The effects of cultural distance on online brand popularity

Abstract

Given the increasing importance of social media in brand management, this research examines how cross-country cultural distance plays a role in determining brand popularity on social media. Based on cultural discount theory, this research develops hypotheses on how cultural, socioeconomic, and brand-related variables influence such online brand popularity. Our empirical analysis shows that online brand popularity is influenced by a country’s cultural characteristics, cultural distance, and interactions involving the cultural distance and each of three factors (economic prosperity measured by per capita GDP, social media accessibility measured by Internet penetration, and the brand’s global status measured by brand globalness). Further, this research notes two widely used national cultural dimension systems—Hofstede’s and Schwartz’—and empirically finds that Hofstede’s system has better validity in this research context. Finally, in focusing on the potential managerial applications of this research, we cluster and profile three groups of countries in international brand management: (1) individualistic, low uncertainty avoidance cultures, (2) high masculinity, short-term orientation cultures, and (3) collectivistic, high uncertainty avoidance cultures. This research has implications for marketing managers who make various brand decisions, ranging from selecting countries to enter, to tweaking glocalization strategies for optimal product offerings.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3

References

  1. Agarwal, S. 1994. Sociocultural distance and the choice of joint ventures: A contingency perspective. Journal of International Marketing 2 (2): 63–80.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Alden, D.L., E.M. Jan-Benedict, J.B.E.M. Steenkamp, and R. Batra. 1999. Brand positioning through advertising in Asia, North America, and Europe: The role of global consumer culture. Journal of Marketing 63 (1): 75–87.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Applbaum, K., and I. Jordt. 1996. Notes toward an application of McCracken’s “cultural categories” for cross-cultural consumer research. Journal of Consumer Research 23 (3): 204–218.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Baldus, B.J., C. Voorhees, and R. Calantone. 2015. Online brand community engagement: Scale development and validation. Journal of Business Research 68 (5): 978–985.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Banerjee, S. 2008. Strategic brand-culture fit: A conceptual framework for brand management. Journal of Brand Management 15 (5): 312–321.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Barkema, H.G., J.H.J. Bell, and J.M. Pennings. 1996. Foreign entry, cultural barriers, and learning. Strategic Management Journal 17 (2): 151–166.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Bell, B.A., M. Ene, W. Smiley, and J.A. Schoeneberger. 2013. A multilevel model primer using SAS® PROC MIXED, 1–19. Statistics and Data Analysis: SAS Global Forum.

    Google Scholar 

  8. Blut, M., N. Chowdhry, V. Mittal, and C. Brock. 2015. E-service quality: A meta-analytic review. Journal of Retailing 91 (4): 679–700.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Brouthers, K.D., and L.E. Brouthers. 2001. Explaining the national cultural distance paradox. Journal of International Business Studies 32 (1): 177–189.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Chandrasekaran, D., and G.J. Tellis. 2008. Global takeoff of new products: Culture, wealth, or vanishing differences? Marketing Science 27 (5): 844–860.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Chase, W.G., and H.A. Simon. 1973. Perception in chess. Cognitive Psychology 4 (1): 75–85.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Chen, Y., S. Fay, and Q. Wang. 2011. The role of marketing in social media: How online consumer reviews evolve. Journal of Interactive Marketing 25 (2): 85–94.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Chhokar, J.S., F.C. Brodbeck, and R.J. House, eds. 2008. Culture and Leadership Across the World: The GLOBE Book of In-Depth Studies of 25 Societies, Organization and Management Series. New York, NY: Taylor & Francis Group LLC.

    Google Scholar 

  14. Davvetas, V., and A. Diamantopoulos. 2016. How product category shapes preferences toward global and local brands: A schema theory perspective. Journal of International Marketing 24 (4): 61–81.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. De Mooij, M., and G. Hofstede. 2011. Cross-cultural consumer behavior: A review of research findings. Journal of International Consumer Marketing 23 (3–4): 181–192.

