Understanding other cultures is crucial if you want to do business abroad. Who will you be targeting? What are the values they hold dearest? How does their culture influence spending? And in order to prevent a cross-cultural slip-up, do get information on local sensitivities. You will easily push the wrong buttons just ‘being yourself’. Even a well-intended gift might unsettle or even insult your clients or partners as an American company learnt…
The company wanted to expand into South East Asia. What typically American item could the representatives present their Taiwanese business associates? They settled for nice green baseball caps. Only, green happened to be the colour of the unpopular political opposition in the elections at that time. And the colour green was a disastrous choice anyway: in Taiwan men who dress in green have been unfaithful to their wives. This goodwill gesture failed spectacularly.
Cross-cultural awareness has become an important asset to national business too. Take the United States and Canada for instance. In some cities over a hundred languages are spoken. As the purchasing power of the minority peoples of America increases, companies start understanding different cultures. The ‘average customer’ is an antiquated concept. The modern multicultural society is a melting pot; more of a tossed salad and there is a big chance that your client might be of another culture. Understanding him or her is vital for expansion.
Do you have clients of different cultures? How do you try to suit their different needs?