Cultural impact on the effectiveness of Sales techniques

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Last updated: April 17, 2019

Culture impacts greatly on all aspects of marketing (product, price, promotion and distribution channels), since marketing is concerned with the satisfaction of the consumers (humans) needs and wants, by companies or more specifically marketers (humans).And after all culture is a man made part of our society, ” the sum total of values, rituals, symbols, beliefs, and thought processes that are learned, shared by a group of people and transmitted from generation to generation” (Cateora and Graham, 2007).

Cultural impacts and persuasion go hand in hand, especially in the case of sales techniques, after all the main idea behind sales techniques is to persuade your customer to buy your product.And one way to look at these culturally motivated persuasive sales techniques for Australian firms promoting overseas, is from the stances of cultural values (Unwin, 1974), focusing mostly on three of cultural indexes, which is individualist/collectivist, uncertainty avoidancemasculinity/femininity, high-context/low-context, while briefly exploring the role of the other two indexes power distance and masculinity/ femininity uncertainty avoidance on sales techniques.And the sales techniques or promotional tools as stated by Belch and Belch (2007) are advertising, direct marketing, internet marketing, sales promotion, public relations/ publicity and personal selling (Belch and Belch, 2007). The other important factor is cultural perceptions, influenced by language and cultural symbolism, non-verbal communications like body language, traditions and morality(Schiffman et al. , 2008). And finally the impact of these factors on the pervasiveness of the communication message through the various sales techniques employed, is explored through the research.Since this helps to broadly focus the marketing activity and communication message to the target audience based on the knowledge of the behavioural motives of the country or target markets underlining cultural values. To first understand the influence of culture on sales techniques, the cultural elements must be explored, to understand how these elements would affect the perception of the product, brand and company on the target market (Schiffman et al.

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, 2008). Language and symbols Language is an important factor to consider in promotional marketing, as it can or break a promotional strategy.Since Australian marketers overseas would face markets with many different languages and dialects in a single country like in China, India and Israel for example (Han and Shavitt, 1994)e. So communicating to these markets could be challenging and messages would have to be translated into the various languages present in the target market. Apart form that there appear to being various vernacular and linguistic nuance, that exist between similar language speaking countries as well(Cateora and Graham, 2007).For instance in example of Tropicana brand advertised the orange juice in Puerto Rico as jugo de china (china being orange juice), but when the same was used on the Cuban community in Miami, it was understood by them as juice of China, thereby causing confusion (Cateora and Graham, 2007).

And thisThese confusions aroseexist between similar language speaking communities. But many marketers and advertiser have faced problems with translating the exact message from one language to another, which results in the misinterpretation of the idiomatic translation by the target audience.For example, when parker pen wanted to market the “quikink” ballpoint pen in Mexico, the promotional statement to be used was “it won’t leak in your pocket and embarrass you” , however, in the advertisements the statement came out as “It wont leak in your pants and make you pregnant” cause had misinterpreted the word for embarrassment (Cateora and Graham, 2007). (example). Besides language the use of symbols both verbal and nonverbal can be important in many cultural, especially in high-context cultures where the message of the communication implied, many times through non verbal communication (Schiffman et al. 2008) has to be explicit in its meaning.

Verbal communications like could be slogans or catch phrases that are printed onin advertisement orf verbally spoken to the target audience give a clear sense of the product and its attribute.Non verbal communication could be colours, logos and shapes, figures, textures (Schiffman et al. , 2008) and in some high-context cultures like Korea and Japan; body language and gestures can play a key role in transmitting the message and establishing the context of the advertisements (Miracle et al. 1992). Symbols also play a key role in communicate the advertising message to illiterate audiences as well.

But caution must be exercised to indicate the right message to the target market, otherwise like, Gerber, selling baby foods to Africa with the same packaging as the US, with the picture of a baby on it experienced some problems as people misinterpreted the packaging, since in Africa the contents of the product is illustrated on the packaging as many people can’t read (Cateora and Graham, 2007). Rituals and beliefsAs international marketers in overseas markets, it is important to understand the rituals and beliefs of the target market. which can be used to their advantage in the target markets, like auspicious colours, numbers, dates in the years, religious beliefs of the target audience and so on (Schiffman et al. , 2008). For instance, the months from October to the end of November as considered extremely auspicious for hindu people its when most people get married and when most of the high involvement investments like houses, cars, financial investments and so on are made.

