In the upcoming months we will introduce more of the 25 strategies that will support your brand building and business development activities in key emerging markets. Today, we will provide an inside look on the successful utilization of local consumer preferences.
Culture as consumption driver
Successful brands are well acquainted with common cultural values in the local market – be it a strong individualization culture or a more collectivist and family orientation. These cultural value orientations are strong forces that drive local demands and preferences and should therefore be systematically reflected in a brand’s value proposition and related marketing activities. A brand that smartly fits into the local cultural consumption context and meets local preferences in a relevant way will be much more successful than a global standard solution.
However, defining the term “culture” is a daunting task. In sum, culture can be described as the beliefs, values, behavioral patterns, communication symbols and rituals that all members of a community share. Cultural values, however, express the shared conceptions of what is good and desirable in a certain culture or society. Consequently, values are a powerful force shaping consumers’ motivations, lifestyles and product choices.
Consumers across the BRICs and other growth markets respond to marketing communications in a manner that is congruent with their cultural values and norms. Therefore, achieving effective commercial communications requires an understanding of the social and cultural context in which the communication takes place.
Another important factor to consider is the (positive) relationship between the values that a brand communicates and the acceptance of this brand by members of a certain culture, known as the “similarity-acceptability hypothesis”. The more similar the values that a certain brand communicates are to the values held by members of a certain group, the more likely it is that the brand will appeal to this group. Therefore, foreign brands should be able to utilize the local cultural values and habits of new consumers. They must be familiar with the related consumption motivations and purchase drivers in their specific category or they risk falling behind.
In China, Confucianism, the country’s advanced transformation into a market economy, and massive foreign influences in the wake of the “opening-up” policy are the prevailing influences that also impact cultural values. Status and social prestige, combined with a strong desire to show-off personal success as well as close family relationships are of very high value.
India’s prevailing cultural values and influences – family orientation, national pride, the strong focus on uniquely Indian tastes, hierarchical order and a culture of debate and democracy – are translating into its own unique set of predominant motivations for consumption and purchase drivers.
Brazilians have a generally optimistic attitude and a significant focus on sensorial and esthetic experiences. In addition, Brazilian society is also marked by a very strong orientation towards family and other people, combined with a distinct openness to foreign concepts.
Russia’s cultural values are closely related to the history, geography and social reality of the country. Soviet-style collectivism, close family relations, personal connections to those in positions of power or owners of resources, weak infrastructures, a distinct national pride as well as a strong orientation towards foreign concepts play a major role in understanding Russian consumerism.