It is common practice for businesses to have operations outside of the United States and it is extremely important for marketers to understand consumer behavior in the countries they plan on doing business in. In Chapter 9 of our text book, the authors discuss the multiple dimensions of cultural value.
For this assignment, choose one of the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) countries and compare it to the United States in relation to culture. Include the dimensions of culture including individualism, masculinity, power distance, uncertainty avoidance, long-term orientation, indulgence, and pragmatic outlook.
Consumer Culture Comparison of the United States and China
Babin & Harris (2015) have defined consumer culture as “the societal beliefs that define what is socially gratifying”. This is a concise definition that has the potential to guide marketers to devise strategies that would ensure that they are aware of the people in a culture seem to like and consider gratifying their needs. When we talk about consumer culture, we must be aware that this is a changing variable. It is not similar all over the world. In fact it is dependent on multiple local factors like individualism, masculinity, power distance, uncertainty avoidance, long-term orientation, indulgence and pragmatic outlook. In this paper, I would like to compare these consumer culture factors between USA and China.
USA is reported to have a high level of individualism (Jaju, Kwak and Zinkhan, 2002) which means that the degree of independence the US society has maintained for its individuals is high. China on the other hand is a society that is based on collectivism. In a study conducted to find the level of individualism, China only scored 20 out of a possible 100 (“China – Geert Hofstede” 2016). This signifies the fact that individuals are not that free in making personal decisions compared to the US.
Societies with higher masculinity are more assertive. Asian cultures in general are considered as masculine. Same is the case with Chinese culture. In contrast, US culture is not that much of a masculine. The fact that a culture is masculine is highly influential on making marketing strategies. So if you are advertising in China, you might want talk about being assertive but in the US, you can talk about the more soft angles of human personality.
Again, China is an example of an Asian culture. The power distance score of China is 80 out of a possible 100 (“China – Geert Hofstede” 2016). US culture is based highly on individualism meaning the youngsters are not dependent on their elders to make life decisions unlike Asian cultures. In China, children’s purchasing decisions may be influenced by their parents and/or other elders while in US, Children may be free to make purchases.
Uncertainty avoidance is highly related to being careful while making purchasing decisions. I mean if you have an abundance of money, you may not be that much concerned with uncertain circumstance that might be residing next door. On the other hand, with limited resource, you would be worried more about uncertainty. China has developed rapidly over the last few decades, therefore they are not highly worried about what the future would look like, just like in USA. Both these consumers may look to buy things that are used over a shorter period of time and then replaced with other items.
Long-term Orientation (LTO)
China is a pragmatic society with high LTO as compared to USA. China is more traditional than USA. But on the face value of it, I would say that the difference may not be that high. LTO refers to maintaining links with past while dealing with current challenges and those that are yet to be encountered. Both these societies are not disconnected from their past in my opinion.
Societies with weak control on their desires and impulses are indulged societies while those with a high control are called restrained societies. China is a traditional society with a high power distance. It is a restrained society where people learn to control their emotions and suppress them. Therefore, people are more focused on doing work and not that much interested in finding time to enjoy and engage in leisure activities. On the other hand, USA is a society that can be classified as indulgent. People in USA learnt to be expressive and look for leisure activities more often.
I would be concluding my discussion here by emphasizing that there are many differences in Chinese and US cultures. Having said that, there are also some similarities. It is the job of marketers and other researchers who help companies maximize their consumer base to critically evaluate these differences and similarities and come up with successful business strategies.
Babin, B. & Harris, E. (2015). CB7. Mason, Ohio: South-Western.
“China – Geert Hofstede”. 2016. Geert-Hofstede.Com. https://geert-hofstede.com/china.html.
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.