Ambitious businesses don’t want to simply sell to their home markets - they want to take their products overseas.

Gaining international customers is crucial in driving growth and increasing industry presence.

But when it comes to marketing in different countries, a copy and paste strategy won’t work. 

Brands should be aware of the different cultural factors involved in marketing to new audiences and, to be successful, must cater to those audiences’ unique preferences and needs.

Let’s take a look at global marketing strategies and the steps businesses must take to succeed.

What is cross-cultural marketing?

Cross-cultural marketing is the process of marketing to consumers from different cultures.

It involves the challenge of maintaining brand identity and tone of voice whilst respecting and adapting to the behaviours and expectations of different cultures.

Cross-cultural case study

One recent cross-cultural marketing example, which captured the attention of TikTok, comes via Just Eat’s global campaign with Katy Perry. In the campaign, the singer follows in the footsteps of Snoop Dogg and performs an original song about using Just Eat’s services. 

However, a side by side comparison shows that the lyrics vary between different countries, as the brand is known by a range of names internationally. And some of the video content is slightly altered too. The courier in the Canadian advert wears a different uniform to those in the Australian and UK ads and also isn’t pictured wearing a bicycle helmet.

Such attention to detail demonstrates the thought and care that has been invested in adapting Just Eat’s marketing to international audiences.


How does culture influence international marketing decisions?

Culture can make a big difference in international marketing decisions.

For example, it can (and should) influence decisions around campaign timing. Different regions will have different holidays and festivals that will affect when consumers are working or when they may be looking to buy gifts. Brands should take these into account when launching campaigns.

Then there’s the difference in influencer landscapes. Fees for Chinese influencers, or Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) can be four to five times higher than those commanded by US influencers and there’s less pressure to be as genuine and authentic as possible. Brands will also approach traditional KOLs to benefit from their broad reach and wide, varied audience, whereas in the US, influencers are more often sought out to help brands reach a specific demographic.

Cultural differences may also affect decisions around messaging.

Some countries, like the UK and US, can be described as having ‘individualist’ cultures, where being independent and self-contained is valued. In contrast, countries like India, China and Japan can be described as having cultures that are ‘collectivist’: where the group is valued over the individual and people are seen as interconnected with those around them.

Knowing these social attitudes is important for brands looking to market overseas. They determine which language and messages will resonate most in certain cultures and may result in products that are marketed differently in different countries.


Cultural factors to consider in marketing

There are a number of cultural factors brands and agencies must consider when marketing in different countries.

Language, imagery and symbols

When marketing internationally, it’s crucial you get the language right. Having experienced translators or native speakers on hand to create and check international content is a must so brands don’t make a mistake by missing crucial social context.

It’s also important to review the use of imagery and symbols as they may convey different meanings in different cultures. 

Forms of communication

Marketers must be prepared to learn the ropes of new social media channels when marketing overseas.

For instance, Facebook and Twitter, among other sites, are blocked in China, and it’s platforms like WeChat, Weibo, Xiaohongshu and Douyin (the Chinese parallel to TikTok) that marketers will need to embrace.

Additionally, the way audiences respond to forms of communication varies from country to country. For example, US consumers are more used to receiving multiple marketing emails but in other markets consumers find this annoying. 

Priorities and values

As described above, learning about the priorities and values of the cultures you want to address is important in creating messages that resonate and won’t offend.

However, it’s important to remember that no country or culture is monolithic and different regions or groups may hold differing opinions. Being aware of political, historical and religious contexts is vital for brands too.


Marketing Failures Due to Cultural Differences

Marketing in different countries requires careful thought and even the biggest brands can get it wrong.

For instance, in 2009 HSBC launched a $10m rebranding of its global private banking operations, replacing previous marketing such as their ‘Assume Nothing’ campaign which had been mistranslated to ‘Do Nothing’ in some territories.

Then there’s the infamous example of Procter & Gamble launching Pampers in Japan in the 1970s. The imagery of a stork delivering nappies worked in the US but this didn’t succeed in Japan, where the folklore that links storks to birth does not exist.


Cross-cultural marketing for the beauty industry

These lessons are important for businesses in every industry and especially for the beauty sector.

Consumers are actively seeking products from different countries, with Vogue articles detailing the beauty buys US shoppers should pick up in Paris and K-beauty enjoying huge popularity in the West (after China, the US is the biggest importer of South Korean cosmetics).

And new markets represent vast growth opportunities for brands. For instance, the Indian beauty and personal care market is the 8th largest in the world, valued at $15 billion, and is expected to double in size by 2030.


Using Odore to market in different countries

Launching international campaigns is a challenge but the right technology can make the process smoother.

Odore’s platform makes it simple to design and launch sophisticated, interactive campaigns that can easily be changed and adapted to new markets. 

Campaigns can be launched on a range of different social media channels and platforms to fit the culture and needs of each market. And our international network of fulfilment centres mean product samples can be sent quickly and reliably to anywhere in the world.

Odore’s technology helps you learn about new markets too. Our platform collates data from across your business and our rich analytics provide brands with granular customer analysis and actionable data insights. Odore’s data helps you better understand your customers - wherever they are - to launch personalised campaigns that deeply resonate with individual consumers.


Want to launch a sophisticated international campaign? Book an introductory call with Odore here.

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