Tuesday, December 7, 2010



When examining the success of International reality TV shows across countries, we basically agree with the formula of it: Consistent in the basic format which is featuring "real" people's live in "Real life" settings, while adapting the contents to the local cultural and environments, such as using the local castings, languages, fashions, etc.
I found this similar to the U.S. based International Companies overseas strategy: which is the strategy I call "Contingency"

P&G is the Top 1 American brand in China and the Top 1 consumer products brand in China in general. Two key concepts in the P&G cross-cultural advertising strategy are uncovered: cultural threshold and cultural acceptance of American brands.
P&G has well understood the importance that culture and values posses in cross-cultural advertising, and therefore P&G has implemented a successful contingency strategy to sell to China. When taking a closer look at the contingency strategy of P&G, it is clear that P&G integrates the standardization and localization strategies to accommodate the Chinese cultural values in the hopes of facilitating cross-cultural advertising while still maintaining the consistent brand image via the standardization approach. However, the research also found out that by merely applying such contingency strategy does not guarantee success. P&G has got a special formula. P&G not only realizes the need to play the cultural game in cross-cultural advertising, but also has figured out how to play it in the way that Chinese favor. Since Chinese audiences are born and raised in a high-context culture which emphasizes symbolic cultural values, the two key concepts below have significant functions.

First of all, the cultural elements in P&G commercials serve as the Cultural Threshold. It basically means that Chinese consumers would not be able to acknowledge the unique function of the product without citing the cultural context in the commercials as reference of their values, and it is only after the values reflected in the commercials echo with that in the audience can the audience starts to pay attention respectively to the unique function and selling points of the products. Unlike consumers in Western culture who are more likely to focus on the quality and unique function of the products rather than whether or not the values imbedded in the products are consistent with theirs, the high-context culture and the popular symbolic cultural values has determined the way that Chinese consumers accept a brand/product. Chinese consumers have to accept a commercial as a whole, rather than merely focusing on the products and ignoring the sub-culture in it.
P&G commercials are constructed on the fundamental Chinese values which are deeply rooted among the majority of Chinese public. Therefore, the cultural cues in the commercials serve as the threshold to get people to accept the commercial as a whole. Without passing through the cultural threshold, Chinese consumers can hardly consumers be prepared well enough to accept and absorb the selling points of the products. Without passing through the cultural-threshold, the process of appealing to the Chinese consumers can be impeded by any pre-established cultural resistance towards American culture and brands, or any feeling of distance towards an unfamiliar new brand/foreign brand.

As mentioned before, Chinese consumers have to accept a commercial along with the culture and values it incorporated, but it is the next phase that actually leads from mind blowing to behavioral changes. The cultural acceptance basically means that after the Chinese consumers cross over the cultural threshold and are ready to know about the products, the large amount of culture and values imbedded in the commercial, which are tailored to the Chinese consumers’ value systems help lose the cultural distance/feeling of alienation and cultural resistance to the western brands. Thus, the consumers can easily relate the product to any familiar scenarios in their life, and subconsciously loss their cultural resistance or the feeling of alienation. The process of getting over the cultural threshold to accepting the values and cultures conveyed in the commercials actually leads to the purchasing behavior.
Moreover, this process also makes the products’ origin of country ambiguous to the Chinese consumers. From the result of the focus groups, we have already witnessed how much the respondents relate the products to Chinese domestic brands/manufactures/companies. As part of the process of getting audience losing their cultural resistance, the selected P&G commercials emphasize the high-standard quality of the products and down-play the products’ country of origin.

In summary, Chinese consumers take culture and values into account when they make decision to accept a western brand. The commercials, as a way to pitch the western brands to the Chinese consumers have to integrate the unique selling points of the products and the cultures and values as a whole. Merely focusing on the products and ignoring the sub-culture cannot effectively appeal to the target audience. The soft sell-contingency strategy which incorporates Chinese culture and values is proved to be effective for the American brands who want to sell to China.
As the biggest consumer products manufacture in U.S., P&G’s cross-cultural advertising practice has provided one of the successful stories for other American brands who are ambitious for Chinese market.

No comments:

Post a Comment