Exploring the Role of National Culture in Shaping Consumer Preferences

Consumer Preferences

Cultural Values Impact on Consumer’s Behavior

The national culture significantly impacts the way people think and behave. Culture serves as a lens through which people distinguish the world around them and understand their place in this world. It also influences decisions people make and thus determines consumer behavior.

Interestingly, aging lowered impulsive buying behavior among Asian buyers though it does not affect Western consumers. Researchers imply that this was one of the cultural elements known as risk avoidance orientation. Another cultural element that impacts different nationalities is time orientation. It defines how people of various nationalities tolerate such notions as lateness and inefficiency and how individuals are used to managing their time.

Particularly, US citizens are one of the most future-oriented people. They used to live quickly and value being busy. Contrastingly, French people are known to be present-oriented, which means they prefer living well in the moment, so they do not hesitate to take a proper lunch break and enjoy it at the moment. Those countries that are past-oriented, for example, India often tolerant regarding major lateness, such as hours-long train delays.

Cultural Dimensions that Affect Consumer Behavior

Individualism vs. Collectivism

Individualistic and collectivist cultures are the two basic categories into which cross-cultural psychologists often divide societies. Cultures that prioritize the needs of the individual above the requirements of the collective are said to be individualistic. People are seen as independent and autonomous in this type of society. As a result, individual attitudes and preferences often determine social behavior.

People are seen as “good” in an individualistic society if they are resilient, self-sufficient, decisive, and autonomous. This contrasts with collectivist societies, where virtues like selflessness, dependability, generosity, and assistance to others are valued more highly. Individualists are more prone to take matters into their own hands than persons in collectivist societies, who may turn to friends and family for help during difficult periods. Western European and North American cultures are prone to individualism. Marketing must consider this since consumers are more inclined to base purchases on how much they will benefit the larger family or social group rather than themselves.

Power Distance

When someone expresses a power distance belief, they convey their acceptance of the inconsistent distribution of societal power. While low power distance belief thinks that social power should be dispersed equally and that everyone is equal is normal, high power distance belief tends to support the idea that power discrepancy within a society is natural. People with a high power distance belief tend to believe in inequality more and are more used to making accommodations for it than those with a low power distance view. According to the research, those with high power distance prefer status brands more strongly than those with low power-distance beliefs. Consequently, people of high power distance often believe that buying status brands enhances their social status.

Masculinity vs. Femininity

Gender is another cultural factor that affects consumer behavior. The study showed that women have hedonic consumer behavior while men are more utilitarian. It means that women often pertain to emotional and essential reactions. To put it another way, they shop because they like it. In contrast, men have a more rational approach that implies the idea of shopping “to get something done.”

Uncertainty Avoidance

The degree to which people feel intimidated by uncertain or unfamiliar events is known as uncertainty avoidance. People with a high uncertainty rate often believe that if something is different, it can be dangerous. Studies show that people from cultures with high uncertainty avoidance will be slower in introducing and accepting technological communication (e.g., email, the Internet), even if they may ultimately use it more often than those in low-uncertainty cultures. They also don’t take as many chances, don’t invest as much in equities, and pay their debts slowly.

Long-term vs. Short-term orientation

Long-term-oriented societies embrace enduring traditions and values and are dynamic, future-oriented mentalities. Long-term-focused people work to uphold their long-term societal duties and prevent loss of face, as well as organizational identity and loyalty. Long-term thinking is prevalent in many Asian nations. In contrast, nationalities that focus on the short term are impatient, present-oriented, and driven by outcomes that can be seen now. Many Western nations are focused on the short term. Consequently, people with long-term orientation are often focused on materialistic value and tend to buy impulsively.

Implications for International Marketing Strategies

Companies are often interested in developing their businesses worldwide as it will result in higher sales rates and getting more customers. To do this, they need to understand these cultural dimensions because they directly influence people’s buying behavior. They need to be culturally sensitive, which means before going into the international market, it is essential to find out whether society has individualistic or collectivist buying behavior, what gender stereotypes exist in this particular country, how people are used to thinking about the importance of brands and their status in society, what is uncertainty avoidance rate and whether they are long or short term oriented. Knowing these cultural dimensions will help a company develop international marketing strategies that will fit a particular society.

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