Chinese and Australian Consumer Behaviour
These advantages can be gained through understanding what needs the Chinese place the cost Importance on In regards to the hierarchy and what type of brand personality can be created to most effectively target the Chinese market. Introduction: Cross Culture Analysis A cross-cultural study is a beneficial tool undertaken to effectively understand the foreign countries involved In exchanging goods Internationally. Marketers evidently desire to efficiently export large measures of goods and services to various developed countries.
If the complex procedure of understanding the major alterations between China’s and Australia’s consumer behavior is effectively established; a result of costive outlooks and increased brand recognition will be identified. According to the Australian Embassy, ‘China is Australia’s largest trading partner’ thus allowing a beneficial exposure for further acknowledgment and marketing opportunities for an Australian exporter. China may be classified as a ‘collectivist culture’ (Horn, Merritt, Sun 2004).
Collectivist cultures are defined by their ability to malignant strong connections within their groups and in order to belong, individuals are strongly influenced by other peers or family members to follow similarities within one society (Horn, Merritt, Sun 2004). They display a high need for social recognition and status and consume goods to communicate a symbolic expression of their status and prestige (Clans, Gambler, 2003). For example, the Chinese drink wine on special occasions to belong, but also to stress their status and prestige (Lulu, Murphy, 2007).
As an exporting opportunity Australian marketers can capitalist on this by emphasizing their wine products to be a sign of prestige to target the Chinese collectivist culture. Australia on the other hand is viewed to have deferent cultural beliefs; the nation is ‘defined as a strongly individualistic culture’. This means individuals within Australia desire to express their unique traits with a minimum influence by others (Lee, Askance 2000) which Is In opposition to the Chinese.
As an Individualistic culture, Australia has a greater tendency to be self-enhancing than collectivist cultures, and associates achievement with the individual rather than the group (which is typical of the Chinese culture) (Nevis 1983). Although these two countries have strong dissimilarities, marketers must take into account Australia’s and China’s similarities in consumer behavior, as there might be potential for an Australian exporter to succeed. Although In order to satisfactorily establish exporting analysis between the countries consumer behavior characteristics.
The various differences in culture and personality must be used adequately to capture the target audience. Moscow Hierarchy of Needs and Consumer Behavior Mascots Hierarchy of Human Needs is a classification of five basic human needs ranking in order of most important to least important. The first is physiological, which includes the need for food and water, followed by safety and security need (protection, stability), social needs (friendship and belonging), ego needs (status, restive) and self actualization (self-fulfillment) as the final need (Bedlam et al. 2010).
This hierarchy can be applied to goods and services in determining what level of needs they satisfy and help marketers segment the on a needs basis. Most people in society express these needs, though in slightly different ways. Most needs could be classified under this hierarchy which makes it useful for marketers when segmenting (Bedlam et al. 2010). The theory of the hierarchy states that once lower levels needs “are satisfied, again new (and still ‘higher’) needs emerge… ” To be fulfilled (Moscow, 943 p. 375). Which means that it is only once lower needs are satisfied, do higher needs emerge to be fulfilled (Bedlam et al. 010). For consumers this means that they will only buy products to fulfill higher needs once their lower needs have been satisfied. For marketers this becomes important when positioning on a needs basis as the demographics of the country may not allow those people to fulfill their higher social needs if their basic physiological needs aren’t being met. Or it may mean that only a small percentage of the population would be marketable to if they hold most f the wealth of the country. Importantly if marketers design a product to meet the perceived needs of consumers, consumers are more likely to choose that product over competitors.
In this way the needs hierarchy can be used as a basis on which to build the benefits the product can offer to the consumer, through fulfilling a need, making it more likely they will consume that product over competitors. Marketers can also bring about the arousal of needs through advertising, and the product they are trying to sell can become the consumer’s goal specific product (Bedlam et al. 2010). This is ultimately the aim of the product. Therefore an understanding of Mascots hierarchy is important when segmenting the market.
It can allow marketers to position to a segment on a needs basis and even create the arousal of need, of which the product can become a product specific goal. The Effect of Culture on Mascots Hierarchy of Needs As was described earlier, in the previous section, Mascots Hierarchy of Needs identifies the five basic levels of human needs. While generally accepted because it reflects the needs of most people in an individualistic society, it cannot be applied to all cultures. This is because despite the fact that most people express primary or physiological needs, acquired needs are leant in response to ones culture (Bedlam et al. 010). The Chinese and Australians will therefore place their needs with differing important to marketers when considering which needs basis to segment on. According to Nevis (1983), Mascots Hierarchy of needs is a reflection of an individualistic culture such as Australia and America, and therefore can’t be applied to the Collectivist Chinese culture. Nevis (1983) proposes the Chinese culture subverts the traditional model by placing belongingness as the first basic need, allowed by physiological, safety needs and self-actualization in service of society at the top.
