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Marketing Basics - Kotler Philip

Cultural environment

Each country has its own customs, its own rules, its own prohibitions. Before starting to develop a marketing program, the seller should find out how foreign consumers perceive these or other goods and how they use them. Here are a few examples of the surprises that the consumer market can bring:

• The average Frenchman uses almost twice as much makeup and toiletries as his wife.

• Germans and French eat more pre-packaged vintage pasta than Italians.

• Italian children like to eat a bar of chocolate as a light snack, laying it between two slices of bread.

• In Tanzania, women do not give their children eggs for fear that the baby will become bald or barren.

Ignorance of the cultural environment reduces the company's chances of success. Some of the most prosperous American market leaders failed to go abroad. Kentucky Freedom Chicken has opened 11 of its establishments in Hong Kong. However, after two years, they all burnt out. Probably, it seemed uncomfortable for Hong Kong residents to eat fried chicken with their hands. McDonalds opened its first establishment in Europe in a suburb of Amsterdam, but sales were disappointing. The company did not take into account the fact that in Europe the majority of citizens live in the center of cities and are less mobile in comparison with the Americans.

Countries differ from each other and the norms of behavior accepted in them in the business world. Before negotiating in another country, an American businessman should consult on these issues. Here are some examples of business behavior in different countries:

• Latinos are accustomed to conduct business negotiations almost close to the interlocutor, literally nose to nose. The American backs off in a similar situation, but the Latin American partner continues to move on him, and as a result, both are annoyed.

• In face-to-face negotiations, Japanese businessmen almost never say no to their American counterparts. Americans are desperate, not knowing what to think. After all, an American is quickly getting to the bottom of the matter, and for a Japanese businessman this seems insulting.

• In France, wholesalers do not promote sales of goods. They simply ask retailers what they need and supply the necessary goods. But if the American firm puts the working methods of French wholesalers at the heart of its strategy, it will probably burn out.

Each country (and even individual regions within the country) has its own cultural traditions, its preferences and its prohibitions, which the market leader should study6.