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Chapter 14

ADM 3321 Chapter Notes - Chapter 14: Geert Hofstede, Binary Opposition, Nuclear Family

Course Code
ADM 3321
Michael Mulvey

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Chapter 14
Cultural Influences on Consumer Behaviour
Culture, a concept crucial to the understanding of consumer behaviour, may
be thought of as a society’s personality.
Culture: accumulation of shared meanings, rituals, norms, and traditions
among the members of an organization or a society.
Culture is the “lens” through which people view products.
A consumer’s culture determines:
! the overall priorities her or she attaches to different activities and
!success or failure of specific products and services.
The relationship between consumer behaviour and culture:
!Products and services that resonate with the priorities of a culture
at any given time have a much better chance of being accepted by
!The study of new products and innovations in product design
successfully produced by a culture at any point in time provides a
window into the dominant cultural ideals of that period.
Aspects of Culture
!Culture is not statics.
!It is continuously evolving and synthesizing old ideas with new
!A cultural system consists of 3 functional areas:
o!1. Ecology: the way in which a system is adapted to its
!!E.g. industrialized societies vs. developing countries.
o!2. Social Structure: the way in which orderly social life is
!!E.g. the nuclear family vs. the extended family.
o!3. Ideology: the mental characteristics of people and the
way in which they relate to their environment and social
!!Members of the society share:
"! certain ideas about principles of order and
"!Ethos: set of moral and aesthetic principles.

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Values and Norms
o!One key cultural dimension that distinguishes cultures is the
values thought to be important in a given culture.
o!Values: shared beliefs shaped by individual, social and
cultural forces.
o!Most cultures value family, health, happiness, and wisdom.
o!What sets cultures apart is which values are seen as being
relatively more important.
o!Therefore, a marketing message that is appealing to one
culture might not be so appealing to another.
o!It is usually possible to identify a general set of core values
in a culture.
o!E.g. American culture: freedom, youthfulness, achievement,
and activity v.s. Japanese culture: security and a feeling of
o!These differences in values often explain why marketing
efforts that are big hit in one country can flop in another.
o!One of the most widely used measures of cross-cultural
values is an instrument developed by Geert Hofstede. It
scores a country in terms of its standing on 5 dimensions so
that users can compare and contrast values:
!!1. Power distance
"!The extent to which the less powerful members of
organizations and institutions (e.g. the family)
accept or expect that power is distributed
"!High-power distance countries: greater degree of
inequality in society and organizations.
"!Low-power distance countries: more equality.
!!2. Uncertainty avoidance
"!A society’s tolerance for uncertainty and
"!High cultures: dislike and avoid uncertain, novel
or unusual situations.
"!Low cultures: more open to uncertain events and
!!3. Masculinity/femininity

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"!The degree to which gender roles are clearly
"!Traditional societies: more likely to possess very
explicit rules about the acceptable behaviours of
men and women.
"!High masculine countries: assertiveness,
dominance, competition and segregated gender
"!Feminine cultures: modesty, caring, compassion,
and less differentiation between the gender roles.
!!4. Individualism/collectivism
"!The extent to which the welfare of the individual
versus that of the group is valued.
"!Collectivist culture: people subordinate their
personal goals to those of a stable in-group.
!Self-discipline, accepting one’s position in
"!Individualist culture: consumers attach more
importance to personal goals, and people are
more likely to change memberships when the
demands of the group (e.g. workplace) become
too costly.
!Personal enjoyment, excitement, equality
and freedom.
!!5. Long-term orientation
"!Long-term orientation: Orientation towards future
!E.g. perseverance and thrift.
"!Short-term orientation: values virtues related to
the past and present.
!E.g. respect for tradition, preservation of
“face”, and fulfilling social obligations.
o!From values flow norms: rules dictating what is right or
wrong, acceptable or unacceptable.
o!Enacted norms: such as green traffic light means “go”, red
means “stop”, are explicitly decided upon.
o!Crescive norms: much more subtle, embedded in culture,
and discovered only through interaction with other members
of that culture. They include the following:
!!Custom: A norm handed down from the past that
controls basic behaviours.
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