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Cultural Influences on Consumer Behavior

What is Culture?
A societys personality which consists of: Norms, Conventions, Customs & Traditions Beliefs, Myths & Rituals Values & Ethics Cuisine Sports Clothing Languages & Literature Art & Architecture Etc.


Smaller cultures are like sub-sets, found within one large culture, formed by smaller communities such as minorities, immigrants, sectarian and ethnic groups etc.

Some Characteristics of Culture

Culture is Invented Culture is Learnt Culture is Shared Culture is Gratifying Culture is Persistent Culture is Prescriptive

Hofstedes Framework for Understanding Cultures

Hofstedes Framework (contd)

Hofstedes Framework (contd)

Hofstedes Framework (contd)

Hofstedes Framework (contd)

Hofstedes Framework (contd)

Indulgence A national culture attribute that allows hedonistic behaviors

Restraint A national culture attribute that favors strict social norms

Importance of Culture

Culture is the lens through which we view the world around us We do not always appreciate its importance in our life till we experience a different culture; hence the term culture shock

Consumer Behavior & Culture

A two-way street Products compatible with the priorities of a given culture stand a much better chance of being accepted, where as New products (innovations) can also influence and bring meaningful changes in a given culture

Cultural Categories

Culture systems provide us with products that depict categories E.g. clothing to denote certain times and occasions such as evening wear, leisure clothes, work clothes, night wear etc. Culture also signifies styles related to religious occasions, patriotism, festivals and events

Aspects of Culture

Ecology: the way in which a system is adapted to its habitat (e.g. emergence of high-rise structures in cities and countries cramped for space) Social Structure: the way in which orderly social life is maintained (e.g. the nuclear versus the extended family) Ideology: common or shared worldview of a society; mores or ethos (e.g. the standards of modesty regarding womens dresses has huge variations in different countries/cultures)

Typology of Culture
Material Culture Finds expression in material items such as clothing, furniture, artifacts etc.

Non-material Culture Includes patterns of thought, feelings, emotions and behaviors shared by members of a Group

What are Myths?

A myth is a story containing symbolic elements that express the shared emotions and ideals of a culture The story often involves a conflict between two opposing forces (good & evil), and its outcome has a moral

The Role of Myths in Marketing

Cultural myths find their way as symbols in brand names, logos, and other marketing communication themes For example, Nikes swoosh is the sign of Nice, the Goddess of Victory, in Greek mythology Other, occult symbols, like the Winged SunDisk, are commonly found with a some modern variation in corporate logos

The Winged Sun-Disk is commonly associated with Egypt, although it was also used by Persians and Assyrians and also by remote cultures in South America and Australia. The symbol is a representation of the ascension of the soul to the Divine, with the help of the serpents of wisdom and knowledge

The Vesica Piscis

This ancient symbol is the shape formed by two interlocking circles and is part of sacred geometry. Piscis refers to the fact that the middle section resembles a fish (Pisces). Its mystical meaning has always been shrouded in mystery but most agree that it is meant to represent the feminine principle the vulva of the Goddess.

Chanel Shoes


Myths in Pop-Culture

Myths have been used in films, comic books, and cartoons Most super heroes are modernized versions of mythical heroes (e.g. Wonder Woman Princess of the Amazon) Disney is one company famous (or infamous) for subliminally using mythical themes in their animated movies


A Ritual is a set of multiple, symbolic behaviors that occur in a fixed sequence and that tend to be repeated periodically Rituals can be religious, traditional, social or even fashionable

Some Ritualistic Events/Occasions

Wedding Birth of a Child Wedding Anniversaries Birthdays Valentines Day New Years Eve Christmas, Eid, Holi etc. Graduation

Job Orientation Retirement Promotion New House Watching a movie in a theatre Visiting someone in the hospital Death

Types of Rituals

Grooming Rituals Gift-giving Rituals Holiday Rituals Religious Rituals Rites of Passage

Sacred & Profane Consumption

Sacred consumption involves objects and events that are set apart from normal activities (think of dresses and jewelry reserved for weddings or special occasions) Profane (not to be taken in the sense of vulgar or obscene in this context) consumption refers to routine, every day objects and events

Sacred Places

Religious : The Mecca, the Vatican, Mosques, Temples, Churches etc. Political: The Wall of Berlin (now extinct), the Statue of Liberty, the Red Square, Minar-e-Pakistan etc. Historical: The Great Wall of China, Bethlehem, the Colosseum, the Taj Mahal etc. Learning: Oxford University, the Jamiah al-Azhar, the Ali Garh University etc. Hedonistic: Vacation Resorts, Amusement Parks (Disney) etc.

