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Inventing the Future, Honoring the Past

Integrating Integrity into IMC lynn upshaw Generations of Consumers and the Consumer Generated pradeep kumar, michelle hsiao & barry chiu Unauthorized Verses chris barrows Using Events to Drive an Integrated Marketing Model mary fehrnstrom & david m. rich Adapting IMC to Emerging Markets: Importance of Cultural Values in the Indian Context s. ramesh kumar Beyond the Last Click: Measuring ROI and Consumer Engagement with Clickstream Analysis megan halscheid, micheline sabatt & sejal sura The Next Generation of the IMC Database: Confessions of a Believer chuck sharp B2B and B2C Marketing: Organizing to Maximize Brand Value wendy c. wong Heavy Buyers: Are They Even More Important Than Generally Thought? deb rapacz & martin reilly

Journal of

integrated marketing communications

S. Ramesh Kumar

importance of cultural valueS in the indian context by S. Ramesh Kumar

With 205.9 million households, India has become an economic powerhouse and captured the marketing attention of multinational corporations around the world. However, the adoption of IMC has been hindered in this emerging market because of the complexities of targeting communications appropriately to Indias diverse set of cultural values. The brands that have succeeded ensure their advertisements are relevant to both the traditional and modern Indian lifestyles without alienating one for the sake of the other.

adapting imc to emerging marketS:


Professor Geert Hofstede, influential Dutch writer and professor emeritus from Maastricht University defined culture as the mental programming of people in an environment. He expressed culture as a combination of symbols, heroes, rituals and values. This combination of factors is useful in evaluating cross-cultural messaging. As an emerging economy, with per capita incomes only seven percent of those in emerged economies, Indias complex cultural and geographic factors challenge the integrated marketing communications (IMC) framework. India reflects its cultural diversity in its twentyseven states and emerging subcultures. Young, upwardly-mobile Indians, those under 21 years -old, comprise 40 percent of Indias consumer base. The explosion of mass media and the aspirations of young consumers operate against the backdrop of strong traditional cultures. Advertisements have shown great innova38
Journal of Integrated Marketing Communications 2009

tion in communicating brand messaging within traditional and contemporary cultural dimensions. In addition to cultural overtones finding a place in advertising, some product categories are culturally oriented. Advertising messages within such product categories require cultural and customer-centric considerations. As the following analysis of mainstream advertising campaigns will demonstrate, IMC messaging must carefully negotiate the role of tradition and modernity in brand messages.

The eclectic Indian context

India is a country of contrasts, segmented by lifestyle, socio-economic structure, geography and traditionalism. Nearly 74 percent of Indians live in villages. Villages are a broad category of community encompassing highly diverse population segments. Members of each lifestyle group purchase

Adapting IMC to Emerging Markets

Figure 1

Number of households 100.1 million 91.3 million 10.9 million 2.4 million 1.2 million

Lifestyle Deprived Aspirers Seekers Strivers Global Indians

Family Income per year ($US) Less than $1,969 per year $1,969 to $4,376 $4,376 to $10,941 $10,941 to $21,882 Earn more than $21,882
region-specific content, which complicates the integration process.

within similar product categories. However, these consumers also exhibit important cultural differences within socio-economic peer groups (see Figure 1). The segmentation criterion above does not account for different subcultures, as these households are spread throughout the country in both metropolitan and rural areas. Within this geographic segmentation, language variations take on a great deal of importance. Hindi is the national language of India, yet many upwardly mobile consumers speak Hindi and English. Some areas of the country speak no Hindi and advertising must employ local dialects in all branding activities. Thus, a successful national advertising campaign requires multiple translations and

Cultural values in the Indian context

Recent research published in the Autumn 2007 edition of The Marketing Review identified relevant cultural values for marketing in India (see Figure 2). These values are categorized according to culturally-specific needs: allegiance to traditionalism, a need for belonging and contemporary values that are more likely to embrace western culture, and the forces of globalization. The ritual setting is the context portrayed by a brands communication and creates a specific

Figure 2
Nuclear Family Uncertainty avoidance Honor Conservatism Ethnocentrism Individualism Time orientation Need for affiliation Group emphasis Social orientation Gifting trends Achievement-seeking Prosperity-seeking Innovation Use of conspicuous Western symbols Celebrity orientation Neo-mindset orientation

Immediate family consisting of spouse and children Choosing not to deal with the unfamiliar Not over-spending to ensure no debt is incurred Not wanting to lead a fashionable lifestyle Preference of ones own culture over others Specific desire to project oneself as an individual person Nostalgia for the past Sense of belonging with others Tendency to be in groups for both formal and informal gatherings Choosing a lifestyle that reflects ones personality Desire to give gifts on various social occasions Strong desire to be successful Desire to acquire materialistic possessions Desire to experiment with brands and products Usage of Western brands and products Influence by celebrities in purchase decisions Desire to break conventions
Journal of Integrated Marketing Communications 2009



Contemporary Values


S. Ramesh Kumar

perception in the mind of the consumer. For example, the Titan watch is positioned as a gift in several situations involving relationships of romance and warmth. The gift-giving ritual setting creates the gifting-brand association. The brand advertisements chosen have cultural values that are dominant in the marketing communication context. The ritual setting also differentiates which cultural values are being portrayed in the advertisement. There are categories where utilitarianism is not very explicit. Such brands are driven by hedonic motivation rather than utilitarianism. The ritual setting may be more pronounced to project the cultural values in the advertisement.

