C Transforming International Marketing into Intercultural Marketing: The Integrative, Multidimensional Analytical diagram and its Implementation in Indonesia


“When looking at a geographically defined but culturally complex region such as Southeast Asia, it is immediately evident that the convenience of geography belies a highly complex and rich diversity of cultures. Lack of familiarity with those cultures overlays a new set of problems upon the existing or ‘old’ problems commonly experienced by firms operating in the domestic marketplace. The ‘new’ problems alluded to are encompassed by the marketing and branding process in a cultural context where diversity creates inconsistencies of interpretation, association and perception.” (McDonald and Roberts 2000: 6-7)


Summary This chapter is broken down into three parts. A discussion of theoretical premises of culture and the different concepts and definitions of culture operationalization will precede the work’s underlying research framework and its application in the Indonesian context. After the content and objective of international marketing have been introduced theoretically and practically (Part B), the ethnocentric perspective of international marketing will be augmented in a cultural sense. That means culture and its influence on consumers and marketing will be given an appropriate role and an adequate position due to its importance as influencing factors on international marketing (which could then be called intercultural marketing). Following the chapter introduction, the definition of culture and the research methodology, the presentation of the ten orientations developed to facilitate intercultural marketing strategies will be presented. The presentation and definition of each orientation is followed by the analysis of cultural elements which are to explain Indonesian consumer behaviour. In a further part, the repercussions of the orientations and consumer behaviour are shown. Upon presentation of the ten orientations, a summary of this analysis’ results will follow.

C.1  Typologies of cultures as dilemmas for international marketing and their influence on selected aspects of consumer behaviour

C.1.1  Introduction

Intercultural marketing as an applied science is still in its early stages of development and implementation in Southeast Asia like in Europe. Whereas in the field of international marketing there is already a comprehensive list of text and handbooks (see for example: Johansson 2000; Kotler, Ang, Leong and Tan 2003; Czinkota and Ronkainen 2004; Jeannet and Hennessey 2001; Cateora and Graham 2004; Deresky 2006; Kotabe and Helsen 2004; Backhaus, Büschken and Voeth 2005), the list on culture comparative monographs and collections on Asia in general and Southeast Asia in particular (see for example: Leong, Ang and Tan 2001; Schütte and Ciarlante 1999; Pecotich and Shultz II 1998), is relatively short. On the whole, with few exceptions, business studies deals with the phenomenon of culture in a principally descriptive and anecdotal way. In spite of recognizing cultural differences in consumer behaviour, these are often prone to failure due to weaknesses of measuring instruments (Winter 1986: 598). Every company which would like to operate internationally has to ask itself the following question: should or can it process several differing foreign markets in a standardized way (i.e. using known strategies and instruments from the domestic market), or should it proceed in a differentiated way (customized to the respective culturally influenced market conditions)? The decision to act in a more or less differentiated way bears the following key question within the company’s decision-making-scope: in what way should a company customize? While the room for decision-making is limited (for example when it is a question of the influence of legal factors) in other cases the advantages must be weighed up carefully against the disadvantages. Simply put, the answer is easy. The cultural environment is always an influential parameter in the decision-making process for marketing when culturally sensitive services in heterogeneous cultural environments need to be marketed. But how exactly is culture to be understood and how can different cultures be compared?

C.1.2  Approaching the construct “culture“

C.1.2.1  Definitions

Although at first glance the expression “culture” appears to be comparatively unequivocal, upon closer inspection it reveals itself to be ambiguous. This is owing not least to the fact that several scientific disciplines and intellectual traditions of thought used this term in a subject-specific and therefore often different manner. In the Anglo-Saxon world, the word “culture” (Latin “colo, -ere”, with its root meaning "to cultivate") was first revealed in printed format in 1483 in the sense of worship and reverential homage. How the expression was interpreted has changed over time. At the beginning of the 20th century, meaningful culture was ostracized from “indifferent nature“. Nature gives rise to spontaneously growing natural products from mother earth. Culture, on the other hand, is that which is created by mankind, for example created by ploughing and sowing (processing nature). It has been only since the end of the 18th century that the expression has been used in the context of comparing progress of mankind and various societies (for example, the European, Asian or African culture). Because it is largely unknown why culture developed in different ways and what differences signify, the concept has been criticized by some as random. Baeker (1985: 1) considers the concept of culture as a European ethnocentric construction. Therefore, a binding core definition would neither be available nor expected in the future. Various theories or currents can be differentiated according to whether they focus on the genesis of culture more or less statically (Sobrevilla 1971). Thus in the 19th century a static-universal-anthropological concept dominated, contributing to the interchangeability of the terms “culture“ and “region” in various disciplines (for example Middle Eastern and Oriental studies which continue to use both concepts interchangeably today). In the first half of the 20th century a division between anthropology and sociology occurred which was equally the result and the expression of a then acute rivalry between both disciplines. In contrast to anthropologists who retained their original static conception and interpreted culture in terms of behavioural patterns (culture patterns), sociologists developed a comparatively dynamic perspective. They interpreted society as a social structure, i.e. as a network or system of social relationships, for which culture provides the context. Hofstede (1999) describes culture metaphorically as “software of the mind” and Jaeger (1986: 179) as “mental programs that are shared”. Both describe culture in a scientific language as a specific combination of (1) values, (2) basic underlying beliefs and (3) presumptions for a society (about humankind and the world). The effects of various cultural influences on several behavioural areas were systematically investigated in the course of the research discipline’s development. These included consumer behaviour, negotiation and conflict management, the former being the research subject of this thesis.


It was also a sociologist who, with his analysis, started the field of research into cultural studies in whose tradition intercultural marketing is steeped: Max Weber. Rather as a structure (What is culture?) and genesis (How and why cultures develop in different ways?) the consequences of culture and religion interested him (Müller and Kornmeier 2000: 87; Inglehart 1998: 302). Weber justified his cultural concept anthropologically, and from the perspective of marketing research it could be said that he rejected the naïve unstructured empiricisms and he postulated that hermeneutics is the most important method.

Many definitions, mostly vague and abstract, have been formulated for culture (Kroeber and Kluckhohn 1952). Some say that no definition of such a complex construct as culture is possible (post-structuralism). Deconstructing culture and its elements is, in their view, objectionable as it suppresses historical and diachronic analyses, a method described as reductionistic. They argue that culture is too complex, and has no structure or entity. Contrary to the above, there are the structuralists’ approaches. According to structuralist theory in anthropology, meaning within a culture is produced and reproduced through various practices, phenomena and activities which serve as systems of signification. Structuralists study activities as diverse as food preparation and serving rituals, religious rites, games, literary and non-literary texts, and other forms of entertainment to discover the deep structures through which meaning is produced and reproduced within a culture.

Hall, who offers significant descriptions of culture, traces the difficulties of a definition of culture not back to its complexity, but to the limits of language to describe culture. He argues (1976: 57):


“The paradox of culture is that language, the system most frequently used to describe culture, is by nature poorly adapted to this difficult task. It is too linear, not comprehensive enough, too slow, too limited, too constrained, too unnatural, too much a product of its own evolution, unnatural, and too artificial.” (Hall 1976: 57)

Onkvisit and Shaw (1993: 257) give the following definition: “… culture is a set of traditional beliefs and values that are passed from generation to generation”. Culture, it seems, is usually transmitted from parents to children, but social organizations, interest groups, the government, schools and religious institutions also come into play. “Culture is prescriptive, …facilitates communication, … is subjective, … is enduring, … is cumulative, … is dynamic” (Onkvisit and Shaw 1993: 257). The development of collective mindsets and behaviours is intensified by social pressure (Czinkota and Ronkainen 1993: 154). Despite many different definitions of culture, anthropologists seem to agree on three of its characteristics (Hall 1976: 16):


“[Culture] is not innate, but learned; the various facets of culture are interrelated – you touch a culture in one place and everything else is affected; it is shared and in effect defines the boundaries of different groups.” (Hall 1976: 16)

Of the many possibilities of definitions of cultures, one definition and view of culture proved to be particularly suited to the meaning of “culture” in the context of international marketing und will be discussed in the following paragraphs.

C.1.2.2 Theoretical basis


The theoretical basis’ common deficit negatively influences comparative cultural research (Holzmüller 1989). Basically the methodological structure of culture comparative management research (Redding 1994: 332) can be differentiated from nomothetic and ideographic research strategies. Weber, Parsons, Kroeber and Kluckhohn and Porter’s research strategies are, according to Redding, (1994: 332) rather nomothetic, as is Hofstede’s strategy. Intercultural marketing’s requirement profile deems the choice of a nomothetic research strategy necessary, since this thesis aims to develop an appropriate analytical diagram which will serve further research projects both in country-wide culture comparisons and on other comparison levels, that of ethnic groups, for example.

Culture in the framework of this thesis, is understood as an explanatory construct which is operationalized and thus comprehensively comparable. Since an appropriate initial definition of culture needs to be made, culture, for the purpose of this thesis, is understood as a binding orientation system for society or group members (for example members of an ethnic group).

Hofstede (2005: 4), whose cultural analysis has been widely adopted in the arena of international management and partly in international marketing, shares the idea that culture is learned and not innate and therefore derives from one’s social environment rather than from one’s genes. Hofstede (1993: 19) sees culture as a collective programming of the mind, i.e. culture is always a collective phenomenon, “because it is at least partly shared with people who love or live within the same social environment …” (Hofstede 2005: 4) and distinguishes the members of one group of people from another. Hofstede’s definition of culture is particularly suitable for research into consumer behaviour since culture is hierarchically structured with the aid of the so-called layer model (or culture onion model). In this model “culture” is seen as an abstract reflective of reality, as a system of rules, codes and symbols which enable a particular culture’s members to behave coherently. The collective system of meaning (kollektives System von Bedeutungen) (core of the layer model) derived from this model, differentiates several cultures from each other. From a formal point of view it is irrelevant whether a country, sub- or corporate culture is being addressed. This allows the necessary cultural comparisons for intercultural marketing.


Often the culture onion (layer model) (Figure C-1) is chosen as a diagrammatic way of presenting culture in the layer model as is the case for Trompenaars (Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner 1997: 22; 46) and Hofstede (1997: 8). In the culture onion, the visible symbols, heroes and rituals form the first cultural layer. The second invisible inner layer, therefore the invisible core of culture, is formed by culture specific values.

Figure C-1 Pictorial representation of the defining premises of culture

Hofstede distinguishes four manifestations of culture: symbols, rituals, heroes, and values. In the above figure (C-1) these are depicted like the layers of an onion, indicating that symbols represent the most superficial, and values, the deepest manifestations of culture, with heroes and rituals falling somewhere in between.


Symbols are words, gestures, pictures, or objects that carry a particular meaning recognized only by those who share a culture. The words of language or a particular kind of jargon belong in this category, as do dress, hairstyles, flags, status symbols, brands like Coca-Cola. New symbols are easily developed and old ones quickly disappear; symbols from one cultural group are regularly copied by others. This is why symbols are shown in the outer, more superficial layer in the above figure. Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Marlboro and Nike are examples of brands that have become global symbols. Yet they may include different associations in the U.S., the country of origin of the brands, than they do for Indonesians.

Heroes are persons - alive or dead, real or imaginary - who possess characteristics that are highly prized in a society, and who thus serve as role models for behaviour (Hofstede 2005: 7). Even fantasy or cartoon figures, like Batman in the United States and Astérix in France, can serve as cultural heroes. In the television age outward appearances have become more important in choosing heroes than they were before. Fantasy heroes can become known globally, but the stories in which they play a part are often local. In Indonesia, Inul Daratista, a dangdut 79 singer and performance artist who rose to national fame after a televised January 2003 concert in Jakarta, is one such cultural hero. Her dance moves, which she calls “Goyang Inul”80 or “Ngebor”81, quickly became the source of controversy due to her suggestive gyrating hip motions, though these criticisms did little to dent her popularity.82

Rituals are the collective activities considered socially essential within a culture: they are carried out for their own sake (Hofstede 2005: 8). Examples include ways of greeting, ways of paying respect to others, and social and religious ceremonies. In the above figure, symbols, heroes and rituals are included in the term practices. They are visible to an outside observer. Their cultural meaning is invisible however; it lies in the way the practices are interpreted by insiders of the culture. In Indonesia, product launches increasingly coincide with Ramadan (particularly its last days - the holiday of lebaran or Idul Fitri in Arabic) and the selamatan (a religious meal - selamat - cosmic salvation) (SL, interview October 2004; IS, interview October 2004; HaS, interview December 2004). Hofstede subsumes symbols, heroes and rituals under the term practices, as they are visible to an outside observer.


Values lie at the core of culture. Values are defined as “broad tendencies to prefer a certain state of affairs over others” (Hofstede 2005: 8). Values are among the first things children learn, not consciously but implicitly. The core values of culture are stable, and often what is presented as a new “trend” is merely a new practice format of existing and stable values.

With regard to cultural change, Hofstede notes that our world is changing but there are many things in society “that technology and its products do not change” (Hofstede 2005: 12). If young Indonesians drink Coca-Cola or eat at McDonald’s, this does not necessarily affect their attitudes toward authority. In some respects, young Indonesians differ from senior Indonesians, just as young Germans differ from senior Germans. Nevertheless, these changes mostly involve the relatively superficial spheres of symbols and heroes, and of fashion and consumption. Hofstede (2005: 13) declares: “There is no evidence that the values of present-day generations from different countries are converging”. Thus, culture change can be fast for the outer, visible layers of culture (symbols, heroes and rituals, which are labelled as practices), but culture change is slow for values. McCracken (1986: 71) describes these changes, though slow, as “constantly in transit”. Nevertheless, values are not deeply changed, as there is the need to fit in, to behave in ways that are acceptable to the groups we belong to.

Based on this structuralist definition, culture has to be operationalized firstly to be able to compare countries and secondly to contrast social groups and their culture within a country (in the case of a multiethnic country). There are a variety of approaches available for the operationalization of culture. The prerequisite is that not only has it to describe the observed, i.e. visible layers of the culture onion, but also to explain the core of culture, i.e. the invisible moral concepts and norms, and then to draw conclusions from them and apply them to the observed visible practices (consumer behaviour). So it is necessary to connect concepta (explanatory part) and percepta (descriptive part) and to find an investigative model for the above explained research formation. A mere description of Indonesian consumer behaviour would not have allowed a comparison with other countries. Neither would such a description be valid long-term due to its dynamic nature, i.e. transience of visible practices means that it would only be valid short-term.

C.1.3 Starting point of the research framework


Taking Hofstede’s structuralist definition of culture as a starting point, the underlying analytical diagram of this thesis will now be explained. The empirical based culture theories (Hofstede 1997; Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner 1997) used in culture comparative advertising research (de Mooij 1997, 2003, 2004, 2005) offer the following advantages. The empirical culture theories are based on dimension-analytical approaches; culture is objectively deduced from data with the help of a formalized calculation (factor analysis) and is reflected in the cultural dimension. The aim of Hofstede’s and Trompenaars’, among others’, works is to identify and compare these dimensions across countries.

The advantages of these dimension-analytical approaches are (1) they can be linked to culture comparative advertising research, (2) for the purpose that one could expect selected interviewees to be acquainted with the theories owing to their international education and high position within the corporate organization, (3) that the model’s simplicity made it easily accessible to the interviewees and (4) that these approaches have come forward with empirical data for Southeast Asia.

Intercultural marketing in many ways refers to a society’s value system both directly and indirectly (Trommsdorff 2003: 180). The latter prescribes standards of behaviour and directly and indirectly influences the preferences, decisions and rationalizations of a particular group’s member. The individual learns to cope with the complex environment of a society by adapting his or her role (for example as a consumer) whether consciously or unconsciously to the framework which dictates socially accepted values.

C.1.4 Theoretical basis and methods of analysis


The theoretical basis of the research framework on which the research in Southeast Asia was carried out, will now be presented. In order to operationalize culture, a research framework was created by linking two normative approaches (Hofstede’s and Trompenaars’ dimension-analytical approaches of empirically based culture theories). By connecting both models it is possible to make more comprehensive and concrete statements on how values and their impact on cultural behaviour (Kulturverhalten) influence consumer behaviour. Prior to presenting a research framework, Hofstede’s and Trompenaars’ approaches are to be explained and discussed. Theoretically Hofstede’s approach is based on the works of the social anthropologists Margaret Mead (2000, 2002) and Ruth Benedict (2006a, 2006b). According to their observations all societies are faced with similar fundamental problems. The solutions to these problems with which different people have come up can, however, be extremely diverse. According to Inkeles and Levinson (1969) the following fundamental problem situations can be distinguished from each other: (1) the relationship between the individual and society, (2) the individual’s attitude to masculinity and femininity (3) the relationship to authority (4) ways of dealing with conflict (how to control aggression and how to express feelings).

