What makes China a high context culture

Culture and intercultural marketing in China

Table of Contents

List of tables

List of figures

List of abbreviations

Short version / abstract

1 "Have you already eaten?"

2 culture as an object of research
2.1 Concept and definition of culture
2.2 elements of culture
2.3 Cultural dimensions
2.3.1 Cultural dimensions according to Hall
2.3.2 Cultural dimensions according to Hofstede

3 culture and marketing
3.1 The influence of culture on marketing
3.2 The intercultural marketing
3.2.1 Basic idea of ​​intercultural marketing
3.2.2 Marketing mix in an intercultural context

4 Comparison of cultures between China and Germany
4.1 Sketching a contrast image using the Hall approach
4.2 Sketching a contrast image using the Hofstede approach

5 China Marketing
5.1 Special features of consumer wishes and the
Consumer behavior in China
5.2 China Marketing Mix

6 "Yes, I have already eaten!"

Bibliography

Appendix list

List of tables

Table 1: Characteristics of two types of culture according to Hall

Table 2: Index values ​​for the cultural dimensions according to Hofstede

List of figures

Figure 1: Demarcation between culture, human nature and personality

Figure 2: Cultural ties versus cultural neutrality

Figure 3: High- and low-context cultures in a country comparison

List of abbreviations

Figure not included in this excerpt

Short version / abstract

Laura Parlabene; Culture and intercultural marketing using the example of China; 2012; Development of new markets, international marketing and creative marketing concepts; Prof. Dr. Peter Schütz

In the thesis, cultural differences between China and Germany are analyzed and, on this basis, marketing recommendations are derived with a focus on the marketing mix for the Chinese market. The cultural comparison takes place on the basis of the four cultural dimensions according to Hall: context orientation, spatial orientation, time orientation and information speed as well as on the basis of the five dimensions of power distance, individualism / collectivism, masculinity / femininity, avoidance of uncertainty and long / short term orientation defined by Hofstede. With regard to almost all dimensions, distinctive differences between Chinese and German culture become clear, which have a significant influence on consumer wishes and consumer behavior in China and therefore in the subsequent development of the Chinese marketing mix with its 4 P's Product, Price, Place and promotion are taken into account.

In the paper, the cultural differences between China and Germany are analyzed, and on this basis, marketing recommendations focused on the marketing mix for the Chinese market are derived.

The cultural comparison is based on Hall's four cultural dimensions which are Context, Space, Time and Information Flow and on Hofstede's five cultural dimensions including Power Distance, Individualism / Collectivism, Masculinity / Femininity, Uncertainty Avoidance and Long- / Short-Term Orientation . In terms of almost all dimensions, differences between the Chinese and the German culture become clear. These differences affect Chinese consumers' desires and behavior. Therefore, they are also considered in the subsequent development of Chinese marketing mix including the 4 P's Product, Price, Place, and Promotion.

1 "Have you already eaten?"

The German says a crisp “hello” accompanied by an uncomplicated handshake. The Chinese asks the greeting question “Have you already eaten? “What the German perceives as curious and intrusive and to which he does not really know how to answer. So the German decides in favor of the truth and says “No, I haven't eaten yet! “The Chinese looks at him offended. He's lost face. He says goodbye and leaves.

The example alludes to the intercultural differences between Chinese and Germans. The reader of the present work will learn to understand the intercultural encounter described above more precisely step by step. The focus of the work is the culture. Cultures are different. In order to analyze the differences, it is necessary to consider cultural dimensions. The cultural researchers Hall and Hofstede have defined these and in this way make it possible to compare cultures with one another in a targeted manner. Increasing globalization enables companies to achieve degrees of internationalization that were unimaginable two decades ago. In this context, cultural research is also gaining in importance in the corporate context. In marketing in particular, it is important not to ignore the diversity of cultures through standardized, cross-market procedures. Instead, marketing decisions, e.g. B. in relation to the marketing mix, can be adapted to culture-specific features in order to achieve market success. Cultural differences also become clear when comparing cultures between China and Germany. These also have a significant influence on consumer wishes and consumer behavior of the Chinese. Accordingly, marketing decisions relating to the Chinese market also require sufficient sensitivity to cultural peculiarities. Under the topic "Culture and intercultural marketing using the example of China", the cultural differences between China and Germany should first be worked out in this thesis and, on this basis, marketing recommendations, focusing on the marketing mix, for the Chinese market will be derived.

