A Country is defined not only by its geography but also by its history, culture, religion and economic development. Individuals from different countries can be differentiated on the basis of the products they consume, their overall lifestyle, and even the way in which they react to a particular situation. The religion, culture and history of a country define the individual’s values, and set the blueprint for his/her choices and behaviour, whereas economic development directly influences life style by determining the set of choices available, the latest trends, technological developments, and overall knowledge and exposure.
Developed nations like the USA, have higher standards of living and its citizens have more choices available to them. They are more informed and technologically advanced as compared to their counterparts in less-developed nations. They are more informed and technologically advanced as compared to their counterparts in less developed countries. In developed countries, people have the freedom to exhibit their choices and follow their preferred lifestyle. They are more individualistic and believe in taking most decisions on their own. They value success and achievement and are more entrepreneurial in nature. They are also more competitive and love to challenge themselves. People from these cultures like to expand their boundaries and are in constant search of new ways, approaches and technology which would make them more superior that can distinguish them from others.
The Chinese exhibit a marked difference in traits compared to their American counter parts, as they are deeply influenced by Confucianism. Confucianism regards human relationships as the most important factor in life and its rules guide the behaviour of the Chinese. They are more group oriented and give higher importance to society and its rituals. They believe in creating a strong social network, as it is considered to be the fall back in a crisis situation. They give less importance to their individual self and would continue to work for the benefit of the overall group, even if it is not in their own interest. Expression of individual moods and choices is very limited. They are less likely to volunteer or take initiatives and generally do not like to take risks. Their decision making process is slower when compared to developed countries. They consider the authority of the leader to be paramount, and would readily conform to what has been dictated.
Arab countries are largely influenced by Islamic principles and religion impacts every aspect of their lives. They are more conservative in nature, because religious conformity is high and religious norms dictate their attitude, lifestyle and consumption of products. For example, people would abstain from consuming products like alcohol which are considered by Islam to be impure. Arabs also exhibit higher family orientation and it is quite common for several generations to be living together under one roof. The community is considered to be of prime importance, with people conforming to requirements of overall society and also engaging in charity for overall community growth. Their business hours are defined by taking into consideration the time required for prayer, i.e. namaz. The overall pace of life is much slower than that of the western world and Islamic rules dominate in business as well.
In European countries like France, where religious freedom is high, people are less observant of religious rituals. However, they have strong societal & cultural norms which guide their day to day behaviour. They are more reserved and behave differently when they are in public verses when they are with their friends and family. Family is the bonding factor, providing both emotional and financial support. They are more formal and fashion-conscious in their dressing and they expect guests to follow general norms as well. Business behaviour is driven by courtesy, and trust towards each other is of prime importance. They are more direct and formal in their communication, and can sometimes be viewed by other cultures as being extremely blunt! Hierarchy is followed in decision-making. They are much slower and would analyse each and every detail before arriving at a conclusion.
Indians exhibit a mix of traits influenced by a long history of amalgamation of cultures and different religions. Religion is an integral part of life and it influences every aspect of society and life. However, people of different religions mingle freely and celebrate key festivals together. People are generally helpful and friendly in nature and welcome strangers with warmth and affection. However, social discrimination based on religion, caste and income is visible in some parts of India, especially among the middle and lower socio-economic classes. Indians are generally not too competitive and most of them readily accept the authority of leaders. With increasing influence of western culture, however, people are becoming more aware and less bound by rigid societal norms. Consumerism is on the rise and younger generations are enjoying the fruits of a liberalised economy far more, compared to their parents.
In conclusion, it would be appropriate to say, that culture broadly defines people of different nations. However, with increasing globalisation and exposure to different cultures, these differences are narrowing down.
This blog post has been written by PREETI MATHEW, Senior Insight Consultant, Brandscapes Worldwide. Preeti enjoys understanding customers and is constantly looking to gain new insights on consumer behavior. She is also an avid traveler during which time she ensures that she gets the flavor of the local culture through interactions with the natives.
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