International marketers believe that consumers would increasingly
resemble each other and that they will eat the same food, wear same clothes, l
watch the same television programs to an increasing proportion. But the reality is
Therefore, to trade in international markets, man must overcome the large
cultural and economic boundaries. Not only improve the worldwide competition
in the market also different traditional beliefs, preferences, habits, customs are
needed to be understood.
Culture involves society's thoughts, words, their traditions, language,
materials, attitudes and feelings. One of the elements that make culture is
beliefs. Beliefs of the people in a community can show similarities. For example,
four, and four times in Japan are seen as unlucky, because of that most products
are sold in groups of five leads.
Another element of culture, tradition, is related with non-verbal behaviour
of individuals. In France the men use more cosmetic products than the women,
which shows the self-conscious tradition of the French men
As a result, learning of cultural properties in the analysis of consumer
behavior has been an important variable in marketing, especially in market
segmentation, target market and product positioning.
Table of Contents
Topic Page Number
What is Culture 5
What is Consumer Behavior 6-7
Role of culture, in understanding the consumer behavior 8
Why it is important for marketers to understand the cultural
Impact on consumer behavior 9-10
Consumer behavior is largely dependent on cultural factors consisting of
mutually shared operating procedures, unstated assumptions, tools, norms,
values, standards for perceiving, believing, evaluating, and communicating.
Cultural factors vary by country but become increasingly complex when
people immigrate to foreign countries that have different cultural dimensions. In
these situations, people are subjected to a wide variety of cultural reference
groups that ultimately affect their purchase behavior. In addition, reference
groups may consist of familial groups or external peer groups with each group
providing specific and often conflicting information that affects purchase and
In response, marketers must develop marketing communication that
addresses cultural and reference group factors from both a domestic and global
perspective. To this end, marketers use market segmentation and
micromarketing to develop customer-centric marketing messages with the goal of
providing precisely defined marketing messages that satisfy consumer’s need for
personal information regarding products and services so that consumers should
be adequately stimulated to purchase the product or service being advertised.
We define culture as the sum total of learned beliefs, values, and customs
that serve to direct the consumer behavior of members of a particular society
(Consumer Behavior, Shiffman and Kanuk)
In a broad sense both values and beliefs are mental images that effect a
wide range of specific attitudes that, in turn, influence the way a person uses to
evaluate alternative brands in a product category (such as Volvo versus an Audi
automobile), or his or her eventual preference for one of these brands over the
other, are influenced by both a person’s general values (perceptions as to what
constitutes quality and the meaning of country of origin) and specific beliefs
(particular, perceptions about the quality of Swedish made versus German made
In contrast to beliefs and values, customs are usual and acceptable ways of
behaving, where the former are guides for behavior.
E.g.- Consumer’s routine behavior, such as adding a diet sweetener to
coffee, putting ketchup on scrambled eggs etc…..
What is Consumer Behavior
Consumer behavior is the study of individuals,
groups, or organizations and the processes they use
to select, secure, and dispose of products, services,
experiences, or ideas to satisfy needs and the
impacts that these processes have on the consumer
and society. It blends elements from
psychology, sociology, social anthropology and econ
omics. It attempts to understand the buyer decision
making process, both individually and in groups. It
studies characteristics of individual consumers such
as demographics and behavioral variables in an
attempt to understand people's wants. It also tries to assess influences on
the consumer from groups such as family, friends, reference groups, and society
Customer behavior study is based on consumer buying behavior, with the
customer playing the three distinct roles of user, payer and buyer. Research has
shown that consumer behavior is difficult to predict, even for experts in the
field. Relationship marketing is an influential asset for customer behavior analysis
as it has a keen interest in the re-discovery of the true meaning of marketing
through the re-affirmation of the importance of the customer or buyer. A greater
importance is also placed on consumer retention, customer relationship
management, personalization, customization and one-to-one marketing. Social
functions can be categorized into social choice and welfare functions.
Black box model
ENVIRONMENTAL FACTORS BUYER'S BLACK BOX
The black box model shows the interaction of stimuli, consumer characteristics,
decision process and consumer responses. It can be distinguished between
interpersonal stimuli (between people) or intrapersonal stimuli (within
people). The black box model is related to the black box theory of behaviorism,
where the focus is not set on the processes inside a consumer, but the
relation between the stimuli and the response of the consumer.
The marketing stimuli are planned and processed by the companies, whereas the
environmental stimulus is given by social factors, based on the economical,
political and cultural circumstances of a society. The buyer’s black box contains
the buyer characteristics and the decision process, which determines the buyer’s
The black box model considers the buyers response as a result of a conscious,
rational decision process, in which it is assumed that the buyer has recognized the
problem. However, in reality many decisions are not made in awareness of a
determined problem by the consumer.
Role of culture in understanding the market behavior of the
This model depicts the role that subjective culture plays in
determining our beliefs, practices, and values, which in turn impact our social
norms, attitudes, behavioral intentions and ultimately our behavior.
Subjective culture reflects regional character (e.g. – People
living in several nations in a particular region of South America) and religious
similarities or differences, or shared or different languages, national factors, such
as shared core values, customs, personalities, and group level factors are
concerned with various subdivisions of a country or society (e.g. - families, work
groups, shopping groups, friendship groups) and many more factors.
Why it is important for marketers to understand the cultural
impact on Consumer Behavior
Because culture satisfies needs
Culture exists to satisfy the needs of the people within a
society. It offers order, direction and guidance in all phases of human
problem solving by providing ‘tried and true’ methods of satisfying
physiological, personal, and social needs.
e.g.:- Culture provides standards and ‘rules’ about when to
eat, where to eat, what is appropriate to eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner…
Because culture is learned
Unlike innate biological characteristics, culture is learned.
The three distinct forms of cultural learning are formal learning, informal
learning and technical learning.
Although a firm’s advertising and marketing communications
can influence all three types of cultural learning, it is likely that many
product marketing messages enhance informal learning by providing the
audience with a model of behavior to imitate.
Because of Acculturation
Acculturation is an important concept for marketers who
plan to sell their products in foreign or multinational markets. In such cases,
marketers must study the specific cultures of their potential target markets
to determine whether their products will be acceptable to its members and
if so, how they can best communicate the characteristics of their products
to persuade the target market to buy.
When using Language and Symbols
To communicate effectively with their audiences, marketers
must use appropriate symbols to convey desired product images or
characteristics. These symbols can be verbal or nonverbal.
A symbol may have several, even contradictory meanings, so
the advertiser must ascertain exactly what the symbol is communicating to
its intended audience.
When facilitating Rituals
Most important from the standpoint of marketers is the fact
that rituals tend to be replete with ritual artifacts that are associated with
or somehow enhance the performance of the ritual.
Because culture is shared
Various social institutions within a society transmit the
elements of culture and make the sharing of culture a reality. Such
institutions are family, educational institutions, houses of worship and most
importantly mass media. Because consumers receive important cultural
information from advertising.
Because culture is dynamic
To fulfill its need gratifying role, culture continually must
evolve if it is to function in the best interests of a society. For this reason,
the marketer must carefully monitor the socio-cultural environment in
order to market an existing product more effectively.
As it has been seen and said before, the world is
becoming more and more globalize. People tend to have the same needs
and wishes and that is why in some cases, companies may have the
possibility to produce the same items and the same advertising
campaigns for its international consumers. However, thanks to the
analysis previously done, it has been realized that strong differences
remain according to the cultures of the citizens.
Companies must understand these differences,
especially when they sell products that can be considering as chocking
by the population. If they understand them and learn how consumers
think according to their cultures, they will be able to produce good ways
of communication and sell their products properly.