For every individual there is a unique interaction between genetic makeup and environmental influences. This interaction causes every individual’s uniqueness to be visible as surface characteristics in his or her personality. By using the so-called onion model, Hofstede symbolizes in which way this is apparent. The deeper a culture layer is, the less obvious is its composition and are its consequences. In the same way in which the core of the onion can be exposed by removing the outer layers, the quintessence of a culture can be revealed, as can the perception of the world. Hofstede, in the so-called pyramid of mental programming summarized his view of how a country’s culture generally influences human behaviour (Hofstede 2005: 4).

Figure C-2 Pyramid of Uniqueness in Mental Programming


”Human nature“, namely what every human being has in common due to his or her genetic makeup, is symbolized at the bottom level of the pyramid. This structure embodies the operating system (“Betriebssystem”, Vogelsang 1999: 40) (to express it in terms of an analogy with the computer) which determines physiological (for example breathing reflex), and to an extent, psychological functions (for example fear of unknown, intensive and sudden unexpected stimuli). Culture is learned, not innate. It derives from one’s social environment rather than from one’s genes. Culture should be distinguished from human nature on the one hand and from an individual’s personality on the other. The tip of the pyramid describes “Personality“. Hofstede (2005: 5) writes that the personality of an individual is their personal set of mental programs that does not need to be shared with any other individual. It is based on traits that are partly inherited from the individual’s unique set of genes and partly learned. Learned here, means modified by the influence of collective programming (culture) as well as by unique personal experiences.

Hofstede sees culture as software learned in a social environment which, for example, determines how the emotion “fear” is appropriately to be expressed in a given socio-cultural context. That is now the classic quote according to which culture is collective programming of the mind which differentiates members of one group or category of people from another (“die kollektive Programmierung des Geistes ist, der die Mitglieder einer Gruppe oder Kategorie von Menschen von anderen unterscheidet”, Hofstede 1993: 19).

Hofstede’s suggestion on how to operationalize culture is the most comprehensive till now. The decisive factor is that in the initial phase of the study he had a data bank to fall back on, in which the results of a survey with IBM employees from 72 branches in 40 countries were recorded. The survey dealt with 32 statements pertaining to work related moral concepts (attitudes). In the second phase of the survey study the investigation was extended to 50 countries and three regions (Hofstede 1991: 252). A total of 116,000 testimonials from 38 professional backgrounds took part in the first two study waves and the following studies from 1968 till 1992. The questionnaire had to be translated into 20 languages.


Hofstede proceeded to evaluate the data collected correlation-statistically in order to reduce it to four dimensions by using factor analysis. The resulting four dimensions are: whether individualistic or collectivistic values dominate in a culture region, whether the existing power distance is accepted or not in a society, whether feminine or masculine values are the norm; and whether uncertainty avoidance or the pursuit of “new” predominates. All these affect the most diverse life and work spheres as is shown in his list of selected consequences of cultural programming.

These so-called culture dimensions have been defined by the author as collective mental programming of a population. In a further step, Hofstede defined idiosyncrasies which co-vary with the poles of the culture dimensions. These characteristics refer to societal norms, effect on the political regime, religion, philosophy, ideology and their consequences for companies and organizations.

The countries with which Hofstede did not deal in his investigations were assigned a culture-index by Weidmann (1995: 53) among others. This is partly based on considerations of plausibility or was considered on the basis of other empirical investigations’ findings. Furthermore, these findings are polemical in individual cases.


Scarcely another scientific work is as often quoted and reviewed as Hofstede’s “Culture’s Consequences” (first published in 1980 with a second edition appearing in 2001). This monograph had been listed over a thousand times in leading scientific journals by September 1983. According to the Social Science Citation Index (SSCI), 80 percent of these quotations were taken in the second half of the 1980s. Even if a presumably potential part of these are merely compulsory quotations, it can without doubt be considered a resounding success. The reviews of “Culture’s Consequences” which had been presented by the mid 1990s agreed that, in view of the dramatic growth in importance of international operating companies, this book appeared just at the right time (Galdwin 1981: 681) and created an “I see” experience (Sondergaard 1994: 448), for a whole generation of scientists and managers. Furthermore the general awareness of scientific and practical meaning of the multicultural phenomenon was clearly focused. In fact from around the mid 1980s, more and more works appeared which focused on the analysis of international interaction (mostly with the outcome that a country’s culture significantly influences managers’ decision-making behaviours and the company strategies preferred by them).

Initially Hofstede’s work was mostly considered stringent. It fulfils the criterion of methodological and scientific rigour due to the competitive methods of analysis being used, the pursuit of comparability of sample surveys, the securing of equivalence as well as further development of the culture concept (Neghandi 1974). However, criticism became more vocal, too. Kagitcibasi (1997) considered the research strategy to be untheorized and solely empirical. Rather than developing the operationalization from a theoretical concept starting point, Hofstede had instead merely interpreted existing data theoretically at a later date. Schooler (1983: 167) or Triandis (1982: 89) on principle also doubted that it was possible to obtain stable values from the attitudes surveyed. Furthermore, the sample survey was criticized because it was limited to employees of a single company, thus lacking external validity. It was undoubtedly problematic, too, that country and culture could simply be interchanged. To exchange the former as a proxy variable for the latter is often doomed to failure since the majority of countries is multicultural (Nassig et al. 1991: 79). Furthermore, the IBM corporate identity would overlay various countries’ cultures. Moreover, a differentiated culture model could presumably have been developed had they had a representative sample which included employees from other companies. This would be owing to a greater data variance. However, since, only due to this atypical situation, i.e. to exploit the IBM-internal infrastructure, was it possible for Hofstede to conduct a field study of this scale. Therefore this criticism is superfluous. Additionally, numerous following investigations have shown that the measuring approach, initially exclusively targeted at the work sphere, was valid when applied to other fields (e.g. consumer behaviour) (Schuh 1997: 84).

Following the tradition of debate, quantitative versus qualitative methods (Müller 1999), others doubted on principle the capability of survey (question) methods to mirror social reality (Lamnek 1993). Yoo and Donthu (2002) reviewed the second edition of Hofstede’s work which was published in 2001 with some chapters completely unaltered and others completely reworked. Moreover the culture scores of 50 countries, i.e. also of those ten countries which were not included in the first edition due to having insufficient sample size (n = 56 to 132) per country, were excluded from the study since up to then they were considered to be unsatisfactory. However, it is incomprehensible why these scores are now considered to be satisfactory. Yoo and Donthu (2002) criticize above all the fact that the author simply makes the effort to defend himself and his work against the criticism which has been raised since 1980 instead of rectifying the existing weaknesses. From many colleagues’ point of view, Hofstede would simply reject that the phenomenon of a transformation of national culture would be comparable to a change of values even though numerous studies indicate the opposite. According to Oyserman et al. (2002) the Japanese and South Koreans have in many aspects become more individualistic and less collectivistic than the Americans.


The suspected reason for Hofstede’s insistence on the assumption of country score stability (the empirical basis of which was created by him from 1967 to 1973) is still germane. Moreover it is a prerequisite for the validity of the data. Only if these culture scores are considered stable, are they still valid. Hofstede argues that value or cultural transformation is not a homogenous process. The reason that value and culture change is not a homogenous process but translates itself differently in the various social strata and groups of a country, offers a possible explanation for the previously described transformations.

Between 1980 and 1992 Hofstede’s study was replicated 61 times and tended to have mostly similar results. While Hoppe (1990), Shackleton and Ali (1990) and Punnet and Withaney (1988), confirmed the four-dimensional structure of the culture model completely, others reported only partial accord (for example, Chew and Putti 1993; Fidalgo 1993). Despite the considerable justifiable criticism, the underlying implications of Hofstede’s approach are undisputed. Hofstede was able to present via a paradigm the influence of culture on a concrete research object (for example cooperation of employees from different cultures). In addition, he managed to arouse worldwide interest in the subject “culture and management”. The special role with which Sondergaard (1994: 454) endows this work, results not least from the fact that a host of sciences (human resource management, organizational theory, marketing, intercultural psychology and social psychology) implement this culture concept. To sum up, according to reviewers, the book has dramatically facilitated culture comparative studies and continues to be the best available source for national culture analysis.

Besides Hofstede’s dimension-analytical model, that of Trompenaars (a student of Hofstede) and Hampden-Turner is also applied to intercultural research. Trompenaars investigates cultural differences primarily from a practical management viewpoint. The Dutch social scientist interprets culture as a path along which human societies find solutions to problems (Trompenaars 1993: 18). According to this observation, these problems are similar worldwide; there are always difficulties arising from the relationships with fellow humans as well as those arising from the attitude to time, work and nature.


When putting this approach into a concrete form, the author follows those dimensions named by Kluckhohn and Stodtbeck (1961) (human nature orientation, man-nature orientation, relational orientation, time orientation and activity orientation) and those of Parsons and Shils (1951: 77) who in their “General Theory of Action“ describe complex social constructs which would determine human action” and name them (1) human nature orientation, (2) man-nature orientation, (3) relational orientation, (4) time orientation and (5) activity orientation. In the latest research carried out by Trompenaars, the following two constructs also appear: (6) short-time versus long-time and (7) inner-control versus outer-control orientation (Trompenaars and Woolliams 2004). Basically, Trompenaars like Hofstede uses as a structuralist definition of culture as a starting point and works with a layer model of culture which corresponds to Hofstede’s. The complex constructs presented above (which would determine human actions) would correspond to the core of culture, (that is the values in the layer model) which are, as previously mentioned, the starting point of Hofstede’s and Trompenaars’ researches.

A comparison of Hofstede’s dimensions with those of Trompenaars reveals the following. Of the seven value dimensions, two reflect closely the Hofstede dimensions of collectivism versus individualism and to a lesser extent power distance. Trompenaars’ and Hampden-Turner's communitarianism versus individualism value orientation seems to be virtually identical to Hofstede's collectivism versus individualism. Trompenaars’ achievement versus ascription value orientation, which describes how status is accorded, appears to be linked to Hofstede's power distance index, at least if one accepts that status is accorded by nature rather than achievement, and that this reflects a greater willingness to accept power distances. It is, however, not a complete match, as Hofstede's power index does not only relate to how status is accorded, but also to the acceptable power distance within a society, an area that is not touched upon by Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner. Trompenaars’ universalism versus particularism value orientation, describing a preference for rules rather than trusting relationships, could be interpreted as part of Hofstede's uncertainty avoidance dimension on the one hand, and to some extent the collectivistic versus individualistic dimension. Trompenaars’ diffuse/specific value orientation, describing the range of involvement, seems to have no direct link to any of Hofstede's dimensions. Human-Time relationship is closely related, if not identical, to Hall’s polychronic and monochronic time perceptions. The Human-Nature relationship appears to be closely related to the Human-Nature relationship in Strodbeck and Kluckhohn's (1969) value orientations.

Trompenaars’ dimension-analytical approach is likewise based on empirical preliminary investigations. In manager workshops, Trompenaars questioned 15,000 participants from 47 countries (approximately 75 of whom were executive and 25 percent were administrative staff). In contrast to Hofstede who took his sample exclusively from IBM employees, other companies (for example, AT&T/USA, BSN/France or Heineken/Netherlands) took part in this study. The aim of the investigation was to ascertain universally valid cultural dimensions: “shared ways groups of people understand and interpret the world“ (Feichtinger 1998: 58).


The scientific value of this work was considered by many to be more limited in scope than Hofstede’s, and is not considered to be in the same league as his study. This is for one, because of a failure to expose the research concept. Among other things the reader lacks the customary exact documentation of the research design, procedure, details of the period of the investigation and sample survey composition or the validity and reliability of the findings. In addition, Trompenaars refrains from discussing his theoretical basis critically. Incidentally there is little more than the hypotheses that western countries are the heritage of the Christian West and that oriental countries are coloured by Confucianism and Buddhism, behind many statements. Furthermore, it is not entirely comprehensible which criteria or algorithm the author, in the 16 statements of his questionnaire, applies to the seven culture dimensions. The reader has also to ask how two or three questions per culture dimension are weighted, i.e. summarized in an index value, especially since many countries on one subscale have such extremely different scores. To compound this, the individual countries were given a ranking according to the 16 questions but were not however given a ranking in the seven dimensions.

Like Hofstede, Trompenaars is able to refer to an impressive database - 15,000 managers from 47 countries. However, since the sample survey took participants from the author’s intercultural training seminars, serious deficits with the sample survey are inevitable (Schmid 1996: 270). Besides which, the period of investigation is unclear. Hofstede, as well as Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner, derive their data from questionnaires that were distributed among professionals – in the case of Hofstede among employees of IBM, and in the case of Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner among a large number of executives from different organizations. Hofstede’s work is based on a questionnaire originally designed to evaluate work values, and, not surprisingly, it is mostly focused towards that end. Trompenaars’ and Hampden-Turner’s questionnaires on the other hand ask respondents for preferred behaviour in a number of both work and leisure situations. What both studies have in common is that in both questionnaires the focus is on the ultimate goal, and that the underlying values are derived from a series of questions about more outer layers of the “culture onion”. This research focus gives both approaches a very practical flavour. Yet at the same time, the underlying value claims are frequently the result of very little data, or are derived from a limited number of questions. This has at least the potential to disturb significantly the derived value predictions. It may also conceal certain dimensions, or values may be wrongly derived because of certain situational influences on the respondents.

In spite of the documented conceptual and methodological criticism, the underlying significance of this dimension-analytical approach is undisputable for both works and complies with the requirements of intercultural marketing with regard to (1) high information demand, which increases with the internationalization of the company (the number of regions, countries, cultures) targeted, (2) general practical orientation of marketing (3) intercultural marketing’s general necessity to work in a culture comparative manner.


The above mentioned complex constructs which determine human behaviour correspond to the core of culture, or the values in the layer model which, as already mentioned, form the basis of Hofstede’s research. Due to their having the same structuralist definition of culture, it is possible to combine the partly differing dimensions of Hofstede’s and Trompenaars’ models and combine and merge them into a new, integrative research framework. As a result of integrating the initial models into a new research framework, the number of the dimensions increases. Thus the relevance and explanatory potential of the model in terms of its relation to the number of dimensions or orientations (the term assigned to dimensions in the integrative model) increases its explanatory capability in relation to consumer behaviour. A comparative analysis of Trompenaars’ and Hofstede’s dimensions results in the following.

The guidelines, i.e. the dimensions (value orientations) from both models with which the following discourse is worked, i.e. the existing models to operationalize culture, will serve as the basis of consumer research in intercultural marketing. In intercultural marketing, consumer research is the central variable and needs to be assigned research technically in an appropriate way.

The retort of critics of a structuralist definition of culture, (which is the starting point of this thesis and serves as a research framework for a dimension-analytical model), is that intercultural marketing ought to be freed of its standardization strategies. This can only be achieved however, if empirically verifiable and dimension-analytical quantifiable differences between cultures, whether on a macro (country) level or micro (social groups within a country) level are included in culture comparative studies. Intercultural marketing attempts even more so than international marketing to overcome the descriptive and partly pre-scientific phase. It is desirable to develop explanatory approaches, which, with the exception of isolated cases, allow the generalization of theoretically based statements which in turn allow the construction of prognosis, which allow checking their workability - in short - which allow one to work scientifically. The intercultural starting point should most importantly enable knowledge to be generalized and concrete occurrences to be predicted.


An integration of both models is justifiable on the grounds that the models originally developed for intercultural management (not for intercultural marketing) were only intended to reflect the internal corporate sphere. Employees from different cultural backgrounds collaborate in this corporate sphere and are therefore possibly faced with culturally based conflicts and not with those existing outside the corporate sphere, i.e. the entire life sphere (life world), where consumer decisions are made. The entire life sphere and the decisions to be made within it, is much more complex since it does not have the underlying corporate maxim of profit maximization (decisions made within the corporate world). Rather, purchasing decisions are subjugated to the much more complex utility maximization.

