Marketing across culture is one of the biggest issues which multinational companies have been confronting nowadays. Since marketing is an important factor for the propagation of a particular product or company, marketing plan should also be effective simultaneously. Every organization has to pay attention towards all the aspects which can make a marketing plan successful and ethical aspect is one of them. Since global marketing is a complex process, ethical issues like cultural diversity is one of the major reasons that can cause failure of marketing plan.
Marketing across culture is basically defined as product or service promulgation beyond the borders. Since beyond borders, culture, lifestyle and audience get changed, the attitude of the people also gets changed simultaneously. (Hutterer 2006) So, it can be regarded an ethical dilemma to market the products on international level and for dealing with such situation, company needs to scrutinize interests, traditions and culture of the indigenous people. However, different organizations have developed dissimilar strategies in order to cope with such ethical issues.
Reasons of this dilemma
Cultural diversity is generated by dissimilarity between native culture and the culture beyond the borders. Since every society has its own culture, its audience also possesses dissimilar concerns, ideologies, concepts, principles and keeping all these dynamics under consideration, a marketing plan is developed so that it can come up with the requirements of that respective culture. (Hall & Hall, 1990) If the organizations neglect this aspect without considering the emotions and affiliations of its audience important, the result appears in the form of negative consequences.
Since the main reason of this dilemma is dynamic nature of traditions, the organizations usually employ strategic plan keeping the regional aspects under consideration. However, in such cases, the organizations which assume theory of relativism are considered successful because it enables them to come up with regional cultural requirements. Since there are no absolute criteria for universal morality in this regard, this ethical dilemma has been solved using the utilitarian approach and the example can be taken from IKEA Inc. In Saudi Arabia, they have kept ethical and moral concerns in limelight while marketing their services and their apology for using female images in marketing transmedia can be taken as evidence in this regard. (Quinn 2012)
Another reason why this thing is considered a dilemma is that marketing across culture makes it complex for the organizations to comply with the needs of customers since not only traditions, culture and thoughts of the audience change with the boundaries, but their taste and priorities also change simultaneously. For instance, McDonalds in India markets its products keeping the vegetarian audience under consideration while in other regions like USA, UK and Canada, they market their products through promulgating other additional factors. Hence, through this way, McDonalds not only keeps the cultural but also religious needs of its audience under consideration and this ethical aspect of its marketing plan makes it outstanding in one way or other.
However, with the expansion of the business on global level and with the advancement in technology, marketing has become rather a technical yet interesting task and the reason behind this fact is the propagation of social media and similar other sources. These sources have made it ample easy to approach targeted audience yet the cross-culture issue is still persistent since these sources do not give any remarkable evidence regarding the cultural diversity and marketing plan.
Comparatively, there are different other organizations like Air Asia which have been struggling with the ethical issue of marketing across culture. Though it has assumed different ethical approaches like absolutism, egoism etc in order to deal with its audience yet there is no remarkable progress in making its service a world popular one. However, there can be several strategic options available to deal with this issue of marketing across culture.
Different solutions for dealing with the issue of marketing across culture are as followed:
The first solution in this regard can be given in the form of pluralism since it enables the organization to have an in-between path of utilitarianism and absolutism. (Hinman 2011) Some organizations use absolute ethics for marketing its products and some consider utilitarianism as the best source of marketing across culture but both of them might cause failure since no absolute policy or theory works when the regions are diverse and discriminate from each other. So, only an organization, who assumes theory of pluralism in order to deal with this global dilemma, can get successful position in global market.
For this purpose, the organization can also do cultural analysis before marketing its product.
Cultural analysis before marketing:
This solution can be regarded one of the most significant steps in order to deal with the dilemma of marketing across culture. The reason behind this claim is that understanding the culture of the native people would not harm their feelings in any way. Suppose, if McDonalds never does cultural analysis in India and launches its products without differentiating vegetarian and non-vegetarian food, the result would appear in the form of violation of ethical code of that country. In such case, this organization would face severe opposition and there would be no profitability as well.
So, another best solution to deal with this issue would be cultural analysis of the organization and before marketing a specific product or service in any region of the world, it is mandatory for it to analyze the potential market from cultural perspective.
Change management strategy:
Apart from assuming above given both solutions, the organization would also need to have caliber to adopt change management strategy since marketing across culture would need a severe change in the core marketing plan of the company. In such case, the company would have to deal with the internal issues as well and it can deal with this global ethical dilemma only if it would be able to deal with the internal issues of the organization.
Through assuming all these three solutions, all the organizations aiming at expanding its services beyond borders can deal with the ethical dilemma of marketing across culture. Hence, only through dealing with ethical issues, the organizations can get successful marketing promotions throughout then world.
Hall, E. T. & Hall, M. R., (1990) Understanding cultural differences. Yarmouth, Me.: Intercultural Press.
Hinman, L. M. (2011) Ethics: A Pluralistic Approach to Moral Theory. Boston, MA: Wadsworth Pub.
Hutterer, R. (2006) Marketing Across Cultures – Qoo an International Success
Story? NY: GRIN Verlag
Quinn, Ben. “Ikea Apologises over Removal of Women from Saudi Arabia Catalogue.” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 01 Oct. 2012. Web. 05 Jan. 2013. .