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Cultural Dimensions and Localization

Consumers in different countries have different preferences. One way for global companies to acknowledge these differences is by creating localized campaigns. Localized campaigns emphasize the variations across countries, customizing the message for each market. Globalized campaigns, on the other hand, use the same content across countries, only changing the language. Localization is the process of adapting global content to the specific culture of a market. An essential factor to consider during localization is Cultural Dimensions.

The concept of Cultural Dimensions is based on the studies of Geert Hofstede, a Dutch social psychologist who pioneered studies of cultures across modern nations. Hofstede refers to culture as mental programs with patterns of thinking, feeling, and actions, or a “software of the mind.”

In his book “Cultures and Organization – Software of the Mind,” Hofstede details his research based on data collected on values and feelings of over 100,000 IBM employees across the globe. Analyzing the data, Hofstede identified six national cultural dimensions that define different cultures. They are Collectivism x Individualism; Power Distance; Masculinity vs. Femininity; Uncertainty Avoidance; Long-term Orientation; and Indulgence. The idea created a clear template for cultural studies, allowing researchers to compare the dimensions of different countries.

The concept of Cultural Dimensions is also a guideline for localization. For instance, cultures with high power distance will benefit from having pictures of the CEO and celebrity endorsement on their marketing campaign. Cultures with high uncertainty avoidance require an extra effort to avoid ambiguity in the message, using resources like FAQs, mentions to client support, and emphasis on the history of the company. By applying the concept of cultural dimensions to localization, marketers can guarantee they are getting their message across in a way that will resonate with the culture they want to influence.

Example of the Collectivism vs. Individualism dimension across the globe (Source)

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