The influence of cultural orientation on brand perception
Branding Concepts 3 1. Brand Perception 3 1. Brand Image 4 1. Other Brand Concepts 4 1. The Concept of Culture 6 1. Indulgence. Other Models on Culture 11 1. The relationship between culture and branding 11 1. McDonald’s Brand 12 1. McDonald's in the USA 12 1. The three countries selected (USA, China and India) have distinct cultural orientations which the research exploits through research to highlight these cultural norms and determine if they impact McDonalds brand image perception. Culture has been identified as part of the defining attributes of people specific to a region by theorists such as Hofstede. This study uses communication, nationality, cultural metaphors and Hofstede’s 5 five dimensions to identify cultures and establish how they influence McDonalds’ brand perception and its strategies to achieve cultural adaptability. Keywords: branding, brand image, brand perception, consumer behavior, culture.
INTRODUCTION Originally considered as a creation of main cultural variables in cross-cultural management and communication field, the concept of culture has anchored the translation of ideas into practice (Schmitz, Tarter & Sine, 2012). The concept of cultural orientation has a significant impact on consumer choice and brand perception. This has proved beneficial to the business circles, particularly the hospitality industry (Matzler et al. Hofstede (1980) established five dimensions that revolutionized the concept of culture through inventing a metric that can be applied to understand the values and beliefs of a group of people. The five dimensions established by Hofstede (1980) include the following: individualism-collectivism, power distance, uncertainty avoidance, masculinity-femininity, and long-term orientation. The main objective of this study is to establish the impact of cultural orientations on brand perception towards McDonald Corp in China, India, and the United States of America.
The study will use descriptive design in defining systematic and accurate facts and characteristics of the target population (Rahi, 2017). customers visiting McDonald's restaurants in the USA, China, and India were the main targets. Respondents will be selected using purposive sampling, which gives the researcher convenience to select samples based on personal judgment (Etikan, Musa &Alkassim, 2016). The study used surveys as the main data collection instrument. Purposely selected frequent customers will be issued with survey questions containing closed-ended questions to facilitate the collection of quantitative data. Limitations of the study and gaps that future research can address are also discussed in this section. THEORETICAL AND LITERATURE REVIEW 1. Branding Concepts Previous research shows that the power of a brand is grounded in the meaning created but not creating a difference in consumer perceptions.
Therefore, managing brand meaning remains an important task in the implementation of a successfully strong brand strategy (Schroeder, Borgerson& Wu, 2017). One of the most significant reasons for differences in the knowledge base is the difference in culture. Akaka & Alden (2010) observed that approachesto global brands are triggered by specificcustomervariations such as consumer ethnocentrism, and that universalityis hardly perceived positively. A hybridized approach to an international advertisement may be ideal for increasing local relevance and hybridization is not new in the advertising industry (Picard, Durocher &Gendron, 2017). Nevertheless, the intricate task of incorporating global and local imageries to arouse positive perception offer a rich opportunity for further investigation of global advertisement and global culture positioning (Payan et al. A national culture provides a snapshot of how customers interpret the marketing messages; therefore a global brand may be perceived differently in various markets (Matzler et al.
Moreover, customers from diverse markets might respond differently to organization’s strategies. The current business environment requires every company to have brands and strive to develop and maintainthem (Jin et al. The brand is a mark that sticks on mind and heartof a consumer which builds a particularsense of meaning and emotions; therefore, the brand remains more of a design, label, symbol, trademark or a logoassociated with the product(Sasmita&MohdSuki, 2015). The brand image remains the driving force of equity which entails the customer’soverall perceptions and emotional stateconcerningthe brand and has an impact on customer behaviors(Zhang, 2015). Looking through present scholars, the most extensively applied predictor of consumer behavioral intentionsremains satisfaction and loyalty. Brand image is seen to pose an impact on customer satisfaction, andthe relationships between the brand image and consumer self-image enhance satisfaction and preferences(Grohs&Reisinger, 2014).
