External Influences – Consumer Culture
a. Culture includes knowledge, belief, art, law, morals, customs, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by humans as members of society.
d. Factors that Define a Culture
- i. Individual/Collective: The culture in the US is an individualistic society, where people generally look out for themselves; The Japanese culture focuses on the collective, and people work to better society as a whole.
- ii. Extended/Limited Family: In the US, families move away from each other and generally don’t live together in the same house; In many Asian and European countries, parents, kids, grandparents and even aunts and uncles live together in the same house.
- iii. Adult/Child: Different cultures will define when someone is an adult. In the US it is 18 years old, but in some South American countries it is 14 or 15 years old. In the Hebrew culture a boy becomes a man at 13 during his Bar Mitzvah ceremony. In the Hispanic culture a girl becomes an adult at 15th birthday party.
- iv. Masculine/Feminine: Cultures define the roles of men and women differently, including their rank, and prestige in society.
- v. Youth/Age: The value placed on Elders depends on the culture
- vi. Cleanliness: In the US, cleanliness is very important, in fact most of the products advertised on American TV claim to improve cleaning; In other cultures showering on a daily basis is unnecessary.
- vii. Tradition/Change: Some societies prefer traditions over making changes.
- viii. Hard work/Leisure: In some cultures hard work is valued over leisure time.
- ix. Postponed gratification/Immediate gratification: American culture is centered on immediate gratification “I want it now!”
- x. Sensual gratification/Abstinence: The Netherlands is a society that openly talks about and advertises sexual activity; in Muslim societies those topics are taboo, and women who get pregnant before marriage are often shunned.
b. How does culture affect consumer behavior? Whatever a person consumes will determine their level of acceptance in their society. If someone does not act consistently with cultural expectations, they risk not being accepted in society.
c. What happens when a company ignores culture? McDonald’s is one of the most popular restaurants in the world. At their American based restaurants they serve beef hamburgers, but when they decided to open restaurants in India, they used lamb meat for their hamburgers, because the Indian people do not eat cow meat; if McDonald’s had ignored this cultural difference they would not have been successful in India! That was the problem when The Walt Disney Company opened EuroDisney outside Paris; it was almost a failure because Disney ignored the culture. The French people drink wine at very young ages and prefer sugar on their popcorn, not salt, like Americans. Disney did not accommodate their theme park until they realized that the French people were indeed their target market, so they changed the name of the park to Disneyland Paris and made modifications to their menus and also to the wait lines in the park.
|Behavior||Meaning in the US||Meaning in other cultures|
|Consuming wine and beer||Those under the age of 21 are not allowed to drink alcohol||In European countries it is common for children to drink wine/beer at family meals; when in a bar in Korea you pour drinks for your friends and family first, then wait for them to pour your drink|
|Drinking coffee||Generally adults drink it in the morning because of the caffeine, and giving coffee to a child is not accepted||In Turkey, coffee is a special drink that you serve to guests; in Italy coffee is enjoyed after a family meal; in China tea is the drink of choice|
|Cooking pork ribs||Grilled outside at a backyard party||Jewish and Muslims do not eat pork|
|Kissing||To express romantic feelings about someone||In many cultures kissing is acceptable when greeting a friend|
|Using the number 7||Lucky number||Unlucky number in Kenya, Singapore and Ghana|