Culturally Sensitive Packaging Can Make All the Difference

For a universally needed product, you would think the packaging would not make a do or die difference in the success of the product. However, as discussed in class, something as simple as toothpaste can be the source of much corporate controversy. In the case of the Colgate Max Fresh rollout in the early 2000’s, Colgate knew that advertising breath strips in the Chinese market would not be as effective as advertising breath strips in the United States. So, Colgate adjusted their advertising accordingly in order to get their Max Fresh toothpaste into China successfully.

In order for packaging to effectively speak to a certain culture, the packaging must resonate with that culture. By doing market research, companies can figure out how big the market is and how fast the market is growing or shrinking.

For example, UK based co-working space, Hana, has gone international and has done so by entering similar markets in order to promote standardization in their business model, or their customer facing packaging.

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Starting out in London, Hana has expanded to major cities across the United States, such as New York, Dallas, and most recently, Irvine, to promote professional and chic flexible workspaces for up-and-coming professionals.

By expanding to culturally similar major cities, Hana enjoys the benefit of generally standardized spaces and advertising methods.

It would be interesting to see how Hana would intend to enter a culturally different market, like the Latin American or Asian markets. How much would they adapt? Would they stay standard in order to promote continuity in their brand?

As we saw in the Colgate Max Fresh case, it can be extremely expensive to adapt packaging to appeal to a new market with significantly different culture.

Most major cities in the world today are extremely diverse. If Hana sticks to its plan of expanding into these major cities, where high profile and up and coming professionals are located, it will likely not need to adapt too drastically in order to thrive. However, perhaps regional consultants would be a beneficial investment before any official plans are made to jump into a new market.

How do you think an English flexible workspace would need to adapt in Latin American or Asian markets? Let us know in the comments!

Thanks for reading!

Business to Business Marketing

Although Business to Business (or B2B) marketing is such an integral part of many company’s success, it often gets overshadowed and overlooked by Business to Consumer marketing which could be seen as more appealing or exciting. This is probably because most people who are learning about this topic are consumers themselves, not businesses. Nevertheless, it is something that everyone should be aware of, especially if you currently are, or are thinking of becoming, a business owner.

So what is Business to Business marketing? It is when products or services of one business are sold to another business and not to the ordinary public consumer. This market is actually larger than the Business to Consumer market and contains players such as manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers, farms, construction firms, service industries, the government, or even non-profits ( It is also worth mentioning that B2B marketers spend about $85 billion a year in promoting their goods and services to other businesses all around the world.

What makes B2B marketing very interesting is that there is a lot at stake with marketing and selling these products and services. For example, a clothing company that is domestically or internationally selling their apparel to consumers has to worry about fewer things when trying to get the consumer to purchase than does a B2B company who is selling a software program to another company that is crucial for its existence. There is often a lot more capital that is tied up in these transactions, and they usually take longer to close because the company is going to want to make sure that the company they are purchasing from is going to provide the ROI they need, vetted for expertise and experience, and worth their investment. These calls are also made by many people and executives and not always by just one person.

With this in mind, it is necessary to understand that different marketing techniques may be needed in order to obtain the best results. For example, a B2B company marketing their products or services on social media may not see as good of results as compared to say sending representatives from the firm to speak with the target company’s management team in person. Social media marketing can be great for companies looking to appeal to consumer emotions which stimulates them to make an impulse decision to buy their products or services, but with B2B companies, their customers are not typically making these impulse decisions. That is not to say that social media marketing cannot be utilized by B2B companies to build brand awareness and their reputation, but it is worth noting that their conversion rates for those ads will most likely be lower than that of a Business to Consumer company. On top of this, a B2B company must also keep in mind the exchange rate of currencies and how this could potentially affect the transaction.

Overall, it is important for B2B companies to really understand their customer and product/service, as well as how it is best marketed to their target customer as well. A company or management team that is used to selling goods or services to consumers has to be willing to adapt to the changing landscape of selling to businesses in order to become successful.

Cross-Cultural Consumer Behavior

Understanding High- and Low-Context Cultures

In different parts of the world, there are different native languages spoken. Some of these languages are very concise and clear (low-context) while others rely heavily on context clues in addition to what is being said (high-context). This is an extremely important distinction when doing business globally, because it can make the difference as to whether or not the business effectively communicates with consumers.

