Meaning and Nature of Culture

Culture is an aggregate oI the learned belieIs, attitudes, values, norms and customs oI a
society or group oI people, shared by them and transmitted Irom generation to generation
within that society.
Culture too changes with time. The society that developed the culture is continuously being
exposed to new experiences. Further, the society or group is not a Iixed body oI people. New
generations are being brought into it and some new members Irom other cultures are being
assimilated. With the increased mobility oI persons, Ilow oI inIormation and young person`s
joining the group; cultures expand, dilute, subdivide and change.
The changes in culture are however not rapid and never drastic. The changes reIlect the move
Irom old ideas to the new and also acceptance oI ground realities brought in by
environmental or generational changes. ThereIore changes can only be gradual.
The word culture or the concept itselI is Ilexible and can be stretched to cover diIIerent types
oI aggregation. When we speak oI Eastern culture it includes vast world stretching Irom
Egypt and Russia to India and Indonesia. It is perIectly legitimate Ior us to take up study oI
subcultures oI this Eastern culture like the Russian culture or Indian culture. A combination
group or cross-culture group like 'Indian immigrants¨ can also be recognized and studied, as
long as the group is oI adequate size and importance as body oI consumers.
We have already deIined that culture is an aggregate oI belieIs, attitudes etc. culture can be
viewed as a 'blessing¨ and a preserve oI values, heritage, arts and good behavior. It can also
be a 'baggage¨ when we consider that it transmits some irrational and out-oI-date attitudes
included in it as custom.
The main vehicles oI culture are the Iamily and the religious institutions where the individual
is 'taught¨ much oI the ideas, belieIs etc., that Irom the culture. This teaching is reinIorced as
moderated by two other vehicles namely the educational institution and the mass media.
Characteristics of Culture:
• Culture is invented: It cannot be viewed as something that just 'exists¨ and waiting
to be discovered. People are responsible Ior inventing their culture and this invention
consists oI three interdependent components:
Ideological component reIers to ideas, belieIs, values, and approaches to deIining
what is right and wrong, or desirable and undesirable.
Technological component is concerned with the skill, arts, and craIts that provide
human with the means to produce goods by using what is available to them in
their environment.
Consumer component enables humans to live in the Iamily systems and market it
possible to coordinate their behavior eIIectively with others actions.
• Culture is leaned: It is not like biological Ieatures or instinctive. The process oI
learning cultural blues begins early in liIe largely through social interactions among
Iamilies, Iriends, in settings in such as educational and religious institutions; growing
children are Iirmly indoctrinated with ways oI behaving, thinking and Ieeling. Some
oI the core cultural values that have been passed down through generations in India
are belieI in god, respecting elders, husband domination, being polite to ladies,
accepting arranged marriage, viewing marriage as a union between two Iamilies and
living in joint Iamilies etc.
• Culture is Shared by a Iirmly large group oI human beings living in organized
societies and works as a linking Iorce. Generally, common religion and language are
the critical elements that the American pop culture is being shared by a large number
oI other countries through the availability oI several products such as coca cola,
McDonald`s burgers, Levi`s jeans, movies and music etc.
• Culture satisfies needs: Its components are passed down through generations
because they are gratiIying. Culture oIIers order, direction and guides societies in all
phases oI liIe by providing tried and trusted ways oI meeting the physiological,
personal and social needs and due to these reasons people Ieel comIortable in doing
things in the customary way. Cultural values and customs etc. are Iollowed as long as
they keep on oIIering satisIaction, even when we are exposed to other culture.
Though advertising is considered an important agent in bringing about social change,
Irom the marketers point oI view an important mission oI advertising is to reinIorce
established cultural t and aiding in the development oI new tasted, habits and customs.
