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Chapter 15

The International Consumer

Consumer Behavior: A Framework

John C. Mowen
Michael S. Minor
Key Concepts
 Cross-cultural  Ethnocentricity and
symbols animosity
 Values of Japan and  Binational products
the U.S.  The matchup
 Back translation hypothesis
 Standardized global
 Differences in time
 Pattern advertising
 Nonverbal behavior
 No matter how hard man tries, it is
impossible for him to divest himself of his
own culture, for it has penetrated to the
roots of his nervous system and determines
how he perceives the world…People cannot
act or interact at all in any meaningful way
except through the medium of culture.

Hall and Hall (1987), Hidden Differences: Doing Business With the Japanese.
New York: Anchor Press/Doubleday, p. 188.
Cross-Cultural Use of
 Meaning of symbols differs across cultures.
 Symbolic meaning of nonverbal
communication can also create problems.
 It is important to know the implicit meaning of
a symbol when a company begins to market
its products or services internationally.
International Business
Cultural Factors

 Language  Social
 Values
 Politics

 Technology and
 Education
Material Culture  Religion
The East Asian Consumer
 How the societies view the individual

 How employees and customers are


 Values in Japan are beginning to change

with an increased desire for leisure time
 Karoshi (death by overwork) still an issue
The Latin American
 NAFTA has increased
U.S.-Mexico trade.
 U.S. products viewed
 Spanish language
variations possibly
The East European Consumer
 Western products are in huge demand
 Income is less than in western Europe,
but productivity is rising after political
turmoil in the early 1990s.
 Marketing requires an understanding of
the different cultures and business
The West European
 The EU contains
many nations,
cultures, and

 There is no
The African Consumer
 Africa is changing rapidly. Africans are often
bilingual, speaking their own language and that
of former European colonial administrators.
 The culture and business climate is strongly
influenced by Europe with Francophone (former
French colony)countries liking French products.
Anglophone countries give high marks to British
and German goods.
 American products are highly regarded but only
the well-to-do can afford them.
Cross-Cultural Problem
 Translation  Nonverbal
 National Behavior
Languages and  Country-of-Origin
Dialects Issues
 Time perception  Ethnocentricity
 Symbols
 Animosity
 Bi-national
 Friendship products
 Etiquette
 Promotional messages must be accurately translated. The
method used to avoid mistakes is back translation. The
process involves translating the message back and forth by
different translators. In this way differences in meaning can
be identified.
 Back translation may solve the translation issue, there is
the question of whether the context is the same, even if
the words are translated accurately.
 National languages, local dialects: lingua franca
National Languages and
 China, India, and Africa present the greatest linguistic
challenges to Westerners.
 China is slowly moving towards a common language.
 India has even more languages than does China. Coverage of
India for marketers is less complicated because the states have
three official languages: English, Hindi, and the predominant
state language. Advertisers place the same in ad in newspapers
in these three languages.
 In Africa there are over 1,000 mutually unintelligible languages,
making marketing a major challenge.
Time perception
 Time is precious for Americans : in many other countries, time
is much less important.
 A study was performed on the accuracy of bank clocks, the
average walking speed of pedestrians on a city street, and how
long it took postal clerks to sell a stamp in several cultures:
 On all three measures, Japan had the most accurate and fastest times.
 United States and England were either second or third on each.
 Indonesia tended to have the most relaxed pace.
 7 is unlucky in Ghana, Kenya, lucky in
India and the Czech Republic.
 4 is unlucky in Japan, China.
 8, 3, 2 sound good in Hong Kong.
 “Wearing a green hat” refers to a
cuckholded Chinese.
 In China & Japan friendship is a
substitute for a legal system.

We view friendships as more disposable.
 Guanxi (personal relationships and pull)
are seen as critical.
 Hugging and kissing
 More prevalent in Latin America than
here: less prevalent in Asia than here.
 Eating habits
 Chinese slurp noodles: some
Europeans won’t eat any food with
their fingers.
Non-verbal Behavior
 Actions, movements and utterances
that communicate.
 In some Russian villages, boys dance
with chairs until a girl indicates interest.
So in Russia, It Takes One to Tango.
 Spacing issues
 Context
Country-of-Origin Issues
 Bi-national products
– “assembled in X using materials from Y.”
– Made in Mexico by a Japanese company.
 Ethnocentrism
– Assumption that own group is center of
 Match-Up Hypothesis
 Animosity
 It is a common tendency for people to:
 Interpret others from the perspective of
their own group.

Reject those who are culturally dissimilar.
Binational Products
 The current trend is manufacturing
product components in one country and
assembling in another, or designing in
one and manufacturing in another.
 Firms should consider the effects of
multiple national origins on product
quality evaluations.
Matchup Hypothesis
 Consumers have preferences for goods
that match their notion of the country of
 Mexican tequila is good, Russian vodka is
good, but not the obverse.
 Some people may prefer not to buy
products from a certain country.
 Chinese consumers have been found to hold
animosity towards Japanese products in
 Older Mexican consumers are less likely to
buy U.S. products than younger Mexicans.
Adapting or Standardizing
Products and Services
 Adapting products to the needs of local
consumers is closer to the marketing
 Standardizing products may result in
savings to the consumer.
Tangible Products vs.

Generally, services
and industrial
products are less
likely than
consumer products
to need adaptation
to local markets.
A Conclusion to The
Standardization Debate?
 Both standardization and adaptation
offer customer benefits.
 As incomes increase, people in different
countries seem to develop more-similar
tastes. This is especially true for
younger consumers. So more
standardization is likely.
 The final decision is a management
Research in International
 To identify taste preferences,
companies must engage in marketing
research across cultures.
 A main problem is how to standardize
measures of consumption values.
 Technical problems (e.g. the ability to
do mail surveys) are also important.
Country vs. Segment

Two Approaches
to Global

 Countries

 Market
Country vs. Market
 Managers of firms doing business in
several countries can choose two broad
segmentation approaches: Country
segments or market segments.
 In the the first approach, Brazil is viewed as a
target market segment.
 Using the second approach, although Brazil is
the physical location of a large group of
consumers, the important variables for
segmentation are commonalities in needs and
wants among consumers across nationalities.
Managerial Implications
 Positioning. The origin of the product should
usually be clear to help differentiate it from its
 Research. Firms must perform cross-cultural
research before venturing into another
 The Internet has made international marketing
research easier, but it has introduced another set of
 Penetration of the Internet varies from country to country.
 Marketers using the Internet restrict themselves to those with
internet access!
Implications continued…
 Marketing Mix. Products should be appropriate
for local conditions.
 A recent study showed that men in Eastern Europe are
more fashionable than women because men have been
more exposed to outside influences. So male clothing
should be more flamboyant than female clothing.
 Segmentation. The main segmentation issue is
determining whether national borders are useful
segmentation variables.
 Concentrating on cross-border segments that share
commonalities may make more sense.