Natalie Züfle ICC
Task: You want to sell a product or a service in your tandem-partner’s country.
Try to use Hofstede’s, Trompenaars’ and Hall’s studies and the information about his/her country that you have collected during the last week.
Do some market research and ask your tandem-partner if the product you are thinking about could be sold in his/her country.
Do some advertising research and ask your tandem-partner to help you to identify elements of an ad that could contribute to the products success in his/her country. What kind of medium would work best for a commercial? Newspapers, internet, television, radio, movies, magazines, video games, billboards, airport walkways, posters on the sides of buses...?
Develop a marketing strategy for your product or service and think of potential problems and opportunities.
Develop a plan for an advertisement or commercial including a slogan, product name, jingle, etc. Discuss with your tandem partner whether to use a high-context or low-context information flow in your advertisement and whether to focus on emotions or on information.
A product which could be sold in my tandem-partner’s country Oman is air conditioning systems – due to the sheer heat and humidity, especially in summer time (with over 50 degrees Celsius!, The Library of Congress 1993). Thereby, I assume that a certain demand in cooling systems is given, as among others there is a large and growing class of young professionals who could afford it (AlClick 2007). In the following, I will develop a marketing strategy for advertising air conditioning systems in Oman. The strategy will be based primarily on intercultural communication aspects.
Cultural Type of the country
In accordance with E. T. Hall’s findings Oman is a so called high-context culture (compare e.g. Culture at Work 2003). This implies that messages are delivered in a different way from low-context cultures – such as my native country Germany for instance. High-context cultures use more indirect speech, i.e. paying less attention to the literal meaning of words. Instead, people refer to implicit meanings from the physical setting, using a lot of gestures and mimics to show emotions or feelings.
Hence, I will apply high-context culture communicative conventions to my advertisement: an indirect, implicit communication style including nonverbal and paraverbal elements, culture specific acts and rituals. Among others, affect displays like smiles and other facial expressions that are used to convey emotions and affective states should be considered. Such a kind of communication in consequence also implies that the message of the ad must not be overloaded with formal information and technical details/functions, which is usually common in German advertising.
Hofstede (2003), online available at http://www.geert-hofstede.com/hofstede_dimensions.php?culture1=34&culture2=4#compare, last accessed 11 December 2008
In addition, good relationships matter a lot in high-context cultures. Hofstede’s 5D Model assumes that cultural characteristics influence certain values. A high PDI-value – like in the Arab world – shows that power is unequally distributed and is rather based on family and friends. In this case, it entails a rather traditional role allocation among family members resting upon respect towards parents and higher ranking people.
Furthermore, the relatively low IDV of 38% implies that in the region collectivism is in the foreground, putting a strong emphasis on the family. Such ties are usually very close and people “are integrated into strong, cohesive in-groups, often extended families (Hofstede 2003). Thus, the ad could stress “rebuilding” family harmony through the use of a cooling system, making life more convenient to the delight of all.
Also the Masculinity index underlines traditional family values. It is somewhat lower than the German parameter, thus implying a higher relationship orientation, where caring for others is quite important. Showing emotions and feelings is tolerated to a larger extent. So, the ad should include emotions and moreover, aim at the well-being of the whole family.
Last but not least, the uncertainty avoidance index (UAI) in the Arab world is in the upper third and therewith relatively high. Life is structured by rules; traditions and rituals play an essential role. Unknown and surprising elements should be avoided in the ad. The situation should be structured and familiar, so that the viewer feels comfortable. The simplicity of handling such a cooling system could be emphasised.
So, and also in the light of Trompenaars’ four concepts of corporate cultures (he created a model of 7 cultural dimensions), the Arab world can be classified as Familial Culture, i.e. a relationship oriented society, also power oriented (hierarchical), showing a complex interweaving of influence and patronage with the leader feeling himself responsible for his subordinates. It is a person-oriented culture, in which it is more important who you are than what you do. Trust is essential, furthermore honour is emphasized as well as reputation and reliability. Thus, in the ad values like reliability and trust will be stressed. Additionally, in this type of culture communication should rather take place via examples instead of instructions, embedded e.g. in group events (like a family meal).
All in all, the ad could for instance address the whole family and their friends, being involved with each other in the spacious living room of their home (e.g. gathering for a meal).
I would choose on the one hand a TV commercial, which can better convey emotions by stressing a harmonious relationship, on the other hand I simultaneously consider daily newspaper ads and special brochures distributed door by door, because many decision makers (like family heads, fathers) still don’t use the internet to a large extent.
Medium: TV spot during dinner time in the evening, but also brochures and daily newspaper ads
Slogan: What a cool family – with an AC from MyCompany everything works out perfectly
Message: to buy air conditioning systems from MyCompany (which works in collaboration with a local Omani partner specialized in selling electronic goods) will improve the quality of life and thus restore family harmony, with everyone feeling well and fresh
Pictures: family preparing dinner, terribly sweating, slow, tired, beads of sweat on the face like in a sauna. Father buys AC from MyCompany, turns it on, the family starts to feel fresh, become happy, enjoying their meal and conversations. Referring to the well-being of the whole family appeals to a tradition-conscious high-context society.
Tonality: changing intonation and melody from the feeling of indisposition towards a sense of well-being
Colours: warm colours of heat, then fresh colours of cool climate
Text: few words, a lot of implicit speech (gestures, mimics), viewers can guess from the situation. Words should stress a harmonious relationship, besides the reliability of a German quality product.
The ad should be adjusted to local values, traditions and cultural specifics, but at the same time also transfer German values like reliability and German quality (high reputation of German products in Oman, traditionally good business relations with Germany, see Auswärtiges Amt 2008). Local adaptation is necessary, because both the providing (Germany) and purchasing culture (Oman) substantially differ from each other (low- versus high-context culture). Thus, it is better to refer to local symbols, feelings etc. Hence, I would choose the “glocal” mixture of local and global elements, i.e. using the German brand name, adjusting the content of the spot to Omani cultural values, and thus convey the positive associations of both countries.