Cultural Issues and International Marketing Communications

Communication is one of the most important functions to master in order for any business to be successful in today's increasingly competitive markets, particularly for firms doing business internationally. International market communications are much more complex than market communications within your own country. There are many important factors that companies need to take into consideration before jumping into the world of international marketing.

Many issues can surface if a firm is not careful when making its plan to market to new countries. One major issue that needs to be recognized has to do with culture.

What is Culture and why does it matter?

A culture for any particular location is a way of life. It varies from place to place and no two cultures are exactly the same. It includes values, beliefs, customs, languages, traditions, and social standards. Through people's culture, they are able to develop a sense of belonging, personal and cognitive growth and the ability to empathize and relate to each other. Benefits of a strong and vibrant culture include health and wellness, self esteem, skills development, social capital and economic return.

The video below gives some insight on cultural marketing and how each country has different platforms that companies need to know in order to reach that potential market.

Cultural Issues

There are some key factors that firms need to think about:

  • Language
  • Symbolism and dress
  • Laws and policy's

Just like culture, languages varies all over the world. one single language cant be used for an international campaign. An example would be that there are between 6 and 12 main regional variations of Chinese languages. Using one of these many wouldn't convey the same message to all. Many ads or commercials in the U.S. use humor in order to sell. If the language isn't changed to very language where these ads or commercials are being displayed then they go either unrecognized, or they become unacceptable.

Symbolism, aesthetics, and design also be misinterpreted. These do not transcend equally among all international boundaries and could potentially mean loss of business for firms. When it comes to dress and appearance again this varies from culture to culture. The way people dress in Southern California during the summer is extremely different than how people would dress in say India. Women in the U.S. wear tight and shape showing clothing, and in India women wear more loose clothing so that they do not show their figure too much.

Many nations have increasingly voiced their claim to a “right to culture” in international business even though the world is becoming more and more globalized. There are claims that affect public policy on international trade rules in different nations. As culture rights increase, firms that are wanting to do business internationally will have to face additional challenges in other dimensions of culture. Some of these laws and policies include Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, international treaties and operating regulations, tax laws, antitrust laws, and the International Emergency Economic Power Act of 1977 just to name a few.

Are Cultural Differences Going Away and What Does This Mean For Firms?

Cultural differences between nations, regions, and ethnic groups are from going away. In fact, they are becoming stronger!

This means that international marketing communication, a cross-cultural process, will require firms to be well informed about cultural differences nationally and ethnically in order to successful make a transition into the international markets. It is important that firms know the cultures they are attempting to market to. There are more factors that just language, symbolism and dress, and laws, but that does not mean they are cannot be assets for a firm if used correctly.