Impact of Cultural Distance on Global Marketing

Subject: Media
Type: Critical Analysis Essay
Pages: 13
Word count: 2864
Topics: Advertising, Coca Cola, International Business, Marketing


According to Engelen & Brettel, (2011), cultural distance refers to a term used in the corporate environment especially in the field of marketing. Cultural distance tries to give a measure of how global marketing can be carried out to yield success to organizations. Being that it is identified as a dimension, it can also be measured. Measuring the cultural distance gives a lot of benefit to the organization and especially in the marketing department (Griffith & Dimitrova, 2014). Some of the models that measure cultural distance are Hofstede and Trompenaars model. This paper looks into cultural distance’s impact on the global marketing.

Discussion of cultural distance theories

Cultural distance is universally identified as a term with both psychological and philosophical aspects. Some of the main models used to measure cultural distance are Globe project or Hofstede’s model, Schwartz’s framework. Market globalization has the primary purpose of determining the measure of the cultural distance. It is not easy determining the cultural distance. This shows mistakes can be made when proper measures are not taken. It is a very critical process that needs a lot of evaluation of the data that have been collected (Hsu et al. 2013). The data collected must be looked into to determine the market gaps and what different culture believes in accordance to the products that the respective organizations are producing. The Cultural difference remains to be a major variant that has a lot to determine in the global marketing.These techniques of measurement are highly differentiated as per what is reflected by the dissimilarity results. It is the differentiator in the model that will show or give the accuracy in the culture gap that is being determined. 

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Critical Analysis of the theories

Also, it is no doubt that the cultural distance has affected in the global marketing activities. This can be seen on the impacts that social distance does to the field of marketing. Hofstede’s model is the pioneer model, according to Samaha, and it has been driven out of use by the frequent changes taking place in the business world. Schwartz’s framework is regarded by most people as the most effective model currently (Samaha, 2014). This shows that people have preferences on what kind of model that they can use. Samaha, 2014 goes ahead to state that Hofstede model used to be very effective in the past in measuring out the cultural distance in dealing with the issue of global marketing. However, due to the technological advancements and the dynamics that are in the field of marketing, things have changed, and new models that have overlooked into the weaknesses of Hofstede have been invented (Shenkar, 2001).

There is a lot of criticism that circulates the model of Hofstede’s model. This has been contributed by the fact that it was among the pioneer models that was used to measure the cultural distance. As time progressed, there were new inventions that suggested better methods that overlooked the challenges that were being experienced by the Hofstede’s model (Beugelsdijk, 2017). A lot of international researcheshave been carried out on large scale multinational companies as well as the human resource concernin IBM.

Hofstede’s model established that organizations do have the cultural relationship. It would not be fair to practical to deny that Hofstede’s six dimensions have an essential proportion of the great and basic attributes that support the carrying out of research to find out the cultural gap for scholars and also for the practitioners that are involved. Besides this, the model cannot do away with the challenges by itself; various criticisms may be brought to the table during its evaluation. For example, the research that was conducted by Hofstede’s was done to explain corporate culture instead of the national cultures (Elster, 2015). Hofstede’s model can be criticized in eight points. These are political interference, very few dimensions, obsolesce, relevancy, cultural consistency, national divisions, statistical integrity and one organization approach (Engelen, 2011) After Hofstede’s model, basic frameworks have come up with further discredit the basic of Hofstede’s work. This will entail the model by Inglehart, Trompenaars, GLOBE project and Schwartz. In the past few years, the models that have been commonly referred to as the seven dimensions of Trompenaars, the nine units of the GLOBE project, the 7 standards of Schwartz and the Global Survey of Inglehart. Schwartz, for instance, criticized Hofstede’s dimensions of culture as sophisticated in content but with no consistency or relevance (Samaha, 2014). Hofstede’s survey has been accused of a lot of different defects about the technological, educational and scientific background.

There are some common models used for evaluating techniques that cultural gapsubsequent to model of Hofstede that was suggested and were of value in understanding the cultural distance. These new models gave a very clear insight on what can be done on the global market to capture people from all walks of life. Some of these models include the model of Schwartz, Trompenaars, GLOBE project and Inglehart. All these models are very resourceful in the interpretation and analysis of the cultural distance (Griffith, 2014). After Hofstede came up with his model to solve the problem that most organizations were having in marketing their products globally, there came a rise of many other researchers that wanted to find more on how they can measure the cultural gap founded on the model of Hofstede. All these models tried to evaluate how the cultural distance can be evaluated to determine how they can be effective in advancing global marketing. The new methods have eliminated some of the weaknesses that were in the pioneer model, Hofstede. This has eased on how the cultural distance can be measured by different organizations. This explains why there has been a massive success and advancements in the global marketing.

More recent research studies categorize Inglehart’s model as one of the most embraced and applied models in advertising and marketing. Recent researches by management and organization science have enumerated the Globe project as the most ideal, standard as well as the best alternative as compared to other models that had existed before (Bucklin, 2017). Nonetheless, Globe also has its share of challenges that need to be addressed. 

The most notable limitation of global marketing is the average sample size of the respondents. Deciding on the best theory to pursue is one of the challenging tasks, however, from a more visible point of view, they seem more of a deep conceptualization rather than a measurement of cultural distance. Some researcher is of the opinion that when these theories are used jointly, they can yield an improved outcome (Brown, 2001). For instance, when Hofstede’s model and Schwartz’s model are used together, in one single project, there is a higher likelihood that one will achieve improved outcome. This is in the sense that it is unfair to judge the value of the models. Every model has its significant purpose and thus should not be looked down upon entirely. The model done by Hampden-Turner and Trompenaars, despite the fact that they are relatively complex and advance when compared to the Hofstede’s which is a pioneer model, it indicated a leap towards the development as well as advancement of the cultural measurement tools but to a relatively different direction (Engelen & Brettel, 2011). The model Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner are considered relatively ideal since it seeks to explore the anticipated and desired behavior of respondents in different national as well as organizational situations. 

While Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner model explores the desired behavior of outcomes, the Hofstede model attempts to find out the work values for the same. Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner model employs the use of survey as a research technique. Despite employing this technique, it seems to be much more focused oriented. This means that it speaks more than what is in the minds of people, what people can visualize, the logical structure and framework of their relations and the manner in which they conduct themselves. On the contrary, Hofstede’s model explains some values which people have and can influence people’s behavior. Moreover, the Hofstede’s model gets deeper to look into the cultural complex and then generates in its audience the ability or rather the capacity of making predictions of the behavior of people (Hunt, 1993). 

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Marketing Adaptation examples

Marketing of Coca-Cola in Saudi Arabia and the United States

Due to cultural diversity, the marketing of a product in one country may vary with the marketing in another country. Cultural distance, therefore, has an impact on the global marketing operations. Coca-Cola has a different approach to cultural variability in different nations. This section will focus on how Coca-Cola has different marketing strategies in the United States and South Arabia.  Advertisement of Coca-Cola in South Arabia is based on the notion of building the future together which shows the urge of Coca-Cola Company to improve the country as a whole. Through this, cultural leadership has been enabled. The main advertisement methods used to advertise Coca-Cola in South Arabia is through the Coke Studio Middle East that fuses Arabic and International artists. This helps to connect different through music while promoting the Coca-Cola brand. The marketing of Coca-Cola in the United States is unique compared to in South Arabia. In the US, the advertisement s mainly carried out through the social media. The advertisement is done through experimental marketing which is aimed at creating an emotional connects with the consumers. The difference in the marketing strategies between the two countries is because of the cultural differences that exist between them. In the United States, it is done through the social media to connect a large number of people by creating an emotional connect while in South Arabia it is based on the notion of bringing people together and developing the future together. The differences can be explained in the dimension of individualism vs. collectivism. America is regarded as individualism country, and that’s why Coca-Cola is using the experimental marketing. Experimental marketing is the engagement type of marketing where the consumers are engaged in the marketing. It is similar to event marketing.  South Arabia is regarded as a collectivist society. The country places a lot of value in both their spiritual family and real family. This explains why Coca-Cola tries to use Coke Studio Middle East to connect people of different groups. The different marketing strategies adopted by Coca-Cola in all the two countries have been of success.

Marketing of the Nike brand in South Arabia and the United States

Different countries have varying cultures and thus require different marketing strategy that is commensurate with the consumers to penetrate the market effectively. The marketing strategies used by the Nike brand to penetrate through the United States and South Arabia market were different mainly due to the cultural difference between these nations. The Nike brand embraced online marketing strategy in South Arabia. This was pegged on the increased number of online users in the nation and thus a good platform to attract the market. The south Arabian populace is ardent social media fans. With the culture of the nation transforming at a fast pace and embracing modernity since the discovery of vast oil wealth, they are growing with the perception that it is normal to go online and do everything. Nike brand therefore heavily invested in online marketing and in e-commerce to tap a greater share of this market. The strategy worked for the brand as it now dictates a large share of the South Arabian market. This confluence of ideal consumer habits, demographics, and strategic brand positioning has left Nike uniquely poised to continue gaining a larger chunk of the market. 

As opposed to the marketing strategy used in South Arabia, Nike uses a different strategy in the United States. The marketing strategy it employs is the use of media campaigns to attract its market. It uses both print media and engages in campaigns such as sponsoring sporting activities in the county to raise its awareness. 

The marketing strategies employed by the Nike brand can best be explained through the Hofstede model. The model postulates the effect of the community’s way of doing things with regards to the values of its populace as well as how the values affect their behavior. Both the South Arabian market and the United States market have different market behaviors based on their cultures thus the use of different marketing strategies by the Nike company.  

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Based on the above evaluation of the two corporations; Nike and Coca cola, both embrace different marketing strategies in both nations. The marketing strategies embraced mainly commensurate to the marketing guidelines presented in those markets. The South Arabian market as well as the United States market has divergent things that appeal to them and different marketing strategies appease to each. For instance, the use of internet is the most embraced advertisement platform in the US while in Saudi Arabia other platforms such as media advertisement are highly utilized. It is therefore evident that before getting into these markets it is important to embrace a marketing strategy that best suites the market. 


It has been determined from the above discussion that it is indeed true that there exists a wide cultural distance between businesses mainly intrigued by the increased consumer diversity. Marketers find it challenging to market similar products and services in different regions using the same techniques. Different marketing strategies work for different region. A strategy may work for one region but fail to work for another. They find it challenging to interpret questions because of the preciseness of the questions may make it insufficient in the determination of culture. This is because culture, as well as personality to a large extent, might have a direct correlation or adversely affect the manner in which a question is translated, and the resultant impact of this is errors. Furthermore, the background of the researchers also does have an impact on the outcome since they also shrink the wholeness of cultural definition and in most scenarios are most likely to deliver one-sided point of view at the problem at hand. Due to this marketers are obliged or are coerced to have a marketer instead of getting a manager for an organization or an establishment of an appropriate assessments framework that is more suitable for marketing decisions making (Ferrell & Lucas Jr, 1987). It has also been ascertained by Engelen & Brettel, (2011) that the models have a tendency of ignoring the ethnic grouping as well as communication that is present that is the national culture disintegration. The paper has looked into different cultural distance models and how they can best be applied in real life situations. 

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