This paper is meant to analyze cross-cultural consumer behavior. The paper considers the topic of Japanese reaction towards Apple’s iPhone and the idea to offer the conventional Chinese shark’s fin soup at Hong Kong Disneyland.
Japan to Apple’s iPhone: “No Thanks!” The novel variation of Apple’s iPhone has commonly been a strong seller internationally, except for Japan. Whilst many analysts had calculated Apple would sell one million gadgets of its latest iPhone in Japan, revised calculations put the total at more like five hundred units. So what is the trouble? The gadget utilizes the faster 3G network and suggests the modern touch screen. Besides, Apple iPods and computers are quite popular in the country.
It turns out that iPhone’s usage of the 3G network is far from a big deal in the country, as a 3G access has been a usual characteristic on Japanese mobile phones for many years. And as far as the novel touch screen is concerned, a few Japanese buyers think they would have troubles getting used to it. Probably, the major issue facing the Apple company, nevertheless, is what the iPhone does not possess. It is crucial to bear in mind that Japanese buyers enjoy some of the internationally most technologically superior mobile phone characteristics, for instance, “the high-end color display, satellite navigation service, digital TV-viewing capability, music player and the convenient digital camera.” One more “must have” characteristic in Japan, lacking in the iPhone, is “emoji” that is a clip art, which may be inserted in sentences to make the e-mails more striking. Moreover, lots of cell phones in Japan permit users to utilize cell phones as train passes or even debit cards.
What else is wrong with this gadget, from a Japanese point of view? Practically everything: high monthly information plans, which go with it, the paucity of characteristics, the low-quality camera, the outmoded design and a fact that it is not Japanese. Also, the price has been totally out of whack with the local market realism. Apple’s iPhone is inarguably popular elsewhere. Nevertheless, even before the gadget’s launch in the nation, analysts were forecasting that the gadget would fail to crack the local market. The nation has been traditionally unsympathetic toward western labels – counting Motorola and Nokia, whose efforts to grab Japanese buyers were futile.
Apart from the cultural opposition, Japanese people possess high, complex standards concerning the cell phones. The nation is well-known for being ahead of the time when it comes to advanced technology, and the iPhone just does not cut it. What else bugs the locals concerning the novel gadget? The pricing plans. Japan’s carrier environment is extremely competitive that equates to comparatively reduced monthly rates for gadgets. The iPhone’s monthly plan starts at approximately sixty dollars that is extremely high compared to competitors.
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So, it is obvious that unlike many buyers in the USA and Europe, buyers in Japan are predominantly choosy and prefer to purchase the premium products and services.Generally speaking, the alteration in shopper’s attitudes and conduct has arrived and, it appears, is here to remain. This alteration “stems not merely from the downturn but also from profoundly-seated factors varying from the digital revolution to the appearance of not so materialistic younger generation” (Salsberg, 2010).
Salsberg asserted that three major factors assisted in leading to this novel consumer tendency (Salsberg, 2010). First of all, the economic downturn. The local economy has been weak for practically twenty years. The other factor is that a novel generation of locals has grown up with very dissimilar attitudes. Nicknamed “so-so folks”, many avoid corporate living and material ownership (Salsberg, 2010). The third and the last aspect contributing to the novel tendency in buyers conduct is administrative regulatory acts. Shopper behavior looks at a course involved when people or groups opt, use, buy, dispose of goods, services, thoughts, or experiences to please requirements and wishes (Solomon, 2004). Customer behavior comprises the features, for instance, social class and profits. Obviously, economic atmosphere influencing consumers in the USA, Europe, and today Japan play a crucial role in changing consumer conduct. When economy unites with other aspects as in the case of the local buyers, the consumer conduct is sure to respond accordingly.
Without a doubt, Japanese corporations require accurate and useful data concerning the markets as much as the US and European organizations do. They merely go about it in a different way. Japanese managers put far more faith in data they get straight from retailers and wholesalers. Furthermore, they track what is taking place among channel members on the weekly and, at times, even daily basis. Local Japanese-style market investigation relies mainly on two types of data: “soft data” gathered from visits to the dealers and channel members, and the “hard data” concerning the inventory levels, shipments, and retail sales. Japanese managers think this information better reproduces the conduct and plans of flesh-and-blood buyers (Solomon, 2004).
Japanese firms wish the data, which is context explicit rather than context free – that is, information directly applicable to buyer attitudes concerning the goods, or to the way the consumers have used or will utilize some goods, rather than research results, which are too remote from real consumer behavior to be helpful. When Japanese organizations do perform surveys, they interview buyers, who have really bought or utilized the product. They do not inspect the undifferentiated public to find out the information concerning general attitudes and values.
Senior and middle-level Japanese supervisors get involved in gathering information as they see the data rather critical for the market entry and for preserving perfect relations later. Though generalized, such hands-on data provide managers with the characteristic feel for market – something they believe quantitative research methods and surveys cannot supply. So, for Apple to be successful in the Japanese market, it might be useful to utilize the same approaches as the local companies do.
Would Mickey Mouse Eat Shark’s Fin Soup? Debate began infusing at Hong Kong Disneyland even prior to the moment when the park opened in the autumn 2005. At Disney parks around the entire globe, wedding receptions and weddings are extremely money-making business. Disney made a decision to suggest shark’s fin soup as a variation on wedding reception menus at Hong Kong Disneyland.