    Google Scholar 

  16. De Vries, N., and J. Carlson. 2014. Examining the drivers and brand performance implications of customer engagement with brands in the social media environment. Journal of Brand Management 21 (6): 495–515.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. De Vries, L., S. Gensler, and P.S.H. Leeflang. 2012. Popularity of brand posts on brand fan pages: An investigation of the effects of social media marketing. Journal of Interactive Marketing 26 (2): 83–91.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Dogi, I.C. 2015. Consumer ethnocentrism: A literature review. Agricultural Management 17 (2): 84–91.

    Google Scholar 

  19. Drogendijk, R., and A. Slangen. 2006. Hofstede, Schwartz, or managerial perceptions? The effects of different cultural distance measures on establishment mode choices by multinational enterprises. International Business Review 15 (4): 361–380.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Dziak, J.J., D.L. Coffman, S.T. Lanza, R. Li, and L.S. Jermiin. 2019. Sensitivity and specificity of information criteria. Briefings in Bioinformatics 21 (2): 1–13.

    Google Scholar 

  21. Erdem, T., J. Swait, and A. Valenzuela. 2006. Brands as signals: A cross-country validation study. Journal of Marketing 70 (1): 34–49.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. Featherstone, M. 1990. Perspectives on consumer culture. Sociology 24 (1): 5–22.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Feick, L.F., and L.L. Price. 1987. The market maven: A diffuser of marketplace information. Journal of Marketing 51 (1): 83–97.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Foscht, T., C. Maloles III., B. Swoboda, D. Morschett, and I. Sinha. 2008. The impact of culture on brand perceptions: A six-nation study. Journal of Product & Brand Management 17 (3): 131–142.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Gallaugher, J., and S. Ransbotham. 2010. Social media and customer dialog management at Starbucks. MIS Quarterly Executive 9 (4): 197–212.

    Google Scholar 

  26. Ganesan, S. 1994. Determinants of long-term orientation in buyer-seller relationships. Journal of Marketing 58 (2): 1–19.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. Goldman, A. 2001. The transfer of retail formats into developing economies: The examples of China. Journal of Retailing 77 (2): 221–242.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Gouveia, V.V. and Ros, M. (2000) Hofstede and Schwartz’s models for classifying individualism at the cultural level: Their relation to macro-social and macro-economic variables. Psicothema 12(Supl.1): 25–33.

  29. Hair, J.F., W.C. Black, B.J. Babin, and R.E. Anderson. 2010. Multivariate Data Analysis, 7th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

    Google Scholar 

  30. Hanna, R., A. Rohm, and V.L. Crittenden. 2011. We’re all connected: The power of the social media ecosystem. Business Horizons 54 (3): 265–273.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. Henseler, J., C. Horváth, M. Sarstedt, and L. Zimmermann. 2010. A cross-cultural comparison of brand extension success factors: A meta-study. Journal of Brand Management 18 (1): 5–20.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. Hirschman, A.O. 1964. The paternity of an index. The American Economic Review 54 (5): 761.

    Google Scholar 

  33. Hofstede, G., G.J. Hofstede, and M. Minkov. 2010. Cultures and Organizations: Software of the Mind, 3rd ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

    Google Scholar 

  34. Hook, M., S. Baxter, and A. Kulczynski. 2018. Antecedents and consequences of participation in brand communities: A literature review. Journal of Brand Management 25 (4): 277–292.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  35. Hoskins, C. and Mirus, R. (1988) Reasons for the U.S. dominance of the international trade in television programmes. Media, Culture & Society 10(4): 499–515.

  36. Hutter, K., J. Hautz, S. Dennhardt, and J. Füller. 2013. The impact of user interactions in social media on brand awareness and purchase intention: The case of MINI on Facebook. Journal of Product & Brand Management 22 (5/6): 342–351.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  37. Johansson, J.K., C.V. Dimofte, and S.K. Mazvancheryl. 2012. The performance of global brands in the 2008 financial crisis: A test of two brand value measures. International Journal of Research in Marketing 29 (3): 235–245.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  38. Johnson, E.J., and J.E. Russo. 1984. Product familiarity and learning new information. Journal of Consumer Research 11 (1): 542–550.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  39. Katona, Z., P.P. Zubcsek, and M. Sarvary. 2011. Network effects and personal influences: The diffusion of an online social network. Journal of Marketing Research 48 (3): 425–443.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  40. Kim, C.K., and J.Y. Chung. 1997. Brand popularity, country image and market share: An empirical study. Journal of International Business Studies 28 (2): 361–386.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  41. Kim, M.-Y., S. Moon, and D. Iacobucci. 2019. The influence of brand globalness distribution on brand popularity on social media. Journal of International Marketing 27 (4): 22–38.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  42. Kogut, B., and H. Singh. 1988. The effect of national culture on the choice of entry mode. Journal of International Business Studies 19 (3): 411–432.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  43. Larson, K.L., M. Ott, and J.M. Miles. 2010. International cultural immersion: En vivo reflections in cultural competence. Journal of Cultural Diversity 17 (2): 44–50.