The raised complexity of decision-making outside the company is the reason for this thesis having an underlying model with ten dimensions (or orientations) rather than the five or seven dimensions found in Hofstede’s and Trompenaars’ models. Hofstede’s and Trompenaars’ dimensions did not appear to be sufficiently comprehensive for the investigation of consumer behaviour. Only their being combined in a new model allows graphic analysis, concrete description and an all-encompassing understanding of consumer behaviour and the effect of culture upon it. A purely descriptive presentation of consumer behaviour and of consumers’ social environment (life world) would not have justified the aims of this thesis which were: firstly, to develop a model with which consumer behaviour and its underlying value orientations (culture core in the layer model) can be compared culturally on a country-wide and other levels such as that of social groups (ethnic minorities, for example) and secondly, to explain the cultural circumstances which are responsible for different consumer behaviour patterns, and thus not only to describe them but to understand them.

C.1.5 The integrative analytical diagram for intercultural marketing

The integrative model serving as a research framework for this study unites Hofstede’s five with Trompenaars’ seven dimensions, which would result in twelve dimensions. Since two dimensions overlap, the integrative analytical diagram only lists ten. These dimensions will henceforth be described as orientations in order to differentiate the new model from Hofstede’s and Trompenaars’ original one. The model presents ten basic orientations (culture core in the layer model) (Figure C-3).


The reasons why Hofstede’s and Trompenaars’ models were selected and merged into a new analytical diagram have been stated in the preceding paragraphs (why the following comments fail briefly). Rationales behind this choice are the following. The empirical culture theories (as presented by Hofstede and Trompenaars) are based on dimension-analytical approaches which facilitate to research culture with the help of a formalized calculation (factor analysis) (Table C-1). These factor analyses generate dimensions which can be used to compare different cultures (C.1.3 - C.1.4). The aim of Hofstede’s and Trompenaars’ works is to identify and compare these dimensions across countries (C.1.3 - C.1.4). By connecting both models it is possible to make more comprehensive and concrete statements on how values and their impact on cultural behaviour (Kulturverhalten) influence consumer behaviour. An integration of both models is therefore justifiable on the grounds that the models (originally developed for intercultural management and not for intercultural marketing) were only intended to reflect the internal corporate sphere. However, the work’s underlying research objective is to analyse consumer behaviour which takes place outside the corporate sphere, i.e. in the life world of consumers. The life world of consumers is far more complex than the corporate sphere which was the object of study of Trompenaars and Hofstede (particularly intercultural communication). With regard to this complexity the analytical diagram with consumers as its research object had to fulfil the requirements of a higher information demand, general practical orientation of marketing and intercultural marketing’s general necessity to work in a culture comparative manner.

The ability to use the analytical diagram for cross-country research (or cross-ethnic [in case the analytical diagram is implemented below the country level]) was another reason why a dimension-analytical approach was selected. The advantages of these dimension-analytical approaches are (1) they can be linked to culture comparative advertising research, (2) for the purpose that one could expect selected interviewees to be acquainted with the theories owing to their international education and high position within the corporate organization, (3) that the model’s simplicity made it easily accessible to the interviewees and (4) that these approaches have come forward with empirical data for Southeast Asia.

The analytical diagram has proved rewarding in a multitude of ways. Firstly, it enables researching consumer behaviour in the context of culture. This is novel since conventional international marketing literature is predominantly overly-economic and unequivocally quantifiable. Secondly, the model is application-oriented in the sense of allowing readers themselves to apply the model’s underlying structured approach. Thirdly, it is applicable to different countries (macro-level), and simultaneously to sub-groups, for example certain ethnic groups. Fourthly, the focus of the model is how and why a particular behavioural pattern transpires. Fifthly, the model enables explanations that surpass stereotypical generalizations.


The fundamental idea behind the work’s underlying research approach is the following. The cultural environment determines the context in which the purchasing decision is made. The respective orientation’s score leads to different consumer behaviour, which must in turn be acknowledged by intercultural marketing, and be interpreted in the form of the adapted 4 Ps for market strategies. Consequently the analytical diagram assisted this thesis in two ways. Firstly, it offered the theoretical basis to put to the test whether or not a global consumer exists, and secondly it provided support for the investigation of other markets and their cultural peculiarities (model transferability and comparison enabling).

The model can be represented visually in the following way (Figure C-3).

Figure C-3 Analytical diagram for intercultural marketing


Each arrow represents one orientation (dimension). A total of ten orientations were the starting point of this investigation. Both ends of each arrow are to be seen as opposing poles of an orientation. In this way the social orientation is described as the conflict between collectivistic and individualistic cultures. The individual orientation and the area of conflict in which they can move will be defined in the following sections which address the analysis of Indonesia.

The list or order of the orientations in the figure and that of the individual orientations in their discussion does not reflect specific importance or ranking. The ranking of the orientations in the diagram and in the discussion is chosen at random. Only following the analysis of the individual orientations, will a ranking in order of importance of its impact on consumer behaviour in Indonesia be created. Since this order of orientations can vary, owing to their differing importance from country to country (or social group - should a micro-level investigation take place), the orientations can only be put into their respective order upon completion of the analysis. In addition, correlations between certain orientations were presumed, i.e. that scores on some orientations might positively or negatively be related to another orientation’s score (high or low). This assumption was later confirmed during field research and will be discussed later (C.2 and C.3).

The terms “individualistic” and “collectivistic”, for example, as they are commonly used in their broadest sense, do not apply to the definition put forward by Hofstede and Trompenaars, which serve as the basis for this respective research. The same applies to all of the other ten orientations.


After the above presented model of intercultural marketing’s ten orientations, the empirical data was assigned to the individual orientations (deriving either from Hofstede’s or Trompenaars’ model respectively). Merely by relating Hofstede’s data to the respective orientation in the new integrative model, and by comparing randomly selected Asian countries’ scores and the scores’ mean value, a picture emerged that shows Asia’s countries and their scores to be widely heterogeneous. Furthermore, it weakened the belief prevalent in many companies that there is such a thing as universal Asian consumer behaviour.

The following figure (C-4) presents the experimental standard deviation of each orientation score (by country) from the mean score of the respective orientation of all eight countries. Thus it appears that the respective deviations are high already for the case presented here where only Asian countries have been selected and their scores compared. The deviations are even higher when one includes other, non-Asian countries. Based on the assertion, that the orientations significantly affect consumer behaviour the suspicion is confirmed that due to the high deviations the existence of globally homogenous consumer behaviour must be doubted.

Figure C-4 Hofstede Country Scores (of randomly selected Asian countries)


Table C-1 Hofstede Country Scores (of randomly selected Asian countries)











deviation (%)


deviation (%)


deviation (%)


deviation (%)


deviation (%)














Hong Kong































































































Caption: PDI (power-distance index), or power orientation; IDV (individualism index), or social orientation; MAS (masculinity index), or gender orientation; UAI (uncertainty avoidance index), or control orientation; LTO (long-term orientation), or time orientation.

After several statistical preliminary investigations of this kind were carried out, the model serving as a research base was examined and applied to Indonesia. Previously hypotheses were made that, for example a high score towards collectivism in the social orientation labels it as collectivistic (in the tradition of Hofstede and Trompenaars) and is reflected in a - for collectivistic scoring societies - characteristic visual language in advertising (as was outlined by de Mooij 2005). This loosely pursues Niklas Luhmann’s (1996: 9) idea: “Everything we know about society or even about the world is thanks to mass media” („Was wir über unsere Gesellschaft, ja über die Welt, in der wir leben, wissen, wissen wir durch die Massenmedien“, translation by author). Luhmann refers this quotation to advertising, too. Norbert Bolz (1996: 77) articulates this more provocatively: Advertising is the most conclusive self-description of our culture („Werbung ist die schlüssigste Selbstbeschreibung unserer Kultur“, translation by author).

Through analysis of TV and print advertising, the hypothesized impacts of the orientation on advertising were able to be examined on site and discussed with experts in Indonesia. To this end qualitative interviews were conducted which allowed conclusions to be drawn concerning consumer behaviour in several regions of the country. Furthermore the interview questions were targeted at which element (i.e. language and/or religion) Indonesians themselves could associate with a certain orientation’s score.


The advantage of the explained operationalization of culture (empirical based culture theories) is its applicability in the field of culture comparative analysis, which does not allow a comparison exclusively between countries, but also between social groups, for example ethnic groups living in one country. Only being freed from the fixation with country comparisons and the interchangeability of culture and territoriality separated regions (country) will enable companies to set-up a target group affined international marketing approach (i.e. intercultural marketing). The majority of countries are not culturally homogenous; rather they are culturally pluralistic. As already presented, widely different ethnic groups cohabit in Indonesia, a multitude of different languages are spoken, and besides Islam and Hinduism, other religious communities colour spirituality and reality. Thus, from a scientific point of view, the variable “country” is on the whole a poor indicator of culture, at best a less than satisfactory substitute.

In spite of the polemic problem of interchangeability of country and culture, this is often the sole practical possibility not only for research economical reasons (Schmid 1996: 260). Furthermore, managers and researchers etc. find it easier to think in fewer (and as a result wider-ranging) categories. Firstly from a research economical standpoint and additionally from necessity to test the explanatory potential first on a country level prior to extending it to ethnic groups (micro level), the analytical diagram had to be tested on a country level, i.e. Indonesia, in order to analyse the general Indonesian society’s consumer behaviour first before carrying on the investigation to various ethnicities. The necessity to customize the corporate strategy can be derived from the positioning of a respective country in the value analytical diagram. Whether it ought to be standardized or differentiated can be decided rationally and not only dogmatically or intuitively, with the help of the model. A car manufacturer in a masculine scoring country for example, would presumably implement advertising messages which reflect significantly more dynamism and aggressiveness than in a feminine scoring country, where, for example, the appeal for needs such as safety and caring would spell success.

All that remains is to present and explain the results of research in Indonesia based on their application to the above introduced integrative analytical diagram.

C.2 The orientations

C.2.1  Rule Orientation

C.2.1.1  Definition


The rule orientation defines how one judges other people’s behaviour. One differentiates between universalistic and particularistic societies (Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner 1997: 29-4), which are distinguished by the respective behavioural nature of their members. Trompenaars’ and Hampden-Turner’s “universalism versus particularism” value orientation describes a preference for rules rather than trusting relationships. Universalistic cultures tend to feel that general rules and obligations are a strong source of moral reference. People from these cultures tend to follow the rules and look for a single best way of dealing fairly with all cases (Trompenaars and Woolliams 2004: 51). “Do not lie. Do not steal. Do unto others as you would have them do onto you” (the Golden Rule), are some of the standards adhered to in universalistic cultures (Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner 1997: 31). People from universalistic cultures assume that the standards they hold dear are the right ones, and attempt to change the attitudes of others accordingly. Universalistic, or rule-based behaviour, tends to be abstract and to imply equality in the sense that all persons falling under the rule should be treated in the same way (Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner 1997: 31). Particularistic societies, on the other hand, are those where particular circumstances are much more important than any rules. Bonds of relationships, such as family and friends, are stronger than any abstract rules, and responses may change according to circumstances and the people involved (Trompenaars and Woolliams 2004: 51). The person is not “a citizen” but one’s friend, brother, wife or person of unique importance. One must therefore sustain, protect or discount this person no matter what the rules say. Personal relationships may be of greater importance than the rules in these societies, which is the reason for them being called relationship-based societies.

Empirical findings on the first orientation present Indonesia as rather particularistic and it scores similarly compared to China and Singapore (Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner 1997: 35; Boucher-Floor, THT Consulting, email August 2005). However, the charts presenting the country ranking for this dimension offer a rather patchy picture for Indonesia and other Asian countries thus leaving many questions unanswered (Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner 1997: 37) and rendering a detailed investigation necessary. Owing to the data available, it can preliminarily be assumed that Indonesia is rather particularistically oriented, as is reflected in the following figure (C-5).

Figure C-5 Indonesia scoring rather particularistically

C.2.1.2 The orientation’s cultural foundations


Since Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner (1997: 35-36) see a connection between religion and the first orientation, the inclusion of other Muslim countries’ scores in the rule orientation might have offered some hints as to whether Indonesian society needs to be seen as universalistically or particularistically oriented with its results on consumer behaviour. Notwithstanding, very few Islamic countries were investigated, resulting in insufficient data being provided to make an accurate statement as to which direction Islamic countries tend. Additionally, a comparison with the neighbouring country Malaysia should be treated with caution, since, according to Ricklefs (2001: 9) the Islam of Java is “… rather different in style from that of Malaya or Sumatra”. This was also confirmed by Braten (1999: 150-172). In the context of the cultural foundation of this orientation, Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner (1997: 35-36) argue: “universalists are more common in Protestant cultures, where the congregation relates to God by obedience to His written law”, whereas Catholic cultures where there are intermediaries between God and his adherents, “forgive sins or make special allowances”. Some religions, for example Catholicism, consequently are more relational and particularistic. This is reflected in the orientation’s ranking (as presented by Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner) in which countries where the majority of the population is catholic, such as the Philippines, score rather particularistically (Boucher-Floor, THT Consulting, email August 2005).

The relationship between religion and this orientation is the reason why a look into Islam, as the religion of more than 88 percent of all Indonesians (Suryadinata, Arifin and Ananta 2003: 105), is necessary in order to look for indications as to whether Indonesian society scores particularistically or universalistically in general. This is a multifaceted undertaking since: firstly, it is evident that the modalities and cultural achievements of religions are far richer in Indonesia than in many other countries (in Indonesia disparate, even opposing, beliefs were fused into syncretistic practices over time, a sign of cultural acceptance). “Indonesians are fond of marvelling at the complexity of their own society” (Vatikiotis 1998: 92) underscores the validity of this observation. Secondly, Islam in Indonesia reveals little similarity to the far more austere Muslim regimes of the Middle East (whose Islamic countries score rather particularistically). Thirdly, the undertaking is complicated by the fact that some analysts tend to portray Islam as rather universalistic (no separation between religion and state, unity of the Muslim community “tauhid”), where others offer a different picture, i.e. they highlight its particularistic aspects. The latter describe Islam as having a generally universalistic approach but some elements would suggest particularistic behaviours.

Despite its universalistic character in the sense of unity of all Muslims, certain elements, for example in “sharia” (sacred law) (Schimmel 1990: 54-56; Newby 2002: S), tend to make Islam rather particularistic. This can be seen in its display of gender relationships (Jones 2002: 219) and its distinction between non-Muslims and Muslims (Noerdin 2002: 179-186). This view is supported by the idea that the original Muslim community of Medina represented a monotheistic vision entrenched in a community of clans (Lapidus 2001: 37), placing a great deal of emphasis on bonds of relationship within kin groups. Moreover, in order to gain a complete picture of how religions and their core values could have shaped Indonesia’s particularistic or universalistic score, not only Islam needs to be considered. Other religious denominations need to be considered, given the diversity and discontinuities of religions in Indonesia.


It emerges therefore that an analysis of Islam for categorizing Indonesia as universalistic or particularistic is insufficient since the first Indonesian grown Islamic communities were established around the 1280s (Taylor 2003: 66; Ricklefs 2001: 3) and the earliest Islamic states not before the 15th century on Java (Schumann 1999: 435; Ricklefs 2001: 4-5; Damais 1957: 353-415). Woodward (1989: 53) writes in this context: “It is known that there was a Muslim presence in Java as early as the late fourteenth century” and thereby confirms the relative influence of cultural behaviour in Indonesian society owing to its late arrival.

Consequently, in Indonesia one is confronted with several landscapes of belief, some indigenous, others Muslim and Hindu, transposed with their respective values from India and the Middle East (Hall 1964: 12-24). Hinduism and Buddhism, Islam, and Christianity were brought in that order from across the ocean and absorbed without being superimposed on one another. Elements of the previous religions’ forms were preserved and integrated into the new faith (Islam) (Ricklefs 2001: 59). Thus, elements of all these religious customs can still be seen side by side today (Ricklefs 2001: 59-69). This can be seen in Indonesia where Muslim and pre-Islamic local identities and affiliations blend together. Islam came to the Indonesian archipelago during a period which Anthony Reid (1993, Vol. II, Ch. 3), has called the “age of commerce” (1450-1680). Islam was preceded by Hinduism and Buddhism (Kulke 2001: 349-350; Bellwood 1997: 138), which together with Islam and Christianity represent the major religions in Indonesia (Suryadinata, Arifin and Ananta 2003: 103-138). In addition, there are indigenous religions which have been practiced throughout the Indonesian archipelago for centuries (Schreiner 2001: 159) and are, with their affirmative character, an integral part of Indonesian identity (MP, interview December 2004). Their various forms continue to influence Indonesians today. “Religion came from across the sea, but customs and tradition came down from the mountains”, says an Indonesian proverb, demonstrating that indigenous religions have been around much longer than the world religions. The observation that Islam was a seaborne civilization, adaptable to archipelago conditions, when Indonesian societies were converting (Taylor 2003: 73), underscores the perception of an unorthodox Islam, first introduced by Arab traders in the 7th century (Dahm 2002: 3; Schumann 1999: 434).

This rich cultural heritage of pre-Islamic Indonesia, often regarded as “classical” (Ricklefs 2001: 59), provides authoritative cultural standards and frames of reference even today. In this context, Johns (2002: 165-191) describes neither the arrival of Islam nor its development as being “spectacular”. This is reflective of the idea that Islam is to be considered as a “cultural influence on the Indonesian scene, but not as the dominant theme” (Federspiel 2003: 202). “Islam in Southeast Asia has its own styles and its own temper and intellectual traditions” (Johns 2002: 165). Sacral practices and folk beliefs colour and live alongside the profession of Islam (Johns 2002: 165) since Islam was “transmitted at different levels of intensity and perceived in rather different ways according to the cultural backgrounds of the various communities” (Johns 2002: 171). He adds that numerous cults survived alongside Islam, together with practices and rituals and the set of spells and magical formulas that derived from the Indic and megalithic traditions (Kulke 1999: 349-369; Johns 2002: 172).


Moreover, for the examination of the rule orientation, it is imperative to look into explanations as to why Indonesians converted to Islam. Historians of Indonesia often refer to the Islamic concept of equality of believers as a powerful reason inducing conversion in the four hundred years of Islamization of the archipelago (Taylor 2003: 73). They contrast Islam’s equality of believers before God with Hindu and Buddhist beliefs in a hierarchy of souls, and argue that this allegedly striven for equality by Islam was the reason for the conversion of many sections of the population. However, Taylor, for example, states that the idea of the Islamic concept of equality as the powerful reason for conversion is not tenable (Taylor 2003: 73). He argues, inter alia, that the view of Islam as having a concept of equality, “goes against Koran teachings that accord higher status to Muslims over non-believers, men over women, and owners over slaves” (Taylor 2003: 73). He supports this view by adding: “… the argument ignores the history of Islam in which binding rulings (fathwahs) proclaim submission of subject to a Muslim ruler as a religious duty (Taylor 2003: 73). Ricklefs, too, rejects the idea that Indonesians were attracted to Islam as its egalitarian ethos supposedly provided relief from the Hindu caste system, too. He argues: there is “no evidence whatsoever that there was anything egalitarian about Islam in practice … none of the Islamic societies … was in any sense egalitarian.” (Ricklefs 2001: 15).

According to official figures, as stated beforehand, some 88 percent of the Indonesian population is Muslim (Suryadinata, Arifin and Ananta 2003: 104-105). This makes Indonesia the largest Islamic nation in the world. However, Islam as practiced here is much more liberal when compared with other Islamic nations. A referendum held in 1956 revealed that there was no majority in favour of turning Indonesia into an Islamic state (Dahm 1999: 230-231). Although many Javanese groups have accepted Sunni teachings in recent years, and although the revivalist “dakwah” movement has convinced many Indonesian Muslims to take their Islamic obligations more seriously, others have resisted for perpetuation of their own particular beliefs and practices (Hefner 1987: 533-554). Such revitalized Islamic activity, under the demand of the “Sunnatization” of life worlds, includes increased attendance at mosques, attention to fasting, performance of the pilgrimage and other indications of religious association. Despite the aforementioned re-Islamization of Indonesian society in the last 15 years or so, the indigenous elements are still lived, and Indonesian Muslims, in the main, have not followed the lead of some Malaysian Muslims, in adopting militant political attitudes and taking actions to further their Islamic agenda (Federspiel 2003: 207).

As practised today in Indonesia, Islam is strongly characterized by various elements of indigenous religions and local beliefs, as well as Javanese culture. Islam can be very orthodox as in Aceh, as well as virtually nominal, as in Central Java, where it is practiced in a blend with animism and Hindu-Javanese mysticism (Geertz 1956: 134-158). The large majority of Javanese, called “abangan”, represent a very traditional Javanese view of the world. They do not adhere strictly to the teachings of Islam. Their view of everyday life and religion is strongly influenced by traditional Javanese opinions and elements carried over from the Hindu-Buddhist period. This is in contrast to the “santris”, who represent about one third of the population and who are a closed society adhering strictly to Islam and its teachings. Ricklefs, who describes the diffusion of Islam as “one of the most significant processes of Indonesian history” (2001: 3) points out ,too, that Islam in Indonesia is a product of cultural assimilation and accommodation as encountered in the high culture of Old Java (Ricklefs 2001: 9). The following examples underpin this observation. Customary regulations (adat) remain significant in Indonesia’s regional cultures, particularly in life-cycle ceremonies, such as marriage, birth, puberty, death and inheritance (Garang 1974: 10-42). The Department of the Interior was assigned the administrative oversight of Javanese mystical orders with instructions that these practices were to be nurtured (Federspiel 2003: 205). The common argument that Islam has been indigenized in Indonesia reflects the notion that attention should be given to tradition based on pre-Islamic Indic civilization. This indigenization is the reason why syncretism is still evident throughout the country. Hinduism and Buddhism made their way into the courts of the Hinduized states of Southeast Asia as early as the 7th century (Kulke 1999: 349).


Therefore, in Indonesia, cultural traits which influenced the first dimension in pre-Islamic religions must be traced, too, as Islam (as well as other religions making their way into Indonesia in later periods) was significantly enriched by mystic elements. Even though it makes sense to classify Indonesia as particularistic, it is necessary to take a look at why Hinduism and Buddhism seemingly back the hypothesis of Indonesia as particularistic. A history of Hinduized culture spanning a thousand years has left a legacy of diverse mystic traditions in the country. Hinduism is the oldest world religion and was the first to reach Indonesia. Although in Indonesia Hindu influences have been superseded or overshadowed by the influences of other religions (principally Buddhism and Islam), Hinduism left an impression lasting to this day (Hiltebeitel 2002: 3). Its heroic tales can be found in puppet plays and classic Javanese dances. Sanskrit, the language of the Hindus, made many inroads into both the Javanese and the Indonesian language (Sneddon 2003: 45; Nothofer 1999: 73-76). The “garuda”, the legendary giant bird, has survived as the national emblem, and the word “Pancasila”, describing the state philosophy, is derived from Sanskrit. Bellwood adds (1997: 139): “…the only ethnic group in Southeast Asia to have maintained a coherent – even if highly modified – Hindu tradition is the Balinese”. This does not, however, imply that Hinduism influenced the cultural traditions that today at first sight appear unaffected by Hinduism, but which were influenced anyhow.

Hinduism, a Vedic religion, is characterized by a society organizing people according to a caste system (Klostermaier 1994: 333-344; Schluchter 1984: 45-50; Weber 1988: 108-114; Eliade and Culianu 1995: 291). The ideal social arrangement (organization) was to reflect the theory of the law of castes and life stages, which was worked out in texts as a model for the whole of Hindu society (Hiltebeitel 2002: 15). A person’s duties vary according to caste and stage of life, not to mention other factors such as gender, family, region, and the quality of the times (Hiltebeitel 2002: 15). Hiltebeitel explains (2002: 15):


“…the ideal represents society as working to the reciprocal advantage of all castes, each one having duties necessary to the proper functioning of all castes, each one having duties necessary to the proper functioning of the whole and the perpetuation of their hierarchical principle that defines the whole.” (Hiltebeitel 2002: 15)

Not only Hinduism supports the idea of Indonesia being rather particularistic. Buddhism does, too. Buddhism, a religion without the caste system of Hinduism was, in pre-Islamic Indonesia, a religion in which “… a new elite of religious specialists appeared” (Goméz 2002: 61). Buddhist teachings are not absolute statements about reality which make it malleable to diverse populations (Goméz 2002: 71). Furthermore, the form of Buddhism which was assimilated by the Indonesian archipelago can be described as eclectic (Eliade and Culianu 1995: 277). Most of the Buddhist schools believed that only a few human beings could aspire to become fully awakened beings (Eliade and Culianu 1995: 264-277). But the attainment of liberation was a great achievement, and a person who was assured of an end to reincarnation (nirvana) was considered the most saintly, and deserving of the highest respect (Goméz 2002: 58). Swearer (2002: 119) adds that Buddhism in Southeast Asia was diverse and eclectic, infused with elements of Hinduism and became “transformed in the process” (120) and part of a larger Indian cultural influence. It competed with autochthonous forms of animism as well as Brahmanic cults (Swearer 2002:123) which are again particularistic due to their differentiation of society and particular behavioural systems for each stratum. Today, the majority of Buddhists are to be found in Java, and its followers are mainly found among Indonesian of Chinese descent. Buddhism reached the Indonesian archipelago via trade as did other religions (Ray 1994: 121). Although social status in Buddhism is not rigidly caste bound, it is however, linked to professions. Ray (1994: 124) notes: “… Buddhist literature emphasized the occupational divisions among the people and the distinction between the higher and lower occupations.” This view reflects the idea of particularistic elements of Hinduism and Buddhism, which had dominated the Indonesian archipelago for more than one thousand years before the arrival of Islam and which are still present in Javanese traditions today (Hall 1968: 12-40). This would give reason to assume that Indonesia, formed by its rich cultural heritage of Hinduism and Buddhism, might score particularistically, following the dimension’s underlying assumption of a relation between a country’s score and religious history.

It is relevant to include Javanese social structure, too, in this comparative perspective, in order to better understand why it is plausible to describe Indonesia as rather particularistic. For centuries, Javanese social culture has deeply influenced Indonesian society. The Javanese have a tradition of absorbing foreign cultures and of blending them into their own culture in an unparalleled way (selective adaptation). Old and new, foreign and indigenous are all integrated, with long-standing traditions being continued. Even today, many Indonesians consider Javanese behavioural patterns as binding. Many Javanese principles have become, by extension, Indonesian principles (Dahm 1999: 231). The history of Javanese society, embodied in Javanese patterns of thinking and behaviour, still continues to shape present-day life, with harmony being the ultimate goal and conflicts being avoided at all costs (rukun) (Markham 1995: 67-71). Another key term is “display of respect” (hormat) (Markham 1995: 72-77). In all matters, “face” (preservation of face) plays a central role (Mulder 1990: 139).


These traditional Javanese cultural traits can still be found in most villages throughout Java. It is there that the division between the common people and the rich elite, as practiced for more than a thousand years, is still evident. The kings of the city states during the Hindu-Javanese era were perceived to have cosmic powers, and the king would rule his people with his magical powers (kesektèn) (Kulke 1993). Whilst the kings, and after them the sultans, were clearly superior to all worldly matters and viewed as deities (Kulke 1999: 103), the priyayi residing at the Javanese courts developed their own elite culture. There were court ceremonies and music, dances, courtly literature, and the art of batik-making, all of which blended into a culture for the privileged at the courts. Status and etiquette were inseparable from it. The sultanates of Surakarta and Yogyakarta, in particular, were the centres of “kejawen”, the Javanese etiquette. Courtly culture had a particularly strong influence on social manners. All behaviour had to obey the rules of politeness; the objective was to be “alus”, which means harmonious and reflective interaction. Refinement was the measure of all things (Keeler 1984: xvii-xxiv). In the opinion of the Javanese, the ability to be ”alus“ is a real symbol of power (Anderson 1972: 38). This included polished social manners as well as neat presentation. Acting differently was called “kasar”, meaning rough, unrefined, uncontrolled and generally inconsiderate behaviour (Keeler 1984: xvii-xxiv). As was the tradition of a courtly culture, mystic rituals were the expression of the world view of a small elite, although Javanese mysticism with its teachings of inner values, “kebatinan”, was and still is practiced by lower social classes, and traditionally expressed through various aspects of life, most notably the arts, which are again enjoyed by all social strata (Mulder 1979: 13). Social divisions in Indonesia are seen as the result of two thousand years of Hindu-Javanese development (MP, interview December 2004). Accordingly, there is a segment of “small people” (wong cilik), including peasants and the poorer classes on the one hand, and the “priyayi” on the other, consisting of civil servants, members of the wealthy classes, and more recently, intellectuals with university education (Koentjaraningrat 1960: 89; Geertz 1969: 6). Even today the priyayi enjoy a very high social standing (Markham 1995: 55). Good form, “kehalisan”, is their ideal. Priyayi have always been the stalwarts of the culture adhered to at the former Javanese courts. All the aforementioned examples support the notion that Hinduism has decisively shaped Indonesian culture. Headley (2004: 79) sums up nicely: “The hierarchy of a kinship system like that of the Javanese … insisting on a very rigid status system is linked to Hinduism”. Javanese aristocratic names often indicate status, as do clothes, language and behaviour. These attributes of Javanese culture do not only influence the first orientation, but also, as will be expressed later, other orientations, for example the status and the emotional orientation. Koentjaraningrat (1967: 391) writes in connection with social relationships in many parts of Indonesia: “Kingship, for instance, is one, but by no means the most important organizing principle”.

Reasons to argue that Indonesia scores rather particularistically can be found outside the religious sphere too, and have been agreed on by some political analysts. Freddy Kalidjernih explains this value orientation in the context of foreign relations (Kalidjernih 2001: 1-9). He reveals that particularism stands for relationship-based behaviour which is deeply rooted in Indonesian society. Also the idea of “bapakism” (literally fatherism) where a “bapak”, a superior (father), and a “anak buah”, an inferior (child), have reciprocal duties, speaks for a particularistic society. Bapakism is the Indonesian variant of the patron-client relations which can be found all over Southeast Asia (Dahm 1999: 243). According to Jackson and Rye (1978: 35): “These diffuse, face-to-face, enduring, non-contractual relationships are the primary social cement integrating Indonesian organization …” They go on (ibid: 35): “Substantial inequalities of income and opportunity exist throughout Indonesia…” People would interpret the huge social differences as “God given” (ibid: 35). Others see a relationship between corruption and particularistic societies.

To summarize, one can say that Indonesia seems to be rather a particularistic society than a universalistic one, and the aforementioned cultural traditions and religious conditions are regarded by the author as sufficient evidence to categorize Indonesia as rather particularistic (MP, interview December 2004). Once again the emerging consensus among researchers who believe that universalism is a feature of modernization per se, of more complex and developed societies, and who think that particularism is a trait of smaller, largely rural communities where everyone is known personally, could be rebutted. This is the case in many other Asian countries which, despite their modernized character, still score particularistically. Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner themselves doubt the opinion that universalism and modernization go together, as the dimension is closely related to religion (1997: 35).


After examining the hypotheses that Indonesian society is rather particularistically oriented, it is now necessary to examine the ramifications of this orientation on marketing and consumer behaviour.

C.2.1.3 The orientation’s impact on consumer behaviour and international marketing

Choosing where to shop

Although a particularistically influenced consumer behaviour (which can be accommodated for by a marketing mix targeting these behavioural patterns), the benefit of explicit use of this orientation’s meanings in relation to consumer behaviour seems to have been greatly underestimated in Indonesia until now. Cultural conditions of the orientation have led to a social life and consumption patterns in Indonesia which are more particularistic than in most western nations, which is the reason why the marketing mix must be customized to these cultural differences. As mentioned, in particularistic societies, relationships are especially important, for example those to family and friends. But the meaning of relationships can be extended to those outside this private social sphere, for example, those between buyers and sellers, and producers and distributors. These relationships tend to be close in Indonesia, where significance is attached to the interdependence between subjects inside and outside the marketplace. Interviews and observations showed that these linkages exist not only between the commercial players in markets (intra-market), but also between these players and the end-consumer (inter-market) ( IS, interview October 2004; HS, interview December 2004). Even in Jakarta, which is a collection of villages each with its own market and stores (van Diermen 1997: 44; IS, interview October 2004), people from all social backgrounds still tend to shop daily und prefer local neighbourhood stores in view of the fact that in Indonesia’s large cities, the traffic situation can only be described as chaotic. Those who do so, have built up strong relationships with their sellers. The boom of convenience stores (which are also called “neighbourhood stores”, reflecting the importance of intra-community relations) is, as figures show, especially strong in particularistic societies (such as Thailand) and much less so in universalistic societies (such as Germany). Of course, there are generally many reasons behind such trends, but one could be that the particularistic consumer prefers a nearby shop (where one can meet neighbours and build-up a relationship with the employees) to an anonymous super- or hypermarket. This is true for relationships on traditional markets, as well as modern convenience stores or luxury boutiques (MP, interview December 2004), i.e. there is a dichotomy between formal/informal sectors, which are both capitalist modes of production and consumption reminiscent of Boeke’s (1942) “theory of ‘dual economy’”.


