Why Culture and Translation is Critical at Campbell’s Soup

It is impossible to conceive of consumers in today’s society acting alone, with no interaction with others in their social environment.  Even someone living in the remote areas of Siberia, who grows his own food and makes his own shelter, functions as part of a society taken as a whole when he takes his once a year trip into the village for tools and supplies.  More ordinary people, the consumers or buyers which whom global business and Milwaukee Translation Services is concerned are clearly engaged in a social behavior –buying and selling, dealing with others in formal and informal situations and on levels ranging from intimate to aloof.  The lives of consumers are subject to myriad social forces in their environment.  Sociology is a discipline that investigates human behavior through the study of social institutions and their relationships.  The individual is not discounted, but sociology’s emphasis is on the family and various other social groups and institutions.

The term culture, though frequently used, is difficult to define clearly because the term encompasses so much about the way a society lives.  Culture is the sum total of knowledge, beliefs, customs, values and other behavioral patterns learned and shared by the members of a particular society.  Essential to the concept of a culture is the notion that culture is man made rather than innate.  Thus, that children are born is “natural,” but how the mating process is conducted and how the children are treated is “cultural.”

It is important for certified translation workers to understand cultural values and beliefs—ideas about what ought to be and the things that people “know”—and the symbols associated with that knowledge.  Culture obviously varies from place to place around the globe and affects the success of marketing worldwide.  What seems like a normal idea, or even a great idea to marketers in one country may be seen as unacceptable or even laughable to citizens of other lands.    According to Houston Portuguese Translation workers, Campbell’s Soup offered their familiar, to us, red and white label cans of soup in Brazil, but found cultural values there too difficult for this product to overcome.  Brazilian housewives apparently felt guilty using the prepared soups that Americans take for granted.  The beliefs that they would not be fulfilling their roles as homemakers if they served their families a soup they could not call their own.  Faced with this difficulty, Campbell’s withdrew the product.

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