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Consumer behavior across International Cultures

Understanding consumer behavior is imperative for firms that thrive by offering their goods and services to the public. If a firm knows what consumers prefer, they have already established an advantage in the market. However, with consumers having different tastes and preferences, it is not that easy to grasp the market. With businesses expanding into the international market, taking into account the varied cultures among different markets complicates the choices firms must make.

What may work in one country may have a completely adverse effect in another. One case where the understanding of consumer behavior has benefited a firm is the instance of Starbucks. The entry of Starbucks into the international market was a diverse strategy, with each country having a different entry strategy. This was mainly because of the different factors that affected consumer behavior. The various strategies that Starbucks utilized helped them penetrate the market easier because of their understanding of what the consumers wanted.

In specific instances, Starbucks in Southeast Asian countries started offering curry puffs and meat pies along with coffee because of their findings that Asians prefer to eat something while having coffee. In the Middle East, Starbucks stores have a separate area for their female customers as a form of respect to their culture (Anstett, 2007). These minor changes have impacted Starbucks’s international presence in a big way. McDonalds has also shown the benefits of knowing consumer preferences in their expansion into Mexico.

Mexican culture prides themselves on their traditional Mexican food and maintains this in spite of the emerging trends with young Mexican consumers. McDonalds has solved the problem of bringing an American food company into a culture that tends to have strong brand loyalty by incorporating the Mexican food culture into their menu. McDonalds came up with the McBurrito a la Mexicana, a Mexican style burrito, to accommodate the Mexican appetite (Contreras, 2003). The product names have also been translated into Spanish, such as the Big Mac being called McNifica, which means magnificent.

Though many Mexicans understand English, the translation enforces the marketing message better. These two firms have succeeded in the international market because of their efforts to understand and take into account the varying consumer preferences in different countries. The understanding consumer behavior is important to the success of firms that have international operations. By knowing how consumer preferences work in a country, firms are able to act accordingly and provide them with the proper goods and services.

3. Who are the participants in the Organizational Buying process and what are their roles in the purchase decisions process? The organizational buying process differs from household consumer buying, though the basic model is essentially the same. Organizational buying occurs when a firm or company requires a product or service for their operations and decides to purchase it from other firms. The decision making unit of an organization that chooses to buy is known as the buying center.

All individuals and groups who take part in the decision-making process, may it be directly or indirectly, are part of the buying center. Everyone who is part of the buying center often is aware of the risk involved and has the knowledge required in making a purchase decision. In larger firms and business chains, the buying center is formalized and is called the buying committee (Hutt & Speh, 2004). There are several participants in the organizational buying process, and all of them are part of the buying center: users, influences, deciders, buyers, and gatekeepers.