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Chapter 14

MAR4503 Chapter Notes - Chapter 14: Culture Shock, Roland Barthes, Sociological Perspectives

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Leslie Gordon

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Marketing Consumer Behavior Chapter 14
Cultural Systems
o Culture a society’s personality
Includes abstract ideas such as values and ethics and material objects and
services such as automobiles, clothing, food, and art.
The accumulation of shared meanings, rituals, norms, and traditions among the
members of an organization or society
Culture is the lens through which people view products
The effect we encounter such differences can be so great that the term culture
shock is not an exaggeration
Our culture determines the overall priorities we attach to different activities and
products, and it also helps us decide whether specific products will satisfy these
Helps us decide whether specific products will satisfy these priorities
o A product that provides benefits to members of a culture at any
point in time has much better chance to achieve marketplace
o The relationship between consumer behavior and culture is a two-way street
Consumers are more likely to embrace products and services that resonate with
a culture’s priorities at any given time
It’s worthwhile for us to understand which products do get accepted, because
this knowledge provides a window into the dominant cultural ideals of that
Dimensions of Culture
o Culture is not static
o A cultural system consists of these functional areas
o Ecology the way a system adapts to its habitat
The technology a culture uses to obtain and distribute resources shapes its
o Social structure The way people maintain an orderly social life
Includes the domestic and political groups that dominate the culture
o Ideology the mental characteristics of people and the way they relate to their
environment and social groups
They share a common worldview includes ideas about principles of order and
Ethos set of moral and aesthetic principles
The Yin and Yang of Marketing and Culture
o Cooptation outsiders transform their original meanings
The spread of hip-hop fashions and music is only one example of what happens
when the marketing system takes a set of subcultural
o The countercultures that originate these movements don’t just sit still
They develop strategies to reclaim their symbols and practices

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Locavore lifestyle that emphasizes the purchase of locally produced meat and
vegetables may find alternative channels of distribution to sell their authentic
versions to true believers
o How our culture creates these meanings which often resides in everyday products and
how these meanings move through a society
Cultural Movement
o At times we may feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of choices available to us in
the marketplace
The options available to us at any point in time actually represent only a small
fraction of the total set of possibilities
o Collective selection- many possibilities initially compete for adoption; most of them
drop out of the mix as they make their own way down the path from conception to
o The many images mass media present to us drive our choices, as well as our
observations of those around us, and even our desires to live in the fantasy worlds the
marketers create in the ads we see all around us
These options constantly evolve and change
o The widespread of adoption of hip-hop style illustrates some of the characteristics of
fashion and popular culture
Styles reflect more fundamental societal trends
Style begins as a risky or unique statement by a relatively small group of people
and then spreads as others become aware of it
Usually originate as an interplay between the deliberate inventions of designers
and businesspeople and spontaneous actions by ordinary consumers who
modify these creations to suit their own needs
Cultural product travel widely, often across countries and even continents
Influential people in media and increasingly everyday influences who are
actively in social media play a significant role in deciding which items will
o No single designer, company, or advertising agency creates popular culture.
o Culture production system (CPS) - the set of individuals and organizations that create
and market a cultural product
Determines the types of product it creates
Factors such as the number and diversity of competing systems and the amount
of innovation versus conformity each influence the selection of the products
from which we choose at any point in time
o A culture production system has three major subsystems
Creative subsystem generate new symbols and products
Managerial subsystem select, make tangible, produce and manage the
distribution of new symbols and products
Communication subsystem give meaning to the new product and provide it
with a symbolic set of attributes
o Many judges or tastemakers have a say in products we consider
o Cultural gatekeepers filter the overflow of information as it travels down the funnel

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High and Low Culture
o Art product is an object we admire strictly for its beauty or because it inspires an
emotional reaction in us
o We admire a craft product because of the beauty with which it performs some function
o A craft tends to follow a formula that permits rapid production
o A multinational team of consumer researchers extended the study of high and low art to
the realm of street art where artist create painting, murals, and other pieces in public
They identified numerous sites where the art became an instrument that was
used for transactions between the artists and people who lived in the area
Cultural Formulae
o The reliance on established plots and characters illustrates how mass culture churns out
products that aim to please the average taste of a mass audience
They are predictable because they follow a well-defined pattern
Cultural formula familiar roles and props occur consistently
o As members of the creative subsystem rely on these formulae, they tend to recycle
images as they reach back through time for inspiration
Cultural Stories and Ceremonies
o Every culture devel9ps stories and ceremonies that help its members to make sense of
the world
o To appreciate how primitive belief systems, influence our supposedly modern rational
society, consider the avid interest many of us have in magic
o Conditioned superstition consumers who don’t feel they have control over their
outcomes come to associate a product that is parried with a reward with the outcome
o Interest in the occult tends to spike when members of a society feel overwhelmed or
powerless; magical remedies simplify our lives when they give us easy answers
o Myth is a story with symbolic elements taht represent a culture’s ideals
o The story often focuses on some kind of conflict between two opposing forces and its
outcome serves as a moral guide for listeners
o A myth reduces anxiety because it provides consumers with guidelines about their world
Most members of a culture lean these stories, but usually don’t hear about
o Marketers adapt these stories and pattern their messages along a mythic structure
Basic struggles involving good versus evil play out in the fantasy world
o Corporations often have myths and legends in their history
The stories emphasize the dedication of the members and the importance of its
Myths serve four interrelated functions in a culture
Metaphysical they help to explain the origins of existence
Cosmological emphasize that all component of the universe is part of
a single picture
Sociological maintain social order because they authorize a social code
for members of a culture to follow
Psychological provide models for personal conduct
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