Term Paper, 2014
13 Pages, Grade: 1,0
2. The Asian Cultural Framework and Its Influence on Global Markteing
2.1 Collectivist Asia and The Importance of Family
2.2 Uncertainty Avoidance and The Concept of “Face“
2.3 Power Distance and Social Status
2.4 Masculinity versus Femininity
2.5 Marketing Communication in Asia
3. Practical Measures for Global Marketers
3.1 The Hard-Sell versus Soft-Sell Approach and International Marketing Research
3.2 Segmentation and Changing Cultural Values
3.3 Discussion Part
Over the course of the past decades globalisation has had a great impact on the every day lives of people around the globe. Due to the advances in technology and new inventions, such as the internet and therefore the diminishing of boundaries, people from various countries of the world are now more than ever able to be connected to each other, travel and overcome far distances, as well as purchase and consume products and services from all over the world. The benefits of globalisation not only influence people in their daily lifes, but can also be applied to the way in which companies organise themselves as well as operate in their home and foreign markets. The rise of global companies that sell and market products in foreign countries affected organisational work and created the need for global marketing strategies. In order for these strategies to work the different cultural backgrounds and values of customers need to be taken into account. Mooij supports this idea by pointing out, that in order for marketing or advertising to be effective it “must include values that match the values of the consumers being addressed“ (Mooij, 1998, p.91). Mooij explains further, that the way in which consumers behave and are motivated largely depends on their culture, which is why marketing strategies need to be relevant to the culture of the consumer they are trying to address (Mooij M. D., 1998). This explains why marketing managers today face a number of challenges and are influenced by the cultural identity of the country they are marketing a product in.
Asia has one of the largest economies of the world which makes it for companies seeking to expand globally extremely attractive. East Asia alone is home to about 20 percent of the world’s population and is likely to make up an equally high share of the world trade (Chaze, 2010). In the following this essay will try to explain how the Asian culture in terms of group, family and status orientation might culturally influence the way in which foreign companies market their products to Asian consumers as well as discuss possible practical measures that should be taken by international marketers in this context.
In order to explain how the cultural framework of a country, in this case Asia, can influence marketing it is helpful to use Geert Hofstede’s (1984) five dimensions of culture theory as well as Edward T. Hall's (1973) theory, which focuses on communication patterns within a culture. The first part of this section will - besides a small excursion about Confucionism and the concept of “face“– mainly discuss Hofstede’s dimensions of Individualism versus Collectivism, Uncertainty Avoidance, Power Distance as well as Masculinity versus Femininity and lastly briefly refer to Hall’s theory of high-context and low-context cultures.
According to Hofstede (1984) Individualism describes the degree to which people are more concerned with looking after themselves as supposed to Collectivism where relationships and the belonging to a group are more important. “In individualistic cultures, one’s identity is in the person, people are “I“-conscious [...]“, whereas in collectivist cultures “people are “we“-conscious, their identity is based on the social system to which they belong [...]“ (Mooij, 1998, p. 75). This dimension can explain why people belonging to the Asian culture are highly family and group-oriented. Collectivist cultures, such as the Asian one can be seen as, tend to value being part of a collective, which can be the family, the neighbourhood, friends or work colleagues or any kind of group the members of this culture are part of (Mooij, 1998).
The idea of Asia having a collectivistic culture is also supported by the concept of Confucionsim: “The key to producing a harmonious life [...] is in how we treat others - our ancestors, leaders, parents, spouses, neighbours, and friends“ (Luo, 2009, p. 27). This also shows why Asians respect and put great impact on other people’s opinion, seek harmony and avoid confrontation for the greater good, the good of the collective. When comparing an eastern and western culture in terms of Individualism and Collectivism it can be said that in Japan “feeling good is more associated with interpersonal situations such as feeling friendly, whereas in the United States feeling good is more frequently associated with interpersonal distance, such as feeling superior or proud” (Mooij, Hofstede, 2011).
These characteristics of the Asian cultural identity can influence marketers in a number of different ways. As mentioned before members of the Asian culture put great emphasis on the opinion of others. In terms of marketing it can be said that there is a great possibility that Asians might rely on the experiences and recommendations of friends and family when deciding to buy a new product. For this reason “word-of-mouth” marketing becomes a very important factor. Consumers in Asia are more likely to buy a product after consulting a person close to them rather than simply trusting an advertisement. Therefore the information search process in collectivist cultures is very different from the one in individualistic cultures. The importance of being part of a group can also influence the way in which a product should be marketed. If a product is accepted by a social group Asian consumers are in, they could feel the need to purchase it as well in order to “reassert their similarity to members of their reference group“(Nayeem, 2012, p.80).
Uncertainty Avoidance (UA) describes “the extent to which the members of a culture feel threatened by uncertain or unknown situations“ (Hofstede,1984, p.161). Asian cultures tend to have a high degree of UA which implies that members of this culture do not like surprises and stick to the well-known in order to avoid stress, anxiety and the feeling of being powerless towards external forces (Hofstede, 1984). Hofstede’s theory is supported by the concept of “face“. According to Jung (2004) the concept of “face“ or “public reputation“ is a very important value in the Chinese culture in the context of interpersonal interaction and social exchange“ (p.366). He furthermore points out that the loss of “face“ would lead to great emotional distress and therefore the protection of it is of great importance. This accompanied by the concern for public reputation explains why members of the Asian culture have a high degree in UA.
The observations made about the concept of “face“ also explain why Asian consumers are very loyal to a brand once they have decided upon it. Jung (2004) states that “in the case of services, where there is interpersonal contact, Chinese consumers would tend to stay loyal to the provider. This is because switching would render a loss of face to the provider, an unfavorable move that Chinese customers would choose to avoid“(p. 366). This can form a great opportunity, in terms of having a long-term relationship with customers, as well as a threat for marketers as it could be a challenge to win over new customers.
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