Understanding Culture’s Impact on Branding and Consumer Behavior

Customer connections are critical in developing meaningful relationships with customers.  Companies or marketers must better understand consumers, behaviors, and the factors that influence consumer behaviors to anticipate their next steps in the purchase decision-making process.  It will help marketers develop the right content to engage and connect with customers. 

Customers are attracted to brands that symbolize or represent themselves and are extensions of who they are and what they are about or believe.  In other words, a customer’s attraction to brands is those they identify that have value, worth, and align with their beliefs, benefit them, satisfy their wants and needs, and overall daily lifestyle.  Several factors influence consumers and their behaviors in the purchase decision-making process, such as their lifestyle, personality, preferences, beliefs, perceptions, motivations, economic status, age, family, social class, and culture. 

What Is Culture?

Culture is one of the most significant and vital factors to consider in better understanding consumers and their behavior because culture embodies the way consumers live.  According to Merriam-Webster’s definition, culture is the character descriptions of a way of life and consists of an integrated pattern of behavior, belief, and knowledge people share in a time or place and to succeeding generations.

Culture and Branding

Consequently, culture determines how consumers perceive brands as cultural symbols because brands are cultural icons that symbolize greater, more significant, and cultural meanings.  According to Strategy’s article, “When Brands Become Culture,” Douglas Holt, a former Harvard Business School professor’s theory about brands turning into cultural icons.  It occurs when brands become cultural symbols by becoming cultural activists in their responses to interferences, issues, and dialogues that impact society; brands, as cultural activists, must advance causes and encourage others to think and act differently using stories to elicit new ways of living and ideas.

For instance, Nike, a multinational organization and brand, aims to inspire and provide innovative experiences, products such as footwear, apparel, accessories, and services to consumers Nike defines are athletes.  Nike demonstrated its role as a cultural icon and activist in its decision to collaborate with Colin Kaepernick, an American football player, in its “Believe in something.  Even if it means sacrificing everything” advertising (ad) campaign.  It enabled Nike to become a part of and voice in a controversial dialogue involving Kaepernick’s stance, action, and protest against racial injustice in his refusal to kneel during the National Anthem in football games.

Nike’s ad campaign’s responses generated both praises or support and threats to boycott the brand and Nike products.  According to Gina Martinez’s article about Nike’s sales, despite the outrage about Nike’s Kaepernick ad, Nike generated an increase of 31% in online sales.  Nike successfully created a social impact on society by connecting and resonating with consumers through its ad campaign and aligned the brand with cultural trends with athletes and sports.

Brands convey the importance of culture and its values to consumers.  Brands connect with consumers by enabling consumers to express their beliefs and how they live with cultural values.  Therefore, culture influences the consumer’s wants and needs, and their decisions based on their values.

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References:
Branding, S. (n.d.). When Brands Become Culture. Strategy. https://www.strategythinking.com/thinking/when-brands-become-culture. 

Breaking Barriers. Nike Purpose. (n.d.). https://purpose.nike.com/.

Martinez, G. (2018, September 10). Nike Sales Increase 31% After Kaepernick Ad Despite Backlash. Time. https://time.com/5390884/nike-sales-go-up-kaepernick-ad/. 

Merriam-Webster. (n.d.). Culture. Merriam-Webster. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/culture. 

Millwood, A. (2020, December 9). Understanding the Consumer Decision Making Process. Yotpo. https://www.yotpo.com/resources/consumer-decision-making-process-ugc/. 

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