2 culture as an object of research

2.1 Concept and definition of culture

One of the main reasons for the differences in human thought processes in different parts of the world is culture. However, there is no generally applicable definition for the term culture. Hofstede's definition is widespread in international management.[1] This defines culture as "the collective programming of the mind that distinguishes the members of one group or category of people from another"[2].

Culture is not innate, it is learned. It is thus differentiated from human nature and personality (see Figure 1).

Figure not included in this excerpt

Figure 1: Demarcation between culture, human nature and personality

Source: Hofstede / Hofstede 2011, p. 5 [slightly modified].

Human nature determines the physical and partly also the psychological functioning of the human being, such as the ability to observe the environment or to experience feelings. It is universal and innate. The personality, on the other hand, is based on the one hand on inherited and on the other hand on character traits learned through culture and personal experience. So it is different for every person.[3]

2.2 elements of culture

The culture consists of a multitude of different elements. In the following, the cultural elements of social structure, language, religion as well as values ​​and attitudes will be presented.

Social structure:

The social structure includes the social stratification of society as well as the mobility and roles of its members. Often cultures differ in terms of their social stratification. In this way, people in all cultures are categorized based on criteria such as occupation or educational qualifications. Depending on the culture, this categorization is more or less important for the interaction between people. Likewise, the degree of social mobility, i.e. the ability of members of society to change class and status, differs from culture to culture. With regard to the understanding of roles, cultures differ, e.g. with regard to the importance assigned to the group or the individual within the group.[4]

Language:

The language enables communication between the members of a society. It can take place on both a verbal and a non-verbal level. Verbal language includes spoken or written language. Forms of body language such as gestures, facial expressions, movements or touch, on the other hand, belong to non-verbal language.[5]

Religion:

Another important element of culture is religion. The most dominant religions worldwide are Christianity (2.1 billion followers), Islam (1.5 billion followers), Hinduism (900 million followers) and Buddhism (376 million followers). A full 75% of the world's population belong to one of these four religions.[6] Religion has an influence on the moral principles, values ​​and attitudes of people in a culture and accordingly shapes their behavior and relationships with one another.[7]

Values ​​and attitudes:

Values ​​determine the importance of morals, ethics and aesthetics. So they serve to distinguish moral from immoral, good from bad and beautiful from ugly. The values ​​in a culture help the culture members to avoid uncertainty and conflict, to make decisions and to structure organizations and interactions.

Attitudes are actions, feelings and thoughts that result from the values. Accordingly, people react in a predetermined way to experiences, objects or people. So the moral, good and beautiful are accepted while the immoral, bad and ugly are rejected.[8]

2.3 Cultural dimensions

2.3.1 Cultural dimensions according to Hall

A well-known approach to analyzing cultural differences is that of the anthropologist Edward T. Hall. In his publications Hall points to four cultural dimensions: context orientation, spatial orientation, time orientation and information speed.[9] The core of Hall's theories is contextual orientation.[10]

Context orientation:

Hall differentiates between “high-context cultures” and “low-context cultures”. This classification depends on the extent to which the information exchanged in the communication is context-dependent.[11] High-context cultures are characterized by the fact that only a small part of the relevant information is explicitly expressed. Instead, the context of communication dominates, i.e. a high proportion of the information is implicit and has to be interpreted, for example, from non-verbal signals or from the relationship between the interacting people.[12] In low-context cultures, on the other hand, explicit communication takes place, i.e. verbal communication predominates here.[13]

Spatial orientation:

Hall assumes that cultures have different understandings of space. He differentiates between “privacy” and “territory”.[14] Privacy is an invisible radius that surrounds a person and is not allowed to be entered by other people, with the exception of caregivers such as parents, partners and children, without permission.[15] Territory is the term used to describe places and objects that a person considers to be their personal property.[16] Cultures that are characterized by a larger radius of privacy prefer to be at a distance from other people. Typical here is the greeting with a handshake. Members of cultures with a smaller privacy radius, on the other hand, feel comfortable even when they are not far away. They hug or kiss in greeting and also like to keep physical contact. [17]

Time orientation:

Hall differentiates between a monochronous and a polychronic view of time. The perception of time in a culture depends on the relationship between the members of the culture at the time. In cultures with a monochronous conception of time, a linear view of time prevails, i.e. individual actions are dealt with sequentially.[18] Polychronic cultures, on the other hand, are characterized by a circular time concept. So here several actions are carried out side by side.[19] In monochronous cultures, the timely completion of a task is given priority, while in polychronic cultures building and maintaining personal relationships is seen as important.[20]

Information speed:

This dimension deals with the speed differences in information encoding and decoding in communication situations. In cultures with a high information speed, superficial relationships are quickly established, while in cultures with a low information speed, more time is devoted to establishing intense relationships.[21]

The mentioned and some additional features are shown again in detail in Table 1.