High-Context Cultures

High-context cultures are characterized by a heavy reliance on implicit communication and non-verbal cues. Common high context cultures are found in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Central Europe, and Latin America. Relationships in these cultures develop slowly and are based on trust. Common non-verbal elements such as tone, facial expressions, and gestures hold a high significance, meanwhile verbal communication can often be vague or indirect. Space is often considered very communal and people stand close to one another and share space. Low-context cultures believe everything deserves its time, and timing is difficult to plan and stick to a strict schedule.

Low-Context Cultures

Low-context cultures rely on explicit verbal communication between individuals. Information is defined specifically and clearly. These cultures often have western European roots, including the United States and Australia. Relationship in these cultures generally begin and end quickly. Social structure is much more decentralized and communication is more open. Non-verbal elements are insignificant and often overlooked, while information and opinions are clearly laid out in a verbal manner. Most spaces are compartmentalized and people desire privacy and a “personal space bubble.” Meetings and events have a strict beginning and end time, and individuals consider their time as their own and value it very highly.


Not all communication is equal. Individuals and businesses need to adapt the way they communicate depending on the culture they are doing business in. If you plan to do business somewhere, have a clear understanding of what to expect when it comes to communication and how to best convey your message. You do not want to show up for an important business meeting in Hong Kong not knowing what to expect and missing significant social cues and trying to do all of the business verbally. Know the culture you are doing business in.

Cross Cultural Consumer Behavior

Why analyze consumer behavior?

Consumer behavior analysis can help marketers to develop products and campaigns that appeal to an individual or group of consumers. By understanding the thought process behind consumers’ problem recognition and decision-making, marketers can tailor their products or services to resolve the unmet needs or desires of consumers, leading to strong brand loyalty and increased market share.

Going Global

While we can see the necessity for studying consumer behavior, in the modern marketplace it is essential to extend this practice further and conduct cross-cultural consumer behavior analysis. Due to the vast differences that exist between cultures around the globe, what appeals to one market and drives them to make a purchase may not be relevant in another region. 

The following elements are some of the most important to take into consideration when developing an understanding of cross-cultural consumer behavior:

  • Language: Though spoken language is a given, unspoken language and physical cues play a significant role in a culture’s social interactions. For example, certain gestures and hand signals have been known to hold polite or friendly meanings in one culture, but are considered disrespectful or rude in other cultures. A classic fable of misunderstood language acting as a barrier across cultures was Chevorlet’s supposed launch of the Chevy Nova in predominantly Spanish-speaking countries. Because the name ‘Nova’ appeared to be the Spanish words ‘no’ and ‘va’, translating to ‘no go’, consumers were unenthusiastic about purchasing a car whose name represented underwhelming performance of the vehicle. Therefore, when expanding your business internationally, you should develop an understanding of both spoken and unspoken languages in order to prevent potential failed product launches or advertising campaigns.
  • Values: Values and norms tend to vary drastically from culture to culture, and even within subcultures, making them an essential area of analysis when understanding cross-cultural consumer behavior. Values are also high predictors of what brands and messaging a consumer will identify with when seeking to fulfill his or her unmet needs. To directly compare the complexities of cultural norms in numerous countries, one can utilize Hofstede’s ‘Compare Countries’ tool, which will generate a side-by-side comparison of up to three countries, charting their relative levels of individualism, power distance, masculinity, uncertainty avoidance, long-term orientation, and indulgence. 
  • Aesthetics: Though one may assume the design aesthetic of a brand, product, or advertisement could be maintained throughout global expansion, different cultures may have very different aesthetic preferences – even down to the most minute details such as color. For instance, in the United States and Europe, black is considered to be the color of mourning and death, whereas in Japan and many eastern Asian countries, white is the color that holds this symbolic meaning. Therefore, international marketers should maintain careful awareness of the nuances in design aesthetics when entering new cross-cultural markets.

Righteousness and Marketing, Should They Go Hand In Hand?

The 2014 Winter Olympics were set to be hosted in Sochi, Russia, with roughly 10 major global sponsors endorsing the highly anticipated events. The Olympics, being truly global events, attract major players like Procter&Gamble, McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, General Electric…

However, as the Olympics neared, these global companies were facing immense pressure from the media, their consumers, their business partners and really from anyone with an opinion.

The issue lied in Russia’s strict anti-gay laws and propaganda. Protests erupted in Melbourne, London, Paris and even St. Petersburg. Gay rights organization such as All Out sponsored trucks with pro-gay signage to drive around Coca-Cola HQ in Atlanta. Activists took to the streets to dump out Coca-Cola, symbolizing their discontent at Coca-Cola’s ongoing sponsorship of the Olympic Games. The hashtag #CheersToSochi quickly trended as more and more discontent people joined the movement.

