Sunday, April 20, 2014

Learn Marketing to Other Cultures: Comparing Fashion and Attractive Features

Warning: Some Homophobia, Mild Racism, and a Hint of Adult Language in the Image Below:

In case you're adverse to looking at pictures (and for my own SEO purposes), an explanation:

On the left, you see an American hipster looking sad because he's being called a weak man who is attracted to other men (not that the latter part is any of our business) for his sense in fashion, and on the right, the Korean guy is being admired by those around him for wearing the same thing.

Why could this possibly be? [/DeadPan]

Someone I know said it's the black hair that makes the outfit complete and critic-proof, but I'm gonna go with: It's a cultural thing as to what constitutes "manly" and/or "womanly," and even within these cultures, the definition comes and goes in cycles.

Why is this important for marketing to other cultural groups?

One of the biggest hurdles in marketing for any business owner is considering and figuring out their demographics and how to cater to them. The challenge level gets increasingly higher the further the culture you are trying to reach is from their own - what might be considered polite in one country might be considered extremely rude in another, and much more relevant to the discussion at hand, someone who might be considered beautiful and fashionable by one group might be ugly and gaudy by another.

This means to any person interested in marketing to other cultures and using the right images, themes, and models to reach them, they must be willing to first let go of their own biases, accept the other culture's (just short of going full-native), and then learn about the cultures that have/had an effect on that culture, and so on and so forth. The important part here is to come in with the mindset that the culture will shape your style of marketing, not the other way around.

As incredibly obvious as all of this sounds, it's still something that is difficult to understand and more importantly, to predict the shifts as they happen. It's just a matter of opportunity cost in terms of time and effort spent going down that rabbit hole, so pick your own level of involvement.

That's all I personally have to say on the subject, but here are a couple of Examples, Articles, and Studies to build on this line of thought:

In recent western history until 1940 when marketing research pushed retailers and manufacturers to switch it up, pink was the preferred color for boys due to its more "intense" properties, and the delicate color blue was for girls.

Here are professional photographs courtesy of NatGeo of fashion and traditional clothing across the world.

A little comic relief: examples of when other cultures try to use English on their clothing.

Tufts website on the development of fashion in the US throughout the 20th century, divided by decade.

Thesis by an NYU student on the future of Asian fashion.

Preferences in facial features and their role in Cultural/Darwinian development - Clean-Shaven vs Bearded Men: one is preferred and considered more attractive than the other as they get rarer.

What is generally considered attractive regardless of culture and race?

Learn something new about how the world views attractiveness with the Wikipedia entry on Physical Attractiveness.

Does being attractive really affect your earning potential?


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