The main argument in Marieke de Mooij and Geert Hofstede’s article, “Convergence and Divergence I Consumer Behavior: Implications for International Retailing,” is that as technology continues to converge across countries, consumers will become even more diverse. The article argues that cultural differences across different countries will continue to influence consumer behavior, which has implications on international marketing (Mooij and Hofstede, 2002). Thus, the article concludes that there is no one retailing strategy that can fit all countries. The main theory to identify with here is Hofstede’s model on national culture that seeks to explain how such cultural differences implicate international marketing.
Hofstede’s model of national culture identifies five dimensions that influence consumer behavior across nations. These are power distance, individualism/collectivism, uncertainty avoidance, masculinity or femininity and long-term versus short-term issues. Each of these values influences consumer behavior in each country (Mooij, 2010). For instance, individualism/ collectivism affects consumer choices where individualistic countries such as United States people choose according to individual preference while in collectivist countries such as Indonesia people choose according to preferences of the groups to which they belong (Mooij and Hofstede, 2002).
Benedict and Steenkamp, (2001) further examine Hostede’s model together with Schwartz’s model on national culture and its implications to international marketing. The interrelationship of the two models identifies four cultural dimensions that influence consumer behavior across each country (Blythe, 2008). When a company is seeking to expand internationally, it has to consider that such cultural differences will affect consumer behavior. An example is marketing of conventional drugs in a country such as China. Here, people tend to be influenced by culture so much where they prefer herbal drugs. This is due to uncertainty avoidance, where they are not sure of conventional drugs.
Whitelock (2002) discusses four theories concerning internationalization of marketing. These models include the Uppsala model of internationalization, business strategy approach, interactive network approach of the International Marketing and Purchasing Group and eclectic paradigm and transaction cost analysis. The Uppsala model assumes that lack of knowledge about different markets is the biggest obstacle to internationalization (Whitelock, 2002). This is in support of the notion that each country has different factors that influence consumer behavior, which must be considered I order to succeed. All these models have factors that consider differences between different regions and countries as well. All the models do recognize with the notion aforementioned, which states that no one strategy is suitable for all countries. Therefore, all international markets should be approached individually (Mooij, 2010).
many people would think that consumer behavior will converge as technology,
income and media amongst other factors continue to diverge, the truth is the
exact opposite. Other differences such as culture and individual preferences
continue to influence consumer behavior even more. An example is consumer
diverging consumer behavior is considering what to sell in different market due
to different cultures (Aspelund et al, 2007). For instance, it would be hard to
sell beef in India
where cows are considered sacred according to their culture. In such a market,
one has to consider what to sell because cultural differences determine what
consumers in such a market are willing to buy. Other differences across
different market influence consumer behavior. For instance, geographical
features and environment can influence the type of clothes people wear. It
would be hard to sell warm heavily padded clothes in the Middle
East where temperatures are too high. Such differences affect
consumer behavior, hence consumer divergence continues as consumers expect
convergence of technology to provide specific products for each market (Aspelund,
Madsen and Moen, 2007).
Aspelund Arild, Tage Koed Madsen, Øystein Moen, (2007) “A review of the foundation, international marketing strategies, and performance of international new ventures”, European Journal of Marketing, 41, 11/12, pp.1423 – 1448
Blythe J, (2008) Consumer Behavior, New York, N.Y: Cengage Learning.
Jan-Benedict E. M. Steenkamp, (2001) “The role of national culture in international marketing research”, International Marketing Review, 18, 1, pp.30 – 44
Mooij M, Hofstede G, (2002) “Convergence and divergence in consumer behavior: implications for international retailing,” Journal of Retailing, 78: 61-69.
Mooij M, (2010) Consumer Behavior and Culture: Consequences for Global Marketing and Advertising, New York, N.Y: SAGE.
Whitelock, J (2002) “Theories of internationalization and their impact on market entry, International Marketing Review, 19, 342-347.