    Google Scholar 

  44. Lee, F.L.F. 2006. Cultural discount and cross-culture predictability: Examining the box office performance of American movies in Hong Kong. Journal of Media Economics 19 (4): 259–278.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  45. Lee, F.L.F. 2008. Hollywood movies in East Asia: Examining cultural discount and performance predictability at the box office. Asian Journal of Communication 18 (2): 117–136.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  46. Lee, F.L.F. (2009) Cultural discount of cinematic achievement: The academy awards and U.S. movies’ East Asian box office. Journal of Cultural Economics 33(4): 239–263.

  47. Lee, H., D. Lee, C. Taylor, and J. Lee. 2011. Do online brand communities help build and maintain relationships with consumers? A network theory approach. Journal of Brand Management 19 (3): 213–227.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  48. Leonard-Barton, D. 1985. Expert as negative opinion leaders in the diffusion of a technological innovation. Journal of Consumer Research 11 (4): 914–926.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  49. Lin, S., and X. Ke. 2010. Chinese glocalization – a study of intergenerational residence in urban China. Journal of Consumer Marketing 27 (7): 638–644.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  50. Ma, J., S. Wang, and W. Hao. 2012. Does cultural similarity matter? Extending the animosity model from a new perspective. Journal of Consumer Marketing 29 (5): 319–332.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  51. Madupu, V., and D.O. Cooley. 2010. Antecedents and consequences of online brand community participation: A conceptual framework. Journal of Internet Commerce 9 (2): 127–147.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  52. Mainka, A., Hartmann, S., Stock, W.G. and Peters, I. (2014) Government and social media: A case study of 31 informational world cities. Proceedings of the 47th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences; 6–9 January 2014, Waikoloa, Hawaii. Washington, DC: IEEE Computer Society, pp. 1715–1724.