• Culture is not static: some cultures are relatively more resistant to change than
others but they do change gradually and continuously. These changes, however, may
be very slow in some cultures while others may be more dynamic and receptive to
changes. Since cultures are not static and change rapidly or slowly in diIIerent
societies, this becomes quit an important consideration Irom the marketers point oI
view. For example, traditionally the role oI women in India was conIined within the
household. As a rule, they were married at an early age, looked aIter household duties
and bore children. In urban India, at least, the role oI women is gradually getting
redeIined. More and more women are acquiring higher and technical education and
entering several proIessions, which earlier were the sole domain oI men. As a result oI
this, dual income households are emerging, with smaller Iamilies and increased
buying power. This has thrown up several, and important, opportunities to marketers.
Such cultural changes in India can be directly attributed to the inIluence oI western
cultures and media inIluence, which emphasize Ireedom and equality to women.
Culture can divided into two distinct components.
Influence of Culture on consumer behavior
While there are a large number oI areas where the individual is conditioned by his culture, Ior
our study we will Iocus on certain areas where his consumer behavior comes inIluence. There
• Consumption oI Iood, clothing and housing
• Perception on messages and media, and
• Receptivity to new ideas and change
Internal mental culture
(Ideas, knowledge, concepts)
External material culture
(Things that can be seen touched
and used in our day to day living,
e.g. art, music, theatre, clothing, etc.
housing, books, movies, sports)
Cognitive components
belieI oI aIter liIe, etc.
Ideas, knowledge, god,
supernatural power, etc.
Normative components
values, conduct, norms
that regulate behaviour
Food: Food perhaps is the area where preIerences are any way very individual and very
marked. Additionally, culture introduces certain preIerences. The examples oI preIerence
induced by cultures are
• Kosher Ioods Ior persons oI Jewish subculture
• Avoidance oI beeI by Hindus and Sikhs
• Avoidance oI pork by Muslims
• Vegetarian Iood large subcultures in India
• Sea Ioods Ior subcultures in the Far East
Clothing By sheer logic, clothing preIerence should depend on climate and weather.
However, one can observe many peculiar preIerences exhibited by consumers who can be
identiIied as belonging to a subculture. The preIerences in these cases appear to be culturally
inherited. Otherwise there is no other explanation why Italian gentry in Toronto or Indian
ladies in San Francisco are shopping Ior silks and why custom dictated elaborate dresses
unsuitable Ior the local and prevailing climate are purchased all the year round, by ethnic
Housing people oI a certain class brought up in the western culture may view the house as a
caste to protect their privacy whereas persons in the same class brought up in Eastern culture
want to treat the house as a showpiece as well as a place Ior interacting with kith and kin.
Such cultural inIluences aIIect the choice oI location, material, construction and decor oI the
houses the consumer buys and this has to be kept in mind by the marketers.
Marketers also hold varying conception oI culture. A traditional marketing view in this
perspective, culture is viewed as a relatively unchanging background Ior behavior, consisting
primarily oI values and norms. Values are enduring belieIs about desirable outcomes that
transcend speciIic situations and shape one`s behavior. II asked, people can usually state
important values: honesty, dependability, and so Iorth, Ior example. Cultures vary in the
strength oI members` belieIs in a limited number oI universal values. Norms are inIormal,
usually unspoken rules that govern behavior.
Two views of Culture and Consumer Behavior
Traditional Marketing View
to culture
Emerging Marketing View:-
Material goods
Cultural templates
Action (blueprint)
Consumption patterns
Cultural templates
For interpretation (lens)
Cultural Iields (scapes)
Values and norms help to determine perceptual and cognitive principles that, in turn,
inIluence people`s attitudes to marketing oIIerings and consumption practice. In perspective,
the key questions Ior marketers are to what extent should they adapt market oIIerings to other
culture context, and how should they do it.
Some anthropologists (scientists who study human culture), we deIine a society`s culture as
Irameworks Ior action and understanding that enable one to operate in a manner acceptable to
other members. The Irameworks vary between cultures, but they always incorporate
language, norms, values, and objects, as well as the myths, symbols, and rituals that we
discuss later in the chapter. Both individuals and Iirms that wish to operate successIully in a
culture require these kinds oI knowledge. In this view, values, norms, and other cultural
elements diIIer in kind, not merely in strength, between diIIerent cultures.
