Marketing to language versus culture

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Published on September 09, 2014 with No Comments

The Nielsen Company, studier of consumer behavior, media consumption and marketing trends recently reported that while Hispanic Americans watch more television than average, they are not watching it in Spanish. This is supposed to cue marketers that they need to rethink marketing strategy when choosing media outlets to reach Hispanic or Latino households. In many cases this was not news to savvy marketers. But it’s worth repeating that in the world of marketing, culture is more important than language. This is true not only for the 15 percent of the U.S. population who are Latinos, but also for other immigrant groups. In today’s post-colonial world, language is secondary to culture. Spanish is widely spoken in the Philippines, for instance. Portuguese is spoken in Angola, an African country. There are 22 official languages in India but English is its language of commerce.

Even as immigrant consumers assimilate and probably leave their languages behind, they remain true to their cultures even in subsequent generations. In the season of Halloween, Latinos celebrate Day of the Dead with offerings to deceased relatives, among other traditions. Around the same time, Hindus the world over celebrate their grand festival of lights, Diwali or Deepavali, with faith, feasting and fireworks. In America many of these are merged with Halloween parties. The key to reaching these audiences is to acquire knowledge about how their consumer behavior is related to their cultural life. But if in doubt, it’s worth noting that Nielsen discovered the Hispanic audience loves ESPN. Doesn’t everybody love ESPN? In case you’re wondering, the world’s most popular sports are, in descending order: Soccer, Cricket, Field-Hockey, Tennis and Volleyball. And, by cricket, we don’t mean the little chirping creatures.

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