How to navigate cultural differences in marketing

Alexandra Hicks
If you thought numbers and logistics were the only things you'd have to worry about when expanding your business overseas, think again. In today’s world, there is a huge emphasis placed on cultural diversity and different ways to engage, value, and respect others.

We’re so connected via the internet and the media that it’s easier than ever to learn about different cultures. This is especially important if you’re trying to expand a business into foreign markets, but equally so if you’re operating domestically. That being said, below are a few things you should keep in mind if you plan on reaching a culturally diverse audience.

That means you’ll need to be open and understanding toward various cultural differences.


Just because you plan on keeping your business local doesn’t mean that diversity doesn’t matter. More likely than not, your goal is to effectively reach as many customers as possible. That means you’ll need to be open and understanding toward various cultural differences. In both the United Kingdom and the United States, around 13% of the population was born internationally. Not only that, but census data for both the UK and the US shows that a large amount of people speak a foreign language at home—8% and 20% respectively.


According to a survey conducted by the Common Sense Advisory, “More local language content throughout the customer experience leads to a greater likelihood of a purchase”. What that means is that customers are more likely to buy products from someone who speaks their native language. This has proven to be accurate regardless of the language being spoken and even if the consumer speaks multiple languages. But speaking the language isn’t the only aspect you need to keep in mind when communicating with others. It’s also important to be aware of how differences in tone, idioms, and slang can be interpreted, and to adjust your dialect and strategy accordingly.


While they may seem small and insignificant, it’s these nuances that can really set you apart from the competition and help you gain the trust of prospective clients. For example, in many countries, tipping at a restaurant is not a thing. But if you happen to be going out for a business dinner in the States, people will find you rude if you don’t leave at least a 10% tip for the wait staff. Other concepts vary greatly in different regions. In Western cultures, it is very common and even expected for teens to rebel against authority, and it’s been the foundation of a great number of successful marketing efforts. In many Asian cultures, however, teens are expected to be responsible and compliant. Stepping outside of these cultural norms can not only confuse your customers but potentially offend them.
Stepping outside of these cultural norms can not only confuse your customers but potentially offend them.


In most cultures these days, media is a big part of everyone’s lives. What’s interesting though is that different types of media, and what is actually said via these platforms, can vary greatly between different groups. Take the United States, a country rich with different cultures; you won’t be able to effectively reach everyone the same way. For example, Hispanics respond best to Spanish-language radio and TV, while Asian Americans prefer to get their information from the newspaper. Navigating exactly what topics are acceptable can be a challenge as well. In the United States, cosmetic surgery is a multi-billion-dollar industry that’s very “out in the open”. In India, cosmetic surgery is also a multi-billion-dollar industry, but it’s very hush-hush, and it’s uncommon to hear people talk about surgery or to see large billboards for breast implants, and so on.


As you can see, it takes a lot of adaptation and understanding to successfully reach a diverse audience. Knowing a little bit about different cultures can truly make a world of difference. Have you had success expanding your business overseas? What approach worked best for you? We’d love to hear from you! If you have yet to implement a successful strategy for engaging with culturally diverse populations of consumers, Yuqo has an expert team of native writers, translators, and editors to create content carefully tailored to each demographic.