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Does Cultural Branding Beat Strategy?
By: Cindy Wendland
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What impact do cultural differences have on the success of a product? Some people feel that culture beats strategy every time. No matter how good your strategy is in your market, if you haven’t modified your product to cater to the culture, the product will not succeed. This is the case not just if you are crossing the oceans to other countries, but also right here at home.

America used to be known as the great melting pot. In fact we never melted at all, but distinct subcultures exist in all our cities and towns. These cultural differences are apparent with Hispanics, Hmongs, African Americans, Polish, Italian, and the list goes on. Within these communities products can live or die depending on whether the product is sensitive to the culture. Healthcare marketing is an even greater challenge.

In healthcare marketing, we have found that the community culture has a deep and influential impact. In order to raise awareness about the importance of health (which impacts health club memberships, healthier foods, health screenings and more) we first need to understand what the culture sees as typical. In African American communities, high blood pressure and diabetes are commonplace, so family members see that situation as normal, rather than as something to prevent. 

A thought shift needs to occur to help the culture understand that a healthy state should be normal. Once that shift is achieved, products can be marketed to help move people to a healthy state. Without the cultural shift, health product marketing won’t be successful. The best planned strategy of promoting and reaching the customer won’t make the desired sales impact if the culture is not in agreement that a need and problem exists. Once cultural understanding or a shift is achieved, the strategy can be implemented to finish the job.

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About the Author
Cindy Wendland has a background in marketing and finance. She is the creative director for an online men's health magazine, BrainBrawnBody.com, and she gets to write their leisure/travel blog. She is also a web designer helping her clients with online community engagement, websitesbywendland.com. Prior to her web years, she worked in pharmacy consulting.
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