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Culture is important in international marketing because consumers make their choices depending on their visions and traditions. While discussing the aspect of culture from a wider perspective, it is possible to state that cultural norms determine principles according to which society can develop. However, the problem is in the fact that people are often prejudiced, and cultural traditions and norms typical of different societies can be perceived as strange (Newman, 2016). As a result, it is difficult for representatives of many cultures to respect each other’s beliefs and values. The purpose of this paper is to discuss cultural barriers that can be faced by multinational corporations and develop a strategy for the company that plans the global expansion in order to address these problems.
Baskin-Robbins and Cultural Issues
Baskin-Robbins is a US-based chain of ice cream shops that is popular globally. However, in spite of the fact that Baskin-Robbins operates in more than 45 countries all over the world, the company faced cultural challenges in countries with a high percentage of Jewish people, as well as in the Arab world (Baskin-Robbins: About us, 2016). In order to attract consumers among the Jewish population, Baskin-Robbins stated that produced ice cream flavors are Kosher (Baskin-Robbins: About us, 2016).
Still, the company does not operate in the Israeli market because of social, cultural, economic, and political reasons. In the Arab world, Baskin-Robbins shops became popular when the company overcame language and cultural issues (Lee, Khan, & Ko, 2010). The problem was in the fact that most slogans and advertisements used by Baskin-Robbins to promote products were not culturally-oriented, and they could be discussed as incongruous.
Multinational corporations need to accept cultural diversity while planning the expansion, and their marketing strategies should be adapted to the needs of the concrete culture or society. The concepts of socialization and culture are connected strictly, and it is possible to influence the public or consumers while demonstrating respect for their culture (Ferrante, 2013).
Therefore, while expanding to the Asian, Latin American, and European markets, Baskin-Robbins proposed flavors that would be potentially popular among the public; they improved human resource management strategies to work with culturally diverse employees; and they focused on differences in people’s visions of leadership and individualism.
Recommendations for the US-based Corporation
If a US-based corporation plans to expand to the European and Asian markets while focusing on building a plant in Asia, it is necessary to propose different steps or actions to take in relation to this initiative. In order to attract consumers in Europe, it is necessary to research the existing market and determine product features that are most popular among the target audience. It is also necessary to add culturally important symbols to advertisements and adapt slogans (Brinkerhoff, Ortega, & Weitz, 2013). The expansion to Asia means not only interaction with customers but also the organization of the employees’ work.
Much attention should be paid to adapting the management policies to the values and needs of the Asian population. It is important to (a) determine the responsibility of expatriate managers, (b) focus on language differences, and (c) concentrate on traditions, values, and religious beliefs typical of local employees because this aspect influences their personal and professional philosophy (Babetti, 2013). It is also necessary to (a) emphasize the role of hierarchy and collectivism in the employee relationships and (b) focus on the formal and informal communication between managers and employees.
Differences in cultures can influence the growth of multinational corporations significantly. Therefore, much attention should be paid to overcoming cultural barriers while planning the expansion to different regions of the world. The research on cultural norms typical of this or that society is important to adapt to the corporation’s policy to the determined features.
Babetti, H. (2013). Ethical responsibilities of multi-national corporations: A critical analysis of why morals matter. Sociological Imagination, 2(2), 9-17.
Baskin-Robbins: About us. (2016).
Brinkerhoff, D. B., Ortega, S. T., & Weitz, R. (2013). Essentials of sociology. New York, NY: Cengage Learning.
Ferrante, J. (2013). Seeing sociology: Core modules. New York, NY: Cengage Learning.
Lee, K., Khan, M. A., & Ko, J. Y. (2010). Critical issues and challenges in the management of international restaurant franchises: Franchisee perspective. Journal of Foodservice Business Research, 13(2), 85-97.
Newman, D. M. (2016). Sociology: Exploring the architecture of everyday life. New York, NY: Sage Publications.