Globalblunders made by companies in the foreign market are at times due to lack ofunderstanding of the culture effect on business.
It is essential to understandthe impact of the cultural environment on business as it involves people fromdifferent cultures. Culture in business has influence on the labor environment,socio-economics, and political/ legal environment. A consumer product companycannot afford to make mistakes in this intensively competitive market. One hasto come out of their cultural bubble when it comes to business. Afederal government of Export Development Canada (EDC) provides services toexporting companies in Canada. It provides information to assist people inexport development planning like translation considerations to respond toclient needs in various languages.
An increasing number of companies nowinclude text as well as audio-sound to sections on their websites to havebusiness benefits. Anexample of a cultural blunder is by the Heineken beer brand company during the1994 world cup. During the 1994 world cup, the company had flags of allcountries qualifying for the soccer tournament imprinted under the Heinekenbottles. Among the states was Saudi Arabia. The country’s flag has a verse fromthe Quran, a holy book of the Islam, which forbids the use of alcohol. As aresult, many Muslims complained about having the brewer display the Quranverse.
This is a cultural oversight that had Heineken stop their marketingcampaign, recall all the bottles, and create a new design, as it hurt thereligious sentiments of Saudi Arabia. The mistake they made is imprinting SaudiArabia’s flag that quotes a verse from the Quran, which forbids alcohol, onHeineken beer bottles. This blunder is probably due to the failure of theHeineken marketing team to learn the cultures of all the participatingcountries and understand their attitude towards alcohol. Attitudes towardsdrinking vary around the world. Therefore, it is advisable for alcohol-relatedcompanies to familiarize themselves with such drinking-related cultures toavoid blunders especially in setting marketing strategies.
IfI were in the manager in charge of the launch, I would acknowledge the terribleblunder and declare a public apology to the Islam community to resolve thecultural oversight. There are other ways Heineken would have conducted theirmarketing campaign to avoid touching the religious issue, as it is a verysensitive one. Vouchers for the winning team is one way; having the winningteam travel to a place of choice on their tab. Instead of imprinting flags onthe Heineken bottles, they would have used wristbands to show the countriesrepresented, which the people would take as souvenirs. Offering other souvenirslike branded t-shirts with imprinted names of participating countries wouldalso be a strategy. These would not have landed Heineken into an internationalbrand failure list.
Therefore, campaigns have to take into account on culturalnorms as they launch their products. In conclusion, a company requires a teamthat is culturally informed to prevent blunders on a global stage.