I gues you have often been debating with your crew or your colleagues how to adapt product concepts to the international market. We always prefer products, we know from home. Only when the local market can’t supply enough perceived value for money do we look for alternatives. However, our preferences can vary a lot.
Women in Asia use whitening creams, while in Europe we use much more often tanning creams. McDonald's in Europe has restaurants and McDrive, while in Dubai home delivery is very popular- as people even get their groceries delivered home, while this concept still struggles to get acceptance here in DK.
It’s important to decide on the gains of “local adaption” vs “sacificed economies of scale” for any international activity. How much do we need to adapt and how much more market share will we gain by doing so. This is by most of us quite well known, I assume. Globalization as in “everything is now global” is a media thing that has no substance for professional marketers.
BUT: What about the role of motivation across different cultures?
According to recent research by Amitava Chattopadhyay and his colleagues, at INSEAD (Amitava Chattopadhyay, INSEAD July 21, 2015) many companies do not realize how noticing different motivation behind customer’s actions can change their performance. Research proves, that what motivates individuals to achieve their goals depends highly on their cultural background (Pursuing Attainment versus Maintenance Goals: The Interplay of Self-Construal and Goal Type on Consumer Motivation).
All of us have goals. In fact people from all over the world have had some goals- weather it is loosing weight, qutting smoking or getting promoted.
What differs across cultures is what motivates people to achieve those goals. It can have huge influence on the behavioral response of your campaign, on the way you talk to your customers.
In some, more independent cultures e.g. the US people find attaining goals much more motivating than maintenance goals. On the other hand, people from more interdependent cultures e.g. China find maintaining the goals much more motivating. This happens because people from more independent cultures tend to define themselves on individual lines, while those from interdependent cultures place attention on their role in the group.
INDEPENDENT CULTURES- ATTAINING GOALS
e.g Great Britain, United States, Australia, Canada and New Zealand, Germany, Belgium, Sweden, Italy, Denmark, Netherlands, France
INTERDEPENDENT CULTURES- MAINAINANCE GOALS
e.g Central and South America, China, South Korea, Pakistan, Portugal,Greece
And what is the difference between maintenance and attainment goals?
The goal types differ in the distance between the current and the desired states. In attainment goal, achieving the desired state suggests that there is an end of goal pursuit (e.g. safe $2000 for trip). In maintenance goal the end date is not clear as the goal should be constantly maintained (e.g. eat healthy).
How to use differences in cultural motivation as manager?
The international marketing and product managers, while localizing the product/service concept to the market, should consider this research. If your customers are from more independent culture your marketing campaign should give the customers the opportunity to achieve the goal e.g. buy 9 coffees and you will get the 10th for free. However if you implement it in more interdependent cultures the campaign could be e.g. buy lifetime membership card, which gives you and your family members access to unique offers.
Managers can also use this research to motivate their employees. When working with people form more independent cultures settled goals should be different than when working with interdependent cultures. Don’t just ask your employees from different cultures to simply “strive for excellence”. You will see that very often they will prioritize things, you did not intend at all with your goal setting. They will disagree on what you meant You must have a lot more insights to drive motivation on international level.
At IFAK we believe research is a prerequisite for any ambitious company performance. We don’t give advice and hope for the best. We teach and transfer knowledge so you can implement this in your company. After all you know your customers and employees better than any outsider can ever do. Research proves that as well.