Customer-relationship management (CRM) [pemasaran hubungan pelanggan]

Relationship-based consumer behaviour can be beneficial for companies if consumers are provided with services in ways reflecting the importance of particularistic, i.e. relationship-based conduct. Retail Asia83, in its March edition 2005, mirrors this position by arguing that “providing a preferred customer experience” is one of the biggest challenges” (62). This experience is associated with the need to enhance in-store service and to maximize the use of relationship programs and loyalty schemes, as well as to conduct “…ongoing, rigorous analysis of customer-purchase patterns” (ibid: 62). Brian Moore added in Retail Asia December 2004 that: “… a high-invest customer has to be treated as a partner…” (55) and be targeted with appropriate strategies. The relationships are usually fostered by customer-relationship-management (CRM) programs which have been gradually implemented in some Indonesian companies. Not surprisingly, companies founded by Asians, i.e. from countries which generally score higher on the particularism ranking, set benchmarks for CRM programs. In this context, the CRM programs of Asian hotel chains, such as Mandarin Oriental84 or Shangri-La85 often set standards and have been copied by companies, whether competitors or players outside the hotel industry. However, Indonesia lags behind in the development of these programs, for example when compared to Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore, and it is the believed that these CRM programs can be adapted to the Indonesian consumer mindset in a more appropriate manner, i.e. by leveraging on the particularistic behaviour of Indonesians.

Figure C-6 Le Meridien Jakarta CRM


In Indonesia one CRM program is frequently quoted, mostly because of the size of its customer base. Matahari86, Indonesia’s largest listed retailer (Retail Asia December 2004: 22), which targets middle and middle-up market segments, offers one form of loyalty program through its Matahari Club Card (MCC). This program, pioneered in Jakarta, has more than four million members (Retail Asia December 2004: 24). Matahari’s target is to become “…the store of choice for customers in the middle to middle-upper segment”, as its president director and CEO Mailool notes.

Banking and the credit card sector (in contrast to the retail segment) introduced CRM programs in Indonesia early, since they were aware of the significance of personal relations. Financial services in Indonesia have also implemented a number of CRM programs resulting, for example, in the opening of numerous so-called VIP lounges at airports to pander to their customers. This has been incredibly successful and Indonesians who enter these lounges by showing their golden credit cards almost burst with pride. The high demand for, and easy availability of, gold cards in Indonesia has led banks to the strategy of upgrading most of their customers to platinum level in order to make them show their cards (HaS, interview December 2004).

Consumers do not only spend more on cards of higher tier levels, since they can signal their financial background via their cards, but also because the CRM can cater for card holders’ requirements and wants in a more targeted manner. In the November 2004 edition of “Prestige Indonesia” Vadyo Munaan, MasterCard International Vice President and Country manager, explains that the premium card business is being driven by “the greater perceived prestige of being a Gold or Platinum cardholder”. (Prestige Indonesia 2004: 94-95). He adds: “MasterCard has been surprised at the amount of Platinum card usage” (Prestige Indonesia 2004: 95). Munaan believes that there are currently 15 million Indonesians who qualify for premium cards and this segment is likely to grow. He explains that, before the crisis, the percentage of gold card holders was about 20 percent of the total, and the classic card holders, 80 percent. However, after the crisis, this balance shifted to 50:50 as if status symbols had become more important - “the one you pull out is the platinum card”- (ibid 2004: 95). For further growth, MasterCard advises its issuing banks to tie the cards to additional benefits to boost customer relationships. He sees points and discount schemes as big pull factors, as in other countries. The author believes that the tier system of credit cards and its popularity in Indonesia, which is much higher than in other markets, can be transferred and implemented also in retailers’ CRM.


Figure C-7 Credit cards in Singapore and their CRM schemes

A comparison of countries and their rankings in the rule orientation with Transparency International’s global corruption perceptions index (CPI), reveals that corruption is especially rampant in particularistic oriented countries. As the following figure shows, advertising sometimes uses this kind of taking advantage. An advertising campaign such as this is possible in Singapore, which is generally considered not to be corrupt; however, in Indonesia which is generally considered to be very corrupt, an advertisement of this kind would be met with resistance (AS, interview December 2004).

Figure C-8 Titanium Card in Singapore "Power corrupts. Use it wisely"


Ideas and recommendations for action

The particularistic behaviour of Indonesians combined with its status consciousness (which will be discussed in detail later) offers substantial business opportunities. Indonesians expect to be treated according to their status and spending patterns. This means a good customer (high-turnover) prefers retailers where his standing and commitment to the shopping outlet are reflected in services around the shopping experience. This means, in fact, that the Matahari Club Card does not conform to Indonesians’ preference to be recognized not only according to their status but also to their commitment to the outlet. A Matahari Club Card as part of a CRM program which recognizes customer commitment, i.e. turnover, shopping frequency etc. not only in terms of points accrued but also in services, such as different tier club cards, check-outs according to tiers etc. might be more beneficial for the company in terms of customer satisfaction and subsequently, spending. There is a common saying in business, that one makes 80 percent of turnover with 20 percent of the customers. This is universally true and this 20 percent of customers in Indonesia seems to need to be treated according to their particularistic background. In more luxurious surroundings, for example, in SOGO department stores, one could think of implementing not only different check-outs but also of having invitations to special events or late-night shopping when busy well-heeled customers have more time and are not stuck in traffic (as discussed with HaS, interview December 2004). Personal shopping experiences, such as being greeted at the entrance to private viewing rooms, could complement the shopping experience. In the automobile industry the shopping experience, for example, can be differentiated on the basis of which car one is interested in and then customers can be dealt with in different showrooms complementing the lifestyle represented by the car (DM, interview December 2004).

Generally it seems that CRM programs are becoming increasingly important all around the world. However, in particularistic societies such as Indonesia, pandering to customers’ thirst for status (there is a positive correlation between the rule and the status orientation), prestige and treatment according to their relationship to the outlet, combines with customers’ willingness to show their special relationship and customer status off. Special hospitality events which cater for a company’s best clients are not only covered by local press in Indonesia, but parallels can be found in other particularistic societies.


In Singapore, BMW went so far as to cement its relationship with clients by setting a four-page promotional feature which shows nothing but portrait pictures of their best customers under the headline “Society’s Top 300” (Singapore Tatler April 2005: 98-101), while a two-page ad features BMW’s 7series with the tagline “Vision, the true aspect of leadership”. The importance of the relationship with customers becomes particularly evident in promotional features such as these.

Irwan Danny Mussry, the director of Time International Indonesia, reflects on the special customer loyalty trend by saying: “Limited edition timepieces are extremely important in the eyes of our customers here in Indonesia” (Soelaeman 2004: 32-33). A customer in a particularistic society expects much more to be treated according to the relationship built with the company (HS, lecture October 2004). In a country where collecting watches is one of the hobbies of the well-off (Appendix 1, Figure 223-224) it makes sense to sell limited editions to the most loyal of customers and to inform them early of new models. Special horology workshops enjoy popularity in Indonesia, which is the reason why European watch manufacturers frequently offer very exclusive seminars in hotels in Jakarta (Appendix 1, Figure 223-224). What they are trying to do is to secure long-term customer loyalty and retention. European watch manufacturers’ keen interest in their special Indonesian and Singaporean customers is also shown in the edition of the most exclusive watches. Thus the German Watch Manufactory “Glashütte” presented a special edition (limited to only a few dozen watches) to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Singapore’s independence. These watches were discreetly decorated with Singapore’s national flower, the orchid, and were specially made for the loyal customers of the company in Singapore. The benefits of customer cards are however not only seen in the context of increasing customer loyalty but it is also believed that by giving customers more benefits they are less likely to ask for discounts, a behaviour still widespread in Indonesia (HaS, interview December 2004).

Interestingly, in particularistic societies (such as Indonesia) where customer relationships need to be fostered, more than 79 percent of respondents to the Siemens Mobile Lifestyle Survey in which more than 3,000 people were surveyed, agreed that “mobile phones and SMS help to foster customer relationship” (2001). This particularism comes into play again in the form of ring tones pertaining to individual callers. In Indonesia (43 percent) and the Philippines (48 percent) of interviewees answer that they “… have a distinct ring tone to distinguish my loved one when he/she calls”. This figure is much lower in less particularistic and universalistic societies.


Relationships to national or ethnic groups

Relationships to customers can also be fostered by emphasizing one’s “Indonesianness”, and familiarity with Indonesian values can be used as a means of competing with foreign companies. Sampoerna and Indofood have been able to achieve a high standing in Indonesian society (reflected by their brand values) (Indonesian Brand Award 2004a). Other possibilities might be to stress friendly service and the fact that they represent sound family values, saying that they have been a family-run business for the past fifty years or so.

Another interesting consumer behaviour feature which can be linked to the rule orientation is the following. Indonesians as well as Singaporeans, and to a much lesser extent Malaysians (Malaysia scores much lower on the particularism range), are very particularistic about festive days. A festive day in any ethnic group is welcomed as a reason to celebrate and offer sales specials. Where else than in Singapore would one find a shop with a sign saying “Jesus is the reason for the season” to make people aware of the Christmas sales?


Figure C-9 Localized advertising campaigns (1)

Singapore has always been a very diverse society in which the need for marketing to different ethnic groups has been taken for granted. European luxury brands in an, for the high-end market, unprecedented move to niche or intercultural marketing, have started to create commemorative items in a tribute to Singapore’s national day (Channel News Asia 2005a). Sales figures for the S$6,000 “National Day fountain pen” created by Montegrappa surpassed expectations. The French jewellery house Cartier, counting Singaporeans among their most loyal customers, created “a white gold Lion pendant and pen named ‘Living Harmony’” which sold out quickly (Channel News Asia 2005a). Behind Cartier’s particularistic, i.e. localized product, is a lot of understanding of the diverseness of Singaporean society. Cartier’s designer Orina Maretzi explained:


“…the main concept was to represent the four different cultures in Singapore. [One] can see on the murals, there are two temples, an Indian and a Chinese, a Christian church and a mosque for the Muslims. This piece represents the four cultures living together in a harmonious and democratic way.” (Channel News Asia 2005a)

The following figures (C-10 - C16) highlight the impact of ethnic-specific marketing in particularistically oriented societies.

Figure C-10 Localized advertising campaigns (2)


Figure C-11 Advertising and festive days

Figure C-12 Twisting tradition: BMW’s award-winning ads in Singapore (1)

Figure C-13 Twisting tradition: BMW’s award-winning ads in Singapore (2)


Figure C-14 Localization of the 4 Ps in Singapore

In Indonesia, with 88 percent Muslims, the need to take social diversity into account seems to be less urgent. However, the reality requires a different approach as Nestlé and Unilever have recently shown (Part D of this thesis).

Another strong, interesting argument supporting the difference between particularistic and universalistic societies could be the higher brand loyalty of Asian consumers, who are generally more particularistic than consumers in western countries. Brands, so it is believed by advocacies of the identity-oriented theory in brand management, are recognized by consumers as personalities (brand personalities) and over time they establish relationships to these brands (“brands are friends”) (Meffert et al. 2002: 42). One can assume that the intensity of consumers’ relationships is higher in countries where relationships and relationship-based behaviour play a larger role.


Figure C-15 Localized marketing approaches in Singapore (ad, courtesy of Miele)

Figure C-16 Glashütte’s tribute to its Singaporean customers

The first orientation, however, does not only translate into relationships with humans and brands, but also into specific products. Research by the author revealed that agreement with the idea “my mobile phone is the technological extension of my personality” correlates with the country’s score in the first dimension. In Indonesia (65 percent), which scores rather particularistically together with the Philippines (62 percent), the majority of the populations agree, whereas in Australia - a rather universalistic society - only 19 percent of the people agree with the statement (Siemens Mobile Lifestyle Survey 2003). The same correlation is seen in interviewees’ agreement with the statement “when I leave my mobile phone at home – I just have to go back home and get it” and “if I don’t receive an SMS or call for a long time I begin to check my mobile phone constantly” (Siemens Mobile Lifestyle Survey 2003).


Relationship-based behaviour is also apparent in the usage of celebrities (artis) who endorse products on Indonesian TV. According to Daniel Ziv, (2003: 31) Jakarta is home to approximately three hundred gossip and celebrity tabloids, through which Indonesia’s working class lives vicariously. Drivers and housekeepers spend much of their time watching soap operas on TV and reading the latest gossip about their favourite stars, so “that the relationship becomes almost personal” (Ziv 2003: 31). Clearly this admiration for media and sports stars is reflected in Indonesian advertising, where, compared to China, specialists such as doctors are less likely to endorse products. Professional arguments seem to be less important, as do rational TV ads.

Given the observed interaction between, for example, retailers and consumers, which appears to be much closer than in universalistic societies, the following course of action can be recommended. In order to secure long-term relationships (which are more significant in particularistic societies such as Indonesia than in so-called individualistic societies), a special way to address customers is necessary. How this sales approach can happen, whether with CRM programs or with a much localized advertising campaign, was explained in the previous paragraphs and was illustrated with some examples. Appendix 1, (Figure 22-48, 64, 66, 77) offers further visuals, and makes the meaning of this orientation in consumer behaviour (and therefore in advertising – promotion of the 4Ps) apparent. Just how far marketing mix localization can go, is shown firstly in the case-study (Part D) and secondly in the exhibits showing various McDonalds products from Prosperity Burger to McD Ayam (Appendix 1, Figure 7-11).

C.2.2 Social orientation

C.2.2.1  Definition

Trompenaars’ and Hampden-Turner's “communitarianism versus individualism” value orientation (Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner 1997: 50-68; Trompenaars and Woolliams 2004: 62-72) is virtually identical to Hofstede's “collectivism versus individualism” dimension (Hofstede and Hofstede 2005: 73-114). This orientation reflects one of the most frequently discussed and researched concepts. Hofstede defines this dimension as follows:


"Individualism pertains to societies in which the ties between individuals are loose: everyone is expected to look after him- or herself and his or her immediate family. Collectivism as its opposite pertains to societies in which people from birth onwards are integrated into strong, cohesive in-groups, which throughout people's lifetime continue to protect them in exchange for unquestioning loyalty." (Hofstede 1994: 51; Hofstede and Hofstede 2005: 76)

Collectivism and individualism deeply pervade cultures since an individualistic culture sees the individual as the end and improvements to collective arrangements as the means of achieving it. Individualism is based on the principle of asserting one’s independence and individuality. All societies have individuals and groups, but individualism stresses the smallest unit as being that where the solution lies (Usunier and Lee 2005: 55). Individualism has been described by Parsons and Shils (1951: 10) as “a prime orientation to the self”, and collectivism as “a prime orientation to common goals and objectives” (Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner 1997: 50). Collectivistic societies consider not the individual, but the group to be the most fundamental component of society (Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner 1997: 57). The orientation covers how people relate to others and concerns the conflict between what one wants as an individual and the interests of the group to which one belongs (Trompenaars and Woolliams 2004: 62-63; Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner 1997: 50).


In individualistic cultures, one’s identity is in the person. People are “I”-conscious, express personal opinions, and self-actualization is important; individual decisions are valued more highly than group decisions. In collectivistic cultures, people are “we”-conscious (Newman and Grauerholz 2002: 52-54). Their identity is based on the social system to which they belong, and it is important to avoid the loss of “face” (preservation of face).

Collectivistic cultures are, in contrast, “shame” cultures (Bakhtiar 1994; Neckel 1991). The expression used by people from collectivistic cultures is having or losing “face”. Another difference between individualistic and collectivistic cultures is it that in the latter, priority is given to relationships with people, whereas in individualistic cultures, priority is given to tasks.

Between 70 and 80 percent of the world’s population is more or less collectivistic. All of Asia, Africa, and Latin America are collectivistic (de Mooij 2005: 62). Indonesia scored 14 on the individualism index which is rank 68-69, compared to Singapore which scored 20 like China (rank 56-61), and Malaysia, 26 (rank 52). A lower score in the dimension, i.e. a lower rank, stands for rather collectivistic societies and vice versa.