Table 1: Characteristics of two types of culture according to Hall

Source: Own illustration based on: Morschett / Schramm-Klein / Zentes 2009, p. 139, Müller / Gelbrich 2004, p. 82.

2.3.2 Cultural dimensions according to Hofstede

One of the most influential models of cross-cultural research comes from Geert Hofstede. Between 1968 and 1972 he carried out a study at the IBM company, with 117,000 IBM employees from 67 countries being questioned about culturally relevant aspects. The result of the study was the identification of the five cultural dimensions of power distance, individualism / collectivism, masculinity / femininity, avoidance of insecurity and long / short-term orientation.[22][23]

Power Distance:

The power distance describes the degree of expectation and acceptance of an unequal distribution of power in a society. The power distance in a culture is measured using the power distance index (MDI).[24] In cultures with a high MDI, people accept power and authority based on higher hierarchical ranks. If the MDI is low, on the other hand, little importance is attached to hierarchical ranks.[25]

Individualism / collectivism:

The cultural dimension of individualism / collectivism describes the relationship between the individual and the social community. The degree of expression of this dimension can be determined with the individualism index (IDV). The higher the IDV, the more individualistic the society.[26] In an individualistic culture, the bonds between individuals are loose. Everyone has to provide for themselves and for their immediate families. If, on the other hand, collectivism is predominant, people have been part of a strong we group since birth, which protects them for life and demands loyalty.[27]

Masculinity / Femininity:

The social desirability of feminine or masculine values ​​in a society is measured by the masculinity / femininity dimension. The corresponding measured variable is called the masculinity index (MAS).[28] If a culture is characterized by a high MAS, then masculine values ​​predominate here, such as performance, competitive orientation, success and money.[29] A lower MAS, on the other hand, speaks for feminine cultures in which feminine values ​​such as human closeness, solidarity, striving for security and quality of life are important.[30]

Uncertainty avoidance:

Uncertainty avoidance describes the feeling that culture members have about uncertain and unfamiliar situations. The associated measure is the Uncertainty Avoidance Index (UVI).[31] In cultures with a high UVI, people feel threatened by uncertain and unknown situations and therefore try to avoid them with the help of rules, for example. A low UVI, on the other hand, indicates a lower feeling of fear and thus an increased willingness to take risks.[32]

Long / short term orientation

The long / short-term orientation refers to the prevailing temporal orientation of a culture. It is measured using the long-term orientation index (LFO). A high LFO culture is long term oriented. Typical values ​​of such cultures are e.g. perseverance and thrift. A culture with a low LFO, on the other hand, is short-term oriented and attaches importance to values ​​such as balance and stability.[33]

3 culture and marketing

3.1 The influence of culture on marketing

In the course of globalization and the associated internationalization of companies, the question of the extent to which an internationally active company is exposed to culture-specific influences and to what extent is it possible to use special marketing techniques across cultures is gaining in importance. The universalism / culturalism debate with the contrary theses “Culture Free” and “Culture Bound” serves to answer this question.[34] As supporters of the “Culture Free” thesis, the universalists are of the opinion that marketing techniques are universally valid and independent of culture-specific influences and can therefore be used unchanged worldwide (“one best way”). The cultureists, on the other hand, advocate the "Culture Bound" thesis, which states that the marketing techniques are dependent on the cultural conditions and must therefore be adapted to the respective culture ("several good ways") [35]

On a dynamic level, there is also the discussion of standardization and differentiation and, in this context, the convergence and divergence thesis. The supporters of the convergence thesis are convinced that cultures are becoming more and more similar due to increasing world trade and the constant further development of communication technologies and thus a world culture is emerging.[36] Ted Levitt is considered a supporter of this thesis. With the claim “everything is global” he cites the necessity of standardizing marketing.[37] Supporters of the divergence thesis, on the other hand, think that cultures are becoming more and more different, as the increase in internationalization and globalization means that people try to preserve their own cultural values.[38] This perspective can be found with Philip Kotler and Heribert Meffert. With the saying “all business is local”, Kotler points out that global standardization of marketing is hardly possible without any problems and that differentiation should therefore be emphasized in marketing.[39] Figure 2 is intended to clarify the explained theses and views in their context.

Figure not included in this excerpt

Figure 2: Cultural ties versus cultural neutrality

Source: Own illustration based on Köppel 2002, p. 37.