To complicate matters, culture cannot be reduced to a list oI language, things, people,
behavior, or values, although all oI these are important in a culture. Our list oI Iacts about the
Danes did not lead us to correctly predict the popularity oI baby joggers, Ior example. The
above Iigure indicates culture can be through oI as a set oI dynamic models. Members oI a
culture use these models to perceive, relate to, and interpret their world. Thus, culture
consists oI shared Irameworks or blueprints both Ior action and Ior understanding.
Blueprints Ior action and interpretation are constructed by culture Irom two basic elements.
First is through cultural categories, which organize time, space, nature, and the human
community. For example, class, occupation, ethnicity, gender, and age are examples oI
cultural categories.
In addition to cultural categories, blueprints Ior action and interpretation are also shaped by
cultural principles, the values, norms, and belieIs that allow things to be grouped into
cultural categories, ranked, and interrelated. For example, cultural principles enable us to
classiIy products into categories and identiIy new brands as belonging to particular
categories. Some culture principles are expressed in sayings and Iolk wisdom such as 'hard
work pays.¨ 'There is virtue in loyalty to the state,¨ 'you get what you pay Ior,¨ 'seeing
believes,¨ 'possession is nine-tenths oI the law,¨ or 'the nail that sticks up gets hammered
Variation in cultural values
There are three broad Iorms oI cultural values as show in Iollowing Iig.
Other Oriented
oriented values
SelI oriented
Societies view oI
between people
Societies view oI
relationship with
s to liIe, society
Iinds desirable
Cultural values
Values include instrumental values, shared belieIs about how people should behave, and
terminal values, or desirable liIe goals. Examples oI instrumental values include
competence, compassion, sociality, and integrity.
Ambition is an instrumental value that might help one attains a comIortable liIe, which is a
terminal value.
Cultural values are shared broadly across a society. They are learned, reinIorced, and
modiIied within subcultures, ethnic groups, social classes, and Iamilies, values are organized
into systems that diIIer in their importance to consumers. They transcend particular
situations. Some believe that behaviors develop Irom attitudes, which in turn derive Irom
more general or abstract cultural values. This is reIerred to as the value-attitude behavior
The Rokeach value survey (RVS) identiIies a set oI 18 terminal values, or desired end
states, and instrumental values, or desirable actions. A comparison between Brazil and the
united states on a Iew oI Rokeach`s terminal values shows substantial diIIerences. The most
import values in the united states-Iamily security, a world at peace, Ireedom (independence),
and selI-respect-are ranked substantially lower in Brazil (seventh, IiIth, sixth, and ninth,
respective). The highest-ranking Brazilian values-true Iriendship, mature love, happiness, and
inner harmony were ranked lower in the United States (tenth, Iourteenth, IiIth, and
thirteenth, respectively). The U.S. terminal value rankings on the RVS have remained
remarkably stable over time.
HoIstede proposed another approach oI value measurement, and it has been applied more
extensively. It is based on Iive dimensions oI cultural values, sometimes called value
orientations. These values are as Iollows:
1. Individualism vs. Collectivism Cultures,
2. Masculinity vs. Iemininity,
3. High vs. low power distance,
4. High vs. low uncertainly avoidance, and
5. Abstract vs. associative thinking.
1. Individualism vs. Collectivism Cultures:-
'Individualism Culture is a society in which members put their personal advancement and
welIare ahead oI that Ior other groups, institutions, and the culture as a whole¨. In such
societies, people are personally Iocused, have loose connection with others and place their
interest and goals above those oI other individuals and the groups to which they belong. The
development oI the 'private selI¨ is encouraged.
In this culture, consumers are less likely to be inIluenced by their peers or reIerence group. In
this culture, choosing a product that Iocus on their personal selI image, that will give personal
pleasure and allow them to express themselves Ireely will be on target.
'Collectivism Culture is a culture in which people put the goods oI others, the groups they
belong to, and the society as a whole above their own.¨ SelI discipline is important, and
individuals basically accept where they are in liIe. Competition on group basis is acceptable
but not encouraged. Here, the development oI the 'collective selI¨ is Iostered.
