a world consumer exists (in terms of tastes and preferences, consumption habits, social taboos, local regulations influencing consumer behaviour, differences related to language, consumer learning, etc.) 2. the products or services offered are themselves global (similar world-wide): you may distinguish major product types within the generic product (e.g. high-fermentation versus low-fermentation beer); and 3. the industry itself can be considered as global (players tend to be global ones and competition takes place on a global rather than multi-local basis).
n n n n n n n n n

Airlines Beer Pharmaceuticals (ethical/prescription drugs) Pharmaceuticals (non-prescription/over-the-counter drugs) Tobacco (cigarettes, cigars, other tobacco-based products) Meat-based foods Automatic blood analyzers Mail services (delivery of letters and parcels) Sheets and pillows

Appendix 4 Teaching materials
n n n


n n n n

Ski lifts Portable computers Writing instruments (you may distinguish between pencils, ball-point pens and fountain pens) Micro-chips Toilet tissues Washing machines (for cloth) Auditing services

This exercise can be used in relation to contents in Chapter 5 and 8 (where the concepts of multidomestic and global market are explained).

Local consumers and the globalization of consumption

IKEA is often cited as an example of successful marketing strategy given the globalization of world markets. However, consumption habits and way of life regarding household equipment, furniture and related items remain significantly different, according to whether people sleep with duvets or sheets, the size of pillowcases, or the kind of materials they use for their bathrooms. In Germany, for instance, most homes have no cupboards, and when Germans are interviewed, it becomes clear that their underlying assumption is that only lower-class people have cupboards because they cannot afford nice wardrobes. This traditional value in the Germanic world extends to Alsace but stops in France and the Latin countries, where both cupboards and wardrobes are considered convenient, and there is no implied meaning in terms of the perceived wealth of the household. This illustrates the paradox of globalization, based on the rather harmonious coexistence of global and local patterns. Thus IKEA succeeds globally while maintaining a strong Swedish brand image, with waitresses in traditional Swedish costume serving glögg to its customers, and branding its items of furniture with names that sound strongly Nordic (see Warnaby, 1999). While globalization is a key issue for designing international marketing strategies, it is a difficult phenomenon to examine because demand occurs in actual markets and can never be fully separated from supply. The central paradox of globalization is the encounter between companies that are increasingly global and consumers who remain largely local. The general line of argument developed by this chapter is that consumption styles converge only at a macro-

scopic level. Consumption patterns resemble Russian dolls, building up from home to city, from community to region, and from nation to globe (Bell and Valentine, 1997).1 Paradoxically, it has never been so urgent to take a close look at differences, that is, unique elements of meaning invested by local consumers in the products and services they buy and in their consumption experiences. In order to scrutinize the apparent trend toward homogenization, three aspects of globalization processes must be distinguished. The first aspect is the globalization of demand, that is, the convergence of consumer behaviour (in this chapter), and marketing environments worldwide (in the next chapter). The second aspect is the globalization of supply and competition, with the progressive shift from domestic industries operating in national markets protected by non-tariff barriers to global industries. Many of these changes were initiated through the successive rounds of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and implemented by the World Trade Organization (WTO) and by regional trade organizations such as the European Union (EU) or the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) (see Chapter 6). The third aspect deals with the globalization of products and marketing offerings. Companies react to globalization partly by shaping new strategies and partly by refining their organizational design. They do this under cost constraints, given the potential for the experience effect of available technologies and the impact of transportation costs (see Chapter 8). The first section of this chapter explains how traditional models of international trade have been strong drivers for the partisans of globalization. These

5.1 Free trade doctrine and the denial of cultural variety in consumers’ tastes


models largely deny local consumers’ tastes and differences across products with local design and manufacturing, and focus on merely utilitarian needs for undifferentiated generic products. These traditional models have been used as justification by those who argue in favour of worldwide similarity. In section 5.2, the global convergence of consumption patterns is discussed. The basic argument is that there may be convergence at the macro level for broad, generic product categories, but it is much less obvious when one adopts a micro-level of analysis looking at specific products and the minutiae of consumer behaviour. In section 5.3, an examination of the emergence of a global consumer culture, based on the values of ‘modern culture’ is made, in which a world standard package of goods might result. Section 5.4 delves back into the local level and examines precisely how products are to various degrees culture bound, and how goods and services are integrated into local meanings and lived as unique consumption experiences. Section 5.5 documents the issue of consumers’ resistance to global products and consumption patterns, when these are resented as harmful to the local cultural or economic interests. The final section (5.6) tries to give an idea of the complex, kaleidoscopic patterns of local consumption in a globalizing world, that is, how consumers mix globalized products and local items in a grand bricolage.


Free trade doctrine and the denial of cultural variety in consumers’ tastes
Ricardo’s hypothesis
Traditional international trade doctrine has laid the foundations for a denial of culture in international marketing. One of the seminal texts on international trade is the seventh chapter of David Ricardo’s On the Principles of Political Economy and Taxation (1817), which deals with foreign trade. His text basically explains why countries (and their traders) may derive benefits from developing international trade, instead of simply producing and trading within their own domestic market. Ricardo considers the case of two countries, England and Portugal, and two types of goods, wine and sheets (see WS5.1). This law, which

is called the law of comparative or relative advantage, conveys a very powerful message: a country that would be at a competitive disadvantage for both products (wine and sheets) would still benefit from participating in international trade. By trading internationally, each country finds a better exchange ratio for the goods than that provided by its domestic market. By concentrating efforts and resources on products where they have a relative advantage, both countries probably increase their national welfare and certainly global welfare. In Ricardo’s text, which is both visionary and confused, many implicit assumptions are not clearly spelled out: (1) gains from trading internationally must offset transportation, customs duties and trading costs; (2) there are constant returns to scale; (3) products are identical, or at least are perceived as such by both consumers and merchants; (4) information must be easily available and efficient enough so that merchants in the two countries may be aware of the potential gains to be derived from international trade; and (5) there must be no other financial or government restriction or market barrier that limits international trade for these products. The implicit assumption that products and consumers’ tastes, habits and preferences are perfectly identical in the two countries (and accordingly by logical extension throughout the world) is a strong one. England produced almost no wine at the time and it is doubtful that British wine had the same physical characteristics, the same alcoholic content or the same taste as the Portuguese wine. Regarding the bed linen, the preferences of the English and the Portuguese were probably distinct enough to enable them to recognize clearly which were ‘their’ sheets. They certainly had different fabric and embroidery, and natives of the two countries would have been fully aware of the origin of the sheets on which they were sleeping. Furthermore, in Britain beer tends to be the drink of choice in pubs, whereas vinho verde or porto are the favourite drinks of the Portuguese while they listen to fado (guitar music). Ricardo’s full negation of consumer culture, and of non-utilitarian motives, is based on the assumption that products have no reality as cultural artefacts. Only quantity and price matter. Exchange is purely economic: goods and services are commoditized, generic, indefinitely marketable and without cultural meaning. These ‘wine and sheet’ considerations probably appeared as rather anecdotal and naive. The cultural


Chapter 5 Local consumers and the globalization of consumption

variable – related to national culture and local ways – has been neglected in international trade theory, which is almost purely economics based, whether on theoretical grounds or for practical purposes. Classical economists and their successors are not fond of national culture, which has an aura of inertia and resistance to change attached to it. Their theories favour commonalities, not differences. They are based on utility maximization rather than on identity building through non-utilitarian motives. Ricardo’s theory was contemporaneous with a major decision in Britain’s economic policy: the Corn Laws. Ricardo demonstrated that Britain should reduce its customs duties, thereby opening up its domestic market to foreign agricultural commodities – especially those from the colonies that were more cost competitive – and specialize in certain manufactured goods that it should export worldwide. The rationale behind this type of decision appears rather simplistic when real people are facing real-world consequences: rapid rural depopulation, social inequality, consumer frustration, stress, materialism, lack of self-sufficiency in food supplies, and threats to health and the environment (Ger and Belk, 1996). The increase in global welfare predicted by international trade theorists has been used to label as ‘nationalistic’ and ‘resistant to inevitable change’ those local groups whose jobs were endangered by the progressive opening of the world economy over the last century. From this initial assumption, it was apparently axiomatic that the defence of cultural identity was inextricably linked to protectionist attitudes in international trade. This is illustrated in France by the Lois Méline introduced at the end of the nineteenth century out of a desire to protect French food supplies and French farmers, even though this meant higher costs for the consumer. This was also true in Germany where the writings of Friedrich List promoted a nationalistic approach to economic growth. (For more information on anti-globalization movements, such as ATTAC or Global Trade Watch see WS5.1.) In practice it is difficult, except on the basis of questionable arguments, to make a sharp distinction between the protection of national/cultural interests (one’s own identity being largely enhanced by what one consumes) and the interests of some industries which may deprive consumers of some bargains, or even of the opportunity to buy particular products.

Hence there is a natural tendency to ignore culture or to consider it as an anecdotal and residual explanatory variable, defending local, narrow interests rather than promoting global welfare. This tendency of international trade theory has been largely adopted or inherited by international business and international marketing, where culture remains a subsidiary explanation, with a weak explanatory power. This is exactly how partisans of the globalization of markets such as Levitt (1983) see the cultural variable: a reminder of the past, a vestige in a world where we all tend to adopt a sort of ‘modern’ lifestyle, at best a bunch of anecdotes and at worst useless constraints. Ultimately, it takes on a macro-perspective rather than a multifaceted approach where all actors are considered (Aulakh and Schechter, 2000).

The dismal treatment of diversity in global marketing
The global products philosophy is characterized by a lack of consideration for meanings invested by consumers at the local level. This is because price is a universal concern and low-cost arguments make sense. In this utilitarian view, products are commoditized in a worldwide sphere of exchange. As explained by Kopytoff (1986, p. 68): ‘A commodity is a thing that has use value and that can be exchanged in a discrete transaction for a counterpart, the very fact of exchange indicating that the counterpart [most often, money] has, in the immediate context, an equivalent value.’ As advocated by Levitt, and then continually repeated, rephrased and promoted by many other authors in the area of international marketing, we might expect to see the emergence of global markets for standardized consumer products on a previously unimagined scale. In Levitt’s words it would ‘not [be] a matter of opinion but of necessity’ (1983, p. 97). Traditional differences in national tastes would disappear, while local consumer preferences and national product standards would become ‘vestiges of the past’. Consumers worldwide would look for good quality/ low-cost products and global competitors would seek to standardize their offerings everywhere. Farewell diversity: we will not mourn your passing! This world-view contains a number of assumptions to be discussed here and in other chapters. The first concerns the strong ideology of ‘standard’ in the

5.2 The global convergence of consumption patterns


American mind. What dominates consumption is the utilitarian and materialistic side: people strive for a large quantity of fair-quality, low-cost products. Levitt rightly argues that low cost and high quality are not incompatible. However, this refers only to the quantitative definition of product quality, based on reliability, performance and durability. Here, quality is meant only in the sense of the word contained in the first of nine definitions given by Collins English Dictionary, 6th edn, 2003, p. 1325: ‘a distinguishing characteristic, property or attribute’, this does not necessarily mean superior quality to other products. Quality in the sense of ‘having or showing excellence or superiority’ is only the ninth and last meaning in the dictionary. Levitt’s text incorporates a section entitled ‘vindication of the model T’, where he clearly explains his view that ‘consumption fordism’ [which values assembly-line organization and continuous processes] is the only possible pattern. The second assumption deals with the continuum between traditional and modern societies.2 ‘Traditional’ is associated with the past, which is of low value in the American view; the past is mostly seen as an impediment to effective action. This naive view of world diversity states that we are all converging towards a ‘modern’ lifestyle marked by standard products and consumption patterns worldwide. The anti-diversity discourse can be found in international marketing texts where the inevitability of global preferences is presented as a simple fact, not to be discussed: ‘No longer an alternative, global marketing has become an imperative for business’ (Czinkota and Ronkainen, 1995, p. 3). The main result is that, in most international marketing textbooks, diversity is treated as an anecdotal constraint. There are, however, non-utilitarian reasons for consumer behaviour, and cultural diversity at the international level is a reality, as has already been shown in the previous chapters. Moreover, for companies that reject the ‘consumption fordism’ of globalization, diversity presents an opportunity to create differentiation and gain a competitive advantage. For instance, in 2000, the new CEO of Coca-Cola, Douglas Daft, declared a repositioning strategy based on three fundamental principles. The second of the three was to ‘think locally and act locally’. In an article adapted from his speech (Daft, 2000, p. 12), he stated that:

Ours is a local business – we will think locally and act locally. We became one of the best marketers in the world because we understood that no one drinks ‘globally’. Local people get thirsty, go to their local retailer, and buy locally made Coke. To think locally and act locally, we must push decision making and accountability to the local level . . . Understanding the local culture and acting on that understanding is paramount to success.


The global convergence of consumption patterns
General convergence at the macro-level
As will be argued in more detail in Chapter 8, supply and competition is now largely globalized, with the progressive shift from domestic industries operating in national markets protected by non-tariff barriers to global industries. This alone is enough to explain a large part of the globalization of consumption. In addition, there is some evidence at least at the macro-level of convergence in consumption patterns. For example, Leeflang and Van Raaij (1995) found significant demographic convergence in the European Union: (1) the age distribution of the population comprises more older persons; (2) the size of households is constantly decreasing, with an EU average of 2.7 persons, ranging from a low of 2 persons in Denmark to a high of 3.6 in Spain; (3) the proportion of immigrants is increasing with higher concentrations in large cities. Convergence is also to be observed in the sociocultural environment in terms of growing equality between men and women and increasing percentages of working women, while all over the EU, health and environment concerns are on the rise. In Hofstede’s terms, there is a trend towards more femininity. Convergence in consumer behaviour can also be observed at a broad level: services tend to replace durables in household budgets and demand is growing for health-care, services and products that are environmentally friendly, fun and convenience products. (For more information on global convergence of consumption patterns see WS5.2.) Most of the empirical studies on globalization are synchronic in design; they study cross-national


Chapter 5 Local consumers and the globalization of consumption

similarity in consumption patterns at a precise point in time. The most logical way to study the convergence process is, however, to examine how consumption changes over several time periods. A good example for illustrating long-term convergence in consumption figures is that of wine, traditionally a southern European drink, and beer, traditionally a northern European drink. Wine consumption has decreased and beer consumption has increased in the south (in France, Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain), whereas the opposite pattern has evolved in the north of Europe (in Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Luxembourg and the UK) leading to macro-level convergence (Smith and Solgaard, 2000). Smith and Solgaard also found a tendency toward drinks with lower alcohol content, stricter drink-driving laws, and higher quality products. Similarly, Clements and Chen (1996) provide evidence of increasing macrolevel similarity in cross-national consumption patterns in broad commodity categories. Using a utility-maximizing framework, actual consumption figures are examined, rather than consumer motives and involvement in the purchase.3

Numerous detailed examples are cited in support of the globalization of consumption behaviour. Beef consumption in Japan, traditionally a fish-eating country, has developed considerably while there has been a rise in fish consumption in traditionally meateating countries. There have been similar changes in relation to rice and wheat between the West and the East (see Box 5.1 for other examples). But, as de Mooij (2000, p. 105) points out, though economic systems may converge: ‘there is evidence that with converging income, people’s habits diverge. More discretionary income will give people more freedom to express themselves and they will do that according to their own specific value patterns.’ Rather than discuss macro-level globalization, it makes more sense from an international marketing perspective, to try to understand the nature of this phenomenon. With decreasing barriers to international trade over the last century, and mostly in the last 50 years, more variety has been brought to consumers in most countries of the world. In this sense, globalization increases, not decreases, diversity in everyone’s experience.

Box 5.1

Savoury snacks and global law: Two different routes for globalization
Globalization can occur even when local patterns do not disappear. In the two examples below local patterns work either as an opportunity or as a constraint for the emergence of globalized product or service use. Japan has a long tradition of savoury snacks based on local ingredients such as rice crackers (arare and senbei), dried seafood snacks (kozakana) and edamame (green soybeans lightly boiled in salt). Although these snacks still have high consumption rates among elderly people, they have lost ground to potato and corn-based Western-style snacks: sales of traditional Japanese-style snacks decreased by 16.5 per cent between 1993 and 1997. In a totally different field, legal practice, local legal systems have presented an opportunity for US and English law firms (Spar, 1997). Due to the political nature of law, most countries restrict the practice of law to their own nationals. However, US law firms have been following the globalization of US companies, which took them along as they expanded abroad, in particular to arrange cross-border deals that maximized advantages under US tax law. By learning the intricacies of local legal systems, US law firms have adjusted to local contexts while maintaining their comparative advantage in terms of common law (the prevailing legal tradition in the United Kingdom and the United States), by assisting foreign firms willing to enter the US market or drafting international business contracts based on common law.
(Source: Adapted from Spar, 1997 and Euromonitor, 1997.)

5.3 The emergence of a global consumer culture


Evidence of consumers’ globalization at a micro-level
De Mooij and Hofstede (2002, p. 62) point out that ‘international marketers would like us to believe that in the “new Europe” with a single currency, consumers will become more similar, will increasingly eat the same food, wear jeans and cross-trainers, and watch the same television programs. Reality is likely to be different.’ Generally, at the micro-level researchers have found that culture influences consumption patterns (e.g. Eshghi and Sheth, 1985), but that this influence differs by the product type, product/service category, situational factors, and reasons for purchase. First, for product type Huszagh et al. (1986) found that durable, household and functional products varied more by culture than non-durable, sensory and personal products. Second, for product/service category, Zaichkowshy and Sood (1988) found that restaurants, air travel and hair shampoo are more influenced by culture than beer, jeans, going to the cinema, soft drinks and stereos. Agarwal and Teas (2002) in a replication-extension, found that wristwatches are more influenced by culture than consumer electronics, which were examined by Dawar and Parker (1994) in a previous study. Third, for situational factors Nicholls et al. (1999) found that frequency, time of day, where consumers shopped, the length of time and the reason varied by culture for food, but not for clothing. Fourth, for reasons for purchase Woods et al. (1985) found that maintenance, enjoyment and defence reasons differed by country. (For more information on these studies see WS A5.4.) Many other examples illustrating micro-level differences were elaborated on in Chapter 4. Thus, evidence at a micro-level, that of specific products and aspects of consumer behaviour, is somewhat inconclusive about the globalization of consumer behaviour. Finding convincing proof of this process is difficult, since testing for it would include such issues as the pace and process of globalization, the market segments involved and the geographically significant cultural areas (Jain, 1989). The trend towards globalization depends partly on which aspect of consumer behaviour is concerned, whether buying behaviour, shopping behaviour, lifestyle, values, psychometrics and underlying attitudes, influence processes (in the family, word-of-

mouth communication, etc.). The use of culturally unique concepts and research instruments (roughly translated as ‘American’) compresses differences, even when cross-cultural precautions have been taken. Since the concepts and theories of marketing are mostly US-culture based, their full ability to capture local patterns of consumer behaviour is questionable.


The emergence of a global consumer culture
According to Ger and Belk (1996) there are at least four ways to interpret global consumer culture: the proliferation of transnational corporations; the proliferation of global capitalism; global consumerism; and global consumption homogenization. As there is no doubt that transnational corporations and capitalism have proliferated, this section will focus on global consumerism and later on global consumption homogenization. Global consumerism is defined by Ger and Belk (1996, p. 275) as ‘a widespread and unquenchable desire for material possessions’. It is a culture in which the majority of consumers avidly desire, and therefore try to acquire and display, goods and services that are valued for non-utilitarian reasons such as status seeking, envy provocation and novelty seeking (Belk, 1988). The rise of large-scale, democratized consumption as a legitimate and positively valued human activity (unlike say, war or monastic contemplation) in most countries has led to the emergence of a global consumer culture. Prahalad and Lieberthal (1998, p. 71) illustrate this: ‘What is big and emerging in countries like China and India is a new consumer base consisting of hundreds of millions of people. Starved of choice for over 40 years, the rising middle class is hungry for consumer goods and a better quality of life and is ready to spend.’ As Ger and Belk (1999, p. 199) suggest: ‘Each culture finds a culturally appropriate way to justify its own high level consumption behaviour and aspiration.’ Even in countries where purchasing power does not really allow access to goods and services, US films, with an approximate market share of 90 per cent worldwide4 have been a major driver of desires and aspirations, fuelling consumers’ needs and envy. (For more examples, see WS5.3.)


Chapter 5 Local consumers and the globalization of consumption

The standard world package and ‘McDonaldized’ consumption
A consumer culture guides people in defining their aspirations towards a certain set of possessions. The standard US package of goods has developed into a standard world package that includes a car and a home with electric lighting, a refrigerator and a television. The same holds true for services, since the fast-food restaurant has become part of the standard world package. Ritzer (1999, p. 70) describes how strongly people identify with McDonald’s around the world:
In Taipei, the Golden Arches have come to have more symbolic meaning than the local temple. In Seoul, people are passionate about McDonald’s as well as their opposition to it. In Tokyo, Japanese boy scouts were reported to be pleasantly surprised when during a trip they discovered that there was a McDonald’s in Chicago.

In the emergence of a global consumer culture, a process that Ritzer (1993) calls McDonaldization of society, the word ‘standard’ is central. ‘Standard’ has three meanings: (1) the same for everybody; (2) the same everywhere in the world; (3) the same for all time. The paradoxical success of the ‘Classic’ Coke as against the ‘new’ Coke is an illustration of the last point. Standard also means that product quality remains the same unless new technological developments allow improvements which complement the previous attributes. Ritzer (1993) distinguishes four elements in the McDonaldization process: 1. Efficiency: the McDonaldized product or service offers the optimum method for getting from one point (being hungry) to another (being fed). We are living in the ‘Republic of Technology’ as Levitt (1983) says. In contrast to traditional solutions, fordist consumption values assembly-line organization and continuous processes: with the parking areas adjacent to the fast-food restaurant, a short walk to the counter, a limited menu and quick choice, finger food and speedy disposal of leftovers. 2. Systematic quantification and calculation: McDonald’s offers more ‘bang for the buck’ and provides its customers with ‘value’ meals. Rational economic calculations based on the emphasis of price and the size/weight given for each ingredient extols the utilitarian view. In this model, quantity

becomes equivalent to quality: the view that larger quantities are a sign of better value is latent in such a conception. 3. Predictability: whether in Chicago, Los Angeles, Paris, Moscow or Tokyo, we find the same Big Mac and French Fries. Consumers find great comfort in this predictability which offers neither bad nor good surprises, and reduces perceived risk. There is not much surprise in the limited range of products offered, but we know that it will be consistent over time and place. Predictable food is based on predictable, often frozen ingredients and corporate guidelines that detail everything to be done in the fast-food outlet. 4. Control through the substitution of non-human for human technology: the system is operated so that there is limited human involvement in the whole production process: rules are fairly strict and automatic systems (e.g. soft drinks or ice-cream dispensers) control the exact quantity, in line with point 2. This also facilitates predictability by reassuring customers about the service to be obtained from McDonald’s. The globalized consumption experience is only one part of the real world of consumption but it plays a dominant role because it has been consistently and heavily portrayed as ‘useful’ and ‘good for people’. It is also publicized in a somewhat deceitful way since there is much more local adaptation, both in CocaCola and in McDonald’s, than affirmed by these global marketers. In addition, the same concept can mean something quite different when borrowed from another culture. As Anderson and He (1999, p. 92) point out: ‘The fast-food concept that fits the US fast life style has adapted successfully to PRC’s consumers’ life style, because less waiting and fast service do not mean to eat fast.’

Globalization and ‘modern’ culture
The most disputable and debatable aspect of globalization is the implicit assumption that we are all converging towards a ‘modern lifestyle’. This view of cross-cultural buyer behaviour has three main assumptions: (1) modernity is a given and technology is our path to a bigger and better future for all of us on our little planet; (2) even if they differ externally,

5.3 The emergence of a global consumer culture


all societies can be placed on a continuum of social change – from traditional to developed societies; and (3) the criterion for placing a society on the continuum is its degree of resistance to the changes brought about by modernity (Sheth and Sethi, 1977). Firat (1995, p. 106) explains that in modern culture the central idea is that scientific knowledge and technology could control nature and improve human existence: ‘thus, modern culture was a driven one with its eyes on the future and its feet securely planted on the material ground, in reality. Reaching the goals . . . required commitment, order, and universal, valid principles’. Even though it may be argued that we have already entered the postmodern era (Bouchet, 1994), most people still live in a modern era, marked by a strong belief in the achievements of science, its unlimited problem-solving capacity through technology and its exclusive contribution to global welfare. The modern project is clear in Levitt’s view of globalization, when, criticizing multinational companies for being medieval (by which he means pre-modern), he writes:
The multinational corporation knows a lot about a great many countries and congenially adapts to supposed differences. It willingly accepts vestigial national differences, not questioning the possibility of their transformation, not recognizing how the world is ready to and eager for the benefit of modernity, especially when the price is right. The multinational corporation accommodating mode to visible national differences is medieval. (Levitt, 1983, p. 97; emphasis added.)

The global values in modern culture emerge because consumers throughout the world inevitably have fairly similar responses to new technologies and product innovations. ‘Modern’ culture is characterized by: (1) an individualist orientation that is supported by the exercise of purchasing power as a manifestation of individual freedom; (2) a strong emphasis on material achievements and materialistic values, that is, a doing/having rather than a being orientation; (3) a strongly economic, ‘commoditized’ time; (4) a tendency to discard the past in favour of a future orientation, while expressing some frustration at not living in the present as much as one would like; and (5) a fairly high degree of utilitarianism. Household equipment, for instance, tends to individualize tasks and people are more and more freed from both the constraints and the pleasures of communal life, in a mostly urban environment where families

are nuclear and the extended family separated by huge distances. An increased awareness of a clockbound and universal time, at the expense of a local and nature-bound time, accompanies the enthusiasm for innovation and change. Modern culture posits a strong future orientation as a mere imperative: consumers dispose quickly of machines and products that are still recent but already obsolete. Environmental concerns, although varying in degree, are typical of modern cultures since the deterioration of the earth’s environment through increased levels of pollution and depletion of the ozone layer are common to many countries. Although Germany, with its grüne punkt, (green point) still largely leads the movement, the interest in ‘green’ products is shared worldwide. Chan (1996) shows, for instance, that both Canadian and Hong Kong consumers are more and more interested in environmentally friendly products. The controversial claim that the ‘American way of life’ would have universal appeal and extend progressively to backward nations is typical of the binary thinking of modern thought, opposing concepts such as past/future, traditional/modern, true/false and rational/emotional (Firat, 1995). For instance, Baines et al. (2001, p. 1009) examined the ‘Americanization’ of political campaigning in western Europe. They argue that: ‘because of the very different contextual environments and their implications for campaign conduct, the potential for “Americanization” is limited through indirect export methods.’ They found that direct export without customization is less likely to be successful in European markets. In fact, the true globalization of consumption patterns would occur if the ‘globalization route’ ceased to be one-way: in a genuinely global consumer world, US consumers will have to import genuine, unpasteurized, French foie gras or crude milk cheese which contain some innocent bacteria but which also have real taste and consistency. Similarly, French consumers will have to develop a taste for peanut butter, American women take to wearing kimonos, and Australian men swap their shorts and thongs for Bavarian lederhosen, if the route to globalization is to be less unidirectional. The emergence of a global ‘modern’ culture is often confused with the convergence of local cultures, leading to an incorrect description of the globalization phenomenon. A frequent mistake is to equate ‘modern’ with ‘American’: while it is true that the


Chapter 5 Local consumers and the globalization of consumption

United States and US multinational companies have been literally the champions and heralds of modern culture in consumer goods (consumption fordism) and services, globalization is not simply the worldwide extension of the ‘American way of life’. The imitation of solutions that are ‘Made in the USA’ results mostly from the borrowing of answers to challenges that were largely common worldwide. American society values a pioneer spirit and has less resistance to change and fewer social impediments than more traditional societies. When the Japanese, French or Chinese change, it is not as a result of American pressure; rather, since these societies are less innovative in terms of social adaptation to technological developments, they borrow part of their responses from the United States, while often making the United States scapegoats for the drawbacks of modernity. Modern culture, with both high individualism and structured time patterns, implies a kind of social organization centred on peer-age segments. Girls give up their Barbie dolls between the ages of 12 and 13 because it would be inappropriate to play with dolls – even sophisticated ones – when they reach adolescence. Each age class increasingly has its own identity, its own way of doing things, membership is signalled through consumption, and the shared values and behaviour transcend national borders. It is also possible that certain age groups, such as teenagers, are allowed a ‘cultural time-out’, where they are expected to rebel from their cultural restraints. For instance, we see Japanese youth wearing typical American teenage clothing such as baseball hats on backwards, watching MTV, etc. Later, when they join the workforce and begin families they are expected to re-adopt culturally appropriate behaviour. The increased adoption of modern culture crossnationally is erroneously interpreted as a sign of full convergence – and as testimony to the progressive disappearance of local cultures. Significant elements of local cultures, such as language, writing systems, religions and relational patterns, are still intact and quite visible in the global landscape. Cultural differences seem to matter little because they rarely appear as the key explanation for behaviour. However, local cultures allow a deeper understanding of consumption in a specific context. Interpretation must be close to the local reality: for instance drip/filter coffee taken ‘to go’ or drunk with a meal (as is common in the USA), is a widely different coffee-drinking experience

from espresso enjoyed with friends at a local café in Europe or Australia. Local cultures do not really disappear; rather, a new layer of common culture is superimposed on them. The very fact that the Japanese and the Chinese are not willing to change their ideographic writing system, which from a purely utilitarian perspective makes little sense, demonstrates the very deep roots of local cultures.


Local products and consumption experiences
Not surprisingly, globalized fordist consumption has a striking preference for ‘culture-free’ products and consumption situations. A different perspective on consumer behaviour centred on cultural meanings ascribed to things (McCracken, 1986) may be useful despite its limited use in international marketing texts. For instance, Applbaum and Jordt (1996) suggest the need to centre on things, and on how they are used in context; they argue that by doing so, more insights are gained into the complex patterns of local consumer behaviour than through the national character approach, based on limited universal variables and the design of cultural ideals (i.e. high versus low scores on common dimensions). They observe, for instance, the services for dating and arranged marriages in Japan and note that a Japanese wedding ceremony would be practically incomprehensible to a westerner apart from the (now shared) appearance of diamond rings and white wedding dresses. They describe the pro nakôdo, a commercial go-between for marriage services as follows:
Through personal contacts – that is, not through advertising – a pro nakôdo is introduced to a young man or young woman interested in being set up for arranged marriage dates . . . The pro nakôdo association meets once a month to exchange information on new registrants. At the meeting each pro nakôdo’s new contribution will be photocopied and distributed among the other pro nakôdo . . . the pro nakôdos bring home and place in their loose-leaf notebooks between 100 and 200 new pages each month. At the end of five years, or on marriage, whichever comes first, a person’s sheet is removed from the notebook. At the time of this study, the association had slightly more than 6,500 registered clients.

5.4 Local products and consumption experiences


If consumer culture matters, then it is likely that consumers will invest more meaning in products and services that are more bound to cultural interpretation. The question is therefore: what is more culturefree and what more culture-bound, in terms of product and service categories on the one hand, and consumer behaviour on the other?

Culture-bound products
Culture bonds arise in a number of ways, some related to the consumption situation, others to product attributes. This complexity is due to the peculiar qualities intrinsic to the encounter between things and people. The first aspect to examine is whether a rich (or poor) cultural context surrounds the product: shopping for it, buying it and/or consuming it and disposing of it. Furniture, for instance, will be more culture-bound than consumer electronics, because there is often a local style and a local manufacturing tradition for these items. Furniture may not only be bought, but also inherited or restored, which makes less sense for a CD player. Consumer electronics are a typical culture-free product category because they are technology-based, low in cultural context and universally used. It comes as no surprise, therefore, that consumer behaviour is very similar cross-nationally for consumer electronics (Dawar and Parker, 1994). An exception is in developing economies where consumer electronics do tend to become culture-bound.

For example in China, where colour TV sets are vested with symbolic values that are rooted in the local context (see Box 5.2). The more closely products relate to the physical environment, the more culture-bound they will be, as physical environment influences the local material culture, which is linked to climate, density of population, housing, flora and fauna, etc. The absence of visible cattle rearing on most Japanese islands, except Hokkaido, distances Japanese people from dairy products. Japanese people find cheese, the most sophisticated dairy product, quite a strange kind of food; cheese conveys little meaning except that of foreignness. Similarly, local ways of building are generally based on the availability of substitute building materials (wood, cement, stones, etc.), certain craft traditions (e.g. masonry versus carpentry), and constraints (e.g. earthquakes), which explain the dominance of local technical solutions. For instance, the use of steel in bridges and urban freeways is much higher in Japan than it is in Europe where bridges are mostly built with reinforced concrete. Similarly, wood is frequently used for housing construction in the United States, whereas it is quite marginal in western Europe except in Scandinavia. Culture bonds are strong for a product or service when there is an investment of cultural and national background and identity in consumption. Consuming then becomes, consciously or unconsciously, more than a simple utilitarian purchase, resulting in a preference for products made in one’s own country. In

Box 5.2

Colour television as a life statement
Television has made tremendous inroads into Chinese homes over the last ten years: penetration rates are reaching 80 per cent in rural areas and 98 per cent in cities. Television, more than any other good, represents freedom from oppression in the ‘new China’, and breaking with the past by access to information, in a country that has traditionally been wary of foreign influence. Ownership of a TV set plays an important role in establishing one’s financial image and projects an image of personal success. Chinese people indicate that owning a colour television is a prerequisite to marriage and some couples indicate that they are willing to wait two years to be able to afford the best possible TV (a Japanese one, often several times more expensive than a Chinese colour TV). One respondent said: ‘Buying a Chinese TV will give my marriage a poor start. I must wait until I can buy a Japanese TV to project the right image to my friends.’
(Source: Adapted from Doran, 1997.)


Chapter 5 Local consumers and the globalization of consumption

terms of product attributes, the use of local materials and production processes, recipes and craft techniques will reinforce the perception of compatibility, if they are known as such by consumers. Language content is also a major constituent of the cultural content of a product, as in genuinely cultural products (e.g. songs, soap operas, films and novels), or just in written language used on or around the product, such as the packaging or brand name. The instructions for assembling IKEA furniture rely on pictures alone, thus avoiding complex multiplelanguage explanations. An additional benefit of pictures is the decreased degree of culture-boundedness, because visual elements are more culture free than written materials. Products that involve a relationship to others, in terms of displaying/showing or giving/sharing, are likely to be culture bound, precisely because this relationship is culturally coded. That is the social situation is likely to moderate the influence of culture. The same consumer may choose different brands depending on who is involved in the decision-making process or likely to use the product (Han and Shavitt, 1994; Bagozzi et al., 2000; Lee, 2000). Conspicuousconsumption items, and more generally goods having a high sign value, are culture bound, although many luxury products are globally branded, the nature of their consumption is largely local, depending at least on concepts of the self and others (Wong and Ahuvia, 1995). Products that have been consumed as a part of life since childhood are often marked by locality. Peanut butter from the USA and Vegemite from Australia are not global products and cannot be found in many countries. As such, American and Australian expatriates have difficulty obtaining them when assigned abroad. Complex products, such as films, are logically culture bound, because they require a high level of interpretation and knowledge of the local context in order for the film to be fully understood and enjoyed. One of the reasons for the limited global success of most films, except for Hollywood’s, is that they rely on local cues which are not easily understood by different local audiences. Conversely, the success of American movies is based on their low contextuality, simplified characters, reliance on the universal appeal of violence, love, and wealth, and their simple moral dichotomy, where good struggles against evil. Even so, many Hollywood films are modified during the

dubbing process to add the appropriate local context. For instance, many of the jokes were changed in the German version of the animated movie Aladdin. Comedy, it seems, is largely culture bound, due to a sense of shared understanding. The very nature of the product has some influence on the level of universality of needs. Non-durables seem to appeal more to tastes, habits and customs; therefore they are more culture-bound. Clothing, confectionery, food and household cleaners are all culture-bound. Empirical evidence (Peterson et al., 1985) seems to suggest that industrial and high-technology products (for instance, computer hardware, machine tools and heavy equipment) are considered appropriate for global strategies, as they often offer significant benefits over the previous alternatives. While one could easily believe that industrial products are typically culture free, this view is largely mistaken because the contexts in which they are used, and the functionalities sought, depend on culture. The construction industry, for instance, is highly influenced by local cultural traditions as well as the attitude towards time (short-term versus long-term orientation) and the perceived tradeoff between the price and durability of equipment varies. In Europe, the difference between national markets is considerable; for instance, the market estimate for clay water pipes is 460,000 tons/year in Germany, whereas it is only 11,000 tons/year in France. In fact, clay water pipes are two or three times more expensive than cast-iron pipes; however, their durability extends way beyond the lifetime of those who decide on the investment; they may last for a century, or even several centuries. The German local authorities and/or standard-setting bodies prefer a high investment cost/extended lifetime trade-off whereas the French seem to consider this as too costly and a lifetime of a century is beyond significance for public decision-makers. Furthermore, the major player in France for this kind of water pipe, Pont-àMousson, uses ductile cast iron, a solution it has promoted widely with the water utilities. Box 5.3 provides a further illustration of how benefits sought of equipment goods depend on local culture. One framework for unravelling the degree and the nature of culture bonds for products is to undertake a ‘cultural biography’ of the goods surveyed (Kopytoff, 1986). Drawing on the analogy with the life of a person, the biography of an object allows one

5.4 Local products and consumption experiences


Box 5.3

Time to wait
Market data were gathered for blood analysis equipment in several European countries (Germany, France, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom) in hospital labs. Doctors were asked to rate the importance of time to results, a reason for adopting automatic blood analysis equipment allowing speedier outcomes. Responses reflect different degrees of preoccupation with time, Germans being the most concerned with short time to results (86 per cent of German labs mentioned this as a major factor in their buying decision), followed by the British (72 per cent), the French (67 per cent), the Spaniards (55 per cent), and the Italians (37 per cent). Thus, even for organizational purchasing, underlying cultural values are different.

to understand how it ultimately nests itself within a cultural milieu.
The biography of a car in Africa would reveal a wealth of cultural data: the way it was acquired, how and from whom the money was assembled to pay for it, the relationship of the seller to the buyer, the uses to which the car is regularly put, the identity of its most frequent passengers and of those who borrow it, the frequency of borrowing, the garages to which it is taken and the owner’s relation to the mechanics, the movement of the car from hand to hand over the years, and in the end, when the car collapses, the final disposition of its remains. All of these details would reveal an entirely different biography from that of a middle-class American, or Navajo, or French peasant car. (Kopytoff, 1986, p. 67.)

across EU countries.5 Consumers attribute meaning to products and services in context, especially what it means to desire, to search, to evaluate, to purchase, to consume, to share, to give, to spend, and to dispose of. Consumption experiences are full social facts in interaction with other players in the market game: manufacturers, distributors, salespeople and also other consumers. (For more information on local consumer experience see WS5.4.) Two illustrations are given below.
Consumption as disposal

Unique consumption experiences
Consumption is still largely a local reality. Far from being uniquely culture related, local reality also reflects climate and customs, and the mere fact that much of our lives is still experienced, shared, perceived and interpreted with those nearby who share the same kind of ‘local knowledge’ in the Geertzian sense (Geertz, 1983). Consumption experiences remain local while much global influence is integrated in shared cultural meaning (McCracken, 1991). As noted by Applbaum and Jordt (1996, p. 207): ‘Globalizing influences have bored intercultural tunnels around the world, but core meaning systems such as those wrapped up in the idea of the family, continue to differ significantly.’ There are, for instance, still huge differences in the pattern of household expenditures

Consumption involves our views of our relationship with the environment, the nexus between nature and culture, affecting our perceptions, such as what is clean or dirty and where the cleaning effort should be allocated. Many consumption acts lead to the final destruction of the good, even in the case of consumer durables when they are obsolete or out of order. Paper-based products are a good case in point: filters for drip-coffee machines are white in France and yellow-brown in Germany (naturbraun), paper handkerchiefs are generally white in France and yellowbrown in Germany and toilet paper is generally pink or white in France and greyish in Germany. The Germans express their willingness to be environmentally friendly (umweltfreundlich) by purchasing paper-based products whose colour exhibits their genuinely ‘recycled’ nature, that is, not bleached with chlorine-based chemicals that are used to whiten the paper. The same holds true for German writing and copying paper, which, because of its greyish and irregular appearance, would be generally considered by most French as ‘dirty’ and of poor quality. The


Chapter 5 Local consumers and the globalization of consumption

difference in consumer experience lies in the difference of continuity in the ecological concern. Germans feel the necessity to be nearer to nature because they live in a country about three times more densely populated than France and they insist on strong coherence between their words and their deeds. The two peoples seem to have different ways of reconciling nature and culture: the contrast has often been made between Germans, perceived stereotypically as natural, deep and aggressive, and the French, who are thought of as more sophisticated. German culture finds its expression in love for nature and a preference for isolation, whereas French culture advocates social life and shows disdain for everything that is too nature-oriented (Gephart, 1990).
Offering wine

Offering wine is a different experience in southern Europe from what it is in the United States, Japan or northern Europe. Hosts who receive wine from their guests have to decide whether to keep it for later, or to open it immediately to share it with their guests. In France, unless the host states explicitly that the wine is not suitable to accompany the meal, the received wine will be drunk with the guests, because sharing is a must and keeping the wine for oneself would imply that it may not be good enough to drink now. In many other countries, it would be impolite to drink their gift with the guest, since it would mean the immediate destruction of a present that should be kept as a memory, at least for a time. The emphasis in each case is on different values: the sense of sharing on the one hand, and the sense of keeping a present as a memory of the donor on the other.

reduce the universe of ways of acting, and enable people to form attitudes and to select interpretations or solutions as if they were self-evident. Habits facilitate choices in a multitude of everyday life situations. It would be exhausting to review all possible alternatives all the time. Habits give us self-assurance. However, they receive little treatment in accounts of consumer behaviour, probably because they are tainted negatively as passive behaviour. Interestingly, Triandis (1994) put forward a theory that habits are multiplied by arousal, meaning that when we are angry or very happy, it is more difficult to overcome a habit. It is possible that our purchases differ when we are more aroused emotionally. A Chinese proverb says that ‘habit starts with the first time’; a Western proverb that ‘habit is a second nature’. To become fully built into a person, habits need support in child-rearing practices, schooling and education systems and the whole reward–sanction system that goes with the social game. Habits are ways of doing and behaving that have been reinforced by authorization and gratification, so that, once the programming is forgotten they appear to be legitimate. Three examples taken from diverse contexts may be used to illustrate this:

Habits, habitus and shared meaning
Rather than as a value system, culture may be viewed simply as shared habits and customs, and as shared meaning about how particular experiences are to be interpreted in context. This system of shared habits and interpretation is often encompassed under the general heading ‘common sense’ (shared meaning), which translates into French as ‘good sense’ (bon sens) with a clear value judgement, or into German as ‘sound understanding’ (gesunder Menschenverstand), showing that it is the appropriate solution. Habits are central in local consumer behaviour because they

The German Kaffeetrinken is a traditional German form of enjoyment, organized mostly at week-ends or holiday afternoons with family or friends, at home or in a Konditorei (pastry shop serving coffee and tea) or a restaurant, at about three or four o’clock. The special relationship of Germans to coffee, sweets and cakes (Kuchen) has much to do with happy hours experienced since childhood when people relax in a somewhat tight society with a deeply internalized pressure for conforming to rules.
British fire safety systems

The United Kingdom is one of the largest markets for fire safety equipment in the world; fire alarms outside buildings are intended to attract people’s attention quickly in case of fire. The excessive fire safety instructions in both public and private buildings is striking for many foreigners. The tradition of wood cased in buildings, and the Great Fire of London, are probably historical and objective reasons for this British phobia about fires. The United Kingdom logically follows the European norm EN52 on fire safety equipment,

5.5 Local consumer cultures and resistance to change


which, although compulsory, is not at present respected by the Italians and the Spaniards: not only would the implementation of this regulation in all public buildings involve massive investment that Italian and Spanish state budgets cannot afford, but also in Latin countries stone predominates over wood in construction and the anguish caused by building fires has traditionally been much lower than in the United Kingdom.
Drinking a beer

Individuals invest meaning into their consumption experiences: even if figures seem to demonstrate broad convergence, quantitative convergence in fact conceals huge qualitative divergence as far as experiences, context, perceptions and interpretations are concerned. Beer is indeed consumed in greater quantities in southern Europe than in the past, but the very experience of beer drinking still has a different meaning from that attributed to it in the north of Europe: the meaning differential has not yet diminished in the same proportion as the volume differential. Shared situations, habits and stories around beer differ: the product is reincorporated in a universe of shared meaning, which surfaces mainly in details: the shape and size of the beer glass, for instance. The Bavarian Krug (a large jar) does not give the same ‘taste’ to beer as the French demi (a quarter-litre stemmed glass), the English pint glass or the Australian middie. Beer differs in terms of bitterness, froth, bubbles, sweetness and alcoholic content. Most British beers are high-fermentation beers with lower alcohol content than beers on the Continent. To drink a beer in Germany has a different meaning from what it has in the United Kingdom or in France. In Germany, beer is consumed in a Kneipe (tavern) or bought from a Getränkeshop (a side-store to a supermarket entirely dedicated to beverages, a nice combination of German and English). Local beers play a dominant role in the German beer scene. In the region of Cologne, for instance, the Kölsch beers, comprising some ten high-fermentation brands of beer, are seen as a reference to the place, a little like wines in France. The German returnable half-litre bottles suit a densely populated country where people are concerned with recycling glass. German beers always refer to the purity law (Reinheitsgebot) of 1516. In a British pub, drinking a pint (0.57 litres) or half-pint of beer is a different experience; the pub is a

comfortable place that invites people to stay as if they were at home. Since people often drink more than a single pint of beer, it must be low in alcohol. This beer can be drunk without ‘getting plastered’, especially if one stays for quite a long period of time. A pub is a totally different world from the French café-bar, with its tiled floor and its rather cold interior design; in France regular customers invest the place with their own sense of comfort and human warmth and do feel the need to have it materially invested in the place. But non-regular customers will never find in a café-bar the immediate comfort that they find in most British pubs. This tour of European beer drinking is completed with Finland where, until recently, only low-alcohol beer has been allowed to be sold in supermarkets. For the sale of standard beer, and also of any other kind of alcoholic drink, the state chain Alko has a monopoly. Alko stores have limited opening hours and are generally remote from central shopping areas. To buy beer (apart from the low-alcohol type) one must go to a taboo store, openly manifesting a leaning which the society disapproves of. For a case study on Bass Plc (UK) and the European beer market, see Vrontis and Vignali (1999).


