New Research Suggests Focusing on the Cultural Congruity and Compatibility of Brand Concepts

Aug 10, 2012, 02:07 ET from American Marketing Association

CHICAGO, Aug. 10, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- When developing global branding communications, marketers should focus on delivering brand messages that are both congruent with value priorities in the different target cultures and compatible with the existing abstract brand image (or brand concept). According to new research conducted by Carlos Torelli, Aysegul Ozsomer, Sergio Carvalho, Hean-Tat Keh, and Natalia Maehle, this can better be accomplished by taking a perspective of abstract brand concepts based on human values.

Marketers realize the competitive advantage of establishing brand concepts on the basis of motivational and emotional meanings. For multinational companies, one of the biggest challenges lies in carefully managing these brand concepts across cultural boundaries. This often implies reaching a balance between localizing advertising and promotion via the incorporation of concepts and ideas that align with local cultural value priorities, and conveying consistent brand images across markets.

"This balance can be more easily reached by considering abstract brand concepts based on human values, and linking this consideration to extant research about differences in cultural value priorities," says Assistant Professor of Marketing Carlos Torelli (University of Minnesota), one of the co-authors of "Brand Concepts as Representations of Human Values: Do Cultural Congruity and Compatibility Between Values Matter?," an article that appears in the July issue of the American Marketing Association's Journal of Marketing. "Considering brand concepts as representations of human values facilitates identifying brand meanings that are more compatible with an existing brand concept, as well as more congruent with the value priorities in target cultures. Thus, adding such meanings to an existing brand concept results in more favorable brand evaluations."

For instance, in one of the studies the researchers show that for a brand with an existing self-transcendence concept (i.e., prosocial brand), messages adding a layer of self-enhancement meaning (i.e., conveying status) are less favorably evaluated than those adding a layer of openness (i.e., expressing excitement and adventure) or conservation meaning (i.e., emphasizing the certainty of the status quo). Furthermore, although a self-transcendence brand concept seems appealing in collectivist cultures (i.e., that emphasize a collective view of the self), such concept resonates more with consumers with a horizontal-collectivist orientation (i.e., the self has the same status as others), but less so for those with a vertical-collectivist cultural orientation (i.e., the self has a higher status than others).

The research provides a comprehensive framework that allows managers to better understand the complexities of being consistent in brand meanings across markets, while at the same time being relevant to local markets.

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