Culture and Its Effects on Consumer Behaviour
It consists of conventional patterns of thought and behaviour, including values, beliefs, rules of conduct, political organization, economic activity, and the like, which are passed on from one generation to the next by learning- and not by biological inheritance’. It can be said that culture is a very important factor that affects a person’s behavior and perception, consequently affecting marketing strategies of companies. The following are some important characteristics of culture: 1. Culture is comprehensive: this implies that all parts of a culture should fit together in a logical manner 2.
Culture is learned: we are not born with culture; it is learnt and shared with others and with the different institutions that we encounter over the course of our lives. 3. Culture is manifested within boundaries of acceptable behaviour: failure to behave within the prescribed norms may lead to punishment for example: being arrested by the police for indecent exposure in public (such as nudity) or being laughed at by other people for wearing a suit on the beach 4. Culture can be static or dynamic: for example, US culture has changed a great deal since the 1950s however in Saudi Arabia culture has remained essentially unchanged. Perner, L. , 2008) Culture exists in multiple forms: it could be of an organization (corporate culture), of an entire country (National culture), or of a group of people within the country (subculture). A subculture consists of people who share common demographics, social characteristics or values. Subcultures can be segmented based on ethnicity, age, social class, geography, etc. Examples of sub cultures include Hispanic people living in the USA, High school groups, Goths, and Punks.
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Consumer behavior is the study of how people buy, consume and dispose of products. It is influenced to a large extent by social factors, such as culture, family relationships, and some other aspects of the external environment. Culture greatly influences consumer behavior; it contains the common meanings and socially constructed values that are acknowledged by the majority of members of a society or a social group. Culture includes factors such as shared values, beliefs, norms, attitudes, affective reactions, cognitive beliefs, and patterns of behavior.
Advertising has a big effect on our perceptions and values; Today we have an advertisement-induced version of culture that lacks realism and gives rise to images which are anything but true. Advertisements no longer give us a chance to develop our authentic self; all of us try to be like someone we see in advertisements. For example, many young girls would love to dress up like Britney Spears or other celebrities even if they do not particularly like their style. This imitation happens because media tells girls that Spears is the ultimate image or symbol of what is considered “contemporary” in our society.
Authentic self, therefore, turns out to be buried under a mass of false cultural values. Advertising is intricately connected with the principle of consumption, which states that a large number of consumers buy anything that advertisements say is good for them, including culture and value. Authentic refers to the quality of a person to stay unaffected by what he/she sees in ads or TV commercials. When the society is not influenced by advertisements, it becomes capable of developing its own authentic self. Similarly, what we get today in the form of culture is also profoundly influenced by media, more specifically advertisements.
For example, smoking used to be seen as something “cool” because the tobacco industry paid numerous actors to smoke in movies. Thus, smokers were seen as “cool” and outgoing in a lot of western societies. Culture influences consumer purchasing decisions: what to buy, how much to buy, where to buy, suitable prices at which to buy, how often to buy. Culture also influences the hierarchy of effects, which is the sequence of steps a consumer passes through from the initial exposure to a product or advertisement to the purchase decision.
The steps are * Awareness * Interest * Evaluation * Conviction * Purchase An attitude is a learned predisposition to respond to an object or class of object in a consistently favourable or unfavourable way; this behaviour is widely influenced by culture. Attitudes influence our beliefs. Low involvement purchasing differs from one culture to another because people from different cultures do not evaluate things in the same way. This consumer attitude can cause marketers to change strategies, influencing them on how to promote a product.
For example, a food that is not consumed in Western society and seen as disgusting may be consumed regularly or may even be a luxury good in other societies, e. g. insects. On a daily basis, consumers face problem recognition which happens when a consumer sees the difference between a current state and an ideal state. This ideal state varies from one culture to another. For example, in US society the ideal state is to have a lot of money and to try to possess the biggest and best goods; however, in Scandinavian society, the ideal state is based more on happiness and comfort.
Marketers need to have a broad knowledge of the differences and similarities of various cultures in order to develop effective marketing methods that successfully reach target markets. If a product is not consistent with local culture, it may not find any buyers. Although consumption occurs globally, the value that consumers perceive from buying and using a certain product differs across cultures. Therefore, when businesses market their products abroad, culture is a problematic issue because it is inherently obscure and often difficult to understand.
One may unconsciously violate the cultural norms of another country (and people from other cultures may feel uncomfortable in each other’s presence). For example, in the Muslim tradition, the dog is considered as a “dirty” animal, therefore, depicting it as “man’s best friend” in an advertisement could be offensive in countries such as Turkey, Morocco, the Maldives and others. Symbols are another issue in some countries since they can be different in meaning. For example, while white symbols purity in the U. S. , it is a symbol of death in China.
Hence, marketers need to be very careful when making an advertisement in order to be able to successfully attract customers. Part 2 Advertisement 1 http://www. youtube. com/watch? v=excxIZ4wUvg&feature=related The first commercial is from Malaysia, a South East Asian country, which has a 60. 4% Muslim population. Malaysia is currently experiencing high economic growth. The ad is based on cultural references and shows different cultural aspects. This ad displays the main cultural differences by advertising Sunsilk shampoo by using a woman who wears a hijab; therefore her hair is not once in the commercial.
