Business Etiquette

Know your market

Common sense tells us that it’s vital to carry out market research when entering a new market. When entering international markets, you must research the cultural factors that influence them

Specifically, you need to:

  • Research do’s and taboos
  • Test opinions

Research Do’s and Taboos

To determine what’s acceptable in a culture, you often have to generalize about national characteristics and even about regional characteristics, which are sometimes more influential. Although you run the risk of stereotyping, you can usually draw useful conclusions.

Making sure you know what will offend in a particular culture is half the battle. In Italy it’s acceptable to run advertisements featuring scantily clad women. But in many other cultures this is taboo, because it’s regarded as either sexist or immodest. The Japanese are offended by advertising that criticizes the competition or its products. They judge products by the image and reputation of the company and emphasize product performance over price.

 Test Opinions

You can see how easy it could be to miss the cultural significance of everyday words or objects. Even colors have different associations in other countries and cultures, and that too has marketing implications.

Test international markets even more meticulously than you would the domestic market and work with experts in the country who can advise you on what’s acceptable. Listen to these advisers natively, without pre-judging.