The cultural environment consists of the influence of religious, family, educational, and social systems in the marketing system. Marketers who intend to market their products overseas may be very sensitive to foreign cultures. While the differences between our cultural background in the United States and those of foreign nations may seem small, marketers who ignore these differences risk failure in implementing marketing programs. Failure to consider cultural differences is one of the primary reasons for marketing failures overseas.
This task is not as easy as it sounds as various features of a culture can create an illusion of similarity. Even a common language does not guarantee similarity of interpretation. For example, in the US we purchase "cans" of various grocery products, but the British purchase "tins". A number of cultural differences can cause marketers problems in attempting to market their products overseas. These include: (a) language, (b) color, (c) customs and taboos, (d) values, (e) aesthetics, (f) time, (g) business norms, (h) religion, and (i) social structures. Each is discussed in the following sections.