  53. Manev, I.M., and W.B. Stevenson. 2001. Nationality, cultural distance, and expatriate status: Effects on the managerial network in a multinational enterprise. Journal of International Business Studies 32 (2): 285–303.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  54. McAlexander, J.H., J.W. Schouten, and H.F. Koenig. 2002. Building brand community. Journal of Marketing 66 (1): 38–54.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  55. McCracken, G. 1986. Culture and consumption: A theoretical account of the structure and movement of the cultural meaning of consumer goods. Journal of Consumer Research 13 (1): 71–84.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  56. McGrath, H., and T. O’Toole. 2014. A cross-cultural comparison of the network capability development of entrepreneurial firms. Industrial Marketing Management 43 (6): 897–910.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  57. Melewar, T., M. Meadows, W. Zheng, and R. Rickards. 2004. The influence of culture on brand building in the Chinese market: A brief insight. Journal of Brand Management 11 (6): 449–461.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  58. Money, R.B., and J.C. Crotts. 2003. The effect of uncertainty avoidance on information search, planning, and purchases of international travel vacations. Tourism Management 24 (2): 191–202.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  59. Moon, S., and R. Song. 2015. The roles of cultural elements in international retailing of cultural products: An application to the motion picture industry. Journal of Retailing 91 (1): 154–170.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  60. Morgan, R.M., and S.D. Hunt. 1994. The commitment-trust theory of relationship marketing. Journal of Marketing 58 (3): 20–38.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  61. Morosini, P., S. Shane, and H. Singh. 1998. National cultural distance and cross-border acquisition performance. Journal of International Business Studies 29 (1): 137–158.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  62. Muniz, A.M., Jr., and T.C. O’Guinn. 2001. Brand community. Journal of Consumer Research 27 (4): 412–432.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  63. Nakata, C., and K. Sivakumar. 1996. National culture and new product development: An integrative review. Journal of Marketing 60 (1): 61–72.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  64. Neelamegham, R., and P. Chintagunta. 1999. A Bayesian model to forecast new product performance in domestic and international markets. Marketing Science 18 (2): 115–136.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  65. Nevins, J.L., and R.B. Money. 2008. Performance implications of distributor effectiveness, trust, and culture in import channels of distribution. Industrial Marketing Management 37 (1): 46–58.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  66. Ng, S.I., J.A. Lee, and G.N. Soutar. 2007. Are Hofstede’s and Schwartz’s value frameworks congruent? International Marketing Review 24 (2): 164–180.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  67. O’Cass, A., and K. Lim. 2002. Toward understanding the young consumer’s brand associations and ethnocentrism in the lion’s port. Psychology & Marketing 19 (9): 759–775.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  68. Oyserman, D., H.M. Coon, and M. Kemmelmeier. 2002. Rethinking individualism and collectivism: Evaluation of theoretical assumptions and meta-analyses. Psychological Bulletin 128 (1): 3–72.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  69. Özsomer, A. 2012. The interplay between global and local brands: A closer look at perceived brand globalness and local iconness. Journal of International Marketing 20 (2): 72–95.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  70. Park, H.-J., and N.J. Rabolt. 2009. Cultural value, consumption value, and global brand image: A cross-national study. Psychology & Marketing 26 (8): 714–735.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  71. Pinto, M.B., and A. Yagnik. 2017. Fit for life: A content analysis of fitness tracker brands use of Facebook in social media marketing. Journal of Brand Management 24 (1): 49–67.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  72. Pothukuchi, V., F.Z. Damanpour, J. Choi, C.C. Chen, and S.H. Park. 2002. National and organizational culture differences and international joint venture performance. Journal of International Business Studies 33 (2): 243–265.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  73. Raj, S.P. 1985. Striking a balance between brand “popularity” and brand loyalty. Journal of Marketing 49 (1): 53–59.

    Google Scholar 

  74. Rieger, M.O., M. Wang, and T. Hens. 2015. Risk preferences around the world. Management Science 61 (3): 637–648.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  75. Roth, M.S. 1995. The effects of culture and socioeconomics on the performance of global brand image strategies. Journal of Marketing Research 32 (2): 163–175.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  76. Schau, H.J., A.M. Muñiz Jr., and E.J. Arnould. 2009. How brand community practices create value. Journal of Marketing 73 (5): 30–51.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  77. Schippers, M. 2007. Recovering the feminine other: Masculinity, femininity, and gender hegemony. Theory and Society 36 (1): 85–102.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  78. Schwartz, S.H. 1994. Beyond individualism/collectivism: New cultural dimensions of values. In Individualism and Collectivism: Theory, Method, and Applications, vol. 18, ed. U. Kim, H.C. Triandis, Ç. Kâğitçibaşi, S.C. Choi, and G. Yoon, 85–119. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

    Google Scholar 

  79. Schwartz, S.H. 1999. A theory of cultural values some implications for work. Applied Psychology: An International Review 48 (1): 23–47.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  80. Shaiq, H.M.A., H.M.S. Khalid, A. Akram, and B. Ali. 2011. Why not everybody loves Hofstede? What are the alternative approaches to study of culture? European Journal of Business and Management 3 (6): 101–111.

