Identify and discuss some of the cultural meanings for Sony possessed by consumers in your country. Discuss how these cultural meanings were developed and how they influence consumers’ behaviors (and affect and cognition). What is the role of marketing strategies in creating and maintaining (or modifying) these cultural meanings?
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Sony products are seen as high-quality, innovative items. It is necessary to note that the vast majority of Japanese products have the same reputation. In the USA, Sony is valued for its quality and innovation. Apart from that, Sony also possesses a meaning of freedom and equity. Sony products (especially the famous Walkman) are characterized by the development of personalized rituals. People listen to music they like, and their Walkman (as well as their PlayStation) can reveal peculiarities of the person’s character. Du Gay et al. (2013) note that these meanings have been evolving for decades (Peter & Olson, 2009).
It is possible to state that one of the major grounds of the meanings created was the company’s attention to quality in each item. More so, the marketing strategies used proved to be very successful. Thus, the idea to introduce an extraterrestrial character, Plato, to promote the products was beneficial for the company. This character stressed the idea of equity and freedom from cultural bias. Thus, the head of Sony US personal-mobile products, Ron Boire, noted that the character was perfect for the multicultural global market as an “alien is no one, so an alien is everyone” (Peter & Olson, 2009, p. 306). Hence, now the company’s products possess particular meanings concerning culture. The marketing strategy based on the use of the focus on no one in particular but everyone, at the same time, helped Sony add a certain meaning to its products. Sony is for all people irrespective of their cultures, status, or anything.
It is often stated that the world is becoming smaller because today people can communicate relatively easily across time and distance. Discuss whether that has been beneficial for Sony. What are some marketing challenges it presents?
Globalization has both positive and negative effects on any company that operates globally. On the one hand, Sony can access new markets and gain many loyal customers. The company’s marketing strategies can also be delivered very quickly and reach millions of people through the Internet and TV. At the same time, there can be certain challenges. Peter and Olson (2009) note that when marketing some products in different countries, it is crucial to take into account cultural peculiarities as well as the values of people living there. It is possible to assume that Sony is doing a lot to meet people’s expectations. Thus, when releasing Spiderman 3 in India, it was decided to dub the film in Hindi, Telugu, Tamil, and Bhojpuri, which are “four major Indian languages” (Wang, 2008, p. 209). The film was very successful and collected $14 million in India by the end of May 2007. Hence, the company used an effective marketing strategy that paid attention to the cultural peculiarities of people living in a region, and the company earned a lot of money. Thus, globalization is a positive thing, but companies have to be very careful and make sure that they understand the cultural peculiarities of their potential customers.
What do you think about Sony’s tradition of region-specific or nation-specific marketing? Would Sony be better served by working to create a more uniform global image?
In the first place, it is necessary to note that Sony’s success suggests that the company’s strategies are effective. The company is famous for its region-specific marketing, and an example of this strategy (as well as its outcomes) has been mentioned above. At the same time, the introduction of Plato can be seen as an example of an attempt to create a more uniform global image. Clearly, the character can easily fit in the US market. However, it can also be effective globally as the global market is also diverse, and the message entailed in character can also become understood by people from different cultural backgrounds. Some may think that it is better to develop a universal strategy as it will save a lot of time and effort since there will be no need for the development of region-specific approaches.
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Nonetheless, it would be most beneficial for the company to utilize a mixed approach. Thus, the company could work on a uniform global strategy but come up with region-specific strategies from time to time. This would help the company attract more customers and meet the needs of existing ones. Development of region-specific strategies will also show care of the company and readiness to listen to people and understand their needs and wants.
What kinds of factors do you think Sony considers when deciding how to market its products in various countries? How might its American marketing efforts differ from those in Japan or Europe?
When developing a marketing strategy to promote the company’s products in a specific country, it is crucial to pay attention to people’s cultural peculiarities and values. Thus, even the name of a product can make it a complete failure in a new market as it can evoke unpleasant associations (Peter & Olson, 2009).
As for Sony, it has to be sensitive to regional characteristics as well. For instance, in the USA, the introduction of Plato helps create the following message: Sony’s products are for everyone irrespective of race, religion, social and economic status. This is very important for the American multicultural society. It is also noteworthy that such products as Walkman or PlayStation are perfect for Americans as they emphasize individualism. Thus, the company is working on the development of a PlayStation that would accommodate the entire house to the needs of one individual (Peter & Olson, 2009). This strategy has to be somewhat different in Europe and Japan. European society is very similar to North American, as many of these countries share similar values. One of the major similarities is individualism. However, it can be important to find some important concepts that will make people of a particular country buy Sony products. As for Japan, it is essential to emphasize the collective character of Sony Products. Thus, Walkman is a way to enjoy listening to music without annoying people around. PlayStation can also become a tool to accommodate different parts of the house to meet the needs of all members of the family.
Describe the benefits Sony gets from some of the international alliances mentioned in this case study. Do you believe Sony needs to become more aggressive in forming such partnerships?
Alliance with such companies as Toshiba was beneficial for Sony as the company cooperated with another Japanese multinational famous for its quality (Peter & Olson, 2009). The products created in cooperation with Toshiba are very successful. At the same time, it seems that Sony has an adequate alliance policy. It should not become more aggressive as it cooperates with a successful business when it is necessary. So far, the company has remained one of the leaders in the global market. It created its own culture, and its products possess particular meanings that are clear to consumers.
It is possible to assume that excessive alliances can negatively affect the company’s image. The company may lose its core values and culture. Sony became famous due to its specific attention to innovations created within the company. In other words, the company has an image of an innovator who can make a difference. Therefore, it can be beneficial to continue developing in that direction. Clearly, if the company starts having tough times, it is possible to consider cooperating with other companies. Clearly, it will be crucial to choose partners that share similar values and are ready to create products that possess particular meanings.
Du Gay, P., Hall, S., Janes, L., Madsen, A.K., Mackay, H., Negus, K. (2013). Doing cultural studies: The story of the Sony Walkman. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.
Peter, J.P., & Olson, J. (2009). Consumer behavior. Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill/Irwin.
Wang, D. (2008). Globalization of the media: Does it undermine national cultures? Intercultural Communication Studies, XVII(2), 203-211.