A re-made vintage Coke Ad by Queer Nation NY, denouncing their sponsorship of the Winter Olympics in Russia.

Even during the games, Swedish athletes painted their nails vivid rainbow colors as a statement, whilst Russian players from the women’s relay team embraced and publicly kissed on the podium after winning. As such, the games started showing a growing potential for a highly charged, emotional and political event. Potential for arrests was very high, and the games were under intense scrutiny in the international media.

Since these major sponsors were mostly US-based companies, each sponsor was facing intense pressure at-home, and it quickly became a challenge for these brands.

Should the sponsors respect Russia’s laws and culture, which are largely anti-gay and criminalize the LGBTQIA+ community, or should they take a stance and join the protests in solidarity, thus risking their sponsorship?

As it relates to our class session on cross-cultural marketing, there is the issue of the self’-reference criterion. Essentially, it’s the natural tendency of a company to evaluate what they see through the lens of of their own experience, environment, and by extension, cultures and norms. This criterion could very well be the downfall of a company.

To Westerners, specifically in the US, it seems pretty self-evident that the “right” decision for companies is to stand by the LGBTQIA+ community, and refuse Russia’s strict laws. However, when we consider that other countries in the Middle East or in Africa also grossly and legally denounce homosexuality and persecute it, the decision becomes that much harder. It’s hard for me to write this and critically evaluate the situation, because of my own self-reference criterion. But from a business perspective, should companies sacrifice their brand, their earnings, their standing in an international market, for a cause that is only deemed valid in more Western Countries?

Tough questions, right? Especially if you’re an aspiring businessperson, who will undoubtedly eventually operate in global markets. Where do you draw the line when doing business?

Share your thoughts in the comments section!

Thank you for reading – MK

Drawing in the Customer

Have you ever wondered how that cute pair of jeans showed up on your Facebook profile?  Or the handbag you looked at earlier in the day? The answer is behavioral marketing.  In today’s world, marketers can use consumer behavior to make a detailed, focused marketing campaign for each user.  This is done by using your search history, IP address, and cookies.  I went onto my Facebook page and looked at what sponsored ads were featured on my page: apartments/houses, bridesmaid dresses, and phone cases.  The first is likely based on my search history for the past two years as I was looking for a new apartment. The second is because I have been looking at dresses for my best friend’s wedding, and the third is because I bought a new phone case from Casetify recently. These companies used my previous browsing history to make targeted promotions.

Search and shopping cart information can be used for retargeting, letting someone know they left an item in their cart and/or offering other items they may like based on “previously viewed” products.  Demographic targeting is another way to use information received from internet searches to sort people by age, gender, geography, race, religion, education, etc. People can be bucketed into homogenous groups, and when a person fits certain parameters, an advertisement that should appeal to them will appear.  Let’s use Pepsi advertisements as an example for demographic targeting.

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This picture is targeting all young adults who have an active lifestyle. The liveliness in this photo will stand out to a younger crowd, and the use of multiple activities will allow this advertisement to appeal to a wide range of people.

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Just by looking at the above advertisement, one can easily determine that this is targeted toward different demographic than the previous ad.  It is still geared towards young adults, but it’s focused on people who are interested in activism and environmental friendly practices.

While I can continue along this route, I want to switch gears and take a look at how culture affects Pepsi’s advertisements.

This is an advertisement from India.  In theory, it could be used across geographies to target people who enjoy soccer.  However, the celebrity featured above is Ranbir Kapoor, an Indian actor and film producer for Bollywood.  Due to his specific audience, this advertisement will draw a bigger audience in India, and other Indian communities.

Based on search history, Pepsi and other companies can target the market based on consumer behavior.  This allows marketers to better understand their customers and help anticipate their needs. Use of targeted data gets at least a 50% better response rate than non-targeted data.

Boost Clicks and Opens

What other factors do you think are important when looking at behavioral segmentation?

Global Market Intelligence

What is Market Intelligence?

Market intelligence is the gathering and analyzing of information relevant to a company’s external environment, and is often part of a company’s strategic planning function, specifically for the purpose of accurate and confident decision making in determining market opportunities This insight can be useful for developing market strategies for how to penetrate new markets and is EXTREMELY necessary and useful for when entering a foreign market and expanding globally.