Organization’s brand personality stimulates emotional reaction from customers intending to incite positive actions with benefits to the organization (Sung et al. Brand personality consists of excitement, sincerity, ruggedness, competence and sophistication. Organization's brand personality unswervingly generates an emotional memory in the mind of a perfect user group. Brand identity is an exceptional set of brand connections aspired to be created or maintained by the brand strategist (Dahlen, 2010). These connections represent what the brand signify and indicate a commitment to consumers from the organization. Customers tend to spend more on branded productsthan on unknown productsbecause of thereputablepull of brand equity. However, a brand can be damaged easily if not well managed. For instance, poor customer service and reduced quality of products can affect the intensity and volume of sales.
Zhang (2015) argued that brand equity relies on customer numbers making regular buying. Brand equity contains four main aspects where consumer and brand relationships remain substantial (Brand awareness, brand loyalty, perceived quality and brand association) (Sasmita&MohdSuki, 2015). Individual’s decisions are driven by personal experience, preferences, expectations, and values. Culture constitutes a broad influence of many dimensions of human behavior (Arensberg, 2017). The growing opportunities for intercultural interactions have made the world witness the proliferation of modern studies of culture. Schroeder, Borgerson& Wu (2017) define culture as a complexoccurrence that consist of artifacts, values, and basic assumptions. Cultural artifacts are easily perceiveddisplay of culture while assumptions remain the extremely hidden and ignored aspect of culture. The dimension calls for the need for certainguiding principles for approved conduct.
The Power distance dimension reveals the results of power inequalities and associations of the authority with the society. The dimension influences the chain of command and dependencyrelationshipsin the people and structural contexts. In the Masculinity-femininity dimension, commonprinciples in masculine nations remain accomplishment and victory while in feminine nations care for other people, and quality of life remain the leadingprinciple. The long-term orientation dimension according to the model advocates for promoting qualities focused on future rewardin certainpurposeand economy. Brand personalities are culture-specific- Ruggedness for the U. S. peacefulness for Japan and Spain’s passion while South Korea is labeled as passive likeableness and ascendancy (De Mooij&Hofstede, 2010). The results indicate that users throughout cultures are attributed to different brand qualities to single and similar global brand.
Brand features such as responsiveness mostly attributes to resilient global brands in great ambiguity avoidance and low power distance culture. These self-discrepancies produce practical, psychological and perceptive concerns which can develop into the motivation of engaging in consumer behavior to ease these self-discrepancies. According to Packard & Wooten (2013), first, self-discrepancy experiences are emotionally hurting, dissatisfaction, anxiety, or sorrow and result into distress and negative stimulation as well as emotional responses such as humiliation and guiltiness. The advertisement depicts lifestyle and level of happiness which customers desire to experience and act as a symbol of what salespersons want their brands to signify. The eventual impact of the brand on consumer behavior is mainly grounded on how the consumer individually perceives and relates to the brand.
Brand Image remains the main driving force of brand equity linked to a customer's overall view and sense regarding the brand, hence influencing consumer behavior (Zhang, 2015). Most of the concepts of nationalism generally deal with the economic role in influencing contemporary nationalism and perceive economic issues as the essential historic growth of nationalism. Nationalism has given birth to economic nationalism which is the specific subtype that provides prevalence to business practices such as advertisement and consumption as leading indicators of nationhood. Consumer nationalism points out to a new dimension of understanding political consumerism. Nationalism grows its preciosity from its connection with a specific national self (national identity) and dialogue. A study conducted by Nyíri (2009) established nationalism in China makes it have a lengthy history of boycotting foreign products as political weapons when discriminated abroad.
China believes in fundamentally a classist society. The US has much greater social mobility and fluidity (Hur, Kang & Kim, 2015). Americans believe in social mobility instilled by the American Dream which makes them less happy with persistent, classist social differences (Beugelsdijk, Kostova& Roth, 2017). According to Hur, Kang & Kim (2015), India has a higher degree of inequality regarding power and wealth. The circumstances are not inevitably challenged upon by the people but rather believed to be the cultural norm. Masculine societies have it in them to focus and lay much emphasison achieving success and achievements which areendorsed by material gains. A largely work-centered life and visibleindicators of success at workplace remain important. The culture values assertiveness, competitiveness, and ambition (Rallapalli, & Montgomery, 2015). Long-term Orientation China with a score of 87 is amazingly a long-term oriented nation where the government religiously makes a five-year plan which makes Chinese always thinking and investing for long-term.
