Culture is often described as a learned set of elaborate perceptions, ideals and responses that are commonly held by a select group of people. In the field of business, marketing and sales professionals must understand the factors that influence the interaction between buyers and products or services. Often this interaction, including the factors that influence purchase decisions, influence culture.
Take into account the celebration of Christmas throughout the world and the various ways it is celebrated in different countries. An American producer of sneakers might make a terrible mistake if it fails to identify how differently Christmas is celebrated in different European countries. For instance, in the Netherlands, Sinterklaas stops at homes on December 6, but in England, Father Christmas arrives on December 25. In Greece and Russia, Epiphany (baptism of Christ) is celebrated on January 6. You can imagine the problems a business can have if it translates its advertising, for a Christmas promotional campaign across Europe, on the premise that all Europeans celebrate Christmas in December 25.
In a different example, Disney encountered many difficulties when they failed to recognize cultural differences that existed between their amusement parks in the United States and Euro Disney in France. For instance, while Americans prefer to snack between meals, the French and many other Europeans prefer a full course meal at lunchtime. Consequently, the cultural differences in eating and dietary choices led to long, frustrating food lines during lunch hours. To correct this problem, Euro Disney redesigned its restaurants and concession stands to improve convenience for its visitors. Furthermore, the daily park parades were rescheduled to be held before and after the main lunch hours.
Therefore, marketers must give careful consideration to cultural factors in their domestic and international markets. Marketers frequently overlook differences that exist outside their home markets. For these reasons, it’s important to consult with professionals in international markets to identify important cultural differences that can influence international buyer behavior and satisfaction.