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Strange But True: Cultural taboos affect global marketing

“Made in America” on a pickup truck might be an inducement to purchase for some, the opposite for others.
By BILL AND RICH SONES, PH.D., For The Oklahoman Published: July 22, 2014

Strange But True

Q: “Made in America” on a pickup truck might be an inducement to purchase for some, the opposite for others. In our global marketplace, what are some cultural barriers that can impede acceptance of products in other countries?

A: “For one, illustrations of feet are regarded as despicable in Thailand,” say William Pride et al. in “Business: 12th Edition.” Even the color of a product or its package can influence a purchase: In Japan, black and white are the colors of mourning and thus should be avoided, while purple is the color of death in Brazil. And in Egypt, green — the national color — is also not used in packaging.

More generally, customers’ perceptions of a country might affect their purchase of unfamiliar products from there. “For example, because Mexican cars have not been viewed by the world as being quality products, Volkswagen may not want to advertise that some of its models sold in the United States are made in Mexico,” the authors add. “And many retailers on the Internet have yet to come to grips with the task of designing an online shopping site that is attractive and functional for all global customers.”

Q: When was baseball’s historic breakthrough into “dogless” no more?

A: It was sometime before 1893 that Chris von der Ahe, plucky owner of the St. Louis Browns, took a notion to popularize the sport by building an amusement park around his stadium, reports Mental Floss magazine. This took baseball from a “highbrow diversion for gentlemen” to a game for the masses, with the lure of cheap tickets, hawked beer and German snacks, likely including frankfurters. “In no time, ballpark franks became a fan favorite, and today, Americans scarf down more than 20 million hot dogs at games each year.”

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