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The 95%: What People Outside the U.S. Think About — Well, Everything


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Jeffrey Foster, Seattle Wunderman Network
Ben Sadler, Seattle Wunderman Network

The 95%: What People Outside the U.S. Think About — Well, Everything

In this session with two of Seattle Wunderman Networks global strategy leads, you’ll hear an overview of the six dimensions of culture developed by Geert Hofstede, Dutch Professor of Organizational Anthropology, and why they are important to the world of interactive. You’ll come away with ways to start using the dimensions of culture in your communication strategies and interactive-product development, and you’ll learn about methods to step back from a US-centric view of the world in order to help land your messaging, product, or other interactive work in non-US cultures.

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The 95%: What People Outside the U.S. Think About — Well, Everything

  1. 1. Who we are Jeffrey Foster Ben Sadler Strategy and Insights for Wunderman Global Advertising
  3. 3. How many of you expect to continue to work with people from other countries in your lifetime?
  4. 4. How many hope that goes well?
  5. 5. Culture matters
  6. 6. What we will talk about •  The roots of culture •  How culture drives behavior •  Ways to measure the differences between cultures •  How to use this information for fun and profit    
  7. 7. In-group versus Out-group is biology. At the very basic level, those in an In-group can eat and reproduce. It is a zero-sum game where outsiders threaten the survival of the In-group and so are treated with hostility.
  8. 8. The role of culture for Human In-Groups In-groups provide protection in exchange for loyalty and in humans, a sense of identity.    
  9. 9. Culture is learned not inherited
  10. 10. Foundations of Culture
  11. 11. America has the world’s best known culture.
  12. 12. Not to be confused with dominant. There are more people living inside this circle than outside of it.
  13. 13. In a globalized world, culture matters more than ever
  14. 14. Because culture affects everything
  15. 15. Culture is the foundation for communication.
  16. 16. Latin cultures: Black = Fear, Anger & Grief Chinese culture: Black = Powerful & Expensive
  17. 17. Anglo culture: White = Purity & Happiness Latin cultures: Black = Fear, Anger Grief Korean culture: White = Death & Mourning Chinese culture: Black = Powerful & Expensive
  18. 18. In the US, a person standing alone is likely seen an independent free thinker, on his own path. This is positive. In Japan, the same image likely conveys being without support and lonely. This is negative.
  19. 19. Cultural relevancy–now matters Changing  behaviors   Changing  expecta3ons   Changing  loca3ons        
  20. 20. Measuring the differences between cultures
  21. 21. About measuring differences There are a variety of tools We will talk about an influential one: Geert Hofstede’s Dimensions of Culture There are more
  22. 22. Hofstede and the IBM Survey Geert  Hofstede  analyzed  surveys  from  40,000  IBM  employees  in  70   countries  and  started  to  see  paBerns  in  the  answers  that  were  country   based.  Crea3ng  what  he  calls  Dimensions  of  Culture    
  23. 23. Hofstede’s Dimensions of Culture
  24. 24. Power Distance Low—I am very comfortable with questioning authority. High—I embrace hierarchy and expect that the powerful will be appropriately responsible.
  25. 25. Collectivism versus Individualism The needs and interests of my group My needs and interests as an are often my first concern. individual are my first concern.
  26. 26. Feminine/Masculine Feminine: men and women are equally Masculine: men have power. Women modest, nurturing, and concerned with normally are modest nurturing and the needs of others. Power is shared. concerned with the needs of others.
  27. 27. Uncertainty Avoidance Low—I am comfortable with uncertainty     High—I strongly prefer certainty.
  28. 28. Long-term Orientation Short-term orientation: daily revenue from a fast food franchise   Long-term orientation: lifetime revenue from a walnut grove
  29. 29. Restraint versus Indulgence There are good reasons for introversion and pessimism. There are good reasons for extroversion and optimism.  
  30. 30. Hofstede’s Dimensions of Culture
  31. 31. Now an example of how to use the dimensions of culture
  32. 32. USA by the numbers
  33. 33. Dimensions that make Americans American
  34. 34. High Individualism: A culture steeped in the narrative of the individual
  35. 35. Masculine: America is a culture driven by achievement, progress and winning.
  36. 36. Short-Term Orientation: A culture of the stock market and 15 minutes of fame
  37. 37. High Indulgence: Happiness is key to the American experience.
  38. 38. The American Story in Advertising
  39. 39. The American Story in Advertising
  40. 40. How the stories can differ Wait. Predict. Regain confidence.
  41. 41. Let’s compare some other cultures to American culture
  42. 42. In  the  spider  chart,  we  can   compare  the  US  and   China,  and  see  interes3ng   and  telling  differences  and   similari3es.   US:  High  Individualism/Short-­‐ Term  Orienta3on   China:  Collec3vist/Long-­‐Term   Orienta3on   Nearly  iden3cal  Feminine   versus  Masculine     US   China  
  43. 43. Hofstede China scores as bar chart Long Term Orientation Power Distance Individualism Indulgence
  44. 44. Man who defeats oppressors: American version
  45. 45. Man who defeats oppressors: Chinese version
  46. 46. The American to Chinese comparison is far easier than American to British
  47. 47. US   US  and  UK  have  very   similar  cultural   dimensions.   Yet  we  know  there  are   significant  cultural   differences.  Why?   UK  
  48. 48. For  UK/US  differences  the  World  Value  Survey  is  a  place  to  look.   US  score  on  expressing  compe//veness  is  much  higher.  
  49. 49. Looking at ourselves from the other’s side •  It is not about us thinking like a person from the Chinese culture or the UK or any other culture. •  It is about us realizing why we seem different to them and using that to understand them. •  From that, we can learn to work with them more effectively.
  50. 50. Applying cultural relevance to your work
  51. 51. Constraints push creativity
  52. 52. Know your audiences
  53. 53. Deliver the right content Effective content is culturally relevant
  54. 54. Develop products from a different perspective  
  55. 55.                                                                                        Summary
  56. 56. Understanding  the  power  of  the   differences  among  cultures  creates   advantages  for     you  as  a  thinker     and  increases  effec:veness  of     your  work.  
  57. 57. Open discussion/questions
  58. 58. Resources   Hofstede  Websites:   hBp://   hBp://geert-­‐­‐culture.html     World  Value  Survey  Website:   hBp://     Our  Blog:   hBp://   Our  email  and  social    TwiBer:  @Eljeffrai              TwiBer:  @sadlerbr