The impact of culture on branding

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  • Publicado : 31 de julio de 2010
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The Impact of Culture on Branding Culture is the cumulative concept that encompasses knowledge, belief, customs, practices and any other habits acquired by people as members of society. A culture operates primarily by setting loose boundaries for individual behavior. Culture, in effect, provides the framework within which individuals and households function. A major consequence of culture is itsimpact on consumption patterns of individuals and institutions. Depending on the underlying cultural philosophy consumers tend to follow certain consumption patterns. Successful brands have been able to adopt their branding strategies in line with this dominant cultural philosophy and weave their brands into the cultural fiber. One of the underlying premises of branding is its ability to reducecustomers’ search cost and perceived risk by standardization of images, messages, communications, attributes and features. As such brands generally strive to maintain their defining brand identity, brand personality, brand images and brand elements across markets. This standardization which forms the fundamental building block of a brand itself poses the first challenge in cross cultural situations.Many a times, brands will need to adopt their offerings to different cultures and this violates the standardization principle. Therefore deftly handling the standardization and adoption issue becomes extremely crucial. One of the biggest implications of globalization for brands seeking to expand to foreign shores is the task of balancing standardization with customization. When some of theworld’s biggest brands expand beyond their home markets, they are tempted to repeat their tried and tested formula in the new market as well. In fact this has been the path followed by many brands. The assumption in such a case is that customers would be too eager to consume the great brand because of its authenticity, heritage and associations. But this tendency is gradually changing as global companiesare learning about the unique needs of the customers in different markets along with the pressures of lifestyle, economic and cultural conditions. Consider the success of global brands in the Indian market. One of the booming economies in Asia, India offers tremendous opportunities to global companies. A brief look at the Indian landscape would prove why – an estimated 1.2 million affluenthouseholds that is expanding at 20% a year, 40 million middle income households (earnings of US$20,000 to US$45,000 adjusted for PPP) growing at 10% a year, more than 110 million households with earnings of US$7,500 to US$20,000 (adjusted for PPP) and more than 70% of the population below the age of 36. It is no wonder then, that global brands are making a bee line to the Indian market to grab a share ofthe growing pie. This alluring face of the Indian business landscape has another facet to it and that is the highly discerning and demanding customers. In spite of the booming economy and the increasing disposable income, Indian consumers are very cautious and clear in their priorities. Consumers are still not ready to splurge on branded goods at premium prices. Added to this is a growing numberof Indian brands that offer superior quality at affordable prices. In such a scenario, global brands can win only if they attune themselves to the local conditions. Unilever is a classic example of a global brand which has pioneered serving the locals with products that address the local sensitivities. Unilever’s Indian subsidiary Hindustan Level Limited (HLL) has been the leader in recognizingthe tremendous opportunity lying at the bottom of the pyramid – customer base that aspires to consume products but in smaller quantities and at lesser prices. HLL literally invented the shampoo sachets – small plastic packets of shampoo for as less as INR 1 (USD0.022). This became such a rage among the

rural consumers that many other brands started offering products such as detergent, coffee...
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