Local consumer cultures and resistance to change
The Danes dominate the world market for blue cheese with their Blue Castello: a decontextualized product with an Anglo-Italian name. It is a pasteurized, inoffensive, white soft cheese, palatable for every germphobic cheese-lover. As such it is a good candidate for promotion as a global product, and a typical progeny of fordist consumption. The British Stilton, the French Roquefort or the Italian Gorgonzola, all traditional blue cheeses, may in the long run be under threat from this global alternative. You may wonder how much autonomy consumers have in encouraging or limiting the movement towards globalization. Naturally, we may or may not buy globalized products and services – to this extent we ‘vote with our feet’. But we also have little choice but to buy what is available, astutely brought to stores by sophisticated merchants. In this respect there could be some


Chapter 5 Local consumers and the globalization of consumption

resistance to change, not at the level of the individual buying decision, but at more of a macro-level. What this amounts to is people asking to have their ‘way of life’ preserved, especially through some kind of protectionist measures. Even though they win as consumers, people may think they lose from globalization as citizens and workers, which leads to a preference for buying locally made products. While some products may be global, there are strong arguments against the existence of a global consumer per se. Cannon and Yaprak (2002, p. 47) examine the many faces of cosmopolitan consumer behaviour and finding that the concept of cosmopolitanism has been over simplified: ‘there are several different patterns of cosmopolitan behaviour, varying both with the situation and the consumer. For example, we have argued that cosmopolitans might or might not anchor their behaviour in local culture, depending on both the nature of the purchase motivation . . . and the personality/need structure of the individual cosmopolitan.’ As shown above, consumers’ motivations do not easily globalize. Account managers working for large international advertising agencies face the complex task of managing a brand’s images across several countries and accumulate detailed experience of consumers’ responses to global product offerings. Harold Clark (1987) of J. Walter Thompson argues that: (1) consumers are not ‘global’ themselves; (2) they are not aware of buying ‘global’ brands or products and they do not care whether the brand is available elsewhere in the world; and (3) consumers value personal and individual expression in their purchases; they will naturally let their individuality affect the values they place on the brands they buy. They contribute actively in this way to the persona of the brand in their own situation (Clark, 1987). Consumers always ‘construct’ the identity of brands, even for ‘global products’ and they do so, on the basis of their local culture and identity. Aaker (1997) investigated how brand personality (BP) dimensions may differ from human personality (HP) dimensions, using samples of consumers in the USA. Later, Aaker et al. (2001) used an emic–etic approach to investigate cross-cultural dimensions of brand personality using consumers in Japan and Spain. Aaker and her colleagues found that there is a subset of BP dimensions that remain relatively similar across cultures, while others appear to be indigenous to particular cultures. Specifically, excitement, sincerity

and sophistication were consistent dimensions across all three cultures (United States, Spain and Japan), and competence was consistent between the United States and Japan, but did not emerge in Spain. In addition, culture-specific BP dimensions were found that were consistent with individualism and collectivism. Specifically, in the more collectivist Japanese and Spanish samples the dimension of peacefulness emerged, being associated with values like dependence, naiveté, mildness and shyness. For the more individualist US sample, ruggedness emerged, being associated with values like outdoorsy, masculine, Western, tough and rugged (Aaker, 1997). In addition, the dimension of passion emerged only in the Spanish sample, including two facets: emotional intensity being fervent, passionate and intense; and spirituality being spiritual, mystical and bohemian. While there is not current theoretical dimension associated with this, it is certainly descriptive of Spanish culture. It is also interesting to note that even the apparent culturally consistent BP dimensions show differences in their emphasis. For instance, while excitement was related with being young, contemporary, spirited and daring across all three cultures, it also contained culture-specific elements. In Spain and North America excitement also included imaginativeness, uniqueness and independence, while in Japan, it included talkative, funny and optimistic. Thus, while companies might try to create a global brand personality (e.g. Coca-Cola), it may be perceived and interpreted differently in each culture. ‘Global brands’ in this sense are portfolios of local marketing assets, federated under a common, lexically identical name. Although Blue Castello builds on both an American referential (blue cheese dressing) and an Italian image, it is doubtful whether people in all countries have the same kind of buying motives, product use and product image. False ‘global’ consumers buy false ‘global’ products, which they reinvest with their own culture-bound motivations and purposes. This suggests that most of the resistance will be hidden from global marketers. Box 5.4 illustrates this point.

Will consumers resist the globalization process?
An implicit assumption about the globalization of consumption is that consumers are pleased with it

5.5 Local consumer cultures and resistance to change


Box 5.4

Consumer resistance to McDonald’s?
France, where cultural resistance to fast food and hamburgers exists as a matter of national pride, is McDonald’s fastest growing market in Europe. Having first achieved great success with a limited number of successful ‘luxury’ (high end of the market) fast-food stores located in the centre of major towns in France, McDonald has now expanded to the suburbs and motorway junctions, and offers breakfast service. Anti-fast-food consumer associations have resisted the fast-food movement. Antiglobalization activists like José Bové have caused material damage to restaurants. Nutrition specialists have shown that traditional French meals (based on diverse foods, lasting one hour) are much better for the digestion and prevent cancer of the digestive tract. Despite all this, McDonald’s is popular with the young generation, especially children who will be tomorrow’s adults and parents. McDonald’s has been responsive to criticisms of nutritionists in the United States. It has reduced fat, salt and sugar in its products and introduced a lean Deluxe burger with only 10 grams of fat and 310 calories against 20 grams of fat and 410 calories for the Quarter Pounder. In May 2002, the French weekly Femme Actuelle carried a McDonald’s advertorial advising families not to eat at the restaurant more than once per week for health reasons (Dolbeck, 2002). McDonald’s has also responded to attacks from environmentalists and animal rights activists, by replacing the Styrofoam hamburger box in most countries with paper or a new starchbased alternative, and enforcing strict guidelines for animal husbandry. In Northern Europe, McDonald’s now insists on sorting its own refuse so that it can be appropriately recycled. Resisted or beloved, fast food is now an institution.

because it means cheap, good-quality products and, therefore, they do not resist the process. Thus, the ‘globalness’ of a product may be a cue for other criteria, such as quality. Steenkamp et al. (2003) found that perceived brand ‘globalness’ was positively related to perceived quality and prestige and, through them, to purchase likelihood in the United States and Korea, but only for consumers with low ethnocentrism. Those with higher ethnocentrism resist globalization by paying a premium for locally made goods, voting for protectionist governments, or acting as consumer lobbyists to support public action (e.g. against fast food) in order to maintain or re-create entry barriers that protect local consumption. They may, nonetheless, be self-contradicting individuals – for instance, drinking Coke while complaining about the Americanization of society. Globalization obviously has some drawbacks: some have denounced the de-humanizing process in post-fordist consumption, and the possible decrease in consumption diversity which may result from the progressive replacement of local consumption by globalized offerings (Ritzer, 1993). Others have wondered whether globalization is not going too far: the continual opening up of national markets through the WTO may result in

increased worldwide competition across countries that have widely different levels of social security and therefore cannot compete on a fair basis because social insurance may raise the cost of goods subject to global competition. Globalization would favour the consumer, not the worker, and raise complex issues when these combine in one single citizen.
‘Globalization’ is exposing a deep fault line between groups that have the skills and mobility to flourish in global markets and those who either don’t have these advantages or perceive the expansion of unregulated markets as inimical to social stability and deeply held norms. The result is severe tension between the market and social groups such as workers, pensioners, and environmentalists, with government stuck in the middle. (Rodrik, 1997, p. 30.)

There are two different issues here. The first is knowing whether there are intellectual, ethical and practical reasons for protecting local cultures and consumers from the globalization of consumption patterns. As Ger (1997) points out, opening up markets is not necessarily desirable: ‘goods can delight or frustrate, cultivate or impoverish, empower or alienate, and nourish or destruct social relations for individual people and contribute to societal, cultural,


Chapter 5 Local consumers and the globalization of consumption

health and environmental problems’. The second issue is whether resistance mechanisms to globalization actually occur at the individual and/or social level. For this issue, we can see a growing network of loosely associated individuals and groups opposed to ‘globalization’. They could be seen rioting at the 1999 WTO summit in Seattle, and since then disrupting subsequent international financial and trade meetings in Washington, Davos, Nice, Bologna, Milan, Florence and Genoa. Activists fall into sometimes dissonant categories, including marxists, environmentalists, trade unionists, anarchists, cultural preservationists, advocates of fair trade, and, more recently, anti-war activists. (For more information on their arguments and ideals see WS5.5.) Global marketing is often presented as a powerful tool for promoting economic development. As Kearney (2001), notes: ‘emerging-market countries that are highly globalized (such as Poland, Israel, the Czech Republic and Hungary) exhibit a much more egalitarian distribution of income than emergingmarket nations that rank near the bottom of the Globalization Index (such as Russia, China, and Argentina) . . . the general pattern of higher globalization and greater income equality holds for most countries, both in mature economies and emerging markets.’ Thus, global marketing could enhance the needs and desires of badly treated consumers who live in sellers’ economies. Marketing could then favour the creation of local industries to produce consumer goods and meet their demands. However, Ger and Belk (1996) describe a Third World consumer culture and emphasize the hedonistic attraction for conspicuous consumption, even when basic utilitarian needs have not been met. Thus a growing body of literature, relating to marketing and economic development, emphasizes a marketing system that ‘must design, deliver, and legitimate products and services that increase the material welfare of the population by promoting equity, justice and self reliance without causing injury to tradition’ (Dholakia et al., 1988, pp. 141–2). This means clearly resisting some of the uglier consequences of globalization, such as the problems caused by Nestlé infant formula in developing countries (see section 15.5). Global consumer culture encourages individuals to interpret their needs exclusively as utilitarian needs for commodities, but people may well have non-utilitarian needs to consume culture that are more tailored and localized

(Sherry, 1987), especially when it is embedded in local items, both local cultural products and products whose consumption process is part of the genuine local culture.6 In the case of Turkey, Ger (1992) explains that satisfaction depends on social comparison and is not an immediate response. Most of the modern packaged goods reach two groups of higher socioeconomic status, representing respectively 1 per cent and 4 per cent of the Turkish population whereas international products such as Coca-Cola target a larger audience by including the lower-middle class (46 per cent). She describes the positive and negative effects of marketing on socio-economic development, pointing out that increased dynamism, optimism, aspirations, communications, employment and demand for education are observed, whereas marketing ‘accelerates the change in the set of values . . . Rapid transmission of the consumption culture from the core to the periphery has increased the desirability of both products and anything “Western” ’ (Ger, 1992, p. 329). The emulation of the West leads to resource allocation in gadgets and appliances at the expense of the satisfaction of more basic needs.

Preference for national products
It has persistently been demonstrated that in most developed countries domestic products generally enjoy a more favourable evaluation than foreignmade products. This strong preference for domestic products has been clearly evidenced for US, British, French, (European in general), as well as Japanese consumers.7 Conversely, in developing countries, national products are not preferred to imported goods. Iranian producers, for instance, were shown to prefer imported products (Bon and Ollivier, 1979). In Iran, a product was favourably rated when it had a foreign/imported label. Bon and Ollivier did, however, observe the emergence of a deep-rooted nationalistic feeling in purchasing situations.8 In eastern European countries, similar attitudes related to nationality and brand-name images: for instance, the Hungarians generally evaluate foreign products more positively than domestic products, although their image of the latter is not particularly unfavourable (Papadopoulos et al. 1990). It is also important to note that this is not static. Yu and Albaum (2002)

5.6 Emergent patterns of a mixed local/global consumer behaviour


studied the changes in the preferences of Hong Kong and Chinese consumers since the handover of Hong Kong from the United Kingdom to China. They found that consumers in both countries now have a greater preference for their own products than foreign products, including UK-made. Different explanations have been proposed to explain this preference for national products, especially in developed countries. For instance Sharma et al. (1995) found that ethnocentrism and factors such as patriotism, collectivism, and openness to foreign cultures were significant. Ethnocentrism is the belief among consumers that it is inappropriate, or even immoral, to purchase foreign products because it puts the national economy at risk, leads to job losses and is unpatriotic (Shimp and Sharma, 1987). Shimp and Sharma (1987) studied the level of consumer ethnocentrism in different regions within the United States that were affected to a greater or lesser extent by foreign competition: Detroit, Denver, Los Angeles, and North and South Carolina. They observed that consumer ethnocentrism was much stronger where the threat was perceived by individuals whose quality of life was affected by foreign competition, as in Detroit where unemployment in the automotive industry is adversely affected by Asian competition. More recently, higher levels of ethnocentrism have been found in the US in females of lower socio-economic status and education (Klein and Ettenson, 1999). Tapping into nationalism, ‘Buy National’ campaigns have been used in many countries including the United States, Portugal, Japan, France, Canada, and Mexico (Granzin and Painter, 2001), as well as Australia. ‘Buy National’ campaigns should be used very cautiously as they are affected by country of origin (COO) perceptions, product categories and situations. First, we should consider the possible opposing influences of ethnocentrism and COO perceptions. For instance, Moon and Jain (2001) found that South Korean attitudes toward the buying proposal in foreign advertising was negatively affected by ethnocentrism and positively affected by COO perceptions. These campaigns are less likely to be effective when other countries products are seen to have a COO appeal, such as Italian shoes or Swiss watches. Second, the influence of nationalism is likely to differ by product category. Han (1998) found that it significantly influences quality perception for cars,

but not for television sets. Third, the influence is also likely to differ by usage situation or context. Ger et al. (1999, p. 167) found that coffee type differed by situation in Turkey, especially when convenience may be a factor: ‘I have Nescafe all the time, all day, when I am studying. Nescafe is more practical, you can easily make it, but it takes time to prepare Turkish coffee. Turkish coffee is usually consumed after the meals. Turkish coffee reminds me of being with friends and chatting together. When you go to a neighbour or a friend, she prepares Turkish coffee and you chat while you drink. I almost always drink it with my mother or my friend. I never drink it alone (Zehra, female, 18).’ Ettenson et al. (1988) investigated the effectiveness of ‘Buy National’ advertising campaigns with the case of a ‘Made in the USA’ campaign carried out for American clothing manufacturers.9 Respondents’ attitudes towards domestic products failed to correspond with their purchasing behaviour. Consumers will probably remain fairly rational in their product evaluations; therefore an attempt to reinforce the quality perception of locally made products artificially could prove ineffective. The best approach to adopt would be to play clearly on nationalistic feelings, and not to attempt to influence consumers in their product evaluation.


Emergent patterns of a mixed local/global consumer behaviour
What emerges from the confrontation of global and local consumption is a complex pattern where the variety of consumption experiences reaches unprecedented levels. Global consumption patterns are reflected in local kaleidoscopes where myriad pieces of coloured glass are constantly rearranged in innumerable pictures.

Positioning the local vis-à-vis the global: Patchworks and kaleidoscopes
As Firat, (1995, p. 111) rightly observes, ‘In an overwhelmingly marketized existence, individuals experience practically all aspects of their lives as


Chapter 5 Local consumers and the globalization of consumption

consumers’. Whereas consumption was not always highly regarded by modern consumers, the postmodernist consumers pursue, with little afterthought, the construction of their self-image.10
Because the postmodern consumer experience is not one of committing to a single way of being, a single form of existence, the same consumers are willing to sample the different, fragmented artifacts. The consumer is ready to have Italian for lunch and Chinese for dinner, to wear Levi’s 501 blue jeans for the outdoor party in the afternoon and to try the Gucci suit at night – changing not only diets and clothes but also the personas and selves that are to be (re)represented at each function. (Firat, 1995, p. 115.)

Whether people really change their self-image so quickly may be debatable. However, most consumers assemble diverse consumption items in a very opportunistic, fragmented and idiosyncratic way, not hesitating to mix local products and ways with global products and services. There is high pragmatism in postmodern consumption, in particular because budgetary constraints are still highly meaningful. Fordist consumption items have their place in the patchwork: they offer good value and are often shrewdly advertised so that the potentially negative aspects of standard offerings on the consumer’s selfimage are largely erased. High-touch products and luxury brands play a complementary role, being the shiniest and most colourful squares of the harlequin tights of postmodern consumption. Local products

are also present: they make up the bulk of the patchwork with more discreet and less shiny pieces of fabric. As shown by Box 5.5, featuring our favourite example (beer), local products are candidates for promotion at a higher level of image in other countries where they are opportunistically re-interpreted, precisely because their foreignness allows it. A process of creolization takes place when foreign goods are assigned new meanings and uses by the buyers’ culture, even if they are transferred to it without change. For instance, Kragh and Djursaa (2001, p. 1306) observed that ‘traditional furniture such as English furniture of the eighteenth century Chippendale and Hepplewhite mould is found in a number of especially elderly Danish homes and kept alive as a cultural expression through the exposure to especially English upper-class interiors depicted in television series and films’. In this sense one can contrast the creolization paradigm, where attention focuses on the reception and domestication process of global goods in local contexts, to the Cocacolonization paradigm, where emphasis is on uniformity (Howes, 1996). A good example of such localization of consumption is Disneyland Tokyo, which is a perfect replica of the American model, yet is completely ‘Japanized’, i.e. fully reinvested by local cultural codes (for this see the lively accounts of Tokyo Disneyland by Van Maanen and Laurent (1992) and Brannen (1992)).

Box 5.5

‘European’ beers
Typical of the diversity of the European brewing industry is how different brands in their segments are viewed from country to country. Brands which do not have their origin in a country, which are ‘foreign’, are invariably viewed as premium segment products. A good example of this is BSN’s Kronenbourg 1664, which is sold in France as an ordinary segment beer, but is viewed in almost all other (European) markets as a premium product. As an Italian brewer puts it: ‘Foreign brands command a premium price for their image of higher quality.’ However, potential hazards exist for brewers in pursuing this policy: ‘In Great Britain, (Belgian) Stella Artois is a premium beer, one of the most expensive beers you can get there, and people buy it because it is expensive. It is marketed and promoted that way. The British are travelling people, so now when they come to Belgium, they discover that Stella Artois is a cheap beer. So they ask themselves if it is justified to pay so much for it in Great Britain’ (French brewing manager).
(Source: Steele, 1991, p. 58.)

5.6 Emergent patterns of a mixed local/global consumer behaviour


Central and peripheral consumption contexts
In the emergent consumption patterns, the consumption context is an important aspect of how consumers combine global ‘fordist’ goods and services, hightouch luxury brands and local items. Consumption contexts involve a certain space (i.e. certain rooms in a home), as well as particular time periods and people. A family dinner in a British dining-room or a ski vacation in the French Alps are consumption contexts. Djursaa and Kragh (1998) studied the fragmented nature of globalization by distinguishing central and peripheral consumption contexts, based on in-depth, direct observation for two highly culturebound product categories: furnishings and food. The consumption contexts of furnishings were Britain and Denmark, and the consumption contexts of food were three Arab cities: Riyadh, Jeddah and Dubai. Centrality for food is defined in terms of time of the day when a meal is consumed whereas centrality in the case of furnishings is defined in spatial terms as the room where traditional cultural values are respected because this room carries a strong culturebound meaning. British informants clearly expressed the dining-room as a central consumption context and, when presented with modernist furniture for dining-rooms, indicated that:
they would be OK for kitchens or breakfast rooms but not for ‘proper’ dining rooms, which for the majority of English respondents had to be traditional to carry the proper cultural message of identity. In Denmark, by contrast, modernism is the cultural norm and carries out notions of identity perfectly adequately in central rooms as well as in main homes. (Djursaa and Kragh, 1998.)

Kaleidoscopic borrowing and the assemblage of local and global items is only possible if marketers are flexible enough to introduce some adaptations to their offerings, ignoring the Levittian (1983) criticism of adjustment to local ways. For instance, when McDonald’s in Egypt suffered an anti-American boycott for its support of Israel in 2001, the company introduced the McFalafel, promoted by the singer of the hit I Hate Israel by Sha’ban Abdel Rahim (Dabbous, 2001). Global marketers should first target, peripheral consumption contexts to successfully introduce foreign products not rooted in the local culture. Eckhardt and Houston (2002) found that in China, McDonald’s is appropriate for a date, but not for a celebration. McDonald’s is not appropriate for a celebration because the prices and seating arrangements are standardized and offer no opportunity to make a special display of face to the guest of honour. Conversely, it is the standardized offering that makes it more appropriate for a date, as the man does not need to worry about the lavishness of a meal. Borrowing can then be progressive: McDonald’s has started in many countries without being open at breakfast time as it is in the United States. It is now trying worldwide to introduce breakfast offerings, which will result – from a fordist perspective – in increased efficiency in terms of covering overhead costs by prolonging demand patterns over 14 or more hours. McDonald’s and other fast-food outlets have succeeded in extending fordist consumption throughout the world because they have been pragmatically adaptive, partly tailoring their offering to local habits.

In peripheral consumption contexts, it is easier for a consumer to innovate, to borrow from foreign cultural contexts. Informants from the three Arab cities noted that dinner, a peripheral meal, was increasingly taken in fast-food outlets, unlike their lunch, which for Arabs is the ‘central’ meal. A common pattern for Emiris is to go out for dinner at Pizza Hut, McDonald’s or Harvey’s, which have compartments for male and female members of the family to eat together, separated from other guests. In the case of dinner taken at home, ‘global products also play a very significant part in the meal; as one respondent said, “Dinner is pizza and Pepsi” ’ (Djursaa and Kragh, 1998).

Complexity and ambivalence in globalized consumption patterns
Consumers search for and create meaning because they need constantly to re-build their self-image. For this reason, their search for identity through consumption must be a key concern for marketers. In a globalized world, identity-seeking consumers can pick up products from two different shelves: one that favours the locality and the ingroup orientation and another that displays desirable values, meanings and signs offered by foreign, outgroup cultures. How consumers combine local and global meanings is complex. There is much ambivalence in the search


Chapter 5 Local consumers and the globalization of consumption

for identity in a radically modern world where local diversity based on linguistic and religious differences will not disappear for centuries. Globalized consumption has a threefold pattern. The first component is based on modernity and on fordist consumption; it corresponds to low-cost/ fair-quality, weakly differentiated, utilitarian products, embedded in fairly low-context consumption experiences. Its highest potential for success is reached when products and consumption experiences are culture-free, or consumption contexts are peripheral. Examples range from the film Titanic to Camay soap. Families, because they often face stricter budgetary constraints than singles, are likely to be adept in modern fordist consumption. Despite appearances and discourse, fordist marketers show major adaptations and flexibility in facing local consumption. They display much more sensitivity to local ways than is described in textbooks, and their success is more

pragmatic than ideological. The second element is a postmodernist type of consumption: fragmented, continually re-assembled and re-interpreted. This can be particularly true for big brands, conspicuous consumption, younger people and yuppies. The third element corresponds to people who are aware that consumption is now a key driver for culture and that their choices as consumers will influence their culture. This radically modern type of person behaves both opportunistically and critically, with a willingness to display diversity in consumption (Ritzer, 1993). For these consumers McDonald’s is an ethnic, American restaurant. In concluding this chapter, it may be wondered why companies should try to ignore local diversity. Rather than being a liability, it can also act as a superb opportunity for building competitive advantages based on differentiation, which are easier to defend against competitors than low-cost advantages.

1. Take mineral water as a product example and outline how ‘global’ mineral waters such as Perrier or Evian can coexist with quite local ones. 2. Is there a ‘modern’ lifestyle, common to many cultures around the world? How could it be described? What could be its principal raisons d’être? 3. ‘Dating’ is a very curious concept for many people. In any case it cannot be fully translated into many languages and simply means ‘making an appointment’. Compare what dating means to Americans with what it means in other cultures, demonstrating how the complex process of finding a partner for life can be commercialized in different contexts. 4. List some arguments and evidence that may show that globalization of consumption and lifestyles is under way. Outline the limitations and discuss the counterarguments. 5. To what extent are ‘modern culture’ and individualism primary inputs in the process of globalization of consumer preferences and lifestyles? 6. Discuss to what extent ‘Buy National’ advertising campaigns are effective. What can they achieve? What can they not achieve? 7. The FDA (US Food and Drug Administration) prohibits the import of traditionally prepared French foie gras. FDA inspectors visit French foie gras laboratories and refuse most of them the right to export to the United States since hygiene standards are not met. For the French too much antiseptic would kill the taste and for the Americans such unpasteurized products are dangerous to one’s health. Discuss the difference in understanding of what ‘good food’ is. 8. Compare a global film (e.g. Spiderman or Lord of the Rings or Titanic) and a local film on a number of aspects: story, characters, situations, atmosphere, key appeals for the viewer (action, love, violence, etc.), combination of music and sound, rhythm, type of ending, etc. Explain why local films are most often not good candidates for reaching a global audience.



1. In their book entitled Consuming Geographies, Bell and Valentine (1997) explain how food consumption is understood at different levels, body–home–community–region– nation–global, and how culinary cultures map across space with discourses and food practices being developed simultaneously at different levels. 2. Such a distinction is now abandoned in comparative management (Usunier, 1998). 3. Clements and Chen study very broad consumption categories (food, clothing, housing, durables, medicine, transport, recreation and ‘other’), comparing the OECD countries and a group of less developed countries (LDC). Income elasticities are fairly similar across groups of countries and consumption categories except for transport and food (broadly confirming Engel’s law that food as a percentage of total budget decreases with increases in income). Differences in price elasticities are significant only for clothing and transport across the two groups, OECD and LDC. In its highly macroscopic approach, this article offers spurious support to the ‘homogeneity of tastes’ thesis, which the authors partly acknowledge (p. 750), stating that, ‘first, we are only dealing with commodities that are broad aggregates and it might be reasonable to expect more idiosyncrasy and heterogeneity for goods which are more narrowly defined. Second, the analysis deals with groups of countries, rather than individual countries (let alone individual consumers), and, again heterogeneity may rise as the unit of analysis becomes smaller.’ That is precisely what makes the huge difference between marketing and economics. 4. In France, one of the few countries (with Japan and India) where the local film industry is still active, the market share of American movie films is generally between 55 and 60 per cent. In many countries of the world, with relatively small populations and their own language, the cost of making local movies is difficult to amortize on the sole basis of local audiences alone. Adding subtitles or dubbing foreign movie films is considerably less expensive. This explains why in many countries, for instance Scandinavian countries, the American market share of films is 90 per cent or more. 5. Despite convergence, it is easy to find much evidence of remaining differences; see for instance Euromonitor (1997), or the special issue of the International Journal of Research in Marketing edited by Leeflang and Van Raaij (1995). The percentages spent by households in various EU countries on food in general, on vegetables, chocolate or cheese still widely differ. See also section 6.4. 6. Sherry (1987, p. 189) states the culturally respectful marketing strategy as follows: ‘the guiding rule of such a marketing strategy, as in any ethically invasive procedure, is primum non nocere: first do not harm. In the rush to globalization, the preservation of local culture has been considered primarily as an opportunity cost. If cultural integrity is epiphenomenal to business practice, splendid; if not, social disorganization is frequently the cost of progress.’ Reierson, 1966; Gaedeke, 1973; Lillis and Narayana, 1974; Baumgartner and Jolibert, 1977; Morello, 1984; Heslop et al. 1987. The preference for nationally made products in industrialized countries has been corroborated by several other studies (Nagashima, 1977 in the case of Japan; Bannister and Saunders, 1978, in the case of the United Kingdom; Graby, 1980a and 1980b, in the case of France; Cattin et al., 1982, in the case of France and the United States. See also Samiee (1994). Schweiger et al. (1995) show that European consumers have a better evaluation of their domestic products (‘Made in Europe’) than products originating from both the United States and Japan on a wide range of items. See also section 10.2. They noted that there was at the time no ‘Buy Iranian’ campaign in the style of state-sponsored advertising campaigns for the purchase of national products, such as occur regularly in European countries, Australia and the United States, or as are permanently undertaken in India. Despite that, some Iranian buyers expressed a nationalistic tendency by buying primarily local products. It was forecast that, in 1995, 65 per cent of clothing sold in the United States would be cheap imported products. The CWPC (Crafted with Pride in the USA Council) provided a budget of $40 million that initially funded a series of television commercials showing American stars praising the superiority of American clothing. Consumers were subsequently questioned to determine the audience for and the effect of the campaign. They proved reluctant to reveal themselves to be unpatriotic. For more about the postmodern consumer see Bouchet (1994). Wildposting is the placement of stickers, flyers, rubber stamps or posters on outdoor surfaces of public or private property in public view, for marketing communications purposes. Often the effect is achieved by multiple postings. In practice, flyers are often stuck on construction sites, lampposts, buildings, the pavement, trees, bus stops, and so on. Rave promoters were the first to use wildposting to publicize their events. The practice is sometimes assimilated with so-called guerrilla marketing, alternative advertising and street marketing, as well as other tactics including ‘street spam’, ‘brandalism’ and ‘bandit signs’. For the word in use go to:, www. and www.npawildposting. com/pages/1/index.htm (all North American sites).




10. 11.


Chapter 5 Local consumers and the globalization of consumption

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Appendix 5

Teaching materials

A5.1 Case Setting the stage – Disneyland Resort Paris
Disney is the biggest entertainment company in the world with a market value of US$38 billion, and one of the oldest, continuously operating since 1923. Today it is comprised of filmed entertainment businesses, major media networks, publishing, theme parks, resorts, a cruiseline, real estate, and consumer products. Disney’s first international park opened in Tokyo, Japan in 1983. Tokyo Disneyland opened with a flourish and continued to do well until the softening of Japan’s economy in the 1990s, from which it has yet to recover. In an effort to boost attendance, the older male-oriented Tokyo DisneySea Park opened in 2001 (Dawson, 2001). Disney is currently building Hong Kong Disneyland, which is scheduled to open in 2005 – about the time that Universal Studios will open China’s first world-standard theme park in Shanghai (Guardian, 2002). There has been criticism of value-for-money at Disney parks, which total ten worldwide, with an average admission fee of US$50. The company recently spent five billion dollars to address this concern and to build new rides and attractions to bolster falling attendance at the parks. The parks account for US$1.2 billion in operating income, which is 41 per cent of Disney’s total – a significant business unit for the company (Pulley, 2002). After their initial success with the Japanese park in the mid 1980s, Disney entered into negotiations with the Spanish and French governments. The French bid ‘won’ by enticing Disney with tax breaks, loans, and below-cost land. Disney was determined to profit more from the Paris park than they did in Tokyo, where a local operator, Oriental Land, took most of the initial risk and currently takes most of the profits. Therefore, the company staked a 39 per cent ownership in EuroDisney to operate the park, and to receive 10 per cent of admission fees, 5 per cent of food and merchandise sales, and 49 per cent of the profits. EuroDisneyland opened in April 1992 to a host of problems, which were to continue until Disney loosened corporate constraints to fit the desires of local and European visitors. Disney’s admissions and pricing policies were in the ‘premium’ bracket, even higher than US parks. At first, spending per visitor was half that of Japan, and hotel occupancy rates were 37 per cent (Gregerson, 1998). French intellectuals and artists had criticized the park since its embryonic planning stages (Aupperle and Karimalis, 2001). Notably, theatre director Ariane Mnouchkine coined the term ‘Cultural Chernobyl’ in the early 1990s, an enduring sobriquet applied to the park and other Disney ventures even today. Cries of cultural imperialism were heard from the intelligentsia, the media, and farmers who protested against the expropriation of agricultural land by the government for the park. However, the French had enjoyed Disney cartoons for more than 60 years, and some supporters of the project were very enthusiastic, such as film-star/singer Yves Montand who declared: ‘T-shirts, jeans, hamburgers – nobody imposes these things on us. We like them’ (Kauth, 1988).


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It’s a small world – or is it?
The EuroDisney park lost US$515 million during its first year (Pulley, 2002). In the early days of EuroDisney, the management structure was rigid and little provision was made for local or employee participation, the prevailing Disney attitude formed by their self-ascribed infallible experience (D’Hauteserre, 2001). Many American managers in Paris were unaware of the many local and Asian adaptations made in Tokyo, and accepted at face value the relatively short psychic and cultural distance between the United States and France as signifying that the two cultures where similar (D’Hauteserre, 2001). Therefore, Disney implemented the same amusements, policies and plans in France as they did in the United States with some architectural changes due to the cooler weather (Usunier, 2000). In response to local criticism, Disney took steps to ‘Europeanize’ the park by adding a Discoveryland based on the writings of nineteenth-century French author Jules Verne, and by emphasizing characters of European origin such as Pinocchio (Italian), Cinderella (French) and Peter Pan (British). French managers were recruited as the issues became increasingly critical, such as the disputes with French employees, who being rather individualistic resented strict codes of conduct and dress. After a series of adaptations to the local and European markets, Disneyland Paris first became profitable in 1995, going on to become the ‘number one tourist destination in Europe’ in 2001, with 12.3 million visitors. Disneyland Paris follows Tokyo, Orlando, Florida and Anaheim, California, to rank fourth place in terms of attendance per year (International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions, 2001). French visitors currently make up 40 per cent of the park’s total, while 18 per cent come from the United Kingdom, 8 per cent from Germany, 8 per cent from Belgium, 8 per cent from the Netherlands and Luxembourg, 8 per cent from Spain and Italy, and 10 per cent from other countries. There are seven on-site themed hotels with occupancy averaging 86 per cent in 2001, and about 22 others in the local area. Disneyland Paris concluded joint ventures for the construction of the three hotels that opened in Spring 2003. The hotel partners are Airtours UK Leisure Group (tour operator), Holiday Inn, and the French hospitality group Envergure. These hotels will add 1,100 more rooms to the 5,800-room capacity currently within the resort’s seven Disney hotels. The design and décor of the new hotels draws its inspiration from the many château of the local region.

Learning from mistakes
As EuroDisney’s CEO Jay Rasulo admitted, ‘We had not yet had an on-the-ground experience in a multicultural environment. It was really the first park that had the majority of its guests coming from very diverse cultural backgrounds.’ After near-catastrophic losses, Disney was quick to respond to customers’ demands. The company reversed its ban on alcoholic beverages, adding wine to the menu. They developed more table-service restaurants, of which two employ chefs with ‘Meilleur Ouvrier de France’ status. Restaurants open earlier in the evening for early-bird German guests, and stay open later for Spanish night owls. Disneyland Paris is now working closely with French and European tour operators, travel agents, and transport operators who were formerly disregarded (Assaoui, 2002). The company has forged better relations with the local and national government, to the point where it is Mickey Mouse who concludes the French national tourism advertisement with the declaration, ‘J’aime la France!’ The Resort still needs to exercise great care in setting its prices, because continental Europeans with six weeks’ paid holidays per year are necessarily more thrifty on holiday expenditures than Americans with their two-week, often unpaid holidays. Europeans therefore have less to spend at the park than Disney would like. As Milhomme emphasizes: ‘In short the theme park is a short duration recreational means, with a high density spending pattern at the opposite

Appendix 5 Teaching materials


of the recreational European pattern which aims at long duration recreational means with low density spending pattern.’ (Milhomme, 1993, p. 94).

Act two: Disney Studios
Disney Studios opened in March, 2001, after a three-month ‘soft opening’ to test the reactions of visitors. The park is divided into four areas: the Front Lot, Animation Courtyard, Production Courtyard and Back Lot, the whole comprising ten attractions. Front Lot includes a studio mock-up, complemented by film props, a restaurant and boutiques. Animation Courtyard offers visitors the chance to learn about animation, while ‘Animagique’ showcases clips from Disney films, and ‘Aladdin’ is the backdrop for a magic carpet ride. Production Courtyard is the home of the Disney Channel and allows visitors a backstage glimpse of production through the Studio Tram Tour, while Catastrophe Canyon puts visitors through an imaginary film shoot. Back Lot includes notably the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith and the Stunt Show Spectacular featuring Rémy Julienne. Visible efforts were made to adapt the primarily American material to local and European tastes. In the Tram tour, for instance, the following actors lend their voices to the eight languages used during narration: Jeremy Irons (English), Irène Jacob (French), Isabella Rossellini (Italian), Inès Sastre (Spanish), Famke Janssen (Dutch) and Nastassja Kinski (German). An effort was made in the décor and content to include European references, for instance to the French classics Les Enfants du Paradis and Les Parapluies de Cherbourg.

Aims of the new park
Disney Studios expected to attract guests from further away, such as Scandinavia and Spain, more likely to consider the distance travelled as offset by the increased benefits. According to EuroDisney Chairperson Jay Rasulo, the Studios should increase visitor counts to 17 million yearly, up 36 per cent from 12.3 million in 2001. The park should increase the average length of stay per visitor from today’s 2.4 days to 3.4, and increase return visits from 41.5 per cent (Koranteng, 2001). The visitors attending the opening of Disney Studios could observe the improvements implemented over the past decade, including the expansion of Disney Village, and the dedicated rail station (with RER and TGV trains) bringing Paris within 20 minutes and Belgium or the United Kingdom within less than three hours. Within the immediate vicinity is an outlet mall that is open seven days per week. Disney Studios was not designed to deal with the SARS epidemic, the Iraq conflict, fears of terrorism, a disastrous summer heat wave, massive strikes and destructive forest fires, all of which increased cancellations and prompted holidaymakers to go elsewhere (Gentleman, 2003).

Financial matters: Some day my prince will come . . .
EuroDisney is still plagued with troubles. In September 2003, The Times reported that the park was asking one of its major investors, Saudi prince Alwaleed bin Talal, for a refinancing deal. Due to low park admissions, the company was expecting to have difficulty meeting its debt payments in 2004 (Hopkins, 2003). Walt Disney Studios reportedly cost the company US$600 million. The company reported a profit of a30.5 million for the financial year ending September 2001, 20 per cent less than the previous year (Assaoui, 2002). Stock analysts do not appear to be interested in Disney stock. Contributing factors include a debt load that is two times equity at US$13 billion (Pulley, 2002), and a stock price of about a1 – one tenth of its value a decade ago (Chu, 2002a). There are concerns that a debt-loaded park that is managing approximately 50 per cent more capacity in a time of slowing economies and a fast-growing


Chapter 5 Local consumers and the globalization of consumption

theme park sector may be putting itself in danger (Chu, 2002a). The average visitor spends a43 per day at Disneyland Paris, which is 20 per cent lower than the figures for Orlando or Anaheim. This figure is worrying, given that theme parks make their profits from their hotels and merchandise (Chu, 2002a). In addition, France began in 2001 to see a slowdown in GDP growth (down to 1.9 per cent that year), caused by a climate of uncertainty and softer global economic conditions that slowed exports. At home, this has translated into higher unemployment (up to 9.8 per cent in 2002), lower inventory levels, and a lower level of business confidence (US Commercial Service, 2002). Although analysts are concerned with the park’s launch during an economic downturn, some point out that as an accessible, full-service, short-break destination, Disney Studios could even benefit from a softer economy (Chu, 2002a).

Marketing the Studios
A massive campaign for Disney Studios started in December 2001 with the slogan ‘Come and live the magic of cinema.’ Advertising agency Publicis focused on television, print, billboard and online advertising. The ads were rolled out in the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain and Italy, and were designed to differentiate the new park from the resort, which was accordingly renamed ‘Disneyland Resort Paris’. According to Disneyland Paris central marketing director, Christian Darquier, Disney Studios is positioned as ‘a journey behind the screen to understand how the magic of movies, television, and animation is made’ whereas the resort was ‘designed to make guests live out the stories behind Disney entertainment.’ In an unusual move, Disney used direct marketing in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands (Koranteng, 2002). The Disney Channel, with its headquarters within Disney Studios, is working to raise awareness of the park, just as the channel successfully did for the resort in the 1990s.

