|Was just reading my Principles of Marketing textbook and stories of marketing screw ups. Here is an interesting passage:
The seller must examine the ways consumers think about and use certain products before planning a marketing program. There are often surprises. For example, the average French man uses almost twice as many cosmetics and beauty aids as his wife. The Germans and the French eat more packaged, branded spaghetti than do Italians. Italian children like to eat chocolate bars between slices of bread as a snack. Women in Tanzania will not give their children eggs for fear of making them bald or impotent.
Companies that ignore such differences can make some very expensive and embarrassing mistakes. Here's an example:
McDonald's and Coca-Cola managed to offend the entire Muslim world by putting the Saudi Arabian flag on their packaging. The flag's design includes a passage from the Koran (the sacred text of Islam) and Muslims feel very strongly that their Holy Writ should never be wadded up and tossed in the garbage. Nike faced a similar situation in Arab countries when Muslims objected to a stylized "Air" logo on its shoes, which resembled "Allah" in Arabic script. Nike apologized for the mistake and pulled the shoes from distribution.
And more from this same section:
Business norms and behavior vary from country to country. American business executives need to be briefed on these factors before conducting business in another country. Here are some examples of different global business behavior:
And so on...
- South Americans like to sit or stand very close to each other when they talk business -- in fact, almost nose-to-nose. The American business executive tends to keep backing away as the South American moves closer. Both may end up being offended.
- Fast and tough bargaining, which works well in other parts of the world, is often inappropriate in Japan and other Asian countries. Moreover, in face-to-face communications, Japanese business executives rarely say no. Thus, Americans tend to become impatient with having to spend time in polite conversatoin about the weather or other such topics before getting down to business. And they becom efrustrated when they don't know where they stand. However, when Americans come to the point quickly, Japanese business executives may find this behavior offensive.
Speaking of globalism, my university was attempting to sell this textbook at an outrageous price of about $150. What a scam. However I got the exact same edition except an Indian market paperback version, with poorer print quality for $50 on ebay. Still expensive but a little more reasonable.