Impact of society and culture on marketing and consumer behavior

Page content

Society and culture play a significant role in shaping marketing strategies and influencing consumer behavior. The impact of society and culture on marketing is multifaceted, and understanding these dynamics is crucial for businesses aiming to connect with their target audience effectively. Businesses cannot remain unaffected from sociocultural factors, since an awareness of these factors can help businesses and marketers understand customer needs and cater to them effectively.

Consumer behavior may differ from culture to culture and from subculture to subculture. Even within the same geographical region, you may find different cultures and subcultures thriving. For example, while there are cultural similarities between the countries in the Middle East, the minute cultural differences still matter in terms of marketing and consumer behavior. Suppose, there is a business operating in a market with high cultural diversity like India. Then the awareness of the local culture and subcultures will help the business operate efficiently and connect more effectively with the consumers.

Here are several ways in which society and culture affect marketing:

1. Cultural Values and Norms:

  • Influence: Cultural values and norms shape individuals’ beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors. Marketing messages that align with prevailing cultural values are more likely to resonate with the target audience. People may find things that do not align with their cultural values and beliefs offensive. Culture can have a deep influence on people’s perceptions and their behavior. However, marketers need to be aware of the cultural values and norms shaping consumer behavior. Anything that aligns with those values may gain a positive reception.
  • Example: Advertisements emphasizing family, community, or environmental responsibility may align with cultural values and gain positive reception. Not all cultures encourage individuality. It is important to understand how family values, and sense of community come into play across diverse cultures. It will help at designing effective marketing strategies that are received positively by the local consumers. This way, a firm might find it easier to connect with the consumers by emphasizing their cultural and social values in their marketing messages.

culture and marketing### 2. Cultural Sensitivity:

  • Impact: Ignoring or disrespecting cultural sensitivities can lead to backlash and negatively impact a brand’s image. Successful marketing embraces cultural diversity and seeks to be inclusive and respectful. It is important to be culturally sensitive and respectful towards the local cultural values. A disregard of culture and traditions may be considered offensive and will receive a backlash. If not a backlash, then advertisements and marketing material that do not align with cultural sensitivities may easily be disregarded by the local population. For lack of cultural sensitivity, a company’s entire marketing strategy in a region may fail.
  • Example: Adapting marketing materials to different cultural contexts, avoiding stereotypes, and respecting cultural traditions. Marketing may need to be localized to appeal to local culture and traditions. Successful brands align their marketing strategy with the local culture and seek opportunities to gain cultural affiliation through proper marketing techniques.

3. Language and Communication Styles:

  • Influence: Language nuances and communication styles vary across cultures. Effective marketing involves using language and communication styles that resonate with the cultural preferences of the target audience. The style of communication can have a distinct impact in terms of marketing. For a marketing campaign to be highly effective in a region, you need to align it with the local language and communication styles. Several international brands have adopted strategies to market their brand in various areas using local language and communication style for a superior impact. However, there is still a need to exercise caution, since one may end up offending consumers inadvertently.
  • Example: Adapting marketing messages to local languages and considering communication styles, humor, and idioms relevant to the culture. The local language and communication styles can be the best to connect with a large segment of consumers in any region. While on the one hand, it can help gain relevance and attract consumers faster, in the longer term it can also be key to gaining consumer loyalty.

4. Cultural Symbols and Imagery:

  • Impact: The use of symbols, imagery, and colors can have different meanings across cultures. Marketing materials must consider cultural symbolism to avoid unintended meanings or misinterpretations. The same colors and imagery may have a distinct meaning in the context of one culture and another for a different culture. These cultural differences and special meanings of various factors need to be accounted for in terms of marketing. While black color is considered sacred in some cultures, it has different connotations in another culture. The sign of Swastik is considered sacred in the Indian culture, but it is also related with fascism in other cultures.
  • Example: Colors associated with luck or prosperity in one culture may have different connotations in another. The red color may signify joy and luck in one culture but in another, it may be considered a sign of danger. So, to market in a culturally sensitive manner, it is important to use the appropriate colors and imagery in marketing materials.
  • Influence: Marketing campaigns that tap into current social trends and movements can capture the zeitgeist and resonate with socially conscious consumers. For example, across various societies and cultures, health awareness and environmental awareness has increased among people since the pandemic. This is a trend that is happening at a global scale. It is something that has made its way into everything from fashion and food to entertainment.
  • Example: Brands supporting social causes or promoting sustainability may appeal to consumers who align with those values. In some societies, companies may find it easier to achieve higher popularity and publicity by supporting local causes. Supporting minority owned businesses, doing business sustainably, investing in improving digital equity, all of these can have a positive impact on a company’s image. People now want their fashion to reflect their health awareness and this is how athleisure trends came into being.

6. Demographics and Social Structures:

  • Impact: Demographic factors such as age, gender, and social structures influence consumer preferences and purchasing behavior. Marketing strategies must consider these factors to tailor messages effectively. The demographic and social structure have a special meaning for every society and culture. The social structures like family, religion, etc have a strong influence on the larger systems like the political and legal systems of a market.
  • Example: Products targeting different age groups or genders may use diverse marketing approaches. Companies must consider these factors including age, gender, family, religion, etc when crafting marketing messages to achieve the desired marketing objectives.

