Cultural Sensitivity

Topics: Marketing, Cross-cultural communication, Culture Pages: 5 (1564 words) Published: February 12, 2014


Omega Manufacturing is headquartered in a regional manufacturing area in the United States. Company A produces engine components that undergo an extra heat-hardening process that provides extended life for engines of heavy-duty trucks, and it provides specialized machined engine components to all major U.S. truck and automobile manufacturers. Omega Manufacturing currently has 5,000 employees in the United States and wants to double its size within the next four years. After establishing through market research that a huge growth potential exists for new entrants of heavy-duty trucks in several target countries, Omega Manufacturing expanded successfully into Germany this past year. The company is now considering expansion into Eastern Asia, particularly Japan. Senior management believes Omega Manufacturing will more than double company profits with its expansion in the international market. The following report addresses some of the major cross-cultural challenges that likely may surface as the firm begins its expansion into Japan. CROSS CULTURAL MARKETING IN JAPAN

In order to deal with the cross-cultural marketing demands, we must first become aware of Japan's cultural differences. Some of the major cross-cultural issues that impact our marketing strategy will deal with Japan's customs, communication style, business conduct, and ethics. After thoroughly researching Japan and making note of the cultural differences, I realize how important cultural awareness is to Omega Manufacturing's success there. Japan is a very homogeneous country, only >2% of its inhabitants are foreigners. And to the majority of them, especially the older ones, respect for the culture is paramount. This respect is conveyed through language, body language, etiquette, and subtle forms of non-verbal communication ( The Japanese believe that foreigners, especially Americans are very rude and self absorbed, with no time for anyone but themselves, but a lot of these views come from the media, news, and Hollywood. It should also be noted that in Japanese culture peace, harmony, honor and etiqutte are important aspects and practiced throughout society and business. Understanding the valued principle of "Omoiyari" will aid in building strong business relations there. Omoiyari relates to the sense of empathy and loyalty encouraged in Japanese society and practiced in their business culture. It literally means "to imagine another's feelings", therefore building a strong relationship based on trust and mutual feeling is vital for business success in Japan (McKinley, 1995). In personal communications it should be noted that the Japanese do not communicate in a direct manner. Directness often leads to confrontation, which they believe should be avoided. Therefore, the more directly one communicates his ideas, both verbally and non-verbally, the more uncomfortable the Japanese listener becomes. Thus, it would be very rude to express oneself in such a manner. These crosss-cultural factors can present roadblocks in international marketing communications, but understanding these cultural differences will give us a competitive advantage in Japan. We cannot assume that market techniques used in other countries will automatically be successful in Japan. To succeed in this market we must show respect to its culture, because that culture has a great impact on consumer behavior and will effect the way that our product is viewed in Japan. For example, advertising methods viewed as acceptable in the USA may be viewed negatively in Japan. In the USA the sexualization of women in advertising is greatly accepted, but this same practice would be greatly frowned upon among the Japanese. We must also be concious of the need to, in all business and consumer interactions, incorporate traditional aspects of the Japanese...

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McKinley, Jim. (1995). Understanding the sources of Japanese business ethics: Japan Management Review ISSN 0968-7130. Copyright 1995 / MCB University Press, Retrieved on 10/07/12 from
Shimp, Terence A. and Subash, Sharma. (1987). "Consumer Ethocentrism: Construction and Validation of the CETSCALE," Journal of Marketing Research, 24 (August). Retrieved on 10/10/12 from
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