Our cultural background shapes our habits and needs, sets boundaries, and affects specific relations to various content we encounter. We simultaneously adopt and project values to the elements that we receive and thus shape our attitude towards the surrounding content.
The expansion of digital culture in terms of digital communication, social networks, online shopping, consumption of news, and education has quickly changed our everyday lives. We have adapted and improved our habits due to the vast opportunities to save time and make daily processes easier.
As the digital field is the source of information and services, the main advantage is that we can fulfill various needs with ease. However, an issue may arise with the perspective we apply to those needs. If you own or advertise an online business, consider what people expect and look for when searching for a solution or service.
In the marketing field especially, there should be deep precautions for advertising in different cultural contexts. Various cultural backgrounds impose different expectations on advertisers and brands, and even a minor setback can cause profound implications or a negative effect on consumers. There are many things that online sellers should have in mind when it comes to advertising and cultural background, and we’ll list some of them in this blog.
Trust and Privacy
The first thing that a buyer expects from a seller is that all the steps of the purchasing process are safe and secure. However, different countries have different expectations for privacy or payment. For instance, if you wish to advertise on the European market, consider that countries like Norway, Denmark, Finland, and Sweden have a strict policy regarding online data privacy.
According to Best VPN, Norway has a 90.1 privacy index score. On the other hand, China and Vietnam are countries with the lowest internet privacy level. In Europe specifically, advertisers must lead their business according to GDPR –General Data Protection Regulation rules. Since 2018, it regulates how companies collect and use personal information from people living in the EU.
Not only do the consumers give importance to their privacy, but also the amount of information provided by the seller. Especially in countries with a high level of digital literacy, such as South Korea, Japan, and Saudi Arabia, the amount of information available on the website or e-commerce platform plays an important role when deciding whether to make a purchase.
Providing sufficient information and details about the product or service, delivery, shipping, return policy, payment methods, and membership creates a notion of trust among potential buyers and increases the chances for conversion. However, not all world regions are on a high level of digital competency. People from developing countries that are still entering the field of online shopping and digital consumerism would require more simplified procedures and enough information to feel safe to make a purchase.
Language Differentiation and Cultural Diversity
Alongside the data collection, the language that e-businesses use to address the customers also affects their trust. Even though we can observe English as the universal language, the data provided by Webinterpret shows that 56.2% of European consumers prefer content in their native language and give an advantage to it over the actual price of a product. Also, 19% of Europeans never search in foreign languages, while 42% never purchase in any other language but their own, and 9 out of 10 internet users would choose a website in their native language.
One of the key language aspects in marketing is the appropriate translation of foreign language terms within social media copywriting, company slogans, product descriptions, the content of webpages, etc. Some of the most famous marketing fails happened because of incorrect translation.
The next Pepsi campaign for the Chinese market is one example. Instead of “Pepsi Brings You Back To Life,” their wrong translation suggested to their consumers that “Pepsi Brings Your Ancestors Back From The Dead.” It shows that language is an essential and complex part of someone’s cultural background and should be carefully considered in any form of advertising.
Another marketing bust happened with a famous Dove Facebook ad showing an African American woman turning into a white female after removing a brown T-shirt. The post caused strong reactions among consumers accusing Dove company of racism, leading to the company apology and ad removal.
These are just some of the many examples of the importance of understanding global and local cultural contexts when creating an advertising campaign. Whether you create a Facebook or Instagram post, Google ad, an Amazon product detail page, or website content, be extremely careful when choosing a visual or textual creative solution. Even the slightest mistake can cause serious harm to your company’s reputation.
When entering a foreign market, the sellers should also consider consumers’ everyday habits and lifestyles from the country in question. For instance, Scandinavian countries and Germany have strong environmental policies, and a significant portion of their populations recycle regularly. This information can be beneficial to sellers since, in these markets, details such as packaging made of recycled materials or the product’s natural ingredients can be a determining factor for people in a purchase decision process.
Danish people give a great advantage to their comfort. They even have the hygge concept, which refers to coziness and well-being. Soothing themselves when it comes to home decor, life dynamic, drinking, and eating is essential to Danish people, which is valuable information if you are a brand or a seller entering the Danish market.
Global vs. Local
One advantage of online shopping is the wide availability of various products worldwide. But each world region has its local cultural marks and particularities. Therefore, advertisers should be cautious and respectful towards cultural variations and thoroughly familiar with cultural boundaries, gender roles, religions, and popular culture to avoid being disrespectful to the elements of the cultural context they are entering.
For instance, Canadian Food Basics made an offensive marketing move, advertising meat and alcohol for a holiday observed by Sikhs, a religious community that doesn't consume both groceries. Our advice is to be very careful and get familiar with the key aspects of the community that you are addressing, to avoid being offensive.
As we mentioned in the beginning, the digital world has transformed our everyday behavior and habits. We are engaging effortlessly with different content and have access to many sources of information. However, it should always be noted that no matter how tightly the online world has connected us, there are still significant differences among countries, based on cultural background, that companies should know and respect.
Many brands enter the global market every day, and their influence on global culture is indisputable. Still, there will always be certain cross-cultural boundaries that challenge marketers to use their creativity to respectfully present products and companies to people from different cultural backgrounds.
About the author
Nataša Aleksić is a PPC Specialist at Sellers Alley with three years of experience in digital marketing. With her background in social sciences, she showed an in-depth understanding of marketing mechanisms and gained valuable experience working with global brands, which led her to Amazon Advertising.