The country’s long-term oriented policies have made to outspend the USA on nanotechnology research and deep learning research. Relatively weak cultural control could be termed as “Indulgence” while relatively strong cultural control is termed as “Restraint”. Indian culture has been known to be restraint as compared to the American culture. This means that Indian societies have tendency to cynicism and pessimism. People with this cultural orientation perceive their actions as being restrained by social norms and have a feeling that indulging themselves in such activities wrong. High indulgence cultures tend to place a higher meaning on leisure, indicating that individuals act and spend money for pleasure and personal gratification (Hofstede, 2018). National cultural variations are inscribed in the perception of customers.
Thus, although advertisers use metaphors to convey brand meaning and brand image, very little information is known about consumer's comprehension in a diverse cultural setting (Fetscherin& Heinrich, 2015). The cultural models such as the Hofstede’s and Edgard Schein’s models have been used incraftinginternational marketing, branding and advertisementtactics. These models help in explaining the differences and development of strategies that target specific customers across different cultures effectively. Based on the theoretical concepts, three prepositions can be created; meaning remains an outcome of individualvalues and beliefs, different cultures have different values and beliefs; brand meaning is perceived differently across nations. d). There are about 37,000 McDonald's restaurants internationally and more than 14,000 outlets in the U. S. Xin, 2015). The company’s market segment includesthe home USA Market, International Lead Market, High Growth Market, Foundational Market and Corporate Market (Reuters, 2018).
This could, however, be the issue of culture and lifestyle. Research shows that there is a significant relationship between the fast food outlets and negative health outcomes in metropolitan areas. The corporation offers products to customers in the form of “eat in" or "take out. The United States outlets focus on providing a platform for authentic ingredients that giveconsumers an opportunity to order customized Sandwiches. For instance, the company has streamlined its menu in the US which now contains approximately 200 items (Jargon, 2017). In 2017, McDonald’ssold manyoutlets in China and Hong Kong to a Chinese group. McDonald’s hoped toraise the number of its outlets in Chinafrom 2,500 to 4,500 by 2022. This move targeted new stores in smaller cities with the help of its new partner (Coco, 2017).
Currently, McDonald’s operates nearly 2,500 outlets in China, and this figure is expected to double by 2022. The notice was from McDonald's Corp. percentof the market in the country- succeeding Domino’s Pizza chain as the largest American restaurant chain in the country (Suneera, 2017). Research Methodology 2. The Objective of the Study and Research Hypotheses The studyseeks to establish the impact of cultural orientations on brand perception towards McDonald Corp in China, India, and the United States of America. Culture affects brand's image and perception in various geographical regions; thus the study uses Hofstede’s six dimensions, to identify cultural differences and influence on McDonald’s business performance using the concept of brand perception. The assumption for the study is that culture plays a huge role in determininghow consumers perceive brands globally and in this case McDonald’s in the USA, China and India.
The advantage of using surveys is that the instrument allows researching with a specific interview group. The survey questions will include closed-ended questions to facilitate the collection of quantitative data. A five-point Likert scale will be used to convert these responses to quantitative data, and the rating ranges from ‘strongly agree’ to ‘strongly disagree’. The instrument will be subjected to reliability and validity test with internal consistency of reliability of Cronbach’s α 0. being used. Demographic data will be analyzed using descriptive analysis methods. This becomes a fast method to compare different data sets, spotting the least and largest values and change in values over a given time become easier too. The data will be presented in frequencies and percentages and plotted on graphs for quick visual comparison and understanding.
The research will use inferential analysis from a sample of population, which will aid in the testing of the hypothesis and draw inferences from the results (Subedi, 2016). The inferential analysis will help in determining the relationships between variables and the strength of the relationship. The population for this study represents all customers visiting McDonald's restaurant frequently for various meals in the three restaurants. The customer becomes the ideal population to study as their cultural orientations are assumed to define their perception towards McDonald’s brands. The study will use a random sampling methodto choose participants for the study. Israel (1992) and Yamane (1967) presented formulas for determining sample size from the known population. Since McDonald restaurants receive nearly 500 customers in a day, then a sample size of 102 will be ideal for the study.
