Culture as the Foundation of Customized Promotional Content: An Online and Brick and Mortar Perspective

guest post by: Dr. David S.B. Butler

Cultural Marketing and Cultural Context

Cultural marketing represents 1) research evaluating the impact of cultural context to consumer behavior cultureandconsumers 2) applying cultural analysis toward cultural segmentation culturalsegmentation and 3) the creation of culturally customized content designed to promote products or services (promotional content) culturalcustomization. For marketing applications, cultural context represents the cultural landscape of target market analysis and consumer segmentation. Researching the cultural context of potential customers represents the starting point for target market analysis that should facilitate cultural segment development and enable cultural targeting represented by culturally customized promotional content. “From the anthropological perspective all market behaviors are culture-bound…in order to match the marketing mix with consumer preferences, purchasing behavior, and product-use patterns in a potential market, marketers must have a thorough understanding of the cultural environment of that market” culturalmarketing.

Cultural Targeting

Cultural targeting refers to any marketing initiative that is customized to accommodate the perception and cultural expectations of a consumer relative to their cultural context culturaltargeting. Examples of how this form of consumer targeting is applied include customizing content to capitalize on cultural variables such as: language (language type and language orientation such as reading left to right or right to left), holidays (holidays are often culturally specific and should relate to timing and content of advertising campaigns), images (imagery familiar to a given cultural group), cultural meaning and colors, gender relations, monetary exchange (tax rates and currency) and promotional content related to cultural traditions other than holidays such as sports marketing. By including these and related cultural variables Business Anthropologists utilize their cultural insight to customize marketing strategies.

Multicultural and Cross-cultural Marketing

Multicultural marketing represents cultural segmentation efforts in countries that contain multiple cultures. One example of this type of marketing in the United States includes marketing campaigns that target products for the Chinese New Year such as red envelopes. Another example from the U.S. is marketing campaigns such as the “Dish Latino” campaign designed to target Hispanics. “Dish Latino is a highly culturally relevant service to the Hispanic community that plays to Hispanics’ passion points of entertainment, sports and news on their home countries” culturallyrelevantcampaigns. Cross-cultural marketing designates international marketing campaigns marked by promotional content designed to target cultural segments in countries (and cultural contexts) that are different than that of the marketer. A cross-cultural campaign that demonstrates a lack of cultural research transpired when “Honda introduced their new car “Fitta” into Nordic countries in 2001. If they had taken the time to undertake some cross-cultural marketing research they may have discovered that “Fitta” was an old word used in vulgar language to refer to a woman’s genitals in Swedish, Norwegian and Danish. In the end, they renamed it “Honda Jazzcrosscultural.

Cultural Segmentation

Cultural segmentation denotes grouping consumers based on shared characteristics (such as demographic and psychographic and cultural traits). Cultural segmentation enables marketers to form consumer segments for targeting based on a holistic approach that prioritizes culture as a consumer variable that should impact promotional content. “Once you identify the segments you wish to target, research their behavior, attitudes and buying habits…Use the information you glean to design advertisements that match the cultural attitudes of your potential customers” marketatrategyandsegmentation. Consumer behavior research demonstrates that understanding the cultural affiliation of consumers is just as vital to marketing success as insights gained through traditionally applied segmentation variables including demographics and psychographics culturalsegmentation. If marketers stop short of incorporating culture into their consumer segmentation strategy, they risk alienating consumers and wasting resources on ineffective marketing strategies.

Cultural Customization

Cultural customization signifies customizing content used to promote products or services (promotional content) based on the cultural expectations of consumers culturalcustomization. Consumer behavior is heavily influenced by culture and insights gained through cultural marketing research have been effectively applied toward the production of culturally customized content targeting consumers in a specific location targetingwithculture. Therefore, to optimize the efficacy of geo-targeting (targeting consumers based on their location) cultural customization should be prioritized throughout the consumer research process multiculturalstrategy.

Cultural Customization


The cultural marketing research agenda outlined here provides a model that establishes a research process for the cultural customization of promotional content. The objective of cultural marketing should be 1) to provide cultural insight through target market analysis that prioritizes the cultural context of consumer behavior 2) apply cultural marketing insight toward cultural targeting and cultural segmentation and 3) apply cultural marketing research toward cultural customization of promotional content. Cultural marketing positively impacts customers by facilitating promotional content that is consistent with cultural expectations. Likewise, it has a positive impact on the marketing industry because it helps marketers maximize their effectiveness, which augments the success of their clients. By optimizing consumer receptivity and return on investment culturallocalization vis-à-vis cultural customization, online and offline marketing effectiveness is enhanced locally and abroad. Business Anthropologists businessanthropology have a unique opportunity to serve as cultural marketers analyzing the connection between consumer behavior, culture, and marketing practice.

Dr. David S.B. Butler is a Professor in the Internet Marketing Program at Full Sail University and is a PhD in applied anthropology.  He specializes in cultural marketing, consumer behavior analysis, and target marketing analysis.   You can read more from Dr. Butler at: