The criteria of self-reference and its importance to the emergent firm in the international markets
In the twenty first century, international marketing remains one of the most important factors for corporations engaging in the international trade regardless of size and shape. Many medium sized and big global companies engage in the international business since it possesses immense impact on the domestic and worldwide economy.
As a result, the entrant companies in the international marketing should consider a number of factors such as culture for their successful operations. Culture denotes people’s beliefs, mindset and conduct. It also refers to the way they think and perform their roles. In brief, culture is a collective mind indoctrination that differentiates members of one group from the other (Lee & Carter 2005).
Therefore, any firm planning to venture the international market should have understanding of the purchase trends, society, and the marketplace itself. This owes to the fact that culture influences the procedure of peoples’ thoughts that vary from nation to nation across the world.
Different marketers might use their traditional culture to work and think when handling a challenge. The propensity of marketers using insensible attempts in comparing their traditional culture to other culture refers to self-reference standard. According to Lee and Carter (2005), the criterion of self-reference creates problems to the new entrants in the international markets. In fact, the problem is paramount to the marketers attempting to get into the international marketplace.
Based on that fact, smooth run and success can be evident when one understands the culture of the other market before entering the international bazaar. The thought by some entrepreneurs that their culture might be superior to the others cultures (ethnocentrism) creates more involvedness when entering the international market as a fresh entrant. In fact, it creates a pessimistic impact when making business choices thus hindering the discernment of marketing needs.
The self-reference criterion is significant in that by residing in a particular social order, culture is a pattern learned from behavior (Gilligan & Hird 1986). Indeed, it has great impact on the consumers’ conducts of purchasing. Culture is a basic in the behavior and human wants. Kotler and Armstrong (2004) saw that entering the international market needs great understanding of culture in every aspect for the marketers to set a good marketing strategy.
Failure of self-reference makes the new entrants to have bottlenecks in running the day-to-day business activities in the international markets. Moreover, there will be an automatic malfunction of the marketing strategy supposed there is lack of cultural influence. The marketers or firms entering the international markets should avoid employing their own cultural influence but rather have self-reference criterion when making business strategies.
Companies venturing into the international marketing should think or make business decisions according to the culture of that specific nation. As a result, this will help them to comprehend the marketplace as well as the consumers’ religion, value, taste, and behavior. Total avoidance of the problems of self-reference criterion makes it imperative for new ventures to be successful in the international marketplaces.
In order to evade such tribulations, the firm ought to re-define the problem devoid of the self-reference criterion and determine the overseas market state of affairs. It is also important to carefully scrutinize and segregate the influence of self-reference criterion to distinguish how it makes the problem difficult.
Eventually, the firm should delineate the objective in terms of unfamiliar cultural norms, lifestyle, and qualities. Ambushing the impact of self-reference criterion is important for the new entrants in the international markets as it impedes misapprehension amid people of different cultures (Keegan, 1989).
On the other hand, self-reference criterion might cause personal freedom to suffer and serious confusion amid people of diverse cultures. For instance, the misunderstanding may occur in high and low cultural contexts. In low context cultures, the message is clearer while some part of information is contained in the word.
However, petite information is contained in the verbal part as regards to high context culture where fundamental worth of the background and communicator is founded. For example, Japan and America are cohorts of high and low context (Muhlbacher, Leihs, & Dahringer 2006).
Firms aspiring to join the new market can therefore carry out cross-cultural investigation before venturing into such markets. The cross-cultural analysis will assist the firm to compare the differences and similarities between the material and behavioral aspects of culture systematically before entering the international market (Lee & Carter 2005).
There is a call for marketers to be aware of the foreign customers’ behavioral needs in the international markets according to Lee and Carter (2005). The marketers entering the international market for the first time will avoid cultural conflict and execute effective marketing after cross-cultural analysis. The criteria for self-reference is thus significant as it help the firm understand the dissimilarities and likeness between their own cultures and foreign cultures.
Consequently, the firm venturing into the new international business will avoid the synergy including cooperative or combined conflict action. The difference between cultures of diverse states is an adversity or nuisance to the firms entering the international for the first time. Hence, the comparison of such differences comes in form of masculinity, individualism, avoidance, and power distance.
Masculinity is the extent to which the community demonstrates the perception of gender differences. The doubt avoidance denotes the means by which the community contends with unpredictability of the future. On the other hand, individualism is the rapport between personality and others in the society. Power distance is the manner in which the society pacts with the human inequality (Lee & Carter 2005).
The firms entering the international market for the first time must therefore get to the self-reference criterion for the comprehension of the above. The power and influence of the marketers’ traditions is detrimental to the international business specifically to the firms entering commerce for the first time. It generates significant barriers and thus firms need to understand the cultures of the other countries. The marketers further ought to be familiar with the other cultures since culture is an intricate entity.
In general, marketers need to avoid ethnocentrism while conducting their operations in the international markets and they must accomplish cross-cultural analysis for better criterion of self-reference. While making marketing strategy in other nations, it is advisable to consider other cultures for the business to flourish.
The factor of self-reference is considerable while entering international business given that the unconscious tendency of marketers to use their own culture affects foreign business. Difficulty arises when the firms use their own culture while entering international business and they are likely not to prosper. Trading in a global market requires the consideration of the culture of the foreign marketplaces. Understanding of the culture is extremely imperative for running the business for a long time.