In collectivist society, 'Iitting in¨ is important, so products and services that reIerence group
demand are needed. Pleasure, skill development, and knowledge acquisition in group setting
are also to be Iocus Ior oIIerings.
2. Masculinity vs. femininity
'Masculine culture is a society in which male roles are considered superior to Iemale¨. In
this, high value is placed on such things as monetary gain, material possessions, competition,
being successIul, and being assertive and aggressive.
'Femininity culture is a society in which Iemale roles are considered superior to male role¨.
It sets values on nurturing, the Iamily, quality oI liIe, social responsibility, environment
quality and the like over attaining wealth, possessions etc.
3. High vs. Low Power Distance
'Power distance is a level oI social inequality that exists in a society and how willing
members are to accept authority at all levels¨.
'High power distance means high social inequality.¨ In this includes accepting authority at
the Iamily level, in social settings, at work, Irom government agencies and the like. Countries
with higher power distance include Venezuela, Guatemala, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, India,
Malaysia, Japan etc.
'Low Power distance relationships are more inIormal across social levels, more equality is
Iound among all people, and authority is more shared.¨ Countries with low power distance
include Australia, New Zealand, England, Sweden, Switzerland, Canada etc.
4. High vs. Low Uncertainty Avoidance
'Uncertainty avoidance is a willingness oI the member oI a society to accept ambiguity and
'High uncertainty avoidance (a 'certainty culture¨) is Iound in societies that have
routinized behavior patterns, many rules and regulation, low tolerance Ior new ideas or new
ways to do things.¨ Persons in such societies tend to go to their Iamilies and other important
to them to obtain advice, security, guidance, and comIort. They are more prone to stress,
emotional, anxious, aggressive, and are hard workers.
'Low uncertainty avoidance (an 'uncertainly culture¨) exists in cultures where people 'go
with the Ilow¨. They don`t have a strong desire to control their destiny and have a sense that
what is to come will be. They are said to be relieved, conIident, rational, and retired, behavior
patterns as individuals and consumers are more Iluid and reactive, and new ideas and new
ways are more easily accepted, partly because they are more willing to accept personal risks.
5. Abstract vs. Associative Thinking Culture
'Abstract thinking those societies whose members are logical thinkers, interested in the
principle oI cause and eIIect.¨ Products and services are seen as good beneIits-deliverers
purely because their inherent characteristics. Face to Iace communication is preIerred.
Member oI such societies are willing and eager to make changes and to try new things,
including new products and services.
'Associative thinking is those societies in which connections or associations with people,
celebrities, and events impact on the importance oI things.¨ Consumer products or services
tied to such acquire value. Thinking that a baseball bat that matches that oI home run hitters
Mark McGuire or Barry Bonds is better than one not tied to a special player whether it`s the
correct length and weight Ior you or not. Associative thinking societies also see connections
with God or gods, supernatural or mystic beings, events or places to various liIe events.
6. The Confucian Dynamic Impact on Cultures
'The Confucian dynamic, at the positive end oI the ConIucian Dynamic scale are such
values as persistence, hard work, thriIt, shame, and regard Ior relationships that indicate a
Iuture-oriented, dynamic mentality. At the negative end are values indicating a static
mentality. They are tied to the present and the past and include 'Iace,¨ reciprocity, and
tradition.¨ Such values encourage people to stay within known and accepted societal
boundaries. This dimension is not only Iund in cultures with a history oI ConIucian inIluence.
Brazil is one oI the highest scoring countries, and Germany, the Netherlands, and Sweden are
in the middle. The ConIucian Dynamic is reIerred to as 'long-term vs. short-term
Cultural Myths and Symbols
Myths and symbols are an example oI what we have called a template or cultural blueprint
Ior interpretation because they help us understand what we observe in social liIe. Myths are
stories containing symbolic elements that express shared emotions and cultural values. In
traditional cultures, people conveyed culture knowledge to their children through myths,
legends, and Iairy tales. Today, many popular culture media like television programs,
advertisements, movies, comics, cartoons, and novels build on mythic themes and convey
cultural knowledge to consumers. Knowledge oI myths and how they work is useIul to
marketers. Myths serve several important Iictions in culture. First, they emphasize how things
are interconnected.
