The ideal man: The challenge of national cultures for global brands

Michael Griffiths and William Landell Mills

Global brands need global propositions. Yet while the power of things like the internet, international trade and Hollywood have brought countries closer together, the reality is that national cultures will continue to remain highly idiosyncratic. International researchers know this from the questions they face day to day.

Why is a set of perfect white teeth imperative for Americans? Why are Chinese men so slow to trust each other? Why did the Italians re-elect Berlusconi on so many occasions? And come to that, why do German men think it is okay to walk around naked?

In each case the answer is cultural. Each culture has its own unique set of codes. The challenge for somebody with a global proposition is that these codes are largely invisible to those that live by them. In the same way that people don't think of themselves as having an accent when living at home, but are surprised when this becomes an object of amusement when they move away. We are blind to our culture. We are like goldfish swimming in water which we don't even notice.