Monday, December 15, 2014

Dimension Your Approach to Customer Culture

In 1980, social psychologist Geert Hofstede began publishing analyses of consumer cultures, based upon responses to more than 100,000 surveys he administered in dozens of countries. Over succeeding years, his conclusions have provided guidance for retailers wanting to sell to shoppers raised under different values systems.
     Prof. Hofstede said that four major dimensions distinguish cultures:
  • Power distance. “Power” refers to the degree of influence people have over others. “Distance belief” refers to the degree to which a consumer accepts there are wide differences in the amount of power possessed by people the consumer knows about. When a shopper believes that there are broad differences in the distribution of power, they become less likely to impulsively purchase products like candy bars. These are the sorts of products others might criticize, and the shoppers yield to the assumed power of others. This doesn’t hold true with impulsive purchases of granola bars, which could be viewed as healthy rather than indulgent. 
  • Uncertainty avoidance. Some cultures avoid ambiguity, while others embrace it, and most are somewhere in-between. Superstitions are especially likely to influence consumers who avoid uncertainty. Differentiate between consumers who do things like carry good luck charms and those who believe in the power of fate or karma regardless of what lucky charms they're packing. For those who respect karma, show extra perseverance in resolving service complaints. The other type of superstitious consumer will become a fan if you pair positive shopping experiences with a reminder tchotchke, like a small item carrying your store logo. 
  • Masculinity/femininity. For shoppers from cultures enforcing strict distinctions among sex roles, pay attention to who does what in the purchase. There are broad individual differences among male shoppers and among female shoppers, but overall, men shoppers are more purpose-driven, while women are more possibilities-driven. 
  • Individualism/collectivism. Consumers with backgrounds in collectivist cultures, like those in many Asian and Pacific Island areas, Greece, and Portugal, are more likely to embrace social responsibility than those who identify with individualist cultures such as America, Great Britain, Canada, and the Netherlands. People who identify with individualistic cultures welcome more rapid changes than do consumers who identify with collectivist cultures. 
     A recent statistically sophisticated study across 36 countries by researchers at California State University-Northridge, University of Cincinnati, and University of Washington concludes that the last of the four dimensions—individualism/collectivism—has an effect 71% greater on customer relationship marketing than the other three.

For your profitability: Sell Well: What Really Moves Your Shoppers

Click below for more: 
Yield to Power Distance Belief 
Ease On Through Election Uncertainty 
Trace Who Does What in the Purchase 
Cultivate Controversy Carefully 
Sell Product Families 
Change Up How You Do Business 
Reassure Stay-At-Home Dads 
Secret the Customer’s Confidences 
Cross Channels with Market Mavens

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