This new hierarchy reflects the collectivist traits of the Chinese culture; high family and group orientation (Cyanic, Gambler, 2003), the expression of self as part of a group (brother, father, son, husband but never as ‘self’) and gaining meaning through interaction with society. Belonging is therefore the basis of the Chinese society (Nevis 1983). For marketers this means positioning products in relation to the products acceptance by the targeted consumers social and family groups.
This is an important approach to take regardless of what needs basis is segmented, as Chinese consumers will look to their social groups for guidance when buying a product rather than the offers and benefits presented to them before purchasing (Ability, Frank, Anemia, Achievement 2011). This is reflected in the pup commercial targeted at the Chinese consumer (See appendix 1). While the drink is targeting a psychological need in Mascots Hierarchy, a large part of the ad focuses on the acceptance of the drink by the family, which is reflecting the importance of family orientation to the Chinese nonuser and their need for belongingness.
While the Chinese have self- actualization at the top like individualistic cultures, they differ to Australia, in that they fulfill this need through their success as being part of a group as opposed to being recognized individually (Cyanic, Gambler, 2003). This is echoed in their low individualism score of 20. Australia on the other hand has an individualism score of 90 and is reflected in its beliefs that an achieved goal is the result of the individual. Chinese culture also has a high degree of face, which is evident in the subverted Hierarchy.
Consumption in China has a strong social association because of its high degree of “face”; whereby Chinese consumers fulfill their needs through “placing more emphasis on publicly visible possessions… ” (ABA, Us, Chou, 2003, p. 737). This socio-cultural characteristic reflects the need for belongingness and acceptance by social and family groups. Furthermore, high face also means Chinese consumers are more likely to buy luxury products as a symbol of social status, and prestige of the family, rather than an expression of self as is common in individualistic societies such as Australia (Cyanic, Gambler, 2003).
High face suggests a larger social need and indicates reference group influence is much larger in collectivist cultures than individualistic cultures, and this supports the subverted Hierarchy model with belongingness as the first need for the Chinese Collectivist culture (ABA, et al. 2003). The implications of this for marketers when exporting means centering products on their acceptance by the target market reference groups when segmenting on a needs basis.
Positioning to the Chinese on product benefits is less important as they are more likely to look to the group when buying a product than the benefits it provides Cyanic, Gambler, 2003). Overall for marketers, understanding how culture affects the Hierarchy of needs is detrimental when positioning as not all cultures place the same emphasis on the same needs. “Brand personality is an association of a brand whereby it is imbued with human-like personality traits” (Bedlam et al. 2010 p. 108). Human personality traits are developed on the basis of an individuals behaviors, characteristics, beliefs, and demographic characteristics.
However, brand personality traits are formed and influence by the consumers interaction with the brand, the culture from which the consumer comes long with the way that the marketers attempt to portray the brand in the eyes of its consumers (Luau, Papua 2001). For marketers, the aim of creating a brand personality is to create an identity to which consumers can respond emotionally positively towards, and to extend themselves through the brand (Bedlam et al. 2010). If the brand closely reflects the personality of the consumer, they are more likely to respond positively towards that brand and buy from it (Wee, 2003).
By extension, brand personality can be seen as a reflection of the cultures in which the brand is surrounded by (Gerhardt, Houston 2001). For example, the Chinese place emphasis on harmony and relationships (Nevis 1983) and this in tern is reflected in the brand personalities aimed at the Chinese. When Audio marketed their brand to China in a TV commercial (See Appendix 2) the car isn’t shown until the very end of the ad, until after several happy relationships have been shown. The aim was to try and make a connection between the car and the relationships it allows people to have, creating a brand image of relationships and connectedness.
Chinese brand personalities, which keep in consistency with heir cultural collectivist traits, tend to portray belongingness and the brand as an avenue to express their acceptance by society and group members (Luau, Papua 2001). Whereas in the Individualistic culture of Australia, brand image is much more likely to take on an individualistic approach as Australian consumers are more likely to “purchase brands they deem suitable for themselves… ” (Lam, Lee, 2005 p. 165). As a result Australian brand images take on a self-centered approach that stress sophistication and express the persons personality rather than acceptance by the group.
Consumers in individualistic cultures are also less likely to switch brands (Lam, Lee 2005). This could be due to personality being relatively stable (Bedlam et al. 2010), so Australians are expected to keep expressing themselves through the same brand that matches their personality. Yet fashion and status are constantly changing within groups, so collectivist consumers (such as the Chinese) are more likely to switch brands to belong to the changing influences of their peer groups. (Luau, Papua 2001).
For marketers this means creating a brand personality for collectivist cultures hat are primarily fashionable and seen as acceptable by the consumers peer groups, while in individualistic cultures the brand personality must align with the personality of the consumer to be received positively. This idea of brand personality influenced by culture is vital for marketers to position their product in the eyes of consumers. If a consumer associates a product in a different light to the way the marketers are promoting it, it can have detrimental effects towards the longevity of the good.
