- Nearly 3000 languages
- Language differences can be a challenge for brand and product names, product labels, tag lines etc.
- Finding a brand name that works universally in terms of punctuation, meaning is a monumental challenge.
- Correct and grammatical use of language in marketing communication is essential for a product or brand or a company to be viewed as credible, trustworthy and high quality.
- Language gains complexity when a country has more than one officially recognized language.
- Some languages have negative perception – due to invasions
- Eg: ‘can’ in US, ‘tin’ in UK
Customs and taboos
- Need to know about customs and taboos – what is acceptable and what is not.
- Marketers should seek guidance from local experts who are familiar with local culture and customers.
- Marketing research also helps marketers to understand and navigate these issues.
- Eg: Number 4 is considered unlucky in Japan – product packages containing 4 items are avoided by many consumers.
- Eg: In Saudi Arabia, images displaying the uncovered arms or legs of the female body are considered offensive.
- Eg: Egypt, many women wear headscarf (hijab), an increasing number of younger women in work and educational settings do not wear hijab – marketers are confused.
- Values dictate what is acceptable and unacceptable.
- Values are part of the culture and they can also be expressed individually arising from the influence of family, education, moral and religious beliefs. Values are also learned through experiences.
- Values can influence consumer perceptions and behaviors.
- Eg: US people, more individualistic in nature and hence make purchasing decisions based on individual preferences. In Japan, the well-being of the group is more highly valued, and buying decisions are influenced by the group or family.
- Ads featuring individuals tend to do better in countries where individualism is an important value and ads featuring groups do better in countries where the group’s well being is a higher value.
Time and punctuality
- Different cultures have different sensitivities around time and punctuality.
- In some countries (India), being slightly late to a meeting is acceptable, whereas in some other countries it is insulting (Japan).
- For cultures that highly value punctuality, being on time is a sign of good planning, organization, commitment and respect.
- In cultures where precise timing is not important, there is often a greater emphasis on relationships.
- Vary from one country to the other and may present challenges to foreigners not used to operating according to the particular norms of the home country.
- Eg: In Japan, the senior most person in the meeting will lead the discussion and junior level colleagues may not speak at all.
- Eg: Alcohol in business meetings – forbidden in Saudi Arabia.
- Business norms around greetings and physical contact also vary.
- Eg: American style handshakes have become accepted as a business norm in many cultures, but it is not universal.
- Eg: In Japan and some other Asian countries, a respectful bow is the traditional business greeting.
- Eg: In Islamic cultures, contact between men and women is a sensitive issue even in business settings.
- Eg: In India, ‘Namaste’ remains a respectful traditional business greeting particularly when interacting with women and older people.
Religious beliefs and celebrations
- Failing to respect religious beliefs can seriously undermine the reputation of a company or a brand.
- Religious holidays involve feasting and gift giving – these festival seasons are prime shopping seasons as well. (Christmas, Onam etc. )
- Sensitive about certain products – cows are considered sacred – people don’t eat beef. Muslims prefer halal meats, some religions refrain from drinking.
- Religious beliefs may cause sensitivities around revealing images or sexually suggestive materials.
- Religious beliefs associated with the symbolism of different colors may either create preferences or rejection of certain products and marketing materials.
- Link between religious practices and gender roles.
January 26, 2022