Culture has and continues to be a major determinant in how people make decisions on what they do, eat and even how they receive messages. It has gone beyond just being the way of life of a group of people to include their buying decisions, behavior and their brand choice. Due to culture, people act, interpret and respond to certain situations in different manners because what will work in one culture might not necessarily work or even be acceptable in another culture.
Over the years, the impact of culture on brands continues to grow. Whether positive or negative, it is important for brands to understand that culture continues to have a great impact on how the brand is perceived. Understanding these impacts and how to work around them is what gives one brand the upper hand over competition.
Since culture is a major part of life, brands have since found a way to adapt to changing cultural values in different countries over the world rather than ignore them. These values invariable affect consumer behavior to a large extent.
Impact of Culture on Brands
According to the branding strategy insider, a major consequence of culture is its impact on the consumption patterns of individuals and institutions. This points to the fact that for brands to effectively thrive in a place, the underlying cultural philosophy of the people needs to be taken into consideration. The ability of a brand to weave its message into the cultural fiber of the people will enable effective communication between the brand and its target market.
In practice, what your brand will do in the United Kingdom will differ from the strategy in Nigeria because of the cultural differences of both countries. A typical case study of this is seen in the case of Unilver. As a British-Dutch multinational company, Unilever has survived for over 80 years with its range of products in different countries. Their messages differ in every country based on the culture of their target audience; however, their core message remains the same.
The brands ability to take up the cultural philosophy of the people has enabled them thrive in different markets around the world. Two ways brands take on culture are standardization and customization.
Standardization Vs Customization
Many brands have one time or the other faced the issue of balancing standardization and customization which has become an impact of culture on brands.
Standardization is a typical issue of one size fits all, where brands decide to use the same brand message across all their markets both internationally and locally. The problem this poses is that what will work for culture A might be a regarded as a taboo by Culture B. Experts say that the downside to this is the inability of brands to capitalize on local market trends. With standardization, not taking the culture of the people into consideration will make the brand hit a road block.
On the other hand, with customization, the brand can put the culture of the people first which will be more beneficial for the brand in the long run.
As a brand, Coca-cola has taken customization and the culture of their customers into consideration. The taste of the drink remains the same around the world, however, the advertising changes to suit individual culture, from the models used in the ads to the mode of delivering the message. This will help the brand adapt and create the willingness to buy because the message being passed is relatable and is culture specific leading to the growth of the brand and profit maximization.