And advertisers can use this to their advantage by target their audiences at that time. Similarly, the Chinese culture also functions on these grounds with consumption increasing close to Chinese New Year and so. Apart from that many eastern cultures are concerned with holistic well being of their members and their ideas of good luck, prosperity, health and honour play a key role. So advertiser must imbibe these cultural elements into their communication message to display the context of the advertisement to target audience in high-context cultures (Schiffman et al. 2008);(Cateora and Graham, 2007). However, the element of cultural variations in thought process, affecting the sales techniques to be used in overseas markets can understood, by examining the cultural value indexes and the sales techniques most suited for those cultures. Individualist/ Collectivist cultures This cultural index established by Hofstede measures the cultural tendency seek one’s own interest.

Individualist cultures are seen in most countries in Northern and Western Europe, North American and Australia.However, collectivist cultures exist in Asia, Africa, Southern and Central American and pacific regions. In the individualist cultural self-interest are promoted, over group interests or society. But in the collectivist cultures one is identified by their group’s identity (Han and Shavitt, 1994). And promotional activities in these cultures have to project these cultural aspects, because the individualist though process with the decision making is based personal likes, and dislikes, perceived cost and benefits from the product.Whereas, in the context of collectivist societies social norms, values and societal roles are important to target the audience, (Zhang and Neelankavil, 1996) therefore, communications in these countries would have to reflect family, society, collective benefit conforming to the social norms of loyalty, strong social ties and so on.

But, in the case of individual cultures the benefits of the product and brand are more personal and hedonistic to an extent(Miracle et al. , 1992).However, there are moderating factors like the type of product and level of involvement that affect style and communication message of the promotion and advertisement (Han and Shavitt, 1994). Moreover, besides the influence that this cultural value places on the advertising and promotional messages, it also influences the personal selling and direct marketing in these countries.

Though personal selling and direct marketing can be considered a form of relationship marketing as companies are trying to form relationships with their customer, initiate brand awareness(Yau et al. 2000). This sort of marketing communication may not work in all collectivist cultures, even though building relationships are part of the societal norms(Luk et al.

, 1999). And this is because the company representative maybe considered a non member of their society, especially, in Islamic countries with their strict social laws (Mohammad Saeed et al. , 2001). Or in some cases due to lack of infrastructure especially in the case of direct marketing the company may not be able to reach their target audience(Luk et al. , 1999).Another fact is also legislation especially in EU countries where direct marketing like telemarketing are now illegal (Cateora and Graham, 2007).

High-context/ Low-context High context cultural are cultures where the communication messages is implied rather subtly through non verbal communications like body language, gestures, symbols and so on, to communicate the message to the audience. But low context cultures the messages are coded explicitly and the communication message is crisp and direct to the audience(Baum, 2006).In high context cultures it is very important to establish the context of the communication, so that the target audience understands the claims of the message (Han and Shavitt, 1994). Whereas for the low context cultures advertisements which are explicit in showing the product, it attributes, the brand and the company, through coded message work best (Han and Shavitt, 1994). High context cultures are again eastern cultures, where little is said but much is implied.And so direct marketing in countries like Japan are difficult, because it is hard to judge the response of the target market(Cateora and Graham, 2007).

Besides that personal selling methods must also be adapted to fit with cultural norms of body language and gestures, respectfully and polite implied questions and responses; and unhurried negotiation processes(McNeill, 2006). On the other side personal selling and direct marketing initiatives flourish in many low context cultures like the USA, where direct marketing is second only to Advertising in terms of promotional expenditures (Rossiter and Bellman, 2005).The sales pitches are generally crisp and informative supplying the customer with appropriate information about the product and brand. Another use for high context advertising and promotions is in poorer underdeveloped country where the majority of the target market is illiterate, thus the target audience can learn about the product through innovation sales promotion and publicity campaigns, like the coca cola carnival buses in brazil that show movies while offering coupons for coca cola if the customer buys one coke first(Cateora and Graham, 2007).Apart from that in many parts of Africa and South East Asia, publicity vehicles with loud speakers and pictures of products, events, movies go around town spreading the news. Uncertainty Avoidance This index measures the risk taking potential of a country or culture. Countries with a low uncertainty indexes are cultures that tolerate diverse views, informalities, emotional self-control and fewer formal cultural rules.

