Socio Cultural Environment
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Socio Cultural Environment October 2, 2003. Introduction. Buyer behavior and consumer needs are largely driven by cultural norms. Global business means dealing with consumers, strategic partners, distributors, and competitors with different cultural mindsets.

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Socio Cultural Environment October 2, 2003

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Socio cultural environment october 2 2003

Socio Cultural Environment

October 2, 2003



  • Buyer behavior and consumer needs are largely driven by cultural norms.

  • Global business means dealing with consumers, strategic partners, distributors, and competitors with different cultural mindsets.

  • Within a given culture, consumption processes can include four stages: access, buying behavior, consumption characteristics, and disposal.

  • Each of these stages is heavily influenced by the culture in which the consumer thrives.

Socio cultural environment october 2 2003

Why talk about culture?

„differences between national cultures create important opportunities for growth and development, but also can cause serious problems if they are not understood“ (Mead 1998)

Social cultural Environment includes social interactions between large groups of people seeped in their culture, sub-culture, social class

Socio cultural environment october 2 2003

Why talk about culture?

When General Motors introduced the Chevy Nova in South America, it was unaware that in Spanish „no va“ means it won‘t go.

  • When Pepsi started marketing its products in China a few years back, they translated their slogan, "Pepsi Brings You Back to Life" pretty literally. The slogan in Chinese really meant, "Pepsi Brings Your Ancestors Back from the Grave."

Socio cultural environment october 2 2003

Why talk about culture?

Clairol, introduced the "Mist Stick", a curling iron, into Germany only to find out that mist is slang for trash, waste or manure.

The Scandinavian vacuum manufacturer Electrolux used the following in an American campaign:

Nothing sucks like an


Socio cultural environment october 2 2003

Why talk about culture?

Colgate introduced a a toothpaste in France called CUE, the name of a notorious porno magazine

Adapting to cultures

Adapting to Cultures

  • Global marketers need to become sensitive to cultural biases that influence their thinking, behavior, and decision making.

  • Self-reference criterion (SRC): Refers to the people’s unconscious tendency to resort to their own cultural experience and value systems to interpret a given business situation.

  • Ethnocentrism refers to the feeling of one’s own cultural superiority.

Culture and the marketing mix

Culture and the Marketing Mix

Culture influences market place decisions.

  • Product Policy

  • Pricing:

  • Distribution:

  • Promotion:

Organizational cultures

Organizational Cultures

  • Organizational Culture: Most companies are characterized by their organizational (corporate) culture - Clan culture, Adhocracy culture, Hierarchy culture, Market culture

Socio cultural environment october 2 2003

What is culture?

  • “Culture consists of patterns, explicit and implicit, of and for behaviour acquired and transmitted by symbols, constituting the distinctive achievements of human groups, including their embodiments in artefacts; the essential core of culture consists of traditional (i.e. historically derived and selected) ideas and especially their attached values; culture systems may, on the one hand, be considered as products of action, and on the other as conditioning elements of further action." (Kroeber 1952).

  • „Culture is a set of beliefs or standards, shared by a group of people, which help the individual decide what is, what can be, how to feel, what to do and how to go about doing it (Goodenough 1971).

  • Cultures may be defined as patterns of thought and manners which are widely shared. The boundaries of the social collectivity within which this sharing takes place are problematic so that it may make as much sense to refer to a class or regional culture as to a national culture (Child and Kieser 1977).

Defining culture

Defining Culture

  • There are numerous definitions of culture.

  • Culture (in a business setting) is defined as being a learned, shared, compelling, interrelated set of symbols whose meanings provide a set of orientations for members of society.

  • Cultures may be defined by national borders, especially when countries are isolated by natural barriers.

  • Cultures contain subcultures that have little in common with one another.

Elements of culture

Elements of Culture

Culture consists of many interrelated components. Knowledge of a culture requires a deep understanding of its different parts. Following are the elements of culture:

Value System (values shape people’s norms and standards)

Language(language has two parts: the spoken and the silent language)

Social Interaction (social interactions among people; nuclear family, extendedfamily; reference groups

Elements of culture contd

Elements of Culture (contd.)

