Arguably, consumer is the most important individual in the entire market and business. Therefore, it is useful to study where, how, when and why people do or do not by a certain brand. Consumer behavior gives a view on the decisions made by the buyer when purchasing a certain brand in the market. Notably, cultural sensitivity is one factor that affects the decisions and the behavior of the consumer. Actually, cultural sensitivity means being aware of the cultural similarities and differences existence and its effects on learning values and behaviors. As a matter of fact, culture is a very challenging issue for many marketers, this is because it is intrinsically nebulous and in most cases difficult to comprehend.
In fact, it is very important to accept and be aware of the diversity of cultures. Individuals who are culturally sensitive are always aware of the existence of differences between own culture and other cultures. These differences probably affect the behavior of customers across the entire region (Kapferer, 1997). In marketing, the brand should not create any preconception or prejudice about a specific culture. Some critical impacts of culture include local demand, brand image, buying decision and consumer behavior.
Study shows that being culturally sensitive is very important in all sectors of life. Most of people believe that industry suppliers on a new brand should be very sensitive to the needs of each consumer of prospective buyers coming from diverse cultures or races (Solomon, 2009).
Globalization is one of the popular term. Businesses have become more international, and each company is putting all efforts to expand and win customers all over the globe. Hence it is vital to understand the business culture of each country.
Cultural sensitivity becomes the central factor when we have to interact and sell to people from diverse cultures. Individuals evaluate, interpret and see things in a different way; therefore, cultural sensitivity helps in understanding all this diversities. In marketing the industry need to understand the diverse cultures in other to sell their brand (Burton, 2005). Actually, in most situations what is considered inappropriate behavior in one culture is frequently an appropriate in another. Cultural sensitivity actually, eliminates misunderstanding that may arise when we try to use meanings of our culture to make logic of others reality.
Additionally, cultural sensitivity eliminates the tendency of assuming and builds on finding the truth on what behavior means to people involved. For example, a straight look on the faces a clear indication of disrespect in Japanese culture, while same behavior is a sigh of courage in some African countries (Arnold, 2009). Cultural sensitivity, builds bridges to respect, trust, understand and respect across cultures and within multicultural societies. In fact, it fosters productive agreements and interactions in the whole world. Hence, cultural sensitivity strengthens and develops a relationship across cultures.
Global marketing and business are mostly affected by cultural sensitivity. The success of each business depends on the degree to which organizations and business honor and acknowledge diversity. The outcome of the interaction between the consumer and the seller determines the successfulness of a certain product. Assuming the sensitivity of cultures in business can cripple the entire organization.
Workplaces need to be culturally sensitive; this will lead to productive and peaceful environment. Arguably, cultural sensitivity extends the effectiveness and outreach of organization internationally. Furthermore, cultural sensitivity is important because it puts emphasizes on observable and genuine commitment to cultural diversity at the company’s entire progress.
Actually cultural sensitivity builds competence among people of different cultures. Individuals get a chance to interact efficiently with people coming from different cultures (Burton, 2005). Competence comprises attitude towards existing cultural differences, awareness of one’s personal culture, cross-cultural skills and knowledge of diverse cultural worldview and practices.
Communication across cultures is very important in development of the relationship. Cultural sensitivity improves the way in which we communicate to each other putting in mind the difference that exists in between the parties.
The studies carried out on consumer behavior, are aimed at helping the organizations and firms to improve their strategies in marketing. A company needs to understand how the consumer reason, think and make alternative selections on the product and brand. The environmental condition too may affect the consumer’s choice of product; the environmental issues include family, culture, media and sighs (Dunfee & Smith, 1999). Therefore in general the organizations should ensure that their brand is ethical to the target markets.
Brands come in different forms, including sigh, name, symbol or slogan. In some cases, a certain brand may not comply with the values that are essential for a certain culture. It is very hard for organizations to produce a global brand. Global brands are alleged to echo the same set of norms and values around the world. If the production of global brand was easy, it could have made consumer relationship strong. Some example3s of global brand include Coca-Cola. This is not the case to all brands, notably some brands does not obey values of a certain culture.
Ethics are there to elaborate on the moral principles of a society. It emphasizes on the determination of wrong and right. Branding therefore, need to conform to ethical values of a culture of its target markets. Brands that do not obey the values of a culture completely lose connection with the customers.
Brands are mostly the enduring and fundamental asset of a firm. It helps in adding value to consumer goods and enhancing retailer’s reaction. Consumers are the most important parties in business; hence if the brand does not conform to the ethical practices of the culture then they would not buy the brand (Craig & Mullen, 1990). Unethical practices by a firm a firm, makes consumers to develop negative attitudes towards the brand as well as the brand. Customer relationship management loses focus in maintaining and building consumers relationship in the market.
Probably, brand identity in a firm helps in building strong brand equity. Hence when the brand does not recognize the cultural values of its customers then the brands equity is completely lost. Unethical practices lead to the dissatisfaction of customers, legal action and loss of trust. Some of these practices are witnessed in advertising, selling and promotions (Burton, 2005).