3.2 The intercultural marketing

3.2.1 Basic idea of ​​intercultural marketing

Intercultural marketing is based on the “culture bound” thesis of the cultureists and the divergence thesis with its focus on differentiation. Consequently, intercultural marketing assumes that marketing techniques are culture-dependent and that the various cultural elements and dimensions in the target market must therefore be taken into account in order to ensure a successful market presence. The focus of intercultural marketing is therefore the realization that there is a close connection between culture and marketing.[40] Culture is particularly relevant when it comes to marketing culturally sensitive products in heterogeneous environments.[41] However, if there are cultural parallels between different foreign markets, it can make sense to partially standardize the marketing techniques. In order to increase market efficiency, the aim of intercultural marketing is to uncover such cultural parallels in order to then consider culturally homogeneous foreign markets as clusters and to be able to treat them largely in the same way with regard to the use of culture-specific marketing instruments. In this context, it is also important to analyze the micro and macro environment of the individual foreign markets. This includes, for example, competitors and customers as well as economic and legal conditions.[42]

3.2.2 Marketing mix in an intercultural context

When a company decides to enter a foreign market, a number of marketing decisions have to be made. Decisions regarding product, price, distribution and communication policy are important here. Together, these four aspects are also known as the "four P’s" of the marketing mix (product, price, place, promotion). In the following, the "four P’s" will be discussed in more detail in an intercultural context.[43]

Product policy (Product):

Product policy is the "heart of marketing"[44] A company can only survive on the market in the long term if its product range is consistently better than that of the competition from the customer's point of view.[45] This is only possible if the respective products satisfy the wishes and needs of customers in the various target markets.[46]

An important product-political question that marketing has to ask itself when working on several markets at the same time is the question of the extent of cross-cultural standardization or culture-dependent differentiation.[47] The extent to which a product can be standardized depends on its cultural sensitivity. High-tech products such as computers or machine tools are generally less culturally sensitive. Products such as textiles or food, on the other hand, are characterized by a high degree of cultural dependency. In addition, the basic benefit of a product often has a higher potential for standardization than the additional benefit. For this reason, many internationally active companies, for example, standardize product functionality, but differentiate their branding policy.[48]

Depending on the cultural sensitivity or standardization potential of the product, the marketing department has to take cultural characteristics into account and accordingly adapt various product attributes in a culture-specific manner. In the case of food, for example, it can be about adapting to different taste preferences or, in the case of textiles, taking into account preferences in terms of color and design.[49]

When designing the product policy, legal influences must also be taken into account. Country-specific norms, standards, laws or regulations can force companies to adapt their products. This can be, for example, restrictions on ingredients in food or prevailing technical standards.[50]

Due to cultural or legal influences, international companies often have to make changes to the brand name. The blind transfer of the original brand name to international markets can not only lead to pronunciation difficulties, but also have consequences that damage the image, for example if the brand name sounds vulgar in the foreign language. To avoid these undesirable consequences, word association tests can be carried out, for example. The target group is asked about the meaning and perception of the brand name.[51]

Similarly, culture and law may require adjustments to product packaging. Service-oriented cultures want a large amount of packaging, while ecologically-oriented societies prefer as little packaging as possible. Likewise, the product packaging may have to be adapted to climatic conditions, such as the frequency of precipitation or temperature, or packaging laws, such as the identification of product components, must be taken into account.[52]

Price policy:

The pricing policy deals with the consideration that the customer has to provide for using the product offered. The marketing policy measures in the context of the pricing policy aim to determine the prices that promise the optimal fulfillment of the company's goals and to enforce them on the market.[53]

With regard to the price, too, marketing has to ask itself the question of price standardization and price differentiation. There are numerous arguments against standardizing pricing policy. For example, differences in purchasing power and willingness to pay in the individual markets should be taken into account when setting prices. In markets that are characterized by high purchasing power or willingness to pay, a comparatively higher price can be enforced than in markets with low purchasing power or willingness to pay.[54] The willingness to pay of the target groups in the various markets can be determined by price willingness tests. Often it is cultural. Different values ​​can be ascribed to the same product in different cultures,[55] because while the product is considered a commodity in one culture, it is an object of prestige in the other.[56]

Differences in the costs that arise in the various markets also make it difficult to standardize prices across markets. Legal regulations, production and wage costs, tax and customs rates, currency risks and distribution structures must be included in the price calculation and can possibly lead to high cost or risk surcharges being applied to the price calculation.[57]