Aesthetics (ideas and perceptions that a culture upholds in terms of beauty and good taste)

Religion (community’s set of beliefs that relate to a reality that cannot be verified empirically)

Education (One of the major vehicles to transfer value from one generation to the next)

Material life (technologies that are used to produce, distribute, and consume goods and services)

Socio cultural environment october 2 2003

Sources of culture??





Group (ethnicity)




Social class

Cross cultural comparisons

Cross-Cultural Comparisons

Cultures differ from one another, but usually share certain aspects.

High-context cultures: Interpretation of messages rests on contextual cues.

Low-context cultures: Put the most emphasis on the written or spoken words.

Monochronic culture: Do one thing at a time; well organized; tend to be punctual.

Polychronic culture: Tend to do several things at once; less organized; less rigid and punctual.

Cross cultural comparisons contd

Cross-Cultural Comparisons (contd.)

Homophilous cultures: People share the same belief, speak the same language and practice the same religion.

Heterophilous cultures: Cultures with amount of differentiation

Cultural classification scheme

Cultural Classification Scheme

Geert Hofstede’s Cultural Classification Scheme :

  • Power distance: The degree of inequality among people that is viewed as being equitable.

  • Uncertainty avoidance: The extent to which people in a given culture prefer structured situations with clear rules over unstructured ones.

  • Individualism: The degree to which people prefer to act as individuals rather than group members.

  • Masculinity: The importance of “male” values (assertiveness, success, competitive drive, achievement) versus “female” values (solidarity, quality of life).

  • Long-term orientation versus short-term focus: Future versus past and present orientations.

Aesthetics and color

What do you associate with Red?

Active, hot, vibrant

Weddings in some Asian cultures

Poorly received in African countries

Aesthetics and Color

  • With white?

  • Purity, cleanliness

  • Death in parts of Asia

Dietary preferences

Dietary Preferences

  • Would you eat…..

    • Reindeer (Finland)

    • Rabbit, Escargot (France)

    • Rice, soup, and grilled fish for breakfast (Japan)

    • Kimchi (Korea)

    • Blood sausage (Germany) or Rakti (Nepal)

    • Guinea Pig (Ecuador)

    • Ox tail soup, Tongue, Tripe (England)

Dietary preferences1

Dietary Preferences

  • Procure 2 fresh ox-tails, cut each joint after dividing them into inch lengths with a small meat-saw, steep them in water for two hours and then place them in a stewpan with 3 carrots, 8 turnips 3 onions, 2 heads of celery, 4 cloves, and a blade of mace. Fill up the stewpan with broth from the boiling stockpot, boil this by the side of the stove fire till done, drain the pieces of ox-tail on a large sieve, allow them to cool,, trim them neatly, and place them in a soup pot. Clarify the broth the ox-tails were boiled in strain it through a napkin into a basin, and then pour it into the soup pot containing the trimmed pieces of oxtails, and also some small olive-shaped pieces of carrot and turnip that have been boiled in a little of the broth, and a small lump of sugar, add a pinch of pepper, and previously to sending the soup to table let it boil gently by the side of the stove fire for a few minutes. This soup may be served also in various other ways, by adding thereto a puree of any sort of vegetables, such for instance as a puree of peas, carrots, turnips, celery, lentils. Ox tail soup, Tongue, Tripe (England)

