Communication Process, Culture and Marketing TheoryMarketing, is self-evidently an exercise in communication with the client in which culture cancomplicate the issue..... so what theory is there which can potentially help us understand whatis going on in the process in sufficient depth?Whether I am teaching and trying to communicate with you or a website is attempting tocommunicate with its intended client, there are some general principles which clearly apply.Here I will bring together some of the theories which may be of use in looking at interculturalmatters in marketing practice.1. The Basic Communication ProcessThe MESSAGE to be communicatedThe ENCODING of this MESSAGE in an appropriate form (words, pictures etc)The TRANSMISSION of the ENCODED MESSAGE via MEDIUM/MEDIAThe RECEPTION of the ENCODED MESSAGEThe DECODING of the ENCODED MESSAGE NOISEREACTION and RESPONSE to MESSAGENB. ‘Noise’ represents any kind of intervening feature, distraction or effect that act uponeither the stages themselves or the linkages between them which keeps the intended deliveryfrom being ‘perfect / as envisaged.... for example, perhaps the right message has beenencoded in a brilliant advert and sent to the TV screen at peak viewing time... but I waswatching BBC instead (no adverts on BBC).2. Everett Rogers’ Theory of Diffusion (and Adoption)Although addressing the context of the diffusion of innovations, Rogers was one of the firsttheorists to examine in detail how we hear about and buy in (or not) to products. Hesuggested that there are in fact two distinct elements in this process:Diffusion is the process through which knowledge of an innovation spreads among potentialconsumers based on the social processes involved in communication within society.Adoption is the sequence of stages through which an individual passes from first hearing ofan innovation to finally buying it, based on the individual process of considering, decidingand buying.
So, in terms of the marketing communication Process (D = Diffusion / A = Adoption) • Market profiling D • Message definition D • Message encoding D • Medium selection D • Transmission D • Reception D/A • Decoding and perception D/A • Reaction A • Consumption / Non- consumption A • Reflection affirmation-seeking Retrenchment ACultural / intercultural issues can clearly feature in this process, for example: • Market profiling: perhaps a non-national profiling the suitability of markets without the benefit of pre-existing cultural experience might be dangerous? • Message definition: perhaps those at a high level trying to link their knowledge of the product to the market profile do not have enough cultural awareness to be subtle and sophisticated. • Message encoding: perhaps the PR agency has a product rather than market orientation and makes the advert too complicated or too upmarket or uses humour in a way that does not work in the market primarily concerned. Maybe they do not like ‘clever’ adverts and prefer straight, informational ones to image campaigning. Perhaps a broad-brush decision is taken in regard to medium use which does not work everywhere. Viral marketing via mobile phone may well not work in some cultures. • Transmission: perhaps using media in which this particular market does not have confidence. • Reception: perhaps the actual transmission was mis-timed, not having taken account of cultural dates and events and the intended recipient simply wasn’t watching TV or does not buy the local newspaper. • Decoding and perception: perhaps the viewer of the material sees the TV advert, hears the words, but they do not mean to him what the sender thought they would. • Reaction: perhaps the ‘pitch’ turns the intended client ‘off’ rather than ‘on’ • Consumption / Non- consumption. This may amount to offense and rejection • Reflection affirmation-seeking Retrenchment. Rather than a positive, virtuous circle, this could become ‘vicious’, with negative promotion resulting.Culture can effectively be a significant determinant at each and every stage.I broke this down a little further in work I did on the Diffusion and Adoption of newtechnologies in Learning and Teaching. This may not seem relevant on the face of it, butremember, there are different ‘cultures’ within the staff body (though not necessarily nationalcultures).The title of the Powerpoint Slide below ‘Subjective Selection System’, seeks to show that, inthe end, the buy-in / adoption decision is a personal one.
Subjective Selection System Awareness Awareness Perceived Attributes Understanding Comparative Interest Liking Advantage Preference – efficiency Desire Decision – economy Action Implementation – effectiveness Evaluation – equity Reflection Confirmation Complexity Commitment Compatibility Embedding Cascade Communicability Jolley (2004)In terms of the above, the left hand column is built around an extension of the basicAIDA (Awareness/Interest/Desire/Action) model, adding in ‘Reflection’ upon the actiontaken and an ‘Embedding’ of a confirmed position on the matter.The middle column seeks to develop this rather ‘thin’ model, particularly in the breakingdown of ‘Interest and Desire’ into ‘Understanding Liking Preference’. Again, allthree of these terms may be contextualised or influenced by aspects of culture.The right hand column suggests factors which the individual (or company) might welltake into account and weigh up and factor in to the decision to some degree. Once again,many of these perceptions may well be culturally determined or influenced.I have tried to put this altogether in a hypothetical illustration on the following page ofthe diffusion of the message ‘Buy our car’ and a possible way in which an individualmight respond.
Diffusion and Adoption Processes and ConsiderationsProcess Element Illustration Considerations Message Buy our car Encoding Vorsprung D… T… Medium Selection TVDIFFUSION Transmission 19.30 ITV Reception 20% of target Market Decoding 10% of target Market Understanding Unclear to 50% (5%) Evaluation Good Engineering Comparative Liking Yes Preference Better than my Ford Advantage Decision Consider next time • EfficiencyADOPTION Purchase Buy • Economy Reflection As good as I hoped • Effectiveness Confirmation Made good decision • Equity Commitment I’m an Audi guy Consistency Advocacy You should… Relationship I buy Audi products Complexity Compatibility Communicability For Diffusion and Adoption, see Rogers, E. The Diffusion of Innovations. But what are the problems with the above in relation to culture: Collective & Individual Issues in Diffusion and Adoption Diffusion AdoptionCan one message be valid in a global marketplace? Decoding may result in a message safely received: the wrong message.Is an encoded message capable of simultaneoustranslation by the recipients in different cultures? Adoption is an intensely personalDifferent media require different cultural process.approaches… message may need to be altered tosuit the media. Although we may be members of aDo different cultures receive messages in the same sub-culture of influence, the adoptionway / via the same media? decision is singular and referencesDifferent cultural sub-groups and individuals may personal values, beliefs, constraintsplace different value on different media and external influences.Diffusion is a social process as much as a technicalone and these vary by society. Other Theories and Concepts of Potential Value
Michael Porter’s Five ForcesIgor Ansoff’s Growth Vector Matrix