Not everybody loves Disney Studios
Disney Studios has drawn criticism from visitors who claim that the ten attractions are not enough to keep a family entertained for one half day. Other criticisms stemmed from the three rides cloned from Walt Disney World, as well as the ‘tame’ nature of some of the other rides (Hill, 2002). Other journalists refer to the new park as ‘dull’, and boring for children (Chu, 2002a). In addition, there is continuing wider criticism of ‘Hollywood’ and American culture by French intellectuals and the media. A new wave of concern is sweeping France regarding American imperialism, cultural or otherwise, at a time when geopolitical considerations have focused scrutiny on the global actions of the United States. Anti-globalization activist José Bové, who went from destroying a McDonald’s restaurant in the south of France to global fame as a leader of the ‘altermondialiste’ movement, considers himself a spokesperson for France’s ambivalent attitude towards globalization. Even for those within the globalization camp, France and the United States have had several rancorous disputes over trade and foreign policy, most recently over Iraq. On a smaller scale, a journalist voiced his concern for the impacts of a tour operator’s decision to change from ‘Paris and the Chateaux de la Loire’ to ‘Paris and Disneyland’ (Guyotat, 2001). Placed within the framework of more quantitative terms, however, according to an international comparative study, the French give the United States the lowest ratings in Europe. Other nations whose citizens have flocked to the park in the past have been equally alienated by the policies of the US government (Pew Charitable Trust, 2002). This may give cause for concern that the Disney complex continues to operate in a culturally sensitive environment.

Appendix 5 Teaching materials


Competing with a better mousetrap
There is stiff competition among amusement/theme parks throughout Europe, of which France has its share. Parc Astérix, located 30 minutes away in Plailly, offers a unique blend of humor, thrills, history, and French and European culture. Parc Astérix has doubled its attendance, from 950,000 in 1992 to 2 million in less than a decade (O’Brien, 2000). Two Astérix films and the release of a new Astérix album have fuelled the enduring popularity of the character in Europe, to the likely benefit of the park. The identification of Astérix as a plucky Gallic villager, standing up to the evils of empire may even inspire goodwill towards the park in times of complex international politics. Planète Futuroscope, a unique park in Poitiers, is an intense audiovisual and amusement experience themed on high technology run by a former EuroDisney executive. Three other large regional parks opened in 2003 (Chu, 2002b). The French company Vivendi-Universal owns Universal Mediterranea, two clustered theme parks near Barcelona, Spain. The new water-themed park, Costa Caribe, boasts a new ride that attracted 1.5 million new visitors within its first four months (Koranteng, 2001). The addition of the new park and two new hotels are part of the positioning of the park as ‘the most complete family resort in Europe’ (Universal Mediterrania, 2003) thereby bringing the park into more direct competition with Disneyland Resort Paris (Chu, 2002a). Paramount Parks owns Terra Mitica, a history- and mythology-themed park near Benidorm, Spain. There are two Warner Bros. Movie World parks featuring Looney Tunes and Superheroes like Batman – one in Madrid, Spain and the other near Bottrop-Kirchhellen, Germany. There are two European Six Flags parks, located at Flevo, Netherlands and Wavre, Belgium. Growing competition may not be a threat in itself, however, because it is likely that tougher competition in Europe may benefit Disney in the long term, by habituating Europeans to Disney-style parks. All company specific information and additional information can be found at the Disneyland Resort Paris corporate website:

1. More than a decade later, has Disney’s top management completely addressed the lack of cultural sensitivity observed at the opening of the first park in 1992? 2. Comment in more detail on the issue of holiday regulations in Europe, the United States and Japan (duration, paid versus unpaid holiday) and their impact on leisure consumption. 3. How will changing geopolitical situations affect park attendance? What can be the repercussions of a US-led conflict in the Middle or Far East? 4. Based on the case study, use cultural factors to explain why visitors from Germany make up only 8 per cent of total Disneyland Resort Paris visitors. Do you think that Disney Studios will attract more Germans than the other park? What steps could management take in order to increase the German share of the market? 5. Do you consider that the company made a wise decision in incurring debt to develop Disney Studios? Given the state of the economy, the need to continually spend on new attractions, and the rapid rate of development for other competing theme parks in Europe, do you believe this investment is justified in the long term?
Saskia Faulk and Jean-Claude Usunier prepared this case solely to provide material for class discussion. The authors do not intend to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a business situation. The authors may have disguised certain names and other identifying information to protect confidentiality. (©IUMI, reprinted with kind permission.)


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A5.2 Case Papa Ingvar’s worries
Who can successfully market products around the world with names like ‘snuttig’, ‘droppen’, ‘grimo’, ‘moren’, ‘jerker’, ‘mård’ or ‘slugis’? IKEA, the world’s biggest home furnishings retail chain can use names that break some ‘rules’ of branding, and make a healthy profit out of it. Quirky and identifiably Swedish, the names mirror the company’s image. Small-town entrepreneur Ingvar Kamprad founded IKEA as a furniture mail-order company in Almhult, Sweden, in 1943. Since then, IKEA has expanded far from its pastoral headquarters to worldwide sales of a11.3 billion (BBC News World Edition, 2003) from 175 outlets in 32 countries and territories (Business Times, 2002). IKEA is now one of the world’s largest family-owned companies. Although well past retirement age, Kamprad remains active in the business, reportedly travelling to IKEA stores by economy class and public transport, in order to listen to the concerns of ordinary people – and to save a little money. His three sons have worked at the company (Family Business, 2003). Since 1997, revenues have grown at a rate of 20 per cent and a new IKEA store is opened, on average, each month (Wheatley, 2001). Today, IKEA operates retail stores in countries as diverse as Austria, Australia, Canary Islands, France, Hungary, Iceland, Israel, Malaysia, Russia and Saudi Arabia, with 31 outlets in Germany, and 16 in the United States. At the insistence of founder Kamprad, IKEA expanded rapidly, without adapting its core concept to local conditions. Starting in the early 1960s, IKEA took a foothold in Sweden, then Denmark. In 1973, the company took its high-design, good quality, reasonably priced goods throughout Europe and Australasia. Today, four out of IKEA’s top five markets are in Europe, the fifth is the USA. Although IKEA has concentrated on company-owned, larger scale outlets, franchising has been used in fourteen countries and all stores operate on a franchising basis, regardless of ownership. During 2003, store openings were scheduled in Germany, Australia, Hungary and Spain. There are currently two IKEA stores in Moscow, and one planned to open this year in St Petersburg (Moscow Times, 2002). In Moscow, IKEA is branching out to develop a megashopping mall (including an Auchan hypermarket) and hotel complex adjacent to its southern Moscow store (Evening Standard London, 2003). In the near future IKEA plans to open seventeen stores in Russia, with the majority in provincial cities, and two or three more in Moscow (St Petersburg Times, 2002). In 1974, the North American expansion began, a venture that continues with plans to open 50 stores in the USA by 2013. Recent expansion in the Asia-Pacific region is projected to continue at a significant rate. IKEA aims to double its Asia-Pacific region revenue, currently 3.5 per cent of the global figure, to US$770 million by 2005 (Business Times, 2002). Within the next three or four years, IKEA expects to open 15–20 new stores in the area, including two in Japan. IKEA currently operates the largest warehouse in South-East Asia, which is poised to fill the expected demand (Business Times, 2002).

The nuts and bolts of IKEA
Founder Ingvar Kamprad formulated IKEA’s vision to ‘offer a wide range of home furnishings with good design and function at prices so low that as many people as possible will be able to afford them’. IKEA carries approximately 10,000 different home furnishings, garden

Appendix 5 Teaching materials


items, plants, lighting, office furniture and supplies, household textiles, decorative items, kitchen cabinetry, toys and children’s equipment, crockery and flatware, and seasonal decorations.

Product strategy
IKEA follows a standardized product strategy with an identical assortment around the world. IKEA designs all of its product lines and products, then uses a bidding process among hundreds of agreed suppliers, contracts the manufacturing job out under stiff quality-controlled conditions. Furniture and accessories are designed to fit four categories (Margonelli, 2002):
n n n n

Scandinavian: simply styled, streamlined, light wood. Modern: minimalist and funky. Country: a new take on traditional European styles. Young Swede: totally simple, but functional and stylish.

IKEA’s office-supply division offers office furnishings that also fit into the four categories. It operates on a business-to-business as well as a retail level, in some areas publishing its own catalogue and employing its own call-centre employees. IKEA pioneered the idea of flat-pack merchandising, which means that buyers do the final assembly for most items. It has been estimated that six times more freight space would be needed if its products were shipped already assembled, a significant cost point especially when increasing numbers of items are made in the Asia-Pacific region and control of shipping times and costs becomes critical (Margonelli, 2002). IKEA’s shopping experience is a unique element in the marketing mix. In addition to the items they buy, shoppers have an experience at IKEA’s self-contained shops. The largest stores feature a self-service restaurant with Swedish menu items, a snack bar, Swedish food boutique and a child-care centre for customers. The restaurant and café have been given central status at newer USA stores built on a clover-leaf shape, with sales floors radiating off from the foodservice facilities.

Pricing strategy
The IKEA concept is based on low price, and products are designed to offer prices that are 30 to 50 per cent lower than fully assembled competing products (Margonelli, 2002). Keeping within this constraint, IKEA responds to different customer needs using a three-level pricing strategy: low, medium and high (Margonelli, 2002). The affordability of IKEA products is due to several business practices, including target-pricing, whereby a product is priced first then designed and sourced accordingly. Other elements of IKEA business that keep prices low are: high volume purchasing; low-cost logistics (hence the flat-packs), and inexpensive retail space, mainly in suburban areas. IKEA’s prices do vary from market to market, largely because of fluctuations in exchange rates and differences in taxation and tariff regimes, but price positioning is kept as standardized as possible (Margonelli, 2002).

Communications strategy
IKEA’s promotions are effected mainly through its catalogs, websites, and the IKEA family loyalty program. All stores follow a communications prototype, with catalogues, printed materials and websites designed to conform to the IKEA look. Websites ( are examples of tailored uniformity, featuring the same type of information on all 26 websites and seven mini-sites. However, the sites feature different photos and colours, and information based on the location and market familiarity with the concept, and many feature a choice of


Chapter 5 Local consumers and the globalization of consumption

several languages. The seven mini-sites are standardized, simply offering contact information and map/directions (such as IKEA Saudi Arabia). The company has turned increasingly to online marketing, and has even indulged in the ‘viral marketing’ fad, whereby customers forwarded a promotional message to friends via e-mail and SMS (Beeler, 2000). Primary communications are centred on IKEA catalogues, of which 45 editions are printed in 23 languages with a worldwide circulation of over 118 million copies. The catalogues are uniform in layout except for minor regional differences. Other specialized publications include ‘Smart Kitchen’, ‘IKEA View’, ‘Professional Office Furniture’ and ‘IKEA Summer’ (Hatch, 2003). IKEA advertising is designed to be unique and provocative. The company’s communications goal is to generate word-of-mouth publicity through innovative and sometimes groundbreaking approaches. IKEA has featured ground-breaking advertising in several markets, earning the ire of some conservative groups. For instance, the company has used homosexual couples, just-divorced women, teenage pregnancy and marijuana as a topic in its ads. Perhaps the most controversy was sparked by IKEA’s Netherlands campaign featuring a male homosexual couple with their daughter. For a view of IKEA’s portrayals of lesbian and gay worlds, visit: (a review of gay advertising) or (the Gay Financial Network). According to Irena Vanenkova, IKEA’s head of public relations in Russia, a good example of innovative communications by IKEA was a competition to find a handsome cat with a Swedish heritage to enter the new Russian showroom on opening day (cats are considered to bring Russians good luck), generating publicity and good-will through 20 publications and websites that would have otherwise cost thousands of rubles (Hatch, 2003). IKEA’s thirtieth birthday celebrations in Switzerland were characterized by a thought-provoking use of the Swiss flag on a sombre and staid background, emblazoned with ‘30 years of democracy in Swiss home furnishings’. The official-looking artwork was counterbalanced by pricing offers using the number ‘30’, such as sofas normally priced at 900 Swiss Francs selling for 30 Swiss Francs. On a quieter front in communications, IKEA is active on environmental and socialresponsibility programs, providing the company with exposure in the press, and a themed emphasis in their communications materials.

Target market
IKEA executives tend to be vague about their target markets, and the comment on the topic from the country manager for Japan, Tommy Kullberg, is typical. In an interview with Nikkei Weekly’s Asako Ishibashi, he stated that the company targets families with young children and young people starting a home, from virtually all social categories. These are people who tend to have a young ‘mental age’ (Ishibashi, 2002). Industry analysts refer consistently to firsttime home buyers, young families and people renting their homes.

IKEA has a division devoted to business travel logistics, primarily to allow company representatives to visit manufacturers in order to ensure that working conditions are optimal, and that products are made in accordance with IKEA’s code of environmental and social responsibility. The primary countries of origin of IKEA products are: Sweden (14 per cent), China (14 per cent), Poland (8 per cent), Germany (8 per cent) and Italy (6 per cent). Manufacturers ship the components or finished products to large warehouses, such as the central one in Almhult, or to one of the other 25 distribution centres in 15 countries. About 30 per cent of the products are shipped directly to the stores, which are, in effect, warehouses (Margonelli,

Appendix 5 Teaching materials


2002). To facilitate the shipping, IKEA developed IKEA RAIL, the only private rail freight forwarding company in Europe. The network of subcontracted manufacturers numbers nearly 1,800 in 55 different countries, with 42 trading services offices in 33 countries, for which the company uses an online suppliers’ portal to negotiate bids and order supplies, such as nuts and bolts from IKEA’s internal supplier-to-supplier division (Gilbert, 2000). IKEA does not offer home delivery but IKEA stores cooperate with local companies that offer small trucks for rent, or delivery and even furniture assembly services. IKEA offers a mail order service and very recently introduced an online ordering facility in some countries; however, in its first stages the cumbersome system was not well received.

IKEA’s competitors?
There is no global competitor for IKEA. The company has used its relatively low prices, stylish design and offbeat image, environmental performance (no PVC products, no sweatshop workers) and immediate gratification via do-it-yourself delivery in order to attain a unique positioning. No other large company in this sector has pioneered so many supply chain innovations, including long-term and online collaboration that is spiced up with civilized competition between suppliers. No other international furniture company offers such a universal appeal. Competitors are inevitably smaller than IKEA, and may be able to compete with the Swedish monolith on one of the above points, such as low price, but not simultaneously on all of them. The experience of shopping at IKEA is likewise unique: although lacking in salespeople, store facilities present many opportunities for the shopper to maximize the benefits of shopping IKEA-style. Measuring tapes, pencils, handy order forms, desks to write on, realistic mini-showrooms, and user-friendly merchandising are examples of this. IKEA’s day-trip dimension is also inimitable, with signature food service, children’s entertainment and even child care.

It’s a big country. Someone’s got to furnish it . . . IKEA in the United States
IKEA entered the US market in 1985, quickly establishing three outlets in the north-east, and experiencing such success that a major warehouse near Philadelphia was followed by others around the country. Since 1985, sixteen more stores have been opened in the United States and the company has grown to become the seventh largest furniture retailer in the country (Margonelli, 2002). Plans call for 50 stores across the country by 2013, with nine scheduled to open or re-open within the next year or so (Margonelli, 2002). IKEA quickly learned from its early experiences in North America. First, people considered their glasses to be too small in order to add ice – a singularly American habit. In addition, bed sizes needed to be changed according to standard North American measurements. Generally, furniture was made wider and larger for the USA, changing IKEA’s conception of a worldwide appeal. In terms of merchandising, IKEA stores tend to display easily identifiable colour and design combinations, to guide the customer a bit more than they were accustomed to doing in Europe (Gilligan, 2002). To gain awareness in a relatively new market, IKEA has been inventive, including among its promotions the ‘Living Works of Art’ exhibit as part of downtown Chicago’s ‘Home Suite Home’ campaign. Three couples ‘lived’ in the heart-shaped exhibit, made up of IKEA furniture for several days, thereby earning US$15,000 for charitable causes (Furniture World, 2001). Another example is the recent ‘unböring’ campaign in the USA that included a dedicated website, television, print, direct, outdoor and wildpostings.11 The ‘unböring’ campaign’s ‘manifesto’ clearly places IKEA as an idiosyncratic company of Swedes, fighting ‘for liberty and beauty for all’. For more on the campaign, see


Chapter 5 Local consumers and the globalization of consumption

IKEA is a complex business, comprising retail businesses, franchising, product development and design, supply-chain businesses like Schwedwood, and manufacturing management, distribution using conventional channels and IKEA RAIL, massive warehouse operations, real estate, food service operations, and even the ownership of local competitors like Habitat in the UK and France. The pan-European IKANO Bank and real estate services company is also owned by the Kamprad family. In Sweden in the 1990s, IKEA designed and sold houses. The ‘Bo Klok Project’ (‘live smart’ in Swedish) wood-frame houses were prefabricated and built with Swedish developer Skanska, in two Swedish cities. Efforts have been made to bring the project to the UK and other markets. Of course, home-buyers were given a 3000 SEK gift certificate for IKEA merchandise (Slavin, 2001). As a reflection of this complexity, IKEA founder Ingvar Kamprad told the Swedish newspaper Smaalandposten in an interview that, contrary to his earlier position as an ‘engine’ of growth, he now worries that the firm is expanding too quickly. In particular, he cites concern that in an economic downturn, some IKEA stores may have to close. ‘Papa Ingvar’, as he is known to many IKEA employees, said that he felt the responsibility for potential lost jobs was a very heavy burden (BBC News World Edition, 2003). All IKEA company information and addition information can be found at the IKEA corporate website:

1. Furniture styles and home trends are usually thought to be linked to cultural attitudes and perceptions. How can a global company like IKEA successfully market its standardized products in so many countries? Based on your visit to IKEA websites for a variety of countries, give some suggestions for improvement to the communications director. 2. Why do IKEA products receive Swedish-sounding names? What is the role of IKEA’s Swedish image, and its Swedish country of origin in the company’s image policy? 3. How can IKEA continue long-term to market its wares to young-minded people around the world? Can the company remain true to its original mission, culture, and mass-appeal? 4. Regarding Ingvar Kamprad’s worries about the firm’s expansion, do you agree that the company is expanding too quickly or into too many different sectors? What marketing problems do you expect this growth will cause in the short and long term?
Saskia Faulk and Jean-Claude Usunier prepared this case solely to provide material for class discussion, originally adapted from a case prepared by Czinkota and Ronkainen, 1990, pp. 203–7. The authors do not intend to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a business situation. The authors may have disguised certain names and other identifying information to protect confidentiality. The full version of this case is available at WS5.A. (©IUMI, reprinted with kind permission.)

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The convergence of marketing environments worldwide

Consumers are immersed in local marketing environments that tend progressively to converge. There are three major components of a local marketing environment that have a more or less direct influence on how marketing strategy can be defined and implemented: the environment, institutions and local marketing knowledge. The first component deals with the general environment and its economical, political, legal, social, cultural and linguistic elements, which, although seemingly fuzzy and indirect, are pervasive. Section 6.1 deals with this components, although many chapters include one or the other of these environmental elements, especially the linguistic element (Chapter 13). The second component of the marketing environment deals with marketing institutions and infrastructures, such as professional associations (marketing, salespeople, advertisers, etc.), regulatory bodies and how marketing regulations are enforced (codes of conduct or the law). Section (6.1) deals with this component, which surrounds marketing decisions. The third component of the marketing environment deals with local marketing knowledge. This is generally overlooked, if not blatantly ignored, by international marketing textbooks. Local knowledge indubitably matters: if people, as employees, consumers or viewers, do not know, misunderstand and/ or do not accept marketing concepts and practices, it is possible that strategies will be hard to implement. Section 6.2 deals with the issue of how marketing concepts and practices have been imported locally, especially how marketing is treated in the education system and in higher education programmes. The remaining sections of this chapter deal with the regionalization of marketing environments.

Section 6.3 discusses the regional convergence of marketing environments through integration in the GATT framework and now under the World Trade Organization (WTO). Section 6.4 focuses on diversity in a marketing environment of the European Union (EU) focusing on western Europe. This section shows how a seemingly unified marketing environment is still highly diverse and needs tailored approaches; at the very least, much caution is needed when considering Europe as a single market area. Section 6.5 examines the case of eastern Europe and the former USSR, where there are fundamental changes at all levels of the marketing environment. Section 6.6 deals with challenges when an environment is both difficult to understand and needs much adaptation; it highlights the case of East Asian countries, which, despite major diversity among them, share some common traits when compared with the West. A concluding section (6.7) outlines some limitations to the worldwide convergence of marketing environments.


Local marketing environments
When trying to understand local marketing environments, self-criticism is a necessary perspective because we understand our local environment from our own ethnocentric perspective. There is always a reference point that makes judgements implicitly comparative (Usunier, 1998). For example, if local people do not properly understand or appreciate the interviewing process in market research, a value judgement would be to say that they are underdeveloped


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and need to be educated. An entirely different attitude is to try and understand their viewpoint, that is, scientific methods are not the only way of collecting data on how products and services are used by people. F.A. Hayek formulates the question of which knowledge should be used when we want to plan a complex set of interrelated decisions about resource allocation (e.g. an international marketing strategy) as follows:
the answer to our question will therefore largely turn on the relative importance of the different kinds of knowledge; those more likely to be at the disposal of particular individuals and those which we should with greater confidence expect to find in the possession of an authority made up of suitably chosen experts. If it is today so widely assumed that the latter will be in a better position, this is because one kind of knowledge, namely, scientific knowledge occupies now so prominent a place in public imagination that we tend to forget that it is not the only kind that is relevant . . . Today it is almost heresy to suggest that scientific knowledge is not the sum of all knowledge. But a little reflection will show that there is beyond question a body of very important but unorganized knowledge which cannot possibly be called scientific in the sense of knowledge of general rules: the knowledge of the particular circumstances of time and place. (Hayek, 1945, p. 521.)

Figure 6.1 Dimensions of a local marketing environment

understand the local marketing environment before preparing their strategy.
The economic environment

From this perspective, local knowledge is important because it is operational, although at times it may be difficult to access because it is tacit rather than explicit. Taking note of local knowledge, as an outsider, produces a long list of caveats that may seem at times tedious, but make sense when implementing marketing decisions. High-context international marketing is infused with local knowledge. In contrast, low-context marketing strategies in foreign markets, which use supposedly universal marketing knowledge, treat locality as a constraint rather than as an opportunity. Figure 6.1 shows how local marketing knowledge should be considered as a fully fledged dimension of a national marketing environment.

Economic and political aspects of the local marketing environment
Culture and language are only part of the marketing environment.1 The economic, political and legal environments have influence on marketing decisions and their implementation, as do social and cultural characteristics. For this reason, marketers have to

A key economic characteristic of a marketing environment is the purchasing power per capita, because it sets the average level of budgetary constraints. United Nations or International Monetary Fund statistics give accurate data and most of the aggregate economic data for countries is available on the Internet and easy to access. (There are links to these statistics at WS6.1.) To a certain extent prices are adapted by global marketers so that they fit with local purchasing power. However, there are some cases where low purchasing power simply excludes the sale of items, which are felt to be unnecessary. For instance, in North African countries, where international television is received via satellite dishes, people are quite shocked by pet food advertisements, which they view as showing contempt for human beings, who should be given priority over animals. Similarly, the strong emotional bond between an old lady and her beloved Yorkshire Terrier in a Parisian flat is beyond the bounds of their imagination. Often more important than average income is the distribution of national income across social groups


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and individuals. Income and wealth inequalities are closely related to power distance, as explained in Chapter 3. In many developing countries such as Brazil, Indonesia or Egypt, a fairly small segment of the population has high per capita purchasing power, but much larger numbers are still moving towards middle-class status. The well-off tend to develop similar consumer behaviour to that of the corresponding social class in more developed countries. However, even among the poorer strata of the population, economic desires and achievements may be greater than they seem at first sight. For instance, real estate development takes place in Brazilian favellas, even though the sale of housing units is obviously not conducted by Century 21 real estate agencies. The unemployment rate requires careful consideration, and the official statistics should be investigated thoroughly. The existence of a large informal sector in some economies, based on moonlighting and nonregistered entrepreneurs, causes unemployment to be somewhat overestimated (Berger, 1991). For instance, in Africa we might discount the car repair industry, where informal (unregistered) car repair shops make up the bulk of the sector. Product substitution and more general substitution solutions (buy or repair, make or buy, acquire or rent, share or fully own) largely depend on the relative price and taxation levels of goods and services.
The political environment

As far as political institutions are concerned, democracy is generally considered as the most favourable marketing environment, in that the citizens, who are consumers, are given freedom of choice. However, although liberal democracy is clearly favourable, it is not an absolute imperative. The way marketing is developing in China shows that a US-style democracy and full respect for individual human rights are not absolute prerequisites for the growth of a consumerand market-oriented society (Ho, 1997; Doran, 1997). Political aspects of the local environment are generally associated with political risk or negative consequences for foreign companies: nationalization, contract revocation, repatriation of funds, threats to expatriate personnel, etc. These might come about due to political events such as revolution, riots, coups or, more generally, severe political instability in the host country. From a low power distance perspective, that of most international marketing textbooks,

political risk is a major problem for foreign operations. However, from a high power distance perspective, the most important issue is to pragmatically develop relationships with those holding the power, provided that their expected time in power will be significant. Thus, a major task in scanning an environment is to appreciate the racial, social and ethnic distinctions within a country and the relationships between diverse groups. For instance, the Malaysian marketing environment cannot be understood without reference to the Malay majority and the Chinese minority and the consensus between the two groups which gives political power to Malays and economic influence to the Chinese. Similarly, Sri Lanka cannot be understood without reference to the large Tamil minority in the northern part of the island which has been in constant struggle against the Singhalese majority for many years. The low power distance outgroupist assumption of international business and marketing knowledge is rather misleading in this respect. However, once again real-world global companies do not act as they might in textbooks examples. For some years, Procter & Gamble has defined a market environment, called ‘Balkan’, which embraces countries that, until recently, have had very difficult political relationships with one another: Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Macedonia, Romania, Serbia and Slovenia. Russell Miller, in his 1998 book on selling to emerging markets, examines some of the advantages of participating in newly emerging marketing, including increased volume, profits and economies of scale and reduced market dependence, competition, cyclical fluctuations, market dependence and saturation.
The legal environment

The legal environment is extremely important because sales and marketing are based on agreements and/or formal contracts. Understanding a local legal environment begins by ascertaining which main legal tradition it belongs to. In Europe whether a country uses code law, starting from general principles, or common law, based on precedents, will influence a wide variety of laws relating to marketing, such as those dealing with advertising, sales promotion, labelling, product liability, sales contracts, contracts with agents and dealers (e.g. termination payments). Section 6.4 explains some consequences of the legal diversity in European environments that hinder the development of a unified marketing environment in


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Europe. Ethics are also influenced by the legal tradition (see sections 15.6 and 15.7). For instance, common law countries do not generally like to regulate excessively, but prefer to leave more room to allow for business self-discipline in the form of professional codes of conduct. In contrast, code law countries like to legislate on many matters. In France, a typical code law country, contracts for work and rental leases are framed by law and people simply fill in the blanks. In addition, contracts with consumers or between business partners may lead to litigation. This is not true in other world cultures where contracts may not be binding and litigation may be seen as evil, inasmuch as it shows that former business friends are now enemies and have proved unable to manage their relationship in harmony (see section 16.7). For instance, Lloyd (2000, p. 23) interviewed Coca-Cola’s chief executive Mr Daft, who admitted that Coca-Cola mishandled a product recall in Europe when it ‘fought the European Commission on competition issues . . . In the US, the reflex is to throw the whole thing into the courts and let the lawyers sort it out. It isn’t the case in Europe: it’s more of a negotiation culture.’

Local marketing institutions and infrastructures
The whole marketing process is based on a series of steps or processes that need to be applied locally, either in preparing for decisions (market research), developing strategy and implementing it (e.g. advertising campaigns or placing the product in distribution channels). The feasibility of marketing decisions and, more often, details of their execution are affected by local marketing institutions and infrastructures. Market research can naturally be undertaken in most countries of the world and international marketers will find subsidiaries of major international market research organizations or local or regional companies that offer good research services almost everywhere. However, quite apart from its technicalities, which are explained at great length in specialist textbooks, market research is a human activity that generally involves interviewers/researchers and informants/respondents as human beings. The kind of neutral, objective stance that is required from informants, who must speak their true mind without any

influence from the interviewing person, is difficult enough to find in countries where market research, polls and panels are well established. It is all the more difficult to find in many local environments, where willingness to answer or more generally to deliver information is low, since interviewers are seen to be hidden sellers or impolite intruders. Similarly, motivation to answer will be low when there is no local belief that answering will benefit consumers as a community, because the feedback loop that links consumer research information to product improvement and to personal interest is uncertain and complex. Chapter 7 provides many examples that call for the adaptation of market research methods in local environments. Distribution channel organization is influenced by national culture, legal requirements concerning store size and the opening of new stores, physical constraints, and established social and economic practices between manufacturers and middlemen in the distribution channels. Section 12.1 presents the example of the Japanese distribution system, which is often misunderstood and criticized because its locality is misunderstood. Direct marketing, although its techniques are fairly consistent worldwide, needs access to mailing lists, the provision of which may conflict with protection of personal data and individual privacy. For instance, the German provisions concerning customer lists and their use are extremely strict: Datenschutz, as the Germans call it, may be an obstacle for foreign catalogue sales operators, if they do not adjust. Section 12.4 gives indications of how global direct marketing must be adjusted to local environments. Advertising agencies are probably the most significant institutions in a local marketing environment. Local advertising agencies, whether subsidiaries of international groups or merely local companies, are likely to have knowledge of local consumers and viewers, since communication is a ‘code business’ based on linguistic and visual cues that are interpreted/ decoded on the basis of local cultures. Chapter 14 explains how both advertising strategy and execution need to be responsive to local conditions. The local advertising profession is likely to use a mix of universal knowledge about strategy and execution of advertisements and local knowledge based on a deep understanding of what attracts people as viewers and


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potential consumers. For instance, Budweiser hired a global advertising agency to develop several advertisements for its beer, with various versions to be shown worldwide during the World Cup Soccer in France. When they conducted market research to assess the effectiveness of the advertisements, they found that the young hedonistic theme was not well received by UK soccer fans. For them, soccer is a serious sport, steeped in history. To reach this market they engaged a UK company to develop advertisements that better reflected their culture. Taylor et al. (1996) explain how French advertising professionals work with two distinct models for developing campaigns, one labelled the American model and the other built on the French preference for semiotics and linguistics. They cite the following comments from French advertising professionals, which represent the two different knowledge bases, one relying on tests and the other on experience and intuitive decisions, the use of which depends on the client’s background (pp. 6–7):
I respect research but generally it’s experience that tells you if it will work in France. I would say that 80 per cent of the time we do not need tests . . . When I look at the way American people approach [planning], they investigate ten different ways of doing it, . . . and they enjoy it. In France we would rather say ‘We think this is the way to do it, and we try it.’

In addition to general marketing institutions, product-specific infrastructures need to be examined in order to understand the local marketing environment, such as medical doctors and pharmacists for the marketing of drugs, libraries and bookstores for the marketing of books, etc. The marketing knowledge of local consumers is also significant and can be assessed by looking at various indicators, including courses taught in higher education, textbooks, student enrolment in marketing courses, television programmes dedicated to buying, consumption and advertising on TV channels. Learning local cues is in fact a key issue for companies marketing internationally because they have to develop a fit with local culture. A marketing environment must always be studied before choosing a marketing strategy because decisions cannot be divorced from their implementation: if a ‘good’ strategy proves difficult to implement, it is in fact a bad strategy.


Marketing: Borrowed concepts and practices
The first basic link between culture and marketing, which is almost never mentioned, is the initial entrenchment of marketing in one particular national culture: that of the USA. These marketing concepts and practices have been enthusiastically adopted in many other countries, even those that do not share the same cultural background. All countries have their traders and merchants, and since marketing is a powerful tool for developing and controlling existing and new businesses, they may rightfully borrow it. But in doing so, they transform it and then integrate it into their own culture.

Similarly, Johansson (1994, pp. 21–2) explains that Japanese TV advertising is soft-sell oriented because of the uneasiness of the Japanese with the rough instrumentality of business transactions and imposition of direct messages:
The polite advertiser needs at some level to justify to the audience why the commercials interrupt the program, and a hard sell approach is not conducive to such an apology . . . It is not uncommon to hear ‘gomen kudasai’ (‘I am sorry’) in the audio of Japanese TV commercials.

Another significant characteristic of a marketing environment that needs to be studied are payments, especially the availability of electronic payment, local customs in terms of payment dates and customer credit practices, and (possibly) consumer complaints. As explained in Chapter 4, consumerism varies greatly across contexts because of the degree of legitimacy of consumer complaints, the focus of the complaint, whether broad or narrow, and the expectations of the consumer as to the outcome of the complaint.

Marketing: US-based vocabulary, information sources and concepts
Marketing concepts and practices were initially and for the most part developed in the USA and have continued to spread because of the success of large US-based multinational companies in worldwide consumer markets. They have been popularized by


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Philip Kotler’s Marketing Management in its numerous translations and editions. Still, nowhere is their influence as strong as in the USA. In France, where much has been borrowed from the USA, about twenty thousand students attend a basic course in marketing each year. This compares with three hundred thousand in the USA. Even after taking into consideration the population differences, the marketing intensity of the USA is still about four times that of France. The same ratios hold true for most developed countries outside the USA. In addition to quantitative differences in marketing intensity, there are also qualitative differences across countries, in content, style and practices. In Japan, most of the books on marketing management were borrowed from the USA and then translated directly without much adaptation. Moreover, market survey techniques, the underlying concepts and the wording of questions, as well as questionnaire, interview and sampling techniques, were all widely imported. As Van Raaij (1978, p. 699) points out: ‘Consumer research is largely “made in the U.S.A.” with all the risks that Western American or middle-class biases pervade this type of research in the research questions we address, the concepts and theories we use and the interpretations we give.’ This type of direct export is still practiced today as Schultz (2002, p. 8) notes: ‘Chinese companies have tried to copy those Western marketing approaches . . . assuming that they are “world-class.” And, while some have worked, many haven’t.’ Data, information sources (Nielsen panels, for instance) and consultancy businesses (advertising agencies, market consultants) are mostly of US origin, even if they are by no means all American. Marketing journals and academic reviews, such as the Journal of Marketing, the Journal of Marketing Research and Advertising Age, are largely from the United States. Of course, many other countries of the world also have marketing journals, but most of our research and many new advances for practitioners and scholars have been influenced by these imported materials. For instance, the percentage of US references on specialized topics in the bibliographies of British, German or French reviews of marketing is often as much as 90 per cent. A similar situation currently prevails in Japan, as Lazer et al. point out (1985, p. 71): ‘what has occurred [in Japan] is the modification and adaptation of selected American constructs, ideas

and practices to adjust them to the Japanese culture, that remains intact’. (For links to academic marketing associations worldwide see WS2.1.) Marketing vocabulary is now used worldwide: ‘mailing’, ‘media planning’ and ‘merchandising’ are all familiar words. Even though efforts have been made in some countries to localize these words, they have generally failed. For instance, in France hardly anyone uses the official word la mercatique (it sounds ugly; see WS A6.3 for more information on the controversy surrounding this word in France). It is legitimate and often wise to retain an imported word in its original form until its total integration as a concept has been realized, which allows the foreign origin of the concept to be kept in mind and this, paradoxically, improves its chances of successful localization. Here, the transplant has all the more chance of being successful because there is a strong fascination for what is made abroad. This fascination and the availability of the Internet has meant faster dissemination of marketing concepts, even in less developed countries. The success of the word ‘marketing’ gave a new image to trade and sales activities in many countries where it had often previously been socially and intellectually devalued, especially in Latin countries, due to the relative lack of interest on the part of Catholicism in trade and business. In Ancient Greece, Hermes, messenger of the Olympian gods, was also the god of communication, exchange, trade, merchants and even thieves. Despite the success and the seemingly general acceptance of the term ‘marketing’, many examples indicate that there have been some basic misconceptions of it in many countries, especially developing countries (Amine and Cavusgil, 1986). For instance, a survey of Egyptian business people indicates a clear lack of understanding of the meaning of marketing (El Haddad, 1985). Either managers do not understand what marketing is all about or, if they do, they tend to believe that it has no application to their business. In fact they see marketing as the mere fact of selling, or the promotion of sales. It is normal to find large gaps between the rhetoric of marketing and the actual selling practices adopted by companies. Marketing did not really replace long-established commercial enterprises in many countries: it superimposed itself on local selling practices and merged with them.


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A progressive integration
In many countries marketing knowledge has been progressively imported, at first simply, as universal and explicit knowledge, later merging with local tacit knowledge and ways of doing. In the case of Japan, Johansson and Nonaka (1996, p. 4) point out that marketing skills are expected to be assimilated throughout an organization:
Japanese marketers are not professionals in a technical sense; they seem to consider marketing too important to leave to experts . . . The common Japanese practice of entry-level hiring and subsequent rotation of job positions is predicated on the lack of position-specific skills. These practices help account for the fact that many individuals with engineering backgrounds are involved in marketing in Japanese manufacturing firms . . . Even though a rising number of managers are educated in marketing abroad, and Japan is also developing business schools, the entry-level hiring practices and the development of company-specific skills have made MBAs difficult to assimilate, and they are mainly used as internationalization (kokusaika) catalysts, rather than as skilled professionals.

A similar situation is also found in France, where adaptation to the cultural context has now been broadly achieved. French textbooks on marketing management, strategy and tactics are now widely available. Continuous efforts have been made to enable ‘marketing’ to appear as a ‘rationalisation de la démarche commerciale’ (‘rationalization of trade and sales practices’). It is seen as confronting the traditional commercial style with new concepts that are better suited to international competition (Dayan et al. 1988, p. 14):
In a [French] company, at the beginning of the industrial revolution . . . selling was not considered to be an honourable activity. The essence of trading – bargaining with the client – is seen as not being codifiable; it is an art, based on individual talents, intuitions and experience. Consequently commercial activities do not follow the standards of the company as a whole, which are based on rationality, logic, and organisation. With the advent of marketing, brand image activities have been improved, and they have been better integrated to the company as a whole. A full scale direction de marketing (marketing department) attracts significant areas of the human, intellectual, and financial resources of a company: it often has a critical influence on strategic decisions, it uses more and more sophisticated techniques, and it adopts a rational approach, which raises the direction de marketing to the level of other functional areas.

In this small passage (from the introduction to a French marketing textbook) several elements typify the importation process and its limits: the expression ‘full scale’ (à part entière) suggests that there are still many directions de marketing that cover only a part of the marketing function; the power of marketing within the organization is an important issue per se; the dialectic opposition of irrationality and art, versus logic and rationalization. In French society, only Cartesian logic may give legitimacy and credibility to marketing. In French companies one often finds a directeur du marketing (vice president, marketing) and a directeur commercial (vice president, sales) whereas in the United States a vice president, marketing, would more commonly deal with marketing strategy as well as sales and advertising. The French directeur commercial is actually responsible for a large part of what Americans call ‘marketing’ as a functional area. The duties of a directeur commercial are primarily the supervision of sales, distribution outlets and sales representatives, as well as the management of customer relations; a directeur du marketing will most often be responsible for marketing surveys and/or communication. The organizational relationship between the directeur du marketing and the directeur commercial, whether parallel or hierarchical, will not encourage them to collaborate, especially when marketing is subordinate to the sales department. Many managers still tend to view marketing as somewhat ‘intellectual’, having little practical orientation, directed towards long-range targets and market strategy, and some even confuse it with advertising as a rather ‘indirect’ method of influencing the market. In order to assess how marketing has been integrated in a local environment, it is advisable to use both quantitative and qualitative cues. The quantitative cues have been described above: student enrolment in marketing courses, the membership of professional and academic marketing associations, the number of marketing-related books published, the circulation of marketing journals, etc. The qualitative side of the integration process is more difficult to uncover because it deals with how broad cultural values and well-entrenched local practices conflict with some of the values underlying marketing (pragmatism, money orientation, expert knowledge, materialism). They are reconciled by flatly ignoring certain dimensions (marketing as expert knowledge), by over-emphasizing


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some of its positive aspects (marketing can also serve non-profit operations) or by maintaining, somewhat schizophrenically, two systems, one based on explicit, official marketing, and the other based on tacit, local knowledge of the appropriate ways to interact with customers and markets.


Regional convergence
The WTO and regional integration
Regional integration is now under way, based mostly on trade agreements. The basic assumptions, interaction models and attitudes described in Chapters 2 and 3 are located at too deep a level to be taken into account in negotiations between nation-states. Therefore, convergence is basically economic (as in the case of the North American Free Trade Agreement, NAFTA), more rarely political (as in the case of the EU, and this with obvious pains). Cultural convergence is a more difficult process: it certainly happens but over a very long period and with people largely unaware of it. Groups of countries can be identified for the purpose of marketing strategy on the basis of key elements in the regional environment, taking account of both similarities (which unite them against the rest of the world) and differences (which account for the intraregional diversity). The WTO came into being at the beginning of 1995, after the Uruguay Round of GATT. Its achievements have been considerable. The WTO is now a full international organization with 147 members as at 1 April, 2004. It has adopted the pragmatic stance of the GATT and the basic treaty has largely been retained, including the philosophy of self-enforceable rules. Its purpose is to liberalize trade, allowing governments to negotiate agreements about trade in goods, services, inventions, creations and designs. Thus, the WTO does not take into account the cultural variable. Its fundamental principles are based on quite opposite premises. The principle of ‘Trade without Discrimination’ includes two aspects: Mostfavoured-nation (MFN) and National treatment. First, the MFN principle states that, ‘countries cannot normally discriminate between their trading partners. Grant someone a special favour (such as a lower

customs duty rate for one of their products) and you have to do the same for all other WTO members’ (WTO, 2003, p. 10). Second, the National treatment principle is focused on ‘giving others the same treatment as one’s own nationals,’ (WTO, 2003, p. 11). This is clearly a multilateral view, based on strong outgroup orientation, whereby the whole world is seen as being open to international trade and not covered, as it currently is, by a dense network of bilateral trade agreements. However, it was necessary to make an exception for those countries which, by virtue of their geographical proximity, had a natural interest in establishing closer links, basically by setting customs duties between them to zero, as long as they do not raise barriers to trade from the outside world. Regional trade agreements would seem to contradict the WTO’s principle of equal treatment for all, but Article 24 allows various forms of regional integration with the proviso that they ‘should help trade flow more freely among the countries in the group without barriers being raised on trade with the outside world’ (WTO, 2003, p. 64). In fact, by May 2003 there were over 265 regional trade agreements registered with the WTO with this number expected to approach 300 by 2005 (WTO, 2003). These encompass most of the globe, including the EU, NAFTA, Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, the Common Market of the South (MERCOSUR), the Australia-New Zealand Closer Economic Relations Agreement, and so on. These agreements take various forms of regional integration, the simplest being that of a free trade area (e.g. NAFTA), where countries have abolished customs duties between members but maintain their own external tariffs and customs procedures vis-à-vis third countries. A much stronger form is the customs union (e.g. EU), which adds to the former situation a common external tariff and customs procedures. Here, member countries commit themselves to coordinate and even integrate their economic policy. The EU has been an economic union since the Maastricht Treaty came into force, in January 1994. Part of the integration of economic policy has meant that no individual EU country is represented in the WTO. The EU itself negotiates agreements, after a discussion between member states has produced a common position. (For more information on regional integration see WS3.3.)


