Comparison of USA to India in Relation to Consumer Culture
Culture plays an important role in consumer’s behavior towards different products. Marketers do research in different cultures before a product is launched. Even if it the same product, there could be a different strategy to introduce to two diverse cultures. Babin & Harris (2015) has defined consumer culture as “the societal beliefs that define what is socially gratifying”. Each culture has its own belief system and norms. Something that is absolutely normal in USA could well be considered abnormal in the USA. Consumer culture is dependent on the host beliefs and norms. Therefore, it becomes tricky to address two different cultures simultaneously. In this paper I would like to discuss the cultural comparison of American and Indian culture in relation to the consumer behavior. This discussion would provide an overview of what are the similarities and differences between these two cultures that organizations and specially marketers should account for when they are trying to have a presence in them. The discussion would circle around the behavioral factors like individualism, masculinity, long term orientation, power distance and uncertainty avoidance.
One of the factors that marketers have to assess before making a marketing decision is to know how much a country is individualistic or collective. The sense that I get from watching Indian media and friend from Indian culture is that it is a society based on collectivism. On the other hand the US society is more individualistic i.e. individuals are free to make their personal decisions. Research has also suggests that India society is less individualistic than US society is (Jaju, Kwak and Zinkhan, 2002). To do an advertisement campaign in India, the stress should be on family values etc. while in US, advertiser can openly talk about being yourself and taking personal decisions in your own hands etc.
Indian society is more masculine compared to US (Singh, Zhao & Hu, 2005). My personal opinion is that it would be ethically wrong to reinforce the masculine nature of the Indian society for financial gains as it could go against the right of the female society of India. But, staying within the ethical boundaries, it should be at the back of the minds of marketers and other businesses to know that the societal norm is masculine. US society is quite open compared to India in this regard in my opinion.
Long Term Orientation
India has explored less resources as compared to US. People in India are have less financial resources. In India, consumers would like to buy products that would last long as they might not be able to buy new products very often. On the other hand, in USA people have more financial resources and they could live with products that do not last for that long. They would be able to buy a new product when it is in the market.
We know that India is less developed compared to USA. There are many risks that Indians have to take on daily basis when they go out of their homes to work. Even their homes may not be fully checked for safety and security. In comparison, USA is a developed country. There are safety and security measure all over USA. Indians would tend more to avoid uncertainty as compared to Americans.
In India, there is a huge power distance. Youngsters are not that open in communication to the older people. Asian cultures have more power distance in general according to Babin & Harris (2015). The power distance causes a communication gap in a society. These kinds of societies tend to be more based on obedience and submission as compared to those societies which are open and the communicatin gap between different age groups is not that high. For US consumers it is easy to demand from their parent to buy them something as compared to India.
The same distance can also be observed in different classes in India. The distance between the lower and upper class in much more than in the US. This arises to a consumer market that demands products that are either very expensive or really cheap.
I would like to conclude my discussion by pointing out that the job of market researchers is not easy. Scientific tools can play an important role when making strategies for two culturally distinct countries and societies. Marketers should understand cultural norms before they can drop in a product or a service.
Babin, B. & Harris, E. CB7, 7th Edition.
Jaju, A., Kwak, H., & Zinkhan, G. M. (2002). Learning styles of undergraduate business students: A cross-cultural comparison between the US, India, and Korea. Marketing Education Review, 12(2), 49-60.
Singh, N., Zhao, H., & Hu, X. (2005). Analyzing the cultural content of web sites: A cross-national comparision of China, India, Japan, and US. International Marketing Review, 22(2), 129-146.