Second, myths maintain social order by authorizing a social code. The European Cinderella
myth teaches us how a miserable but deserving person can be blessed with wealth and
happiness. This rags-to-riches story resonates with the U.S. immigrant experience. ThereIore,
variants oI the Cinderella myth reappear in many media products, including recent Iilms like
pretty Woman and Working Girl.
Third, myths provide psychological models Ior individual behavior and identiIy. Many myths
teach models oI heroic or right action. Disney Iilms such as The Lion King, Mulan, and
Tarzan are examples oI Iilms whose heroes act out models where individual- ism and
personal integrity are promoted.
Important behaviors in any society in any society can be better understood by reIerence to
shared Cultural symbols, objects that represent belieIs and values. Culture is well reIlected in
core symbols, symbols that are emotionally powerIul and that contain multiple meanings. In
the United symbols, symbols include George Washington and the Wild West. In Iinance, core
symbols include the Louvre museum, the tricolour French Ilag, and Marianne, a mythical
Iigure whose Iace adorns French coins, money, and buildings.
People use core symbols in diIIerent ways. The U.S. Ilag is a public symbol, typically used to
mark oIIicial places and events. Danes use their Ilag as an intimate, domestic symbol.
Marketers can use cultural symbols to help position products and services. Example is the Taj
Mahal, a Iamous Indian building, is a popular name Ior Indian restaurants all over the world.
Cultural Rituals
Cultural rituals are a good example oI activities that combine blueprints Ior action and
understanding. They consist oI behaviors that occur in a relatively Iixed sequence and that
tend to be repeated periodically. Knowledge oI rituals simpliIies behavioral choices such as
how to behave at a wedding, Ior example.
Rituals organize peoples Ieeling and Iacilitate and simpliIy group communications. That is,
rituals organize liIe experience and give it meaning. They are particularly useIul in handling
situations involving risk, whether the risk is social, emotional, or physical.
From important types oI consumer rituals are those relating to possession, grooming,
divestment and exchange. People undertake possession rituals when products move Irom the
marketplace to the home or workplace where they are consumed. Possession rituals also
occur when people move into a new home or take possession oI pre owned goods, which may
involve cleaning, customization, or making oIIerings such as the Jewish custom oI tacking a
mezuzah to the door Irame.
Grooming rituals tend to be private behaviors that aid in the transition Irom private to public
selI and back again. Clean/dirty, public/ private, work/ leisure are three oI the symbolic
transIormations that are oIten involved in grooming rituals. Numerous beauty products and
personal services are marketed on their contribution to making grooming rituals successIul.
Divestment rituals occur when consumers relinquish possession oI objects.
Exchange rituals, like holiday giIt giving, are an extremely important ritual type. An
important class oI exchange rituals involves rites oI passage. In rites oI passage like college
graduation, participants mark events that symbolize changes in their social status.
For marketers, providing ritual goods has pluses and minuses. For example, vendors at some
Shinto temples in Japan that specialize in childbirth blessings do a thriving business in
protective charms and support garments. Stationery and party supply stores provide all sorts
oI goods Ior calendrical rituals such as birthdays, carnival, or Halloween. Other retailers
provide symbolic goods that allow Ians to express their aIIiliation with sports teams and
contests. Sometimes, a consumer product becomes almost identical with a ritual or even
triggers the ritual. For example, Mother`s Day was created in order to sell more Ilowers and it
works. For Ilorists, Mother`s day is the biggest revenue producing day oI the year.
Rituals have liIe cycles; they decline and gain in popularity, and new cultural rituals emerge
as others Iade.
Culture Iurther divided in two category; sub culture and cross- culture.
The members oI speciIic subculture possess belieIs, values, and customers that set them apart
Irom other members oI the same society. In addition, they adhere to most oI the dominant
cultural belieIs, values, and behavioral patterns oI the larger society. We deIine subculture,
then as a distinct cultural group that exists as an identiIiable segment within a larger, more
complex society.