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Table 6.1 Contrasts across large regional areas
Variable / Region European Union (EU) Customs & economic union Very large (many different official languages) Bureaucratic & transitional democracies Past orientation + linear time: West Present time: East Individualist Collectivist Low: Northern EU High: Rest EU Predominantly feminine High: Roman-Germanic nations Low: Britain and Nordic countries A mix of pyramids, machines, markets. No cross-national organizational consensus ASEAN (AFTA) Informal group of nations medium NAFTA

Type of regional agreement Linguistic diversity

Free-trade area Bi-polar (English + Spanish/French), with a predominance of English Liberal democracy Economic time dominant

Political system Time orientations

Authoritarian pluralism Cyclical/integrated/ arrowed time Collectivist High Neutral Weak

Individualism/ collectivism Power distance Masculinity/ Femininity Uncertainty avoidance

Individualist except in Mexico Low except in Mexico Masculine Weak

Dominant type of organization (Hofstede, 1991)



Comparison across regional areas
There is obviously convergence in regional areas of the world, but as argued above it is economic rather than cultural. For instance, while the recent signing of trade agreements between Brazil, Mexico and Chile is likely to yield significant economic benefit with an estimated 900,000 additional vehicle exports from Brazil over the next four years (Evans, 2003), there is still a lack of cultural convergence. That is, market barriers based on cultural differences rather than legal dispositions remain. Table 6.1 gives an idea of the significant differences that exist across regional areas. The next two sections discuss some features of the regional environment in the European Union and East Asian countries. But, as noted above there are literally hundreds of different regional agreements worldwide.


A diverse marketing environment: The European Union
The EU is based on the Treaty of Rome, which was signed by six original member countries (Belgium, France, Italy, Germany, Luxembourg and the Netherlands), all of which belonged to the RomanGermanic legal tradition (also called the code law or civil law tradition). In 1973 Ireland, Denmark and the UK joined, in 1981 Greece, in 1986 Spain and Portugal, in 1995 Austria, Finland and Sweden, and in 2004 ten more countries in eastern and southern Europe joined (Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia), expanding the list to 25 countries with very different histories. Notably, all but two of the ten


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newest members had socialist economies at least until 1989. While they have made huge changes toward a market economy, their living standards are well below that of the other EU members. As Wolf (2004, p. 18) notes: ‘If real GDP per head rose two percentage points a year faster in the new members than in France, it would take 21 years for Slovenia and 57 years for Lithuania to catch up.’ While the new European Union will eventually converge in terms of the economic environment, linguistic and cultural diversity in the EU is likely to remain very high.

The institutional basis of the European Union
There are four basic principles underlying the Treaty of Rome: the free movement of goods, the free movement of capital, the free movement of persons and the free movement of services. Understandably, such broad statements needed to be clarified, as has been done by issuing tens of thousands of regulations since its inception! Furthermore, the European Court of Justice issued thousands of rulings that have, to a certain extent, clarified the implementation of rules in precise cases. For countries such as the UK and Denmark, which entered in 1973, it has never been easy to accept this strong legislative orientation. They are low power distance societies, which favour more pragmatic and ‘near-to-the-people’ ways of solving problems. The state interventionism tradition has historically been strong everywhere in Europe, although it is stronger in Latin Europe (see Lessem and Neubauer, 1994) and stronger again in the new eastern European EU members (Smith and Hills, 2003). This tradition is challenged by a general trend towards the privatization or disinvolvement of state and public authorities in money-losing businesses that do not necessarily fall under their obvious competence. EU policies have a very wide impact on companies, in areas such as industrial standards policy, taxation policy, antitrust policy (Articles 85 and 86 of the Treaty), monitoring of public subsidies to industry, R&D policy and EU legislation on public procurement. But contrary to what is often said, the EU is not a large bureaucracy. It had a budget of a99.7bn in 2003, which was equivalent to 1 per cent of the total GNP of the 15 member states at the time. Of this, the budget is spent on agriculture (45 per cent), struc-

tural funding for less developed regions (35 per cent), internal policies (7 per cent), external policies (5 per cent), administration (5 per cent) and aid to future member states (3 per cent). This partly explains the lack of control over the use of European funds. The decision system works on the basis of weighted votes per country as set out in the Nice Treaty: ranging from 29 for Germany, the United Kingdom, France and Italy to 3 for Malta. In terms of the differences between code law and common law (explained in section 3.4), the legal approach in the EU is completely based on code law. The RomanGermanic legal tradition was fully shared by the six original members, but not by all of the member states that have since joined. It is interesting to note that even with this basic commonality, company laws between the six original members were quite divergent. German rules were quite strict, and the English comparatively liberal, but since the adoption of the SE (Societas Europea) there is now a greater convergence of policy.

An example of EU policy: The free movement of goods
Among the numerous EU policies, one deserves special attention, because it is aimed at the free movement of goods. There were many obstacles at the beginning of the 1980s on the road to a real ‘common market’, especially fiscal barriers, related to different indirect tax rates, and technical barriers due to different industrial standards in the EU. This made the elimination of physical borders problematic (Cecchini, 1988). Fragmented national markets resulted in smaller volumes of production and cost inefficiencies at the European level, especially in comparison with the United States and Japan. The EC White Paper of 1985 set out a full programme of 300 European directives to be adopted by 1992. Many of them dealt with common industrial standards at the European level, for which specific standardization bodies were established in order to coordinate the setting of standards (e.g. Comité Européen de Normalisation (CEN), Comité Européen de Normalisation Electro-technique (CENELEC) and European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI)). The process was based on several possible means of standardization: (1) approximation of regulations (for instance, EU countries design common legislation


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Box 6.1

Concrete, yoghurts and sewage plates: The shock of culture and climates
The conditions of use of concrete vary according to climate. The Greeks have no interest in concrete specifications concerning frost except in a few mountain villages. The Finns need concrete which can endure minus 40 degrees Celsius, but they are not preoccupied with the number of frost–defrost cycles. The French will prefer a concrete which can resist at least twenty frost–defrost cycles. That is why the classes for each use cannot be seen as quality classes. Similarly, there is no common European definition of what is a yoghurt. Latin countries require that they are produced with living micro-organisms, whereas the Anglo-Saxons favour their sterilisation. This lack of harmonisation is a hindrance for the producers’ European marketing strategies. The Germans wanted to impose a minimal weight for sewage plates. Pont-à-Mousson, a French producer, uses ductile cast-iron instead of grey castiron for the Germans, with the result that French sewage plates weigh 50 to 60 kilos (so that they can be manoeuvred by a sewerage worker) instead of 100 to 120 kilos for the German (so that they are very steady on the roads). Different industrial traditions exist; corresponding to different functional benefits looked for by each country. The French company succeeded to have the minimal weight not mentioned in the European standard. It saved a billion dollar European business.

(Source: Esposito, 1994.)

Europe-wide for car exhausts); (2) mutual recognition (member states recognize another member state’s legislation on a bilateral and reciprocal basis); and (3) the ‘home country rule’, based on the Cassis de Dijon ruling of the European Court of Justice: products that had been manufactured according to the standards and regulations of a particular member state could not be barred from entering any other EU national market, unless the local regulation did not meet the minimal compulsory EU standards. Although much has been achieved in the area of common standards, there still remain some discrepancies owing to climate and industrial traditions (see Box 6.1).

Is there a European consumer?
More than 30 years ago Fournis (1962) remarked that there cannot be such an individual as a ‘European consumer’ since customs and traditions tend to persist. European countries and cultures are deeply rooted in the past. Furthermore, a long history of wars and conflicts has ensured the persistence of strong feelings of national identity. In a 2003 poll, Europeans were asked about the strength of their National verses European identity. Of the 25 EU countries,

only 3 per cent gave their identity as European only, while 39 per cent gave their identity as National only (Eurobarometer, 2003). Naturally, European cultures share some common cultural values: the majority of them share a set of values related to major life events (birth, marriage and death) and this differentiates them from Asian cultures. Patterns of displaying emotion for instance, differ widely between Europeans and Asians; and where Asians tend to prize group harmony, Europeans tend to favour self-esteem and respect for individuals. Nevertheless, this apparent cultural homogeneity of Europe, when compared to Asia, ceases to be so clear when we look at cultural variance inside Europe. Family relation patterns, religion, organization of everyday life – as regards meals, social, family and business life – tend to be quite heterogeneous. In the same vein, Wierenga et al. (1996, p. 52) show that there is much variation in the qualities considered important in the education of children in EU countries. While most countries value honesty, Spanish parents do not emphasize it; independence is valued by the Germans but not by the French; politeness is a French value while tolerance is highest with the British. Marketing strategies for culture-bound products still need tailoring to each national market, or to


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groups of countries, despite the introduction of a common currency, which makes life easier for crossborder comparison and purchase. Beer, for instance, is subject to differences in national tastes, and is judged according to how bitter, frothy, bubbly, sweet and alcoholic it is. The leading brewer in Europe, Heineken, continues to tailor its products and marketing policies to different countries, since beer distribution systems vary across Europe. For another case in point, Nivea skin care cream, produced by the German multinational company Beiersdorff (BDF), has a leading edge in each national market in Europe. Nevertheless, its consistency has to be changed and its formula has to be adapted, depending on whether it is sold in northern or southern Europe (Mourier and Burgaud, 1989), and the Single Market has not changed this. Wierenga et al. (1996) also argue in favour of largely customized strategies in Europe, given the dissimilarity of EU markets on a number of aspects of the marketing environment. Income allocation patterns across major domains of expenditure (food, clothing, energy, furniture and household equipment, health care, transport, leisure) vary significantly across member states according to Eurostats. Although converging, as noted in the previous chapter, the number of persons per household still ranges from a low of 2.2 in Germany to a high of 3.1 in Slovakia and Poland. The marketing infrastructure also still differs: the number of points of sale per 100 inhabitants ranges from a low of 0.8 in the Netherlands to a high of 4.0 in Portugal; distribution is highly concentrated in France where 9 per cent of all shops account for 89 per cent of the retail volume but it is not at all concentrated in Portugal, Italy or Spain. And, it is not just the structure but also the value of the experience that differs. For instance, assumptions that are valid for Western consumers, such as the higher levels of shopping value that result from more luxurious surroundings, do not necessarily hold true in eastern European countries (Griffin et al., 2000). Although some have argued that convergence in Europe has already largely been achieved (Leeflang and Van Raaij, 1995), a close look at their data shows differences across EU countries in significant elements of the marketing environment such as the share of private labels in retail food stores, per-capita expenses on direct marketing, or the share of the print, TV, radio and other media in total advertising expenditures.

Is cultural convergence possible without a common language?
The introduction of the euro in 2001 as a common European currency has made life easier for crossborder purchases and allows a much simpler price comparison than previously. However, as de Mooij (2000, p. 104) emphasizes:
International marketers would like us to believe that in the ‘new Europe’ with a single currency, people will become more similar, will increasingly eat the same food, wear jeans and sports shoes and watch the same television programs. Reality is different. Few people watch international (English language) television programs regularly. Understanding the English language still varies widely and few Europeans, apart from the British and the Irish, regularly watch English language television without translation or subtitles.

An implicit, but extremely strong and enduring assumption underlying the treaties that created the EU is the respect for national languages, cultures and identities. However, it is phrased in Article 128, section 1 of the Maastricht Treaty in terms which introduce a compromise on relation to the promotion of members’ cultures or the common European culture: ‘The Community shall contribute to the flowering of the cultures of the Member States, while respecting their national and regional diversity, and at the same time bringing the common cultural heritage to the fore’ (Council of the European Communities, 1992, p. 48). A fundamental element of culture is language, covered in Chapter 13. Language has a strong influence on our world-views and partly shapes our individual and collective behaviour. Even if this assumption in its strongest version (called the Whorfian hypothesis) has been challenged by linguists, it remains a useful metaphor for illustrating its influence on behaviours. Europeans are committed to their language as a social and cultural asset. In most European countries there is much stronger emphasis than in the United States on grammatical appropriateness, and correct pronunciation is often a social prerequisite for the holding of a number of posts. The six original EU countries had four different languages. From 1986 there were 12 countries with 10 languages, and since May 2004, there are 25 countries with 20 different official languages. This ‘Tower of Babel’ situation makes communication difficult and an army of more than 3,000 full-time translators


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Box 6.2

French fears about English as the common European language
There is great pride in the French language in France. It is recognized as one of the two official languages of the United Nations, on a par-basis with English. French people have a rather defensive attitude towards English, and since the 1970s the French authorities have regularly issued official decrees prohibiting the use of English words, especially business words, in French texts (Usunier, 1990). French fears typify resistance to globalization, since it is believed that through consumption patterns the whole of French society and culture could be ‘Americanized’. The French are fascinated by the ‘American way of life’ as an exotic item. But many French people, including politicians, would be horrified to have it ‘at home’. If the fears are, perhaps, legitimate, the defensive measures are certainly inadequate. The example of northern European countries shows that it is quite feasible to have a double-language culture. One is the local culture; it corresponds to ways of life and consumption patterns that are not globalized. The other is in English; it corresponds to an international lifestyle and globalized consumption patterns. Television channels in English such as MTV, Sky Channel and Super Channel can be seen in many northern European countries, although not in France, where the development of cable television has been stringently restricted. A few years ago the number of householders with cable television in France was half that of Ireland, a country with a population one-fifteenth the size of that of France and a much lower per capita purchasing power. Most people believe that satellite TV in Europe, and other new communication technologies, will help to standardize the profile of the European consumer. But the conditions for achieving this will be much better if there is a common language through which to build a common European culture, sustaining new European consumption patterns.

are employed on the EU staff. The issue of a common language for Europe has never been addressed, at least publicly. It is practically an absolute taboo. In the European Single Act of 1987, Article 34 states that: ‘This act [is] drawn up in a single original in the Danish, Dutch, English, French, German, Greek, Irish, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish languages, the texts in each of these languages being equally authentic’ (European Communities, 1987, p. 574). One of the main proponents of keeping taboo the common language issue is France (see Box 6.2), but the Germans are very keen to have their language spoken, since there are now almost 90 million German speakers in the EU, as a result of the reunification of East and West Germany and the addition of Austria to the EU. In a recent poll, young Europeans were asked to list the most useful factors for finding a good job. The most commonly cited factor was a command of languages (63 per cent of respondents from the fifteen EU member countries and 81 per cent from the new 2004 EU member countries).

However, it is clear that resistance to change will not prevent English from being the common language, if not the first language, then the standard second language. This is already true for business all over Europe. Even in the publishing business where linguistic differences between countries were traditionally viewed as powerful barriers to internationalization, English is more and more considered the standard language, especially for scientific and technical publications. Sinatra and Dubini (1991, p. 99) quote an English publisher as saying, ‘All is published in English. In general publishing, anything significant is published in English, regardless of the mother language of the author. Higher level academic journals, they will all be in English.’ A Dutch publisher gives a slightly different view: ‘I don’t think language will be a problem in the near future. I do not adhere to the idea of a common language for all countries of the community, but I think that soon all European citizens will be able to read three or four different languages. People will be citizens of Europe in the next century.’


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A good example of how English will spread over the whole community is given by the new European Credit Transfer System (ECTS), sponsored by the EU Commission and designed for facilitating crossborder higher education. The ECTS information package that each university must prepare has to be written in two languages (they are not specified!). Naturally all of the universities involved have chosen their own national language plus English. Another aspect of communication is technology. There appears to be a good deal of convergence in the use of technology among young Europeans. For instance, more than 75 per cent of people across the 25 EU member countries use mobile phones and more than 30 per cent use e-mail each week (Eurobarometer, 2003). But the way it is used appears to vary across cultures. As de Mooij (2000, p. 111) states:
The Internet is basically an unstructured means of communication. This is more difficult to accept in cultures of strong than of weak uncertainty avoidance. The latter will be later adopters of the Internet for regular communication and mail purposes. This explains relatively low daily use of e-mail in France and Germany, as compared with the UK and Scandinavian countries.


A changing marketing environment: Eastern Europe
The inclusion of eight east European countries (in total ten but Cyprus and Malta are not from eastern Europe) into the European Union is very important. Eastern Europe and Russia have huge raw material production and reserves including metal ores, coal, oil, gas and agricultural products, while western Europe has the technology.

The heritage
Communism meant collective ownership of the means of production. In most countries, except Poland, a large part of agriculture was state-owned and managed. The same was true for foreign trade, which was the monopoly of sectoral agencies. Administered trade was the rule where both production and trade

were centrally organized. Ikarus buses were made in Hungary for the whole of eastern Europe and similarly Balkancar forklifts were made by the Bulgarians. As Naor (1986) emphasized in the case of Romania, distribution was as cost efficient as possible, that is, direct distribution from producer to retailers was advocated to the greatest extent possible. But distribution was very poor and parallel, informal distribution often replaced state-run retail outlets where people had to wait to find the few products available. Although the concept of marketing has long been known in countries such as Hungary and Poland, there was an absence of real marketing infrastructures, such as market research consultants, panels, advertising agencies, etc. Communism, having existed for between 40 and 70 years, has left its mark on culture. Consumers have been used to facing systematic undersupply moderated by queues rather than prices. In Bulgaria, for instance, people had to wait several years to obtain a car, which they finally paid for at a price so low that it could not be compared with a market price elsewhere. Managers, if taking any initiative, had to take into account political and ideological, rather than management, criteria. Today there are democratically elected governments in most of eastern Europe, which are committed to establishing market economies based on free competition. The most important difference between the West and eastern Europe is the fact that there exists a gap of at least two or three generations in terms of productivity and infrastructure. In the most advanced countries, Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic, there has been progress in maintaining property rights and removing some market imperfections, but this progress is far behind the West. Although most countries in eastern Europe are committed to improving their economies, there are still many interrelated obstacles to be dealt with in the path to growth. Issues such as trade barriers, the development of banking and loan systems, pricing mechanisms, property and contract law all need attention. Privatization is considered a means to achieve market economies and growth, but there is no easy way to achieve privatization in eastern Europe. Over-optimistic estimates are now being revised and people have started realizing that it might take a decade or two before a privatized market economy is achieved.


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The transition: Opportunism and misconceptions
Reactions from Western companies to market developments in eastern Europe have been rather cautious. However, in spite of this reluctance, most multinationals had entered these markets by the early 1990s (Tietz, 1994). Companies such as McDonald’s, PepsiCola, Coca-Cola, Statoil, Ericsson, Ikea, Fiat, Nokia, Volkswagen, Estée Lauder, Philip Morris, almost all pharmaceutical firms and several small and mediumsized companies have already established operations in these markets. The governments are providing a number of incentives to foreign companies to invest in their countries. In spite of the reluctance from Western companies to invest, there has been a considerable increase in registered joint ventures. By March 1992, there were 34,121 registered joint ventures between Western companies and organizations from eastern Europe and by 1994 it had reached 106,295 (Ghauri and Usunier, 1996). A big comparative advantage of ex-communist countries is their good level of general education, with a high percentage of university graduates, and the proximity of eastern European values to those of western Europe. This is evidenced by the rapid implementation of Western-style training programs and the quick adjustment of local consumer behaviour to western European lifestyles (Djarova, 1999). Another comparative advantage of eastern Europe is a favourable ratio between labour costs and productivity. A study by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development showed that the salaries of skilled workers in export investments were at 16 per cent of their Western parent-company level, while average productivity level was reported to be at 72 per cent of the Western level (EBRD, 1997). This is a key advantage, which, combined with qualified engineering staff, explains the success of some industrial takeovers such as that of the Czech Skoda by Volkswagen. A fundamental condition for the development of markets and marketing is the change in ownership structure. The highly centralized organizational forms in eastern Europe do not stimulate a market orientation. Western companies are generally attracted by the core businesses of eastern European companies, but are uninterested in under-performing peripheral activities. As a consequence the take over of such

companies often means immediate restructuring and selling the loss-making parts of the company (e.g. the case of Sara Lee/Douwe Egberts in Hungary). Privatization programmes have therefore been a major challenge for the governments, with major problems related to their implementation such as valuing companies, establishing a stock exchange, creating notaries and specialized intermediaries for real estate. One of the trickiest problems was to find local shareholders in countries where capitalism had long been associated with exploitation. Private ownership presupposes rules and institutions such as contract law, bankruptcy law, or courts for settling business disputes. The absence of such infrastructure created massive opportunism, as in the case of the former Soviet Asian republics (Box 6.3). The eastern European countries comprise two groups; the northern countries have formed an alliance called the Visegrad group (Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland). These countries are now part of the EU but the value structure of consumers differs widely across the region. Thus, a regiocentric approach to marketing must be used cautiously, since the belief systems have been shaped by different environmental influences. For instance, Poland and Hungary have a long tradition of marketing education which makes them more comparable in terms of local marketing knowledge to France or Germany than to Bulgaria or Romania. The Polish journal of marketing can be consulted on the world wide web. Since 1991, US trade with Poland has been increasing by more than 100 per cent per year. Polish imports from the United States reached more than $1.8 billion in 2000. However, nationalistic feelings are always strong in Poland as well as in other eastern European countries, especially when they are neighbouring countries where war and conflicts have featured in past centuries. The group of southern Balkan states has traditionally been less developed and highly compartmentalized. Here, national identity takes priority over cooperation in an area where ethnic and religious diversity has always been quite strong. The Bulgarians, for instance, have poor relations with all their neighbours except the Serbs. Eastern Europe, and more generally the ex-communist countries, is experiencing rapid changes. Countries such as Romania and Bulgaria are standing in queue to enter the EU in the next


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Box 6.3

Cotton story
In April 1994, a commodity trader was discussing the purchase of raw cotton in the former Soviet Asia (mainly Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Tadjikistan): ‘For two years, the market for raw cotton has been tense, mainly for the three following reasons: (1) climatic hazards in certain producing regions which thus became net importers instead of net exporters, especially China; (2) reduction of cultivated zones in Uzbekistan; (3) to this, you must add that salespeople break their word in the former Soviet Asia. Last year, the Uzbeks sold their crops twice or thrice; this year, they seem to be a little more serious; but the worst is to be experienced in Turkmenistan. Last year, I signed several contracts for 20,000 tonnes, one of them for 4,000 tonnes, with an official export licence, a ministerial approval and a shipment certificate; I have never received anything!’ This failure appears all the more striking when one takes into account that in worldwide cotton trading it is a well-established custom that the professional who does not respect a contract not only must pay damages but also is blacklisted by the whole trading community.
(Source: M.O. Ancel, commodity trader at Louis Dreyfus & Co., Paris, 1994.)

round that can start as early as 2007. Many countries in this region started from a situation where people had no idea of what a contract, a price and delivery times were. (For information on marketing textbooks from the Russian Republic see WS A6.4.) Generally, the ex-communist countries have a good level of general education. But as Griffin (2000, p. 34) notes, international marketers still have to live a very adventurous life:
Based on the marketplace realities, Russian consumers have a word that is used at times in place of ‘buying’ something.

The word dostats, best interpreted as ‘to acquire with great difficulty,’ was used by another Russian consumer we interviewed when he described his ability to ‘dostats’ almost 40 per cent of building materials for minor home repairs in only a few months.

Anecdotally, western European business people who take their own cars to these countries are told to take the wipers with them each time they park their car so that they will not be stolen. If they have to take a taxi, some precautions must be taken, as evidenced by Box 6.4.

Box 6.4

Taking a taxi in Moscow
A Belgian engineer, with no particular knowledge of 1994 Russia, was due to go to a construction site in Siberia for the German contractor he worked for. When he arrived in Moscow, he was transferred from the international to the national airport by a chauffeur of the German company. After working on the site in Siberia, a much quieter area than Moscow, he decided to return on his own, and earlier than initially planned, because the job had been done more quickly. When in Moscow, he took a taxi to the local offices of the German company. Taking the first available car, he negotiated the fare at $50. At first, all seemed to be normal, but after a while, the taxi stopped in a fairly remote, deserted and unfriendly area. The driver then explained that he needed an additional $50 to continue to transport him. He paid without discussion and reached the company offices with no problem. He was lucky: it could have been much worse.
(Source: M.O. Ancel, commodity trader at Louis Dreyfus & Co., Paris, 1994.)


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A challenging marketing environment: East Asia
East Asia is challenging for westerners because the values and mindsets are different. East Asians are perceived as economic rivals by westerners and their path to success has been often stereotypically attributed to imitative behaviour (at best) or counterfeiting (at worst). The challenge is to overcome stereotypes and misunderstandings. Despite the 1997 economic downturn in Asia (affecting, in particular, South Korea, Thailand and Indonesia), the uncertainties surrounding the Iraq war and the outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), ASEAN countries posted a GDP growth of over 4 per cent in 2002 and 2003. High rates of economic growth have been combined with increasing shares in world trade (approx 25 per cent for emerging Asia). However, in the mid-1960s, there was extensive pessimism about the future of Asia, considered to be overpopulated and unable to achieve proper development: a book published in 1968, by Gunnar Myrdal, a Nobel Prize winner, was entitled Asian Drama, An Enquiry into

the Poverty of Nations. This pessimistic view has been largely discounted by facts. Asian commonalities, in contrast to those of westerners, were viewed as a drawback, as not conducive to business initiative; such characteristics included the lack of individualism. Hofstede (1980) established a correlation between individualism and GNP per capita which seemed to suggest that individualism was a precondition for high levels of economic development. Now the perspective has been totally reversed. The issue is now for the West to understand why the collectivist values of many Asian nations help them to achieve much more than individualistic European countries, which have had lower rates of economic growth and higher unemployment rates over the same period of time. The Confucian values have been said to be an essential driving force behind such dynamism (see Box 6.5; see also WS6.6 on Asian values). Some have argued that, at the society level, they are backed by a system of authoritarian pluralism (Pohl, 1995) quite different from the liberal democracies in the West. Drug trafficking, for instance, is heavily penalized in countries such as Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand. A Dutch prime minister who recently travelled to one of these countries to plead for one of his countrymen

Box 6.5

The fifth dimension: Confucian dynamism
This new dimension, mentioned in Chapter 2, has been added to Hofstede’s four dimensions. Michael Bond, a researcher based in Hong Kong, designed a questionnaire called the Chinese Value Survey (CVS), which was administered in 23 countries. It is based on basic values as seen by native Chinese social scientists. A new dimension was discovered through the CVS. Bond coined the term ‘Confucian dynamism’ to emphasize the importance of Confucian practical ethics, based on the following principles: 1. The stability of society is based on unequal relationships, expressing mutual and complementary obligations as between father and son, older brother and younger brother, ruler and subject. 2. The family is the prototype of all social organizations; individuality has to be repressed if it threatens harmony, but everybody’s face must be maintained by preserving others’ dignity. 3. ‘Virtuous behaviour’ towards others consists of not treating others as one would not like to be treated oneself. 4. Virtue with regard to one’s tasks in life consists of trying to acquire skills and education, working hard, not spending more than necessary, being patient and persevering. Hofstede (2001) refers to this as long and short term orientation.
(Source: Adapted from Hofstede and Bond, 1988, and Hofstede, 2001, p. 354.)


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who had been sentenced to death for drug trafficking, discovered that the rules were applied with much less leniency than in the United States or in Europe: he did not obtain mercy for the condemned man. Australia has had similar experiences, and was unable to prevent the execution of two Australian citizens in Kuala Lumpur in 1986. Since then some convicted traffickers, for example in Bangkok, have benefited from diplomatic negotiations between the respective countries resulting in prisoner exchanges. The components of authoritarian pluralism are as follows: 1. A negation of individualism: group belonging and consequent obligations are more important than individual human rights; persons try to be in unison rather than in discordance with society. 2. Family, as already emphasized in Chapter 4, is the basic building block. Divorce rates are much lower than in the West; family is a form of social insurance that efficiently replaces the costly impersonal welfare systems of Western countries. 3. Education is highly valued and people are ready to make financial sacrifices and efforts to obtain it. 4. Thrift, modesty and renunciation are the rule until somebody can show through conspicuous consumption that he or she has really deserved personal enjoyment (Asia is the dominant market for French XO cognac at $80 per bottle). 5. The strong work orientation is facilitated by the collective ambience of effort. 6. A ‘national teamwork’ orientation: trade unions, businesses and the government strive more in the same direction than in the West, although conflicts of interests also exist. 7. The Asian form of contrat social: the role of the state is mostly to provide law and order, as in Singapore. Citizens follow the rules in as far as the state is fair and humane. 8. The state is a company and the citizens its shareholders. 9. An orientation towards a ‘morally clean environment’: unbridled representations of sex and crime are not tolerated; attacks on other beliefs are inexorably pursued, since most of the societies comprise several religions. 10. The press is free, but is not a ‘fourth estate’. Asian states believe in the necessity of a free press as a condition of good governance. But the press

has no absolute right and must blend with the national consensus. However, Asian diversity remains very strong, at least in terms of perceived inter-Asian differences. For instance, Ooi (2002, pp. 6–9) describes tensions between Singapore and its Muslim neighbours, such as Indonesia: ‘B.J. Habibie, when he was president of Indonesia, reminded Singapore that the island city-state is only a little red dot in the vast green Malay–Islamic world. Green is the colour of Islam . . . national boundaries are still significant, and forces of globalisation have not eroded national patriotism.’ Similarly, the Chinese perceive themselves as totally different from the Japanese, the Vietnamese or the Koreans. The Chinese Diaspora is present in several countries, with extended economic power and sometimes with difficult relationships with the native populations. The consensus is at society level: some strong conflicts between ingroups, for instance between Chinese and Malays in Malaysia, although still very present, have been overcome in favour of cooperation. These cultural differences have been found to extend to differences in management style. For instance, at the country level Neelankavil et al. (2000) found that self confidence/charisma was very important for Chinese managers, but of low importance for Filipino and Indian managers. Similarly at the regional level, Ralston et al. (1999) found that managers in North Vietnam exhibited a more Western orientation toward Individualism, while managers in the South seem to hold a more traditionally Asian collectivist bent. The North is apparently embracing both Collectivism and Individualism. They suggest that ‘similarities in economic evaluation between the Vietnamese and Chinese suggest that this paradox may be a developing economy paradox – at least an Asian paradox’ (p. 670). To illustrate the different attitudes and values of East Asians, Rosalie Tung (1996, pp. 369–70) recounts the following hypothetical situation presented to her by a Korean professor: two cars, driven by two Korean males, approach each other from the opposite ends of a narrow bridge; only one vehicle can pass at a time. He asks her what the two Koreans would do, and what two Japanese or two Chinese drivers would do in their place.
My response was as follows: ‘the two Koreans would most probably step out of their cars and fight it out’. ‘Correct’,


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said my Korean colleague. ‘In the case of the two Japanese drivers, each person would most probably ask the other to go first’, I continued. ‘Right you are again’, nodded the Korean professor. I hesitated about the response to the possible reaction of the Chinese because China is a much larger country and there can be lots of regional differences. I told my Korean friend that I will venture an answer which is more characteristic of inhabitants in southern China. ‘Each driver will most probably pull out the newspaper and start reading.’ ‘Correct again’, my Korean friend said.

The formidable rise of China as a marketing environment is a special case in many respects because it is both an East Asian and a former communist country, while also a continent. Sethuraman (2004, p. 2) comments on the emergence of consumer power in China: ‘China’s rising demand for primary products and metals is boosting world commodity prices. Intra-regional trade now accounts for 40 per cent of total exports of the countries within.’ China had an annual growth of 8.5 per cent in 2004. Now the sixth-largest country in the world in term of total advertising expenses at US$8.5 billion. China has more than 80,000 official advertising agencies (Madden, 2004). How China will import and develop marketing knowledge over the coming years is probably the greatest challenge faced by international marketers in the East Asian region. Business dealings with China need to be mindful of corruption throughout the government, military and business communities, and the impact politics can have on even the most basic business transactions. Legal concepts in China also rarely match Western ideals (Dixon and Newman, 1998). Because China is still a developing country, the majority of fast-growing Chinese companies that have become big are not those with the latest technology, but those that have the best management skills, effective business model, and successful branding strategy (Miao, 2003).

satellite television and the Internet, to block the access of citizens to information on what is happening in their own country and in the world. Only a very few countries deny their citizens access to the Internet while some, like China and Tunisia, try to control access. The general economic environment is to a certain extent converging, but there are major limitations in a number of areas that are important for marketing. While economic systems are converging towards a market economy, the degree of poverty of a significant group of developing countries has been increasing over the years. Legal integration has limits since legal traditions continue to differ greatly. Some legal materials are duplicated and become complex, as in the EU where laws pertaining to marketing are regulated both at EU level and at the level of member states, sometimes resulting in discrepancies, even if local regulation is supposed to comply with Europe-wide directives. Buying and consumption patterns in affluent counties appear to have in fact diverged as much as converged. Interestingly de Mooij (2001) found that preference for new cars over second-hand cars depended more on culture than on wealth, across 15 European countries. Today, consumers have more opportunities for choice and are often affected by social needs. As de Mooij (1998, pp. 58–9) states:
Clothes satisfy a functional need, whereas fashion satisfies a social need. Some personal care products serve functional needs, but others serve social needs. A house serves a functional need and a home, a social need. Culture influences the type of house in which people live, how they relate to their homes, and how they tend to their homes. A car may satisfy a functional need, but the type of car for most people satisfies a social need. Social needs are cultural-bound.


Limitations to the worldwide convergence of marketing environments
The political environment worldwide has clearly converged, with the steady decline of communist regimes. It is more and more difficult, given the powerful means of telecommunications, including

Marketing infrastructures are converging, because the standards of the marketing profession are fairly consistent worldwide. Multinational companies have heavily influenced the widespread adoption of similar practices even if to some extent tailored to local environments. Marketing knowledge is probably the most controversial issue. It is based on Anglo-American cultural premises and seems to have been widely adopted worldwide. However, a multitude of differences, both local and cultural, reflect how marketing knowledge has been understood, sometimes misunderstood, and often transformed. Hence, management expectations


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about both consumers’ responses and the performance of marketing tasks can be partly disproved, even in an environment to which they are apparently suited, because there has not been enough awareness and understanding of the local marketing environment. Thus, US-based consumer behaviour theories are not necessarily valid for other cultures. Lastly, it is important to note that the heightened security following the terrorist attack on New York

in September 2001, the war in Iraq and SARS have compelled nations to tighten their borders. Kearney (2002) discusses this in relation to the effect of government warnings, restrictions and public anxiety leading to a decline in global tourism for the first time in 50 years. While people may be shying away from travelling, other aspects of globalization such as mobile phones and the Internet are likely to increase our contact with people in other nations.

1. Why is local marketing knowledge important for designing marketing strategies? 2. In Sweden, the consumerist movement is particularly strong as compared with France, Italy and Spain. Discuss why in the light of Hofstede’s four dimensions (see Table 3.3). 3. What are the common values shared by people in the first 15 countries in the European Union? Conversely, what may be the differences? 4. To what extent does ‘Confucian dynamism’ explain the economic success of South-East Asian countries? 5. Based on the case of eastern European, and more generally the ex-communist, countries, explain what a ‘transition culture’ is. 6. What are the values shared by US, Mexican and Canadian societies? Conversely, on which aspects do they differ? 7. Discuss the limitations of the following statement: ‘In the future there will be three major trading blocs: North America, Western Europe and East Asia’.

1. See for instance the four volumes published by Philip Parker (1997a, 1997b, 1997c and 1997d), which give detailed statistical references for the religious, linguistic, ethnic and national cultures of the world.

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Appendix 6

Teaching materials

A6.1 Case Muslim Cola: Cola wars or cola crusades?
During the prelude to the recent American-led invasion of Iraq, some consumers boycotted American products and brands. In the Philippines, ten leading products were targeted, including Coke, McDonald’s, Citibank and Starbucks. Among the reasons given by boycott leaders was ‘disgust and revulsion’ at the invasion (Business World, 2003). In some Russian and German cities, restaurant patrons were told that Coke was unavailable because of the current political situation (O’Flynn, 2003). Other countries with active boycotts discussed in the press included Argentina, Egypt, France, Greece, India, Indonesia, Italy, Malaysia, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Yemen. Almost without exception, Coca-Cola figures prominently in the boycotted product lists. Coca-Cola has itself been targeted in a long-standing boycott over its bottling plant in occupied Palestine (Anon, 2003). For years boycotts in support of the Palestinian Intifada have been in effect, as well as boycott threats in opposition to the Bush Administration’s international trade stance on biotech foods and other issues (Cowen, 2003). Coke’s prominence on boycott lists points to its paradigmatic status as an American brand. Variations on the Coca-Cola logo have been used as an image on anti-war posters, and in puns, as in ‘COLA-teral Damage’ by the Belgian group STOPUSA.

Muslim colas
Mecca Cola ( was launched by Tunisian-born entrepreneur Tawfik Mathlouthi in November, 2002. Although its packaging is similar in colour and style to that of Coca-Cola, its philosophy is diametrically opposed to the drinks monolith: its logo is ‘No more drinking stupid – drink with commitment!’, and ‘Don’t shake me, shake your conscience!’ The French company claims that 10 per cent of its net profits will be sent to Palestinian children’s charities, plus another 10 per cent to European charities favouring international peace and Palestinian causes. Mecca drinks (including Tonic, Classic, Mentha and Vanilly) are distributed in Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany and the United Kingdom, according to the company (Hundley, 2003). In Great Britain, orders are brisk at over two million bottles per month (Jeffery, 2003). Mecca Cola ‘sponsored’ the million-strong peace march in London in February, 2003, handing out ‘Not in my name’ t-shirts and Mecca Cola. Across the Channel, Qibla Cola made its appearance in February, 2003. According to the Qibla Cola website (, British entrepreneur Zahida Parveen founded the company to offer ‘real alternatives to global consumer brands that support unjust policies’ (Qibla Cola, 2003). Like Mecca Cola, Qibla’s offerings resemble those of Coca-Cola, and Qibla is the Arabic word for the direction to pray to Mecca, but the company is more than a


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nod at Mecca Cola. The company promotes Qibla Cola, Qibla Fantasy (orange and mango), Qibla 5 (lemon and lime, named for the five pillars of Islam), and spring water to 2.5 million Muslims in Britain, with an eye on Indonesia, Pakistan and Bangladesh (Hundley, 2003). The company works with Islamic Aid, a registered charity that is to receive 10 per cent of net profits. Qibla notes that it broke even after only two months, an exceptional performance for a start-up (Datsun, 2003). In an interview, Qibla CEO Zafer Iqbal proffered that the products’ packaging and taste parallels with Coca-Cola were intended to ‘leverage’ Coke’s global image and make consumers aware of Islamic alternatives like Qibla (Datson, 2003). Company spokesperson Abdul Hamid Ebrahim stated that the company’s inspiration came from Iran’s ZamZam Cola, a company that profited from a leading Iranian cleric’s ruling that Coke and Pepsi were ‘un-Islamic’ (Hundley, 2003). ZamZam cola has a leading market share of 47 per cent in its home country Iran, a net income of US$176 million last year and more than 7,000 employees in 17 factories (Fernandez-Fanjul, 2002). It is distributed throughout the Middle East, and in some African and European countries, notably Denmark. The company was Coke’s long-term partner in Iran, prior to the Islamic Revolution. In the autumn of 2002, ZamZam produced more than ten million bottles to meet rising demand in Saudi Arabia, spurred on by anger over American support for Israel (Anon, 2002). As a consequence of boycotts and the advent of competitors like ZamZam, sales of Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Cola fell from 20–40 per cent in some Middle Eastern countries in 2002 (Theodoulou et al., 2002). There are other Muslim Colas dedicated to taking market share from Coke, including Pakistan’s Salsabeen (promoted through pamphlets distributed after Friday prayers), Morocco’s Star Cola, and French MuslimUp ( All these cola companies face similar problems. They are up against the world’s most valuable brand, Coca-Cola, valued at more than US$70 billion (Ries, 2003). For all but ZamZam, securing capacity contracts with bottling plants has proven difficult. Distribution is a problem, with supermarkets often reluctant to take on a new ‘niche’ product with an unsure future. Distributors are also concerned about the capacity of cola suppliers to meet demand at a consistent quality level. As a result, these alternative colas are often sold in small family owned shops in areas populated by immigrants (Majidi and Passariello, 2003). It is unlikely that any of the Muslim colas poses a real threat to the entrenched hegemony of Coke, however. As one consultant has put it, if the market for Muslim colas gets too big, Coke will simply buy them up, just as it did with start-up cola company Thumbs Up in India (Majidi and Passariello, 2003).

1. Some analysts believe that companies like Qibla and Mecca are not capable of long-term market share, and that their initial success is due to publicity that will quickly fizzle out. Is this a likely scenario, given the competitive environment in which they operate? 2. Some Muslims object to the ‘commercialization’ of Islam, as represented by these cola companies’ marketing strategies. Should these Muslim cola companies target a wider audience? If so, how? Give them some marketing ideas. 3. If you were the CEO of the leading company (Coca-Cola) how would you react to the emergence of Muslim colas? In non-Muslim countries? In Muslim countries? Same question if you were the CEO of the longstanding challenger (Pepsi-Cola)?
Saskia Faulk and Jean-Claude Usunier prepared this case solely to provide material for class discussion. The authors do not intend to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a business situation. The authors may have disguised certain names and other identifying information to protect confidentiality. (©IUMI, reprinted with kind permission.)


