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Consumer Behaviour in the U.S. and UAE Report

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Updated: Jun 29th, 2020


The current marketing environment has been affected by various factors of globalization, both positive and negative. However, modern marketing is a product of standardization and globalization. Whenever there are instances of cross-cultural communication, all businesses that occur within this environment must take culture into consideration. Consequently, the ability to understand cultural differences and their abounding elements is very important to the subject of international marketing. When marketing a product or a service across different cultures, the goal is to simplify and organize the abounding cultural environment so as to understand it better.

Various social scientists have attempted to come up with various frameworks of analyzing cultural differences. However, none of these methods is exhaustive because they are hundreds of angles through which a culture can be analyzed. This paper compares cultures in two countries in regards to the marketing needs of various products and services. The cross-cultural examination covers the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as the resident culture and the United States of America (USA) as the ‘newly explored’ culture.

UAE v. USA in Cultural Terms

The UAE is one of the countries in the Arabian Gulf, where the dominant culture is Arabic. UAE is a “region with a very large expatriate working population, where individuals have to make their own behavior and attitudinal choices within social frameworks that encompass family, organization, and the society at large” (Brown 55). The Emirati of Dubai is the capital of the UAE and thereby the most culturally diverse area in the region.

Dubai is a melting point of world culture where Arabic, European, Asian, and African cultures are adequately represented. A majority of UAE’s regions are tolerant of all other cultures even the ones that do not consist of any Islamic elements. Naturalized UAE citizens only consist of 20% of the total resident population. On the other hand, the expatriate population consists of “1.75 million Indians, 1.25 million Pakistanis, 500,000 Bangladeshis, 1 million other Asian nationals, and 500,000 Westerners” (Gannon 44). In total, it is estimated that there are approximately 40 nationalities in UAE at any given time. The mixture of cultures within the UAE is bound to elicit strong cross-cultural communication elements.

On the other hand, the cultural outlook of the USA is summed up by its claim to be ‘the land of the free and the home of the brave’. Unlike the UAE, the USA’s culture originates from several cultures of people who mostly migrated from Europe. Consequently, the American culture consists of significant elements of British/European culture. The constituents of the American culture include European, Asian, African, Latin, and other elements. American citizens share a common goal of economic advancement without favoritism. Some of the deeply rooted cultures in America have been brought about by “its legacy and enacted values of slavery and the persistence of economic and social inequalities based on race” (Minkov 12). The American culture is highly individualistic and people rarely depend on their families and the society for social support. Furthermore, the American society has more gender diversity when it is compared to the UAE.

Product/Service Suitability within Cultures


Marketing automobiles in the UAE depends on the cultural aspect of equality. There are high levels of inequality within the UAE culture. Consequently, it is expected that there is a limited middleclass citizenry. For instance, most of the mass produced cars only apply to the middle class. Furthermore, most of the aristocracy in the UAE is in a position to afford high-end and limited edition brands. Marketing cars within the UAE depends on these two elements. Therefore, there is no need to advertise cars through mass media.

On the other hand, the levels of inequality within the American culture are not as high as they are in the UAE. Consequently, there is a sizeable portion of middleclass citizens within the United States. Selling cars within the USA requires a significant reliance on mass-media advertisements. In addition, marketing cars within America requires the marketer to appeal to various lifestyle subcultures. For example, some particular brands of cars have deep associations to particular pop culture elements in America. It would be advisable to spend considerable amount of time studying the various subcultures that might affect product acceptance in America. It is important to note that in the UAE, brand acceptance is largely influenced by individuals’ economic status.

Smart Phones

The ability to market smart phones within the UAE culture mostly depends on the indulgence of the population. Indulgence within the UAE culture is often high within the first-class earners in the society. The rest of the population is likely to purchase cell phones in accordance with intended purposes. Islam, the most prevalent religion within the UAE also warns against some forms of extravagance among its believers.

