Stay Alert To Cultural Differences and Language Variation

Cultural differences and language variations can, of course, be found within individual countries.  According to certified translation workers, “In China, for example, five major and many minor languages are spoken.:  This makes for serious communication problems.  Some countries have two (Canada and Belgium) or more (Switzerland has four) official languages.  A similar situation exists in the United States where many language groups can be identified, such as Spanish, now spoken by almost 20-percent of the population.  Differences in cultural values and complicated factors such as language provide marketers with challenges and segmentation possibilities that are rich in potential.

Within the American culture there are, then, many subcultures.  Even within the majority group (White, English speaking), there are subcultures.  In the Northeastern states, people often eat lamb chops, but in West Texas beef is a staple and lamb chops are hard to find.  Subcultures within racial or ethnic groups such as the Black, Hispanic, Arabic and Jewish ethnic groups are the easiest to identify.  However, marketers must recognize the many other subcultural differences in the American culture.

Here is a problem that went wrong with a Pepsi promotion that could have been caught be consulting with a Saint Louis Translation Service and localization firm.  Several years ago, PepsiCo ran a spell-your-name contest with letters printed on Pepsi bottle caps.  The company believed the number of winners would be small because it produced very few caps imprinted with vowles.  What could go wrong?  Pepsi forgot about Asian names and had far more winners than expected, most of them names like “Ng.”

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