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Appendix 6 Teaching materials


A6.2 Case Odol
When Manfred Hansen took over as marketing director of Lingner and Fischer in 1985, the company held a meagre 15 per cent of the oral care market in Germany – half of what the leader, Procter & Gamble, could claim. Known since 1997 as SmithKline Beecham, the company now commands a 30.4 per cent share of oral care while P & G’s slice has shrunk to 13.8 per cent according to AC Nielsen. And Mr Hansen has kept his promise to be the leading oral care company in Germany, while becoming No. 1 in Switzerland and Austria as well. SmithKline managed this turnaround through savvy marketing, including extending the familiar Odol and Dr Best brand names, bringing a fresh positioning to whitening products and paying close attention to consumer needs in areas such as packaging, where it eliminated wasteful wrapping entirely. The company also achieved its success in Germany by keeping an eye on global strategies while giving local managers some autonomy. ‘SmithKline Beecham is acting much faster and takes greater risks than P & G,’ said a marketing manager at the now pacesetting company. ‘We are in constant touch with headquarters in order to understand market situations in other countries, [but] fortunately headquarters leaves us freedom to act in our market, taking into consideration the local situation.’ Becoming the market leader in toothpaste, a $545 million category in Germany and hotly contested by rivals P & G, Colgate-Palmolive Co. and Elidda-Gibbs hasn’t been easy. Newcomers barely get a chance to survive; Henkel’s thera-med, launched in 1979 is a rare exception. So SmithKline and Mr Hansen proceeded cautiously, testing its toothpaste in a year long test in two German cities, Bad Kreuznach and Buxtehude, of the names Odol med 3, Aquafresh med 3 and – extending the name of its existing toothbrush line – Dr Best med 3. It soon became evident that consumers favoured Odol med 3, a brand name under which the company had marketed a mouthwash concentrate since 1893. Not coincidentally, Odol is category leader in mouthwash with a 70 per cent share in Germany, 80 per cent in Austria, and 60 per cent in Switzerland. ‘Odol’s brand name is extremely strong; consumers have had confidence in the product for 100 years,’ Mr Hansen said. ‘We used this name because of the brand capital it has. Our headquarters ensures that each subsidiary uses international experience, but if we can be more successful with a local brand name, we use it.’ For example, in Spain, the Aquafresh brand is marketed under the name Binaca Med 3. SmithKline’s eventual success in toothpaste was an even harder-won fight considering Odol med 3’s premium price. The toothpaste was marketed for 25 per cent more than ten average in Germany, but the price was justified by its attributes, such as three-prong protection against cavities, plaque and periodontal disease. After notching a 4 per cent market share in 1989, its first year, Odol med 3 climbed to 6 per cent in 1990 with the introduction of a mint line extension. By 1993, share was still climbing despite the fact that SmithKline was spending only $8 million to $10 million on advertising – half of what P & G was laying out for its Blend-a-Med brand. Odol also got a boost from SmithKline’s move in 1991 to strip away cumbersome packaging and sell the tubes without an outer box. ‘We take our consumers very seriously,’ Mr Hansen said ‘When we noticed that consumers were reacting to unnecessary packaging, we acted immediately.’ The stripped-down package was touted in an amusing campaign from Grey Advertising, Düsseldorf, SmithKline’s agency of record in oral care for 15 years. The spot mimicked a strip-tease act with the toothpaste unburdening itself of its outer wrapper as an audience of


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Chapter 6 The convergence of marketing environments worldwide

animated teeth yelled out cheers and catcalls. Mr Hansen, in fact, said its close relationship with Grey was a major reason for its conquest of German-speaking countries. ‘We are one team,’ he said. ‘We have integrated the agency – the account people as well as the creative team – totally in our marketing, and we discuss with them everything from product policy to marketing strategy, prices and distribution.’ Grey, then, was part of SmithKline’s decision to create a special package shaped like a tooth for Odol med 3 in Germany. This development also helped the base brand reach its current 9 per cent market share in Germany neck-to-neck with Blend-a-Med. The package is being used as a template in other markets, Mr Hansen said. What put SmithKline finally over the top was its whitening line extension, Odol med 3 samtweiss. At the time of its introduction, in 1996, whitening toothpastes were considered an also-ran in the category, used mainly by smokers and coffee and tea drinkers, and they claimed only a 5 per cent segment of the total toothpaste market in Germany. Mr Hansen and his team aimed to change that with advertising that argued against consumers’ notions that whiteners damage teeth and are abrasive. Further, the message was that everyone with yellowing teeth should try Odol med 3 samtweiss. In a single year the strategy propelled the toothpaste’s German share to 6.8 per cent share and rocketed SmithKline’s overall toothpaste share to 15.8 per cent. That sent competitors, including Henkel and Colgate, scrambling to introduce whiteners, which are just now about to hit store shelves. But SmithKline’s wasn’t finished yet. There were still toothbrushes to consider. Although the company had sold a toothbrush under the Dr Best name since 1953, the brand’s share languished at 5 per cent of the German market in the mid-1980s, and Mr Hansen said the company was considering spinning it off. ‘We even discussed selling the brand,’ he revealed, ‘but I fought for its survival because market research showed us the Dr Best name had a recognition level of over 70 per cent. What we needed was a product advantage.’ The break came in 1988, in the form of a new brush with a floating neck and a flexible handle that massaged the gums without injuring them. Grey then set to work: the agency sought, and found, a real Dr Best, a dental professional from the US who appeared in TV ads that showed the toothbrush working on a tomato without damaging its delicate skin. Not surprisingly, P & G and Colgate followed with products of their own – but not until SmithKline had leapt into the leadership position in toothbrushes with a 39.8 per cent share, up from a mere 5 per cent in 1985 when Mr Hansen began his initial assault.
(Source: Reprinted with permission from the November 1997 issue of Advertising Age. International copyright © Crain Communication Inc. 1997.)

1. Which aspects of the German marketing environment explain the success of Odol med 3 in terms of consumer response to the brand’s innovations? 2. Why can a market like Germany be a lead market for packaging innovation in general? 3. Discuss the issues involved in transferring part of Odol’s recipe for success to near national markets (France, the United Kingdom), especially the tooth-like packaging.


Cross-cultural market research

Companies will often encounter problems when undertaking market research across national/cultural boundaries. One European syrup maker ordered a survey of the Swedish market from a large international market research company. Unfortunately, syrup, a solution of sugar dissolved in water and flavoured with fruit juice, was incorrectly translated as blandsaft, a Swedish term for concentrated fruit juice, a local substitute for syrup with much less sugar. Thus, when the results came in, they were of no use, because it was a local product rather than the product category at large that had been surveyed. This simple translation mistake may have cost the company the money allocated to the research, but had they not discovered the mistake and acted on an answer to the wrong problem, it could have cost them dearly in market share as well. The previous example is just one of many possible hazards engendered by the lack of timely, relevant information. For instance, the simultaneous launch of new products into several different national markets requires research to be undertaken in multiple locations at the same time. Typical research questions may be similar to the following: 1. How should one undertake a market survey for instant coffee in a traditionally tea-drinking country like the United Kingdom or Japan? What information and data must be sought? How should the data be collected? 2. Which information-gathering technique should be used for personal care products in a country where, for instance, potential respondents resent interviews as an intrusion into their privacy?

3. Where the starting point is a questionnaire that was originally designed for a specific country/ culture, how should it be translated and adapted to the cultural specificity of other countries in which it is to be administered? Even slight differences in the research question may require a different emphasis or even a different research technique to uncover the required answers. For instance, we might want to know how to increase market share, but we need to make sure that the problem (and not just the symptom) is correctly specified. Using instant coffee as an example, we might ask one of the following: 1. How can we recover the market share lost by instant coffee to ground coffee in a traditionally coffee-drinking country? This requires the investigation of consumption patterns in certain social and family situations, and the times at which people drink specific coffee-based beverages.1 2. How can we increase the market share for instant coffee out of the total hot beverages market in a traditionally tea-drinking country? Cultural differences are the main characteristic of interest when contrasting countries, now that nontariff barriers are easing. An understanding of the cross-cultural environment is a basic requirement in setting the research objective: therefore the objectives cannot be the same as those for domestic market research. Given the multinationalization of business, establishing the quality of research instruments, the consistency of behavioural/attitudinal constructs and the equivalence of samples are of paramount concern


Chapter 7 Cross-cultural market research

to the marketer. This chapter aims to provide the reader with some basic insights, drawn mostly from cross-cultural methodology in the social sciences, on how to solve these problems. This chapter presents the main limits to equivalence across national/cultural contexts when one undertakes cross-cultural market research, and in particular the issue of conceptual and functional equivalence (section 7.1), translation problems (section 7.2), measure equivalence related to different units being used cross-culturally (section 7.3), the comparability of samples and sampling procedures (section 7.4) and the equivalence problems in datacollection procedures resulting from interviewers’ and respondents’ attitudes towards surveys (section 7.5). The last section (section 7.6) discusses whether international market research should use a different approach from traditional, positivistic market research techniques.

Europe. Out of the five areas in the survey (ways of shopping, quality aspects, cooking methods, consumption situations and purchasing motives), only consumption situations and purchasing motives showed even a minimal level of cross-cultural validity, with quality aspects and cooking methods having the most problems. Many possible reasons were given for this including (a) different cooking patterns in Singapore, where the use of maids and eating out are more prevalent, (b) lower involvement in cooking, (c) a broader concept of convenience, (d) different beliefs in health properties of food, and (e) different use of information in the highly competitive Singaporean food sector. Thus, questionnaires need to be adapted to the context in each country (see the hair shampoo exercise in section A7.2).

Research approaches: Emic versus etic
The classic distinction in cross-cultural research approaches, between emic and etic, was originated by Sapir (1929) and further developed by Pike (1966). The emic approach holds that attitudinal or behavioural phenomena are expressed in a unique way in each culture. Taken to its extreme, this approach states that no comparisons are possible. The etic approach, on the other hand, is primarily concerned with identifying universals. The difference arises from linguistics where phonetic is universal and depicts universal sounds that are common to several languages, and phonemic stresses unique sound patterns in languages. In general, market research measurement instruments adapted to each national culture (the emic approach) offer more reliability and provide data with greater internal validity than tests applicable to several cultures (the etic approach, or ‘culture-free tests’). But use of such instruments is at the expense of cross-national comparability and external validity: results are not transposable to other cultural contexts. This is why we need to examine cross-national equivalence, which is inspired by the etic rather than the emic perspective.3 In terms of Table 4.1 the issue would be very much at the centre of the four cells; it lies somewhere between looking with the same eye at an object that is supposed to be different and changing to a slightly different eye in order to have a better look.


Equivalence in cross-cultural research
If the type of data sought and the research procedures implemented are considered to be of general application, the main difference between domestic and cross-cultural market research lies in the difficulty in establishing equivalence at the various stages of the research process.2 It is not self-evident, as the Japanese style of market research shows (see section 7.6), that research procedures and the type of data sought are completely independent of the cultural context of the researcher. But this chapter first emphasizes dependence on the researched context. The complexity of the research design is greatly increased when working in an international, multicultural and multilinguistic environment (Durvasula et al. 1993; Van de Vijver and Leung, 1997; Baumgartner and Steenkamp, 2001; Craig and Douglas, 2001a), not to mention the difficulties in establishing comparability and equivalence of data. Even larger problems may arise when differences in sociocultural or psychographic variables imply different attitudes and behaviour when using particular types of product. For instance, in Singapore, Askegaard and Brunsø (1999) tested a food-related lifestyle instrument that had been developed in western

7.1 Equivalence in cross-cultural research


Levels of cross-cultural equivalence
Management must provide guidelines for the systematic collection of data, either domestic or international. It is important to follow a precise plan that outlines the various steps of the research process (Green et al. 1988), starting with a clear and concise statement of the research problem. The literature now includes many papers exploring the issue of cross-cultural equivalence (e.g. Green and Langeard, 1979; Leung, 1989; Poortinga, 1989; Durvasula et al. 1993; Van Herk and Verhallen, 1995; Cavusgil and Das, 1997; Van de Vijver and Leung, 1997; Steenkamp and Baumgartner, 1998; Bensaou et al., 1999). Craig and Douglas (2001b) identify areas where non-equivalence, causing noncomparability, may arise in comparative consumer research. The various levels of cross-cultural equivalence displayed in Table 7.1 are explained in the text of the chapter, with six main categories and sixteen subcategories that are further discussed in this text. (For more information on cross-cultural equivalence see WS7.1.)

inconsistently may hold true in the United States while not being applicable to some other countries (conceptual equivalence). The following statement from the anthropologist Clifford Geertz (1983, p. 59) gives us some sense of how difficult it may be to reach true conceptual equivalence between cultures:
The Western conception of a person as a bounded, unique, more or less integrated, motivational and cognitive universe, a dynamic center of awareness, emotions, judgement and action, organized in a distinctive whole . . . is, however incorrigible it may seem, a rather peculiar idea, within the context of world’s cultures.

Conceptual equivalence
A basic issue in cross-cultural research is the determination of whether the concepts used have similar meaning across the social units studied. Problems of conceptual equivalence are more frequent when testing the influence of certain constructs on consumer behaviour. For instance, the hypothesis of the cognitive theory that people do not willingly behave
Table 7.1 Categories of cross-cultural equivalence
A. Conceptual equivalence C. Translation equivalence n Lexical equivalence n Idiomatic equivalence n Grammatical–syntactical equivalence n Experiential equivalence E. Sample equivalence n Sampling unit equivalence n Frame equivalence n Sample selection equivalence

Such basic concepts as beauty, youth, friendliness, wealth, well-being, sex appeal, and so on, are often used in market research questionnaires where motivation for buying many products is related to selfimage, interaction with other people in a particular society and social values. They are seemingly universal. However, it is always advisable to question the conceptual equivalence of all these basic words when designing a cross-cultural questionnaire survey. Even the very concept of ‘household’, widely used in market research, is subject to possible inequivalence: Mytton (1996) cites the case of Northern Nigeria where people often live in large extended family compounds or gida which are difficult to compare with the prevalent concept of household that reflects the living unit of a nuclear family. Many examples in previous chapters illustrate the practical difficulties in dealing with the conceptual equivalence of constructs used in a survey. When

B. Functional equivalence D. Measure equivalence Perceptual equivalence Metric equivalence Calibration equivalence Temporal equivalence

n n n n

F. Data collection equivalence n Respondents’ cooperation equivalence n Data collection context equivalence n Response style equivalence

(Source: Adapted from Craig and Douglas, 2001b. Reprinted with permission.)


Chapter 7 Cross-cultural market research

looking at the underlying dimensions across countries, it can often be seen that they are not equivalently weighted or articulated in the total construct. For instance, in the construct ‘waiting in line’ (to be served), the dimension of ‘wasting one’s time’ may be emphasized in a time-conscious culture, whereas it may be almost non-existent in one that is not economically time-minded. In line with this, Chen et al. (2003) found that Americans were more impatient than Singaporeans, and that this led them to be

willing to pay more for items that are available for immediate consumption. Often the conceptual equivalence of several basic interrelated constructs has to be questioned, inasmuch as they relate to consumer behaviour idiosyncrasies for the specific type of product or service surveyed. Box 7.1 shows some construct equivalence problems in the case of life insurance policies. Many popular marketing constructs have been used in cross-cultural research settings (perceived

Box 7.1

A multinational survey on life insurance: Conceptual equivalence problems in Islamic countries
In Islam it is considered evil to talk about death. Nevertheless, Muslim people do not fear death. On the contrary, they are probably much less frightened by the prospect of death than most people in Western/Christian countries. But the notion of destiny is of the utmost importance: humans may not decide about their own death, nor are they entitled to control the process of it. One is not allowed to challenge the course of destiny, and therefore one should not speculate on one’s own life and death. A verse of the Koran says approximately this: ‘Behave each day as if your life will be very long, and for your after life, behave as if you will die tomorrow.’ In Saudi Arabia, life insurance is forbidden. But some high-risk industries, such as oil production, bypass this prohibition by insuring their local employees through foreign life-insurance companies, with policies located abroad. In the Islamic world people do not like to invest and bet on the long term. Effort must be rewarded quickly if it is to be maintained. The concept of a financial product such as life insurance needs a long-term orientation and a strong individual capacity to imagine the future. Projection towards the future is a culture-related trait (see section 2.2). In Islam, you may certainly imagine how you will be tomorrow, but not at a particular place or moment. The future tense exists, but it is certainly not as accurate or meticulous as that of the English or European languages. Moreover, protection of the family and solidarity within the extended family are highly valued and work effectively. If a man dies, his brother will care for his wife and children. The concept of life insurance is related to culture in at least the following four aspects: protection of the family and/or the individual; future orientation; betting on one’s own life and death; the degree of solidarity in the family and extended family group. In Islamic countries it is important not to offend interviewees at first contact. It is better to rely on in-depth non-directive interviews and focus groups carried out principally by briefed local researchers who have a thorough personal knowledge of Islam and the local culture (the Islamic world spreads from black Africa to China). Some research questions will have to be addressed in order to prepare an adequate marketing strategy. Which is the appropriate mix, for the design of the life insurance policies offered to potential consumers, in terms of death benefit (amount of money to be paid when a person under a life insurance policy dies) and annuities (a series of payments made at regular intervals on the basis of the premiums previously paid)? Which term(s) should be proposed for people before they receive the benefits of their life insurance policy? How should the beneficiaries be designated? How should this offer be communicated to potential consumers through advertisement: which brand name should be adopted and which themes and advertising style should be favoured in the advertising campaign?

7.2 Translation equivalence


risk, brand loyalty, Rokeach value survey, lifestyles, etc.). Generally speaking, conceptual equivalence is an obstacle to the direct use of constructs that have been specifically designed for the US culture. The perceived risk construct, for instance, may differ in its components across cultures. It may be broken down into several subdimensions: social risk, physical risk, financial risk (Van Raaij, 1978). The emphasis placed on these subdimensions may vary across cultures: when buying cars, for example, people in some cultures may give more value to social risk because their purchase and use of car is mostly status oriented, whereas in other cultures people may be more concerned with physical safety because death in accidents is greatly feared. Further, it would be important to know if it was the perceptions of risk in the specific situation or the more generalized attitude toward risk that differed. Weber and Hsee (1998) found that Chinese students were less risk-averse than Americans, but that the difference was in the perceptions of the risk, rather than the attitude towards perceived risk. Therefore it is necessary to investigate, far more frequently than is actually done, the construct validity in each culture where a cross-cultural consumer behaviour study is undertaken. This should be done by following recognized procedures to assess the validity of the underlying constructs at the conceptual level and reliability at the empirical/measurement instrument level (Grunert et al., 1993).4

Functional equivalence: Similar products and activities performing different functions
If similar activities perform different functions in different societies, their measures cannot be used for the purpose of comparison (Frijda and Jahoda, 1966). Concepts frequently used in market surveys, such as preparing a meal, are not necessarily functionally equivalent across countries. When asked: ‘What dishes do you cook, or prepare with tomato juice?’, Italians and Danes give different answers. Stanton et al. (1982) illustrate functional equivalence problems by taking the example of hot milk-based chocolate drinks. Whereas in the USA and the UK they are considered an evening drink, best before going to sleep, in much of Latin America a ‘Chocolate Caliente’ is a

morning drink. Functional equivalence is not reached due to differences in the consumption time period and in the purpose for use: waking/energizer versus sleep/relaxer. Similarly, functional equivalence will be a problem if we compare bicycle purchases in China where they are used mainly for transportation with other countries where they are mainly used for leisure (Roy et al., 2001). A watch may be used as wrist jewellery, a status symbol, or an instrument for handling time and daily schedules. The same holds true for a fountain pen. In some countries its function may be as a simple general-purpose writing instrument; in others it may be regarded mostly as an instrument for signing documents. Elsewhere it may be considered purely non-functional since it needs time and care to refill it, and often leaks over one’s fingers. Many other examples could be given, such as wine (everyday beverage accompanying meals versus beverage for special occasions), beer (summer refresher versus all-year standard ‘non-water’ beverage), mixed spirit drinks (a man’s versus a woman’s drink) and perfumes (masking bodily odours versus adding a pleasant smell after a shower). The simple word ‘coffee’ covers a whole range of beverages that are enjoyed in very different social settings (at home, at the workplace, during leisure time, in the morning, or at particular times during the day), in quite different forms (in terms of quantity, concentration, with or without milk, cold or hot), prepared from different forms of coffee base (beans, ground beans, instant). The function of the Brazilian cafezinho, very small cups of coffee, rather strong and drunk every hour in informal exchanges with colleagues, cannot be compared with that of the US coffee, which is in large cups, very light, and drunk mostly at home and in restaurants. One of the best ways to investigate functional equivalence is to examine the social settings in which a product is consumed.


Translation equivalence
For many reasons, which are outlined principally in Chapter 13 on language, culture and communication, translation techniques, no matter how sophisticated,


Chapter 7 Cross-cultural market research

might prove incapable of achieving full comparability of data. Let us first make a small review of translation equivalence problems. (For more information on translation equivalence issues and additional examples see WS7.2.)

Categories of translation equivalence
Translation equivalence may be divided into the following subcategories: 1. Lexical equivalence. This is what dictionaries can provide us with: for instance, one may discover that the English adjective warm translates into the French chaud. 2. Idiomatic equivalence. The problem of idiomatic equivalence comes when you try to translate a sentence such as ‘it’s warm’: French has two expressions for it, either ‘il fait chaud’ (literally, ‘it makes warm’ meaning ‘it’s warm [today]’) or ‘c’est chaud’ (meaning ‘it [this object] is warm’). An idiom is a linguistic usage that is natural to native speakers. Idioms are most often non-equivalent: the present continuous (i.e. I am doing) has no equivalent in French, except je suis en train de . . . , which is highly colloquial, not to be used in correct French written language. This may also be problematic for regions within a country, as Roy et al. (2001, p. 207) states:
The English phrase ‘high risk’ can be translated as ‘qiang feng xian’ in the middle and northern China but as ‘gao feng xian’ in southern China. To Chinese from the south, the word ‘qiang’ has two meanings, one is related to the ‘magnitude’ and the other to ‘strength’; as such, it can be difficult to interpret the concept ‘qiang feng xian’.

3. Grammatical–syntactical equivalence. This refers to the way words are ordered, sentences are constructed and meaning is expressed in language. English generally proceeds in an active way, starting with the subject, followed by the verb and then the complement, avoiding abstractions as well as convoluted sentences. Many languages, including German and French, start by explaining the circumstances in relative clauses, before they proceed into the action. This makes for complex sentences starting with relative clauses based on when, where, even though, although, and so on. The Japanese

language has a quite different ordering of words from Western languages: verbs are always at the end of the sentence: ‘Gurunoburu no daigaku no sensei desu’ means: ‘Grenoble of [the] university of professor [I] am’, that is, ‘I am a professor at the university of Grenoble’. 4. Experiential equivalence (Sechrest et al. 1972). Experiential equivalence is about what words and sentences mean for people in their everyday experience. Coming back to ‘chaud’, it translates into two English words ‘warm’ and ‘hot’: the French do not experience ‘warmth’ with two concepts as the English, the Germans and many others do. Similarly, the special experience of coldness in the word ‘chilly’ cannot be adequately rendered in French. Translated terms must refer to real items and real experiences, which are familiar in the source as well as the target cultures. An expression such as ‘dish-washing machine’ may face experiential equivalence problems when people, even if they know what it is, have never actually seen this type of household appliance nor experienced it. Another example of experiential nonequivalence is given by the Japanese numbering system, which reflects a special experience of counting, where the numbers cannot be fully abstracted from the object being counted. Most often the Japanese add a particle indicating which objects are counted. Nin, for instance, is used to count human beings: yo-nin is four (persons). Hiki is used for counting animals but not birds, for which wa, meaning feather, is used, satsu is used for books, hon for round and long objects, mai for flat things such as a sheet of paper, textiles, coins, etc., and hai for cups and bowls and liquid containers in general. As a vivid illustration of translation problems, Box 7.2 shows the translation errors in the case of a major concept, ‘reproductive health’, for the UN World Conference on Population Development, held in Cairo in 1994.

Back-translation and related techniques
The back-translation technique (Campbell and Werner, 1970) is the most widely employed method for reaching translation equivalence (mainly lexical and idiomatic) in cross-cultural research. This procedure helps to identify probable translation errors.

7.2 Translation equivalence


Box 7.2

‘Reproductive health’
Cultural discrepancies are not only evidenced in factual themes, they also manifest themselves in translation difficulties: the concept of ‘reproductive health’ was translated into German as ‘Gesundheit der Fortpflanzung’ (health of propagation). The Arabic translators invented the formula: ‘spouses take a break from each other after childbirth’, the Russian translators worded this in despair as ‘The whole family goes on holiday’ and the Chinese translators elevated themselves to the almost brilliant formula ‘a holiday at the farm’. This shows that the new word-monsters, elegantly coined by the Americans, are almost non-translatable worldwide; on the other hand, they infuse international conferences with a lot of humour.
(Source: Bohnet, 1994.)

One translator translates from the source language (S) into a target language (T). Then another translator, ignorant of the source-language text, translates the first translator’s target language text back into the source language (S′). Then the two source-language versions, S and S′, are compared. For instance, when translating ‘un repas d’affaires’ (‘a business meal’ in English) from French to Portuguese in the preparation of a questionnaire for Brazil, it is translated as jantar de negocios. When back-translated, it becomes a ‘dîner d’affaires’ (‘business dinner’). In Brazilian Portuguese, there is no specific expression for ‘repas d’affaires’. It is either a ‘business lunch’ (‘almoço de negocios’) or a ‘business dinner’. One has to choose which situation to elicit in the Brazilian questionnaire (as would be the case in English): the ‘business meal’ has to be either at noon or in the evening in the Portuguese version. When back-translating, discrepancies may arise from translation mistakes in either of the two directions or they may derive from real translation equivalence problems that are uncovered. Then a final target-language questionnaire (Tf) is discussed and prepared by the researcher (who speaks the source language) and the two translators. In practice it is advisable to have one translator who is a native speaker of the target language and the other one a native speaker of the source language. It means that they are translating into their native language rather than from it, which is always more difficult and less reliable. However, back-translation can also instil a false sense of security in the investigator by demonstrating a spurious lexical equivalence (Deutscher, 1973).

Simply knowing that words are equivalent is not enough. It is necessary to know to what extent those literally equivalent words and phrases convey equivalent meanings in the two languages or cultures. Another technique, blind parallel translation (Mayer, 1978), consists of having several translators translate simultaneously and independently, from the source language into the target language. The different versions are then compared and a final version is written.

Combined translation techniques, limits of translation
Parallel and back-translation can be merged, as shown in Figure 7.1. When two languages and cultures present wide variations, such as Korean and French, combining parallel and back-translation provides a higher level of equivalence (Marchetti and Usunier, 1990). For example, two Koreans translate the same French questionnaire F into two Korean versions, K1 and K2. A third Korean translator, who is unfamiliar with the original French text F, translates K1 and K2 into F1 and F2. A final Korean questionnaire, K3, is then prepared by comparing the two back-translated French versions F1 and F2. English is used to help compare them as it is widely used and more precise than either French or Korean. This example could be refined: the number of parallel translations may be increased, or back-translation processes may be independently performed (Usunier, 1991).


Chapter 7 Cross-cultural market research

Figure 7.1 Examples of translation techniques

(Source: Marchetti and Usunier, 1990.)

A more sophisticated solution to the problem of translation has been suggested by Campbell and Werner (1970). Research instruments should be developed by collaborators in the two cultures, and items, questions or other survey materials should be generated jointly in the two cultures. After backtranslation, or after any initial translation process has been performed, there is an opportunity to change the source-language wording. This technique, called decentring, not only changes the target language, as in the previous techniques, but also allows the words in the source language to be changed, if this provides enhanced accuracy. The ultimate words and phrases

employed will depend on which common/similar meaning is sought in both languages simultaneously, without regard to whether words and phrases originate in the source or the target languages. In the above example of the business meal, choosing the decentring method would imply changing the words in the source questionnaire to ‘business lunch’. In any case, it remains absolutely necessary to pre-test the translated research instrument in the target culture until satisfactory levels of reliability on conceptual and measurement equivalences are attained (Sood, 1990). Table 7.2 presents a synthesis of translation techniques as well as their advantages and drawbacks.

Table 7.2 Advantages and drawbacks of translation techniques
Technique Í Process Direct translation SÍT Back-translation S Í T; T Í S′ comparison S to S′ Í final version Tf Parallel translation S Í T; S Í T′ Comparison T to T′ Í final version Tf Combined techniques S Í T; S Í T′ T Í S′; T′ Í S″ comparison S′ and S″, decentring of S Í final version Tf Ensures the best fit between source and target versions


Easy to implement

Ensures the discovery of most inadequacies Requires the availability of two translators, one native in S and one native in T languages

Easier to implement in S country with T translators Leads to good wording in T, but does not ensure that specific meaning in S is fully rendered

Drawbacks/ Constraints

Leads to translation errors and discrepancies between S and T

Costly to implement Difficult to find the translators Implies readiness to change source-language version

Key: S = source language, T = target language (translators or versions).

7.3 Measure equivalence



Measure equivalence
Variations in the reliability of research instruments
Variation in cross-cultural reliability of underlying instruments has already been assessed, and Davis et al. (1981) claim that measurement unreliability is a threat to cross-national comparability. They investigated the problem of measurement reliability in cross-cultural marketing research for three types of consumer behaviour measures (demographics, household decision involvement and psychographics) across five country-markets, utilizing three different reliability assessment methods. Their findings show that it is easier to obtain measurement equivalence between demographic variables than between psychographic variables such as lifestyles. For psychographic variables it may be necessary to use a more in-depth assessment method to gain a better understanding of the variable, as well as potential linkages to products. For instance, Durgee et al. (1996) suggest a ‘means-ends’, which begins with the core values. First, they ask respondents which values are important in their life. Then, they ask respondents to indicate which of a list of products make the value or feeling possible. Finally, they ask how each product facilitates the value or feeling. Through this technique they found that the value family security is not only defined in terms of physical safety but also in terms of financial security. That is, family security is linked to alarm systems through the means of safety and linked to mutual funds through financial security. Both the assessment method and the nature of the construct may cause measurement unreliability across countries. (For more information on measurement equivalence issues see WS7.3.) Variations in knowledge and familiarity with products, concepts or attitudes also impact on the equivalence of measures. Erevelles et al. (1998) found a warranty to be perceived in a different manner in China than in the United States. In China it is viewed as an extrinsic cue of little value to the potential buyer, due to their lack of familiarity with the concept. Similarly, Parameswaran and Yaprak (1987) compared the attitudes of respondents in two countries (the

United States and Turkey) towards the people and products from three countries of origin (West Germany, Japan and Italy) using three products (cars, cameras and electronic calculators). They demonstrate that the same scale may have differing reliabilities when used by the same individual in evaluating products from differing cultures:5
differing levels of awareness, knowledge, familiarity and affect with the peoples, products in general, and specific brands from a chosen country-of-origin may result in differentials in the reliability of similar scales when used in multiple national markets . . . Two alternative courses of action may alleviate this problem. Measures to be used in cross-national market comparisons may be pre-tested in each of the markets of interest until they elicit similar (and high) levels of reliability . . . Alternatively, one might devise a method to develop confidence interval (akin to statistical spreads based on sample sizes) around the value of the measure based on its reliability. (Parameswaran and Yaprak, 1987, pp. 45–6.)

Therefore, comparison of results across countries should be made while simultaneously analyzing and checking for the reliability measures of the rating scales.

Perceptual equivalence
As emphasized in sections 1.4 and 9.4, perception varies across cultures. Colours are perceived differently according to a culture, that is cultures do not have equivalent sensitivity to the various parts of the colour spectrum and the corresponding languages do not qualify colours in exactly the same way. In addition, the symbolic interpretation of colour varies widely (Box 9.5). The same is true for smells: the first issue in equivalence is whether people perceive them physically and mentally in the same manner; the second issue deals with the kind of interpretation they vest in these smells. When conducting research about packaging, perfumes for washing liquids, etc., where perceptive clues are important for product evaluation, it is a key research issue to formulate questions so that interviewees can express their native views on the smell or the colours. Rather than ask them whether they like a lavender smell, it is better to ask them first to recognize the smell, then to comment on what it evokes.


Chapter 7 Cross-cultural market research

Metric equivalence
If the scores given by respondents do not have the same meaning, then metric equivalence is a problem. Scores may differ across culture for a variety of reasons including the avoidance of extreme responses, humility or social desirability (Van der Vijver and Poortinga, 1982). Unfortunately, these differences can only be checked after the data is collected, limiting the validity of cross-cultural comparisons. There are several techniques available to researchers to assess metric equivalence, the most popular being multiple-group structural equation modelling (Mullen, 1995; Singh, 1995; Steenkamp and Baumgartner, 1998; Myers et al. 2000).6 The validity of a rating scale in a cross-cultural study is affected by the equivalence of the scales and by the homogeneity of meanings. For instance, Roy et al. (2001) discussed the problems with the use of scales in China. They emphasized the difficulty in determining lexical equivalents across languages for verbal descriptions of a scale, as the Chinese language does not readily provide good antonyms (see Table 7.3). It is also difficult to ensure that the distances between scale points, especially verbal scales, are equivalent across languages (metric equivalence). For instance, they found that Chinese managers do not understand the terms ‘agree/disagree’ adequately.7 Thus, it is naive to use a differential semantic scale originally written in English, French or any other language and translate it lexically (simply with dictionary-equivalent words) into other languages. In this case decentred measurement is preferable, which means construct-

ing reliable and valid scales for all the countries under survey. In this way the original wording of the scale may be changed if it provides better measurement equivalence across countries/cultures. Sood (1990) studied the metric equivalence of nine scale terms (from ‘excellent’ to ‘very bad’) across eight languages (English, Arabic, Chinese, Farsi, French, German, Korean and Spanish). He found that: (1) some languages have fewer terms to express gradation in evaluation (e.g. Korean), whereas others have a multitude (French); and (2) there are large discrepancies in the ‘value’ of these adjectives, measured on a scale from 0 to 100: for instance, the Spanish ‘muy malo’ rated 58 per cent higher than its supposed English equivalent of ‘very bad’. Therefore the best solution is not to translate scale terms but rather to start from local wordings based on scales used by local researchers. Also we need to be wary about the meaning of numbers across cultures. For instance, the numbers 2, 8 and 9 are considered lucky in China and as such may be chosen more frequently (Roy et al., 2001). Thus, it may be advisable in some cultures to only number the end points. One promising avenue for cross-cultural research is the use of purely visual scales that avoid the verbocentric nature of most market research instruments, which are based on words and sentences that never translate perfectly. Zaltman (1997) argues in favour of ‘putting people back in’: most communication relies on images and is non-verbal, whereas thinking processes rely on metaphors to elicit hidden knowledge. Instruments that allow respondents to express the mix between emotions and reason may be more

Table 7.3 Adjectives which have the same level of meaning in two languages and provide similar distances between the point of the scale
Colloquial rating scale US adjectives Fantastic Delightful Pleasant Neutral Moderately poor Bad Horrible 20 17 14 10 7 4 2 20 17 14 10 7 4 2 French adjectives Extraordinaire Superbe Très correct Moyen Assez faible Remarquablement faible Terriblement mauvais Formal rating scale US adjectives Remarkably good Good Neutral Reasonably poor Extremely poor 17 14 10 6 3 17 14 10 6 3 French adjectives Très bon Bon Moyen Faible Très mauvais

(Source: Pras and Anglemar, 1978, p. 76.)

7.3 Measure equivalence


useful. For instance, the use of ‘smiling faces’ as scales should not be limited to children, on the basis of the (unconscious) view that adults should use words, not pictures, and should not express their views metaphorically. Similarly, Bergami and Bagozzi (2000) developed a visual and verbal representation of the overlap between a person’s self-identity and the identity of the group to increase equivalence across cultures. More sophisticated visually oriented scales, such as the self-assessment manikin (SAM), allow cross-cultural measurement with less biases than verbal scales; they further enable a better apprehension of the respondents’ emotions (Morris, 1995).

or a product test. Western subjects, for example, have more colour classes than African subjects, and some primitive people have only a two-term colour language. The Bantu of South Africa, for example, do not distinguish between blue and green. Consequently they do not discriminate between objects or symbols in these colours (Douglas and Craig, 1984, p. 100).

Temporal equivalence
Temporal equivalence is similar to calibration equivalence, in terms of calibrating dates and time periods. Information, for instance, ages at different speeds across countries: in a country where the annual inflation rate is minimal, income and price data are comparable across years; whereas in a Latin American country such as Venezuela with a 30–40 per cent annual inflation rate forecast from 2002–2004 (see WS7.3), it is necessary to indicate on which day the data were collected and what the price indexes and exchange rates were at that time. Temporal equivalence also deals with differences in development levels and technological advancement: certain countries are ‘equivalent’ to what others were 20 years ago. Assessing time lags may be useful for making analogies: such a market may develop in South Africa now as it did in the United States 15 or 20 years ago and the product life cycle may be similar even though the two countries are at different points on the curve.

Calibration equivalence
Calibration equivalence problems arise from different basic units being used as well as from compound units when they are based on different computation systems (see Box 7.3). For instance, a typical calibration equivalence problem relates to differences in monetary units; this is especially true in high-inflation contexts where daily prices over a year cannot be directly compared with those of a low-inflation country. Naturally, exchange rates and units of weight, distance and volume cause calibration equivalence problems. Calibration equivalence mixes with perceptual equivalence: for instance, how many colour classes are recognized by people from a particular country? This might prove useful for a packaging test

Box 7.3

Measuring fuel efficiency across cultures
Most Europeans use the metric system, an international standard. They measure distances in kilometres and liquid volumes in litres (one cubic decimetre). When looking at fuel consumption, they calculate how many litres are necessary for driving a hundred kilometres, at a particular average speed. Fuel consumption is measured in litres/ 100 km. In the USA, ‘gas mileage’ is based on a reverse concept: given a definite fuel volume, namely a gallon, how many miles can one drive with it? For Europeans trying to understand what miles per gallon means is somewhat nightmarish. First, they have to know which gallon it is: the British or Imperial gallon (4.55 litres) or the US gallon (3.79 litres) and whether it is a statute mile (1.609 kilometres) or a nautical mile. When they understand that it is a US gallon and a statute mile, they still have to make an inverse calculation and try to finish with 100 kilometres in the denominator in order to know whether the car has high petrol consumption or poor gas mileage. Fortunately, gasoline is cheap in the United States.


Chapter 7 Cross-cultural market research


Representativeness and comparability of national/cultural samples
Sampling is a basic step in most market surveys. A complete census, where the whole population of interest is researched, generally proves too costly. Therefore it is advisable to infer the characteristics of the whole population from a limited sample. In this process the following tasks must be carried out: 1. Finding a sampling frame or list, where the basic population characteristics are known (a telephone directory, an electoral list, etc.). 2. Drawing a sample from this frame, by a method which may be either probabilistic or nonprobabilistic. 3. Checking that the selected sample is representative of the population under study. The main problem in the cross-cultural sampling process is the selection of comparable samples across countries. Reaching perfect comparability is very difficult, if not impossible. These limitations should be considered when interpreting research findings. In cross-cultural research, there are often two levels of sampling to consider. The first level is a sample of countries or cultures and the second level is based on samples of individuals within the chosen countries or cultures. At the first level, the research question is directly comparative. Hofstede (2001) clearly explains that samples of cultures should not be confused with samples of individuals. He draws attention to the risk of abusive stereotyping, whereby country characteristics are considered as individual characteristics. He compares mean values for each country, calculated from the scores on each question for the respondents from that country. Samples of countries can be used to compute the average influence of cultural values on certain consumption patterns. For instance, what are the main cultural variables that, in combination with sociodemographic and economic variables, determine the per capita consumption of a particular product or service: motor insurance, telephones, milk powder, etc.?8 Strategic marketing decision making often needs such research for selecting target national markets and markets with low actual demand but high growth potential, and for deciding where to locate efforts for the future.

Comparability of samples
When secondary data – especially published statistical data – are sought, there may be some difficulties in comparing these data across countries (see also WS7.4): 1. Differences in categories: for instance, for age brackets, income brackets or professions. 2. Difference in base years, when some countries have no recent data. 3. Unavailable or unreliable data, the data collection procedure by the local census bureau being biased for certain reasons (non-exhaustive census, inadequate sampling procedure). 4. Sampling unit (who should the respondent be?).

Choice of respondents (sampling unit equivalence)
An important criterion for sampling is the choice of respondents. Selecting a unit of analysis is a key issue in the conceptualization of comparative research design. The role of respondents in the buying decision process (organizational buying, family buying, information and influence patterns, etc.) may vary across countries. Several studies have found differing parental influence over children’s purchases across countries. For instance, parents have a greater influence over their children’s purchasing in Fiji (Wimalasiri, 2000), Japan (Rose, 1999) and Thailand (Viswanathan et al., 2000), when compared to the United States. In the United States, it is not uncommon for children to have a strong influence when buying cereals, desserts, toys or other items, whereas in countries that are less child-oriented, children’s influence on the buying decision will be much smaller (Craig and Douglas, 2001b). It is therefore crucially important to assess, first, the basic equivalent sampling units. This statement is as relevant for industrial markets as for consumer goods markets: when researching industrial products, it is important to compare the position, role and responsibility of industrial buyers throughout different countries.

7.4 Comparability of samples


A cross-cultural/cross-national design may also be useful when one tries to derive an estimated market demand figure in a country where statistical sources are scarce and unreliable. Amine and Cavusgil (1986) give examples of methods for estimating market potential when limited data are available. They take the case of the Moroccan demand for wallpaper. For instance, it is possible to estimate a regression equation explaining per capita annual wallpaper consumption, with explanatory variables such as income per capita, percentage of home ownership, frequency of use of other wall-covering materials, etc. To estimate the parameters it is possible to use a cross-section sample (data for a sample of countries, for the same year), or a pooled cross-section/time series sample, when the countries’ data are available for several years. For a country where wallpaper consumption is unknown, it is then possible to compute it with the values of the explanatory variables. A second issue is the representativeness of each sample in each unit of analysis, which may be a country, a culture, or a common language group which shares similar patterns of social interaction and communication (Douglas and Craig, 1997). Countries are often used as proxies for cultural units. In crosscultural research it seems a priori relevant to follow a systematic procedure, the same in every country, to achieve reliability and comparability of data. Unfortunately, demographic definitions do not correspond exactly from one country to another. Age does, of course, as long as people know their birth dates, but occupation, education and socio-economic status usually do not. If data are presented in categories, say for income or age bracket, these categories will most likely not correspond exactly across countries (category equivalence). Religion and tribal membership will also have to be added to traditional demographics as they are of the utmost importance in some less developed countries (Goodyear, 1982).

A representative sample?
A researcher may construct a sample which represents the population of interest. However, a sample split into 50 per cent men and 50 per cent women conveys a different meaning in a country where women’s rights are recognized from that in more traditional

countries where women’s status is lower. The expression ‘representative sample’ therefore makes little sense if one does not clarify which traits and characteristic this sample actually represents. For instance, shopping behaviour is very different worldwide: in some places men tend to do most of the shopping, in other countries it is mostly women; this also depends on various other factors (income level, type of product, etc.). In this case the samples must represent actual shoppers, rather than a representative number of men and women in the general population of potential shoppers. In order to define a sampling procedure for crosscultural research, a method must be selected so that each national sample is fully representative of the population of interest, and which furthermore provides comparable data across countries. Craig and Douglas (2001a) stress the limited availability of an exhaustive sampling framework which corresponds exactly to the characteristics of the population at a global (multicountry) level. This extends to the Internet. While the Internet might seem attractive to researchers due to lower costs and faster speed in data collection, Internet sampling frames are limited by the technological capabilities of the populations of interest. In fact, sampling frames are often biased. Mytton (1996), doing audience research for the BBC worldwide, stresses the frequent lack of reliable or recent census data in many developing countries, in the former Soviet Union and in eastern Europe. A sample drawn from the electoral list in Bolivia may overrepresent men, since women are not as likely to vote (Stanton et al., 1982). Similarly, Tuncalp (1988) states that most sampling frames in Saudi Arabia are inadequate: there is no official census of the population, no elections and therefore no voter registration records, and telephone directories tend to be incomplete. Tuncalp suggests that non-probability sampling is a necessary evil in many countries. Often sampling frames for businesses are of better quality, since most businesses want their number on lists, such as the telephone directory, but Roy et al. (2001) points out that in China these directories are often out of date and lists are likely to only include the businesses or people associated with the list supplier. Estimating sample size is also a critical step. The use of traditional statistical procedures, such as constructing confidence intervals around sample


Chapter 7 Cross-cultural market research

means, or hypothesis testing, is difficult to implement since such procedures require precise estimates of the variance of the population. This variance estimate is often unavailable in countries that have poor census data.9 The most frequently used procedure is therefore the selection of sample size, country by country, taking into account their respective peculiarities. Reynolds et al. (2003) developed a framework to determine which sampling approach should be used for international studies. They stress that the objective of the research should guide the technique. For instance, if the objective is to examine similarities and differences across cultures and cross-national comparability is important, non-probability samples may be a better method to allow the researcher to create homogeneous samples. Conversely, when the objective is to describe attitudes or behaviour within specific countries, within-country representativeness is important and probability samples should be used to enable the researcher to estimate the sampling error. Taylor (1995) explains how survey firms in different countries measure public opinion and survey markets with different methods; he shows for instance that quota sampling, considered as unacceptable since the 1950s in the United States, is used in most of Europe. Similarly the use of RDD (random digit dialling) to construct phone samples, which is standard practice in the United States for telephone surveys, in order to include both unlisted people and recent movers, is not used in phone samples in many other countries. Finally, one may conclude that representativeness and comparability of cross-cultural samples can be better achieved by using different samples and sampling techniques that produce equivalent levels of reliability, than by using the same procedure with all samples. For example, Doran (2002) used different screening criteria in North America and China to ensure that the samples were comparable. In North America the objective was to sample mainstream consumers. Here, the screening criteria included being a native English speaker, born in North America to North American parents. In China the objective was to sample respondents who had access to consumer markets. Here, the screening criteria included an education level that would allow a literate information search and an income level that would allow consumption.

