6 Dimensions of Culture That Impact Marketing Success
Culture is an aspect of human existence that influences the way people behave and make choices. It is often disregarded as unimportant by marketers due to the misconception that the world is gearing towards cultural agnosticism. Yet, they don’t realise that without the consideration of culture, marketing efforts are essentially useless.
It’s time to go back to theory! Below are the six dimensions of culture accompanied by a single tip regarding how professionals can best integrate marketing with each dimension:
Power distance index
This dimension refers to the level of inequality that exists between people with and without power within a specific country or society. Where power distance if high, there is a general expectation and acceptance of inequality in power.
Tip: When marketing in high power distance societies, such as India, make sure that your campaigns are winsome to the people in leadership positions.
Individualism vs. collectivism
This refers to the type of relationship that exists between people within their society. If a society is highly individualistic, then its people identify themselves as independent (“I” before “We”). Collectivist societies are interdependent (“We” before “I”).
Tip: In collectivist societies, such as the United Arab Emirates, you’re target audience is the whole community! Make sure your brand, even if usable to only some, is beneficial to everyone.
Masculinity vs. femininity
This dimension explains the distribution of roles between men and women. In highly masculine communities, the desire is maintain ambition and wanting to be the best. Strongly feminine communities prioritise enjoying what they do
Tip: Feminine communities, such as Scandinavia, are intolerant of gender-inequality. Therefore, marketers would do well by developing gender-neutral campaigns, to avoid hurting sentiments.
Uncertainty avoidance index
Describes how well people cope within anxiety-driven environments. Countries with a high uncertainty avoidance culture are inclined to feel threatened by the ambiguity of the future. On the other hand, countries with low uncertainty avoidance culture are confident in handling the ambiguity imposed by the future.
Tip: Where uncertainty avoidance culture is high, e.g. France, avoid risk-driven product promotions. If this is not possible, reduce perception of risk by making the product or brand transparent and highlight all of its advantages.
Long-term vs. short-term orientation
Refers to the level of preparation people maintain for the future. High long-term orientation is interrelated with pragmatic ideologies. These societies embrace and ready for change rather than to hold onto normative traditions and keep hesitant about change.
Tip: Understand that most short-term orientation countries, e.g. China, will be inclined to traditional marketing techniques (not digital!).
Indulgence vs. restraint
This refers to communities’ preference for either a loosely-knit (indulgent) or tightly-knit (restrained) societal framework. Individuals, in high indulgence communities, are more likely to give in to their desires and maintain a fulfilled lifestyles. Restrained communities, are more reserved and adhere to strict social norms.
Tip: Focus on marketing futuristic innovations and new products (such as AI technology or smart refrigerators) in indulgent societies, such as Australia. This will pave the way for universal adoption (by late majority and laggards existing in restrained communities).
Felisha Mendoza Mina is a multidisciplinary creative, teaming up with brands across Australia, North America and Europe. With 7+ years of experience across Graphic Design, Creative Direction, Videography, Photography and Marketing, she takes a highly integrated approach to media and communications that uses a breadth of technical and analytical skills to help industry leaders look better, work smarter, and create with efficiency.