In below Iigure presents a simple model oI the relationship between two subcultural groups
and the larger culture. As depicts, each subculture has its own unique traits, yet both groups
share the dominant traits oI the overall American culture. Each American, however, is at the
same time a member oI various subcultures. For example, a 14-year-old boy may
simultaneously be Hispanic, Catholic, a teenager, and a New Yorker. We should expect that
membership in each diIIerent subculture would provide its own set oI speciIic belieIs, values,
attitudes, and customs.

Subcultural analysis enables the marketing manager to Iocus on sizable and 'natural¨ market
segments. When carrying out such analyses, the marketer must determine whether the belieIs,
values, and customs shared by members oI a speciIic subgroup make them desirable
candidates Ior special marketing attention. Subcultures, thereIore, are relevant units oI
analysis Ior market research. Important subcultural categories are nationality, religion,
geographic, location, race, age, and sex.
Although most U.S. citizens, especially those in the United States, see themselves as
American, they Irequently retain a sense oI identiIication and pride in the language and
custom oI their ancestors. When it comes to consumer behavior, this ancestral pride is
maniIested most strongly in the consumption oI ethic Iood, in the purchase oI numerous
cultural artiIacts (ethic clothing, art, music, Ioreign-language newspapers). Interest in these
goods and services has expanded rapidly as younger Americans attempt to better understand
Traits oI
United -States
and more closely associate with their ethnic roots. The importance oI ethnic origin as a
subcultural market segment, the Iollowing section examines Hispanic-American subculture.
Hispanic Subcultures
Hispanic Americans represent about 9 percent oI the United States population. In American
population segments, Hispanic-Americans are younger, they are members oI larger Iamilies
and they are more likely to live an 'extended Iamily¨ household, with members consisting oI
several generations.
Hispanic-Americans are projected to supplant AIrican-American within 20 years as the
largest American minority group. Hispanic has already become the dominant minority in
New York, San Diego, San Francisco and they represent the majority in San Antonio, Texas.
This subcultural group can be considered as a single market, based on a common language
and culture, or as separate subcultural markets that correspond to diIIerent Hispanic countries
oI origin. There are twelve Hispanic subcultural groups now identiIied in the United States.
Understanding Hispanic Consumer Behavior
Available evidence indicates that Hispanic and Anglo consumers diIIer in terms oI a variety
oI important buyer behavior variables. Hispanic consumers preIer well-established brands
and traditionally preIer to shop at smaller store. Similarly, other research indicates that when
it comes to clothes shopping, Hispanic youths are more Iashion-conscious and are more likely
to seek out and be loyal to well-known brands and to generally like the act oI shopping more
than their non-Hispanic counterparts.
Defining and Segmenting the Hispanic Market
Marketers who are targeting the diverse Hispanic subcultural groupings are concerned with
Iinding the best ways to deIine and segment this market. OI these measures, the combination
oI selI-identiIication and degree oI identiIication are particularly appealing, because they
permit consumers to deIine or label themselves. Research shows that those who strongly
identiIy with being Hispanic are more Irequent users oI Spanish-language media, are more
brand loyal, are more likely to buy prestige brands, are more likely to seek the advice oI
another and to more oIten be inIluenced by Iriends or Iamily, and are more likely to buy
brands advertised to Hispanics than Weak Hispanic IdentiIiers. This pattern suggests that the
degree oI Hispanic identiIication is a useIul segmentation variable when one is targeting
Hispanic market.
The United States reportedly has more than 200 diIIerent organized religious groups. The
members oI all these religious groups at time are likely to make purchase decisions that are
inIluenced by their religious identity. Consumer behavior is directly aIIected by religion in
term oI products that are symbolically and ritualistically associated with the celebration oI
various religious holidays. For example, Christmas has become the major giIt purchasing
season oI the year.
In our earlier discussion oI the Iamily we indicate that husband and wiIe decision making
also was related to religious orientation. It was reported that husbands in proreligious and
catholic Iamilies were the major inIluence in making speciIic purchase decisions, husband
and wives shared equally in most decisions. Religious requirements or practices sometimes
take on an expanded meaning beyond their original purpose.