Dietary preferences2

Dietary Preferences

Creamy Garlic EscargotIngredients:    4 sheets phyllo dough4 teaspoons butter or margarine, melted32 helix snails, without shells4 egg yolks4 tablespoons butter or margarine2 tablespoons minced garlic1 quart heavy creamsalt and pepper to tasteDirections:1 Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly spray a cupcake pan with non-stick cooking spray. 2 Place the phyllo dough on a flat surface and brush each sheet with the melted butter. Layer the sheets on top of one another and cut the pile into fours. Push each piece of dough into a cupcake pan, forming cups with the dough. 3 Bake the phyllo cups for 10 to 15 minutes, until golden. 4 Drain the snails and rinse them with running water until the liquid runs clear. In a small bowl, mix together the egg yolks and heavy cream. 5 Heat a saute pan, add 4 tablespoons of butter, the garlic and then the snails. Saute for a couple of minutes and then add half of the heavy cream mixture. Bring to a boil and season with the salt and pepper. The sauce will thicken while cooling. 6 Remove the phyllo cups from the muffin tins. Place a phyllo cup on a plate or bowl and put 8 escargot in the cup and flowing out of the cup. Pour the sauce in the cup over the escargot.

  • Makes 4 servings

High and low context cultures

High Context

Information resides in context

Emphasis on background, basic values

Less emphasis on legal paperwork

Focus on personal reputation

Saudi Arabia, Japan

High and Low Context Cultures

  • Low Context

    • Messages are explicit and specific

    • Words carry all information

    • Reliance on legal paperwork

    • Focus on non-personal documentation of credibility

  • Switzerland, US, Germany

Cross cultural negotiations

Cross-Cultural Negotiations

  • Conducting successful cross-cultural negotiations is a key ingredient for many international business transactions.

Socio cultural environment october 2 2003

Flows of Influence in Social Environment



Social Class




Reference Groups

Individual consumers

Two approaches to understanding cultural influences

Two Approaches to Understanding Cultural Influences

  • Examine its “content”

    • includes characteristic behaviors, norms, goals, values, traditions, customs etc.

  • Examine its “structure”

    • how content is generated and distributed in the culture, i.e., the “structure” of culture.

Measuring cultural content

Measuring Cultural Content

  • Content Analysis:

    • examine objects produced by the culture such as arts, advertisements, comic books, literature, movies, products etc.

  • Ethnographic Fieldwork:

    • observe consumers’ emotional, cognitive and behavioral responses in ordinary lives and interpret meanings.

  • Measure Values (Rokeach, VALS) and Core Values

Some core american values

Some Core American Values

  • Achievement and success

  • Activity

  • Efficiency

  • Progress

  • Material comfort

  • Individualism

  • Freedom

  • External conformity or Need to fit in.

  • Humanitarianism

  • Youthfulness

  • Fitness and Health

Culture as a process

Culture as a Process

  • Examines how cultural meanings are moved from different aspects of the society.

  • Assumes that cultural meanings reside in:

    • the social and physical environment

    • products and services

    • individual consumers

  • Marketing strategies move meanings from environment to products and consumption rituals move meanings from products to consumers.

Socio cultural environment october 2 2003

Cultural Process

Cultural meaning in social and

physical environment







Cultural meaning in products and services

Consumption Rituals

Consumption meanings generated by consumers

Social interactions

Intentional actions

Role of marketing strategies

Role of Marketing Strategies

  • Advertising uses symbols (slice of life from small-town America) to transfer meanings from the society to products (Chevrolet, the Heartbeat of America).

    • symbols are words, objects, events, images that “stand for something” and widely accepted by the members of the culture.

  • Price may signify status

  • Product design (the PT Cruiser from Chrysler)

Products acquire cultural meanings

Products Acquire Cultural Meanings

  • Polo

  • Virginia Slims, Camel

  • Marlboro Man

  • Coca-Cola versus Un-cola

  • Dockers

  • Volkswagen – beetle/bug

  • J.C.Penney Vs. Wal-Mart Vs. Nordstrom or Saks

Moving meanings from product to consumer rituals

Moving Meanings from Product to Consumer: Rituals

  • Symbolic actions performed by consumers to create, affirm, evoke, or revise cultural meanings

    • Acquisition rituals

    • Possession rituals including product nurturing and personalizing rituals

    • Exchange rituals

    • Grooming rituals

    • Divestment rituals

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