Figure C-17 Indonesia scoring rather collectivistically

Many countries that score highly on Hofstede’s power-distance-index (portrayed later in this chapter) score low on the individualism index and vice versa, which corroborates the negative correlation between the two dimensions. These assumptions are confirmed by Talcott Parsons (1937), well known for his idea that every group or society tends to fulfil four “functional imperatives” (structural functionalism), which support the assertion of correlations between Trompenaars’ and Hampden-Turner’s dimensions. One of the characteristics used by him to describe societies is the differentiation between “group” and “self”. A society whose priority is “group”, i.e. a collectivistic society, also shows, according to Parsons, the characteristics of “particular” which can be translated as being “particularistic” in Trompenaars’ and Hofstede’s terms (described in the prior paragraph about rule orientation). One can therefore assert that collectivistic societies are rather particularistic, too, and individualistic societies are rather universalistic.

Figure C-18 Correlations between different orientations

C.2.2.2 The orientation’s cultural foundations


In the context of this orientation (which is of the utmost importance for the Indonesian and for Asian cultural as well as consumer behaviour) it was deemed necessary to explain first the effects of the orientation on cultural behaviour, prior to explaining the cultural premises of the orientation. The decision to proceed in this way was taken since this orientation can be considered basically one of the most important for consumer behaviour and the orientation is clearly reflected in everyday life. It is precisely this behaviour evident in everyday life (cultural behaviour) which influences consumer behaviour.

Extreme collectivism and extreme individualism can be considered the opposite poles of the second global orientation of national cultures, and have been studied by Hofstede (1991, 2005) as well as Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner (1997). In individualistic societies, relationships with others are not obvious and prearranged: they are voluntary and have to be carefully fostered. In the collectivistic society, there is no need to make specific friendships: who one’s friends are, is predetermined by one’s family or group membership. In collectivistic societies, such as Indonesia, the family within which the child grows up consists of a number of people living closely together: not just the parents and other children, but, for example, grandparents, uncles, aunts, servants, or other housemates. This is known in cultural anthropology as the “extended family” (consanguineous family) and used to refer to kindred (an egocentric network of relatives that extends beyond the domestic group) who do not belong to the conjugal family (Hill and Kopp 1989: 44-58; Newman and Grauerholz 2002: 7-12¸ Saxton 1983: 327-329). Cultures in which the extended family is common, usually happen to be collectivistic cultures (Newman and Grauerholz 2002: 55-56). When children grow up, they learn to think of themselves as part of a “we” group, a relationship that is not voluntary but innate. The “we” group is distinct from other people in society who belong to “they” groups, of which there are many. The “we” group (or in-group) is the major source of one’s identity and the only secure protection one has against life’s hardships. Therefore one owes lifelong loyalty to one’s in-group, and breaking this loyalty is one of the worst things a person can do (AS, interview November 2004). A mutual dependence relationship which is both practical and psychological develops between the person and the in-group. The loyalty to the group that is an essential element of the collectivistic family also means that resources are shared. If one member of an extended family of twenty persons has a paid job and the others do not, the earning member is supposed to share his or her income in order to help feed the entire family (HS, conference October 2004).

In contrast, a minority of people in the world lives in societies in which the interests of the individual prevail over the interests of the group and which are called individualistic. There, most children are born into families consisting of mother, father and, possibly, other children. This type is called “nuclear family” (conjugal family) (Hill and Kopp 1989: 44-58; Newman and Grauerholz 2002: 7; Saxton 1983: 327-329; Hutter 1981: 94). A conjugal family (sometimes known by the British sociological term, “cornflake family”) is a household distinct from the extended family (Newman and Grauerholz 2002: 7). Nuclear families are typical in societies where people must be relatively mobile, such as hunter-gatherers and industrial societies (Hill and Kopp 1989: 44-58). In nuclear families, relatives tend to live elsewhere and are rarely seen. As they grow up, children from families such as these, soon learn to think of themselves as “I”. This “I”, their personal identity, is distinct from other people’s “I” (Hofstede and Hofstede 2005: 75).


In an environment of intense and continuous social contact (such as that of an extended family), the maintenance of harmony with one’s social environment becomes a key virtue that extends to other spheres beyond the family. In most collectivistic cultures, direct confrontation by another person is considered rude and undesirable. The word “no” is seldom used, because saying “no” is confrontational. In individualistic cultures, on the other hand, speaking one’s mind is a virtue (Hofstede and Hofstede 2005: 86). Confrontation can be salutary: a clash of opinions is believed to lead to a higher truth. According to Magnis-Suseno, in the region of Java described by him, obedience within the family is not sanctioned by the mother’s punishment or expression of disapproval, but rather by the threat that some external force (bad spirits, dogs and strangers) will do something to the child (Magnis-Suseno 1981: 44). In this way, the child experiences its own family solely as the source of its emotional and physical security. Every type of behaviour which is in accordance with the family unit, is internalized as being correct. By the same token, everything which divides the family is considered to be wrong. The outside world is a permanent threat. Magnis-Suseno has a direct explanation as to why Javanese, even when they are adults, fit unreservedly into their groups in the same way. To be opposed to someone else’s will, is tantamount to revolt spiritually and emotionally. The principle of conflict avoidance is ultimately extended to social relationships as a whole. The code of customs of the common law “adat” is especially affected by it. Avoiding confrontation (“rukun”) is the most important commandment (Mulder 1978: 39).

The orientation and communication

When people meet in an individualistic culture they feel the need to communicate verbally (Hofstede and Hofstede 2005: 88), in order to confirm their relationship to one another. Merely being present is insufficient, and silence can lead to misapprehensions. Social conversations can be depressingly banal, but they are compulsory. In a collectivistic culture, the fact of being together is emotionally sufficient; there is no compulsion to talk unless there is information to be transferred. Raden Mad Hadjiwibowo, an Indonesian businessman from a Javanese noble family, recalls family visits from his youth as follows (Hofstede and Hofstede 2005: 88-89):


“Visits among Javanese family members needed no previous appointment. … it never occurred to one that a visit would not suit the other party. It was always convenient. […] There we sat, but nobody spoke. We were not embarrassed by this silence; nobody felt nervous about it. Every now and then, thoughts and news were exchanged. But this was not really necessary. We enjoyed being together, seeing each other again. After the first exchange of news, any other communication was utterly redundant. […] After an hour or so, the guests would ask permission to leave. With mutual feelings of satisfaction, we parted. In smaller towns on the island of Java life is still like this ...” (Hofstede and Hofstede 2005: 88-89)

According to this quotation, mere physical togetherness suffices, and constant chatter and communication is superfluous. This, of course, does not imply that Indonesians always remain silent. They are very loquacious; what is important is that speaking is not necessary to confirm their relationship to another conversation partner. For this, mere presence will suffice. When discussing this orientation, the following theories are also to be examined. In the context of language and communication, U.S. anthropologist Edward T. Hall (1959, 1966, 1976) distinguished cultures on the basis of their way of communicating along a dimension from high-context to low-context (Hall and Hall 1989: 6-10; Hall 1976: 101). According to Hall (Hall and Hall 1989: 6) “context is the information that surrounds an event…” Hall (1976: 101) explains:


"High context transactions feature pre-programmed information that is in the receiver and in the setting, with only minimal information in the transmitted message. Low context transactions are the reverse. Most of the information must be in the transmitted message in order to make up for what is missing in the context." (Hall 1976: 101)

High-context communication is one in which little has to be said or written because it is mostly either in the physical environment or supposed to be known by the persons involved, while very little is in the coded, explicit part of the message (Hall and Hall 1989: 6-7). This type of communication is frequent in collectivistic cultures. Hall (1989: 6) explains that Japanese, Arabs, and Mediterranean peoples, who have extensive information networks among family, friends, colleagues, and clients and who are involved in close personal relationships, are high-context. A low-context communication form is one in which the mass of information is vested in the explicit code, which is typical for individualistic cultures. Many things that in collectivistic cultures are self-evident must be said explicitly in individualistic cultures (Hall and Hall 1989: 9). Although Hall does not define “context” precisely, the following components can reasonably be presumed: location, people involved (age, gender, dress, social standing, etc) (Hall and Hall 1989: 6).


As a result of the following analysis, Indonesia, (as many other Asian countries) can be described as a culture of high-context communication, i.e. a culture where context plays a significant role. One example is the rule of politeness; the manner of speaking perceptibly shifts in register according to the age, gender and social position of the conversation partner, as well as the relative positions of the speakers (pupil/teacher, buyer/seller, and employer/employee). The word “no” exists in Bahasa Indonesia but is rarely used (Nothofer 2001: 29).

The orientation and language

So far, the mostly high- and low-context modes of communication and their relationship to meaning in general have been discussed. Yet the cultural element “language”, generally assumed to be associated with the social orientation of a society, (Sapir 1929: 214) has not been discussed. Yoshi and Emiko Kashima (1998: 461-486) studied the relationship between culture and language. Among other features of languages, they studied “pronoun drop”, the practice of omitting the first-person singular pronoun from a sentence. They included thirty-nine languages used in seventy-one different countries and looked for correlations with a number of other variables. The strongest correlation was found in the social orientation, i.e. between collectivism and the pronoun drop practice.


Languages spoken in individualistic cultures tend to require speakers to use the “I” pronoun when referring to themselves, whereas languages spoken in collectivistic cultures allow or prescribe dropping this pronoun. “Bahasa Indonesia” (Indonesian language), a normative form of the Malay language, (an Austronesian or Malayo-Polynesian language) (Bellwood 1997: 97-99; Sneddon 2003: 7-10) which had been used as a lingua franca in the Indonesian archipelago for centuries (Bellwood 1997: 141), and was elevated to the status of official language in 1945, practices the “pronoun drop”, too, as well as the drop of subjects where grammatically allowed (Sneddon 1996: 160-165; Nothofer 1998: xiii-xv, 9; 1992: 10). The “pronoun drop” in Bahasa Indonesia, a grammatical phenomenon of many languages spoken in collectivistic societies, underscores the conclusion (made by Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner as well as Hofstede) that Indonesia scores rather as a collectivistic-oriented country. However, Bahasa Indonesia’s and other regional Indonesian languages’ (such as Javanese and Sundanese) grammar rules seem to have major impact on dimensions concerning, for example, the status orientation (ascribed versus achieved status) and the power orientation (high versus low power-distance) (both orientations will be discussed later), too, since many of these regional languages use different personal and possessive pronouns depending on characteristics (age, status, kin group) of the person addressed, and also show the pronoun-drop rule (Nothofer 2001: 29-32).

An analysis of not only the main language Bahasa Indonesia but also of regional languages and dialects gives rise to the impression that these were languages whose grammatical rules (for example pronoun drop) are similar to those in other collectivistic countries. This in turn reinforces the impression that these languages shape Indonesian society collectivistically. Further linguistic characteristics which could support the contention that Indonesian society can be described as collectivistically oriented, are the following.

The English language, spoken in the most individualistic countries, (the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom) representing ranks one to three on Hofstede’s individualism index (IDV) Hofstede and Hofstede 2005: 78), is the only one that writes “I” with a capital letter. In Bahasa Indonesia, for example, the word “saya” (meaning “I” in English) is actually often dropped because its usage is seen as inappropriate in certain circumstances (Sneddon 1996: 165). Hazel Rose Marks and Shinobu Kitayama (1994) argue that the way people experience their self differs with the culture they live in and influences whether a culture is rather individualistic or collectivistic.


According to Hofstede’s interpretation (2005: 93), “… individualistic cultures encourage an independent self [whereas] collectivistic cultures an interdependent self”. It is generally believed that the essence of the relationship between the individual and society, at least in the West, has changed considerably since the Renaissance (Martin 2004). In earlier societies, individuals were defined primarily in terms of their surrounding community: the family, the clan, the tribe, the city-state or the feudal group (Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner 1997: 52) but with individualism being the result of periods of intense innovation such as the Renaissance, the Age of Exploration, the Netherlands’ Golden Age, the Age of Enlightenment, and the Industrial Revolution, collectivistic behaviour was repelled (Zwiedineck-Südenhorst 1949; Weippert 1949). In contrast, the Arabic-Islamic region and later the Ottoman Empire too, did not experience the enlightenment and thereby secularization, which rejects the theological idyll of unity of church and state (Hendrich 2004: 47-62), and which does not significantly support the development of the individual independent of his environment. Since the Indonesian archipelago was outside the sphere of influence of this era, it can be assumed that it was largely unaffected by this development.

Hadiwijono (1967: 51) investigates among others, the individualization factor in Indian influenced Javanese traditions. Accordingly, an explicit historically grown concept of mankind can be derived from old Hindu-Buddhist Javanese sources. Individualization is regarded here, however, as negative. Precisely as a result of individualization, human beings suffer, which means that they are bound to the cycle of reincarnation According to this, individualistic actions should be avoided and one should conform to the group. Freedom in this connection is only seen as liberation from the coarse, i.e. from the material world and personal, individual passions. Furthermore, “adat” is endowed with a spirit of collectivism (Garang 1974: 27). In Indonesia, the collective system is summed up, for example, in the expression “gotong-royong”. The origins can be traced, among others, to external conditions (the effect of the environment on people and their culture has been well-known since the age of Enlightenment) for example, in the working practices of wet rice cultivation, which requires mutual support and help. These environmental factors determine an individual’s or group’s behaviour and lead to conforming behavioural patterns, i.e. to cooperative oriented working patterns within the community (Garang 1974: 31).

A whole range of causes and effects has been offered to explain the decreasing importance and appeal of collectivistic behaviour (Usunier and Lee 2005: 54-56). But the idea that increasing individualism is a part of the rise of civilization itself, needs to be treated as a cultural belief rather than an undisputed fact, explains Hofstede (2005: 110-114), since Asian societies which have experienced modernization in the form of economic development still score rather more collectivistically than individualistically. The cultural contribution of the Age of Enlightenment (which advocated rationality regarding ideas concerning God and instigated revolutionary developments which influenced pietism) leads to a further important cultural element for the social orientation: religion. This means that, besides language which seems to influence societal behavioural modes resulting in a rather individualistic or collectivistic score, religion needs to undergo examination to decode its influence on this dimension. However, the consensus of opinion is that religion is not the definitive criterion for the investigation and classification of a country within the social orientation since, as already shown, the cultural element “language“ provides unequivocal clues. The following observations on religion are therefore kept to a minimum.


According to Hofstede (2005: 112), there is considerable evidence that individualism and collectivism follow the Protestant-Catholic religious divide. Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner (1997: 52-53) offer the following explanation. Each Puritan worshipper approached God as a separate being, seeking justification through works. Roman Catholics have always approached God as a community of the faithful. Research has found that Catholics score higher on group choices and Protestants significantly lower. Hofstede, too, confirms this with his findings that Latin catholic cultures, along with Asian cultures of the Pacific Rim, score lower on individualism than the Protestant West, particularly the U.S.

Although no research has been done on Islam in this respect, Arab countries, as well as Pakistan and Turkey score rather collectivistically in Hofstede’s research with Indonesia emerging as one of the most collectivistic countries (rank 68-69 of 74) (Hofstede and Hofstede 2005: 83). In Arabic, Islam means "submission" (understood as submission to God) (Newby 2002: I) and is described as a “Dīn” or “Deen”, meaning “way of life” and/or “religion” which indicates the unity of Muslims (community of the faithful, no separate being) who do not believe in absolute free will, since that contradicts God's omniscience and omnipotence. There is no official religious authority which decides whether a person is accepted into, or dismissed from, the community of believers, known as the “Ummah” (family or nation). Muslims regardless of differences regard themselves as one “ummah” (Newby 2002: U). The latter, seen as a community of believers as opposed to non-believers, manifests collectivistic orientations in its rituals of collectivistically oriented nature, for example, the pilgrimage to Mecca, fasting or the Friday prayers (which often have a significant community or even political role). The assumption that a collectivistic orientation in Islam colours Indonesian society is reinforced still further through basic Islamic tenets, i.e. equality and fraternity between all believers. The hypothesis that Indonesia is a collectivistically shaped society is further confirmed by this.

Thus, following this discussion, it can be declared as proven that Indonesia is to be classified as rather collectivistic. The effects of this collectivistic orientation on consumer behaviour and international marketing will be shown in the following section.

C.2.2.3 Implications for consumer behaviour and international marketing


The following remarks commence with a brief overview of to what extent scholars consider that the purchasing-decision process is influenced by the social orientation. So far, in this field of research, the individual who makes a usage oriented purchasing-decision has been the focus. However, the latest research from the Asia-Pacific region reveals that the decision to purchase a certain product or service is not always an individual one, especially in collectivistically oriented societies, where groups such as the family influence the decision to purchase considerably more than in individualistically oriented cultures (HS, lecture October 2004).

