Cultural Differences in Understanding Data

by: on 28 August 2015

Today when we speak to global brands we expect a local personalisation, Kevin Tan from Eyeota explores how data unlocks this

Look at Coca Cola, Procter & Gamble, General Motors, Volkswagen and Unilever, they are similar in the way they specifically adapt their marketing strategies for different countries. From the time they decide to approach different markets, to analysing how people are influenced about their purchase-making decisions 

The planet is not homogeneous, and neither are human beings. We are made up of different individuals across all backgrounds, spanning a variety of cultures and speaking a multitude of languages. That is why the audience data that informs marketing campaigns has to appreciate and celebrate human diversity if it is to add real value to advertisers and their customers.   

Going Local to Stand Out

Many global third-party providers are based in the United States, a fairly homogeneous market. Within the retail sector, consumer behavior is typically similar for certain demographics. Most ad spend in the US is targeted at a specific demographic speaking one language, or two.

It is easier to build a system at that scale to address 350 million people and disseminate the same language using the same approach. Things shift dramatically when you start designing a system on a global level. Here is when you need to factor in the sheer scale of things - billions of people, who speak hundreds of languages, thousands of different distribution systems and millions of media channels and opportunities.

The key to making sense of all this is to collect and understand data on a local basis. In order to do so, you need to be sensitive to the local culture and understand consumer behavior in a local context. This empowers brands to keep their fingers on the pulse of cultural factors impacting each market, equipping them with the ability to be agile and adapt to shift local market requirements.

With the fragmented nature of the region and the complexity of local languages, it is challenging to collect quality audience data on a large scale. Particularly within Southeast Asia, a lack of local data has impeded targeted campaign planning at scale till now.

If you look at the best marketers in the world who run brands like Coca Cola, Procter & Gamble, General Motors, Volkswagen and Unilever, they are similar in the way they specifically adapt their marketing strategies for different countries. From the time they decide to approach different markets, to analysing how people are influenced about their purchase-making decisions and ultimately creating products specific to each market.

International brands need to adopt a hyperlocal approach in collecting data for each new market due to the purchasing nuances of each market. A one-size-fits-all approach does not work, particularly when you try to transplant a data collection strategy from the United States to say, Japan or China.

Take the automotive sector for example. Data helps us make sense of the entire purchasing process of buying a car. The scenario of buying a car is very different for a consumer in the United States, where cars are relatively moderately priced as compared to Singapore. Next, one needs to consider the economic and cultural factors influencing consumer behavior for each market. The strategy in collecting and analyzing data is very different from one market to another.

The world is made up of billions of individuals, but the one thing we have in common is that they want to be engaged on a personal level. We do not want to feel like just a number. Remaining relevant and engaged on a global but local scale is not an easy task for brands, but the right data can help enormously for brands to respect their consumers’ uniqueness.

By Kevin Tan, CEO, Eyeota