Culture comprises of values and shared beliefs, ideas and other meaningful symbols that help individuals to communicate and evaluate as members of society. The cultural factors are said to exert the broadest and deepest influence on consumer behavior.
Since, attitude shapes the beliefs of an individual, when they become characteristic of the entire society, they are said to become culture.
Attitudes are also influenced by external environment; they also are keeping the culture dynamic. Being expressive of the group beliefs and attitudes, culture shapes the consumption pattern and decision-making process of individuals throughout their lives.
Culture significantly influences one’s self concept and space. Some cultures might brave, strong and emotional type self-concept while others might impart a serve, intellectual and rational one. Marketers need to understand this and position their products accordingly.
In rural markets, sincerity, sturdiness and group conformance are more cherished values than a fast-track career growth and individual development. Consequently, durability is a dominant characteristic if any advertisement is to be targeted towards rural markets.
Similarly, the influence of opinion leaders is modified to suit the needs of the marketers. Culture also influences the sense of space. Societies that preserve individuality look for wider space around them while individuals in some societies might contend with lesser space.
Knowledge of space helps marketers in deciding the most acceptable levels of customer proximity. In rural markets, although people live in vast open spaces, their individuality often identifies itself with the group. The products targeted for these markets respect the individuality of these people.
People like big bikes, big vehicles, big rooms to live in and bigger size televisions. They also purchase larger packs of things, not only to reap economies of scale but also to satisfy their voluminous spheres of individuality.
Culture has a direct impact on communication and language of individuals. This helps the marketers in designing their advertisements and sales promotion strategies. The correct choice of words can have a significant role in effective communication.
For example, most advertising campaigns for the rural markets are designed in local languages such as Punjabi, Gujarati or Odia in order to make the customer understand them and getting attract towards the product.
Dress and appearance also plays a major influence of one’s culture. The dressing habits of individuals are also a mirror to their self-image and personality. An understanding of the dress code is vital for promotion of several product categories such as suiting and shirting etc.
For example, in most offices in north India, people prefer to be formally dressed and in southern and western India, people are usually dressed in informal even at work place. Marketers of shirts position their products as formals in North India and as casuals in South and West India. This turns out to be profitable for them.
The products associated with dress and eating habits are targeted in a manner in which the consumers would be most receptive. For example, the advertisement of McDonald’s burger is launched in local language, with the models talking in a typical rural tone. This is only to get into the mindset of rural people, and remove the notion that burger is an alien food.
Food and feeding habits are also unique to every culture in rural market. Some cultures might be primarily vegetarian while others are non- vegetarians. Similarly, people have their own preferences for the nature food and its ingredients. Those selling food products need to know what people of a culture needs and offer them products accordingly.
Not only the marketers of food products, other industries such as furniture, household appliances, buildings etc. also need to understand the feeding habits across cultures and design their products accordingly because people’s feeding habits influence their purchasing behavior.
The level of time consciousness varies across cultures. Some culture might look upon time as a valuable resource and may not consider wasting it. In such cultures, marketers need to offer products in a manner such that a customer has to spend little time in acquiring and using it.
Some cultures might not treat time as valuable and prefer to work with leisure. In such areas, marketers should not force customers to make quick decisions as this might evoke unfavorable response. In rural markets, people are not very fast decision makers.
The marketers have to go their pace and not impose their pace of decision making. Rural customers spend a lot of time in gathering information, particularly from the endorsements by their opinion leaders. An enthusiastic marketer may be rejected by them, if he tries to exert too much of his pressure. They should be allowed their own time to arrive at decisions.
Relationships are also specific to cultures. The urban areas comprise of small families, so the influence of uncles, grandparents etc. might be less in comparison to people living in rural areas, where people might be living in joint families. Marketers need to understand such relationships in order to identify the influences and decision makers of the buying process.
In rural markets, relations are given high value. Once the rural people rest their trust on someone, they keep the faith for a long time. If anyone breaks their trust, they reject him, and might even punish him for that.
The firms aspiring to be successful in the rural markets have to master the art of relationship building for long-term success. For example, companies like HLL, Philips have patiently worked for years to win their confidence and establish a kind of personal relations with the rural customers.