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How Does Culture Affect Marketing?


When you’re creating marketing content, and you want to expand to a broader audience, you might simply think you can translate everything you already have into the targeted language.

Unfortunately, it’s not quite that easy.

Languages don’t translate one-to-one in many cases, and that can create problems or even lead to embarrassing marketing and translation mistakes that damage your brand.

A consideration for culture is one thing to keep in mind as you’re translating your branding and marketing content.

The following are specific ways culture has the potential to affect marketing.

Idioms and Slang

One of the ways to create either ineffective or even offensive marketing is to think you can translate English language idioms and slang successfully into international marketing.

When you localize your content, you need to be careful about the use of both phrases and words that are associated just with your culture.

Linguists often feel that idioms are the most challenging things to translate in a localized or culturally-relevant way.

There are often no equivalents across languages, or localized phrases might convey a certain type of imagery that’s not relevant in your target market.

Even when you’re developing international marketing with the same language, this becomes true. For example, an English speaker in Australia may not understand idioms common in the United States.

How Marketing Resonates

There was a study done by Welch’s grape juice. In one set of ads, the focus was on the benefits of drinking grape juice—for example, it’s energizing. The second set of ads used prevention as the core appeal.

For example, drinking grape juice could help with heart health and cancer prevention.

When Asian American participants viewed the messaging, they preferred the preventative set of ads, while Anglo Americans felt promotional messages resonated more with them.

This was in line with the theories of researchers that Americans value independence, achievement, and accomplishment, so they would want to make purchasing decisions based on what they see as a positive outcome.

Chinese subjects, on the other hand, the researchers theorized, value security and protection and tended to think about the world in a more interdependent way, leaving them to focus more on the negative consequences of actions.

Interestingly, once the study participants were asked to think about things on a deeper, more comprehensive level, many of the differences disappeared, but as marketers know, most consumers aren’t going to get into the deeper thinking.

When marketing’s goal is to get brief attention, a focus on culturally specific values may be more effective.

Consumption Habits

Different cultures have different consumption behaviors and habits. You have to look at these habits and figure out whether people in a target country make collective or individualized buying decisions.

You also have to understand both societal and psychological factors that play a role in how people in your target market purchase things and what influences their decisions stemming from their cultural environment.

There are even cultural implications in pricing strategies to be aware of. For example, people in the U.S. are widely known to have a higher purchasing power than people in emerging markets, so this has to be considered.

There are also some people with a high level of purchase power, but they’re more likely to save their money versus spending it, so you have to think about how your marketing could influence them to utilize their capability to purchase.


Depending on your target market, religion can be a huge cultural factor that you have to think about. Religious beliefs are going to influence how people view products and services.

In a Muslim country, you’re less likely to show women in secular clothing in your marketing, for example or showcase drinking.


If you aren’t able to convey your branding and messaging in a way that’s culturally relevant to your target audience, then you aren’t going to be able to build a sense of trust with them. Ultimately, that trust is what underlies your ability to get new customers and keep them loyal to your brand.

Every culture is different as far as how they view trust and how they connect.

If you take the time upfront to learn about cultural norms, you’re going to be on a better footing to develop a relationship based on trust among your targeted customers.

None of this is easy, and cultural considerations in marketing are restrictive. You can, however, address them and cultivate culturally sensitive marketing when you work with experts who understand the local environment you’re targeting.

Nancy is a young, full of life lady who joined the team shortly after the BelleNews site started to run. She is focused on bringing up to light all the latest news from the technology industry. In her opinion the hi-tech expresses the humanity intellectual level. Nancy is an active person; she enjoys sports and delights herself in doing gardening in her spare time, as well as reading, always searching for new topics for her articles.