    Google Scholar 

  81. Sharma, S., T.A. Shimp, and J. Shin. 1995. Consumer ethnocentrism: A test of antecedents and moderators. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science 23 (1): 26–37.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  82. Shenkar, O. 2001. Cultural distance revisited: Towards a more rigorous conceptualization and measurement of cultural differences. Journal of International Business Studies 32 (3): 519–535.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  83. Soares, A.M., M. Farhangmehr, and A. Shoham. 2007. Hofstede’s dimensions of culture in international marketing studies. Journal of Business Research 60 (3): 277–284.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  84. Stieglitz, S., and L. Dang-Xuan. 2013. Emotions and information diffusion in social media—sentiment of microblogs and sharing behavior. Journal of Management Information Systems 29 (4): 217–247.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  85. Straubhaar, J. 1991. Beyond media imperialism: Asymmetrical interdependence and cultural proximity. Critical Studies in Mass Communication 8 (1): 39–59.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  86. Strizhakova, Y., and R.A. Coulter. 2015. Drivers of local relative to global brand purchases: A contingency approach. Journal of International Marketing 23 (1): 1–22.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  87. Torelli, C.J., A. Özsomer, S.W. Carvalho, H.T. Keh, and N. Maehle. 2012. Brand concepts as representations of human values: Do cultural congruity and compatibility between values matter? Journal of Marketing 76 (4): 92–108.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  88. Tsai, W.-H.S., and L.R. Men. 2012. Cultural values reflected in corporate pages on popular social network sites in China and the United States. Journal of Research in Interactive Marketing 6 (1): 42–58.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  89. Tsimonis, G., and S. Dimitriadis. 2014. Brand strategies in social media. Marketing Intelligence & Planning 32 (3): 328–344.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  90. Tucker, C.E. 2014. Social networks, personalized advertising, and privacy controls. Journal of Marketing Research 51 (5): 546–562.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  91. VanMeter, R.A., D.B. Grisaffe, and L.B. Chonko. 2015. Of “Likes” and “Pins”: The effects of consumers’ attachment to social media. Journal of Interactive Marketing 32: 70–88.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  92. Vishwanath, A. 2003. Comparing online information effects: A cross-cultural comparison of online information and uncertainty avoidance. Communication Research 30 (6): 579–598.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  93. Voss, R.S., A.D. Lucas, and S.A. Ward. 2014. Supranational culture II: Comparison of Schwartz value survey data against Hofstede, GLOBE, and Minkov as predictors of civilizational affiliation. International Journal of the Academic Business World 8 (2): 63–76.

    Google Scholar 

  94. Wall, M., and L.A. Heslop. 1986. Consumer attitudes toward Canadian-made versus imported products. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science 14 (2): 27–36.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  95. Watson, J.J., and K. Wright. 2000. Consumer ethnocentrism and attitudes toward domestic and foreign products. European Journal of Marketing 34 (9/10): 1149–1166.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  96. Yaveroglu, I.S., and N. Donthu. 2002. Cultural influences on the diffusion of new products. Journal of International Consumer Marketing 14 (4): 49–63.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  97. Yeniyurt, S., J.D. Townsend, and M.B. Talay. 2007. Factors influencing brand launch in a global marketplace. Journal of Product Innovation Management 24 (5): 471–485.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  98. Yu, M., F. Liu, and J.A. Lee. 2019. Consumers’ responses to negative publicity: The influence of culture on information search and negative word-of-mouth. Journal of Brand Management 26 (2): 141–156.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  99. Zhang, M., J. Chebat, and H. Zourrig. 2012. Assessing the psychometric properties of Hofstede’s versus Schwartz’s cultural values of Chinese customers. Journal of International Consumer Marketing 24 (5): 304–319.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  100. Zhang, Y., M. Trusov, A.T. Stephen, and Z. Jamal. 2017. Online shopping and social media: Friends or foes? Journal of Marketing 81 (6): 24–41.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgements

We thank Timo Mandler, a graduate student at the University of Hamburg, for providing crucial data for this research. We also thank Dawn Iacobucci, E. Bronson Ingram Professor of Management in Marketing at Vanderbilt University, for her insightful comments on this research. We appreciate the support of Hankuk University of Foreign Studies Research Fund of 2020.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Sangkil Moon.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of interest

On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.

Additional information

Publisher's Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Kim, MY., Moon, S. The effects of cultural distance on online brand popularity. J Brand Manag (2021). https://doi.org/10.1057/s41262-020-00227-1

Download citation

Keywords

  • Cross-cultural research
  • Social media
  • Brand communities
  • Regression analysis
  • Multidimensional scaling
  • Segmentation