How Western and Asian Cultural Values Differ

Global Marketing – How Western and Asian Cultural and Marketing Values Differ

Marketing products in Asia is not different from marketing products in the West because the languages of the two different regions are different. In fact, in many Asian countries like Japan, advertisements use English words to catch the eyes of Asian customers, even if the words do not make much sense in English! The West still seems exotic to Asia in many ways, and using American products is seen to show affluence, so advertisements in Asia do use Western images and language. It is easy to look at these ads and to think things are the same between the two different cultures. But there is a difference in the attitude of the advertisements.

Japanese culture, for example, tends to emphasize group harmony more than America. When marketing to Japan, it would be ineffective for a car advertiser to show someone who is rugged and alone, driving in a car across an open, lonely road. A more effective advertisement would show how the car made the driver more connected to his or her friends. Instead of seeking out products that make the user seem different than other people, Japanese advertising stresses how the product creates connections with friends. Also, people in Japan do not want to be left out of trends. There is great importance in not standing out and showing community spirit. Buying something because everyone else is purchasing the product is not necessarily seen as a bad thing.

Much attention has been given to the rigor of the Japanese education system and workplace, both of which have certainly contributed to the country’s economic and technological growth” (Bestore & Hardcore 2004). Throughout Asia, the importance of education is stressed in many advertisements. Instead of showing its technological innovation as it did in its advertisements targeted towards Westerners, one recent Samsung advertising campaign stressed the cultural value of family and education. In one television advertisement: “There are two clay-animated characters, a father and a daughter, talking on the mobile phone. What the daughter has said quoted directly as, ‘Father, I had 100% mark today! Come home early'” (Yoon 2003). They do not talk about the quality of the phone at all.

Asian cultures value youth and show aging differently than the West. “Nowhere in the world is popular culture more influential than in Japan. From Hello Kitty and Pokemon to anime (animation) and manga (comics), the culture of youth dominates Japanese media” (Bestore & Hardcore 2004). Although the West is also youth-driven, in Japan, the culture of cuteness is especially important when marketing to girls and young women. However, family values are also very important. “Although Japanese family roles have changed considerably in the 20th century, aspects of the traditional ie, or ‘continuing family,’ still remain. The Japanese have a saying that even if an extended family does not live together, parents and grandparents should live near enough to carry over a bowl of hot soup.

This is also true in Korea. One Korean ad copy for shoes stressed the responsibility of children to care for their parents, not the child’s desire to be free or to have help in caring for older parents. It read: “Parents made [us] to stand on our two feet. Repay their love with healthy feet” (Yoon 2002). When marketing to older people in Asia, particularly societies where great poverty was common in the past, giving to others is stressed: A September 2002 McDonald’s advertisement in Korea depicted grandmother has bought the McDonald’s meals for her children and grandchildren. “What can be observed here is that when an elderly person is involved with the activity of purchase, it is most likely that he/she buys for the younger generation (Yoon 2003). The elderly are portrayed wanting to give to their grandchildren in a meaningful fashion, not to consume for consumption’s sake (Yoon 2003). American advertisements for the elderly tend to be less family oriented and more focused on staying young and active.

Q2.Do you agree or disagree with the statement: “Eighteen-year-olds in Paris have more in common with eighteen-year-olds in New York than with their own parents.” would strongly disagree with this statement. Although teenagers around the world may be in a similar life stage, getting an education or beginning work, they still have the same cultural values about what is the correct relationship between parents and children, and what is meaningful in life as their parents. Their parents and society influenced them more than New York culture. Observers have noticed that there is a great difference between American parenting and parenting among the French. One woman noted that: “The French are certainly stricter. They shout more. They slap more. And they enforce manners….as a result, you find beautifully brought up children, and many of my French friends who are parents will argue endlessly that instilling discipline and setting boundaries is the way of showing the utmost love”(Giovanni 2007).

Although French adolescents may rebel, they are less likely to be rude and discourteous to their parents. This shows how the effects of early childhood discipline create a culture that is carried over into adolescence, and beyond. The educational system of a nation also affects adolescent culture. For example, in France the education system is much more regimented than in America. Children are more often placed in the state-run daycare systems at an early age. This teaches them to be responsible for themselves early in life, which makes French children less emotionally dependent on their parents, even though they may be more likely to live near their parents and come home for family dinners than New York teenagers. Of course, the fact that France is a smaller country with strong regional identities and less mobility of populations affects this as well, and French adolescents are more likely to know their grandparents.

French parents often look down on American culture, which they see as excessively individualistic. French parents do not make children the centre of the universe. Parents assume that schools know best, and they do not try to manage their children’s education and protect their children from strict teachers. A parent is likely to blame a child who gets a bad grade, not call up a teacher and blame the teacher for hurting their child’s chance of getting into a good college.

Because of the labor market, French teenagers do not have part-time jobs as frequently as American teenagers do. They are dependent upon their parents for money, even if they may be more independent and more reliant upon their school for a social life than they are likely to see their parents as friends or equals (Giovanni 2007). The division between parent and child, with children being the less privileged of the two, may make French children more eager to grow up. There is something called l’heure de l’adulte, or the adult’s hour in France (Giovanni 2007). French children do not usually accompany their parents into the finest restaurants, growing up is a privilege that must be earned with responsibility, and even a French teenager that listens to American popular music and wears American clothing he or she saw on American television does not forget his or her upbringing so easily. A French teenager is likely to want to grow up, and still respects his or her parents; a New York teenager is more likely to enjoy the careless life of being young, with few responsibilities.

Works Cited

Bestore, Theodore & Helen Hardcore. “Contemporary Japan: Culture & Society.” Columbia University. 2004. 17 Dec 2007.

Di Giovanni, Janine. “Is Maman mean or magnifique?” The Daily Telegraph.

15 Jun 2007. 17 Dec 2007.

Yoon, Hyunsun Catherine. Cultural Values in contemporary Korean advertising: with special reference to the images of the elderly.” Volume 1. Number 2. 2003. The Asian Research Center. 17 Dec 2007.

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