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"Why Is It Important For Marketing Strategists To Think In Terms Of Cultural Issues And Cultural Factors When Formulating A Marketing Strategy?"

2804 words - 12 pages

"Why is it important for marketing strategists to think in terms of cultural issues and cultural factors when formulating a marketing strategy?" Introduction Marketing strategy, as summarised by Drummond & Ensor (1999) '...involves achieving a superior competitive position within a defined market...it involves segmentation, targeting and positioning.' However, those three aspects of the strategy to achieve a superior competitive position would, possibly, require the consideration of cultural differences within and between the target markets.Advertising, in essence, rarely appeals to the reasoning, thinking, rational part of us all. If it did then it might not fulfil its objectives in the ...view middle of the document...

This is to be explored herein.Culture But, what is a culture? Let us begin by having Rand (1963) explain what it is not: "...a culture is not the anonymous product of undifferentiated masses, but the sum of the intellectual achievements of individual men." This explanation is problematic as it challenges any collectivist notion one may hold that a 'culture' can be summed up in a few pithy phrases (often negative). For example, we cannot say that 'Germans are law-abiding' when we consider that country's darkest periods of twentieth century history. Nor may we say that 'Japanese respect authority' when we consider the recent chemical attacks on the Tokyo subway by religious fundamentalists.Such generalised statements may be a convenient way of putting a label on a group of people, or a country, but can they really be thought of as a useful consideration to the marketing strategist? Alas, no - they cannot. Such generalisation cannot hope to capture the richness and diversity of a culture. As Locke (1998) suggests, what is required in an idealised treatment is, 'individuality awareness'.However, to what extent can the culture of the individual be considered when our marketing manager, of necessity, has to make decisions in potentially very large markets? Should he allow them to be fragmented along cultural lines in order to avoid the complexity of many, many groups of like-minded individuals? Perhaps, then, a better understanding of 'culture' is required - and here we arrive, again via Rand (1982), at a definition that allows for Locke's awareness of the individual and Rand's dismissal of the collective: "Since a culture is a complex battleground of different ideas and influences, to speak of a 'culture' is to speak only of the dominant idea, always allowing for dissenters and exceptions." This would seem to indicate that any marketing strategy would have to be directed towards the dominant idea of the target market. This may or may not also be the lowest common denominator in terms of the intellectualisation of the strategic approach to be used.So, our mythical marketing manager, in formulating his strategy, should take into account the dominant idea governing the culture within his target market and allow for the fact that his potential capture will never reach 100% due to the 'dissenters and exceptions'.The dominant idea of the culture may be projected, when considering the degree of importance placed upon such concepts as self-reliance, on to a continuum from 'collectivist' to 'individualist' - these being the philosophical extremes between the mysticism of Plato and the rationality of Aristotle, as posited by Wallace (1994). This should give an indication of the direction the marketing strategy should take, based on whether the market responds better to individualist or collectivist sentiments.For example, Trim and Lee (1999) have suggested that the Japanese are strongly collectivist and actively search for group approval in their personal...

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