Intercultural Communication, Research Paper Example

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Words: 1244

Research Paper

When companies expand to do business in new countries, challenges make new strategies necessary. If the challenges of this transition are not discussed, then the expansion will often fail. For companies started in Asia, such as the one presented in this case, the challenge is greater because European customers think differently. Change happens quickly in fashion markets which use culture to sell products, but cross-cultural trends do not the same even within one country—much less as these company products are marketed in new countries. The debate between local and standard strategies continues, and the success of the entire company is at stake. That is why companies should have a plan that lets change happen in a regular way and gives many steps so that the workers can learn and make these changes. In this paper, this international move happens as a fashion company moves from Japan to Germany, two very different cultures.

Cultural Differences Between Japan and Germany

Japan combines traditional customs and fashions, such as the wearing of a kimono, with the business customs of being leaders in new product invention. Today, it is common for Japanese businesspeople to be more traditionally-groomed than Europeans and Americans. Japan shows more respect as its people become more successful, showing a cultural ‘power distance.’ (Morimoto and Chang 175) But many fashion enthusiasts has also protested with bold colors and modern, dark sensibilities. These styles were really popular in the 1970’s and this street culture which rebels stays connected to European marketing. (Black 239-240) This conflict is not lost on either group. Even in the discussion of the Japanese and European cultural differences of fashion, the words are mixed and confusing. The following excerpt describes the interaction of very different fashion styles, such as the English-inspired kogyaru style, especially among Japanese women. Black writes:

“The strangeness of the kogyaru’s appearance has made her a prominent part of the Japanese zeitgeist, and this garishly dressed and made-up fashion victim, falling down stairs on her platform shoes or performing her trademark para para dance among a synchronized phalanx of her kind, became an object of ridicule in both personal and media discussions in Japan.” (240)

Morimoto and Chang write that international companies often choose to align themselves more with the European markets; even Japanese-based companies with international locations often choose to feature Caucasian models to advertise their products. (174) As more Asian countries go global and China becomes a member of the World Trade Organization, international marketing makes a statement about their products, their views, and their emphasis either upon keeping the details which had built their business or upon picking small things to change to sell to the world’s many different customers. (Wang 582-583)

German Business Environments

With the expansion of European mass markets, Western products are familiar to customers in Asia. (Morimoto and Chang 173-174) Yet Wang still writes that the international customers experience “culture shock” which may keep them from seeing the real value of a product. Since fashion merchandising bases its value on the materials used and on the appeal to a cultural set, the dark styles which are associated with a punk rock or gothic fashion style in European countries is considered outdated on the streets of Tokyo. (Black 240)

H & M are the main competitors. This company has already established international relations, but has a very European style. By not going too far from the unique urban roots of Japan but using wider, international fashion trends, the German clothing market will receive a new type of good. Because European goods are seen as status symbols, the fewer amount of stores will help as the company builds in Germany. Still, using models who look like the German customers makes it easier to get them to want and to buy the new products.

Recommendations

As with many pursuits, preparation affects the general success of international marketing. The most obvious course of action is to do research before the expansion takes place. Zaiem and Zghidi  write that companies also begin with exports, letting the company workers learn about the other cultures over time and the company to try different strategies with little risk (291-292) More action is necessary, and companies do not know where to start. With the discussion of culture shock in mind, providing training classes which help the administration make sense of the research and of other markets can help with the transition. Zaiem and Zghidi write that international customers remember when respect is given to the country which the company moves to. (293-294) The public appearance of cultural respect from the company and the new country give social signs to consumers that the products are accepted.

Wang writes that Chinese companies face the challenges of language thinking and spoken abilities, written communication, and oral communication. (584-586) Cross-cultural training which begins by teaching these skills will give the company workers the most basic skills needed to help during the expansion. As these skills are rewarded with various job perks, the Japanese practice of giving more respect with the power distance will help push workers to learn German and maybe even more languages. This helps the company move again from Japan to Germany to the other European countries. This information can be too much at once, so groups can be created to provide smaller reports on other cultures or other parts of culture. Business customs are really important when planning for international marketing. (Wang 585) Zaiem and Zghidi suggest a product adaptation strategy which makes changes slow and makes room for quick changes to respond to the challenges of each new nation’s market. (586)

Conclusion

International marketing became a business focus for a reason: global companies cannot afford to ignore it. Customers must want or need a product or service; customers must understand how products or services are different from other companies and how they are the same; customers must weigh the value of the product or service against their priorities and the price. For many customers, fashion is made up of simple styles which they wear every day—T-shirts, jeans, tennis shoes, etc. For others, fashion shows their culture and how they feel about themselves. When a customer comes to buy a product or service, their focus should not be on the company; it should be on what is being offered and why they need it. For this reason, creating a want or a need is the first step in good international marketing. After that, it is important to learn about the culture and to avoid the mistakes of moving too fast and making a mistake on a worldwide scale.

Works Cited

BLACK, DANIEL. “Wearing Out Racial Discourse: Tokyo Street Fashion And Race As Style.” Journal Of Popular Culture 42.2 (2009): 239-256. Academic Search Complete. Web. 16 June 2012.

Goodrum, Alison. “True Brits? Authoring National Identity In Anglo-Japanese Fashion Exports.” Fashion Theory: The Journal Of Dress, Body & Culture 13.4 (2009): 461-480. Academic Search Complete. Web. 16 June 2012.

Morimoto, Mariko, and Susan Chang. “Western And Asian Models In Japanese Fashion Magazine Ads: The Relationship With Brand Origins And International Versus Domestic Magazines.” Journal Of International Consumer Marketing 21.3 (2009): 173-187. Academic Search Complete. Web. 14 June 2012.

Wang, Zhen. “Cross-Cultural Conflicts Of International Marketing Activities–From The Perspective Of Chinese Companies.” US-China Foreign Language 9.9 (2011): 581-588. Academic Search Complete. Web. 13 June 2012.

Zaiem, Imed, and Afef Ben Youssef Zghidi. “Product Adaptation Strategy And Export Performance: The Impacts Of The Internal Firm Characteristics And Business Segment.” Contemporary Management Research 7.4 (2011): 291-312. Academic Search Complete. Web. 14 June 2012.

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