Stephan Dahl Cultural Values in Beer Advertising in the UK, the Netherlands and Germany Presented at the Research Day, Intercultural Discourse Group, University of Luton , UK– July 2000 Available Online: http://dahl.at/ Introduction Is it possible to persuade consumers in different markets with the same advertising message? Will they respond favourably? Or should the advertising message be customised to reflect local culture? This question is one of the most fundamental decisions when planning an advertising campaign in different cultural areas, and, not surprisingly, one of the most frequently discussed issues in advertising today. One fraction in this debate emphasises that the world is growing ever closer, and that the world can be treated as one large market, with only superficial differences in values (Levitt, 1983). In their view, advertising and marketing can be standardised across cultures, and the same values can be used to persuade customers to buy or consume the product. Another fraction is content with the fact that the basic needs may well be the same around the world, however the way in which these needs are met and satisfied differs from culture to culture. Any marketing (and advertising) campaign should, in their view, reflect the local habits, lifestyles and economical conditions in order to be effective. In 1985, Woods et al. concluded in a study of consumer purpose in purchase in the US, Quebec and Korea, that “important differences are found in the reasons why they [the consumers] purchase products familiar to all three countries”. Central to this debate, are two issues: The product position and usage within the culture of the market, and the decoding of the advertising message. Both are, obviously, linked to some extend. An advertising message encoded in one culture has to be decoded in another culture in the case of standardised marketing. This process may be subject to severe distortions, as the receiver will decode the message in his/her own cultural context. A standardised approach could hence run into the danger, that the message will be unconvincing, as it does not meet the psychological “triggers” required to evoke a purchase decision with the consumer. Given Woods et al. research , this appears to be a problem that marketers should be clearly aware of. In order to understand the decoding process in the target market, it will be essential to study the product perceptions and reasons for purchase, as well as the product’s place in the target culture. An example of this would include wine, perceived as a relative “special occasion” drink in most northern European countries, however understood as an every day drink in most Southern European countries, where it is seen similar to the beer’s perception in Northern Europe. To market a table wine as ” add a touch of luxury to every day” (German advertising) would undoubtedly appear strange and possibly confusing to Southern European consumers. Conversly, when advertising washing powder, consumers in both northern as well as southern European markets may expect information on the effectiveness of the product to dominate the commercial. As an increasing number of researchers has pointed out (Caillat & Mueller, 1996), that it is important not only to study advertising in general, but to concentrate on differences in product categories in order to find prevailing differences in advertising style and values. Caillat & Mueller (1996) themselves published a comparison for beer advertising in the UK and the US, concluding that the “differences between British and American advertising were significant,
indicating that consumers of the two countries are currently exposed to distinct styles of commercial messages based on different cultural values”. Equally, Cheng & Schweitzer (1996), after examining Chinese and US television commercials, concluded: “We also found that cultural values depicted in Chinese television commercials have much to do with product...
References: Albers-Miller, N. D. (1996). “Designing cross-cultural advertising research: a closer look at paired comparisons.” International Marketing Review 13(5): 59-75. Alden, D. L., W. D. Hoyer, et al. (1993). “Identifying Global and Culture-Specific Dimensions in Humor in Advertising: A Multinational Analysis.” Journal of Marketing 57(2): 64-75. Caillat, Z. and B. Mueller (1996). “The Influence of Culture on American and British Advertising.” Journal of Advertising Reserach(May/June): 79-88. Levitt, T. (1983). “The Globalization of Markets.” Harvard Business Review 61(May/June): 92-102.
Please join StudyMode to read the full document