Participants will be required to fill the surveys in relaxing environments and places they feel their privacy is ensured. Participants will be informed about the freedom to participate and exit the process without coercion. Codes will identify data, and participants identified by pseudonyms in all reporting associated with this research to guarantee anonymity and confidentiality of the respondents. After weeks of data collection, a total of 104 respondents were received from the three countries in three different cities. Los Angeles, Shanghai, and Mumbai were selected to represent the United States of America, China, and India, respectively. India In India, Mumbai was selected as the ideal place for carrying out the research. Mumbai has a huge population, and this increased the chances of finding MacDonald restaurants that could serve 500 visitors per day.
MacDonald has a huge presence in India though this still falls behind the number of Macdonald’s in the United States and China. The growth of MacDonald in India is attributed to the focus on Indian diet, considering that many India’s are vegetarians and religiously do not eat animals. The selected restaurant was in a popular part west of Mumbai. men and 15 women were selected for the study. The questionnaires were issued and explanations given on the requirements of the survey. The participants also had to be informed on the reasons such a survey was being carried. Operationalization The first part of a questionnaire needs to have a description of the underlying concerns for having the respondents participate in the survey by filling in the questionnaires.
It consists of a quick introduction on what is to be studied, and the author gives a narration why the survey should be filled. Homogenous sampling is a popular strategy used in purposive sampling. It enables the researcher like in this case, to focus on a particular subgroup where al the samples under investigation are considered to be the same, allowing the author to conduct a depth analysis. Credibility and Quality of Research: Validity and reliability are two core concepts that the researcher can apply to reduce the risk of collecting faulty data. Reliability can be described as the extent to which analysis procedure or data collection technique of said data will produce consistent results. Validity makes references on how the research and data collected show their real implications or not.
To prevent such a bias, the authors stated clearly the reason for the survey and also said firmly in the survey that the respondents to answer questioners as honestly and openly as possible to make the answers more reliable. The researcher also emphasized to the respondents that there was no wrong or right answer in the survey, and he appreciated if the answers given were by the respondents without influence from another person. Personal risk may also lead to participant or subject bias; this was limited by the researchers opting to ask the respondents to remain anonymous. Observer risk is attributed to the manner that the questionnaire is presented in an interview; this is most common in qualitative studies. In this research, the author uses a survey in gathering data, and the questions are asked similarly for all respondents regardless of their location, this limits the chances of observe bias.
The purpose of conducting a pilot test is to refine the survey to ensure that the respondents have no problem with answering questions and that there are no problems with collecting the data (Saunders et al. Additionally, this technique will allow the authors to obtain some general assessment of the questions’ validity, as well as some reliability of the data which will be collected. Before the pilot test is sent out to respondents, it is argued by Saunders et al. that the authors should contact an expert to examine the sustainability and structure of the questions. The authors have access to a tutor for their thesis namely an assistant professor in business administration and Ph. Various societies have different expectations for men and women; therefore, checking trends on gender in relation to the study was necessary.
The third question under section one was on nationality. The respondents were to tick the respective country. They were to choose from China, India, or the United States of America. This was aimed at ensuring that only those three nationalities participated in the study, and individuals who did not fall among the three would not participate in the study. The “cost of living” as a variable was also thrown out. This is because the contents and definitions of “cost of living” per month differed in the three countries. The United States has the highest cost of living, and then China comes second, while the cost of living in India is considered to be the cheapest not only among the three but almost the entire world.
Respondents were also supposed to indicate their level of education. Education level was classified on the highest degree an individual had obtained. In China, the number of women who took part in the study was 17, while men were 17. In India, a total of 19 men took part in the study while the remaining 15 were men. All the three countries in the study each had a questionnaire rejected n basis of not fulfilling the requirement, two questionnaires were rejected from Mumbai, 1 from USA and China each. The importance of filling all the questionnaires could make it easy to make an appropriate analysis. Therefore, in the 104 questionnaires that fulfilled the selection criteria, 42, representing 41percent of the subjects. There is a probability that the education level may determine an individual’s attributes or behaviors towards items and trends.
