For you or for your family? Choose marketing tactics based on culture

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Imagine that your company sells consumer products, such as TVs. What advertisement slogan will you prefer to go with your ads: “Treat yourself to a large, gorgeous, hi-definition TV” or “Treat your home to a large, gorgeous, hi-definition TV”? Or what if you sell shoes. Which slogan will you prefer: “Easy walking, easy exercise—the shoes for you” or “Easy walking, easy exercise—the shoes for your family”?

The appeals “treat yourself” and “the shoes for you” are individualistic in nature—they are saying why the product will be good for the individual. On the other hand, the appeals “treat your home” and “the shoes for your family” are collectivistic in nature—they are saying why the product will be good for the larger unit that the individual is a part of.

Research shows that the effects of individualistic vs. collectivistic appeals varies substantially across cultures. Western cultures value the individual more than the collective, the individual is assumed to be the basic unit of society. So individualistic appeals are more effective in America. Asian cultures value group harmony; the family and the workgroup, not the individual, is assumed to be the basic unit of society. So collectivistic appeals are more effective in Asian cultures.

The next time you are formulating an ad campaign, think about your audience. Adjusting your ad slogans based on the target cultureis likely to increase your effectiveness and your sales.


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