Academic journal article Academy of Marketing Studies Journal

The Effect of Cultural Differences on Effective Advertising: A Comparison between Russia and the U.S

Academic journal article Academy of Marketing Studies Journal

The Effect of Cultural Differences on Effective Advertising: A Comparison between Russia and the U.S

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

An important first step to successful global marketing is to understand the similarities and dissimilarities of values between cultures. This task is particularly daunting for companies trying to do business with Russia because of the scarcity of empirical data on their value system. This study uses updated values of the Hofstede's (1980) cultural model to compare the effectiveness of Pollay's advertising appeals between the U.S. and Russia. Only six of the 19 culturally-based hypotheses correctly predicted the Russian consumers' notion of effective advertising appeals. The Hofstede dimensions may lack the currency and fine grain necessary to effectively predict the success of the various advertising appeals. Further explanations are offered by a Delphi panel of Russian professors and students. In short, these findings suggest that it would be unwise to use Hofstede's cultural dimensions as a sole predictor for developing advertising campaigns.

INTRODUCTION

Increased competition is forcing companies to seek export opportunities for their shear survival (Gupta & Govindarajan, 2000). Particularly notable is the increasing rush to gain first-mover advantage in developing markets. Exports to developing nations in 2001 were 32% of the value of world trade which represents a 120 percent increase over the last five years ("World Imports," 2002). A key question is which of these developing markets has the greatest, near to mid-term, potential as an export target (i.e., highest benefits and the lowest costs and risks). The answer is generally a function of the market environment (political, economic, and legal), market size, and the purchasing power parity of its consumers. An important factor, however, to sustaining exporting success is advertising. In turn, the effectiveness of advertising is dependent on the country's educational system (e.g., literacy rate), media sources (e.g., TV and Internet access), censorship/regulations, and culture (i.e., consumer behavior) (Leonidou, et al., 2002).

After considering the aforementioned factors, one might easily conclude that Russia offers the greatest near to mid-term potential as an export target. Although a great deal is known about most of the factors affecting Russia's market environment and advertising capabilities, there has been little empirical research on the cultural context of its consumer behavior. Most cultural research conducted outside the United States and Western Europe has been primarily in the Far East (Maheswaran & Shavitt, 2000). A review of cross-cultural advertising and marketing studies published in 13 empirically-based advertising and marketing periodicals between 1980 and 2001 found that only two studies examined the differences of US-Russian cultural values and none examined the relationship between the Russian culture and advertising appeals (Emery & Rhodes, 2002). As such, the purpose of this study is threefold: (1) examine the differences in effectiveness of advertising appeals in the United States and Russia, (2) determine whether an understanding of Russia's cultural dimensions offers an insight to effective appeals, and (3) recommend various advertising appeals to those companies wishing to export their goods and services to Russia.

THEORETICAL BACKGROUND

Russia as an Export Target

Russia is the developing nation receiving the most attention of exporters on a dollar per capita basis (World Imports, 2002). Further, attention appears to be accelerating. In 2001, Russia increased its value of imports by 20%; the highest increase in the world (World Imports, 2002). This should not come as a surprise. President Putin is doing everything within his power to make Russia more attractive to foreign imports, including cutting tariffs, cutting government red tape and lobbying to get Russia accepted into international trade organizations (Belton, 2002). Further, the Russian economy has enjoyed a boom the last two years because of high world prices for its oil and a rise in domestic production, (Indicators Good, 2002). …

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