TOKYO: Western and Eastern marketing cultures are very different, but bringing elements of the two together can help global brands be more relevant in Asia’s varied markets, a senior agency strategist has suggested.

According to Sanjay Nazerali, global chief strategy officer at Dentsu X, two cultural paradigms – individuality in the Western markets and collectivism in the Asian markets – play out not only in the type of marketing these countries produce but also in consumer behaviours and in society as a whole.

At Advertising Week Asia, Nazerali explained: “The woman in New York has bought this luxury handbag to say ‘I am an individual. I have achieved. I am me. I stand out from the crowd.’ The woman in Tokyo has bought the handbag to say ‘I belong. I am one of the crowd. I am one of the beautiful people’.

“These are very, very different concepts.” (For more insights on planning strategy in Western countries versus Asian countries, read WARC’s report: Bringing together East and West in marketing culture.)

American marketing strategy celebrates the individual, he pointed out. “We’re always going to celebrate the entrepreneur, the lonely hero.” But things are done differently in Asia: “we try to create a sense of family, a sense of unity, to try and understand how we can bring people together as a community.”

The challenge is finding a balance between the two, Nazerali said, as both approaches have their benefits.

“There is a possibility that we can think about groups and group identity in a very different way which is not about individuals, as the West would often say. It’s not about permanent groups as the East would often say.

“It’s that actually every single one of us belongs to different groups at different times of the day,” he argued, citing a person as part of a family, or a group of colleagues, or as football fan depending on what they are doing.

“If we start thinking about individuals and groups this way, it helps us to understand consumer insight in a very different way because we are targeting segments. We are targeting groups. But they’re people at specific points in time.”

Sourced from WARC