The major racial subcultures in the United States are Caucasian, AIrican-American, Asian-
American, and American Indian. Although diIIerences in liIestyles and consumer spending
patterns exist among these groups, the vast majority oI racially oriented consume research has
Iocused on consumer diIIerences between AIrican-Americans and Caucasians. Only recently
has particular research attention been given to Asian-American consumers.
Asian-American Consumers
The Asian-American population is currently more than seven million in size and is the Iastest
growing American minority. For example, between 1980 and 1990, the white, AIrican-
American, and Hispanic populations in the United States grew 6, 13 and 53°, respectively;
during this same time period, the Asian population grew by 108°. Asian- Americans are
largely Iamily-oriented, highly industrious and strongly driven to achieve a middle-class
liIestyle, they are an attractive market Ior increasing numbers oI marketers.
Where Are the Asian-American?
Asian-Americans are largely urban people, who are presently concentrated in a small number
oI large American cities. Most Chinese, as well as most Asian-Americans, do not live in
downtown urban areas; they live in the suburbs.
Understanding the Asian-American Consumer
Local newspapers and weekly newsmagazines Irequently portray the accomplishments oI
Asian-Americans, who have shown they to be hardworking, very Iamily-oriented and strivers
Ior excellence in educational pursuits. Asian-American children have consistently won a
substantial share oI academic awards and scholarships.
Asian-American as Consumers
Asian-American spends about $38 billion on consumer goods and services annually. It is
important to remember that Asian-Americans are really drawn Irom diverse cultural
backgrounds. ThereIore, although Asian-Americans have many similarities, marketers should
approach this overall group with caution, as they are not completely homogeneous. For
example, Vietnamese-Americans are more likely to Iollow the traditional model wherein the
man makes the decision Ior large purchase, whereas Chinese-American husbands and wives
are more likely to share in the decision-making process.
Age as Subcultures:-
Each major age sub grouping oI the population might be thought oI as a separate subculture,
because important shiIts occur in the demand Ior speciIic types oI product and services. Age
subculture has three additional groups: Generation X, baby boomers and the mature and
The Generation X Market:
This age grouping oIten reIerred to as Xers, busters or slackers and twenty something
consists oI approximately 46 million 18 to 29 years old who spend about $125 billion yearly.
For Generation X consumers, job satisIaction is typically much more important than salary.
Xers reject the values oI older co-workers who may neglect their Iamilies while striving to
secure higher salaries and career advancement.
Appealing to Generation X:-
Members oI generation X oIten pride themselves on their sophistication. Although they are
not necessarily materialistic, they do purchase good brand name e.g. Sony but not necessarily
designer labels. Xers are not against the advertising but only opposed to insincerity.
The baby boomer Market:
Marketers have Iound baby boomers a particularly desirable target audience because
They are the single largest distinctive age category alive today
2.) they Irequently make important consumers purchase decision; and
They contain a small sub segment oI trend setting consumers who have inIluence on
the consumer taste oI other age segment oI society.
As baby boomers age, the nature oI the products and services they most need or desire
changes. For example, because oI the aging oI this market segment, Levi Strauss is Ieaturing
'relaxed Iit¨ jeans, sales oI 'lineless¨ biIocal glasses to new customers are up substantially,
and sales oI walking shoes have grown rapidly.
Mature and elderly Consumer:-
Baby boomers are starting to hit 50, there are plenty oI pre boomers (i.e. those 45 to 65
years), and the no. oI elderly consumers is growing twice as Iast as the overall United States
Sex as a subculture:-
Consumer products and sex roles
Within every society, it is quite common to Iind products that are either exclusively or
strongly associated with the members oI one sex. In the United States, Ior example, shaving
equipment, cigars, pants, ties, and work clothing were historically male products; bracelets,
hair spray, etc generally were considered Ieminine products.
Despite the Iact the line between 'male only¨ and 1¨Iemale only¨ products has become
blurred in recent years, consumers tend to impute a sex, or gender, to products. For this
reason, advertising executives should consider not only the sex oI their target market but also
the perceived sex oI the product category in the development oI their advertising campaigns.