Also, there is likelihood that education may impact cultural practices. In a globalization era, there is a probability that there will be a global culture due to ease in communication and interconnectivity facilitated by social media, thus making the world a small village. From the study, all the respondents had primary education in the three countries. Also, out of the 101 participants whose questionnaires were valid, only one woman from India did not have a secondary school while the others had. The respondents were to mark their choices in the respective box. The scores range from 1-5. Question 4a was to determine the level of individualistic cultures in the three countries. A score of one would mean the individual strongly disagrees, while a score of 5 would mean the respondent strongly agrees.
The researchers wanted to know the roles of individuals in decision making on the three cultures. In order to determine the relationship between masculinity and feminity, and how they affect brand perception in the three countries, the researcher framed question 7 a and b, in order to establish if the cultures under investigation partitioned roles between men and women. Concerning masculinity, question 7a asked respondents how much they valued accuracy and confidence when buying a product. Question 7b was on femininity; the question of how much they considered their relationship to other individuals before making a purchase. A high score (5) would imply that an individual is highly concerned with what people think about his or her decisions, while a low score (1) would be a strong disagreement and an implication that the individual does not care other’s perception on the choices that he or she makes.
The questionnaire also focused on questions concerning how culture had a pragmatic perspective on long term or short term orientations. Masculine/Femininity 4. Performance orientation 2. Scales 1-strongly agree, 5 strongly disagree India Mean SD Cronbach’s alpha Individualism 2. Collectivism 1. Power Distance 1. Politeness/sophistication 2. Respect 2. Scales 1-strongly agree, 5 strongly disagree India Mean SD Cronbach’s Excitement/Happiness 0. Honesty 3. Friendly staff 1. MacDonald was connected to the brand of excitement much more in India than any other country with China and USA almost having equal scores. The aspect of honesty had almost equal scores in the three countrie sunder investigation leading to a conclusion that they both perceived the aspect of honesty almost in equal measures. That implies the need for brands to appear as honest as possible before their consumers so they can have more trust in the brand.
Brand honesty can be seen in several situations including consistency in advertisements and service provision. Politeness also had small differences within the three countries with USA taking the narrow lead. In most cases, successful organizations with global brands have had the strategy of adopting branding strategies to align with the dominant cultural philosophy and carefully weaving the brand to fit into the society’s cultural fiber. One of the major branding premises is the ability o such a brand to reduce clients search cost and risks through standardization o messages, images, features, and attributes. Therefore, this makes brands to keep their defining brand personality, brand identify, and other brand elements across several markets. Such kind of standardization is the basis of a brands fundamental building block.
On the negative side, such type of standardization is likely to be threatened in a cross cultural situation. India, one of Asia’s booming economies offers a huge market for brands considering its huge population and rising middle class. Currently, there is a more than a million affluent households in the country with an expansion rate of 20%. Also, the population of middle income individuals in the country is estima6ted to be 40million households with an income of $20000 to $45000 and an expansion rate of 10 percent. Another fact that brands like MacDonald can capitalize on is the huge youth population with more than 65% of the population falling below 35 years. This can explain why global brands are invading the Indian company so they can take share of the growing pie.
Its subsidiary in the country called Hindustan Level Limited has been tremendously recognized several opportunities expositing at the bottom of the pyramid by targeting customers who are willing to consume more at smaller costs. Its success becomes a pioneer in the market thus making other brands to provide smaller goods and services that would meet the needs of the less income earners in the society. The growing importance of rural customers in the country has also been recognized by a global mobile phone maker, Nokia. They have capitalized on the country’s tremendous rising in the number of mobile users by designing features that are affordable to such people. Apart from the successful brands in the Indian economy, there are global brands that have failed and should thus be seen as learning examples.
Brand managers should take into consideration the following conclusions. Cultural Differences have an Impact on Branding The differences in culture are a serious factor that may greatly determine how a brand performs in a given market. As brands open doors in other territories, it is imperative that they tread the customization-standardization continuum where they will be able to adopt brand elements as well as being accepted into the foreign cultures. Weave The Brand Into The Cultural Fiber: Brands can effectively engage customers so as to make the brands more accepted into a particular culture. The internet provides a platform where such brands can engage their customers and potential customers so as to get their view of their preferences. Limitations of the study and Future Considerations In view of the small samples picked in the three countries despite the samples being picked in different contents, this result may not be applicable in every market or similar situations.
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