Cross-Cultural Consumer Behavior
March 12, 2012
Cross-Cultural Consumer Behavior
When a company makes the decision to market their product or service to multiple cultures, they must be very aware of the intricacies and differences between each of the cultures. While some customs or traits associated with a particular culture are very overt or obvious, others may not be. Detailed analysis must be done to ensure that all of these traits have been considered. Failure to do so could result in a lack of profits at best and a negative hit to a brand name at worst. Two case studies give examples of companies attempting to market and sell their products ...view middle of the document...
So much in fact that some of the “key” features of the iPhone that were so groundbreaking in other countries were nothing new in Japan. 3G data network technology on cell phones had been in use for some time there. Other technical features such as GPS and navigation were also “old hat”. And perhaps the most touted feature of the iPhone, the touch screen, was not of much interest to the Japanese people because they weren’t certain that they could get used to it. Further lessening interest from the Japanese people in the iPhone was the lack of features that they had already become accustomed to like using their smartphones as debit cards and for viewing digital and satellite television. One feature in particular, called “emoji”, was missing on the iPhone. This application allows the user to easily insert clip art into messages. This was an extremely popular feature in Japan at the time.
The mistake that Apple made when they released the iPhone in Japan was not the release itself. It only made sense to introduce the first of what would become a quickly-progressing line of high-end smartphones into arguably the most technologically savvy country in the world. The mistake was made in the marketing effort. The first problem was in the marketing analysis. When selling a product to a particular demographic it is extremely important to first understand what the needs are in that demographic that your product might meet. This is especially the case with technology, where advancements come at such a fast pace that everyone is always forced to look ahead in order to compete. Apple did an excellent job at this outside of Japan. They understood what people wanted in a smartphone and how they wanted to use it. But they made a glaring error when they made the assumption that Japan would be “just like everyone else.”
Noting this fact is not to suggest that Apple should have necessarily delayed the release of the iPhone in Japan until they could add some of these additional features. That would have likely ended up being a never-ending effort that would negatively impact their progress elsewhere. But understanding where their strengths and shortcomings were in the Japanese market would have allowed them to better predict sales as well as shape their marketing campaign there in a way that highlighted the benefits of getting “on-board” with the iPhone early based on features that were still yet to come. It is very possible that there was not much that Apple could have done to make a very big difference in iPhone sales in Japan. They should not, however, have been in a situation where they were expecting 100% more sales than they achieved. The money lost on logistics alone to prepare for a million sales was probably much more than it would have cost Apple to put in a little more time in market research.
Case Two: Would Mickey Mouse Eat Shark’s Fin Soup?
Disneyland has enjoyed tremendous success for decades in the United States. As it...