Examples are countries like Denmark, UK, Netherlands and so on(Baum, 2006).But in high uncertainty cultures like Japan, many other eastern countries and Southern European, they are generally risk averse, following rules and social norms and therefore are conformists, whereas, low uncertainty avoidance cultures are considered innovators(Baum, 2006). This cultural value index plays an important role in the originality of the promotional messages, rather then just considering the sales techniques best suited to target the audience(Yih Hwai Lee and Lim, 2008).In an article in the media (2008) the changing advertising landscape of the South East Asian market is examined, of how risqui?? advertisements which would have once been banned from these countries are becoming more acceptable, be it on television, print advertising, outdoor advertising, so on, where now sexual positions and sex in general is used to sell all kinds of products and services (Kautzky, 2008). The point is in high uncertainty avoidance countries the morality of the message is still important, anything which threatens these moral limits is considered risqui??.And this risk aversion it not only restricted to over exposure or sexual motifs, but all humour in advertising, since what maybe considered humorous in one culture, could be embarrassing, insulting or rendering uncomfortable(Yih Hwai Lee and Lim, 2008); or even more simply the target audience may not understand the humour intended.

This is not to say that humour should not be used to market products in these high uncertainty avoidance countries, its recommended to understand the humorous elements of the target market(Yih Hwai Lee and Lim, 2008).Mascularity / feminity and Power Distance These two indexes measure inequalities: Muscularity/ feminity for gender inequality and power distance for social inequalities (Baum, 2006). Apart from that muscularity/ feminity indexes can also be used to measure the cultural orientation of countries(Baum, 2006). Masculine cultures, exhibit male stereotypical qualities like competitiveness, materialism, action-oriented, assertiveness and strength. Countries like Germany, Greece, Italy, and so on are considered masculine cultures.Conversely, feminine cultures emulate feminine characteristics like nurturing and caring, coexistence and cooperation, and quality life factors, thus these countries have a merging male and female population, examples are Sweden, Denmark, and Norway(Baum, 2006). The most important factors to remember while marketing to these countries are gender equality and socialist ideas of equal opportunities provided to all. Though there is not a large body of research to associate these two cultural value indexes as influencing cultural factors effecting sales techniques.

These cultural values could affect the marketing of speciality products and services, like non profit organisations and charities to the target market (Nelson et al. , 2006). For instance, in the case of masculine cultures the charity advertisement to target this audience can fan the egoistic and self oriented focus of masculine cultures, by offering tax deductions for donations offered to a cause or self orienting statement like the Australian cancer research centre, on it website statement that their research could one day save the persons life or someone near and dear to them(Nelson et al. 2006). But feminine cultures with target their audience with messages to help other, affecting the nurturing and caring qualities for these societies like, the organisation food for the hungry did on the website, donations to “help other”(Nelson et al. , 2006). However, power distance can be considered an influencing factor in determining appropriate sales promotions for various segments especially in cultures, where high power distances exist (Kwok and Uncles, 2005).

Its seen that people with higher social status or hierarchy, prefer non-monetary sales promotions like membership clubs, mileage points, passes to special events and so on rather the monetary sales promotions like discounts, cash backs, sample and so on, to differentiate them from others socially(Kwok and Uncles, 2005). However, it must be mentioned that the type of sales promotions chosen, by company is not affected by other cultures values, but is rather determined by the product life cycle of the promoted product(Kwok and Uncles, 2005).Cultural perceptions The perceptions of the target audience may vary within the broad generalisations of the cultural value indexes. Which would inturn initiate the debate whether promotional campaigns should be standardised or localised at the regional level as well (Alden et al. , 1999). For instance British concepts of humour and low context advertisement differ greatly, from American concepts of the same.

Even though they are both English speaking countries; and both individualistic, masculine and low context culture, there still exists a difference in the perceptions(Unwin, 1974). And this cultural difference can be associated to the attitudes of the target audience in the two countries, thereby, establishing the fact similar promotion campaigns may not even work in closely linked cultural countries like the US and UK (Han and Shavitt, 1994).

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