Sacred People & Characters

People: Icons in fashion, politics, show business, literature, sports, science, or any other field for that matter Characters: From super heroes to cartoon characters and iconic film and fictional characteristics such as Sherlock Holmes, James Bond, Dracula, Spider Man, Gabbar Singh etc.

Sacred Events

Found in all walks of life, from sports (the Olympics, the FIFA World Cup), show business (the Oscars, the Grammys), politics (US Presidential Elections), international affairs (UN General Assembly), science (International Scientific Colloquium), to religion (the concept of Pilgrimage found in every religion), and of course fashion (Festival of Fashion & Photography in France) Also bring into mind events like the Nobel Prize, Beauty Contests, Exhibitions etc.

Sacred Objects

From holy books to encyclopedias; from memorabilia to antiques; from vintage cars to modern, cutting-edge vehicles; and from art objects & artifacts to high-end fashion products


When a sacred item or symbol is removed from its special place and is duplicated or made common Think of artworks such as the Mona Lisa, or the way the national flag finds itself on TShirts, or when designer products are copied and mass produced According to certain critics, even religious occasions like the Christmas or Eid, have been turned profane


When ordinary objects, events or even people, take on a special, sacred meaning Skeptical? Think again, The quest to memorialize Elvis has become an industry and even replicas of personal-use items by the rock-icon can fetch a reasonably good price A web site business is selling unlaundered athletic wear worn by members of the Dallas Cowboys football team!!! And think of collectors who can lend a level of sacredness to ordinary items like stamps, coins, match boxes, cigarettes and buttons.

Challenges presented by Culture to Marketers in the Post-Modern Transferring meaning from culture to culture Society

Standardized vs Localized Strategy Marketing communication and culture the language barrier (the problem of translation) Creolization adaptation of foreign influences in the local culture: think of dresses, music, poetry, movies, and even festivals

These are some actual Marketing Communication Guffaws from around the world:

Cocktail lounge, Norway:Ladies are Requested Not to have Children in the Bar Hotel, Acapulco:The Manager has Personally Passed All the Water Served Here Tokyo hotel's rules and regulations:Guests are requested NOT to smoke or do other disgusting behaviors in bed. Hotel lobby, Bucharest:The lift is being fixed for the next day. During that time we regret that you will be unbearable. Hotel elevator, Paris:Please leave your values at the front desk. Hotel, Japan:You are invited to take advantage of the chambermaid. Hotel, Zurich:Because of the impropriety of entertaining guests of the opposite sex in the

Airline ticket office, Copenhagen:We take your bags and send them in all directions. Belgrade hotel elevator: To move the cabin, push button for wishing floor. If the cabin should enter more persons, each one should press a number of wishing floor. Driving is then going alphabetically by national order. Athens hotel: Visitors are expected to complain at the office between the hours of 9 and 11 A.M. daily. Dry Cleaner in Majorca: Drop your pants here for best results In a Yugoslavian hotel: The flattening of underwear with pleasure is the job of the chambermaid. Outside a Hong Kong tailor shop: Ladies may have a fit upstairs. In a Rhodes tailor shop: Order your summers

In an advertisement by a Hong Kong dentist: Teeth extracted by the latest Methodists. In a Rome laundry: Ladies, leave your clothes here and spend the afternoon having a good time. In a Czechoslovakian tourist agency: Take one of our horse-driven city tours - we guarantee no miscarriages. Advertisement for donkey rides in Thailand: Would you like to ride on your own ass? In the office of a Rome doctor: Specialist in women and other diseases. In a hotel in Bruges: Bathroom light operates with motion sensor. Turns off approx. 15 minutes after last registered motion. Plumbing & Kitchen Service, Nagpur (India): If we cant satisfy your house wife, no body can.