Subsequently, the opposite can happen, whereby the consumers take a greater liking o the good, and increasing the marketability of the product. Global branding brings forth an exposure to an increasingly culturally-diverse audience. In order for Australian marketers to understand the distinctly unique dimensions of brand personality in the Chinese market, it is vital to consider the socio-cultural characteristics that underpin Chinese consumer behavior and preferences. Chant, Saunders, Taylor and SHCOON (2003 p. ) note that “consumers seek brands with congruent personalities (to their own), and use brands’ personality to define their sense of self”. Furthermore, these unique needs of consumers and owe they identify, relate, and associate themselves to brand personalities; alongside the inextricably linked pressures of economic, lifestyle and cultural conditions, must be considered collectively in order for marketers to successfully market their firm’s offerings (Bedlam et al. 2010). Hefted (2001) puts forth that the dimensions of China’s cultural differences are shown by a high degree of long-term orientation and collectivism.
Unlike individualistic societies such as Australia, collectivist cultures support and adhere to standards and consumption decisions on a group axis (family, extended family, network of friends and community); in effect, providing the framework within which Chinese individuals and households function. Confucianism, the dominant philosophical influence in China, is an ideology that reiterates this collective nature, as well as the importance of these interpersonal relationships and interactions, the notion of “face”, and the concept of hierarchy.
In addition, education level, sex, age and standard of living all influence how foreign brands are perceived in the Chinese market (Chin (3)). A recent study conducted by Chug and Sung (201 1), identified a six dimensional framework of brand rationalities present in China. They consisted of ‘Competence, Excitement, and Sophistication’ (Chug, Sung, 2001 p. L); notions matching with those found in individualistic societies like Australia, and culture-specific dimensions such as ‘Traditionalism, Joyfulness, and Trendiest’.
Through this research, Chug and Sung (2011) demonstrate that through establishing a Chinese brand personality structure marketers are able to identify the coexistence of both Chinese traditionalism and the implementations of Western modernization on cultural values in modern China. This means that in the past three decades, the Chinese market has increasingly opened p to the West, in a way that does not conflict with deeply rooted cultural norms.
This notion is reflected in the consumer behavior of today’s “young middle-class aspiring Chinese consumers; whom are increasingly becoming the most affluent consumer class in china” (Powel, 2011 p. 40). Powel (2011) proposes “Mr.. And Mrs.. Middle Class” are increasingly extending their brand preferences as a result of breaking down the barriers between cultures. However, cultural transitions are not intended to comply with Confucianism, rather, the role of brand personality becomes an avenue to express wealth, success, youth and the “modernity of institution… (Chin (3) p. 8). It is through these cultural characteristics and ties with economic and social factors, that perceptions towards brand personality exists among consumers from a society that is more culturally conditioned. In order to maximize exporting opportunities, adaptation is a necessity. Successful brands have philosophy; a shift from the traditional marketing concept to the more appropriate conceptualization of societal marketing (Bedlam et al. 2010).
Unlike Australians whom project high levels of uniqueness and individuality in their consumption patterns, Chinese consumers rely on the importance of social interaction in making consumer based decisions. “It is assumed that the recommendations and comments from others play a very important role in the choice of brand” (Chin (3) p. 7). This notion is reflected in the Chinese commercial for milk (See Appendix 3) where it can be seen that the reciprocity of and importance of trust-based interpersonal relationships is highlighted.
Set in a time in Chinese history where many could not afford to drink milk every day, the positioning of brother and sister, over the course of time, provides depiction of milk as a commodity of value of which one should be grateful to have. Years later when the young boy grows up, he realizes that his sister was only pretending to dislike milk so that she could give it to him. As a result, he vows to provide milk for the well-being of his future family.
This ad highlights the need for marketers to show the Chinese consumers that the brand is a part of their relationships with others in order for the brand to be received positively. This is because, as the ad depicts, belonging and relationships is central to the Chinese. The societal marketing concept takes into account the importance of adopting a long-term outlook, that “all companies would be better in a stronger, healthier society and that companies that incorporate ethical behavior and social responsibility in their business dealings will attract and maintain loyal customer support over the long term” (Bedlam et al. 010, p. 17). It is through adopting accordingly to these sensitive cultural subtleties that provides an opportunity for brands to tailor their marketing mix strategies to realize the best and most effective ways that meets their needs as ell as adequately adopting brand elements (images, advertising etc. ) that appeal to, relate and reflecting the consumer preferences of the Chinese market. Conclusion Overall it is detrimental for marketers to understand how Mascots Hierarchy and Brand Personality differs between Australia and China.
Without an understanding of how Mascots Hierarchy is subverted by different cultures, marketers would miss the opportunity to position based on what different cultures base as their most intrinsic need. Without an understanding of culture and how it affects brand personality, arresters may not integrate a brand to be adopted positively by a different culture. In order for marketers to export successfully, they need to adapt their marketing approaches to take into account these differences caused by the different cultures, therefore an understanding of both these concepts and how they are affected by culture is vitally important.