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The influence of culture on marketing


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The influence of culture on marketing

  1. 1. The Influence of Culture on Marketing & Advertising to MulticulturalConsumers – A Review.By Neleen Leslie (Florida State University) – Re-Post From HispanicAd.comText has been adapted to exclude irrelevant information. I you want to read the complete textplease visit the third chapter of her book “Communicating with the Multicultural Consumer: Theoreticaland Practical Perspectives”, Barbara Mueller looks at culture’s influence in marketing to themulticultural consumer. She underscored the fact that culture plays an important role in shapingthe values, attitudes and characteristics of consumers, which is a key determinant of behavior.It has long been acknowledged that culture is learned and in her description of the majorinstitutions which help to form cultures, Mueller included mass media. This is quite fitting as massmedia not only reflects the culture of the day but also influences culture, not only in America butacross the world. Not only does the media contribute to the “Americanization” of other cultures,but it also serves as a vehicle for the preservation of the culture of immigrants and their families.The proliferation of media outlets targeted at ethnic minorities have represented not only a pieceof the culture of the home countries of ethnic minorities but they also serve as a conduit for themaintenance of connections with their home countries. Marketers have endeavored to targetmulticultural consumers through these outlets and while it has been debated as to the best way toreach multicultural consumers, media targeted to the multicultural consumer undoubtedly havetheir place in this equation.-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------The issue of language in advertising was also covered by Mueller and like Morse, she reiteratedthe importance paying close attention to translation (and back translation) as well as portrayingstereotypes and using jargon unique to a particular ethnic group. While mainstream culture ispeppered with language, dress and symbols from other cocultures, there is no establishedprotocol for their use by marketers in trying to reach these groups. The general rule of thumbseems to be “be genuine” and when in doubt: test and retest your messages before going public.The debate still rages as to which language is best for reaching Hispanic consumers and while thepundits have no shortage of evidence for either side of this debate, Mueller in this chapter raisesan important point: there are language differences within ethnic groups. I was quite surprised tofind out that while my Chinese and Taiwanese colleagues were perfectly at home conversing witheach other, my Thai friend could not understand a word. The situation is quite similar among theHispanic population, while most Hispanics (foreign born) speak Spanish, most countries have their
  2. 2. own dialects and prefer to be communicated to in their mother tongue. This represents andadditional challenge for persons targeting these markets, they have a choice between using amore generic form of the Spanish language that will be understood by all but not be specific to anyparticular group, or target a select group and use their dialects. This may be profitable forcompanies targeting Mexican- Americans as they represent the majority of the Hispanicpopulation. The language debate in my opinion is just the tip of the iceberg, communicating withethnic groups in their mother tongues does not necessarily translate to speaking their language; ithas been established that language goes beyond words.-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------The topic of the cultural values of the various ethnic groups is a very important one inmulticultural marketing. Ethnic groups respond better to ads that reflect their cultural values andin order to reflect these values companies and their agencies have to first understand them. Theissue of religion is a very sensitive one and although some advertisers have been attempting tointegrate the religious beliefs of their target audiences into their campaigns, there is someuncertainty as to whether or not it should be considered “hallowed ground”. Many ethnic groupsmistrust brands that try to use the religious beliefs of their target audiences as a platform forconnecting with these people. African- Americans for example, are very religious and are not veryhappy with these new trends. This for me raises a question, have we gone too far as marketers?Where does the buck stop? Do we, in our quest to reach consumers run the risk of alienating themby violating their “spiritual space”?----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------It is quite clear that there is much more that we can learn about the cultures of the variouscultural groups within the US that could give us greater insights into connecting with them. I thinkthe future of multicultural research lies in understanding the nuances of culture that determinehow multicultural consumers think feel and relate to brands in the marketplace. Furtherinvestigation and analysis of culture is necessary and more instruments dedicated to that field ofresearch may need to be developed.Vocabulary: 1. Values 2. Attitudes 3. Determinant 4. Proliferation 5. media outlets (idiom) 6. endeavored 7. Stereotypes 8. Jargon 9. Pundits 10. Hispanics 11. hallowed ground (idiom) 12. alienating13. trend