The main problem (before any statistical procedure is implemented) is to secure equivalence in meaning: does it make sense to represent the same populations across various countries? Do the samples actually represent these populations in the same way?


Data-collection equivalence
Where primary data are concerned, discrepancies in response patterns across countries may cause data unreliability and so limit direct comparison. Let us assume that through any of the translation procedures described above we are able to develop equivalent national versions of a common questionnaire for a cross-cultural market research study, and that we have consistent and equivalent samples. We may still have to overcome response equivalence, such as the following: 1. Secrecy/unwillingness to answer (respondents’ cooperation equivalence). 2. Response biases (data-collection context equivalence). 3. Differences in response style (response-style equivalence). Sources of error measurement related to response styles are multiple and may directly create discrepancies between observed measurement and true measurement. Some basic precautions may help to avoid the generation of data with a great deal of measurement error (see WS7.5).

Reluctance to answer: Respondents’ cooperation equivalence
Respondents sometimes feel that the interviewer is intruding into their privacy. They prefer not to answer, or they consciously bias their answers, fearing that their opinion could later be used against them (Stanton et al., 1982). Many countries have strong privacy/intimacy patterns, where the family group is protected from external, impersonal interference. Tuncalp (1988) explains that the very private and reserved nature of Saudis is not conducive to personal interviews. Being independent, Saudis do not want to be exposed to justifying or explaining

7.5 Data-collection equivalence


their actions when answering a barrage of questions. In the case of Afghanistan and Mozambique, Mytton (1996, p. 26) explains that:
Protocol demands that the most senior woman of the house should be interviewed before any other female . . . In some areas of Afghanistan, women cannot be used as interviewers. In others the reverse is the case; a male stranger coming to a house would be regarded as a possible threat . . . As in Afghanistan, many respondents in Mozambique did not know their own age or that of other members of the household . . . In several areas the presence of strangers writing down information on pieces of paper while talking to people, started rumours. One rumour suggested that the survey team was registering the number of children in each household with the intention to return later and kidnap them. Research had to be delayed for meetings to be held with the local authorities in order for them to reassure people living in the area.

Similarly, there are also differences in response rate from business surveys. Harzing (2000) found that response rates to industrial mail surveyed differed dramatically across 22 countries: ranging from over 40 per cent in Denmark and Norway to 7 per cent in Hong Kong and 11 per cent in the United States. This was in spite of the efforts to motivate respondents (CEOs and Human Resource managers), including a reminder mailing, letter, photograph of the researcher and a tea bag or coffee satchel with the message ‘Why don’t you take a short break, have a nice cup of tea and fill out the questionnaire right now, it will only take 10–15 minutes’ (p. 245).

Some well-disposed and open-minded interviewees may be questioned further to deliver their true view on the question. It is possible to measure individual social desirability bias and to then use this information to adjust the results of a survey. For instance, Hult et al. (1999) used items from the Marlowe-Crowne Social Desirability Scale to assess differences in convenience samples from the United States, Japan and Sweden. They found that the US respondents showed a higher level of social desirability than the Japanese or Swedish respondents. Similarly, Keillor et al. (2001) measured social desirability, as well as the source or influencers for respondents intercepted in shopping areas in the United States, France and Malaysia. They found that Malaysian respondents had a higher level of social desirability bias than the US or French respondents. In addition, Malaysian respondents were more strongly influenced by personal sources, such as family and friends, and US respondents more strongly influence by impersonal sources such as the media and government.

Biases resulting from the relationship with the interviewer
Sexual biases between interviewer and respondent are also an important source of the reluctance to grant interviews. In many traditional countries, housewives are reluctant to grant interviews to male interviewers. Ethnic bias may also exist between the interviewer and the respondent: a Chinese person may feel uncomfortable when interviewed by a Malay (Kushner, 1982). Much response bias may result from the interviewees not understanding that the process of interviewing them is in order to generate objective data. Informants may perceive the purpose of research as a very longwinded form of selling, especially in developing countries (Goodyear, 1982). The objective and the process of the interview must often be explained at the beginning. When briefing native interviewers (management students) in Mauritania, I was asked the following question: ‘What do you want us to tell the interviewee to answer?’ It was necessary to explain to the interviewers that interviewing was a distanced and objective process, where interviewees had complete freedom of response. The idea of objective truth, external to personal relations, is unfamiliar to Mauritanians

Context equivalence of data collection
Questions are never culture-free: there is inevitably a social and cultural context built into them. Contextual equivalence relates to elements in the context of the data-collection process that have an influence on responses. As Douglas and Craig explain (1984, p. 109): ‘In the Scandinavian countries, for example, respondents are considerably more willing to admit overdrinking than in Latin America. In India, sex tends to be a taboo topic.’ Any question that deals, directly or indirectly, with social prescription needs to be worded so that people can elaborate a response without feeling too embarrassed, and responses have to be screened in order to know if the responses reflect actual reality or a view of what is socially desirable.


Chapter 7 Cross-cultural market research

(Box 7.4). Furthermore, among the Mauritanian interviewers, the Maures, of Arabic descent, clearly explained that they would not interview black Africans. Fortunately, there were some black Africans who were potential interviewers for their own ethnic group. Strong ingroup orientation implies that group membership has to be shared between interviewer and interviewee for the process to take place. Maruyama (1990) explains in the same vein that Japanese managers in Indonesia tend to recruit Bataks, because their characteristics resemble those of the Japanese, although they are not necessarily liked by other Indonesians and they may perform poorly as data collectors. This ethnicity-of-interviewer bias has been shown to exist even within the United States where both Hispanic and Anglo-American respondents significantly bias their responses to items pertaining to the interviewer’s culture; therefore it seems more appropriate to match respondent’s and interviewer’s ethnicity, especially for Anglo-Americans (Webster, 1996).

Some respondents, especially in Latin-American countries (Stanton et al., 1982) tend to present a ‘courtesy bias’ by answering in order to please the interviewer. Respondents tend to tell the interviewer what they think the interviewer would like to hear. This response pattern probably takes place in countries where people tend to have difficulty in answering opinion surveys and market research questionnaires. When they agree to participate, it can be from a personal feeling of goodwill towards the interviewer.

Response-style equivalence
Response-style equivalence is the final step. All the rest may be equivalent; yet our respondents may offer non-equivalent responses. The three main concerns in relation to response-style equivalence are: 1. Yea-saying pattern (and, conversely, a nay-saying pattern).

Box 7.4

The weaknesses and strengths of the ‘local researcher’
1. Weaknesses
(a) Often of lower intellectual ability and research experience than his or her equivalent in developed countries. (b) Often finds it difficult to adopt neutral, objective stance with reference to informants or clients. May want to be didactic in groups and may well prefer to distort findings to reflect a more educated picture of his countrymen than exists in reality. Alternatively, may seek to distance himself from the ‘average consumer’ by exaggerating their foibles and lack of sophistication. He himself, especially if he is from an educated family, may be out of touch with his countrymen. (c) He may be unwilling or unable, even for business reasons, to cross traditional barriers of class, religion or tribe. (d) He rarely has the Puritan work ethic and does not always see the value of objective truth. Delays, shortcuts and distortion are likely.

2. Strengths
(a) He knows the country and its people. He can usually establish rapport easily and understands what is said. If he knows the Western country he can also interpret the significance of what is said, to explain differences. (b) He knows the language. Language can be an enormous barrier, as anyone who has tried to interview through interpreters must recognise. (c) He is immune to local ailments and is physically comfortable in the (research) environment. He can cope, through familiarity, with common problems.
(Source: Goodyear, 1982, pp. 90–1.)

7.5 Data-collection equivalence


2. Extreme response style/response range. 3. Non-contingent responding (careless, random or non-purposeful). 4. Item non-response pattern. Baumgartner and Steenkamp (2001) analyzed mail survey data from 11 European countries to assess the amount of response-style bias in five-point (strongly disagree to strongly agree) Likert scales. Generally, they found that all of the above forms of responsestyle responding influenced some of the scales, but that there was no evidence of more severe responsestyles in some countries than others. Specifically, the scales with the most contamination measured health consciousness, consumer ethnocentrism, quality consciousness and environmental consciousness. First, ‘yea-saying’ or acquiescence is the tendency to agree with items and nay-saying or disacquiescence is the tendency to disagree with items regardless of content (Baumgartner and Steenkamp 2001). For acquiescence the response scores tend to be inflated with the mean score of the respondents being biased towards the positive end of the scale, and for disacquiescence the reverse occurs. Van Herk and Verhallen (1995) found this bias when interviewing Greek and Italian housewives on their cooking behaviour: there is systematic tendency in the Greek sample to give more positive answers in psychographics as well as in product-related questions, than in the Italian sample. The yea-saying bias translates into a higher mean score on almost all questions. Standardizing scores across cultures allows the ‘yea-saying’ pattern to be eliminated, although it is fairly difficult to differentiate whether people were generally striving to give answers towards the positive end of the scale or were agreeing strongly with a particular item. Thus the ‘yea-saying’ pattern is diagnosed only when it is consistent across almost all the questions. Baumgartner and Steenkamp (2001) suggest balancing the items so that some are positively worded and others are negatively worded, but Wong et al. (2003) caution that this approach may affect other aspects of equivalence across countries as East Asians do not see positively and negatively worded items as opposites. Second, extreme response style is the tendency to choose the most extreme response regardless of content, while response range is the tendency to either use a narrow or wide range of categories around the

mean (Baumgartner and Steenkamp, 2001). This response pattern is systematically marked by a higher or lower standard deviation. For instance, in the United States people tend to respond with more enthusiasm, and therefore present a more extreme response style in answering, than the Japanese (Zax and Takashi, 1967) or Koreans (Chun et al., 1974). This could produce a bias in the standard deviation of data, increasing it artificially in cultures where people tend to overreact to questions, compared to other cultures where people may tend to suppress their opinions, either positive or negative. Clarke (2000) studied responses given to scales ranging in format (3- to 10point) from university students in Australia, France, Singapore and the United States. He found that the amount of extreme response differed by country, with France exhibiting the highest level, followed by the United States, followed by Australia and Singapore. The scales with the least extreme response style were 5- to 7-point response formats (Clarke, 2000, 2001). Third, non-contingent responding is the tendency to respond carelessly, randomly or non-purposefully (Baumgartner and Steenkamp, 2001). This may happen if respondents are not very motivated to answer the questionnaire. Fourth, item non-response is an important source of bias in cross-national surveys. Respondents may be unwilling to respond to some questions, such as those relating to income or age. Douglas and Shoemaker (1981), studying non-response to different items in a public opinion survey in eight European countries, found evidence of non-response in relation to income being higher in the United Kingdom and Ireland, whereas the willingness to respond to political questions was highest in Germany and Italy.

Encouraging feedback from the informant on cultural adequacy
As Maruyama (1990) emphasized, humans are not simple response machines. Maruyama cites ‘criticality dissonance’, where respondents disguise and transform responses because they fear that information may be misused. As shown above, international market research is full of criticality dissonance. The basic process affecting the truthfulness of responses is ‘relevance dissonance’: ‘the purpose of the questionnaire survey as perceived by the respondent differs


Chapter 7 Cross-cultural market research

from the respondent’s own purpose. The questionnaire is perceived as irrelevant and useless. In such a case counterexploitation takes place. The respondent looks for a way to manipulate the survey or interview to produce some benefit’ (1990, p. 30). For these reasons, it seems necessary to design research procedures where feedback from the informant is possible: for instance, focus groups, in-depth interviews and open-ended questions. Unique features of cultural behaviour cause non-equivalence. It is impossible to uncover these levels of nonequivalence if the instrument and methodology prevent them from appearing. A pragmatic solution is to ask interviewees their opinion of the relevance of questions, words and concepts used in the questionnaire at the end of the normal interview process (post-test). A pre-test of questionnaires is also necessary. As an example, Doran (2002) used multiple methods to elicit feedback from respondents, including a preliminary study using in-depth interviews, focus groups to identify the appropriate product categories and help define the interview, and, after the main study, follow-up interviews to clarify unclear issues and investigate new issues. A questionnaire forced upon interviewees does not elicit information (see the hair shampoo exercise in section A7.2). If emic feedback is to be introduced, both interviewers (especially when they have not been personally involved in compiling the questionnaire) and interviewees must be put in a situation where they may comment on the questions themselves and explain what is culturally meaningful in their own context and what is not. Interviewees should be given the opportunity after the normal answering process to elaborate freely on what they think of the questions, the situations described, and so on. This orientation is slightly different from the traditional one where interviewed people are simply required to answer, not to ‘criticize’ the questions. Emic feedback allows an improvement in the adequacy of the source culture’s constructs and instruments.10 Informants should be neither overestimated nor underestimated. They cannot respond to a barrage of questions alien to their knowledge and frame of reference. Therefore the content of the research must somehow be strictly controlled and must focus on really significant issues; surveys should be parsimonious and should not ask too much from informants. On the other hand, informants need to be carefully

listened to because it is they who, as insiders, have the relevant pieces of information. The same care has to be taken with interviewers: they must be properly controlled (some – not all – may cheat by guessing responses or even filling in questionnaires themselves), and adequately briefed (professional interviewers may not be found everywhere – see Box 7.4).


Researching internationally
For various reasons, apart from the equivalence issues reviewed previously, international research is different from domestic research: (1) it is more difficult and more costly to implement, and the stakes are often smaller than those in the domestic market; and (2) information often needs to be fed more directly into action, thus a ‘hands-on’ approach is to be recommended. (See WS7.6 for information on market research companies worldwide.)

The Japanese style of market research
Johansson and Nonaka (1987) show that Japanese firms use market survey techniques that are quite distinct from those used by US companies. Japanese do survey markets, but decide what to do afterwards fairly independently of the survey conclusions. For example, research was presented to Akio Morita, founder and president of the Sony Corporation, which suggested that the Walkman would not be bought by consumers: they would not buy a tape player that does not record, even a portable one. Trusting his intuition, though undoubtedly after fairly wide consultation, Akio Morita and Sony took the decision to launch the Walkman, with the success we all know. It is likely that an American boss would not have taken such a decision. In fact Japanese firms take a direct interest in the realities of the market-place and outlets. They look for information from the actual buyers (not the potential consumers), who are interviewed about the products they want, and how the products themselves could be better tailored to consumers’ needs. Johansson and Nonaka cite the example of the chief executive officer of Canon USA. He spent six weeks visiting Canon distribution networks, chatting to

7.6 Researching internationally


sales executives, customers and store managers, in order to find out why Canon cameras were not selling as well as the competition. This attitude is quite different from the prescriptions of traditional market research, which are as follows: 1. Market research has to be representative; therefore a representative sample must be used. 2. Market research must be scientifically objective. A questionnaire (that is, a systematic but not necessarily open-ended information retrieval instrument) should be administered by nonparticipating researchers (they should not be personally involved in the consequences of the responses given by interviewees). 3. Research has to study the potential market, not the actual market (that is, real buyers and real users). 4. As far as possible, the people who undertake market research should not be the same people who ultimately decide on the marketing strategy to be adopted. There is a potential danger that the boss of Canon USA could be manipulated by customers and distributors, who might take the opportunity to demand lower prices or other benefits by overstating competitors’ strengths. There is also the risk that by focusing on the actual market, as yet untargeted market segments could be ignored or neglected. As Johansson and Nonaka emphasize (1987, p. 16):
Japanese-style market research relies heavily on two kinds of information: ‘soft data’ obtained from visits to dealers and other channel members, and ‘hard data’ about shipments, inventory levels, and retail sales. Japanese managers believe that these data better reflect the behaviour and intentions of flesh-and-blood consumers. Japanese companies want information that is context specific rather than context free – that is, data directly relevant to consumer attitudes about the product, or to the way buyers have used or will use specific products, rather than research results that are too remote from the actual consumer to be useful.11

Market research as images of reality: Atomistic versus organic views
In fact, market surveys are, at best, ‘photographs’ of the market; they are not the market itself. At the Los Angeles County Museum of Art there is a painting by

the Belgian Painter René Magritte, called ‘La pipe’. It simply shows a pipe, with a thin trail of smoke coming out of it. That is (almost) all. Then: there is a short subtitle at the bottom of the painting, saying ‘ceci n’est pas une pipe’ (‘this is not a pipe’): a very ‘down to earth’ way of reminding us that images of reality should not be confused with reality itself. We may create images of reality, especially through the media (for instance, a war reported on a TV screen) but we may also ignore large chunks of reality (especially its experiential elements). On the other hand, we should not underestimate the power of the process of designing images of reality, especially for decision-making purposes. Scientific market research provides marketing decision-makers with an image of the actual and/or potential market, consumer behaviour and the competition. Large parts of reality are beyond our limited perceptual apparatus. Let us take another example: at the Mount Wilson observatory in California, there are photographs of the stars taken using a special quality of film, with a shutter exposure of four hours. The stars in the sky are far more numerous than we will ever see with our limited vision. The same holds true for market research: from panels or, more generally, from a large and representative sample of consumers, we may derive images of the market that we will never match simply by talking with anyone who is around. Our argument is that, across countries, marketing decision-makers do not use exactly the same information for a similar decision process, and that, to a certain extent, culture influences the scope and nature of researched information, and the use of the results in the process of marketing decision making. Two basic approaches to reality may be contrasted, as ideal types, the atomistic and the organic approaches (Table 7.4), which we all share, across individuals and cultures. In terms of research traditions, the atomistic view is close to distanced positivistic research, the organic view is nearer to humanistic enquiry (Hirschmann, 1986) and action research.12 In the atomistic view we consider ourselves as being outside the real world, as observers, able to depict with a certain degree of precision workable images of the real world (atomistic), and then to use them to interact with this external world. The atomistic approach leads us to consider reality as fundamentally divisible into units that display enough independence that, operationally, we can ignore the interrelations between pieces of it.


Chapter 7 Cross-cultural market research

Table 7.4 Atomistic versus organic approaches
Approach to reality Nature of reality Time Communication style Interpersonal relations Intellectual style Proof Space Decision making Atomistic Divisibility/independence Linear/divisible Explicit/low context Individualist/reciprocal Data/measurement oriented Validated theory (truth) Universalist Formalized Organic Global/indivisible/dependent Cyclical/integrative Implicit/high context Collectivist/loyal Intellectual modesty Virtue/conviction Localist Weakly structured

Conversely, one may emphasize that we are an integral part of this reality, to which we belong so inextricably that it is not really possible to separate oneself from the reality. We are so deeply immersed in it that it would make no sense. The organic approach assumes the indivisible nature of reality, its elements (if there are any) being fundamentally interdependent. Reality is global, rather than piecemeal. These two approaches are complementary, rather than antagonistic. However, one approach can be dominant among a group of people or a culture, or in an individual or an area of knowledge (Usunier, 1997).13 Table 7.4, which builds on Tables 2.1 to 3.5, illustrates how these approaches are linked to major categories of cultural differences, although the difference between atomism and organism is not a cultural difference. The atomistic belief in divisibility favours the view that time is divisible, that the basic unit of interpersonal relations is the individual, and that communication can and must be explicit (that is, clearly separated, ‘divided’ from surrounding issues, topics and preoccupations). Separating emotions from actions, friendship from business, is typically an atomistic attitude towards reality, seen as divisible. Very naturally, the atomistic approach favours the perception that data orientation and measurement are the proof that a piece of reality is divisible and (therefore) exists. To illustrate the importance of measurement in the atomistic approach, let us take the case of a company that is trying to improve service within the company, so that it is not only front-line service providers who are concerned with service to customers. In addressing such an issue, a typical atomistic statement would be: ‘To arrive at a position where excellent service is achieved will be a difficult

enterprise. This primarily results from the lack of service measurement knowledge within the company.’ In fact, scales exist only to measure service quality vis-à-vis customers, so that the atomistic solution is to try and develop a measurement instrument, because the reality of within-company service cannot be tackled in the absence of measurement instruments. The organic approach holds the contrary assumption: it is precisely because measurement is difficult that the two issues are considered as non-separate and to be treated as a joint piece of reality. The research approach will be quite different. On the other hand, a dominance of the organic approach favours collectivism in its strongest sense: people do not consider themselves as being separate from the group to which they belong. Their sense of belonging includes the implicit view that they are not really separable from their group. The communication style is more implicit and contextual, because the sense of the interdependence of pieces of reality is much stronger. In interpersonal relationships, loyalty is characteristic of the organic approach, whereas reciprocity, based on tabulated favours (time, amount and persons being clearly defined), is linked to the atomistic approach. To this list can be added that proof (in the sense of making it work; be accepted and be considered as a necessary piece of reality) is based on validated theory, for the atomistic approach, and on arguments favouring conviction and virtue, for the organic approach. With divisible reality, linear time and individual emphasis, the atomistic approach conceives of decision making as a highly formalized process, followed by implementation, control and feedback. It is a time sequence such as we see in many managerial textbooks. Conversely, the organic approach emphasizes

7.6 Researching internationally


circularity in time and the integration of time horizons. Preparing, making decisions and implementing them are not easily seen as completely separated pieces of time reality, leading to a fairly unstructured decisionmaking process. Finally, the organic approach does favour ‘localism’, local solutions, because solutions are built within a context and there is a difficulty in conceiving universal solutions. Conversely, the data and theory orientation in the atomistic approach favours universalism, because reality, when reduced to figures, shows a fairly high degree of universality.14

Market research should therefore not just be conducted in response to one apparent market threat or opportunity, but rather on an ongoing basis in order to achieve a sustainable advantage.

The case of research on international markets: Doing research with limited data availability and limited resources
International business and marketing requires a greater focus on the external environmental, since this differs more across countries, than within countries. For instance, Ya-Fei (2000) discusses the need for research into government in China. Specifically, her firm has divided their research into vertical and horizontal studies. First, vertical market studies research the governing structures relating to the client’s business including government policies, organization, and influences. For instance, an international chemical firm commissioned them to interview government officials to obtain their position on a new regulation, ‘China’s Environmental Regulations for Chemical Products Imports and Exports’, that was threatening their business operations, so that they could develop a strategy to lobby for adoption of internationally accepted practices. Second, horizontal market surveys are more industry-specific, such as studying market opportunities, the competitive environment and consumer preferences, etc. Similarly, Tan and Lui (2002, p. 803) discuss trends in international marketing research in Asia, pointing out that:
there is also a growing realization that it is not enough to monitor shifts in brand perceptions or market share. It is, in fact, far more important to possess a holistic understanding of the total operating environment (including political and economic issues) and have better appreciation of the competitors’ plans and activities. This understanding results in the clients’ increasing dissatisfaction with traditional marketing research as being too narrowly focused on marketing issues: research techniques and an overriding concern with data rather than analysed information . . .

As explained in the sections above, when research is conducted internationally, the basic conditions of market research are different from those prevailing in the domestic market. For instance, Wood and Robertson (2000) found that export managers in the United States most highly value information that provides market potential, followed by legal, political, infrastructure, economics and, finally, culture: they first have to establish that the country has the necessary demand, is open, will remain open, is conducive to entry, and is evolving, and then they can seek the cultural information that will improve the success. Market experience, market share and availability of people and resources are generally much higher in the domestic environment than in international markets (Grønhaug and Graham, 1987). Cavusgil and Godiwalla (1982) stress the high level of uncertainty in international markets and the limited availability of objective information, both in quantity and in quality. This may explain why international marketing decisions are dominated by the influence of subjective and perceptual factors. In fact, the same information can be used in different ways. For instance, Daimantopoulos and Souchon (1999) found that information was used either for ‘instrumental and conceptual’ use or for ‘symbolic’ use. The first category is the direct application of the research to a specific problem (instrumental use) or for general enlightenment or future use (conceptual use). The second category is really a misuse of information (symbolic use), such as using it out of context, selectively disclosing information that confirms a previously held conviction or ignoring facts. Daimantopoulos et al. (2003) surveyed exporting companies from Austria, Germany, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States, finding that information (relating to export marketing research, export assistance and export marketing intelligence) was more likely to be used instrumentally/conceptually than symbolically, although there were differences across countries. For instance, US exporters were more likely to use information symbolically than the other countries; conversely, Austrian exporters were less likely to use information symbolically than the other countries.


Chapter 7 Cross-cultural market research

Instrumental or conceptual use of information is more likely to increase market knowledge and performance, than symbolic use (Toften and Olsen, 2003). The less sophisticated nature of international marketing research is also evidenced by Cavusgil (1984). Officials of 70 companies from Wisconsin and Illinois, involved in international business, were interviewed. Mostly simple survey techniques were used: foreign market research is generally informal, with no standard procedures. Furthermore, the frequency of identifying and analyzing foreign markets is much less than once a year. Sophistication increases with the higher degree of involvement in foreign markets, as measured by the percentage of export profits to total company profits. A study by Koh (1991) confirms these findings: a large proportion of US exporters, approximately two-thirds of the companies surveyed, do not adopt a formalized marketing plan. But when they do, they tend to focus on issues similar to those researched domestically and to neglect ‘strategic issues relating to risks appraisal, environmental issues, cultural considerations . . . which require close contact with the foreign environment’ (Koh, 1991, p. 17). The acceptance of intuition in the decisionmaking process is a key element of those differences. Should we continue with very in-depth research, if the final decision is taken by somebody who may or may not follow the conclusions of the research? Should the researcher and the decision-maker be different people or the same? These questions are raised by the cross-cultural comparison of marketing research practices.

business-to-business markets, which can help in the initial stages of market consideration. Access to secondary information over the Internet is fast, easy and low cost, but it is also difficult to compare and validate the data and the authenticity of sources of information. Second, for primary research the Internet offers the ability to conduct traditional surveys via e-mail, online surveys and focus groups. It also allows tracking exposure to websites, product, advertising, company information and patterns of use, such as information search patterns. The Internet’s capacity for interactivity also means that it is easy to communicate directly with customers and respondents through chat rooms and bulletin boards (Tan and Lui, 2002). Access to primary information over the Internet is relatively easy and cheap, but it is usually limited to Internet/e-mail users. This may be especially problematic in countries where there is low Internet access (Craig and Douglas, 2001a).


It is dangerous to prepare an international market survey by simply transposing domestic research. The nature and scope of researched market information, the ways of collecting it, the accuracy of the data as well as the criteria of reliability of the data present cross-cultural variance. This holds true even when these factors are perceived as normatively quite universal. International market researchers have to reveal their own ethnocentric biases, by giving feedback opportunities to their informants or to local collaborators. From this point on, a systematic search for formal equivalence may appear dangerous. Equivalence of constructs and instruments has to be established first. As Craig and Douglas (2001a, p. 85) put it, international marketing researchers ‘are being challenged to conduct research that is of the highest possible quality, as quickly as possible, in multiple diverse settings’. The final recommendation is to search for the meaning, bearing in mind this advice: 1. Scientific methods provide pictures which otherwise would not be available (the ‘Mount Wilson’ argument).

Research on the Internet
The Internet offers many opportunities to access both secondary and primary research. First, for secondary research the Internet makes it easy to locate preliminary information about a region or country of interest, including the macro environmental factors, such as political, legal, geographical, economical and cultural information, as well as the micro environmental factors, such as market size, distribution systems, presence of local and global competition and consumer information. Kumar (2000) provides examples of information search on competitive intelligence analysis, industry analysis, buyer behaviour and new



2. But images of reality are not reality itself (the ‘la pipe’ argument). 3. Address the relevant questions (only those that can be articulated into decision and action). 4. Respect your informants and consider their competence as insiders as superior to yours as an

outsider; but interview only those people who have something to say. 5. Keep a ‘hands-on’ approach to market research. 6. Culture must be examined at each step of the research process: questions, survey methods, interviews and questionnaires, informants.

1. Define the following terms: (a) conceptual equivalence; (b) temporal equivalence; (c) sexual bias. 2. Discuss the functional equivalence of the following products or consumption experiences. For this, choose countries/culture with which you have familiarity and experience and think in terms of benefits and those that are particularly emphasized in certain cultures: (a) a bicycle; (b) drinking a beer; (c) red wine; (d) a watch. 3. What are the obstacles for a sample of consumers to be cross-culturally representative? 4. Discuss how market size can be estimated in a country where there is little or poor statistical data available. 5. List possible benefits for a washing powder or liquid and suggest possible cross-cultural variability in the dominance of certain benefits as compared with others. 6. Suggest ways of obtaining relevant market and consumer behaviour information where potential informants are not accustomed to questionnaires and interviews. 7. How does the individualism/collectivism difference have an impact on the drafting of market research questionnaires? 8. Which constraints does strong ingroup orientation put on the data-collection process?

1. See for this Weiss (1996) who compares European coffee experiences to that of the Haya community in Tanzania, a coffee-producing country. He explores the meaning of coffee for Haya people who produce it and consume it in ways that remain largely distinct from the meanings attributed to coffee in the global economy. 2. The issue of cross-cultural equivalence was initially developed in psychology (see Frijda and Jahoda, 1966; Poortinga, 1989) and was later borrowed by international market research (see Van Herk, 2000). 3. Wind and Douglas (1982) propose a hybrid approach, which they define in the following way: ‘The proposed approach develops country, culture or sub-culture specific concepts and measures. These are compared, combined or modified, and wherever possible common “pan-cultural” concepts, which do not have a specific cultural bias, and which reflect the idiosyncratic characteristics of each country, culture or sub-culture are identified. Country-specific measures of the “pan-cultural” and country idiosyncratic concepts are developed and compared. To the extent


Chapter 7 Cross-cultural market research




7. 8.



possible they are combined and country-specific measures are administered, generating the secondary data for the comparison.’ Green et al. (1988) give the following definitions of validity and reliability of measurement: ‘By validity the behavioural scientist means that the data must be unbiased and relevant to the characteristic being measured . . .’. By reliability ‘the behavioural scientist means the extent to which scaling results are free from experimental error’ (pp. 249 and 253). Validity is then broken down into content, criterion and construct validation: see Green et al. (1988, ch. 7, ‘Measurement in marketing research’, pp. 240–79). The cars reviewed are the Volkswagen Golf (VW Rabbit, West Germany), the Honda Civic (Japan) and the Fiat 128 (Italy). Cameras considered are Leica (West Germany), Canon (Japan) and Ferrania (Italy). The brands of electronic calculator used are Royal (West Germany), Canon (Japan) and Olivetti (Italy). Myers et al. (2000) suggest an extension of Mullen (1995) and Steenkamp and Baumgartner’s (1998) methods to test whether there is bias in the overall cross-cultural measurement model at an item-specific level. Their method assesses whether the constructs are composed and interpreted in the same way through a series of constrained and unconstrained models. Specifically this method can assess which constructs work as well as which individual items may be problematic across cultures. Similar problems have been found in Japanese (Johnson et al., 1993) and French (Pras and Angelmar, 1978). For instance, de Mooij and Hofstede (2002) compared 26 developed countries, finding that national wealth explained most of the variance in country-level adoption of faxes, mobile phones, cable television, personal computers and the Internet. But they also found that uncertainty avoidance is related to ownership of personal computers and mobile phones. Sentell and Philpot (1984) propose a method for evaluating the representativeness of samples taken from imperfectly known parent populations. Their method is based on the comparison of proportions estimated from two independent samples, focusing on situations where the larger sample size is unknown. Their method is implemented by testing two sets of sample statistics of Thai households. Badhuri et al. (1993) provide a quite interesting and lively review of how local market research agencies can cooperate, in the conduct of qualitative research, with client companies who undertake research from the United States in several European countries, coordination being done by a European research company. They distinguish six approaches (‘the hands-on approach’, ‘client as expert’, ‘we know best’, ‘the democratic approach’, ‘the colonial approach’ and ‘cheap and cheerful approach’) and show to what extent the client’s ethnocentric views and the worldviews of the local informants find their expression in the research process undertaken in each approach.

11. Naumann et al. (1994) provide somewhat contrary evidence to that of Johansson and Nonaka (1987) when they compare the practices of US and Japanese market research firms. Based on mail surveys sent to research firms in both countries, they show that in most areas Japanese and American market research practices seem to be similar. Research firms in both countries survey similar research issues, with the exception of competitor analysis and distribution where Japanese research is more intense. There appears to be no difference in the use of quantitative versus qualitative research between the two countries. However, information is based on self-reports by respondents, who may be concerned with the image of professionalism; this may bias Japanese answers towards the positive response style, which could explain why there systematically appears to be a higher percentage of Japanese firms than US firms using any type of quantitative data analysis techniques. Johannson and Nonaka’s views are based on insiders’ views and backed by ch. 3 in their recent book, Relentless: The Japanese Way of Marketing (Johansson and Nonaka, 1996). 12. For a clarification of these terms see Easterby-Smith et al. (1993). 13. The distinction we make here is typical and can cross the borders of the two national groups that we use, with some exaggeration and some simplification, as archetypes. Let us quote a keynote address, given by the chairman of Heineken, at an ESOMAR (European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research) meeting: ‘Decision making itself is about making choices, about taking risks, about looking ahead . . . Research is about describing, about facts, about analysing . . . I believe that the rational paradigm of collecting data, analysing them and acting upon them is not sufficient for the issues decision makers are confronted with . . . I am trying to make an argument for a more responsible use of research. A less absolute and more relative approach to its findings, one that leaves room for the more undefined factor in decision making. That of personal insight, judgement and intuition. And I think we should give a somewhat higher priority to this factor.’ (Vuursten, 1996, p. 44.) 14. It is tempting to say that a typical atomistic culture is the United States and that Japan is a typical organistic culture. This is possible, but only as a modal characteristic, since the organistic approach also exists in the United States. 15. Language of translation is optional. Instructors will decide this according to their teaching objectives and to the language competencies of students. Cultural and linguistic contexts may be varied ad libitum, in relation to the participants themselves (nationalities, language skills, personal experiences in various countries, etc.). The participants are one of the main resources as far as cultural and language expertise is concerned. Students may also try to obtain information on foreign cultural contexts either by using secondary data, or by interviewing members of a particular group.



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Chapter 7 Cross-cultural market research

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Appendix 7

Teaching materials

A7.1 Case Mobile phones in the European Union
Using the same text as in Chapter 4 (see section A4.3), answer the following questions: 1. Assuming that Orange has decided to undertake an in-depth market survey in order to decide whether to develop its market penetration in a southern European market (e.g. France or Spain), versus a northern European market (e.g. Germany or Denmark), how would you design such a survey? 2. What information is needed? 3. How would you collect it?

A7.2 Exercise Hair shampoo questionnaire
You will find below a market survey questionnaire, administered by interviewers to women interviewees between the ages of 18 and 30. It was originally designed for the US market. A similar market survey, as far as the objectives are concerned, will be undertaken in other countries. Suggest cross-cultural adaptations to this instrument. In particular, 1. Review the possible problems related to the translation of the questionnaire. Suggest solutions and translate it into. . . .15 2. Review the data-collection procedure, from the point of view of the interviewer as well as that of the interviewee. 3. Suggest changes in the questionnaire design and/or wording, and/or modification in survey methods, if: (a) the information sought is meaningless in the local context; (b) the required information is meaningful but the data-collection procedures are inadequate; either they will not enable you to collect the information, or else this information will be biased.


Chapter 7 Cross-cultural market research


You must do this for at least 3 of the following countries: Algeria, Brazil, France, Germany, Thailand. You should then propose a ‘central’ version of the questionnaire, that is, a survey instrument which enables you to collect the maximum amount of information, which could be retrieved in a reliable manner, in the largest possible number of countries. This questionnaire would then help the meaningful comparison of countries.

Questionnaire used in hair shampoo study
Started ................................... Ended .................................... Respondent Name .................................... Respondent No. ............................................... Address ..................................................... City ............................................................ State ................................................................. Telephone No ............................................ Interviewer ................................................. Name ........................................................ Interview Date ........................................... Screening Questions (Part S) ‘Hello, I’m .................... of the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. We’re conducting a survey on women’s attitudes and opinions about hair care products.’ 1. On average, how often do you shampoo More than twice a week Once or twice a week Once or twice every two weeks Once or twice every three weeks Twice a month Less than twice a month your hair at home? .......................................................................... .......................................................................... .......................................................................... .......................................................................... .......................................................................... .......................................................................... IF LESS THAN TWICE A MONTH, TERMINATE 2. What is your age? .......................................................................... (IF UNDER 18 OR OVER 30 TERMINATE) Time Interview

Part A ‘First I’m going to show you a set of 16 cards. Each card contains the name of a benefit that a hair shampoo might provide.’ (PLACE SET OF WHITE CARDS* ON TABLE IN FRONT OF RESPONDENT.) ‘Please take a few moments to look over these benefits.’ (ALLOW TIME FOR RESPONDENT TO STUDY THE CARDS.) ‘Now, thinking about various brands of hair shampoo that you have tried or heard about, pick out those benefits that you think are most likely to be found in almost any hair shampoo that one could buy today.’ (RECORD CARD NUMBERS IN FIRST COLUMN OF RESPONSE FORM A AND TURN SELECTED CARDS FACE DOWN.)
* For the wording on the cards, see p. 213.

Appendix 7 Teaching materials


‘Next, select all of those remaining benefits that you think are available in at least some hair shampoo – but not necessarily all in a single brand – that’s currently on the market.’ (RECORD CARD NUMBERS IN SECOND COLUMN OF RESPONSE FORM A. RECORD REMAINING CARD NUMBERS IN THIRD COLUMN. THEN RETURN ALL CARDS TO TABLE.) ‘Next, imagine that you could make up an ideal type of shampoo – one that might not be available on today’s market. Suppose, however, that you were restricted to only 4 of the 16 benefits shown on the cards in front of you. Which 4 of the 16 benefits would you most like to have?’ (RECORD CARD NUMBERS IN FOURTH COLUMN OF RESPONSE FORM A.)

RESPONSE FORM A (1) Benefits Most Likely to be Found in Almost Any Hair Shampoo – Card Numbers (2) Benefits Available in Some Shampoo – Card Numbers (3) Remaining Benefits – Card Numbers (4) Four Benefit Ideal Set – Card Numbers

Part B ‘Now, let’s again return to some of the shampoo benefits you have already dealt with.’ (SELECT WHITE CARD NUMBERS 1 THROUGH 10: PULL OUT CARD 4 AND PLACE IT IN FRONT OF RESPONDENT.) ‘Suppose a shampoo were on the market that primarily stressed this benefit – “produces hair that has body”. If you could get a shampoo that made good on this claim, which one of the remaining nine benefits would you most like to have as well?’ (RECORD NUMBER IN RESPONSE FORM B.) ‘Which next most?’ (RECORD.) ‘Please continue until all of the nine benefits have been ranked.’

RESPONSE FORM B (Enter Card Numbers 1 Through 10 Excluding Card #4) ( ) Most Like to Have ( ) ( ) Next Most ( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) Least Most


Chapter 7 Cross-cultural market research

Part C ‘Now, I am going to read to you some short phrases about hair. Listen to each phrase carefully and then tell me what single words first come to your mind when you hear each phrase.’ (RECORD UP TO THE FIRST THREE ‘ASSOCIATIVE-TYPE’ WORDS THE RESPONDENT SAYS AFTER EACH PHRASE IN RESPONSE FORM C.)
RESPONSE FORM C (a) Hair that has body __________________________ _ (b) Hair with fullness __________________________ _ (c) Hair that holds a set __________________________ _ (d) Bouncy hair __________________________ _ (e) Hair that’s not limp __________________________ _ (f ) Manageable hair __________________________ _ (g) Zesty hair __________________________ _ (h) Natural hair __________________________ _

__________________________ _


__________________________ _


__________________________ _


__________________________ _


__________________________ _


__________________________ _


__________________________ _


__________________________ _


Part D ‘At this point I would like to ask you a few questions about your hair.’ 1. Does your hair have enough body? Yes ___________ No ___________ 2. Do you have any special problems with your hair? Yes ___________ No ___________ If yes, what types of problems?
__________________________ ___________________________________________________ ______ _________________________ ___________________________________________________ _______

3. How would you describe your hair? My hair type is: Dry ___________ Normal ___________ Oily ___________ 4. The texture of my hair is: Fine ___________ Normal ___________ 5. My hair style (the way I wear my hair) is: Straight ___________ Slightly wavy or curly ___________ Very wavy or curly ___________ Coarse ___________

Appendix 7 Teaching materials


6. The length of my hair is: Short (to ear lobes) ___________ Medium (ear lobes to shoulder) ___________ Long (below shoulder) ___________ 7. How would you describe the thickness of your hair? Thick ___________ Medium ___________ Thin ___________ Part E ‘Now I would like to ask you a few background questions.’ 1. Are you working (at least twenty hours per week, for compensation)? Yes ___________ No ___________ 2. Are you married? Yes ___________ No ___________ 3. What is your level of education? Some high school ___________ Completed high school ___________ Some college ___________ Completed college ___________ 4. (HAND RESPONDENT INCOME CARD.) Which letter on this card comes closest to describing your total annual family income before taxes? (CIRCLE APPROPRIATE LETTER.) A. Under $9,000 E. $30,001–45,000 B. $9,001–15,000 F. $45,001–60,000 C. $15,001–20,000 G. Over $60,000 D. $20,001–30,000 ‘Thanks very much for your help.’ Appendix Text of the 16 benefits cards (original text in English + my translation into French overleaf): 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. Hair stays clean a long time Hair stays free of dandruff or flaking Hair that looks and feels natural Hair that has body Manageable hair that goes where you want it Hair with sheen or luster Hair with no split ends Hair with enough protein Hair that doesn’t get oily fast Hair that’s not too dry Hair with fullness Hair that’s not frizzy Hair that holds a set Hair with texture Hair that’s easy to comb when it dries Hair that looks free and casual


Chapter 7 Cross-cultural market research

Example of a translation into French. Below are my suggestions: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. Des Des Des Des Des Des Des Des Des Des Des Des Des Des Des Des Cheveux Cheveux Cheveux Cheveux Cheveux Cheveux Cheveux Cheveux Cheveux Cheveux Cheveux Cheveux Cheveux Cheveux Cheveux Cheveux qui restent propre longtemps sans pellicules ni noeuds respirant le naturel qui ont du volume souples que l’on peut coiffer à son gré brillants et chatoyants qui ne se cassent pas assez riches en protéines ne devenant pas gras trop vite pas trop secs qui ont de la plénitude qui ne sont pas frisottés tenant la mise en plis ayant une bonne texture faciles à coiffer lorsqu’ils sèchent naturels, en liberté

(Source: Adapted from Green et al., 1988, pp. 359–62.)

