Cultural Differences and Behaviours: Why Should Companies Understand Them?

With the whole world as a potential market, it is important for companies to understand cultural differences to ensure they get the most out of their local and international expansions. What may be a success in one country will not necessarily be a success in another, no matter how similar their cultures seem. Not all marketing translates the same.

International cultural differences

So, what are cultural differences? Cultural differences are the various languages, beliefs, behaviours, attitudes, expressions and more that are unique to a specific ethnicity, race, country or religion. The term 'cultural differences’ covers a broad range of differences that one country may have compared to another. While it is vital that expanding companies explore and understand cultural differences, not all cultural differences should be a priority for every company to thoroughly research.

For example, an online music streaming company would  want to know how potential customers consume media, looking at wifi availability, cost of mobile data,  preferred ways to access media and how online customers buy content. A country’s attitude towards online music piracy would also be important to understand as this would influence people's likelihood to pay for an online music service.

For a shoe company looking to expand shops globally, their overall research would have to come from a different angle, focusing research on the dynamics and psychology of physical shoppers, the materialistic views of the country, and how physical shops compete with online stores.

Of course, there are certain cultural differences that will overlap between companies’ research when expanding globally, for example, the average household income/disposable income and the economy within a country.

Cultural and behavioural differences

Cultural differences influence everyday life, not only why people buy products but how. Developing user-friendly services is important for companies to gain the attention of new customers from different cultures. Understanding cultural differences and tailoring products to them will influence how customers interact with a company and determine their user experience.  

Companies spend a lot of time and money expanding globally, so it is important for their research to align with the country they want to expand, grow, improve retention and/or increase conversion. The better a company understands and showcases their customers’ needs and wants, the more likely they are to succeed in their ventures.