Why should the international marketer have knowledge of sub cultural groups when attempting to segment markets in a particular country or region
While technology is turning the world into a small village, the world remains physically huge and multifaceted. There is a huge population that occupies the globe. People live in diverse global locations while the same people are dissimilar in terms of personality, race and manners.
The differences arise due to the location and society one lives in within the social setting. The behavior patterns also are due to the community one lives in and this appear as an innate process. People form habits depending on the structure they find in the community they are born and raised.
Different regions hence have different behavior patterns. Those from the same region have almost similar behavior patterns that may be entirely different from those of communities in a different region. The behavior patterns, the values and attributes that develop the differences between different people in different global locations are referred to as culture (Lee & Carter 2005).
When the issue of international marketing arises, it is imperative to consider the culture of the target consumers. Apparently, people in one cultural setting are often homogenous (Ellson 2004). However, at times the homogeneity ceases. As the population increases, the homogeneity becomes loose as people from different cultures migrate to form a community with different cultures. When this happens, people form smaller cultural groups that enable them to meet their needs.
The idea of subculture then emerges once these groups become established (Sinha 2005). However, the issue of subculture is essential for international marketers in making crucial decisions and developing a strategy. It is important for marketers to understand that a product that is popular in one subculture may not necessarily be received in the same way in a different subculture. Prior to making a decision on the strategy to be used, it is essential to analyze critically the subculture of the target consumers.
There has been an argument that the increasing income levels and technology is promoting the development of a common culture globally. If this perspective is accurate, the task of marketing will become easier for marketers. Since people are differentiated by subculture, the assertion may never become a reality. This is after considering that consumers in different subcultures behave differently.
The consideration and perception of the people is also diverse. For instance, the preference of the product and services is personal but it has been observed that there is a common preference trend in similar subcultures. Some products and services can be marketed globally irrespective of the culture or the subculture. There is a common message that can be used to market such products depending on the availability and necessity (Bradley 2005).
For marketers to enter the international market successfully, it is fundamental to gain primary knowledge of the culture of the target consumers (Kumar et al 2013). This approach is easy to apply since people in one-subculture share common values. The values are founded on the experiences of the people and the situation they find themselves in during operations.
These subcultures involve aspects such as racial groupings, faith, ethnic group and geographical location. Some of the popular subcultural groups in the United States include Asian-American, African-American and Hispanic. Thus, every subculture in the American setting has distinct product and service preference. They also behave differently when purchasing goods and services.
Subcultures form a fundamental market fragment. It is hence important for international marketers to develop a marketing strategy and goods with critical consideration to the needs of the target consumer. The Hispanic segment of the American market entails South and Central American. Others are Puerto Rican and Cuban descents. The subculture incorporates more than thirty-five million consumers.
The segment contributes more than $430 billion to the American economy annually. In designing a strategy to market products to this group, it is important for the marketer to design advertisements in Spanish both in print and electronic media. The subculture uses Spanish as the common language. The marketers can easily market to the population in Spanish. Inherently, the subculture is faithful to brand.
For example, the subculture segment purchases from companies that give special attention to the population. The community is driven by the quality of products and services. Companies that target the community manufacture and provide high quality goods and services.
The packaging of the products is designed to meet the needs of the majority of the population in this segment and not ignoring the fact that some individuals may be inclined to different packaging from what the company may offer hence purchase from another company (Proctor 2000).
On the other hand, the Asian America consumers are more than ten million. The communities are wealthy and increase rapidly in number. The community spends more than $230 billion in goods and services. However, the community is mainly composed of Chinese and Korean descent. Indians and Japanese subcultures are also part of the group. The language to be used in marketing is usually the main challenge for global marketers.
Another barrier for marketers in this subcultural segment is the traditional culture. Each of the ethnic groups has diverse traditions and language. This means that the marketer has to design different marketing programs for every subgroup. Mature consumer in the American context is the largest given that it is composed of more than seventy-five million consumers. The subgroup is wealthy and has more time to spend.
Apparently, irrespective of age, the majority of consumers in this subgroup like feeling young. This is an essential point for marketers to consumer when designing a strategy to sell to the subgroup. Marketers in this subgroup develop advertisement, which illustrates that the consumers of the product or service are young, and energetic (Kotler & Armstrong 2004). These are clear illustrations that the culture and subculture of different target consumers influence the strategy a marketer uses.
In countries such as India, there is a very different culture from that of Indian America sub cultural group. Furthermore, the culture of the Indian population in India is different since the traditional cultures are different. The northern and southern cultures are different. The same applies to the western and eastern communities. Likewise, the culture of communities in Europe and Africa is different. Apparently, in small countries, there are still subcultures that make it a challenge for markets to reach the target consumer effectively.
There are diverse second-degree beliefs and value found in the traditional culture. They emerge due to the experiences, inspiration and importance of the product or service to the target consumer. The subculture develops on the foundation of religion, ethnic relations, lifestyle and locational connections.
Language as an element of culture forms a reflection of culture (Bradley 2005). It is the most common difference in viewing subcultures. Hence, it is important for marketers to understand that it impractical to satisfy all consumers. Every individual has preferences although the preferences are mostly similar in a subcultural group. Segmentation is essential for a marketer to reach as many consumers as possible (Majaro 1982).
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