Part 3 Marketing decisions for the intercultural environment

© Reuters/Corbis

Introduction to Part 3

For some decades, the ‘4Ps’ model of marketing management has been widely used for designing marketing strategies and, to a lesser extent, for implementing them. Like most international marketing textbooks, this book follows the ‘4Ps’ model: product, price, place, and promotion. Part 3 explains how the first three Ps, product, price and place, should be managed internationally with a view to generating the best possible compromise between large-scale operations and adaptation to local markets. The last ‘P’, promotion, is largely treated in Part 4 since marketing communications deserve special treatment in an international context where communication needs to be tailored because of language differences. Multinational companies respond to the globalization of competition by designing international marketing strategies that try to create experience effects within the constraint of transport costs. They also use a number of production systems, such as flexible manufacturing, in order to gain differentiation advantages that are related to the customization of product offerings to local market needs. Chapter 8 deals first with the supply side by examining how cost arguments explain the emergence of global strategies and the globalization of competition. On the demand side, cross-border segments can be targeted in order to generate larger-scale operations; Chapter 8 explains how geographical and demographic segmentation criteria can be combined in order to segment international markets optimally. Chapter 9 documents the strategic choice between adaptation or standardization of products across national markets. It starts therefore with a review of key arguments in favour of the standardization or the adaptation of physical attributes. Physical attributes are the most sensitive to scale economies and at the same time they often require customization because of climate and other objective features of local markets. Service attributes also need to be tailored because consumers’ expectations regarding service quality and service performance vary across national contexts. Finally, symbolic attributes linked to product design and packaging are examined in a cross-cultural perspective that highlights the diversity of cultural interpretations of symbols looking at attributes such as colour, figure, shape, etc. Among the symbolic attributes that diffuse meaning, two of great importance are the country of origin of products and their brand names. Chapter 10 deals therefore with the management of images diffused by these attributes. It reviews how consumers evaluate products according to their country of origin, taking into account perceived risk related to goods produced in other countries, which may be cheaper or

less prestigious in terms of design and/or manufacture, as well as the nationalistic tendencies of consumers who prefer to buy products made in their own country. The final section deals with the linguistic constraints of transferring national brand names on to the international scene and outlines the managerial limitations involved in the development of global brands. Rather than seeing price merely as the objective factor in the economics of international marketing, Chapter 11 examines the role of price as a central element of relational exchange, that is, as a signal conveying meaning between buyer and seller, marketers and consumers, and between companies and their middlemen. It also presents and documents the main pricing decisions that a company has to face when it sells internationally. The first perspective developed is that of bargaining, which is still widely in use in many markets and remains a key ritual in buyer–seller relationships because it mixes economics and human intercourse in a subtle way. Then crosscultural variation in the use of price by consumers to evaluate and choose products is discussed. The three last sections of the chapter are devoted to managerial issues in international price policy, that is, how multinational companies may use price policy to conquer new markets, how to enter markets where competition is avoided through cartels and price agreements, how to fight against parallel imports by unauthorized dealers, and how prices should be managed in unstable environments, which often combine high inflation, administered prices and strict foreign exchange control. Chapter 12 is concerned mostly with the ‘place’ variable in the 4Ps model and deals consequently with international distribution. The case of Japanese Keiretsu distribution is used to exemplify the cultural embedding of distribution channels and the difficulty of entering foreign channels as a ‘cultural outsider’. It shows how relationships between channel members are deeply rooted in local patterns of human and economic relationships and highlights the role of distribution as a ‘cultural filter’, which must be carefully considered (along with other criteria) before choosing a foreign distribution channel. Direct marketing worldwide, especially through catalogue sales and through the Internet, is developing fast: the section dealing with direct marketing explains which products best suit direct overseas distribution and outlines some linguistic and cultural limitations that must be carefully considered before designing and implementing cross-border direct marketing. The final section examines cross-national variations in sales promotion methods and explains which aspects need to be customized when transferring promotional techniques across borders.

Intercultural marketing strategy

Globalization can occur at the market, organization and/or consumer level. Globalization occurs mostly at the level of markets where supply, demand and competition are becoming increasingly global. Regional agreements worldwide and the World Trade Organization (WTO) have brought tariff and non-tariff barriers down. These are progressively being replaced by entry barriers related to scale and experience at the organizational level. Consumer behaviour, a natural entry barrier related to culture, will diminish very gradually and only over a long period: there are still many very different marketing ‘villages’, not a global one. This chapter defends the ideas that strategic management has to be ‘global’, whereas marketing management largely needs to be tailored to local contexts; therefore, an intercultural orientation to international marketing best serves a global strategic view. The strategic dilemma for international marketers is to achieve both low cost and differentiation in the minds of consumer’s vis-à-vis competitors. While differentiation, a key tenet of this book, may result in cost increases, there are possible compromises. Cost efficiency can be obtained in three major areas: production, transport and marketing. In order to minimize costs and unnecessary differentiation, and to maximize relevant differentiation, customers should be clustered in groups sharing common characteristics. Culture is naturally one of the main cues for clustering, but not the only one; sociodemographic criteria are also significant in an international perspective. We need to consider the scale of global operations, their geographical scope and relevant segments

(national versus transnational). The first section of this chapter discusses scale, concentrating on cost arguments. Global strategies are very significant from a pure cost perspective. The second section discusses scope, concentrating on how global competition has progressively become the rule, due to the liberalization of world trade. The third section shows how companies have reacted to these major changes during the last 20 years and how they were forced by the pressure of worldwide competition to standardize marketing strategies while keeping an eye on very dissimilar consumer environments. The final section deals with the segmentation of world markets and discusses the respective place of cross-border segments based on sociodemographics and lifestyles and geography-based cultural segments.


Cost arguments and global strategies
Trends towards global (competitive) markets
The distinction between the multidomestic and the global market, identified by Michael Porter, has been widely applied since the beginning of the 1980s. According to Porter, competition becomes global when ‘a firm’s competitive position is significantly affected by its position in other countries and vice-versa’ (1986, p. 18). When an industry is multidomestic, separate strategies are pursued in different national markets, and the competitive scene remains basically

8.1 Cost arguments and global strategies


a domestic one. While there are forces moving us toward a global competition, such as those cited by Sheth (2001) including regional integration, ideologyfree world, technological advances and borderless markets, the movement is not as fast it may seem, as there are other forces that have slowed the process. In fact, Rugman (2001, p. 583) suggests that globalization ‘does not, and has never, existed in terms of a single world market with free trade . . . Government regulations and cultural differences divide the world into the triad blocks of North America, the European Union and Japan’. He argues that the move has been to regionalization rather than globalization, as most global companies earn the majority of their revenue within their home triad and adapt their products to the local market. For example: ‘More than 85 per cent of all automobiles produced in North America are built in North American factories . . . over 90 per cent of the cars produced in the EU are sold there; and more than 93 per cent of all cars registered in Japan are manufactured domestically’ (pp. 584–5). There are some fundamental reasons for industries to remain multidomestic, including wide differences in consumer needs and attitudes across markets, legal barriers resulting from domestic regulations (which have long been in place in the case of banking and insurance), and non-tariff barriers, which artificially maintain competition between purely national competitors (food and drug health regulations, for instance). Accordingly, the basic preoccupation of a global strategy, very briefly defined, is the configuration and coordination of activities, including marketing, across national markets. The trends towards global markets differ fairly widely, depending on the industry. First, the influence of national regulations and non-tariff barriers varies largely across product categories. Second, the potential for experience effects also differs across product categories: for example, there is less potential for cost reduction due to volume increase in the case of perishables, such as cheeses, than for microchips. Third, there are different degrees of international ‘transportability’, that is, the extent to which transportation costs impinge on the degree and patterns of globalization of an industry. Thus, exporting may be the dominant internationalization pattern for easily transportable products such as semiconductors, and foreign direct investment may be the prevailing pattern for industries whose products are expensive

to transport long distance (e.g. cement). Fourth, the trend towards globalization may be curbed in the case of culture-bound products: the globalization of foods such as cheese, although such a trend clearly exists, is slower than in the microchip industry. In addition, globalization may not be the most profitable route for a company to take. For instance, Qian and Li (2001, pp. 326–7) caution that; ‘no definitive conclusions can be drawn from past research on the relationship between foreign operations and profitability’. Quin and Li hypothesize that increasing the scope of foreign operation should increase profits. Using data from 125 large US firms, they found that a medium global market diversification strategy performed better than a high one. As previously mentioned, pure cost efficiency can be obtained in three major areas: production, transport and marketing. Each of these is discussed below.

Production and experience effects
The potential for experience effects differs widely across product categories. The Boston Consulting Group has isolated one of the main reasons for this through research into the success of various companies, including Japanese companies, in global markets. Experience effects provide companies with the ability to reduce unit costs dramatically through an increase in product quantity. The experience effects determine the relationship of unit cost to cumulated production volume according to the following formula: Cn = C1 n−λ where Cn is the cost of the nth unit; C1 is the cost of the first unit; n is the cumulated number of units produced; and λ is the elasticity of the unit cost with respect to the cumulated production volume. The form of the function reflects a constant elasticity. Let us call k the effect of elasticity. When production is doubled, the cost (and therefore, to a certain extent, the price) will decrease by l − k = 1 − 2−λ per cent each time the experience doubles. If, for example, k equals 70 per cent, the cost will decrease by 30 per cent on a doubling of the cumulated production (1 − 70 per cent = 30 per cent). Experience effects theory has been supported by empirical verification (e.g., Day and Montgomery, 1983).


Chapter 8 Intercultural marketing strategy

Experience effects have been estimated for such diverse products and services as long-distance telephone calls in the United States, bottle tops in West Germany, refrigerators in Great Britain, and motorcycles in Japan. (For more information on cost, experience effects and the learning curve see WS8.1.) The source of experience effects is fourfold: 1. The effects of learning by doing. The more times one carries out a task or manufactures a component or a product, the more efficiently and quickly it can be done. 2. Scale effects. By increasing the scale of production, the average cost can be reduced. Many industrial products, such as pocket calculators, require a large amount of research and development for product design, yet only a small quantity of raw materials for their manufacture. 3. Technological advances. The increase in cumulated production offers a dual possibility for technological improvements. On one hand, production equipment may be refined; on the other hand, the product itself can be simplified and rendered cheaper to produce. These product simplifications usually result from reducing the number of component parts, rather than a reduction in the number of functions and the degree of sophistication, which would adversely affect the consumer. 4. Economies of scope. Component parts may be shared by different products. For instance, the same basic diesel engine may be used for a fork-lift truck, a small truck, a van, a car, or as an inboard motor for a boat, with a few slight adaptations. The increase in the production scale of shared components (or shared overhead costs, or any kind of shared common inputs) results in economies of scope. Not every product has the same potential for experience effects. The potential is clearly smaller for cheese or books than for hi-fi systems or microcomputers. An examination of Japanese successes in world markets demonstrates that the Japanese have concentrated on goods that have very high experience effects, such as motorcycles, motor cars, photocopiers, video and DVD equipment, hi-fi systems, television sets, outboard motors, musical instruments and cameras. Right from the start, Japanese companies opted for global markets, even though their domestic market for such products was itself very substantial.

Competitors have struggled to resist the competitive pressure of Japanese companies. For instance, the motorcycle industry in Europe illustrates how a lack of experience effects can inhibit innovation. In an attempt to compete with the Japanese (Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki, Kawasaki), Motobécane, a French manufacturer, launched a 125cc motorcycle 20-odd years ago. This model had a two-stroke engine that operated on a mixture of petrol and oil, since Motobécane was unable to make a four-stroke engine, like Honda, or an ‘oil lube’ (a device for mixing oil and petrol automatically), like Yamaha, Suzuki and Kawasaki. This motorcycle emitted a thick cloud of white smoke through its exhaust. The range of models offered has remained very limited, as with other French motorcycles. The 350cc Motobécane, which could have enjoyed a lucrative local market by supplying the French police, was not fast or reliable enough. The lack of experience effects in the company was a barrier to technological improvements. Motobécane is now renamed MBK and is a subsidiary of Yamaha. Local players however, can use experience effects to maintain the upper hand over transnationals by using their local identity advantage. As noted by Ger (1999, p. 65), ‘Rather than operating in the already highly competitive markets shared and dominated by the TNCs [transnational corporations], local firms can better take advantage of their potential by operating in alternative domains and “out-localizing” the TNCs, in both global and local markets’.

International transportability
The unit weight, that is, dollar price per kilogram or per pound, differs widely across categories of goods, and therefore across the industries that manufacture them. The price of cement or basic ordinary steel products ranges from 50 cents per kilogram to several dollars per kilogram, whereas that of cars ranges from 10 dollars per kilogram (for example, a small family car at the bottom end of the market) to 60 or 70 dollars per kilogram for luxury cars at the top end of the market (large Mercedes, BMWs or Jaguars). A portable computer may reach a price of 750 dollars per kilogram (or even more), not to mention its component chips, which may climb to several thousand dollars per kilogram.

8.1 Cost arguments and global strategies


In the international transportation system, shipping charges do not follow a simple tariff, which would be directly proportional to weight. They are calculated on the basis of a mix of criteria, depending on the nature of goods to be shipped and on the shipping line. Shipping lines are also subject to economies of scale. Transportation cost factors are influenced by the forces of competition between transportation companies, and also by the method of transportation (ship, aeroplane, truck or train). The mix of criteria includes weight, volume, dimensions, ease of loading and unloading, perishability, packaging and speed of delivery. Of these, weight, volume and perishability are clearly the most detrimental factors to international transportation. Some markets will remain almost exclusively multidomestic, because goods and services cannot be transported – services such as hairdressing, for instance. Although transportability may have a negative influence on cross-border transactions of goods and services, it does not hamper the globalization of an industry where cross-border investments are possible. For instance, the cement industry still competes on a global basis, through foreign direct investment and the sale and licensing of technology, despite the markets being regionally segmented within countries due to the high cost of transportation in proportion to basic unit price. Transportability relates also to consumers, who may be more ‘transportable’ than the products or services that are offered to them. Ski resorts are a good example: ski slopes, buildings and equipment are not transportable, nor is snow. But potential skiers may be transported at low cost on charter flights, from countries without mountains, snow or ski resorts (but with some purchasing power). Thus we may observe in the international ski-resorts industry a twofold pattern of globalization. On the one hand, some worldfamous ski resorts, such as Val d’Isère in France, Kitzbühl in Austria, Zermatt in Switzerland and Thredbo in Australia enjoy a global market. People arrive from many parts of the world, often on package holidays sold by tour operators or travel agencies. On the other hand, there remains in most ski-oriented countries a large number of purely local ski resorts (‘ski villages’), which compete on a more domestic basis. This part of the industry is multidomestic. Between these two segments, one globalized, one multidomestic, there are in fact many intermediate ski resorts,

which compete on a regionally globalized basis. This is the case with most medium-size ski resorts in the European Alps: in Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland and some eastern European countries, which compete for European skiers. The Internet has also increased the transportability in many markets. Forrester Research (2000) predicts that global e-commerce will reach US $6.8 trillion in 2004. According to Prasad et al. (2001, p. 83): ‘Benefits sought by marketers in using the Internet include improved efficiency and lower costs across supply and demand chains; improved speed, flexibility, and responsiveness in meeting customer needs; greater market access; and enhanced ability to overcome time and distance barriers of global markets’. While the Internet cannot transport most physical products, it can affect communication, transactional and distribution channels (Prasad et al., 2001).

The disconnection between sourcing and marketing
The countries where sourcing and marketing take place may be geographically distant in industries which compete on a global basis. The sites of most cost-efficient production are often export processing zones in newly industrialized countries. Consumer markets may be located in distant and remote places. The same brand may be ‘made in’ multiple countries, generating different country-of-origin (COO) images (see section 10.2). This multinational production causes a ‘blurring effect’ for COO. Consumers, who still use country of origin as an information cue for comparing brands, are now becoming more and more aware of the actual disconnection between sourcing and marketing. Usunier (2002) recently found that actual knowledge about a product’s origin and its influence on preference for local products is relatively small.

A world-view versus a local view
There is clearly a difference between customer orientation, which puts customers’ needs first, and market orientation, which focuses on a larger view of satisfying customers’ current and future needs throughout the marketing value chain (Hult et al., 2001). Market


Chapter 8 Intercultural marketing strategy

orientation gives ‘system-wide attention to markets (customers, competitors and other entities in the environment) throughout the organization’ (Hult and Ketchen, 2001, p. 901). Thus, a ‘global strategy’ clearly implies a world-view of competition and competitive advantage, not simply a belief that consumers and markets are themselves global. The issue of global strategies has been extensively documented in the strategic management literature; it is clearly beyond the scope of this book (which emphasizes the cultural dimensions of international marketing) to discuss in detail the specific issues related to global strategies. In cultural terms, the ethnocentrism of the managing team of any company is shown by the way in which it treats the domestic/national market on the one hand and ‘foreign’ markets on the other. This issue is not purely academic; it permeates the ways in which a company organizes its international activities and the nationalities of its top executives as well as other more practical considerations such as the choice of the language(s) to be spoken between subsidiaries and head office. Once the company has achieved a certain level of development in foreign markets, the ‘export’ view and the ‘international development’ view can no longer coexist effectively. They are dependent on four different perspectives: ethnocentrism, polycentrism, regiocentrism and geocentrism (Perlmutter, 1969; Wind et al., 1973). (For more information on these perspectives see WS8.1.) Two of these (ethno- and geocentrism) are somewhat irreconcilable. In terms of set theory, the domestic market is perceived as disjointed from foreign markets. Ethnocentric companies view international operations as secondary to their domestic operations. A company that considers its national base as its top priority will impose its own language on its foreign subsidiaries. It will supply the domestic market first when production capacity is overstretched. It will never invite a non-national on to the board of directors unless this person shares the company’s native language and culture. Conversely, a geocentric company, which considers its domestic market belonging to the world market in the same way as any other domestic market, will make the opposite choices. Sheth and Parvatiyar (2001, p. 21) argue that the nine determinants of international marketing cycles are gradually declining: political stability, government policy, ideology-driven economy, fear of colonialism, marketing transfer issues, lack of

infrastructure, North–South dichotomy, East–West dichotomy and product life. A geocentric perspective is dependent on a truly borderless world. Regiocentrism and polycentrism are more moderate perspectives. A regiocentric company is more open to global marketing than an ethnocentric one. But, this perspective also recognizes that regional marketing strategies may be necessary to better meet customer needs. Malhotra et al. (1998) argue that cultural factors still strongly inhibit the development of a homogeneous market. They emphasize a regional perspective, using regional trading blocs as building blocks to world trade. They also recognize the importance of acknowledging differences within the bloc. Finally, a polycentric company recognizes that differences occur in overseas markets. Each country is accepted as one of many ethnocentric places which may have their own marketing policies and programmes. When companies distance themselves from an ethnocentric attitude and adopt one of the other perspectives, by virtue of their management style and corporate culture, they develop genuinely offensive and defensive marketing strategies in foreign markets. Such a strategy manifests itself in flexible reallocation of resources from one market to another. For instance, a company will relocate into market Y, where it holds a solid position, as a reaction to one large competitor launching a price offensive in country X. This type of situation is conceivable in strongly oligopolistic markets where several (five to ten) large multinationals control the world market, as happens in the food industry or the liquefied gases industry. Nevertheless, it seems that stiff competition may give way to forms of cooperation between large companies from developed countries. The theory developed by Kenichi Ohmae, head of the Tokyo office of McKinsey Consultants, in his book Triad Power: The coming shape of global competition (1985), emphasizes the need for companies that want to survive international competition to have a solid base in the market area of each of the three major industrialized regions’ collectively known as the ‘triad’: North America, Japan and Europe. Ohmae further suggests that in each of these regions, companies should establish links of international division of labour with neighbouring developing countries. Companies in Latin America are natural subcontractors for North American companies. South-East Asian countries subcontract for Japanese firms. The same cooperation

8.1 Cost arguments and global strategies


pattern should occur between African countries and European companies. To ensure this necessary tripolar presence, Ohmae advocates that alliances should be built between companies belonging to one of the developed market areas. Most of these companies, even large ones, cannot individually afford to make the necessary investment that would ensure a full presence in each of the three regions. Prioritized markets often remain undisguised. To avoid the trap of ‘collective unconsciousness’, companies must reflect on how prioritized markets relate to corporate culture, as well as to the search for market and business opportunities, and to the decision-making process. Some European companies still supply their domestic market as a priority, on the basis that this market is the ‘home base’. This attitude has two dangerous consequences: 1. It leads to a bias in product design. The modest sales records of certain European cars, mainly French and Italian, in the North American (principally US) market is, at least partly, attributable to local French and Italian motor regulations which bias the design of cars, and make them inappropriate for use in America. In France, the speed restrictions on motorways, and a high road tax that largely increases with the size of the engine, has discouraged the production of large cars and sports cars. The same holds true in Italy, where the high cost of petrol has encouraged the production of small cars, too small in fact for US consumers. This has dissuaded car manufacturers in those countries from building high-speed luxury saloons, a gap in the market that was mostly filled by the Germans and the Swedes, before the Japanese came with their Lexus and Acuras. 2. Home-base-oriented companies often suffer the unfortunate reputation abroad of unreliability with respect to delivery dates. This is due to marginalization of foreign markets, which are considered as a provisional outlet to be approached when the home market is depressed. It leads to a consistent preference for supplying a domestic customer rather than a foreign customer. Even though such foreign customers may have ordered earlier, they will be forced to wait and will only receive delivery after domestic customers have been satisfied. A genuine respect for delivery dates should have led to a different outcome.

As soon as domestic demand increases, the prioritization of national markets implies that production capacity will cease to be used for supplying foreign customers. As a consequence, there is a general risk that attempts to set up stable business relationships with customers and intermediaries in foreign markets will be hampered. Typically, foreign agents will only be visited when business at home is slack, and will be let down (as will foreign customers) as soon as the home market situation improves. This attitude fails to satisfy the essential precondition for effective international development.

The world market share concept: Global size and the diagnosis of economic market share
Calculating its world market share helps to prevent a company from being ethnocentric when defining its position vis-à-vis the competition. Competition is seen from the outset as global. Box 8.1 illustrates the dangers of overemphasizing domestic market share. A diagnosis of a particular company’s situation within world markets requires the following evaluations (even though estimates may be only approximate): 1. What is the size of the world market (volume, units, sales figures)? 2. What is the company’s production size? 3. What is the company’s share of the world market? 4. What is the minimum world market share necessary to remain competitive, considering potential experience effects? The world market for fork-lift trucks was roughly 200,000 units per year. Fenwick held only 2 per cent of this market. ‘Competitive’ market share could be estimated to have been 10 per cent, or 20,000 trucks a year. Fenwick was therefore well below the required global size. In view of this, it should have reduced its range to either diesel or electric fork-lifts and to a limited range of sizes so that production could have been much greater in a more specialized world market. There is no precise rule for estimating the ‘competitive’ world market share. This figure depends on the optimum size of production, which in turn depends on the potential for experience effects for a specific


Chapter 8 Intercultural marketing strategy

Box 8.1

Fenwick, a synonym for fork-lift
Fenwick, the leading company for fork-lift trucks in France, is also a word used in everyday speech as a synonym for fork-lift trucks. A few years ago the company controlled 40–50 per cent of the French market, but nearly went bankrupt because it lacked international size. This company only produced 4,000 fork-lift trucks per year, whereas its global competitor, Toyota, produced 35,000 and its main east European competitor, Balkankar (a Bulgarian company), 70,000. This had a negative effect on Fenwick’s unit costs. Fenwick should have adapted its marketing strategy, by reducing the depth of its product range, thereby increasing production size within this narrower product range. Toyota was in a position to offer a very wide product range (diesel or electric, with varying loading capacities, etc.). Fenwick, on the other hand, should have restricted its range albeit at the risk of losing customers who expect to find a single supplier capable of dealing with all their requirements.

product or service. Experience effects are, though, much stronger under the following conditions: 1. When the product/service is mass produced. 2. When the product/service involves a production process with large initial fixed costs (in R & D, and/or in production facilities investment, and/or in initial marketing costs). 3. When the added value of the product/service is high, in relation to the whole production cycle. 4. When the product/service is in a fairly open international market; any producer may sell throughout the world without facing prohibitive transport costs, customs barriers, statutory restrictions or market barriers (e.g. differences in taste). The easiest empirical solution for the evaluation of ‘competitive’ market share is to examine the competitors and determine the size of those who operate most effectively. Limitations on international size arise in various areas; for example cement (very high transport costs compared to its price), pharmaceuticals (statutory restrictions), foodstuffs (taste differences), etc. As far as services are concerned, the potential for experience effects is much smaller, since in many cases services must be performed in a direct relationship with the consumer and are often intangible, which means they cannot be held in stock. In addition, their market area is often fairly localized and they are subject to local customs and ways of life, such as the type of food and service found in a restaurant or the kind of treat offered by hotels.

Global markets as learning opportunities
Global markets work as a set of coherent opportunities, through markets being at different product lifecycle (PLC) stages and through experience cumulated across national markets. According to PLC theory (Vernon, 1966), national markets at different development stages offer different kinds of opportunities. If, for instance, the market for wallpaper is saturated in developed economies, it may be opening up in newly industrialized countries. PLC theory clearly indicates the way in which sourcing and marketing activities should be disconnected. PLC theory, in conjunction with the world market share concept, assists in the identification of what to supply and from where, and in which countries to market. Global markets are also full of learning opportunities; the internationalization process has been presented mostly as a learning and experiencing process (Johanson and Vahlne, 1977). Since the cultural variable is fundamental to this learning process, some markets may be used almost purely as learning opportunities. When Procter & Gamble attacked the Japanese market for baby nappies (diapers) it initially achieved great success. Its market share subsequently dropped sharply against the main Japanese competitor Kao. P & G did its best to survive in the face of harsh competition from Kao and other Japanese producers, to satisfy the exigent Japanese consumers and to make its way through the Japanese Keiretsu distribution system (see Chapter 12). P & G’s experience

8.2 The globalization of competition


Box 8.2

Stimorol and Hollywood
A Danish chewing-gum company, Dandy A/S, which produces Stimorol, encountered difficulties in selling its products in France. Dandy was particularly successful at producing chewing gum dragée. Hollywood France (owned by the US company General Foods/Kraft) was less successful in the production of this type of product, but had better access to the major distribution outlets (hypermarkets). In fact, only large companies are able to have their products referenced, that is, registered as products accepted for sale by the channel. Referencing requires the payment of large ‘entry fees’ to the hypermarkets, which are only semilegitimate. Dandy of Denmark and Hollywood ended up forging a cross-competence alliance whereby Dandy produces Hollywood dragée products and markets Hollywood products through Dandy’s international sales organization, and Hollywood markets Dandy’s Stimorol brand in France and produces the Dandy stick products.
(Source: Hollensen, 1991, p. 736.)

in Japan has made it aware of the competitive threat of the Japanese producers. P & G realized that it would face harsh competition if Japanese producers were to decide to expand in world markets. This has already helped P & G resist the internationalization of Kao, which, to date, has not succeeded in becoming a global competitor to P & G. Global markets may also be seen as partnership opportunities: with local consumers, with distributors and (why not?) with competitors (Box 8.2). Opportunities exist for local firms to find niche markets, where their local identity and culture is an advantage. Ger (1999) outlines three localization strategies by concentrating on: (1) local as an alternative to modern global; (2) information goods; or (3) goods for the less affluent world. For the first strategy Ger (1999, p. 76) suggests that: ‘Local firms can reinvent, reconstruct, and repackage local products, services, and places . . . They can produce a variety of “toys” for the global consumer seeking diversity (the affluent cosmopolitans in modernizing domestic markets as well as in foreign markets). LCs [local companies] can offer alternative products for the non-conformist or ethically concerned consumers. LCs can offer prestige by providing the unique, the exotic, the unusual.’ In this way a local company can become a global player, but Ger suggests that they should aim to start in a foreign market or simultaneously in local and foreign markets. They need to think and act both locally and globally, either as by creating a niche at home or an alliance as a global player

(Ger, 1999). For example, Wilkinson and Cheng (1999) cited several examples from winning entries in the annual Australian Multicultural Marketing Awards. ‘Techmeat Australia, an award winner in 1994, was started by a Korean immigrant who realized that Australian butchers and abattoirs were discarding cuts of meat considered delicacies in his home country. He now exports A$2 million worth of meat to Korea every year’ (Wilkinson and Cheng, 1999, p. 118). Another opportunity is to go global via the Internet. As Susan Douglas (2001) points out, the Internet is radically changing existing business models and established ways of doing business in international markets. ‘Firms can instantly “go global”, targeting a specific market segment worldwide, or reach customers by building a network of Internet sites in different languages throughout the world’ (p. 106).


The globalization of competition
Evidence from macroeconomic data over long periods of time
There is little doubt about the globalization of competition. Market areas do not depend mainly on consumer preferences. Their reach is influenced


Chapter 8 Intercultural marketing strategy

much more by potential supply and by trade barriers, whether tariff or non-tariff, and also by the opportunities of economies of scale and experience effects. Clear evidence from macroeconomic figures shows that competition is globalizing both at a world-wide level and at a regional level. International trade continues to expand despite the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and the tension in the Middle East. From 1984 to 1994, the annual rate of increase for world trade was 5.8 per cent, compared with 2.7 per cent for world production (Focus, 1995). Despite the problems mentioned, this comparison has remained fairly constant. From 1995 to 2003 the annual rate of increase for world trade was 4.5 per cent, compared with 2.5 per cent for world production (WTO, 2004). Since 1995, there has only been one year, 2001, when merchandise exports grew less than the World gross national product (GNP) of the nations involved in international trade (WTO, 2004). This points to a long-term trend: an increase in the scale of production. Industrial productivity accompanies the freeing of international markets and the growth of international trade. The value of world merchandise trade rose by 16 per cent to $7.3 trillion in 2003 (WTO, 2004). The economic linkage between countries and therefore competition between companies has continued to grow. A comparable evolution may be observed, at an even greater pace, at the regional level. Distances are becoming less important and the move to worldwide globalization has its roots at regional level. During the 1960s and 1970s, the growth of intraregional international trade within Europe was much faster than the overall world trade growth (Usunier, 1980). In more recent years Asia and the transitional economies have been doing much better than Europe with double-digit import and export expansion in merchandise trade, in real terms (WTO, 2004). In 2003, western Europe’s merchandise imports increased by less than 1 per cent and exports by almost 2 per cent. This shows a relative slowdown of the globalization of competition in Europe from the 1980s onwards and, as a consequence, a deterioration of its competitive position worldwide. The entry of the transitional economies into the EU is likely to change this trend. See Chapter 6 for more information on the EU.

Evidence from business and industries
Many companies have been compelled to globalize their business, one example being Black & Decker, because of fierce competition with the Japanese power-tool maker Makita. The reasons for this are stated by Fortune magazine, reporting the strategic move of Black & Decker towards globalization: ‘Makita is Black & Decker’s first competitor with a global strategy. It doesn’t care that Germans prefer high powered, heavy-duty drills, and that Yanks want everything lighter. Make a good drill at a low price, the company reasons, and it will sell from BadenBaden to Brooklyn’ (Saporito, 1984, p. 24). For another example of a global strategy, see the DaimlerChrysler website regarding their commitment to global social responsibility (WS8.2). Michael Porter (1986) analyzed the change in patterns of international competition. At the industry level, where competitive advantage is won or lost, there is a shift from multidomestic industries to global ones. Porter is not referring to consumer-led globalization but to a strategic move by companies trying to integrate activities on a worldwide basis, to gain competitive advantage over their competitors at various levels of the value chain. Nevertheless, globalization remains conditional on the maintenance of the freeing of trade barriers. The establishment of the WTO (World Trade Organization) in 1995 was a major move towards freeing trade in products and services and improving the institutional mechanisms for solving trade disputes between countries. The globalization of the Japanese economy and other Asian countries has posed some real threats to both the United States and Europe. Therefore, free trade can be maintained and expanded only if a certain equilibrium of the balance of trade between nationstates permits the maintenance of a low-trade-barriers environment that favours globalization at the industry level. The WTO seems, in this respect, to have been established as an organizing framework for international competition, building on the rules of the GATT treaty, rather than a major breakthrough towards free trade worldwide. It provides increased competition in the area of services, by relaxing national barriers in a number of service industries (telecommunications, insurance, banking, etc.). It also provides more homogeneous rules concerning industrial property (patents

8.3 Globalization of international marketing strategies


and trade marks), thereby making it easier for brands to achieve global coverage. (See WS11.5 on the globalization of competition and antitrust policy.) It is important to globalize in an efficient and controllable manner (Matthyssens and Pauwels, 2000). Research into cultural closeness has found that cultural similarity can assist with the level of affinity (Swift, 1999), communication, trust and relationship development (Anderson and Weitz, 1989), successful cooperation (Van Oudenhoven and Van der Zee, 2002), a tendency to consume similar goods (Yu and Zietlow, 1995), a more positive country of origin image (Wong and Lamb, 1983) and a lower cost of doing business (Yu and Zietlow, 1995). Xu and Shenkar (2002) further break down the distance to regulative, normative and cognitive levels.

companies could create natural entry barriers unrelated to culture through economies of scale. Since then there have been numerous texts that have sought to advise business people how to make the best choices between standardization and adaptation of marketing policies to foreign markets. This literature advocates either ‘hard’ or ‘soft’ globalization: 1. ‘Hard globalizers’ see globalization as a new ‘paradigm’ for international marketing (Hampton and Buske, 1987). ‘Consumers in increasing numbers demonstrate that they are willing to sacrifice specific preferences in product features, function and design for a globally standardized product that carries a lower price’ (p. 263). According to Hampton and Buske there is a shift to the global marketing paradigm since the process of adapting products to national wants and needs contradicts their global convergence. 2. ‘Soft’ partisans of globalization see it as a necessary trend, but constrained by the environment. The physical conditions of a country as well as the laws relating to product standards, sales promotion, taxes, or other aspects of production, may affect standardization of marketing programmes, especially in developing countries (Hill and Still, 1984). With both soft and hard globalization, what consumers actually want in various national markets is not really considered: differences are either denied (hard) or treated as an external constraint (soft). Behind the globalization debate there is a quite practical issue in terms of the everyday life of companies: the traditional dilemma between production flexibility and marketing’s tendency to customize products to diversified needs. Factory managers prefer to be inflexible, for low-cost purposes, whereas marketing managers favour as much tailoring to customers’ needs as possible. Developments in factory automation nowadays allow product customization without major cost implications (Wind, 1986). New strategies have been found to serve diversified needs, to customize products and at the same time to maintain low costs owing to economies of scale and experience effects. A modular conception of products permits shared economies of scale at the components level, whereas lagged differentiation maintains a high scale of production as long as possible in the production process and organizes cheap final customization either in the factory or in the distribution network


Globalization of international marketing strategies
While artificial entry barriers are disappearing, global markets remain more apparent than real when one looks at consumption patterns. So how can products and marketing strategies be globalized in the face of the fierce pressure of the globalization of competition, while under the constraint of consumers who tend to resist the globalization movement, at least in part? With respect to this question, two major issues have to be considered: 1. The standardization of marketing programmes: what should be the degree of similarity in marketing strategies from one country to another? 2. Organizational issues: what is required to implement a standardized marketing strategy successfully?

Standardization of international marketing programmes
Before the classic article of Buzzell (1968), ‘Can you standardize multinational marketing?’, natural entry barriers related to culture were seen as very high, requiring adaptation to national markets and offsetting the potential advantages of scale economies. Buzzell showed clearly that, with the decrease of purely artificial trade barriers, large international


Chapter 8 Intercultural marketing strategy

(Stobaugh and Telesio, 1983; Deher, 1986; Gilmore and Pine, 1997; see Box 8.3). So why maintain such a strong ‘paradigm for action’ emphasis on globalization if consumption patterns are not clearly globalizing and if adjusting to global competition is reconcilable with tailoring products and marketing strategies to national markets? First, many companies believe that standardization will result in higher performance. Zou and Cavusgil (2002) surveyed companies in the United States to

assess the influence of self-reported standardization on perceived performance (both strategic and financial). The standardization of promotions and product are perceived to affect both aspects of performance. However, Theodosious and Leonidou (2003) assessed empirical research in the area, finding that a firm’s performance is indifferent to standardization versus adaptation. They argue that this relationship is more complicated, being dependent on the fit between strategy and context.

Box 8.3

Standardized components and mass customization
In the same way as the modular design of products, the use of standardized components in the production process enables manufacturers to postpone final product differentiation. Identical components may be shared by diverse end-consumer products: for example the same plug will fit various appliances. ‘Modules’ are standardized components designed to be suitable for a wide variety of possible uses, allowing a significant reduction in the numbers of components. Lagged differentiation is illustrated by the crystal glassworks at Saint Louis which have only a limited number of basic moulds for producing all their glassware while finishes (size, engraving, decoration, etc.) are applied at the end of the line to plain glasses. Unfinished glasses of different sizes and shapes are mass produced. Similarly, the same basic cream cheese Tartare is packaged in different ways, right at the end of the production line: packed in aluminium foil in individual servings, in a plastic tub, canned or wrapped. In other cases, a basic cheese will be flavoured differently (cherry, walnut, port wine, rose or other flower perfumes, etc.). Some packagings are standardized such as plastic containers which can be used for melted cheese as well as various types of fresh cheese. Canson & Montgolfier manufacture papers of different weights on rolls 2.20 metres wide and several hundred metres long. This ‘upstream’ operation requires large-scale investment and a high level of technology, and has limited flexibility. As far as possible, each type of roll is manufactured in batches (several times a year) and stored before its final processing. Cutting, shaping and finishing is carried out on standard rolls, which are then customized to the required formats and styles of each country. At Petit-Bateau, which manufactures traditional knitwear, the knitting is done on unbleached yarn. Dying is applied to the yarn subsequently. Likewise, standardized patterns permit the creation of a large number of different clothes. At Dim, a lingerie manufacturer, tights are produced undyed. The dye, which is subcontracted, is applied at the last possible opportunity on untreated standard tights. This allows flexible tailoring to the different shades sought by consumers. Irons by SEB-Calor are all manufactured on the same moulding, which gives rise to 100 different models, according to function, colour, casing, voltage and brand name. Christofle’s Arab cafetières, designed exclusively for the Middle East, are manufactured with the same stamping moulds as other cafetières.* The Planter’s Company, a unit of Nabisco, chose cosmetic customization when it retooled its old plant in Suffolk, Virginia, in order to satisfy the increasingly diverse demand of its retail customers. Wal-Mart wanted to sell peanuts and mixed nuts in larger quantities than Safeway or 7-Eleven did, and Jewel wanted different promotional packages than Dominick’s did. In the past, Planter’s could produce only long batches of small, medium, and large cans; as a result, customers had to choose from a few standard packages to find the one that most closely met their requirements. Today the company can switch quickly between different sizes.**
(Sources: *Deher, 1986, p. 66, and **Gilmore and Pine, 1997, p. 94.)

8.3 Globalization of international marketing strategies


Second, these beliefs are often acted upon. For example, Schuh (2000) analyzed case studies of western European and US companies operating in central eastern European countries. He concluded that Western companies rely heavily on standardization even when market conditions seemed to favour localization. Third, many companies place more importance on their home markets. For example, Wright (2001, p. 352) interviewed managers of US and Japanese companies, finding the ‘existence of ethnocentric orientations in both US and Japanese firms because of the prevailing assumptions by headquarter firms about the importance of their home markets’.

Globalization as a way to change the organizational design of international marketing activities
The reasons for globalizing marketing activities are largely organizational ones. Although there is evidence of some savings at the level of manufacturing costs, the financial pay-offs for hard globalization have been at best dubious when one considers the

financial performance of companies as a whole (Samiee and Roth, 1992; Whitelock and Pimblett, 1997; see also case A5.3). MNCs that grew fast worldwide in the 1960s and 1970s did so by granting a large degree of decision-making autonomy to their subsidiaries in their home markets. Subsidiaries were asked to replicate the corporate values and organizational practices of the parent company and also encouraged to adjust completely to the local market. Later on, subsidiary managers used the message of ‘our market is unique’ to defend specific, nationally designed marketing policies. Hence they defended their autonomy even at the expense of sometimes rather fallacious arguments. MNCs probably needed at the beginning of the 1980s to shift their organizational design towards more centralization. Parent companies wanted to have a more unified implementation scheme of new, more centrally designed international marketing strategies, responding to the globalization of competition. Procter & Gamble did this in Europe by introducing the Eurobrand concept, consisting of a common brand name and a basic marketing strategy for most western European countries (see Box 8.4). In recent years, after a long

Box 8.4

Reactions from European managers of Procter & Gamble to Eurobrands
Comments of some managers in national subsidiaries: ‘We have to listen to the consumer. In blind tests in my market that perfume cannot even achieve breakeven.’ ‘The whole detergent market is in 2-kilo packs in Holland. To go to a European standard of 3 kg and 5 kg sizes would be a disaster for us.’ ‘We have low phosphate in Italy that constrains our product formula. And we just don’t have hypermarkets like France and Germany where you can drop off pallet loads.’ Comments of a general managers to P & G European headquarters: ‘There is no such thing as a Eurocustomer so it makes no sense to talk about Eurobrands. We have an English housewife whose needs are different from a German Hausfrau. If we move to a system that allows us to blur our thinking, we will have big problems. Product standardisation sets up pressures to try to meet everybody’s needs (in which case you build a Rolls-Royce that nobody can afford) and countervailing pressures to find the lowest common denominator product (in which case you make a product that satisfies nobody and which cannot compete in any market). These decisions probably result in the foul middle compromise that is so often the outcome of committee decision.’
(Source: Bartlett, 1983.)


Chapter 8 Intercultural marketing strategy

period of standardization/centralization, P & G gives now slightly more weight to localization, especially with regard to advertising and branding. Global companies willing to recentralize their operations, since the 1980s tend towards some authoritarianism from headquarters, especially when they adopt the ‘hard’ version of the globalization creed. Often the globalization of consumption is presented as an unquestionable postulate, because it is much easier to ‘sell’ the recentralization policy within the organization. Kashani (1989) gives the example of the Danish toy company Lego, which was facing a leading competitor in the United States. The competitor, Tyco, sold its toys in plastic buckets instead of Lego’s elegant see-through cartons, standardized worldwide. When asked by the management of the US subsidiary to package in buckets like Tyco, who was gaining market share, the head office rejected the request. After two years and a massive loss of share of the US market, Lego’s headquarters in Billund (Denmark) decided to create a newly designed bucket. Not only was the share erosion in the US stopped, but the bucket was introduced worldwide and proved to be a great success. The relationship between headquarters and subsidiaries in the defining of marketing strategy is complex. Too much autonomy results in purely local solutions with few economies of scale and an absence of worldwide coordination; at that point, strong action is needed. This was the case in Black & Decker’s gamble on globalization (Saporito, 1984, p. 26):
Globalization did not go down well in Europe for one good reason: Black & Decker owned half the market on the continent, and an astounding 80 per cent in the U.K. European managers asked: ‘Why tamper with success?’ But Farley (B & D new chairman) believed that the company was treading water in Europe – sales failed to grow last year – and that Makita’s strategy made globalization inevitable . . . Those who don’t share Farley’s vision usually don’t stay around long. Last year he fired all of his European managers.

