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Customer Engagement Considering the Individualistic - Collectivistic Cultural Split

Ryan Buddenhagen, April 2, 2012

I have written about cultural characteristics often on this blog to affirm their importance for proper international SEO and general internet marketing efforts that are catering to specialized or international markets. [One side note is that cultures are not restricted solely to countries, as groups within an overall culture can have their own specific cultures with accompanying tendencies]. Understanding how they impact your business is paramount and it requires doing the necessary research on the local contexts and establishing how best to accurately adapt web content and messaging to improve the customer connection, among other things. International SEO companies work to assist businesses with their strategy and actions in this regard and help them gain a greater foothold on various international markets.

One area I haven't addressed yet is the individualistic vs. collectivistic differentiation experienced in cultures. As inferred by the term itself, individualistic cultures tend to privilege independence and self-reliance with group affiliation and goals often not carrying as much as individual goals. Conversely, collectivistic cultures sway towards prioritizing the group over the individual, promoting group cohesion, and often defining people by the groups they belong to. These cultural tendencies are entrenched in cultures' histories and although may not be as important as they were say 40 years ago, they still impact the way people in these cultures live their lives and will continue to do so.

Leveraging Individualistic & Collectivistic Tendencies
From this understanding, how can businesses cater to these tendencies? Businesses and the SEO companies assisting them can take specific actions across different areas of their online presence. But the most applicable is potentially how businesses create consistent, relevant content that engages their customers on social media.

Promotional Social Media Content - marketers can supply interesting content via social media that caters more specifically to a self-reliant individual or a group-oriented person and this can influence how well your company connects with the customers. Further, business can target audience members based more on data regarding the groups they are involved with or conversely the apparent independence they live with. For collectivistic cultures marketers can make content relevant to the in-groups they are a part of. This obviously changes to a degree with each type of group a given user is a part of. However, using language that recognizes group inclusion, and making the product or service relevant to sharing with a relevant group or a group in general is key.

Promotions can have calls to action that require group action rather than from the individual. In a collectivistic culture, marketers could motivate customers to join with fellow 'followers." Also, marketers could spur customers to create a user video that must include family members or those from another important in-group, for example, rather than one that simply features only the single customer. Additionally, some cultures create more on social media more than others do. Check out our Casual Friday video on the subject and you can match appropriate social media use to the appropriate individual-collectivist tendency for the best strategy.

For more information on cultural characteristics, check out a previous blogs on the importance of power distance, and the relevance of high context and low context cultures. Reach out to me directly at rbuddenhagen@webimax.com if you are interested in addressing how culture impacts your business' web presence.

Need an Expert Contributor?

Ken Wisnefski is a seasoned web entrepreneur and a frequent contributor to news outlets and business publications. Ken’s vast knowledge of how to make online businesses succeed has made him a sought after consultant from businesses wishing to improve their online initiatives. Contact pr@webimax.com to collaborate!


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