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When a journalist from Missouri sent a photo of herself to 25 countries with the message: “make me look beautiful”, she received 25 utterly different images . She was edited according to the perception from different nations. Marketing, design, PR, photography and editing in other countries are all very diverse/different, how can your business take these perspectives into account? Even if you don’t export internationally, the diversity of your customers can impact your marketing.

Cross-Cultural Marketing

People who are from different countries have a different concept of what is a normal conduct. These behavioural differences are the result of people in different communities being taught different aspects and values. When companies sell products to countries which have morals & values different than their own, it is known as cross-cultural marketing. For example, Pepsodent tried to sell its toothpaste in Southeast Asia by emphasising that it “whitens your teeth.” They found out that the local natives chew betel nuts to blacken their teeth which they find attractive!

Fit in or stand apart?

Whether you are trying to sell internationally or not, it is a good idea to fit in whilst standing apart just a bit. Some businesses who managed to do that very well are Ikea and McDonalds as well as a number of fashion businesses. After all, businesses based on taste whether in food, style or fashion are the most forced to take the cultural and consumer differences into account.

McDonalds products are totally different throughout the world, the people in France might not like spicy meat but the Mexicans absolutely love it. Just take a look at the list of different Mc Flurries in the world.

Changing the marketing mix

When modifying the marketing mix for a diverse client base, you need to first develop a thorough understanding of the unfamiliar target market to which you wish to sell and be sure your current marketing mix fits the culture and characteristics of this new market. Some businesses change their brand name but keep the branding layout the same so it is still recognisable in other countries. The chocolate called Galaxy here is called Dove abroad.






How not to do it!

– A golf ball manufacturing company packaged golf balls in packs of four for convenient purchase in Japan. Unfortunately, pronunciation of the word “four” in Japanese sounds like the word “death” and items packaged in fours are unpopular.

– Mountain Bell Company tried to promote its telephone and services to Saudi’s. Its ad portrayed an executive talking on the phone with his feet propped up on the desk, showing the soles of his shoes, something an Arabian person would not do.

– A company advertised eyeglasses in Thailand by featuring a variety of cute animals wearing glasses. The ad was a poor choice since animals are considered to be a form of low life and no self-respecting Thai would wear anything worn by animals.

– There is even a detergent called ‘barf’, not sure if we would buy that one…


 So altogether, it might be handy to take different morals & values into account.


Bare Bones Marketing




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