Global Brands & Culture

Transformations towards a globally unified culture of consumption

Seminar Paper, 2006

14 Pages, Grade: 1,3


Selling the same product across the globe has always been challenging. People are different in different parts of the world. Individuals within a culture used to have a common mindset. We used to grow up with our culture-of-birth only.Today, many people are connected to others around the world. Thisreshapes intercultural communications and turns culture in an even more complex mixture of many different national cultures.People across the globe watch the same movies, listen to the same music and buy the same brands.Global brands will play an important role in tomorrow’s global culture of consumption.

Brands are everywhere. Just enter a supermarket and you are surrounded by thousands of logos, advertising claims and “Buy me”-yelling products. Have you ever wonderedwhy brands actually exist?

Originally, brands were used to help consumers pick out good quality products. About a hundred years ago, when the industrial revolution started, all of a sudden the consumer was able to choose between large varieties of products. Until then,consumers used to buy groceries in small quantities at their local mom-and-pop store. Since many consumers patronized a shop, shopkeepers usually knew your preferred daily shopping andrecommended products to you. With the age of mass production, shopping habits changed dramatically. Consumers started to shop at larger supermarkets, because of cheaperproducts greater selections. Only the shopkeeper was missing, telling youwhich product was best for you. Manufactures replaced the shopkeeper’s advice by consumer brands. They started to indicate products with their logo, so consumers were sure to buy the same quality every time they purchased the brand. Branding has always been about indicating quality.

Manufactures introduced consumer brands to adopt a strategic approach to focus on building a strong connection with the consumer. According to Interbrand a “brand is defined as a relationship that secures future earnings by creating customer loyalty” (Ray 3)A successful brand is the most valuable resource a company has. According to Booz Allen, companies with a strong brand focus have an operating profit twice as high as other companies from the same industry sector. Research by Interbrand shows, that more than half of acompany’s value can be created through branding activities (Hegele-Raih 36).Gone are the days when manufactures could ensureprofits by simply guaranteeing quality. There has been a major change in branding over the last decade. Manufacturers started to introduce emotional attributes in communication campaigns. A car suddenly was not simply a car anymore; it has become a symbol of mobility and personal freedom. Foreign markets were entered and new challenges occurred. Manufactures started to export their goods and services. Brands like Coca-Cola or McDonald’s entered world wide markets.Multinational companies were formed adjustingtheir products and practices to each country. Operating outside its domestic marketsresulted in new challenges for many companies. Foreign consumers reacted very differently towards established brands and proven advertising campaigns. The pace of change as well as the number of brands was increasing. The economic globalization multiplied the variety of products for the consumer, but also made it more difficult to make a purchasing decision. To make a decision ona product you have to look at your options.The timeyou spend on comparing these options is also called transition costs. According to Bergvall/Podder the transition costs are estimated close to two thirds of the costs of the economy. To reduce transition costs, simplicity andtrust are essential.These are exactly the core values of a brand. Moreover, brands are fundamentally all about human relationships and needs - just as cultures.

Culture is everywhere. People associate a lot with the term “culture”. Whether it is an opera, exotic dancers, the way one dresses or the language one speaks, it is all referred to as culture. And all of it is culture. According to Cateora/Graham, culture is a group’s design for living (86-88).Culture is a learned system of meanings. A “cultivated” member of a cultural community has learned what is “desirable and ideal” in that particular system (Ting-Tooney/Chung 27). It determines the way people satisfy their needs and desires. Culture also reinforces the boundaries of an in-group, and the dissimilar out-group. A member within a group shares the same emotional attachments and believes. Non-members seem to be different and therefore we tend to be skeptical about their behavior. For a better understanding culture can be seen as an iceberg model with three different layers.

Exhibit 1: The Cultural Iceberg Model

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Source: Inspired byTing-Toomey/Chang 28

People tend to observe only the surface-level culture, the top to the iceberg model, but it is the underlying set of cultural believes and values that guide thinking and behavior in individuals. We learn about other culture most of all by representatives of its popular culture. Those representatives may be TV programs, famous singers, magazines or brand names (Ting-Toomey/Chang29). Coca-Cola, Microsoft, McDonald’s, or Nike are exported on a global level and are prime examples for popular culture. Individuals consume parts of this popular culture, either to be informed, entertained, or included in their cultural community.

Below the surface, there is intermediate- and deep-level culture. This part of culture is not as obviously shown as popular culture. Members of a culture attach a certain meaning to symbols. Therefore, a symbol can lead to objective as well as subjective perceptions,as national flags do for example. The deep-level culture is formed by traditions, beliefs,and values, which originated froma common history.Interpretation of symbols is always regulated by experience and therefore formed by culture. Symbols are not only signs; they represent ideas, behavior, opinions, and aspirations. They can be languages, religious signs, furnishing, flowers, colors, tools or simply a smile. Symbols enable human communication and form similarities between individuals. Communication and therefore culture is only possible because of the common use of symbols (Thieme 70). Take a tree forexample; the meaning will change dramatically looking at the same symbol from a logger’s, a poet’s or a gardener’s perspective. Symbols shape a group with the same design for living. Therefore, a closer look at the interpretation of symbols will tell you more about that group’s way of thinking.


Excerpt out of 14 pages


Global Brands & Culture
Transformations towards a globally unified culture of consumption
Leuphana Universität Lüneburg  (Marketing und Technologie)
Intercultural Communications
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
File size
654 KB
Marken, Brands, Marketing, Kultur, Internationales Marketing, Culture, Hofstede, Porter, Nike, Coca Cola, McDonald's
Quote paper
Stefan Geissel (Author), 2006, Global Brands & Culture, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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