The Effects of Religion & Culture on Marketing in Saudi Arabia & the US
Proceedings of the Academy of Organizational Culture, Communications and Conflict Volume 22, Number 1 (2017)
Posted: 3 Sep 2019
Date Written: April 12, 2017
This research centers on the similarities and differences between the United States and Saudi Arabia both culturally and religiously and the effect of those factors on marketing practices in their respective countries. The customs of these two nations have a profound impact on the manner in which business is conducted, and this influence extends into the marketing world. When putting together a marketing campaign, one must first look at the audience being targeted and the values that hold most true to them. Saudi Arabia, as an Islamic nation, is made up of citizens who follow their religion rigorously. In Islam, women must be covered up in public and adhere to their roles as mothers and homemakers. Conversely, while the U.S. is a melting pot of numerous religions and cultures, Christianity has been recorded as the majority religion for years. America’s foundation of individuality and independence shines through in the separation of church and state, as well as in the changing gender roles that we see today. Women are fighting for their rights as equals and emerging as true leaders in the workforce, while some men are choosing to stay at home with their children. From a marketing standpoint, it is apparent that men and women in Saudi Arabia are looking for conservative advertisements aimed at the traditional, nuclear family while people in the U.S. are more geared toward innovative and revolutionized ways of thinking. In America, a mother is no longer just a housewife, but also a breadwinner, either in place of the husband or alongside him. In Saudi Arabia, men and women are separated in almost all aspects, including the business world, and even Western businesswomen are expected to wear conservative clothing and be in the accompaniment of a male when conducting business in the country. The role of the female is firmly placed within the household, and as such, marketers must take this cultural difference into account when creating ad content. Americans subscribe to the belief that sex sells and to see a provocative advertisement would not be out of the norm for the average citizen. However, if a commercial with sexual themes or undertones were to be advertised in Saudi Arabia, people would be scandalized and most likely boycott the product or firm in question. We use data from Hofstede's 6-dimensional model as well as the World Values Survey in order to examine marketing differences between Saudi Arabia and the USA. These findings will help to explore their effect on marketing strategies.
Keywords: Saudi Arabia Marketing, American Marketing, Cultural Differences
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