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Why Brand Managers should learn about Cultural Differences

When any of the brands or organisation forage around to expand their territory in the untapped markets for greater number of customers and broader reach, they often ignore challenges such as cultural differences and the resulting consumption patterns.

Being sensitive to the cultural subtleties and adopting your product accordingly has been one of the biggest learnings during this procedure.

The cultural differences can be morphed from a challenge to an opportunity when brands learn from the many best practices in the industry and adopt their branding strategies to adequately reflect consumer preferences.

Let’s look at some of these below:

Branding will always be impacted by Cultural Differences

Cultural differences are indeed a major factor that has an impact on the success or failure of a brand.

As brands enter different cultures, it becomes imperative for them to carefully tread the standardization-customization rope wherein they not only manage to retain the inherent brand identity but also adopt the brand elements to appeal to the local tastes and preference of customers.

Weave The Brand Into The Cultural Yarn:

Back when Nokia was a leading brand and was planning to penetrate in the Indian segment, it managed to recognize the growing importance of rural customers in the Indian mobile telephone market which grew from a mere 300,000 subscribers in 1996 to a whopping 55 million subscribers in 2004.

Nokia introduced its dust-resistant keypad, antislip grip and an inbuilt flashlight. These features, although were not noticeable but heavily appealed to a specific target of truck drivers initially and then to a broader segment of rural consumers.

These features endeared Nokia to the Indian consumer as Nokia displayed a genuine commitment in responding to local customer needs.

Also, the creation of online discussion groups and online brand communities has proven to be a firm step towards co-creating brand value with the customers.

By weaving the brand essence into the societal yarn, brands can leverage cultural differences to their advantage

Understand The Consumption Patterns

Individualistic and collectivistic cultures tend to be the two ends of a rope.

Individualistic cultures support customers to make consumption decisions based on their personal choice, at an individual level.

On the other hand, collectivistic cultures support customers to make consumption decisions on a group level.

It is this understanding that makes or breaks a brand when they decide to enter a market

Nokia in the above example recognized the different customer needs and adopted the brand to the preferences of customers.

Cultural differences mandate that brands be sensitive to different cultural facets. Further, these cases offer some very important points that should be fully appreciated by any brand manager or CMO that aspires to be successful in cross-cultural settings.

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