Analysis of advertisements in the Indian context: Frequently used product categories

Analysis of advertisements in fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) was made using the values identified in Figures 3 and 4 and the concept of ritual setting. When the product is used in a specific setting, the consumer derives meaning from the communication. These settings can vary from brand to brand but must be formulated based on the brands target segment. An IMC strategy should project a consistent image of the brand through synergized communication in various media channels. This is more important in the digital era when connectivity, convergence and social networking impact consumers. The challenge for the IMC strategy is to have the right balance, not only with regard to cultural values and ritual setting, but also how they are conveyed across channels to convey consistent and coherent brand image over a period of time. Cultural values are important brand differentiators in emerging markets with heterogeneous consumer groups. The artful combination of cultural values and IMC tactics will deliver a pioneering marketing exercise for any brand entering an emerging market. Advertisement analysis Fair & Lovely (bleaching cream) This brand from Unilever India has an advertisement that portrays the desire of a middle-class girl to become a cricket commentator. The girl eventually succeeds, making her family happy. Success is made possible through use of Fair & Lovely which contributes to her self-confidence. The girl becomes a leading cricket commentator, winning the admiration of a well-known cricket

Figure 3
Values Identified

Ritual Setting Cricket Middle-class dreams Family happiness Western ideal of beauty

Family bonding Individualism Respect for work Self esteem Achievement seeking

Journal of Integrated Marketing Communications 2009

Adapting IMC to Emerging Markets

Fair & Lovely, the facial fairness cream, inspires young Indian women to enhance their lifestyle through its proposition of confidence.

celebrity. Incidentally, cricket commentary, until recently, has been an exclusively male activity. Awareness of cultural values, particularly the association of achievement by lightening ones skin, is a compelling message that foreign advertisers might avoid. This is one manifestation of Indias aspirational and socio-demographic values. Sunrise (coffee) This Nestle brand aims advertisements at young, urban married couples. The advertisement shows a young couple shopping in a department store when the husband gets a phone call and informs his wife that his elderly uncle and aunt, who were unable to attend their wedding, have come to their home to visit. In India, it is customary for the wife to treat relatives of her husband with reverence. In the first scene, the wife wears a western outfit. She

nervously signals the husband to receive the traditional, elderly couple at their home and climbs through the window of the house to be unseen. She quickly changes into traditionally ethnic dress and make-up and presents herself to the elderly couple. She serves coffee to her elders, which is appreciated. The wife then obtains the blessings of the elderly couple by prostrating before them. Respecting elders and getting their blessings after falling at their feet is a strong part of Indian tradition. The ritual of preparing good coffee is also associated with elderly housewives and traditional cooking. Stereotypes of the elderly have become more pronounced in the urban context, especially due to the nuclear family structure in cities where both the husband and wife work outside the home. This advertisement connects the role that coffee plays in contemporary rituals where an independent, modern woman satisfies her personal need for independence as well as her Ritual Setting Urban Modern couple Traditional apparel Western apparel Preparation of traditional coffee

Figure 4
Values Identified Nominalism Conservatism Personal grooming Social orientation New mindset

Journal of Integrated Marketing Communications 2009

S. Ramesh Kumar

familys resistance to contemporary norms.

Inferences with regard to cultural values in advertisements

In an emerging market like India, an IMC strategy should be formulated taking into consideration the values associated with the culture. The analysis of advertisements shows that there are specific cultural values that most of the advertisements use. These values may be called cultural interface values as they serve to integrate marketing communication with the prevalent culture. As these advertisements suggest, Indian society is primarily divided by the dueling values of traditionalism and modernity. A successful campaign will appease both lifestyles without alienating one for the sake of the other.

Dr. S. Ramesh Kumar is a professor at the Indian Institute of Management in Bangalore, India. He has a mix of industrial and teaching experience of about 27 years. He was awarded ICFAI Best Teacher Award by the Association for Indian Management Schools (AIMS). He has published/co-authored papers in many journals of repute and these include Journal of Customer Behavior, Journal of Brand Management, The Marketing Review and Ivey Business Journal, besides presenting papers in international academic conferences (including conferences of the American Marketing Association). He has published four books on marketing/ consumer behavior in the Indian context. He can be reached at

1. Bijarpurkar, R. We are Like That Only. India: Penguin Books, 2007. 2. de Mooji, M. Global Marketing and Advertising. Sage Publications, 1997. 3. Kumar, R.S., Guruvayurappan, N. & Banerjee, M. Cultural Values and Branding in an Emerging MarketThe Indian Context, The Marketing Review, 7:247-272, 2007. 4. Mahajan, V. & Banga, K. The 86% Solution: How to Succeed in the Biggest Market Opportunity of the 21st Century. Pearson Power, 2006. 5. Prahalad, C.K. Delivering Value through Unique Experience, Times Business, 30 Apr. 2008. 6. Rook, D.W. The Ritual Dimension of Consumer Behavior, Journal of Consumer Research 12: 251-264, 1985.


Journal of Integrated Marketing Communications 2009