International marketing or business is uniquely different from the local market because the product price, place and promotion is vastly different from what is been offered to local customers (Johansson, 2000) With the emergence of the information technology, cross border marketing has never been a distant dream. However, it has never been easier even for giant multinational companies to face challenges that come in international business. The biggest challenge comes from the culture which varies from country to country. At its basic understanding, international marketing engages the firm in making one or more marketing mix decisions across national boundaries. At its complex level, it involves the firm in establishing manufacturing facilities overseas and coordinating marketing strategies across the globe (Keegan, 2002). Other interpretations are “International Marketing is the performance of business activities that direct the flow of a company's goods and services to consumers or users in more than one nation for a profit (Cateora and Ghauri,1999). The international market goes beyond the export marketer and becomes more involved in the marketing environment in the countries in which it is doing business (Keegan, 2002). The simplest to the complex involvement would depend on many factors that vary from internal factors to external factors.
There are many studies and definitions in to culture and how culture could be a key influencer in business management. Culture according to Caterora (2009) refers to the way in which we do things in different societies. On the other hand Keegan (2002) refers to culture as a collection of elements mainly beliefs, values, language, religion and lifestyle that are unique from another. Kotler (2000) was of the opinion that culture plays a vital role in the success of any international business. Therefore successful international brands have adapted its brands according to the different cultural dynamics of the host country.
According to Rugman (2007) Language is one of the key cultural elements that influence the international business. On its studies it was identified that culture across countries, some countries are multicultural. For instance India, China, US, Russia and even UK and US as a result of immigration are more multi-cultural. According to Keegan (2002) these countries also have several sub-cultures, though they do have monoculture. Counties such as UK, France, Germany, and Columbia, Peru tend to have such sub cultures and Mono cultures. Culture is the “Silent Language” in International business Relationship with Time, Space & Energy High Context – Low context cultures Body language Multinational companies such as Unilever had to use varied languages in order to communicate many cultures in India. In India there are approximately 25 languages or dialects. The main languages being Hindi, Malayalam, Karnataka, Tamil and Urdu as well as English. Therefore when Unilever have to advertise using the mass media they need to communicate in all these languages in order to reach the target audience. This is a situation where culture influencing the business of Unilever. Similarly it applies the same when a multinational company has to market in Arab sub-continent. Majority of the multinational companies are in Middle East because of higher disposable income. Yet they have to communicate in Arabic language in order to communicate to the target audience. Religion plays a vital part in marketing of services and goods in a particular market (Fallon, 2010). In India where Cow is considered to be sacred, beef is entirely prohibited and same with Nepal. Therefore, McDonalds had to come up with veggie burgers instead of beef burgers at their outlets (Business Today, 2007). This is a classic example on how culture influencing the international business of an organization. On the other hand, though beef is accepted in Middle Eastern countries such as Saudi Arabia,...
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