Cultural Sensitivity in Business Source: http://www.kwintessential.co.uk/cultural-services/articles/cultural-sensitivity.html The World is Getting Smaller • Businesses communicate, meet, and do business now more than ever • Few businesses can escape international business • Japan, China, Mexico, Brazil, India, Korea are some of the world’s largest economies • We cannot treat them our way or they may cut us out Business Etiquette • Is about building relationships with people • In the business world, it is people that influence your success or failure • If you feel comfortable around someone and vice versa, better communication and mutual trust will develop • Business etiquette revolves around two things 1. Thoughtful consideration of the interests and feelings of others 2. Minimizing misunderstandings 6 Keys to Success 1. Behavior • Your manners and attitude will say a lot about you • Appropriate business etiquette promotes positive traits (not being selfish, undisciplined, showing no people skills) 2. Honesty • A reputation for integrity is slowly gained but quickly lost • Understanding a particular country’s business etiquette provides a starting point 3. Character • Your character refers to what you as an individual bring to the business table • Knowing when to be passionate and not emotional or self-confident without being arrogant • Learning another’s business etiquette you demonstrate an open-mindedness which will earn respect. 6 Keys to Success 4. Sensitivity • Must be sensitive and considerate • By avoiding misunderstandings and misinterpretations through business etiquette you lay foundations for a strong business relationship. 5. Diplomacy • Avoiding thoughtless words and actions protects you from negative consequences • Impulse often leads a business person astray • Must have careful thought of the interests of others and choose acceptable forms of expression 6. • • • Appearance Dress appropriately Standing and sitting in the right place at the right time Good posture and looking physically presentable Culture • Culture comes in many shapes and sizes. • It includes areas such as politics, history, faith, mentality, behavior and lifestyle. Culture • The following examples demonstrate how a lack of cultural sensitivity has led to failure Culture • Microsoft Windows 95 had a “Map” feature • When working on the map of India they accidentally shaded the disputed Kashmiri territory a different shade of green • The difference in greens meant Kashmir was shown as nonIndian • The product was promptly banned in India • Microsoft was left to recall all 200,000 copies of the offending Windows 95 operating system software to try and heal the diplomatic wounds • It cost them millions Culture • McDonald's spent thousands on a new TV ad to target the Chinese consumer. The ad showed a Chinese man kneeling before a McDonald's vendor and begging him to accept his expired discount coupon • The ad was pulled due to a lack of cultural sensitivity on McDonald's behalf. The ad caused uproar over the fact that begging is considered a shameful act in the Chinese culture. Culture • A nice example of how pictures don't translate well across cultures is the time staff at the African port of Stevadores saw the 'internationally recognized' symbol for "fragile" (i.e. broken wine glass) and presumed it was a box of broken glass • Rather than waste space they threw all the boxes into the sea Culture • When the US firm Gerber started selling baby food in Africa they used the same packaging as in the US (A picture of baby on label) • Sales flopped and they soon realized that in Africa companies typically place pictures of contents on their labels. Culture • Pepsodent tried to sell its toothpaste in South East Asia by emphasizing that it "whitens your teeth" • They found out that the local natives chew betel nuts to blacken their teeth which they find attractive Culture • The film "Hollywood Buddha" showed a complete lack of cultural sensitivity by causing outrage and protest on the streets of Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Burma when the designer of the film's poster decided to show the lead actor sitting on the Buddha's head • An act of clear degradation against something holy Culture • The concept of Big Brother was somehow taken to the Middle East • The show was pulled of the air after its first few episodes due to public protests and pressure from religious bodies stating the show's male/female format was against Islamic principles. Culture • A golf ball manufacturing company packaged golf balls in packs of four for convenient purchase in Japan • Unfortunately, the number 4, like the number 13 here, is said to sound like the word "death“ • The company had to repackage the product Language • The business world is littered with poor translations that have caused great embarrassment to their perpetrators due to their lack of cultural sensitivity. The following are some of the choicest examples. Language • IKEA once tried to sell a workbench called FARTFULL - not a hugely popular product for obvious reasons. Language • Both Clairol and the Irish alcoholic drink Irish Mist did not properly consider the German language when they launched their products there • Clairol's hair-curling iron "Mist Stick" and the drink "Irish Mist" both flopped - why? • 'Mist' translates in German as "manure" Language • U.S. and British negotiators found themselves at a standstill when the American company proposed that they "table" particular key points. • In the U.S. "Tabling a motion" means to not discuss it, while the same phrase in Great Britain means to "bring it to the table for discussion." Language • A new facial cream with the name "Joni" was proposed for marketing in India • They changed the name since the word translated in Hindi meant "female genitals." Language • A soft drink was introduced into Arab countries with an attractive label that had stars on it--sixpointed stars. The Arabs interpreted this as pro-Israeli and refused to buy it. • Another label was printed in ten languages, one of which was Hebrew--again the Arabs did not buy it. Pepsi • When Pepsi co advertised Pepsi in Taiwan with the ad "Come Alive With Pepsi" • They had no idea that it would be translated into Chinese as "Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the dead." Schweppes • In Italy, a campaign for Schweppes Tonic Water translated the name into • "Schweppes Toilet Water." Others • Traficante is an Italian brand of mineral water. In Spanish, it means drug dealer • Volkswagen named the sedan version of Golf the Jetta. However, the letter "J" doesn't exist in the Italian alphabet, so Jetta is pronounced "Ietta", which means Misfortune Language • Coors had its slogan, "Turn it loose," • translated into Spanish, it became "Suffer from diarrhea." Cultural Sensitivity • These problems could easily have been avoided with basic research on the target market – – Checking the concept – Design, shape, color, packaging, message or name • It is simply assumed that 'if it is OK for us it is OK for them‘ • Key to success in international business - cultural sensitivity from personal interaction and relationships with clients to the products/services developed Assignment • Choose a partner to work with and a country • Research the culture of that country (refer to the 6 steps to success to find out information). • See if you can find any instances of products being marketed wrong in that country (not including the examples from class). – And/or examples of cultural things that could cause a misunderstanding • You will receive 20 points for typing out your information/research you found with sources. Assignment • Work with a partner and choose a country • Research different cultural aspects that could come up in a business situation. And/or examples of situations that have already occurred (like I had) • Give a summary of the issue(s) and which of the 6 keys to success it matches up with. (HINT it could be more than one) • Type or write out your summary and turn it in. You should be able to find multiple examples if you pick a larger country.