Market intelligence and market research are commonly associated and similar, however serve different purposes for a company. Market research and the information compiled from market research is commonly conducted when developing a new project, product, or entering a new market. This information is statistics, number and data about the external environment such as customers, competitors, and other factors. However, market intelligence is what is taken away from analyzing this data and how to continue what strategies, target customers, and specific campaigns marketers should implement from these interpretations. 

For example, having a deep understanding about your competitors, their position in the market, and the pricing strategies are all extremely crucial to understand how your company can combat them and compete: 

  • Competitors: How are your competitors positioned and how do they communicate their proposition? Studying and understanding how your competitor is pricing and placing its products can help marketing managers gain a larger share of buyers in that same market. 
  • Customer Behavior: What influences are there on purchasing decision process such as language, ethnicity, race, religion and lifestyle?
  • Potential Local Partners: Research to find possible reliable partners who know the market can be useful when expanding globally 

Essentially, understanding both your current and potential customer in the senses of who they are, what they want, and their level of satisfaction or loyalty is crucial in implementing correct marketing strategies and campaigns, especially when entering a new market abroad! Having that timely information regarding marketing and operations including areas such as innovation, product development, promotion and pricing can help a company gain the competitive advantage they’re seeking and brand their company or product successfully. 

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The Strategic Importance of Market Intelligence when Expanding Internationally

Collecting market intelligence before expanding internationally is strategically imperative. Market intelligence can help you both develop strategies in specialic countries or regions, and even allow you to find out new opportunities and whether or not you should even enter that specific market! Understanding the where, why, and how of stepping into a foreign market can help you optimize your companies strengths and aligns them to develop the most effective strategy. This knowledge can let you adapt and innovate your product to appeal to customer preferences in many new markets that you wish to enter and can make or break a brand’s success. For example, Groupon famously tried to move into China and ultimately lost because of their lack of cultural understanding and China’s saturated group-buying market.

Airbnb & Global Market Intelligence

Many travelers all across the globe now turn to Airbnb as their go-to site for finding a local place to stay while on vacation as opposed to hotels. Creating an international network through marketing intelligence helped Airbnb grow its brand across various markets globally. Having a local presence in key areas is crucial for the company to uphold their home-away-from-home brand.

For Airbnb, adapting to the customs of the culture in the market they want to move into is crucial for success. One of the major tools that Airbnb uses in order to localize quickly and distinguish themselves is Polyglot.js which allows them to quickly translate commonly looked at texts and gain more insight in new global markets. Ultimately, by taking advantage of market intelligence in order to successfully localize many different markets and cultures, Airbnb was able to conquer the travel industry by creating a unique and personalized travel experience catered to a diverse customer base.

The Global Branding Strategy and its Benefits

Simply stated, global branding is using the same name, as well as all other aspects such as marketing, of a product or service throughout multiple countries. The overall strategy of the brand should be similar to that in its home country and in every other country afterward. Some of the aspects that would stay the same within a global branding approach include:

  • Advertising/Marketing
  • Positioning
  • Strategy
  • Overall look and feel

The main advantage of advertising for a global brand is that it becomes standardized thus making it easier to roll out marketing campaigns. This standardization helps make the brand easily recognizable for all of its customers.

What About the Customers?

The company itself is not the only party that benefits from a global branding strategy. Customers are expected to receive decent rewards as well. These customer benefits include:

  • Less shopping time; global brands are easily noticeable
  • Overall quality; Global brands tend to have better quality products
  • Prices; Global branded product prices tend to be fixed in some way
  • Responsibility/Dependability on the Company’s behalf; Customers have a clear idea on where to go with questions or concerns

Global Branding Benefits

Adapting a strategy like marketing for one brand on a global scale can greatly increase a company’s customers. This large increase in customer base typically means also having a large increase in revenue. Some of the other benefits of global branding/marketing include:

  • Improved effectiveness in products or services over time
  • Greater advantage against competitors
  • Increased customer awareness

Global Branding Success

Some of the following companies have benefited greatly from global branding:

  • Apple
  • Starbucks
  • Coca-Cola
  • McDonald’s

For companies like these, their success came from their ability to provide consistency among their products. No matter the country, an iPhone should feel and look the same just like a drink at Starbucks should also taste the same. However, they have been known to adjust or adapt slightly depending on the country’s culture but their overall branding strategy is the same.

Global branding can be a challenge but the reward is promising. It is not all about developing a different product or brand for every country; it involves strategic adaptations. Mastering this ability to adapt while keeping the brand’s image the same is the recipe for success.