Influence of Culture on Car Marketing in German

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To the Germans cars play a very central role in their lives.  This is so much so that German technology in the car industry is renowned world over of its workmanship and quality.  Through its history, German has experienced separation, the latest being after WWII when German was divide into East andWest Germany. Through this time, both sides had different dynamics of life.  They also experienced dissimilar economic progression with the west which took up capitalism experiencing much more rapid and robust economic growth as opposed to the east which took up socialism.

With this in mind right from the day of the separation, car manufacturers both local and international have had to apply two strategies when dealing with German market-one for the west and another for the east.  This could be explained by the cultural differences as a result of the post war period. It has been found that, consumerist practices in the east developed differently than in the west.  Additionally, this consumerist culture was not as clear-cut in the east as it was in the west.


Having established that culture is the way people do things, it is thus logical that when companies are looking to influence the purchase decision of people towards their products.  As such, culture will entail what has been learnt inline with religion, language, aesthetics, law and politics, technology and material culture, social organization, education and values and attitudes.

What has been found to be true over time is that in centrally planned economies like the one inEast Germany, consumers did develop different skill from consumers in market economies likeWest Germany.  In planned economies, the skills were in locating products-given the perennial shortage, while their counterparts in the market economy developed skills in comparing and deciding between products-abundance resulted in variety.  In deed inEast Germany, the products available were designed to satisfy the quantity component of consumer needs.

The cars in theEast Germanywere designed for intended to move population from one place to another. Comfort and safety features were not prioritized.  In West Germany, it did not matter that consumers could move from one point to another, the safety of car consumers and their comfort while using cars were decision that were considered critical and thus needed to be addressed before consumers could be offered products.  As such inWest Germany, consumers could choose from Mercedes, BMW, Audi and Volkswagen all of which are legendary for attention to detail in terms of comfort and safety. InEast Germany, this luxury on choice was very narrow.  On either owned a Trabant or any other brand coming fromEastern Europe– Wartburg or Lada.

Over time though the Germans were initially one nation, this division and the cultural adaptations to the prevailing conditions are still visible to-date.  With the unification of East andWest Germanyto one country, consumers in formerEast Germanyare not affected by marketing techniques used so successfully with a population with capitalist inclinations.  Instead they seem to have acquired a taste for the bland and not so glitzy marketing.  Similarly, products produced in the formerEast Germany, can not seem to find a foothold in the West (Hinck, Cortes & James, 2004).  In some cases despite rebranding, these products carry with them a certain perception in the west.  In the East however, the acceptability seems not to have been affected.  The marketing seems to be slowly realizing that not East German products were bland and that in fact, consumers brought up in the east have acquired a taste for these products and as such create a demand that can not be wished away or ignored.  The marketing industry has therefore been forced to focus on bringing reliable well-known products back to consumer’s choice basket.  Skoda cars are a case in point.

Another aspect that has gained prominence in trying to explain the cultural influence of the East and West Germans on marketing especially for cars is language.  Both Germans’ (East and West) shared a common language.  However due to the challenges of life in theEast Germany, people learnt to speak in riddles and with a lot of sarcasm.  This was necessitated by the desire to circumvent the oppressive regulations put in place to stifle freedom of expression.  This was unlike the west where this freedom was enshrined ad protected by the law.

As such the people ofWest Germanycould express themselves freely without the need of using code in their conversations.  This background defined the kind of strategy employed.  Despite the fact that the German language is not high in context culture verbal communication, in the East it did develop toward conformity with this.  In line with this, marketers have had to design campaigns with the high context culture in mind (Onkvist & Shaw, 2004).  This has entailed the use of campaigns with hidden meaning since consumers are already inclined to look for hidden meaning even where none exists.  Additionally, campaigns have had to use not only world but also the body language of the one passing on the message.

Religion has also found itself gaining prominence especially with regards with consumers from theEast Germany.  With the oppression that was part of the communism era, East Germans came to rely on religion to offer reprieve and solace from daily challenges.  To the West Germans, the freedom accorded to them ensured that though they enjoyed practicing their religion, they were not so religious.  Where as marketers could get away with concepts that were borderline provocative in the west this was not the case in the east.  As a result with the unification, marketers have had to tread the line between what is acceptable and what is outright provocative given the background of the consuming public (Lass & Hart, 2004).  It has become the responsibility of marketers to ensure their campaigns are not offensive, unlawful or distasteful to all the consuming population.  This is with regards to marketing and branding.  Marketers have not shied from using these positives to sell their products.

Between the East Germans and those from the West, there is a clear, distinct and discernable difference in the value and attitudes as espoused by the consumers (Martín-Santana & Beerli-Palacio, 2008).  Where as former West German consumers may be permissible to a lot and may even push the envelop in some instance, those from the East Germany are by nature more conservative with a highly developed and rigid value system coupled with attitudes to boot.  A lot of what is permissible in the west may be offensive in the East.  With this in mind, marketers have had to be very creative in their work.  They have endeavored and succeeded in making both consumers feel the campaigns are not only acceptable but also mind provoking and controversial to acceptable standards.  This has ensured the campaigns have achieved the result of creating awareness and most importantly sales.  Germans remain the highest consumers of German made cars.

Social organizations have also had their contribution on how marketers maneuvered while creating campaigns for different products.  In line with this,Germanyis a highly integrated and progressive society.  Women play a leading role and are no longer viewed as homemakers only but as partners in progress.  Currently,Germanyis lead by a woman who has her political roots in the formerEast Germany. Germanyis additionally a society that is very diverse with it opening its borders to immigrants to the extent that in the past decade, Germans with migrant background have slowly gained acceptance in the national football team.  It is with this in mind that marketers have had to redesign their campaign to ensure they not only use people with clear migrant background in the campaigns but also make sure the campaigns will be not only acceptable but also will excite and elicit purchase by the immigrant community (Waldeck & Von Gosen, 2007).  The challenge has been to design campaigns that bring out the diversity of the German people in addition to celebrating this diversity.

Germans both from the former East and West are frugal to a fault.  Unlike the Americans who have driven their economic growth through consumption, Germans have driven their economic growth through savings.  Germans are additionally known to have one of the most attractive social benefits.  The German social safety net is designed to make sure, the population does not suffer in their later years especially if they have faithfully and religiously contributed to the growth of the country economy (Ekerete, 2001).  German additionally has one of the best wage packages inEurope.  However despite this entire positive, the part of the country that was formallyEast Germanyhas been going through rough times.

With technological advancement and considering the former East Germany government and company’s were not so enthusiastic on keeping up, there has been an unfortunate fall in incomes and earning power in this regions (Hermeking, 2005).  Marketers have to put this into picture as they design their campaigns.  Given that they can not afford to price discriminate or segment, they thus need to create campaign that are very innovative and personalized in offering solutions that will strike the right cord with the intended and targeted consumer population.


When all is said and done, marketers must be aware that former East and West German consumers display clearly distinct and unique consumption habits and respond differently to stimuli (Aaker & Briley, 2005).  Former West German consumers will be exhibit tendencies towards heightened product perception as opposed to the brother from the former East who will be more fuzzy-basic perceptual dimension will be the same.  Former East Germans because of the conditions that prevailed in the country will be having more individualistic values.  Their brother on the other hand will get to the value more quickly when analyzing a product for its concrete product attributes.  They will also tend to start with the more abstract attributes before tackling the specific which is the opposite with their brothers from the formerEast Germany.