However, we observe that after using this hair product, the way she sees herself and acts changes. People start noticing her and they see that she behaves differently compared to before. Most of the action takes place in a library (representing a serious environment) and the lady looks serious, reserved and shy, which conforms more with what is expected by the consumer behaviour of this society. In contrast, in the Canadian culture, people will tend to buy more if the ad contains an outgoing woman who is not ashamed of revealing her beauty. This commercial demonstrates the significant impact of a culture on different advertisements.
The customers targeted are from a conservative Muslim country, because of this, the advertiser takes concern that they have to respect the different values that are present in this culture. In the Malaysian commercial, there is concern about showing her hair. Consumer behaviour influences how marketers make their commercials. The customer will certainly be offended, if the commercial was one such as those from western society, depicting outgoing women attracting many men, since culture is one of the major aspects that can determine the reaction of the viewer.
The Sunsilk TV ad was not completely appealing to everybody; it was mostly attracting a specific segment of the market, a traditional culture. However, women are the ones who would like to try to use this hair product in order to have silky and shiny hair, so it does not necessarily have to be a religious person to use this brand’s shampoo. Three out of four of the factors of the 4 Ps were also emphasized in this commercial. Those are: product, place and promotion. The audience becomes informed that the product, which was used by the main character in the commercial, has natural ingredients.
Even if the woman is wearing a hijab, the marketers can promote Sunsilk’s hair product without even being able to see its effects. In the beginning, the woman felt uncomfortable with her hair, but after using the shampoo, she starts to feel great, calm and at the same time more confident. At the end of the commercial, the commentator says: “With our shampoo you will feel more comfortable”; and that is exactly how the woman felt after trying this hair product. Even without showing her hair, people know how the shampoo repairs and moisturizes it Advertisements 2 & 3
Another ad that we analyzed is the picture of the woman who show only her eyes and hairs. This ad is mainly concentrating on woman’s eyes. It does not even fully show her face. By revealing only two aspects of woman face, the eyes and the hair, this ad reminds us of the burka, which is the formal dress for women in very conservative Islamic countries. Because the target market is a conservative Muslims, the marketers tried not to upset the potential customers by concentrating on the tint of the hair and how the beauty is expressed by the eyes, instead of showing feminine beauty as we are used to in our society.
The consumers of the country where this ad has been shown is more prudish, faithful to some religious beliefs. It would probably be shocking and even create bad reinforcement to show more aspect of the beauty of the women as shown in many others countries where it will be a better way to promote the products. The eyes of the model is what catches first in this poster. It is supposed to reveal the real beauty and personality of the women in this type of society. The impression that the picture leave us is that by using this shampoo, our eyes would become deeper and more attractive.
In contrast, the other advertisement, which targets the more liberal western society, focuses on grabbing the public’s attention by showing the cleavage of two women. The ad is supposed to be for shampoo, but you don’t even notice this at first. The picture of the shampoo is placed in the corner of the ad. The brand could have focused more on hair or the effects of the shampoo on the hair to attract the attention of consumers, but instead, by using V-neck tops, which expose the breast that attracts the eyes of viewers. Here, the emphasis is not on what the shampoo does to one’s hair.
Instead of informing the consumer about the benefits of the shampoo, the ad is creating reinforcement in the brain of the consumers. This ad is targeted towards a country where sex appeal is very important socially. By using women, who in western society are perceived to be “sexy”, the marketers are trying to tell individuals that they will be “sexy” if they use this brand of shampoo. If we were to take the two advertisements and switch the countries these were shown in, consumers might not feel like purchasing the product.
For example, if the Pantene shampoo advertisement was seen in some Muslim country, the viewers of the poster might feel ashamed or even embarrassed after seeing it; the image would definitely cause outrage, whereas in countries like England or the United States, it is common to see pictures of half naked women. Advertisement 4 http://www. youtube. com/watch? v=6m7ZOIwVyCw The Other Swedish commercial focuses on humor. The culture is more liberal, so the ad shows a nudity scene of two men taking their showers. The commercial takes place in a common shower which is unusual place for a commercial in a more conservative society.
The first main action is a man looking at a women showering in another bathroom which can be considered as a perverted act. The Swedish culture, however, tolerates this kind of behaviour, but many cultures would repress this kind of attitude. The second main action shows the other man accidently putting his bottle of shampoo on the other man’s genitals because the shampoo blinded him. The fact that sexuality is put in the commercial in a funny way, plus the atmosphere that is created by the jingles, shows that the culture has very liberal customs and is really humour oriented.
By using jokes the advertiser creates a nice feeling about the brand because it is associated with a good moment reinforcing this shampoo in the brain of the customers. However, this consumer behaviour can only happen because of the culture predisposition. Conclusion Culture is major influence on a person’s values, attitudes, and lifestyle. Sometimes it is easy to forget how important the role of culture is in creation of advertisements. Depending on the culture that they belong to, people will see, evaluate, and make decisions differently. What is acceptable in one culture may not be in another.
In order to be successful, marketers need to be aware of cultural differences and adapt their advertisements to suit different cultures. The first part of this project discusses the theoretical application of culture in the study of consumer behaviour and the second part provides examples that reinforce the theoretical applications discussed in the first part. After analyzing various commercials and advertisements we realized that culture and consumer behaviour are very closely tied together and that marketers have to know the habits, values, and behaviour of their target audience in order to better communicate the product brand.