7. Cultural Rituals and Traditions:

  • Influence: Cultural rituals, ceremonies, and traditions can provide opportunities for targeted marketing campaigns that align with specific cultural events. Culture does not always pose a challenge in terms of marketing but also presents opportunities to connect with your target audience. Companies can use such opportunities like local festivals and ceremonies to connect with their target audiences and send them best wishes.
  • Example: Seasonal marketing campaigns tied to cultural celebrations or holidays. Companies can tie special occasions like Christmas, valentine’s day and other celebrations to marketing and promotions. Many companies run special offers during such holidays to attract customers. While such campaigns help attract customers, they can also help drive customer satisfaction higher.

8. Technology Adoption and Digital Culture:

  • Impact: Societal attitudes toward technology and digital culture influence how businesses approach online marketing, e-commerce, and social media strategies. Worldwide, the use of technology has grown with time and people are using digital channels for various things like communication, shopping, and entertainment. The use of social media has also increased across various regions. People’s attitude towards technology is changing with time as the acceptance of digital technology has grown with time.
  • Example: Brands leveraging social media influencers or using innovative digital marketing strategies to reach tech-savvy audiences. Companies can leverage local social media influencers to reach local audiences in various markets. In the urban areas across most markets, companies can easily leverage digital channels to grow their influence and for marketing and promotions.

9. Cultural Perceptions of Beauty and Fashion:

  • Influence: Cultural standards of beauty and fashion significantly impact marketing in industries such as beauty, fashion, and personal care. The cultural standards of beauty and fashion also differ from market to market. People’s preferences in terms of fashion, clothing and beauty products also differ from culture to culture. Though in general, being beautiful means attractive and desirable, the sense of beauty differs based on several variables like geographic region, religion, tradition, age, gender and socioeconomic status. Anatomical differences among people across various geographic regions also affect their perceptions and sense of beauty.
  • Example: Brands adapting their products and marketing to align with diverse cultural perceptions of beauty. Companies which are involved in beauty and fashion marketing especially need to focus on cultural perceptions of beauty. It will help them design effective marketing campaigns and create products that appeal to the local people and their sociocultural values.

10. Cultural Influencers and Opinion Leaders:

Impact: Cultural influencers and opinion leaders can sway consumer perceptions and preferences. Successful marketing often involves collaboration with figures who hold cultural influence. These figures can help brands overcome cultural barriers easily and connect with a very large customer base efficiently. Brands collaborate with local film stars, and other cultural icons like musicians to help them market their products and brands.

Example: Brands partnering with celebrities or influencers who are respected within a particular cultural or social group. There are several such multination businesses whose partnership with influencers across various areas of life and across various cultures has proved fruitful in terms of marketing and business growth.

11. Consumer Buying Habits:

Influence: Cultural influences shape consumer buying habits and decision-making processes. Understanding cultural preferences and values helps businesses tailor marketing strategies.

Example: Preferences for group-oriented decision-making in some cultures may influence family or community-focused marketing.

12. Cultural Adaptation and Localization:

Impact: Businesses that adapt their products, services, and marketing strategies to local cultures often gain a competitive advantage. It helps them generate higher demand and popularity and introduce products that appeal to the local consumers.
Example: Global brands adjusting product features or marketing messages to suit cultural preferences in different regions. Companies can localize their products and marketing efforts to resonate with the social and cultural values of the region.

13. Cultural Attitudes Toward Time:

Influence: Cultural attitudes toward time impact marketing and communication. Some cultures prioritize punctuality and efficiency, while others may have a more relaxed approach. In some cultures, being late is not considered appropriate and may offend consumers. In some cultures, arriving a bit late may be considered acceptable.
Example: Marketing campaigns considering cultural perspectives on time-related values. In terms of business and marketing, it is important to understand the local cultural attitude towards time and define ground rules to avoid cross cultural misunderstanding.

14. Crisis Response and Cultural Sensitivity:

– Impact: During crises or sensitive events, understanding cultural nuances is crucial to crafting appropriate responses and maintaining brand reputation. Brands that can craft appropriate responses to such sensitive events achieve people’s sympathy and trust.
– Example: Brands addressing crises with cultural sensitivity and acknowledging local sentiments. It is important for brands to build and understanding of the local culture since it will come handy during sensitive events.

15. Cultural Diversity in Product Offerings:

Influence: Brands that recognize and celebrate cultural diversity in their product offerings may appeal to a broader and more inclusive audience. Understanding cultural diversity helps businesses and marketers create products that can better fulfil people’s needs. It will also help them create higher emotional satisfaction for their customers. Moreover, recognizing the cultural diversity may also help fill important gaps in the product range.

Example: Food and beverage companies offering diverse flavors and cuisines that cater to different cultural preferences. Several leading fast food and beverages brands have been able to localize the items and flavors they offer to grow their appeal in various regions across the globe.

In summary, successful marketing involves a deep understanding of the cultural context in which businesses operate. Brands that acknowledge and respect cultural diversity, adapt their strategies accordingly, and align with societal values are more likely to build strong connections with their target audience. Cultural competence is a key aspect of building a global and inclusive brand presence. While for some companies, culture can become a barrier, for the others, it can become an opportunity to grow their influence across various markets and connect with consumers at a deeper level. Culture presents both opportunities and challenges. However, culturally sensitive marketing tends to be more effective and satisfying for consumers. Brands that demonstrate cultural sensitivity in their business and marketing strategies tend to find higher success in the long run.