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Nowadays, marketing and advertising sectors use values in order to differentiate and position their brands with regard to rival brands. Values are at the heart of many segmentation and positioning decisions. Nevertheless, consumers’ and marketers’ values vary depending of their culture, and marketing and advertising will be effective only if these values match. Indeed, the only way for a marketing program to become a success, is to do everything possible so that the marketing mix of the product corresponds to the values of the consumer.

A strong brand is a brand whose values match the consumers’ values. Marketing consists in adding values to products, and advertising is the instrument used for achieving this. Values play an important role in consumer behavior. Adding values to a brand creates associations of ideas into people’s minds, and help them distinguish the products between them. Values associated with brands provide consumers with standards for making comparisons.

But currently, the predominant tendency seems to be that every consumer is the same, whatever their culture, and wherever they live in the world. Moreover, it can be noted that this tendency is widespread in Western countries, which have already been swallowed up by American hegemony.  But what do Western marketers and advertisers believe that the same strategy fits every cultural group?

A mere assessment is sufficient to understand the origin of this mistake: anywhere in the world, students in marketing and advertising are taught the same theories on values, elaborated most of the time by American, or at least western authors. We can quote for example Rokeach’s “Value Survey”, a study of values and lifestyles taught and applied worldwide, although the values studied are typical for American culture.

In reality, people are socially determined by the group they belong to: as there is no universal culture, there are no universal values. Indeed, when they are translated into other languages and within other cultures, values sometimes become meaningless. People’s values vary by culture, as well as researchers’ values. If there is no match between the culture on which a research model is based and the culture of the country where it is applied, the outcome will be meaningless.

It is important to understand that the values of one culture cannot be used indiscriminately in another one. Values are so diverse that marketing and advertising strategies can no longer use American values as a basis for applying the same strategy to all cultural groups. Several new models are currently being developed, to help international companies to develop global products and to differentiate them by using the core values of national cultures.

Some interesting links in English for further reading:

What Is Values-Based Marketing?

Steve Jobs lesson on marketing: Values and belief

Some interesting links in French for further reading:

Les grandes marques en campagne sur leurs valeurs

Les valeurs : éthique ou marketing ?

Bibliography:

Global Marketing and Advertising: Understanding Cultural Paradoxes, Marieke de MOOIJ, Sage Publications

The Nature of human values, M. ROKEACH, Free Press

Culture’s consequences: International differences in work-related values, G. HOFSTEDE, Sage Publications

Advertising worldwide, Marieke de MOOIJ, Prentice Hall International

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novembre 2018
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