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Culture – Context for Media, Marketing and Globalization

People are loyal to culture not strategy!

Culture provides an important context for our communication, media usage, marketing and global strategies. People travel, migrate or connect online always carrying their culture with them. Therefore recognizing cultural diversity is a very important asset for any organization.

Recently I was invited by marketing agency Dart Group to speak at a Greenspot gathering in Amsterdam, where I discussed the importance of culture in international business. The audience included international marketing and communication professionals from various sectors. Below I provide a quick recap of the presentation which you can view at the bottom of this blog.

The purpose of the slides is not to provide answers but to present facts, raise questions, start a conversation and trigger the viewer to think differently. This led to a lively and informative discussion in the audience. It is obviously impossible to replace that with written notes. If you would like to discuss this further send me a message.

Culture eats strategy for breakfast

We all have our own reference points, heavily influenced by culture and things we hear, watch and read. Whether we operate nationally or internationally we all face the consequences of culture. Being intercultural aware helps us to identify those circumstances. This way we can avoid making assumptions that turn out to be incorrect. There are as many truths as there are contexts. Every person has his or her own reality. What maybe right to us could be totally unacceptable for people from other cultures. Understanding how culture affects our perception, thoughts, actions and relationships is the first step in becoming effective in our work. Cultural diversity has proven to be a key success factor for global brands.

How Culture Influences Marketing and Digital Media

Marketing and communication professionals in the West are usually trained on theories based on the needs, views and value systems of the Western cultures. These stand points are not necessarily applicable in cross cultural environments. 91% of the world’s population (outside the US and Western Europe) hold a different perspective on life because of their cultural background and upbringing. Successful marketing strategies developed in the US might prove to be ineffective in South America and Asia thus requiring localization efforts. So far only a handful of major brands have been able to capitalize on cross cultural marketing and growth strategies. Globalization has created significant challenges and problems for many smaller businesses who are yet to take advantage of the opportunities that globalization offers.

Over the past few years the immense growth of digital media has added a new dimension to global communication. While digital channels may have removed the geographical borders between countries, we are still tied to cultural boundaries. A global audience is now able to view all brand’s activities online, even if it was not designed for their local culture. Furthermore the digital revolution means different things to different cultures. For instance, a mobile phone is a luxury object for people in the West but it is a main source of information for someone in China and is an essential means of doing business and getting access to basic financial services for someone in Africa.

To remain effective in a global economy there is an increasing urgency for every professional to understand the role of culture.

How Can We Deal With Cultural Diversity?

The first step in intercultural effectiveness is to become aware of cultural differences. This presentation provides a brief and 360 degree view of culture including historical, social, communicative and organizational aspects of it. Only by understanding all of these aspects of culture we will be able to communicate effectively with our audience.

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