In most cases, the brand of the product influences the nature of ethical dilemmas in a different culture. For, example if the brand of a certain company is about human sexuality, there are cultures in which sexuality is not spoken in public. The people of such culture will ensure that the brand is out of their community (Dowling, 2001). Actually, a brand should not only be evaluated by financial and economic criteria, but also by other moral values from a different culture. An ethical brand needs to work towards the good of the society rather than harming cultural ethics and values.
Company’s main objective is to make profits; therefore, their brand is aimed at increasing sales. Actually some brands are advertised and given numerous qualities, yet in real sense, it does not serve the purpose. This is unethical because it is untruthful and misleading. If the brand is a behavior for example, “have few sexual partners” it may be conflicting with the cultural norms, hence it will not have much lead to conflict between the firm and the people.
As a matter of fact, the consumer will always switch brands if one brand does not adhere to their values. They switch to more ethical alternative brands. This is so because; the image of the brand has been damaged by unethical practices. In the process, the brand will no longer be competitive in the market and finally disappear in the market.
Brands on food have received numerous critics. It is probably a dubious business; some of this includes animal abuse, zero models and use of cottons. In fact, such brands have suffered negative publicity. Cultures demonstrated and governments make laws to prevent such fashion brands that go against the values of a certain culture (Proctor, 2000). In fact, fashion as a brand is difficult to manage due to its designs and the diversity of cultures way of lifestyle.
Unethical practical issues erode the trust of the consumer over the brand. The consumers have lost integrity because of company’s illegal and unethical behaviors. Unethical practices reduce the company’s reputation towards customers. For example, the company is forced to change the policies of supply or even re brand the product due to impacts of unethical practices.
Arguably, brands undergo numerous challenges; this in most cases is caused by diversity of ethical values in different country (Wetfeet, 2008). Due to this indifference in ethical values, lots of expenses are spent in order to collect information on consumer’s choice. Brands are consumed differently, in diverse countries; hence it is the responsibility of the firms to find information on consumer tastes and preference regarding the brand.
Advertisement is very important strategy in marketing. In the modern society advertisement on different brands are all over the media, regardless of age or cultural diversities (Gaham & Cateora, 2005). For example, alcoholic advertisement most probably encourages drinking at a younger age. This impact is unethical in some societies while in some it is ethical.
Company’s main goal is to maximize profits. But with numerous cost incurred in market information, they turn to misleading and false advertisement. This will lead to the downfall of the brand (Bradley, 2003). Firms face extremely difficult trade –offs between the persisted increased importances of coordinating trade activities because of the diversities in ethical issues. The trade-offs come within outside and inside the organization. Management of this brands increases costs. Another challenge includes coordinating marketing programs in different cultural backgrounds.
It is very difficult to designing brands for global acceptance. For example, in Europe it is much easier to produce a brand that might be accepted by many, due to smaller cultural differences. Breaking through the markets in United States, Japan as well as Africa is so difficult because of larger ethical and cultural differentiation. Companies have to become accustomed to this diverse culture's in order to be successful in this century (Burton, 2005).
Ethical variation has cost many company an extra cost. A package of products in a certain number has different significance in various countries (Tim & Mead, 2002). For example, a golf manufacturing industry packaged its ball in packs of four, so as to enhance purchase. Unfortunately in a country like Japan 4 is equivalent to 13 because it sounds like the word death. Hence the company had to repackage the product and change the brand.
\Cultural beliefs and values in one way or another is a road map to the way we do business. Hence in order to overcome the challenges affecting brands, firms need to conduct extensive research. Study should be carried out on the don’ts and dos in different countries. It helps in leaning what is ethical and what is unethical in every market (Burton, D. (2005). The firm should be in a position to identify dangerous signals that the brand can cause in the market. In addition, it is advisable to know the weakness as well as strengths as alleged by the local culture.
Understanding cultural values helps the marketer in setting his strategies to be competitive in the market (Arnold, 2009). Actually, cultural values exert deepest and broadest influence on the consumer’s behavior. Hence the marketer should put into consideration the role played by the customer’s subculture, culture as well as social class.
Marketers must be aware of cultural values in each target markets. Furthermore, he should adapt dependable market strategies. Additionally, markets should try to sport cultural shifts that affect brands that are needed in that country. For example, the cultural change on health issues has promoted sport brands and gymnasium facilities in the world (Clifton & Sameena, 2009).
In order to overcome the going against the laws of a certain state, companies should prescribe to the rules and regulations of the country that is situated. The regulations and laws will always serve as proper conduct of the brand (Andreasen, 2001). Cultural Stereotypes think in a sensitive and unprofessional manner, in most cases, it can lead to downfall of the brand in the market. It is responsibility of the marketer to correct wrong beliefs of people that prevent purchase of the brand. The marketer needs to launch corrective campaign so as to promote sales of the brand.
Consumer behaviors, cultural sensitivity and ethical believe are some of the factors that should be put into consideration during marketing. Ethical issues affect the entire competition in the market. Companies need not to use unethical issues such as false information on competitor’s product and on the quality of the brand. Marketing strategies of brands should be based on factual competition and honesty.
Use of unethical strategies, is unprofessional way of popularizing the brand, consumers can perceive this in a negative way and still buy other brands. Marketers and companies should view all society as unique and realize its unique characters. Furthermore, they should be aware of the beliefs, experience and language effects on the brand. It is not right to presume that a general culture is shared by all members of a linguistic, racial or religious group
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