The price differentiation is also not entirely unproblematic. If the price of a standardized product diverges too much in the individual markets, there is a risk that so-called gray markets will arise.[58] A gray market is when branded products are sold through distribution channels that are not authorized by the brand owner. The dealers import products from low-price markets into high-price markets and sell them here at a lower price than the authorized specialist dealer. The consequences for the manufacturer are lost sales, cannibalization and problems with the authorized sales channels in the high-price markets.[59]

In order to avoid gray markets, the prices should not deviate too much from one another across the markets. It is advisable to reduce the product substitutability with the help of market-specific product adaptations and thus enable a corresponding demand for isolated, optimal prices.[60]

Distribution Policy (Place):

The distribution policy deals with all decisions that include the accessibility and availability of the product for the customer.[61] These decisions can be broken down into the two areas “physical distribution” and “design of distribution channels”.[62] In both areas, decisions should be made taking into account market-specific features.[63]

[...]



[1] See Morschett / Schramm-Klein / Zentes 2009, p. 133.

[2] Hofstede / Hofstede 2011, p. 4.

[3] See Diekmann / Fang 2008, p. 9f.

[4] See Griffin / Pustay 2010, p. 109ff.

[5] See Morschett / Schramm-Klein / Zentes 2009, pp. 136f.

[6] See http://www.adherents.com 2007.

[7] See Griffin / Pustay 2010, p. 119.

[8] See McDaniel / Samovar / Porter 2012, p. 14.

[9] See high- and low-context cultures in a country comparison on Figure 3 in Appendix A, p. 40.

[10] See Kutschker / Schmid 2008, p. 708.

[11] See Rothlauf 2009, p. 32.

[12] See Layes 2005, p. 64.

[13] See Müller / Gelbrich 2004, p. 81.

[14] See Kutschker / Schmid 2008, p. 711.

[15] See Meckl 2011, p. 333.

[16] See Rothlauf 2009, p. 33.

[17] See Morschett / Schramm-Klein / Zentes 2009, p. 139.

[18] See Layes 2005, p. 63.

[19] See Kutschker / Schmid 2008, p. 712.

[20] See Rothlauf 2009, p. 34.

[21] See Rothlauf 2009, p. 35.

[22] See index values ​​for the culture dimensions on Table 2 in Appendix A, p. 40.

[23] See Perlitz 2004, p. 254.

[24] See Haas / Neumair 2006, p. 362.

[25] See Cavusgil / Knight / Riesenberger 2008, p. 138.

[26] See Hofstede 2001, pp. 209ff.

[27] See Hofstede / Hofstede (2005), pp. 74f.

[28] See Siedenbiedel 2008, p. 151.

[29] See Morschett / Schramm-Klein / Zentes 2009, p. 140.

[30] See Müller / Gelbrich 2004, p. 146.

[31] See Griffin / Pustay 2010, p. 131.

[32] See Cateora / Gilly / Graham 2009, p. 92.

[33] See Morschett / Schramm-Klein / Zentes 2009, p. 140.

[34] See Müller / Gelbrich 2004, p. 194.

[35] See Kutschker / Schmid 2008, p. 805.

[36] See Köppel 2002, p. 37.

[37] See Emrich 2007, p. 5.

[38] See Köppel 2002, p. 37.

[39] See Emrich 2007, p. 5.

[40] See Emrich 2007, p. 5.f.

[41] See Müller / Gelbrich 2004, p. VIII.

[42] See Emrich 2007, p. 8.

[43] See Griffin / Pustay 2010, p. 486.

[44] Stender-Monhemius 2002, p. 116.

[45] See Stender-Monhemius 2002, p. 116.

[46] See Griffin / Pustay 2010, p. 489.

[47] See Emrich 2007, p. 216.

[48] See Müller / Gelbrich 2004, pp. 554f.

[49] See Emrich 2007, pp. 219f.

[50] See Griffin / Pustay 2010, p. 490.

[51] See Emrich 2007, pp. 219f.

[52] See Müller / Gelbrich 2004, p. 613ff.

[53] See Helm 2009, p. 311.

[54] See Müller / Gelbrich 2004, p. 815.

[55] See Emrich 2007, p. 237f.

[56] See Müller / Gelbrich 2004, p. 814.

[57] See Cavusgil / Knight / Riesenberger 2008, p. 528.

[58] See Sander 2002, p. 444.

[59] See Keegan / Schlegelmilch / Stöttinger 2002, p. 458.

[60] See Sander 2002, p. 444.

[61] See Breitschuh / Wöller 2007, p. 4.

[62] See Berndt / Altobelli / Sander 1997, p. 342f.

[63] See Bruhn 2002, p. 431.

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