This was combined with a complete turnaround: Black & Decker acquired the GE small appliance division and a Swedish company producing woodworking tools, and changed the company name to B & D as well as the logo. B & D recentred a large part of its business on self powered tools with built-in batteries; finally it achieved a strong comeback (Li, 1990). It is the patterns of globalization of competition which impose changes in organizational design

(recentralization), rather than the globalization of consumption patterns. In this process, negotiations and compromises between headquarters and subsidiaries are constant. As Kashani emphasized (1989, p. 92): ‘the way global decisions are conceptualized, refined, internally communicated, and, finally implemented in the company’s international network have a great deal to do with their performance’. Local managers naturally tend to emphasize the uniqueness of local consumption patterns and marketing environment (legal, distribution networks, sales promotion methods and so on). The Headquarters of successful global companies are flexible rather than authoritarian in dealing with their subsidiaries’ assumed or real uniqueness; for instance, they commission research rather than flatly ignore a subsidiary’s arguments; they take new ideas and suggestions from the most talented and dynamic subsidiaries, rather than rejecting their advice outright. In fact, international marketing programmes have experienced a trend towards greater standardization, but this needs to be differentiated, according to: (1) the elements of the marketing mix considered; (2) the type of market: whether it is a developed or undeveloped country; (3) the type of product: consumer or industrial goods; and (4) the control exerted over the subsidiary, whether it is wholly owned or a joint venture. Ozsomer et al. (1991) investigated the degree of marketing standardization for 33 multinationals operating in Turkey: product characteristics, brand name, positioning and packaging are the least adapted elements; price, promotion and distribution are more tailored to the local environment. Similarly, Schuh (2000) found that adaptations mainly occur in noncore elements, including labelling, instructions, and selection of the appropriate product-mix and creative execution. Picard et al. (1989) found that the level of standardization of US multinational companies operating in Europe varied by product category. Between 1973 and 1983 there was a decrease in the degree of standardization for consumer durables and industrial goods, and an increase for consumer nondurables. More recently, O’Donnell (2000) examined performance implications of global standardization within high-tech, industrial products. She found that for these global industries, global standardization was positively related to organizational performance. Finally, Alden et al. (1999) sampled advertising in seven countries, both Asian and Western, to assess their global, local and foreign positioning. They found

8.4 Market segments


that 59 per cent of advertising emphasized associations with the local culture, while 22 per cent emphasized globally shared meaning and only 4 per cent emphasized foreign culture. The degree of standardization is larger in whollyowned subsidiaries than in joint ventures (Ozsomer et al., 1991). In many cases, standardization is often done incrementally by transferring existing products at headquarters level or in important subsidiaries. Hill and James (1991) show that there remains a considerable degree of power at subsidiary level in relation to product and promotion transfer in consumer goods multinationals. In most cases market needs are assessed by the subsidiary itself, which then uses the worldwide product portfolio as a resource base. In developing countries, subsidiaries initiate product transfer in 85 per cent of the cases, whereas in developed markets they do it in only 63 per cent of the cases. This suggests that world or regional headquarters exert more authoritative pressure for standardization across developed markets, especially in Europe. In the transfer process some adaptation is made to local requirements (see Chapter 9 on this issue). In addition, cultural differences between headquarters and subsidiaries can affect performance. For instance, Hewett and Bearden (2001, p. 60) found that ‘in more collectivistic cultures, trust takes on greater importance in motivating cooperative behaviours’ as compared to more economic type rewards. Artificial entry barriers, related to duties and standards, are now being progressively replaced by natural entry barriers related to scale and experience. For international marketing, culture-related experience is all the more important since the natural entry barriers relating to consumer behaviour and marketing environments will diminish very gradually and only in the long term. Language-related differences, for instance, will remain. Therefore, global marketing strategies must be implemented cautiously, especially in culture-bound industries: local knowledge has to be generated, by research, by organizational learning, by hiring ‘cultural’ insiders or by acquiring local companies with culture-specific business experience. (For more information on global marketing strategies see WS8.3.) Globalization belongs to the realm of organizational discourse rather than to actual international marketing. Rather than a ‘hard’ global marketing strategy, it is possible to adopt an intercultural marketing strategy which has basically the same goals but

is more respectful of local culture and attempts to serve purely national as well as transnational market segments.


Market segments
Intercultural marketing is about localizing as much as globalizing: it aims to customize product and marketing strategies to customer needs within the framework of a global strategy. Intercultural marketing tries to balance cross-national differences requiring mandatory local adaptation and cross-national commonalities which enable the building of size and experience effects. To do this, the international marketer needs to define country clusters where similar marketing policies can be followed (for a review of country clustering, see Holzmüller and Stöllnberger, 1994).

Taking advantage of the desire for assimilation and cultural identification: The case of cultural products
Cultural products such as music, literature and movie films are strongly suffused with local particularism. Books, records and films are, however, three products where global marketing has been successfully employed. The success of Harlequin romantic novels, Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings films has been remarkable: profound attraction has bypassed the filter of national cultures. The romantic and melodramatic adventures of Harlequin heroes found a lonely female public eager for tenderness in the majority of urban centres. Similarly, the meanings conveyed by the adventures of Harry Potter extend far beyond British culture. Cultural products that build on fairly universal feelings and ways of being are the ones to which standardized marketing policy can be applied. In the recording industry, marketing techniques, particularly with regard to collections of popular music, have generally evolved in a similar fashion across industrialized nations, with increased large-scale distribution or specialized chains, similar promotion channels and advertising, and a global standardization of product presentation. The recipe for global success is, however,


Chapter 8 Intercultural marketing strategy

less easily applicable than it seems: American country music has failed in its attempt to achieve major success in continental Europe. Its only real international development occurred in Australia, despite some success in the United Kingdom. A reason for this is that no significant segment of the European population can identify itself with the images evoked by the music of the American West and the symbols of a pioneer tradition. On the other hand, the Australian outback, with its jackaroos and jillaroos, is similar in many respects to the American West with its cowboys and cowgirls, and has given birth to an Australian musical tradition whose roots are in country music. Intercultural marketing is facilitated when the conditions for product identification are present in the target market. Consumers buy the meaning that they find in products for the purpose of cultural identification, based on the desire for assimilation in a certain civilization, as in the case of ethnic consumption (see section 4.4). Such identification was the reason that record companies began to market classical music on a large scale in the form of collections. In the 1980s, market surveys showed that owning a collection of classical music recordings, combined with a superficial knowledge of the most famous pieces, promoted a personal image of stability and respectability for people aged between 25 and 40, projecting an image of successful integration in professional and social lives. As a result, certain record companies launched mass-market compilations of classical music; their marketing strategy was to implement the strict rules of global marketing: same product, same packaging, same price and same type of communication. These compilations, however, became less successful in the 1990s when classical music ceased to be a major element in the acquisition of respectability. Apart from their utilitarian aspects, McDonald’s Big Mac and Coca-Cola are sources of meanings that provide their buyers with fantasized cultural adaptation to a desired way of life. Rock music represents a tolerant and leisurely way of life for many young Europeans and Asians. Identification with these symbols is one of the necessary conditions for being trendy, or ‘cool’. The international marketing of rock music achieves even greater success where certain values (e.g. individualism, strong desire for equality) are already present in the market segment to be con-

quered, in this case young people between the ages of 10 and 25. The process of cultural identification functions in two ways: that of identity (the reproduction of national culture as it used to be, the desire to be ‘at home’), and that of exoticism (the desire to escape from one’s own culture, to experience different values and ways of life). These two ways are intermingled in a quite ambivalent fashion in the process of cultural identification. This ambivalence prohibits any simplistic approach; it is therefore necessary to cluster countries or consumers who share certain meaningful cultural characteristics. Such clusters form cultural affinity zones and cultural affinity classes.

Cultural affinity classes and zones
The intercultural marketing approach not only concentrates on geography- and nationality-based criteria but also takes into account consumer attitudes, preferences and lifestyles that are linked to age, class and ethnicity, occupation, and so on. Many studies have used these bases to identify international market segments, including demographics (Anderson and He, 1999), psychographics and values (Hofstede, 1976; Boote, 1983; Kamakura et al., 1993; Kale, 1995; Wedel et al., 1998; Kahle et al., 1999; Kropp et al., 1999; Steenkamp, 2001), quality of life (Peterson and Malhotra, 2000), attitudes (Verhage et al., 1989), behaviour (Askegaard and Madsen, 1998), brand loyalty (Yavas et al., 1992) and situation (Gehrt and Shim, 2003). Geographical cultural affinity zones correspond to a large extent to national cultural groups, while cultural affinity classes exist in terms of other segmentation bases. For instance, people between the ages of 15 and 20 in Japan, Europe and the United States form a cultural affinity class. They have a tendency to share common values, behaviour and interests, and tend to present common traits as a consumer segment; their lifestyles converge worldwide irrespective of national borders. As such, we see lifestyle convergence in teenagers in Europe who spend time watching MTV. Carey et al. (1997) surveyed 7- to 12-year-olds around the world in the ABC Global Kids Study, tracking their lifestyle and consumption patterns. A pictorial response scale was used when interviewing children on emotions and

8.4 Market segments


preferences while product usage was reported more frequently by mothers, rather than children. Worldwide, children basically seem to share many common dreams and aspirations; they tend to have significant purchasing power and participate actively in family decision making for a number of product categories. (See WS8.4 for examples of lifestyle segmentation studies and methods.) De Mooij and Keegan (1991) reviewed comparative lifestyle research in Europe and Asia, finding multinational target groups across the United Kingdom, France, Italy and Germany. ‘Each of these target groups represents a distinctive segment across the different nations. Members of the social milieus within a multinational target group sometimes have more in common than with many of their fellow countrymen. In spite of these similarities, there are of course, differences. Similar values may translate differently at the local level’ (De Mooij and Keegan, 1991, pp. 118–19). Attempts at monitoring crossborder changes in lifestyles are made in Asia by the Survey Research Group (SRG), which conducts lifestyle surveys in Hong Kong, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Taiwan. Similarly, changes in lifestyles across social milieus in European countries are monitored through extensive surveys, such as the ACE (Anticipating Change in Europe) study, CCA (Centre de Communication Avancée), Eurostyles and Sinus Gmbh ‘Social Milieus’. Lifestyle convergence can also be observed for gender-based segments on a worldwide basis; Tai and Tam (1997) review the change in lifestyles of female consumers in Hong Kong, Taiwan and China on a number of issues such as the perception of women and their roles, family and home orientation, health and environment. They find that women in the People’s Republic of China tend to be quickly influenced by Western values and are increasingly becoming similar to both Hong Kong and Taiwanese female consumers. Similarly, Koc (2002) found that gender was a useful segmentation criterion for travel agencies in Turkey. The practical difficulty is in combining geographybased cultural affinity zones and demographics and lifestyle segmentation criteria (cultural affinity classes). One may wonder for instance, in relation to a specific product or service, whether consumption behaviour, values and lifestyles among the 15- to 20year-olds are more homogeneous across Europe or

Asia than among the 30- to 40-year-olds in the same zones. Steenkamp and Ter Hofstede (2002) reviewed the international marketing segmentation literature. They found that only eight of the 25 studies reviewed used responses from individual consumers. In addition, they described a number of conceptual and methodological issues that need to be addressed in future studies including construct equivalence, level of aggregation, and choice of segmentation basis. Cultural affinity classes are probably an ideal means of defining an international target for standardized products, in so far as they create a sense of belonging to a common age, gender or income group across different countries. Many different methods have been suggested for international market segmentation based on some form of cultural affinity, including those by Kale and Sudharshan (1987), Kreutzer (1988), Ter Hofstede et al. (1999), Souiden (2002) and others. Furthermore, the development of new media such as the Internet and satellite television channels will help the international launch of products targeted at the same cultural affinity classes across different countries. Accordingly, market research should survey consumer segments as cells in a matrix, with countries in columns and cultural affinity classes in rows. If similar behaviour is observed by market researchers for a particular row across the different cells of the matrix with regard to key consumer behaviour figures (e.g. consumption of soft drinks, organization of personal time, time spent listening to the radio or watching television, etc.), the emergence of a common consumption culture and a cross-national segment can be detected. If, on the other hand, different cultural affinity classes in different countries adopt similar behaviour at the international level, marketing communication will have to be modified to facilitate the process of diffusion from one country to another. If a drink, for example, is popular among 25- to 30-year-olds in one country and among 50- to 60-year-olds in another country, this indicates a weak affinity of national cultures. Attempts to market products on a global level also highlight cultural affinity zones in which the same marketing strategy with the same type of products can be successfully implemented. In Europe, for example, two of these zones are quite separate (see Figure 8.1) – Scandinavia and the Mediterranean countries. A third zone encompasses the central


Chapter 8 Intercultural marketing strategy

Figure 8.1 A hypothetical map of the zones of cultural affinities in Europe

(Source: Usunier and Sissmann, 1986, p. 85.)

European countries and Great Britain, which serve as a bridge between northern and southern Europe, while retaining their own distinct personality. Despite the traditional isolation of the United Kingdom, there are fewer differences between the United Kingdom and Denmark or Sweden than between the UK and Italy or Spain. Accordingly, an item successfully marketed in the United Kingdom is more likely to repeat this success in The Netherlands or Denmark than in southern Europe. The long established differences between Anglo-Saxon and Latin culture are reinforced by the religious divide between Protestants and Catholics. Cultural affinity zones display similar characteristics for easily identifiable criteria such as language, religion, family life patterns, work relations and consumption patterns. Intercultural marketing begins by choosing one of the main countries from a cultural affinity zone as a ‘lead country’ that will be used as a base for market entry and diffusion of strategy, with only minor adaptation for other countries throughout the zone. Marketing teams can interact with each other across zones within a regional area, especially when countries lie at the border of two zones. As an

example, Figure 8.1 offers a hypothetical map of the zones of cultural affinities for western Europe. The operational mapping of cultural affinity zones can be based on cultural as well as marketing criteria related to the product category, such as consumer behaviour, price levels, attitude towards innovation, opening hours in distribution outlets, etc. When a product is launched internationally, the new product will be launched first in lead countries and subsequently marketed in other countries in the zones. For instance, a record successful in Latin countries during the summer, when waves of holiday-makers come from all over Europe, will have a greater chance of spreading into Nordic countries once people return home and go into music stores to buy the songs they have heard on holiday. Equally, a band may be so successful in a single country, such as Germany, that its music spreads into neighbouring countries. It spreads rapidly in the border regions, for example in Belgium, because of media overlap. The launch of a new product through cultural affinity zones can take from 18 months to two years, which is a relatively long period of time compared with the standard life

8.4 Market segments


cycle of a song, generally a few months (Usunier and Sissmann, 1986). The concept of ‘lead country’ has been used successfully by multinational companies such as Procter & Gamble when they developed the Eurobrand concept in the mid-1980s. In addition, we also need to recognize that product information can now be more rapidly disseminated than ever via the Internet, which may influence the stability of the segment membership (Kumar and Nagpal, 2001). Austin and Reed (1999) stated that: ‘Almost 10 million (14 per cent) of America’s 69 million children are now online with over 4 million children accessing the Internet from school and 5.7 million children going online from home’ (p. 590). This may dramatically affect convergence in segmentation in the future.

National versus regional differences
Sovereign states have very dissimilar sizes: China (9,600,000 km2) is more than 232 times the size of Switzerland (49,293 km2), even though both countries are significant international players on the world scene. Geographical location has a relation to culture: for instance, on average, islands tend to develop more homogeneity than continental countries. A special case is that of mega-countries such as the United States, Canada, Brazil, China and India because their internal diversity is fairly large. Even smaller countries, such as the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, Sweden and France, exhibit a strong North/South paradigm which is reversed in the southern hemisphere for countries such as Argentina, Australia and New Zealand. Even tiny Switzerland also displays significant internal diversity, especially between the French- and the German-speaking communities, which respectively account for 20 per cent and 75 per cent of the population. Therefore, national differences are not the only source of variance in consumer behaviour across different geographical locations. Regional differences in large countries with multiethnic and multicultural backgrounds can explain differences in consumer behaviour (Garreau, 1981). Researchers have consistently found significant within-country differences (e.g., Kahle, 1986; Muller, 1989; Ralston et al., 1994; Schwartz, 1994; Januszewska et al., 2000; Lenartowics and Roth, 2001; Lenartowics et al., 2003). Most of these have to do with geograph-

ical divisions where geography, a shared history and a common ethnic background has served to create homogeneous groupings within countries (Lenartowicz et al., 2003). The case of the United States is well documented. In the USA, Kahle (1986) found regional differences in consumers’ values and Gentry et al. (1987) found regional differences in innovativeness and perceived risk, as well as cultural adherence, religious commitment, and fate-orientation. In South America, both regional differences within countries and value similarity across countries were found. Lenartowicz et al. (2003) used the Rokeach Value Survey (RVS) to examine the importance of regional subcultures in Brazil and Colombia and their value similarity with consumers in Uruguay and Venezuela. They found significant differences between regions in the relative importance of values, concluding that ‘geography, a shared history and a common ethnic background might be as important in defining cultural subgroups as religion and language’ (p. 1006). In Canada, differences have been found between English and French speakers in the same location. Laroche et al. (2002) investigated consumers in Montreal, Canada finding differences in pro-environmental knowledge, attitudes and behaviours between primarily French and primarily English speakers. They found that FrenchCanadians know more and are more concerned about environmental issues, whereas English-Canadians are more likely to recycle and are willing to pay more for environmentally friendly products. However, regional differences within countries, even if perceived more clearly by nationals than by foreigners, are most often much smaller than international differences. For instance, Januszewska et al. (2000) studied the perceptions of chocolate among Belgian and Polish consumers, and found that at least two of the five segments were driven by nationality: the first segment was made up of 87 per cent Belgium consumers and third one made up of 91 per cent Polish consumers. In addition, they found that a subcultural design was not appropriate for Poland. Similarly, Calantone et al. (1985) find English Quebecois women to be more similar to French Quebecois women than to Ontario English women (all of these people being Canadians) in the benefits they seek from a brassiere. Their findings support the idea of the assimilation model, where the cultural values of the immigrants tend to merge with those of the locally


Chapter 8 Intercultural marketing strategy

dominant cultural group. This supports geography as an operational basis for international marketing segmentation. (For more information on geographic versus demographic segmentation see WS8.4.)


When building clusters of countries (‘cultural affinity zones’) that can be approached with a regionally stand-

ardized marketing strategy, marketing professionals have to take into account basic cultural variables such as language, institutions, membership in a regional grouping, and basic cultural traits as described in Chapters 2 and 3. However, some sociodemographic characteristics such as sex, age and income also provide a sound basis for transnational marketing strategies in terms of ‘cultural affinity classes’. Thus international marketing segments must be defined in order to allow for the best possible compromise between national/cultural and sociodemographic characteristics.

1. Describe how experience effects induce firms to standardize products. Give examples. 2. Select a multinational company annual report and find evidence of globalization (global decisions, global products, globalization of competition, consumption patterns, management procedures, etc.). 3. Why is globalization taking place more clearly on the supply side than on the demand side? 4. For the following industries/products discuss to what extent: (a) a world consumer exists; (b) the product or services offered are themselves global (similar worldwide); and (c) the industry itself can be considered as global: n airlines; n tobacco; n meat-based foods; n sheets and pillows; n pharmaceuticals. 5. What are zones of cultural affinity? 6. Discuss the relative importance for segmentation purposes of sociodemographic variables, such as age, sex, income, habitat, etc., in comparison with cultural variables based either on nationality or values.

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Appendix 8

Teaching materials

A8.1 Case Bollywood
‘Why me?’ grumbled Nico Rogosky, account executive for Pentagram Asian films North America. When Bollywood producer Anjali Kumar called to ask him to take over the marketing and distribution of two new ‘Bollywood’ films, he suggested she contact a South Asian film marketing expert like Eros. ‘No, no,’ she had breezily said, ‘we don’t want to plug the films to your Indian minority market as usual. We want to make crossover films to appeal to other ethnic groups and the general public. I called you for a different approach.’ Nico had spent the entire afternoon viewing two Bollywood hits with his Indian equivalent, just to get an idea of the genre. So, he mused, sipping a searing-hot green tea, they want us to market their movies, then DVDs and videos, and maybe cable. The company also asked for advice on producing films directly for the North American market. Nico had enjoyed talking over dinner with his Indian counterpart from Kumar Film, a sophisticated chain-smoker named Rishi, who had studied business in Florida. Now sitting comfortably at his home office, Nico listened to the conversation he had recorded.

Nico’s conversation with Rishi
Nico: I could see the actors were lip-synching, it was embarrassingly obvious! Rishi: We’ll cut the singing out of the films for you. Everyone knows that actors can’t sing, and a handful of back-up singers sing for all the Bollywood stars. Actually, no one cares: backup singer Lata Mangeshkar has more worldwide sales than the Beatles. Actors Shah Rukh Khan and Aamir Khan sold out London’s Wembley Arena with backup singers singing 100 per cent of the concert! Nico: It was incongruous, though, all those songs interfering with the story line. Rishi: Actor and film producer Shahrukh Khan famously said that if he had produced Gladiator, he would have Russell Crowe singing songs in it [Rose, 2001]. Film star Aamir Khan said that in a movie, the songs hold an emotion, and squeeze the juice from it . . . It’s just pure Bollywood. Nico: The sexual tension between the lovers was unbearable, but the most we saw was some kissing. I would have expected them to, like, hop in bed at that point. Rishi: Yeah, some say we’re prudes, that we’re censored. We’re conservative, but not prudish. So metaphor, imagery and song/dance routines express sexual undercurrents. That film was quite explicit, actually. You have a lot of people here in the US who would appreciate our level of modesty in films. Nico: The movies were fabulous, but the story and character development were weak.


Chapter 8 Intercultural marketing strategy

Rishi: When I’ve spoken with film critics from your country, from England, and from France, they all say we’re ‘exuberant’, ‘melodramatic’, ‘earthy’. But film snobs prefer ‘over the top’, ‘predictable’, ‘unrealistic’, and ‘superficial’. Our films are life, only more pretty. We don’t pretend we’re intellectuals or artists. A lot of our audiences are in far-flung villages, workers who spend a day’s wage at the ticket office. We give them beauty, glamour, romance, music . . . escape. That is what your troubled people are now seeking too. Nico had seen Bend it like Beckham, Monsoon Wedding, and other ‘Asian’ films that were hits in the USA and the UK, like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, but nothing like this. They want to appeal to Americans? For the art-house crowd there shouldn’t be an issue, thought Nico. Indian style is ‘in’, henna, piercing, yoga, ayurveda, tattoos, and so on have become mainstream, and South-Asian inspired music like Bhangra and Asian Underground are played regularly in dance clubs (Kaushal, 2003). But what will the archetypal housewife in Idaho think of Bollywood movies? On the other hand, the conservative right should love the movies. Nico smiled, remembering their recent boycotts of Hollywood stars for their political stances and the boycotts for alleged sexual and homosexual allusions in Disney children’s films. What about the growing communities of immigrants who tend to be more conservative (at least where their families are concerned) than mainstream Americans. A lot of them have felt marginalized over the past few years, and may be seeking self-affirmation elsewhere than Hollywood. You know, Rishi and his colleagues might just stand a chance with a little help from us, was Nico’s surprising thought before sitting down to read more about Bollywood.

Bollywood: A preview
In the world of film, there are two giants: the United States and India. In terms of films produced per year, India’s Mumbai (formerly Bombay, hence ‘Bollywood’) is the leading lady. In 2001, India produced 1,013 films, while Hollywood films numbered 739 (Businessweek, 2002). Any similarities between the two end there. It is estimated that Mumbai alone produces about 800 Hindi films per year, with other Indian cities producing the rest. Worldwide revenues for Bollywood in 2002 were estimated at US$1.3 billion, while Hollywood totalled US$51 billion (Businessweek, 2002). According to the legend, Bollywood films resemble the fragrant, heady masala mixture of black pepper, cumin, cloves, cardamom, and other spices used in cooking. Masala films are a mixture of elements to keep audiences interested: song, dance, action, romance and comedy. It is a film genre unto itself: the product of Indian village theatre, Victorian drama, and opera. Films commonly comprise three hours of romance, travel, courtship, marriage, tragedy and redemption, played to the backdrop of sumptuously appointed and colourful sets. (For more information, go to The stars, like Madhuri Dixit, Rani Mukherjee and Hrithik Roshan are gorgeous, and they express their emotions with a frantic sincerity in words and in lip-synched songs that appear to put the plot on hold. The music uses primal rhythms, and the tunes are catchy, accompanied by sinuous dances featuring dozens of costumed dancers. The plot may shift from place to place, with surprising interludes shot in beautiful locations like Scotland, Australia, Switzerland or New Zealand. The storyline usually begins with a boy meets girl premise, however one of the two is from the ‘wrong’ social background. There is a coincidence that brings star-crossed lovers together, then fate thwarts them with death. Weeping mothers, archetypal families, giggling sisters, stereotypical characters and slapstick roles complete the masala film recipe. That is the legend. The reality of Bollywood films has changed in recent years, for artistic and more prosaic business and marketing reasons.

Appendix 8 Teaching materials


Bollywood is often accused of taking ‘inspiration’ from Hollywood productions partly because Hollywood is India’s primary recognizable reference for wealth, style, and coolness. This perception only works one way, however: Bollywood films have yet to cross over from the ‘ethnic’ South Asian cinema to the main street cinema. Leading producer Ashok Amritraj does not believe that a Hindi film can have mass appeal in the USA (Chabra, 2002). Others point to Lagaan and Monsoon Wedding, two Indian films with critical and boxoffice success. Lagaan (2001) featured a cricket game that put oppression into play between poor Indian villagers and their sneering colonial overlords (go to for more information). It was short listed for the Best Foreign Film Award at the Oscars, nominated Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards, and won seven India International Film Awards (BBC News, 2002a). It made money also: US$2 million at US and UK box offices (BBC News, 2002b). Monsoon Wedding (2001), which featured an arranged marriage in New Delhi, won a Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival. The film earned over US$30 million worldwide, and was the highest grossing Indian film to date in the United States at US$13,882,786. In a development likely to increase acceptance of Bollywood films, Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical Bombay Dreams will probably be as much of a hit on Broadway as it has been in London. Bollywood holds obvious potential, with an annual growth rate of 12.6 per cent (compared to Hollywood’s 5.6 per cent). Some Bollywood hits boast of a return on investment of 25 per cent or more. Possibly the most persuasive argument in favour of Bollywood is the general claim that ‘half of humanity’ views Bollywood films – in 2001, 3.6 billion tickets were sold worldwide. By way of comparison, Hollywood sold 2.6 billion tickets. New forms of distribution are adding Bollywood’s profitability: in 2001, DVD, video and satellite television sales totalled US$108 million, an increase of 25 per cent from the previous year (Businessweek, 2002). Bootlegged DVDs and videos inundate India’s domestic and expatriate markets worldwide within days of a Bollywood film release, costing the Indian film industry US$75 million in 2002, or 60 per cent of the market value (Sternstein, 2003). From pirated soundtracks, Bollywood lost over US$140 million (Mathur, 2003). However, management consultants KPMG International predict that gross revenue should rise to US$1.97 billion by 2007 due to consolidation and quality over quantity in films (Pearson, 2003a). Up until 2001, film making was not recognized as an ‘industry’ in India, therefore about 40 per cent of Bollywood’s finances originated in organized crime, according to the police (Kripalani and Grover, 2002). A string of film-worthy murders and scandals made clear that Bollywood glamour, power and money laundering were attractive to the mob. Producers now seek funding from banks and international corporations, forcing a new professionalism that includes proper marketing plans and newer marketing tools like in-film product placements and ‘marketing the film like a brand’ activities and public relations, and merchandising (Business Standard, 2002). (To get an idea of some Bollywood marketing tactics, visit Hollywood itself believes in the potential of Bollywood: Columbia TriStar Motion Picture Group distributed Lagaan and Mission Kashmir in the United States, and is slated to distribute many more. Twentieth Century Fox has committed to marketing and distributing Hindi films by Bollywood producer Ram Gopal Verma. Hyperion Pictures is collaborating in a US–Bollywood feature called Marigold (Kripalani and Grover, 2002). Bollywood film, video and DVD distributors in the United States target the ‘Desi’ communities (Indian, Pakistani, Sri Lankan and Bangladeshi), and increasingly the Middle Eastern and Russian communities there where the genre has a huge following (Amdur, 2003).


Chapter 8 Intercultural marketing strategy

Indian films have slowly but surely become an international commodity. An estimated 10–15 million Indian expatriates known as Non Resident Indians (NRIs) live in the United Kingdom, the United States, Asia and Africa. Their annual income totals approximately US$375 billion, and they are said to account for 40 per cent of any Bollywood production’s profits. The large South Asian communities in the USA and UK account for 55 per cent of international ticket sales and, understandably, Bollywood films incorporate NRIs into their stories in an effort to keep the interest of expatriates (Dentsu Young and Rubicam Inc., 2000; Shah, 2002). This apparently alienates the average viewer in India, however. Hindi cinema has for years enjoyed a strong following independent of the South Asian expatriate communities in the Gulf region, Egypt, Russia and certain eastern European countries, and some African nations. Afghanistan was once one of the biggest markets for Hindi films, and the first films to play after the fall of the Taliban were Hindi (BBC News, 2001). Because of their relatively modest and subtle portrayal of the female body and sexual acts, Hindi films have long had the favour of distributors in Arab countries (Dentsu Young and Rubicam Inc., 2000). The fact that many Bollywood stars are Muslim is also helpful. Indian films have long had a ‘cult’ or ‘art house’ following in wealthy countries as well (Gahlot, 1999). Since 2001, the Indian government has demonstrated greater commitment to export efforts, and has participated in more film festivals and exhibitions (Episcopo, 2001). Technological change has played a role in the ‘internationalization’ of Bollywood films, with satellite television beaming around the globe. However, at the moment Bollywood was poised to achieve respectability, things started to go wrong. Some reports estimate that only 7 per cent of films in 2001 made a profit (Jatania, 2002). In 2002, 98 per cent of films were box office failures, with the notable exception of horror film Raaz, incurring a loss of US$58 million (Cooper, 2003; Pearson, 2003b). (For a survey of Bollywood’s lucrative ‘horror’ phase, go to horror/index.php.) The Indian government announced that it was to loosen its protectionist laws on cinema imports, opening the floodgates to Hollywood films. Across India, 500 cinemas closed in 2002 and in the first half of 2003, the industry was thought to have lost US$2 million to US$8 million (Pearson, 2003b). Bollywood appeared to be at a crucial juncture. As actor Akshay Kumar observed, Indian audiences no longer imperatively seek rohadhona (tears and family-oriented emotion) at the cinema because they receive high doses of it from television soap operas (Jha, 2002). Analysts have reported audience fatigue with rehashed formulas and high ticket prices (Pearson, 2003b). Producers have responded to a perception that audiences want a change by making thrillers and horror films (all containing some song and dance routines). Suspense films have all but taken over from the well-worn Bollywood romantic formula. However, they are conducive to good music, and romance may be integrated into the plot to keep the audience happy, according to trade analyst Vindo Mirani (Pearson, 2003b). In a nod to ‘Western’ films, some recent films have included fewer songs or no songs at all, in addition to far away locations – such as Los Angeles where Sanjay Gupta directed Kaante, a US$2.2 million thriller featuring four Bollywood idols and an all-American cast and crew. The film, recorded in English and Hindi, opened to mixed reviews in India. The film was closely modelled on Hollywood hits Usual Suspects and Reservoir Dogs. According to reports, the producers of Kaante plan two US releases of the film: a full-length version intended for South Asian expatriates, and a shorter one (minus songs) for the general public (Chabra, 2002). Other films have met the same cut before release abroad – Asoka, the story of the emperor-turned-Buddhist monk is an example where songs and dances have been cut for European release (Malcolm, 2001).

Appendix 8 Teaching materials


1. What is culture specific and what is universal in Indian movie films? Which features of Indian films may not fit with a Western audience? 2. Is there a market for Indian movies in the United States? In Europe? What are the target audiences (ethnic groups versus general audience)? 3. Should Nico Rogosky and Pentagram accept the offer of Anjali Kumar to take over the marketing and distribution of two new ‘Bollywood’ films? If yes, what should Nico ask from Anjali and Rishi if he wants to minimize the risk of a failure? For images and profiles on some major Bollywood stars, go to the following sites:
Saskia Faulk and Jean-Claude Usunier prepared this case solely to provide material for class discussion. The authors do not intend to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a business situation. The authors may have disguised certain names and other identifying information to protect confidentiality. (©IUMI, reprinted with kind permission.)

A8.2 Exercise Dangerous Enchantment
First read the short extract from Dangerous Enchantment, the evocative title of the novel by Anne Mather (1966). Harlequin books are a worldwide success. They are translated into 15 languages and read in many countries. Therefore they can be considered as a truly ‘global’ cultural product. This short extract has been chosen for its capacity to illustrate the style of Harlequin books.
The next day Julie had collected herself. She was glad in a way that she had seen the woman with Manuel. At least it brought home to her more strongly than any words could have done the completely amoral attitude he possessed. Marilyn had seen the television as well, however, and said: ‘I say, Julie, did you see that Manuel Cortez is back in England?’ Julie managed a casual shrug. ‘So what?’ ‘Darling, really!’ Marilyn gave her an old-fashioned look. ‘Surely you aren’t as indifferent as all that! I know you refused a date with him, but I’m sure that was more because of Paul Bannister than anything else.’ Julie tossed her head. ‘I really can’t see what all the fuss is about. Paul would make four of him!’ ‘You must be joking!’ Marilyn giggled. ‘Get you! I didn’t know Paul was becoming such a dish all of a sudden. Why? What’s changed him?’ Julie refrained from replying. She had no desire to get involved in an argument about Paul when it meant her stating things that in actual fact were not true. It was no use pretending about Paul’s attractions; he was handsome, yes, and tall, yes, and young; but there was nothing particularly exciting about him and Julie could never understand girls who thought men’s looks were enough. She had known many men, and in her small experience personality mattered far more than mere good looks. However, during her lunch break she did borrow a newspaper from Miss Fatherstone in the hope that there might be more particulars about the woman with Manuel, but there was not. There was a picture of him at the airport, and a small article, and that was all.


Chapter 8 Intercultural marketing strategy

When they left the building that evening it was snowing, and an icy wind was blowing, chilling them to the bone. Julie, wrapped in a loose dark blue mohair coat, hugged her handbag to her as she started along towards the main thoroughfare accompanied by Donna and Marilyn. She wore knee-length white boots, but between the place where her boots ended and the place where her skirt began she felt frozen, and she wondered whether for the winter at least she should go back to normal-length skirts. Her hair was blowing about her face, for she was wearing no hat, and she walked straight into the man who stood purposely in her way. ‘I’m sorry . . .’ she began hastily, a smile lightening her face, and then: ‘You!’ Manuel smiled, and her heart leapt treacherously into her throat. She had let go of Donna’s arm in her confusion, but both Marilyn and Donna were staring open-mouthed. Manuel took Julie’s arm, and said smoothly: ‘You will excuse me, ladies,’ in a mocking tone, and drew Julie across the pavement to the familiar green Ferrari. ‘No, wait!’ began Julie, but it was no use. Manuel had the car door open and was propelling her inside, his hard fingers biting cruelly into her arm. ‘Don’t argue,’ he said, for all the world as though it was a natural occurrence that he should meet her from work. Julie did not want to create a scene in the street, so she climbed into the luxurious warmth of the car and sliding across out of the driver’s seat, she allowed him to slide in beside her. He slammed the door, flicked the ignition, and the car moved silently forward, purring like a sated panther. She stole a glance at him as they turned into the main thoroughfare, and saw, with a sense of inevitability, that far from changing he was much more attractive than she remembered. He turned for a moment to look at her as they stopped at some traffic lights, and said: ‘How have you been?’ Julie contemplated her fingernails. ‘Fine. And you?’ He shrugged, and did not reply, and she felt like hitting him. How dared he sit there knowing that she must have seen him with that girl yesterday! She looked out of the car window, suddenly realizing that she was allowing him to drive her heaven knows where, and she was making no comment. ‘Where are you taking me?’ she asked in a tight little voice. ‘Home,’ he said lazily. ‘Where do you think? I thought I would save you the journey on such a ghastly night. Tell me, how do you stand this climate? It’s terrible. Me, I like the sun, and the sea, and warm water to swim in.’ ‘Don’t we all?’ remarked Julie dryly. ‘This will do.’ They had reached the end of Faulkner Road. Manuel shook his head. ‘What number?’ ‘Forty-seven. But please, I’d rather you didn’t drive along there. It would only cause speculation, and if you should be recognized . . .’ Her voice trailed away. ‘That’s hardly likely tonight,’ remarked Manuel coolly, and drove smoothly to her gate where he halted the car. ‘Thank you, señor.’ Julie gave a slight bow of her head, and made to get out, but Manuel stopped her, his fingers biting into her arm. ‘Aren’t you pleased to see me?’ he asked mockingly. Julie looked at him fully. ‘No, not really.’ ‘Why?’ ‘Surely that’s obvious. We have nothing to say to one another.’ ‘No?’ ‘No.’ Julie brushed back her hair as it fell in waves over her eyes. It glistened with tiny drops of melted snow and she was unaware of how lovely she was looking. Manuel shrugged, and lay back in his seat. ‘Go, then.’ Julie felt furious. It always ended this way, with herself feeling the guilty one. Well, he wasn’t going to get away with it! She swung round on him. ‘Don’t imagine for one moment that I’ve been brought home believing your little tales’, she cried angrily. ‘I know perfectly well that the reason you have brought me home is because you could hardly take me to the apartment when you already have one female in residence!’ Manuel stared at her, a dull flush just visible in the muted light of the car rising up his cheeks.
(Source: Mather, 1966, Dangerous Enchantment, pp. 89–92. © 1966 Anne Mather. Used by permission of the publisher, Harlequin Enterprises II BV.)

Appendix 8 Teaching materials


1. Identify the main sociodemographic characteristics of the target audience of such books. 2. Identify from the text (situation, characters and the relations between them) how, and to what extent, this text moves people in such way as to touch feelings and emotions that are widely shared in the world population. 3. Define the target audience of Harlequin books, in terms of cultural affinity class(es).

Product policy 1: Physical, service and symbolic attributes

A central issue in international marketing strategy is the decision whether to adapt products for foreign markets after the consumer, the national markets and their particular characteristics have been surveyed, or to standardize products, which is a simplified strategy based on experience effects and cost reduction. For instance, part of the UK’s loss of dominant position in the Arabian Gulf countries to the Japanese during the 1960s was due to a lack of product adaptation. In contrast to the British, the Japanese adapted their products to the needs of local markets, after careful research into demographic, economic, sociocultural, political-legal and physical environments (Tuncalp, 1990). The real issue is not a dichotomous choice, as most companies do not exclusively adapt or standardize across their marketing mix elements (Vrontis, 2003). Around a core product offering that is standard worldwide, most global companies such as Coca-Cola or McDonald’s customize when needed. Export performance has been shown to be a combination of both adaptation and standardization strategies (Shoham, 1996) and to depend on a large number of factors related to the four components of the marketing mix (Baalbaki and Malhotra, 1995). It has been shown that the industry’s potential for standardization dictates a company’s strategy: in global industries that emphasize high-tech, firms that respond by standardizing show superior performance (O’Donnell and Jeong, 2000); conversely, within a particular industry, firms that customize have better performance (Samiee and Roth, 1992). Product customization may also result in market differentiation, thus creating a competitive advantage vis-à-vis actual

competitors, raising entry barriers for potential competitors. Therefore the message is: standardize as much as feasible and customize as much as needed. This is supported by Theodosiou and Leonidou (2003, p. 167) who after reviewing the empirical research in the area report that: ‘international marketing strategy (whether standardized or adapted) will lead to superior performance only to the extent that it properly matches the unique set of circumstances that the firm is confronted by within a particular overseas market’. This chapter and the next (which is devoted to the product’s brand name and national image) propose a decision-making framework for the adaptation/ standardization of various product attributes: physical characteristics, design, form, colour, functions, packaging, brand name and ‘made-in’ label. An assessment will be made of the potential for adaptation and standardization at different levels of product attributes: physical attributes, service attributes and symbolic attributes (through its colour, shape, country of origin, brand name and so on). The first section of this chapter sets out a systematic model to clarify the choice between adaptation and standardization of product policy. It can be applied successively to each existing national market as well as to markets where a company intends to set up new business. The second section is devoted to the physical attributes of the product. The third section deals with the standardization/adaptation of service attributes. The fourth section relates to symbolic attributes. The etymology of the word ‘symbol’ derives from Ancient Greece, where the symbol was originally an

9.1 Adaptation or standardization of product attributes


object cut into two. The two halves were retained by the host and the guest and later passed on to their children. When these two halves were reunited, this enabled the owners to be recognized and served as proof of the bond of hospitality previously created. The symbol therefore replaces, represents and denotes some other entity by means of a conventional relationship or a suggestion, the evidence of which has usually been lost. The connotative meanings of symbols are, of course, culture based. They are interpreted differently across countries. Other important symbolic attributes are the brand name and the national images linked to the product and its country of manufacture. The conversion of a national brand into an international one, and the linguistic problems that may occur, are dealt with in Chapter 10. The issue of global brands, either worldwide or regional ones, is also considered in Chapter 10.


Adaptation or standardization of product attributes
The product element of the marketing mix is often cited as the most standardized element, but within the product element there are various attributes that are more or less likely to be standardized. For instance, Vrontis (2003) surveyed 500 large UK multinational companies in five sectors, including manufacturing, services, transportation and communication, construction, and retail and wholesale, to find out what elements of the marketing mix were most standardized. For the product element, most companies reported standardizing product quality (78 per cent), brand name (72 per cent), image (71 per cent), performance (67 per cent), size and colour (54 per cent) and packaging and styling (52 per cent), while fewer standardize variety, design and features (48 per cent), pre-sales service (45 per cent), after-sales service and warrantees (43 per cent), and delivery and installation (42 per cent). The same companies reported that the most important reasons for adapting the marketing mix included culture (92 per cent), market development (87 per cent), competition (84 per cent), laws (82 per cent), economic differences (78 per cent), sociological consideration (74 per cent), customer perceptions (71 per cent), technological consideration

(60 per cent), political environment (53 per cent), level of customer similarity (49 per cent), marketing infrastructure (44 per cent) and differences in physical conditions (39 per cent). From a consumer point of view, Hult et al. (2000) compared the importance consumers place on sixteen product attributes in France (a developed market) and Malaysia (an emerging market), finding that only two attributes (product quality and appearance) received high emphasis on both samples. In Malaysia consumers relied more on the core product attributes and in France on the image and service attributes when evaluating grocery products and clothing. In fact, one may state that consumers are not buying the product itself, but the benefits they hope to derive from the product. A product can be defined as a set of attributes that provide the purchaser/user with actual benefits. Consumers from different countries may assign different weights to similar product attributes. For instance, German consumers place more importance on ecological attributes than British consumers (Diamantopoulos et al., 1995). There are three layers of product attributes that lend themselves more or less to standardization: 1. The physical attributes (size, weight, colour, etc.). Standardization of these attributes affords the greatest potential for cost benefits since economies of scale are made principally at the manufacturing stage. 2. Service attributes (maintenance, after-sales service, spare parts availability, etc.). These attributes are fairly difficult to standardize, as circumstances for service delivery differ widely from one country to another. It should further be emphasized that most services are performed in direct relation to local customers. Service attributes are more dependent on culture. 3. Symbolic attributes. These often comprise the interpretive element of the physical attributes. A colour is simultaneously a chemical formula for a painting or a coat, and also the symbolic meaning conveyed by the material. Symbolic attributes affect the choice between adaptation and standardization in a fairly ambiguous manner. It is confusing when consumers show a strong liking for domestic goods based on nationalism and also show a penchant or fascination for foreign cultures and their goods. Therefore, when adapting or standardizing


Chapter 9 Product policy 1: Physical, service and symbolic attributes

Table 9.1 Factors influencing adaptation or standardization of product attributes
Product attributes Physical attributes Arguments in favour of adaptation 1 Cost-reducing adaptations Local standards, hygiene and safety regulations, local marketing knowledge, consumer behaviour, marketing and physical environments 3 Limited savings related to scale Local peculiarities in service, maintenance and distribution 5 Unfavourable image of imported products, company, nationality or brand name Inadequate meaning conveyed by colour, shape, etc. Arguments in favour of standardization 2 Experience effects Economies of scale International standards International product use

Services attributes

4 Significant learning effects ‘Mobile’ clientele

Symbolic attributes

6 Favourable image of imported products, company, nationality or brand Exotic or ethnic appeal Demands for ‘universals’

symbolic attributes, the r