After introducing the literature which reflects these new findings, an investigation of the repercussions of the social orientation on advertising will be carried out. A comprehensive perspective has been chosen, i.e. advertising initiatives from the collectivistically oriented Indonesia will be compared to those of individualistic societies. Furthermore, an example from the German advertising world has been chosen with the presentation of the ice cream brand Magnum. With the help of this example, the extent to which advertising reacts to political and social transformations (which can in turn alter consumer attitudes) is illustrated. This example should be seen as a means of making the reader sensitive to the case-study in which Unilever Indonesia reacted to societal change (Part D). Subsequently, with the aid of an example (growth in the fitness sector) a discussion will be held as to whether or not a change of orientation (in the area of conflict between individualism versus collectivism) is perceptible in Indonesian society. Firstly, however, a brief overview of current research in the field of purchasing decision-making is necessary.

The orientation and purchasing decisions


As aforementioned, most of the available marketing literature depicts individual consumers who make their own decisions (Jeannet and Hennessey 2001: 201-207). While the individualistic conception remains very much at the heart of the mental picture of marketing, there has lately been recognition of shared social intentions. For instance, Bagozzi and Lee (2002: 229-230) describe the concept of social intentions, termed “we-intentions”, to perform a group act. While there is a great deal of support for attitudes and subjective norms explaining individual intentions, they suggest a greater influence of the group on we-intentions, including group norms and social identity. They find multiple group influences on we-intentions, including social identity for Korean consumers. In similar studies, for example by Lee and Soutar (2004), it is also found that group norms strongly influence Singaporean’s we-intentions to travel to Australia. Another area of research, i.e. family decision-making, has a history of examining group decisions. The family is often seen as an interacting group of individuals, all influencing each other. While an organic conception of the family as a single-decision-making unit is not easily grasped, some intercultural consumer behaviour researchers have depicted the family group as an organic entity, as opposed to a casual collection of individuals who share information and some common interests and constraints, living together within the family cell. This is particularly true in Asia. Redding (1982: 112-113), for instance, emphasizes that:

“In most Asian cultures there is a particular grouping to which a person belongs, which involves him or her in patterns of obligation and behaviour of a special kind … It would, for instance be naïve to suppose that the spending power of a teenage market in a western country would be equivalent to one in, say, Hong Kong or Singapore.” (Redding 1982: 112-113)


The discretion over the use of income is heavily influenced, in the case of the Chinese teenager, by the expected contribution to the family. The tradition of deference to parental wishes also affects buying patterns in clothing, leisure expenditure, etc., especially as it is normal to live at home until marriage, i.e. expenditure for certain things which are used communally by the family, can be much higher, since numerous family members can be involved in financing the purchase.

The influence of collectivism on family decision-making has been well documented in literature where, particularly in China, Taiwan and Japan, a high level of joint decision-making has been reported (Chen et al. 1999). For China, Yang (1989) describes the influence of what she calls “familism” on behaviour as individuals, as family members and as consumers. The dimension of individualism versus collectivism presents that the vast majority of people in the world live in societies in which the interest of the group prevails over the interest of the individual (more countries cluster in the quadrant representing “collectivism” than in the quadrant “individualism” (Hofstede and Hofstede 2005: 83). The delimitation of particularistic behaviour on the family is also apparent in the economic sphere. The overseas Chinese business conglomerates are almost exclusively family businesses (Wijaya 2002: 229-256; Hamilton 1996: 13-26).

The orientation and advertising


All the aforementioned works reflect initial approaches as to how a collectivistic social orientation affects purchasing decisions. Subsequently, how purchasing decisions in collectivistic oriented societies are reflected in advertising, will be ascertained. To illustrate the analysis, where necessary, current examples taken from the world of advertising have been selected and compared to advertisements in less collectivistically oriented societies. The difference between collectivistic and individualistic cultures is reflected in the different roles of advertising and branding. In collectivistic cultures, corporate brands are favoured over product brands (de Mooij 2005: 64). In Indonesia, one can build a relationship between a company and consumers better than between (abstract) brands and consumers, which leads to public relations (PR) activities, in which the company being presented is considered more important than in the United States, for example, which scores rather individualistically. This often happens with the help of advertorials or newspaper articles about the company which do not always name the client. However, the consumer is not only interested in the manufacturer but also in its products; the product brands play a lesser role than the manufacturing brand or the name of the manufacturer in collectivistic oriented societies (HS, interview December 2004). In collectivistic cultures, people are more interested in concrete product features than in abstract brands, reflected in the fact that the Indonesian consumer asks a lot of questions and this results in a more time-consuming purchasing process.

Individualists tend to see brands as unique human personalities. In the extremely individualistic United States, even children have been named after big brands, such as L’Oréal, Chevrolet, and Armani, as de Mooij (2005: 65) vividly notes. More examples of the differences between individualistic and collectivistic countries could be added, but in the interest of brevity only a few have been quoted. In collectivistic societies the brand is seen as a symbol or an organization, whereas in individualistic societies it is regarded as a person or a concrete product. This behaviour is another reason for the high quality expectations in rather collectivistically oriented societies. This was especially apparent during the Asian crisis during which consumers did not switch to cheaper generic (no-name) products, private label products or “me-too” products but stuck to reputable companies which symbolize quality and trust to them more so than product brands do. Trust and quality are to be found in the organization (firm) or its logo, rather than in the brand name or the product itself. In this way, Indofood and Nestlé and their company logos are trusted rather than the individual products and brand names of these companies. This observation has to be taken into account when labelling products and advertising them. Well-known and trustworthy individuals should make their name and logo clearly visible to Indonesian consumers. Unilever Indonesia’s campaign for Sunsilk shampoo clearly shows Unilever’s name although Sunsilk is actually the brand name being advertised. In other countries the Unilever logo in Sunsilk campaigns is not visible.

As described elsewhere, an important difference between individualistic and collectivistic cultures is between low- and high-context communication. In individualistic cultures, the public tends to be addressed in a direct and personalized way. Words like “you”, “we”, and “I” are frequently used. So are imperatives. Some examples from highly individualistic cultures are: “Mein Magnum und Ich” (My Magnum and I) (Magnum of Unilever), “Just do it” (Nike), “I’m lovin’ it” (McDonald’s). In rather individualistic cultures, the personal pronoun “I” is frequently used, as in the global advertisement for McDonald’s. Such approaches tend to be rather unattractive in collectivistically oriented cultures, especially in countries where the pronoun-drop in languages is prevalent. The considerable impact with which a language endows advertisements reflects its importance as an influential cultural element on this orientation. The following example is designed to show how certain events can alter communication and visual language in advertising initiatives.


Figure C-19 Advertising and purchasing decisions (1)

Figure C-20 Advertising and purchasing decisions (2)

Magnum ice cream and the September 11th


According to Unilever Germany (GM, Unilever Germany, speech November 2002), the events of September 11th led to a perceptible shift of the social orientation towards collectivism in all societies. This led to a rejection of extreme hedonism (shown in individualism), in favour of so-called soft-hedonism (which is more collectivistically coloured) to use the language of advertisers and trend scouts in Germany. This reflects a global change of values which resulted in family and religion assuming greater importance. The post-September 11th metamorphosis had to be translated visually into advertising language. Unilever Germany, for example, reacted by changing the way in which the ice cream brand Magnum was positioned and communicated. The hedonistic, almost egoistic appearing ice cream which was eaten alone (seen in the campaign Me & My Magnum) in the 1990s became the caring, sharing ice cream of post-September 11th society. The content and visual language of the campaign had changed radically. The solitary character was replaced by a group of family and friends eating this brand of ice cream together. Even the range of products was adjusted accordingly to match changes in society. This led to the introduction of ice cream products with the brand name Magnum, intended to be shared and eaten together. This example highlights the influence of the social orientation on every day behaviour and consequently on consumer behaviour. As is the case for each of the orientations, these values will remain stable in the long term. However, value orientations can shift short and mid-term in the area of the social orientation either towards collectivism or individualism. This can be seen as a result of the events of September 11th which caused a rupture, especially in Western societies.

The orientation expressed in the visual language of advertising campaigns

The following aspect demonstrates, too, the considerable difference between collectivistic and individualistic societies as reflected in advertisements. The difference between the independent and interdependent self has an important impact on advertising appeal. Members of individualistic and collectivistic societies will respond differently to advertisements emphasizing individualistic or collectivistic appeals. In collectivistic cultures, such as Indonesia, appeals focusing on in-group benefits, harmony, and family are more effective. In individualistic cultures like the United States, advertising is more effective when appeals to individual benefits and preferences, personal success, and independence are made. A commercial where a man breaks out from a group and starts doing something on his own that the group has not thought of, would be seen positively in individualistic cultures but negatively in collectivistic Indonesia (AS, interview November 2004). Furthermore, the following aspect is important not only for advertising but also for product development. Whereas in collectivistic cultures people like to share things, in individualistic cultures people tend to keep the nice things for themselves. The above-mentioned ice cream brand Magnum has used this approach, as illustrated in their advertisements that say, “I share many things, but not everything”. A statement such as this would be unthinkable in Indonesia, as interviews revealed. Furthermore, as demonstrated, in collectivistically oriented societies a lot of things are shared. Gerke (1995, 2000), shows that students, for example, purchase an item of clothing together, which the group members can take in turns to wear. This fact should be borne in mind should a product be developed especially for collectivistically oriented societies.


The orientation also impacts on visual language and communication. In collectivistic societies, people do not like being alone or eating alone, whereas in individualistic societies people cherish their privacy. In collectivistic cultures, being alone means one has no friends or identity (JK, lecture October 2004). If one is alone, one is outside the group to which one belongs. This difference between advertisements showing individuals and loners, or showing people as part of groups is particularly evident in the visual language of advertising campaigns. Whereas in individualistic cultures people can enjoy fast food alone and being alone can even have a relaxing function, this is not the case in collectivistic cultures where people enjoy food together as illustrated below. Visuals by “McDonald’s Indonesia” or “KFC Indonesia” reflect this aspect: people in their commercials never eat alone, but always with family and friends.

Concepts reflecting collectivism may be more successful across borders than the highly individualistic approach. Marlboro, although not a resounding success in Indonesia (Marlboro’s parent company Altria bought the Indonesian cigarette maker Sampoerna to increase market share and sales in Indonesia) (de Mooij 2005), was more successful in Asia than Camel. The Camel man represented the lonely, masculine individual whereas the (also very masculine) Marlboro cowboy was implicitly part of a group. Sometimes he was seen alone, but he always returned to the campfire, to his companions. This is of course merely an assumption, but it appeared to interviewees in Indonesia to be a plausible explanation (AS, interview October 2004; BR, interview October 2004).

Figure C-21 Collectivism and visual language


However, in this context a value paradox between belonging-independence can also be recognized in Indonesian advertising, where on the one hand one sees groups of people in advertising, but on the other hand celebrities endorsing a product frequently are depicted alone. This reflects the fact that desired values can be diametrically opposed to one’s own reality (for example, individual success as a contrast to conformance to the group) (de Mooij 2005: 172).

Tag lines in advertising campaigns

Advertising content in individualistic cultures can refer explicitly to the independent self, for example “Designed for the Individual” (Mitsubishi, UK), “In a world of conformity some things are still made for the individual” (Herblein watch), and “Go your own way” (Ford Probe). Examples of collectivistic claims are “Prospering together” (Chiyoda Bank), Philips Electronics presents the slogan “Together we make your life better” in some cultures (always in local language) whereas in Dutch and German advertisements, the claim is “Let’s make things better” (always in English). The name “Tchibo Privat Kaffee” (Tchibo Private Coffee), makes such universalistic claims as “Überall auf der Welt” (everywhere in the world), supposing that the feeling will be the same for all people in the world who drink coffee. “Worldwide” and “world” are power words for individualistic societies, whereas “modern” and “international” (they appeal to the need to conform, and to belong to a new and greater world) are popular appeals in collectivistic cultures. Reader’s Digest (www.rdtrustedbrands.com), for example, publishes data on personal traits found in readership surveys. One of the traits is measured on the scale modern-traditional and the percentages of answers from people who considered themselves to be modern correlate with collectivism.


Considering the fact that approximately 70 percent of the world population is more or less collectivistic and many global advertising campaigns (usually made in their international advertising centres London or New York) reflect individualistic values, it is fair to assume that much global advertising is only effective for a small part of the target group. Most global ads address people in a direct way, show people alone, and refer to all sorts of individualistic claims such as “the power for self-expression”, (for example an international ad for Lexus).

The body and the self: an indicator of growing individualism in Indonesia?

After explaining the influences of the social orientation on advertising, an investigation of the phenomenon observed, i.e. of the trend among certain social strata signing up at a fitness club, will follow. In the field of market research, this trend has often been associated with individualization in society. Closer inspection of consumer expectations and behaviour has revealed however, that this assumption was not tenable in Indonesia. This trend was selected since the significance of local in global trends is abundantly apparent here. It is actually the area of leisure activities where changes have occurred which could easily be misinterpreted as signs of growing individualism in Indonesia. The following comments on the increasing popularity of fitness centres in Indonesia (as in other countries in Southeast Asia) is intended to demonstrate that exact analysis and interpretation of trends is necessary if they are not to be misinterpreted as a change in social orientation (values).


In Indonesia, fitness clubs which offer training facilities to individuals for individual sports (as opposed to team sports) seem to be gaining in popularity, at least with certain segments of society, usually younger people who have the financial means to join a fitness club and reside in one of Indonesia’s major cities. The success of muscle growth health supplements, sold nearly everywhere, confirms, together with images of men in advertisements, the trend towards a more hedonistic beauty ideal in Indonesia reminiscent of those in the Europe of the 1980s and 1990s. De Mooij (2005: 78) notes that there is no indication that individualistic cultures are healthier or unhealthier than collectivistic cultures, but the fact that people in individualistic cultures are more focused on their self is visible in a greater concern for their own health than is the case in collectivistic cultures. Analyzing the fitness trend in Indonesia and the seemingly hedonistic attitude of young Indonesians, no matter from which racial and religious background, falsely leads one to believe that this trend is a reflection of the individualization of society, i.e. a shift of the social orientation towards individualism. The following observation may also lead people unfamiliar with Indonesian society to drawing such conclusions.

A California fitness manager explained why the chain’s club in the entertainment centre of Jakarta’s famous Plaza Indonesia shopping centre offers workout facilities which allow mall visitors to watch men and women “exhibiting” themselves while doing sports: “Indonesians like this; we even added another floor where shoppers and fitness club members are only separated by panoramic glass windows” (CFM, interview September 2004). These windows do not fall short of their target. Many shoppers watch the sports enthusiasts watching shoppers admiring their stamina and beauty from behind windows in a steel-and-glass environment. Similar developments can be witnessed in Singapore where “The Straits Times” presents a so-called “HotBod” section of men and women showing-off their trained bodies in its Sunday edition, which in the Sunday papers in more individualistically oriented Germany (compared to Singapore) would be scarcely imaginable.

Conversations which took place in Jakarta quickly revealed however, that individualism only appears to play a role in the fitness and beauty trend. In individualistic countries such as the United Kingdom, people sign up at fitness clubs in order to work out when and how they please. Such individualistic thoughts however do not apply in Indonesia. There, the emphasis is on wanting to play sports with other people in a safe, clean and cool environment. When visiting one of these clubs, the notion of “communal“ becomes apparent when one sees people swapping machines and when it is realized that group training is the most popular form of training for both men and women. The following comments are intended to explain these findings with the aid of diverse examples.


With regard to Indonesia scoring collectivistically and being described as “not a place to be alone”, one can also assume that Indonesians prefer to do sports (as well as so many other activities) with others. Nothofer (1992: 74) reflects this assertion through his research into the Indonesian language. He explains that in most Western languages words like “noisy”, “busy” and “highly populated” are negatively connoted whereas “quiet” is seen in a positive way. Nothofer explains that in Indonesia the opposite is true. “Ramai” (noisy, busy) is seen positively and “sepi” (quiet), negatively. This can be seen as suggestive in the sense that Indonesians prefer to be with a group of people, instead of being alone. There might seem to be a positive correlation between individual sports/leisure activities and a move towards a more individualistic society. This, however, is not the case. In fact, the reverse is true. Indonesia reveals collectivistic leanings since the population prefers being in a group and the crowded fitness centre atmosphere panders to this predilection. Nothofer (1992: 74) adds that when Indonesians are confronted with loneliness (“kesepian”), they tend to switch on the radio or TV in order to create an atmosphere of “ramai” (noisy, crowded) which they prefer to quiet surroundings. Living-space prices reflect this preference, too, i.e. houses and flats are most expensive in lively, rather noisy areas, as it comes with the positive connotation of having access to markets, services, goods and wealth (PM, interview December 2004; PM is the wife of a Soeharto minister and society lady whose family owns several domiciles in Menteng). The mansion in which the interview took place is in heavy traffic Jalan Surabaya where one side of the road is occupied by informal traders, attracting hundreds of customers per day, and the other, by exclusive houses protected by meter high concrete walls). Despite being able to build palatial-like mansions for her family in South Jakarta (Kebayoran Baru and Pondok) where there is much less traffic and noise and more space, she answered that she would never move, giving the exact reason of “kesepian”, mentioned above.

