Some products are widely accepted by cultures in certain regions while others are not. Companies’ pricing strategies may differ across various regions of the world depending on if their product is culture-bound or not. Think about visiting a foreign country with a different culture. The culture-bound products that are easily noticed include food, beverages and clothing. I’ll provide the example of Indonesia – a country consisting of 17,000 islands that I’ve spent about seven months traveling around over the past five years.
Indonesia is actually home to a wide-range of cultures with hundreds of different languages being spoken. The primary religion is Muslim, however, other religions such as Hinduism, Christianity and Animism can be found in different parts of the country. Typical dishes include rice or noodles, along with fish or chicken and mixed vegetables. These dishes are commonly served with a spicy chili sauce called sambal. While there I tried types of potato chips that I never imagined existed including: seaweed, cheese pizza and barbequed beef flavors. Beverages are somewhat similar to those found in the western world and include water, juices and soda. Alcohol is not consumed by many Indonesians because it is not seen as acceptable in many of the Islamic areas. Clothing can be very different with people on remote islands such as the Mentawais wearing tribal outfits that look similar to what Native American Indians once wore. While differences in these three product groups may be obvious to the casual onlooker, many other types of products are prevalent which are not as common Western countries.
One product that is widely accepted in parts of Indonesia are cigarettes. Locals can be seen chain-smoking cigarettes as they represent a product that can be easily afforded by the masses. Western countries often put higher taxes on cigarettes because of the damage they do to the human body which ultimately translates into a high burden on the public health system. In Indonesia, however, a pack of cigarettes can be purchased for a dollar or less and due to low education levels, many cigarette users are not aware of how harmful the effects can be.
Another product group that I noticed being widely accepted by Indonesians was social media sites/applications. I met many teenage Indonesians that had used social media platforms such as Facebook for digital marketing purposes. Many of the times, the platforms were being used to advertise or promote a family business. People who had started little three room homestays for surfers were constantly posting new content to advertise their business all over the world. Figuring out what kinds of products are likely to be accepted by a foreign culture is no easy task. Values, customs, beliefs and type of lifestyle will all dictate whether a product becomes widely accepted or simply passed by.