The United States is on the opposite side of this scenario because the dominant culture has high elements of indulgence. Consequently, in America a smart phone is not only a communication gadget but it is also a status symbol. Marketing a smart phone within the American culture is also dependent on the education levels of the culture. On the other hand, the UAE culture does not value educational levels when compared to other aspects such as aristocracy and religious prominence. These two factors mean that rigorous marketing is required in order to acquire a smart phone market share in America.

Food Franchises

Marketing food items in the UAE is mostly dependent on the levels of indulgence, religion, and discrimination within the society. For example, it is important to convince the majority of the Muslim population that the food items on sale are prepared in accordance with the stipulations of their religion (Halal). Therefore, most potential customers are likely to be suspicious of any franchise that is not operated by Muslim staff.

On the other hand, the most prominent cultural aspects when marketing a food franchise in the United States are indulgence, ethnicity, and inequality. Some franchises target a particular social/economic class in the United States with the view of capitalizing on this cultural aspect. The aspect of the economic class can at times be combined with ethnic diversity. On the other hand, the American culture has significant levels of diversity and this makes it important for a successful food franchise to be able to accommodate the diverse tastes of the customers. Even though there are diverse cultures within the UAE, diversity of tastes is limited because most expatriates have set their eyes on work and not leisure.

Health Insurance

The UAE society has had a high tolerance for uncertainty. The 2010 index puts uncertainty avoidance levels of the UAE at 68% (Barakat 49). Consequently, marketing health insurance to the UAE people is not expected to be a difficult task. However, there is need to advertise these services comprehensively because most of the population in not adequately informed on the concept of health insurance.

In addition, the high context nature of the UAE culture means that administrative organs can influence the UAE citizens to adopt health insurance services. On the other hand, marketing health insurance in the United States mainly depends on the inequality and individualistic factors. Individualism is high within American culture and this makes health insurance an absolute necessity. Furthermore, health insurance is mainly packaged in accordance with the cultural aspect of power distance. Consequently, one provider might offer various packages and categorize them with price. Marketing health insurance within the USA culture also requires consideration of the high levels of uncertainty avoidance. High uncertainty avoidance levels mean that there is a big market for health insurance in the United States.

Banking/Credit Services

Marketing banking services within the UAE strongly depends on the religious beliefs of most residents. Islam restricts most banking services to ‘Sharia Laws’. Therefore, most UAE residents are not interested in most of the traditional financial services including credit cards (Anwar 43). However, a sizeable portion of the UAE population is non-Muslim and this makes it important for a marketer to be aware of the population distribution patterns.

Marketing financial services in the USA requires an understanding of the power distance, indulgence levels, and uncertainty avoidance elements of the resident culture. Most individuals within the USA are ready to spend credit without worrying how they will repay their debts (Men and Tsai 723). Therefore, it is easier to market credit services as opposed to debit services. This trend is often opposite in the UAE where most residents only spend debit. The individualistic nature of the American culture also makes it hard to market pooled/communal products.

Works Cited

Anwar, Syed Aziz. “Globalisation of corporate America and its implications for management styles in an Arabian cultural context.” International Journal of Management 20.1 (2003): 43. Print.

Barakat, Halim. The Arab world: Society, culture, and state, California: Univ of California Press, 2003. Print.

Brown, Richard Harvey. Culture, capitalism, and democracy in the New America, Yale: Yale University Press, 2008. Print.

Gannon, Martin. Understanding global cultures: Metaphorical journeys through 17 countries, New York: SAGE Publications, Incorporated, 2004. Print.

Men, Rita, and Wan-Hsiu Tsai. “How companies cultivate relationships with publics on social network sites: Evidence from China and the United States.” Public Relations Review 38.5 (2012): 723-730. Print.

Minkov, Michael. “Cultures and Organizations: Pyramids, Machines, Markets, and Families: Organizing Across Nations.” Classics of Organization Theory 8.5 (2015): 314. Print.

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