Cross cultural consumer analysis is deIined as the eIIort to determine to what extent the
consumers oI two or more nations are similar or diIIerent. Such analyses can provide
marketers with an understanding oI the psychological, social, and cultural characteristics oI
the Ioreign consumers they wish to target, so that they can design eIIective marketing
strategies Ior each oI the speciIic national markets involved. Cross cultural analysis might
also include a comparison oI subcultural groups within a single country.
Acculturation is a Needed Marketing Viewpoint
Too many marketers make the strategic error oI believing that 'iI it is liked by local or
domestic consumers, then everyone will like it¨. It reIlects a lack oI appreciation oI the
unique psychological, social, cultural, and environmental characteristics oI distinctly diIIerent
Cross cultural acculturation is a dual process Ior marketers.
First, marketers must thoroughly orient themselves to the values, belieIs, and customs oI the
new society to appropriately position and market their products.
Second, to gain acceptance Ior a culturally new product in a Ioreign society, they must
develop a strategy that encourages members oI that society to modiIy or even break with their
own traditions.
Distinctive Characteristics of Cross - Cultural Analysis
It is oIten diIIicult Ior a company planning to do business in Ioreign country to undertake
cross-cultural consumer research. In Saudi Arabia it is illegal to stop people on the streets,
and Iocus groups are impractical, because most gatherings oI Iour or more people are
Applying Research techniques
Although the same research techniques used to study domestic consumers are useIul in
studying consumers in Ioreign lands, in cross cultural analysis an additional burden exists,
because language and word usage oIten diIIer Irom nation to nation. Another issue in
international marketing research concerns scales oI measurement.
Globalization and cultural consumer behavior
With so much diversity present among the members oI just one nation, it is easy to appreciate
that numerous larger diIIerences may exist between citizens oI diIIerent nations having
diIIerent cultures, values, belieIs and languages. II international marketers are to satisIy the
needs oI consumers in potentially very distinct markets eIIectively, they must understand the
relevant similarities and diIIerences that exist between the peoples oI the countries they
decide to target.
As increasing in no. oI consumers Irom all over the world come in contact with the material
goods and liIestyle oI people living in other countries, and as the no. oI middle class
consumers grows in developing countries, marketers are eager to locate these new customers
and to oIIer them their products.
Some oI the problems involved in cross cultural analysis include diIIerences in language,
consumption patterns, needs, product usage, economic and social conditions, marketing
conditions, and market research opportunities. There is urgent need Ior more systematic and
conceptual cross cultural characteristics concerning the consumption habits oI Ioreign
consumers. Such analyses would identiIy increased marketing opportunities that would
beneIit both international marketers and their targeted consumers.
A culture is a shared template Ior behavior and interpretation. Although people hardly ever
notice their own culture, culture supplies important boundaries on behavior. Culture is
adaptive, dynamic, and patterned. Although there is substantial intra cultural variability, it is
possible to identiIy core values that seem to deIine a culture. Many diIIerent approaches to
measuring cultural values have been developed.
In addition to values, myths, symbols, and rituals also help to deIine culture. Important
consumer behavior in any society can be better understood by reIerencing shared myths and
symbolic meanings. Consumer goods oIten become core blueprints Ior actions and
interpretation. Among diIIerent type oI rituals are those that relate to possessions, grooming,
divestment and exchange. The uses oI ritual objects, oIten consumer product accompany
these rituals.
• Eric Arnould, Linda Price and George Zinkhan, 'Consumers¨, Publisher:Mc Graw
Hill Publication, 1
• Leon G. SchiIIman & Leslie Lazar Kanuk , 'Consumer Behavior¨, Publisher:
Prentice-hall India, 6
• M.S.Raju & Dominique Xardel, 'Consumer Behavior¨.
• Material Given by Mr. Vipul Patel.
• Neeran Gautam & Kokil Jain, 'Consumer Behavior¨, Wisdom Publications.
• Matin Khan, 'Consumer Behavior¨, New Age International Publishers, 2

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