I was recently in a conversation regarding global marketing strategy and the concept of “universal appeal” came up. The argument is that there are certain ideas, values, etc., that translate across global cultures, and can therefore be used in marketing campaigns. But I’m not so sure…
Dutch Professor Geert Hofstede, who has done extensive and widely-accepted research on global cultural difference and similarities, has concluded that each national culture (and in some cases there must be further segmenting, like with the U.S., which is so diverse) falls at a given point on six dimensions:
- Power Distance (the disparity between those with and those without power)
- Individualism vs Collectivism
- Masculinity vs Femininity (which is really better explained as Assertiveness vs Modesty)
- Uncertainty Avoidance (tolerance for ambiguity)
- Long-Term vs Short-Term Orientation (focused on the present or the future)
- Indulgence vs Restraint
Considering those dimensions, I find the concept of universal appeals would be tough to prove. Take superior quality, for example. At face value, it could be assumed that everyone would prefer products and services with superior quality. So, superior quality could be considered an universal appeal.
BUT… what is “superior quality”?