Obviously, the company wishes to demonstrate own appreciation for Chinese customs and declares that it is doing nothing more than following standards of the nation – the dish is considered the crucial aspect of a Chinese wedding dinner and may be priced at up to $400 at the finest restaurants. Nevertheless, environmental groups from all over the globe are up in arms over the idea of the company to serve the soup that points out the dissimilarity among the Chinese and Western customs.
Though shark’s fin soup has been the Chinese major meal for two hundred years, some environmental organizations are concerned China’s augmenting prosperity has led to the larger appetite for rare species. For instance, Hong Kong authorities have lately stopped a shipment of 1,800 freeze-dried penguins, which were taken in mainland China. Some animal activists are scared down the road many species could be endangered.
Initially, to the local people, the primary variation of the park Disney showed too much Western imperialism. Consequently, Disney managers tried to cater to Chinese context. From the globalization point of view, four main alterations were made by Disney in Hong Kong Disneyland: decrease of prices; adjustment to Chinese visitors’ traditions; change of decor; and adjustment of work practices. After that, local Disneyland has proved victorious: park attending and profits from enlargement have augmented.
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Adaptation of other traditions and customs demands flexibility and tolerance. One of the main barriers to the efficacy for managers working outside the local culture is a shortage of tolerance from the “locals.” Nevertheless, simple tolerance of dissimilarities is only the start. Actual adjustment demands executives to generate diversity vis-a-vis Chinese conditions (Ulrich & Smallwood, 2006). Managers believe they may know a lot concerning the strategic fit, foreignness, and dissimilarities in mass cultures, but there is something concerning a role of the national environment in the international transfer of business values, which is absent (Brannen, 2004).
Humans from China have extremely dissimilar expectations than those from lots of other places in the globe. For instance, visitors prefer the package tours, which comprise group dinners. Initially, Hong Kong Disneyland could not possibly invite so huge groups. Furthermore, the prices for tickets did not have enough commissions for the tour operators. Thus, some of them counted Disney on the itineraries.
It is also important that, for a long period of time, China was under the communist tenet. Nowadays, it is still felt in Disneyland in a meaning that, for example, Minnie and Mickey Mouse used the benefit from the communist makeover in 2008. Whilst Mickey was put in the red Mao suit, Minnie sported red dress, in the effort to plea to Chinese visitors (A Chinese Makeover for Mickey and Minnie, 2008).
In line with these alterations, to benefit from the visitors, Hong Kong Disneyland attempted to make the additional adjustments to local meal customs and food favorites. The most difficult decision by Disney was to comprise, in the menu, the conventional but very classy Chinese meal: shark’s fin soup. At times, it may be as pricy as 400 dollars, merely for one bowl. Together with the soup, sliced abalone and roast suckling pig were planned to be offered for wedding banquets. Shark’s fin soup is the established Chinese dish popular at the marriages and other huge social events. Shark’s fin soup holds cultural importance and is considered lavish and a symbol of wealth and kindness. Nevertheless, even though the meal has been a conservative delicacy for many centuries, the approach to catch and murder sharks has been under deep criticism, particularly with respect to the process by which fins are harvested.
After the effort to offer soup on the Wild West-themed Main Street was thwarted by non-governmental organizations and Disney ultimately agreed (Bloomgarden, 2007). Nowadays, the globalization of other local eating likings has actually occurred; restaurants at Hong Kong Disneyland mainly offer Chinese food (Hills & Welford, 2006). Disney’s plan to offer the sliced abalone and roast suckling pig in wedding banquets was actually followed through. At the current event where particular meals were offered in the park’s restaurants – everything from noodles to sushi – managers agreed the certain kind of Chinese hamburger to be made by the local chef (Holson, 2005). When the company understood locals usually take ten more time to consume than Americans, Disney added seven hundred seats to park dining places. Disneyland’s director, Bill Ernest, acknowledged Disney is “still learning” concerning the Chinese culture (Martin, 2007). Thus, with proper globalization in Hong Kong Disneyland, a park has served as a showy introduction to the novel market in Asia, opening the doors to some other ventures.
This case study analysis demonstrates that, even Disney and Apple, the embodiment of the international firms par excellence, have to demonstrate certain flexibility and adjustment to the local likings in order to make high profits and stay competitive in the international arena. Once Hong Kong Disneyland initially opened in 2005, the Disney Company failed to realize not merely Chinese local traditions and customs, but also the food preferences, eating habits and the conception of how much should be spent on the tickets. So, this analysis of Hong Kong Disneyland demonstrates globalization actually works: Disney was forced to be flexible by factoring in local culture and reducing the US culture, as it was treated as the cultural invasion in Hong Kong. That is why for Apple to be successful in Japan, it has to learn the local culture and even copy some of the features preferred by locals, rather than offer not so innovative own gadgets. As companies go global, managers need to weigh up the competence chances of international scale with efficacy requirements of location adaptation (Ulrich & Smallwood, 2006).
Disney and Apple managers have realized what is basic and, thus, universal across the companies’ international operations. They must also understand what is not basic and, thus, be open to the local adjustment. The globe is too large and too dissimilar to even consider the notion each corporate philosophy, policy, culture, and practice may be utilized universally everywhere. Apple and Disney show it merely does not work (Ulrich & Smallwood, 2006). The globalization of Disney and Apple also typifies the idea that the globe is not being turned into one homogenized realm as, internationally, there are sites of opposition, despite the energy of these respected representatives of the popular culture.
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