Cultural Lenses

In the The Art of Choosing, Sheena Iyengar explores how cultural context and perspectives influence how decisions are made. She uses simple but thought provoking examples of arranged marriages in India and parent-child relationships in Japan to illustrate how larger cultural context influences the decisions people make.

Most US based marketers are aware that they need to take cultural differences into account when they extend their products into new regions around the globe. What they sometimes miss is that even with the United States different market sectors often have unique cultures that inform the decisions they make regarding business strategies and investment. Healthcare and higher education are two examples of sectors whose cultures and missions are significantly different than other sectors. Although they face the same business challenges as other sectors they feel a greater sense of obligation their customers – patients and students – and they evaluate changes and investments differently. This has the most implications in messaging and positioning. Messages about efficiency may play well in manufacturing firms but fall flat for the same solution in hospital chains. Hospitals need acknowledgement that patient care is their number one priority, even if they purchase the product to gain the same efficiency as the manufacturing firm. Most sectors do not have such extreme cultural lenses tied to how they conceptualize their business, still, Isurus recommends evaluating the cultural landscape when entering new sectors.