The Janus Face of International Marketing – Part 3

Winner takes all. One key Western marketing dimension is the glory of victory in competition. Such an adherence to victory often means that, akin to Atilla’s hordes of yesteryear, there is no mercy for the vanquished. Not everywhere are such approaches supported, desired or accepted. Often, the goal becomes for the victor to mend fences, reinvigorate a feeling of togetherness and provide a cause for standing together. In many societies it is expected that one not take advantage of what could be done, but rather consensually do what ought to be done. Such context makes it far less acceptable to practice what we have called “vampire marketing,” where the airline or hotel extracts blood-sucking prices for additional services or products from its captive audience after the major purchase decision has been made. Perhaps Western marketers can learn valuable lessons from this context and consequently make themselves more valuable to their customers.

Who is on the pedestal? Particularly in the United States, we think of the individual as the key component of society. But such a perspective is not uniformly taken around the world. For example, in socialist or tribal societies it is typically the group that receives preference over the individual. Society can also be seen as the key shaper of the individual. Or perhaps the family is accorded top billing. In such cases, just imagine how different emphases in making financial decisions can be re-interpreted in various settings. What may be corruption and bribery to some may turn out to be filial devotion to others. With the strict administration of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and the new, more stringent U.K. anti-bribery law about to take effect, there may be harsh consequences to businesses and individuals who are not attentive to the laws governing that contradiction.