Chapter 2
Cross-Cultural Variations in
Consumer Behavior
Irwin/McGraw-Hill
Culture
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Culture is the complex whole that includes knowledge,
belief, art, law, morals, customs, and any other capabilities
and habits acquired by humans as members of society.
“everything that people have, think, and do as
members of their society”
 “the totality of the knowledge and practices, both
intellectual and material, of society”
 “the institutions, values, beliefs, and behaviors of a
society; everything we learn, as opposed to that
with which we were born”
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Culture
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Culture:
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Is comprehensive
Is acquired or learned
Provides boundaries for members
Is typically “invisible”
Enculturation is the process of learning one’s own
culture.
Acculturation is the process of learning a new
culture.
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Culture
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National culture refers to the culture prevalent in a nation. It
comprises the norms, rituals and values common to everyone
in that nation regardless of the subgroup affiliation.
Popular culture is the culture of the masses, with norms,
rituals and values that have a mass appeal.
Subculture is the culture of a group within the larger society.
The group may be based on any common characteristics
identifying that group as distinct from other groups or from
the society at large.
A firm’s corporate culture is reflected in a company’s values,
rituals and customs, and even in corporate myths and
celebrations of its heroes.
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Culture
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Self-Reference Criterion -- an unconscious
reference to one’s own cultural values,
experiences, and knowledge as a basis for
decisions.
Cultural Adaptation:
 Imperatives
 Adiaphora
 Exclusives
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Views of Foreign Expats in the U.S.
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“There are no small eggs in America. There are only
jumbo, extra large, large, and medium.”
“If you are not aggressive, you’re not noticed.”
“For a foreigner to succeed in the United States…he needs
to be more aggressive than in his own culture because
Americans expect that.”
Americans say “Come on over sometimes,” but foreigners
learn (perhaps awkwardly) that this is not really an
invitation.
“Here that [socializing outside the business relationship] is
not necessary. You can even do business with someone you
do not like.”
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Cultural Factors Affect Consumer
Behavior and Marketing Strategy
Language
Demographics
Consumer
behavior
Marketing
strategy
Values
Nonverbal
communications
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© The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc., 1998
Culture
Cultural Norms are accepted rules for behavior.
 Cultural Values are widely held beliefs about what
is good or right.
 Cultural Sanctions are penalties for violations of
cultural norms or disrespect for cultural values.
 Cultural Rituals are sets of symbolic behaviors
that occur in a fixed sequence and tend to be
repeated periodically.
 Cultural Myths are stories that express some key
values of society.
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Irwin/McGraw-Hill
Values, Norms, Sanctions, and
Consumption Patterns
Norms
Specify ranges
of appropriate
behavior
Cultural
values
Consumption
patterns
Sanctions
Penalties for
violating norms
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© The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc., 1998
Value Orientations Influence Behavior
Otheroriented
values
Environmentoriented
values
Selforiented
values
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Society’s view
of relationships
between people
Society’s view
of relationships
with environment
Consumption
Purchase
Communications
Objectives/
approaches
to life society
finds desirable
© The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc., 1998
Cultural Values of Relevance to
Consumer Behavior
Other-Oriented Values
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Individual/Collective. Are individual activity and initiative valued more
highly than collective activity and conformity?
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Extended/Limited Family. To what extent does one have a life-long
obligation to numerous family members?
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Diversity/Uniformity. Does the culture embrace variation in religious
beliefs, ethnic backgrounds, political views, and so forth?
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Masculine/Feminine. To what extent does social power automatically go
to males?
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Competitive/Cooperative. Does one obtain success by excelling over
others or by cooperating with them?
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Youth/Age. Are wisdom and prestige assigned to the younger or older
members of a culture?
Irwin/McGraw-Hill
© The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc., 1998
Cultural Values of Relevance to
Consumer Behavior
Environment-Oriented Values
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Cleanliness. To what extent is cleanliness pursued beyond the minimum
needed for health?
Performance/Status. Is the culture’s reward system based on performance
or on inherited factors such as family or class?
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Tradition/Change. Are existing patterns of behavior considered to be
inherently superior to new patterns of behavior?
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Risk taking/Security. Are those who risk their established positions to
overcome obstacles or achieve high goals admired more than those who do
not?
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Problem-solving/Fatalistic. Are people encouraged to overcome all
problems, or do they take a “what will be, will be” attitude?
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Nature. Is nature regarded as something to be admired or overcome?
Irwin/McGraw-Hill
© The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc., 1998
Cultural Values of Relevance to
Consumer Behavior
Self-Oriented Values
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Active/Passive. Is a physically active approach to life valued more than a
less active orientation?
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Material/Nonmaterial. How much importance is attached to the
acquisition of material wealth?
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Hard work/Leisure. Is a person who works harder than economically
necessary admired more than one who does not?
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Postponed gratification/Immediate gratification. Are people encouraged
to “save for a rainy day” or to “live for today”?
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Sensual gratification/Abstinence. To what extent is it acceptable to enjoy
sensual pleasures such as food, drink, and sex?
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Religious/Secular. To what extent are behaviors and attitudes based on
rules specified by religious doctrine?
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© The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc., 1998
Nonverbal Communications
Nonverbal communication systems are the
arbitrary meanings a culture assigns actions,
events, and things other than words.
 In his book Silent Languages of Doing Business
Overseas, anthropologist Edward Hall describes
and illustrates how a culture’s norms and values
are manifested through friendship, agreements,
and other similar actions. Hall calls these
behaviors “silent languages.”
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Irwin/McGraw-Hill
Cultural Communication
Orientations
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Low-Context countries (North American and
northern European countries):
messages are explicit and clear
 actual words convey the main point of information
 words and meanings can be separated from the
context in which they occur
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High-Context countries (Japan, France, Spain, Italy,
Asia and Middle Eastern Arab countries):
communication is more indirect
 expressive manner in which the message is delivered is
critical
 message cannot be understood without its context
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Factors Influencing Nonverbal
Communications
Time
Etiquette
Space
Nonverbal
communications
Things
Agreements
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Symbols
Friendship
© The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc., 1998
Orientations Toward Time
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Monochronic cultures (Americans, Germans,
Swiss) handle information in a direct, linear fashion
schedules, punctuality and a sense of time that forms
a purposeful straight line
 “time is money”
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Polychronic cultures (Japanese, Hispanic) work on
several fronts simultaneously time is less important
than task
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time and money are separate; timing is more
important than time
Irwin/McGraw-Hill
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Consumer Behavior/Building Mktg Strategy