CULTURE, Part I
• What is culture?
• Language
• How does culture manifest
itself?
• How does it impact marketing
tasks?
NOT a universal
practice!
MKT 376
CULTURE
Lars Perner, Instructor 1
Definitions
• Culture:
“That complex
whole which includes
knowledge, belief, art, morals,
custom, and any other
capabilities and habits acquired
by man as a member of
society.”
Alternative definition: “Meanings that are
shared by most people in a group”
[at least to some extent]. (Adapted from Peter and
Olson, 1994)
MKT 376
CULTURE
Lars Perner, Instructor 2
Cultural Lessons
• Diet Coke is named Light Coke in Japan-dieting was not well regarded
• Red circle trademark was unpopular in Asia
due to its resemblance of Japanese flag
• Packaging of products is more important in
some countries than in U.S.
• Advertisement featuring man and dog failed
in Africa--dogs were not seem as man’s best
friend
MKT 376
CULTURE
Lars Perner, Instructor 3
More Cultural Lessons...
• Cologne ad featuring a man “attacked”
by women failed in Africa
• Food demonstration did well in Chinese
stores but not in Korean ones--older
women were insulted by being “taught”
by younger representatives
• Pauses in negotiations
• Level of formality
MKT 376
CULTURE
Lars Perner, Instructor 4
Language: Be Careful!
• All Latin Americans (except
Brazilians) speak Spanish-don’t they?
• Slang--e.g., “Daughter hanged
for crimes in youth...”
• Euphemisms
• Non-verbal communication-what do gestures and tone
imply!
MKT 376
CULTURE
Is this guy
playing real
“football?”
Lars Perner, Instructor 5
High vs. Low Context
Languages
• How precisely does
language delineate what is
being said?
• Language information
conveyors: Subjects,
objects, tense, gender,
singularity
• Language richness (words
with meanings of different
shades)
German
Latin
Great languages
for puns!
Spanish
French
English
Japanese
Chinese
Low
context
MKT 376
CULTURE
High
context
Lars Perner, Instructor 6
Some Writing Patterns
English
Straight to the
point;
conciseness
valued; theme
expressed
Romance
Judaic
Detours are
expected to
maintain interest
and politeness
Asian
Going in
circles to
avoid being
perceived
as overly
assertive or
causing loss
of face.
“But that’s
another story.”
MKT 376
CULTURE
Lars Perner, Instructor 7
Translation issues
• Implied understandings, values, and
expectations
– Context
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MKT 376
Non-verbal language aspects
Word ambiguity and multiple meanings
Euphemisms
Appropriate language use (e.g., direct
vs. indirect)
CULTURE
Lars Perner, Instructor 8
Appropriate Language Use
• Traditions/norms in language
– E.g., active vs. passive
– E.g., “God willing” qualification to stated
plans
– E.g., expected digressions
• Organization, efficiency, and flow
• Suggestive language (overtones)
– E.g., “Tengo calor” vs. “Estoy caliente.”
MKT 376
CULTURE
Lars Perner, Instructor 9
Ambiguity: An Example
• Hai--meanings:
– Yes, I agree
– Yes, I hear what you
are saying
– (I hear you are
saying something)
MKT 376
CULTURE
Lars Perner, Instructor 10
Translation “Centering”
• Translating back and forth with
“blind” translators until meaning
comes out the same in both languages
FRENCH
Translator 1
SWAHILI
Translator 2
FRENCH
Modification
SWAHILI
Translator 3
FRENCH
MKT 376
If still not matched, continue process with new
translators
CULTURE
Lars Perner, Instructor 11
Chinese Language Examples
• No “-ness” suffix to describe abstract
attributes (e.g., “coolness,
gentleness”)
• No word for “size”—use “big-small” of
feet for shoe size
• No “whiteness” “white of swan,”
“white of swan.”
MKT 376
CULTURE
Lars Perner, Instructor 12
Suggested Research to Prepare
for Working In a New Culture
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Traffic Laws
Dress (attire)
Greetings
Forms of address
Gestures
“Taboos”
Shopping
Time perception
Etiquette
Smoking
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Alcohol use
Gender roles
Relationships
Family
Social class
Ethnic Groups
Personal space
Rules
Authority structure
Religion
Beliefs, superstitions
Source: Melissa Bayer Hess and Patricia Linderman (2002), The Expert Expatriate: Yor
Guide to Successful Relocation Abroad, Boston: Nicolas Brealey Publishing.
MKT 376
CULTURE
Lars Perner, Instructor 13
Hofstede’s Cultural
Dimensions
• Individualism (vs.
collectivism)
• Power distance
• Masculine vs. feminine
• Strong vs. weak uncertainty
avoidance
• Short vs. long term
orientation (Confucianist
dynamics)
Based on interviews with
IBM executives throughout
the World--1980s
– “The Foolish Old Man Who
Moved the Mountain”
MKT 376
CULTURE
Lars Perner, Instructor 14
Individualism vs. collectivism
• The extent to which
– Individuals as opposed to groups are rewarded
– It is desirable to “stand out” from others
• In collectivism, the unit of responsibility can
be (sometimes depending on context)
– Work group
– Family
– Nation, community, or society as a whole
MKT 376
CULTURE
Lars Perner, Instructor 15
Power Distance
• The extent to which “rank” is important in
work and relationships
• Rank can be based on
– Position
– Family/ethnic status
– Age
• Implications for
– Strategy formation
– Delegation
– Correcting mistakes
MKT 376
CULTURE
Lars Perner, Instructor 16
“Masculine” vs. “Feminine”
• “Masculine” values: Dominating
environment, “conquering” nature,
“progress”
– E.g., damming, tunnels, land
development, land reclamation
• “Feminine” values: Harmony,
preserving environment
– E.g., environmental impact, working
around nature
MKT 376
CULTURE
Lars Perner, Instructor 17
Uncertainty Avoidance
• Low uncertainty avoidance
– Willingness to
• Take risks
– Investments
– Social situations
– Consider new ideas
• High uncertainty avoidance
– Reliance on authority for decision making
MKT 376
CULTURE
Lars Perner, Instructor 18
Long vs. short term orientation
• Not included in Hofstede’s original work
• Complications—is U.S. shortsighted?
– Short term financial performance
– Investment in new technologies; firms with high
price/earnings ratios
• Net present value (NPV) analysis/discounted
cash flows
• Economic structure
– Accountability to stockholders; disclosure of
information
MKT 376
CULTURE
Lars Perner, Instructor 19
Characteristics of Culture
• Comprehensive
• Acquired (learned)
• Manifested in boundaries of acceptable
thought and behavior--norms and
sanctions
• Conscious awareness limited (frequently
taken for granted)
• Dynamic vs. static
MKT 376
CULTURE
Lars Perner, Instructor 20
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Culture, Part I