The past four decades have seen the rise of globalization and a rapid development in international marketing by multi-national corporations. International marketing is very different from domestic marketing. There are a whole host of issues when marketing internationally that a business does not normally have to deal with when marketing in their own country. Along with this rapid development in international marketing, marketing experts are increasingly scrutinizing the influence of culture in international marketing. This essay attempts to show how culture influence international marketing decisions.
Gary (1994) defines culture as beliefs, values, knowledge, art, morals, laws, customs and traditions, and habits acquired by people as members of society. From this definition, it can be deduced that culture is part of the human environment and it is everything around us as people; the way we think and behave as members of the society. Culture in international marketing therefore looks at how an international business can be promoted considering the cultural environment where the business is located.
International marketing is the performance of business activities that direct the flow of a company’s goods and services to consumers or users in more than one nation for a profit (Cateora and Ghauri, 1999). In a similar vein, Ruwanpathirana (2016) defines international marketing as the process of management responsibility in identifying, anticipating and satisfying the customer requirements across international boundaries. Without disagreeing with other writers in defining international marketing, Czinkota and Ronkainen (2002) state, it involves planning and conducting transactions across countries to create exchange that satisfy individual and organizational objectives.
Ricks (1994) asserts that the most important means of cultural identity is language. Hence its role in international marketing cannot be under estimated. Language, more specifically translation, needs to be paid very close attention to when doing international marketing. Marketing involves communication so to guarantee this, Company X’s marketers will have a grasp of the language of the people of Malawi where the marketing activities will be implemented.
Values also influence international marketing. Many times, a country to which you would like to sell a product has extreme regional differences that must be accounted for when marketing. However, this is not going to be a challenge because Zimbabwe and Malawi have little differences in values.
Self-reference criterion (SRC) is an unconscious reference to one’s own cultural values, experiences, and knowledge as a basis for decisions. On the other hand, ethnocentrism is the notion that one’s own culture or company knows best how to do things. As a way of controlling the influence of ethnocentrism and the SRC in its international marketing, Company X will recognize their effects on our behaviour. Marketers must understand their own culture and appreciate and tolerate the culture of other people in other to improve communication, and build relationships with the people to buy into their products or services (Czinkota and Ronkainen, 2002).
Religious belief system will be highly considered since it is directly linked with culture, hence has impact on the international marketing. It is pleasing to note that Malawi and Zimbabwe share 80% of their religious beliefs.
The understanding of the aesthetic aspect of culture will inform the Company X’s marketers about product packaging and advertisement strategies.
Company X will also consider the consumer habits in Malawi. Culture and personality combine to shape consumer behavior in every particular region of the world or country. The company will first determine whether the Malawi market is an individualistic society (free-thinking culture) or a collective society (the peer group has the most influence on buying decisions).
Age and other demographics play a key role in international marketing just as they do in domestic marketing; hence Company X will pay very close attention to them.
Cultural dynamism is very crucial in international marketing. One thing the marketer must understand is that markets do not occur or exist naturally- they become, they evolve, change, expand and contract in response to marketing effort, economic conditions and other cultural influences (Ghauri and Cateora, 2010). It is therefore expected that Company X will view culture objectively, evaluate and appreciate that cultures are not right or wrong, better or worse but they are simply different.
Taken together, the discussion in this essay shows that culture is a very important aspect which requires a strategic approach when investing on international marketing. International marketers are implored to pay attention to the culture of the environment within which they operate. They must always abreast themselves with the cultural tunes in their area of operation in other to adjust to the changing needs and tastes of the customers. Hence, culture indeed impacts on international marketing.