Possible misinterpretations of the orientation’s impacts

Caution is necessary however when investigating the repercussions of the social orientation on certain behavioural patterns or preferences which could be interpreted as collectivistic in one society, but could have an entirely different significance in another country. The following examples are intended to draw attention to the danger of an ethnocentric analysis of consumer behaviour.


Marieke de Mooij (2000, 2005) compared fifteen European countries and finds meaningful correlations between consumers’ behavioural data and the social orientation. In all these cases, a country’s score on the individualism versus collectivism index (social orientation) explains the country differences in consumer behaviour better than national wealth does, argues de Mooij. According to her consumer survey, persons in rather individualistic countries are more likely to live in detached houses than in apartments or flats compared to collectivistic countries. This first correlation is not applicable to Indonesia. In Indonesia most people live in houses, not flats, although particularly in urban regions, flats in the form of condominiums are becoming increasingly popular. This is because these housing developments offer many facilities (Appendix, Figure 253-271) which the average owner of a condominium flat could not afford to install in his or her house. Therefore, in Indonesia, although it scores rather collectivistically, most people live in houses. The trend towards people moving into apartments and flats in condominiums cannot be seen as a trend in the direction of collectivism, as de Mooij’s study would suggest, but rather in the direction of individualism, i.e. of having one’s own space separate from the extended family (Interviews with residents of Apartemen Taman Rasuna Said 2004).

Figure C-22 Housing developments in Indonesia

In addition, de Mooij (2005: 63) remarks that people in individualistic countries are more likely to have a private garden and to own a caravan (trailer, mobile home) for leisure. To associate caravan ownership with individualistic behaviour (in the sense that one has the freedom to go and stay wherever one wants), might be valuable in the American or European context where this correlation exists. However, applied to other cultures where travelling by caravan seems uncomfortable or even uncivilized to members of the social strata who could afford such a vehicle, this correlation is meaningless (AS, interview October 2004; BR, interview October 2004). De Mooij (2005) also finds proof of a correlation between individualism and home ownership as well as life insurance. High rates of home ownership exist in Indonesia as in many other Asian countries, although they score rather collectivistically. Indeed, Asia has the highest home ownership and saving rates in the world. The fact that life insurance has not taken off in many countries in the Asia Pacific region seems does not seem to be associated with collectivistic values, but rather with legislation which prevented foreign insurance companies from offering insurances to local individuals in many markets. However, as soon as the financial and insurance markets were liberalized, in the case of Indonesia after 1998, sales of life insurance and other financial products soared. These examples show that de Mooij’s correlations are culturally bound, if not ethnocentric. It seems logical that do-it-yourself (DIY) activities, (which reflect the idea of a lifestyle in which the person tries to be self-supporting and not dependent on others), tend to be more popular in individualistic countries and reflect the way of life in such societies. But the reasons why, for example, DIY activities are not adopted by Indonesians are not connected to collectivism but to Indonesia’s cultural traditions where manual labour is seen as low-class. These examples demonstrate that simply transferring results from consumer studies is not feasible without the benefit of intimate knowledge of the culture of the respective markets to be investigated.


The orientation and social change

Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner (1997: 52) argue that individualism is often regarded as the characteristic of a modernizing society, while collectivism is reminiscent of more traditional societies. Conventionally, all societies were more collectivistic than individualistic because of the interdependence characteristic of agrarian communities. Individualism as such, is a rather modern phenomenon of culture, which began in 16th-century England through the work of such philosophers as Kant, Bacon, Rousseau, Hume and Locke (Farr 1982: 15-37; Hauser 1994: 25-53, 97-123; Kopper 1979: vii-ix; Kopper 1983: 48-92, 93-113, 124-193; Loeb 1981: 25-75). Schütte and Ciarlante (1997: 29) add: “Individualism has come to be considered a natural component of a modern.” However, according to them (ibid 1997: 29), Asian cultures are now challenging this assumption. Singapore, Japan, and South Korea are thoroughly modern societies that continue to have firmly entrenched collectivistic orientations. Even at a level of per capita income equal to or larger than Western countries, Singaporean society has conserved distinctive collectivistic elements in its family, school, and work spheres. Of course, as in any rapidly modernizing society, there is great concern that Asia’s young people are becoming too individualistic and losing traditional morals and virtues (FEER 1996: 50). The Singaporean press, for example, regularly publishes stories concerning breaches of traditional family solidarity or criticizes the materialistic behaviour of adolescents loitering in shopping malls. It remains to be seen what the future will hold and whether the values of Asia’s teenagers are “rock solid” as described in an article in the Far Eastern Economic Review:


“Their elders complain that they are acquisitive, fickle and faddish, steeped in Western fashions and shallow consumer values. On the inside, though, most cling to the family as the bedrock of life; they are fiercely proud of their own countries and cultures and often reject what they see as the individualism of the west.” (FEER 1996: 50-52)

It remains to be seen how these transformations will change society and in what way they will impact on consumer behaviour. According to HS (lecture, October 2004), the deep roots of national cultures make it likely that individualism-collectivism differences (social orientation) will survive for a long time to come (see also: Hofstede and Hofstede 2005: 114). Yet, if there is to be any convergence among national cultures, it should be on this dimension (Hofstede and Hofstede 2005: 114). Indeed, as the examples in Indonesia indicate, parts of Indonesian society tend to be moving at least in behavioural modes such as leisure activities, in a more individualistic direction, although their core values are still highly collectivistic (HS, interview October 2004). The success and inevitability of individualism remain therefore rather questionable. The strong positive correlation between national wealth and individualism is undeniable, with the arrow of causality directed, as shown earlier, from wealth to individualism. However, societal change occurs slowly over generations and core cultural traits, such as collectivistic behaviour, which have been part of a society for more than a thousand years, do not change within a short period of time.

As was shown above, the significance of this orientation became especially apparent for the fourth “P” (promotion), i.e. for the visual language of advertising campaigns. Rarely are individual people depicted in Indonesian campaigns. This is not indicative of Indonesia’s dominant image of people not wanting to be, or being alone. In the appendix (Appendix 1), numerous additional examples are available which serve to sensitize the reader to this orientation, and to highlight their implications.

C.2.3 Relationship Orientation

C.2.3.1  Definition


The third dimension, the “specific versus diffuse orientation”, concerns the degree of involvement in relationships (Trompenaars and Woolliams 2004: 72). The orientation has been adapted from Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner (1997: 69-101). The idea behind this orientation is the degree to which people engage others in specific areas of life and single levels of personality, or diffusely in multiple areas of lives and at several levels of personality at the same time (ibid 1997: 81).

The orientation reflects on the fact that in a specific-oriented culture, a manager segregates out his or her work and isolates this from other dealings outside the work sphere. Each area - one could describe them as life spaces - (for example the life space “work”, “family”, “past time activity 1, 2 etc.”) is considered apart from the other, i.e. as a specific case. However, in countries which score rather diffusely, every life space and every level of personality tends to permeate all others. An example will serve to illustrate this difference. The Indonesian tycoon (IK, interview April 2001, August 2001, October 2004) is considered and expected to be an authority in all domains of life. He runs a well-known Indonesian business conglomerate87 and is expected to have the best knowledge of golf, watches, travel, consumer electronics and other apparently extravagant avocations. His taste in clothes and value as a citizen are all permeated by his directorship and being a member of Jakarta’s top echelons. This view is reflected in how his employees see him (they see him as a benchmark for everything) and how he regards himself (as a tycoon he cannot travel with his employees in commercial aircraft, nor can he use the same type of mobile phone as his employees). Interestingly, none of his employees would dare to be seen with a more advanced mobile phone than the one he owns in front of him (KB, interview April 2001, October 2004).

Of course, reputation always flows over to some extent into other areas of life. However, the extent to which a person’s standing in one life space influences his standing in other life spaces varies between societies. In diffuse societies one’s reputation in one life space, for example work, permeates all other life spaces. What is specific in a strong diffuse orientation is the underlying assumption that what people are, naturally, legitimately and forcefully, influences the roles, power and capacities they have in society. A typical causal chain in this dimension is: he/she is a director, thus he/she belongs to the elite, and thus he/she must wear an expensive watch. In specific societies clear limits are set between life spaces. Here, for example, a job title is a specific label for a specific job in a specific place (Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner 1997: 83).


Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner have used the model of Kurt Lewin (1935, 1951), a German-American psychologist, in research of this dimension (see figure below). Lewin (1935, 1951) presents in his study “A dynamic theory of personality” personality as a series of concentric circles with “life spaces” or “personality levels”, and sees contrasts between diffuse and specific oriented cultures. Lewin’s circles show specific cultures, such as the U.S., as having much more public than private space, the latter segregated into many specific sections. The specific citizen can have status and reputation at work, in the sports club etc. but the status stays specific, i.e. it does not affect the person’s reputation in other life spaces. A person who enters any of these life spaces is not necessarily a close or life-time friend and being admitted into one life space is not a very big commitment. One knows the person for limited purposes only, for example to play golf. This example reflects a society which scores rather specifically. The following exhibit depicts Lewin’s theory which differentiates between specific and diffuse oriented societies. The difference between specific oriented societies (clear division between individual and public spheres) and diffuse (large private sphere, smaller public sphere which is categorized by smaller but not divided individual spheres) is evident.

Figure C-23 Lewin's life circles (author's adaptation)

In diffuse societies it is more difficult to access a person’s life spaces as life spaces have no borders and barriers, i.e. if a person is allowed to enter one life space the person actually enters all life spaces. Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner (1997: 82) note: “The private spaces are large and diffuse, which means that once a friend is admitted, this lets him or her into all, or nearly all, your private spaces.” The concentric circles are not simply mental pictures but refer to physical spaces in which people live. This is why private spaces, which include the home for example, are highly guarded in diffuse societies. This is visible for example in how private spaces are protected with high hedges and walls as is the case in Indonesia. Another concept connected with the idea of the relationship orientation is the principle of “losing face” which is important in diffuse cultures where one’s lost face would permeate all other life spaces. China, Indonesia, Southeast Asia and Japan all score diffusively, whereas Germany scores in the middle of the ranking. The United States are very specific-oriented (Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner 1997: 88, 93) whereas Indonesia scores in a rather diffuse-oriented manner.


Figure C-24 Indonesia scoring rather diffusely

The relationship orientation has major impact on consumer behaviour and how companies can use the implication derived from the orientation in international marketing. The orientation has, for example, implications for customer relationship concepts such as endorsements (the inclusion of famous people in advertising campaigns), the involvement of people in the buying process and extends to the idea of which different requirements customers’ needs products have to fulfil in a diffuse society compared to specific societies.

C.2.3.2 The orientation’s cultural foundations in Indonesia

Not a great deal of research has been done into the extent to which culture elements, such as language or religion, influence the relationship orientation. However, it seems that the orientation correlates to some extent with the high-context and low-context orientation of countries. That is, those societies which score as high-context also score as diffuse. Therefore, language is probably one of the cultural elements which influences the orientation. Reasons why the Indonesian and other Asian languages score as high-context have been stated elsewhere and shall not be repeated here.


Figure C-25 Correlations between different orientations

It is important in this respect to remember, that in Indonesia, a grammatical phenomenon called “pronoun-drop” (Nothofer 2001: 29-32), which has been discussed already (in the context of the social orientation), and which is deemed to be a sign of a high-context language, with all the resulting consequences which affect this orientation, can be proven for the Indonesian language.

Additionally in this orientation, religion as a cultural element influencing a country’s score is again significant. A diffuse score, often combined with an affective score (emotional orientation) (to be discussed later) is very common in Muslim countries, according to Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner (1997: 96), whereas Indonesia scores marginally as diffuse-neutral. The fact that the Indonesian score is diffuse is important in this case, and has major implications on how Indonesian consumers behave and how companies have to adapt their international marketing programs to court them. Owing to the comments concerning “high-context and low-context cultures” and “pronoun drop” made in previous sections describing other orientations, this section has been kept to a minimum, in the interests of brevity. The significance of this orientation is reflected by the influences concerning international marketing and consumer behaviour.

C.2.3.3 Implications for consumer behaviour and international marketing


The orientation and product usage

One of the orientation’s important implications for companies is that in diffuse-oriented countries, such as Indonesia, products which might be used only for a specific purpose in specific-oriented societies are used for other purposes as the purpose for which the product was originally designed or intended (RD, interview December 2004). The diffuse consumer behaviour in diffuse societies leads to certain products being diverted to different uses from those intended by the company. Particularly in the realm of fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) is this visible in Indonesia and other diffuse-oriented nations where consumers are creative in using products for a diverse range of activities (for example tooth paste is used to clean tea pots whereas in specific countries there are probably products just being offered for this activity). Another often-mentioned misappropriation is the use of soap bars to clean hair. The list presented in interviews seemed endless. In these diffuse-oriented countries it is important for a company to have precise visual product usage descriptions in addition to text descriptions (IS, interview 2004). This is particularly important since, according to IS, Indonesians do not read manuals, which has lead to the misuse of products in many categories and which has sometimes resulted in injuries (IS, interview 2004).

Since products and their possible usage are seen more holistically in diffuse cultures where there are no specific life spaces, products should therefore also be designed in a way which allows multiple usage (multi-functional devices). From an Asian viewpoint the product appears to have more features when it is really an identical product (Kotler 2003: 31). A golf shoe in Indonesia might not only be worn on a green, but also in other locations or on other occasions. Or, for example, cereals are not only be consumed for breakfast but whenever one enjoys them. This has implications, for example for advertising campaigns which should not show actors eating breakfast at a specific time but perhaps at different times.


The orientation’s influence on purchasing decision-making

Evaluations of participating observations in Indonesia revealed that consumers from diffuse oriented societies need more time to make a purchase than those from specific oriented societies. The reasons for their requiring a longer decision-making time for purchases is that, as a rule, sales consultations last longer, and the consumer checks the various product uses since a sole use of the product seems illogical to him or her. This leads to sales consultations for luxury goods, for instance, taking longer in diffuse societies than in specific societies. This was ascertained by implementing concepts such as participating observation, mystery shopping, customer observation, sales staff and manager interviews (SOGO, PRADA, Louis Vuitton, The Time Place, Cortina Watch, Versace, Hugo Boss)88 (conducted in respective outlets in Plaza Indonesia89 and Plaza Senayan90, Jakarta, September 2004).

Due to the impact of diffuse-oriented behaviour orientation, sales consultations (mystery shopping)91 in Louis Vuitton branches in Singapore, Jakarta, Surabaya, Hong Kong, Taipei, Kuala Lumpur and Seoul are considerably more time-consuming and in need of explanation than in branches in specific oriented countries, such as the United Kingdom or the United States. This leads to lengthy and detailed explanations of an article’s design, the manufacturing process, the steps involved in this, manufacturing period and materials used, etc. This leads to European luxury brands (which have realized the difference between specific and diffuse cultures) converting their Asian boutiques into holistic luxury temples (and here the Japanese ones are exemplary) with exhibition rooms showing the history of the company, as well as museum-like premises where one can visit art exhibitions or listen to music performances, as well as the sales rooms. Thus BMW Japan invites its customers to classical concerts in its Tokyo showroom, while BMW Indonesia offers golf tournaments and BMW Malaysia, yachting events (DM, interview December 2004).


Figure C-26 Product presentations in diffuse-oriented societies

In contrast, in specific-oriented countries, where customer service is merely a question of selling, the selling process is not as time-consuming and detailed. Here, questions are not asked about personal lifestyle or wardrobe and the reason why the product is being purchased (in specific-oriented countries there is only one use for each product). The following figure, adapted from Trompenaars’ and Hampden-Turner’s model (89) illustrates strategies for getting to know other people and can be translated into the sphere of sales, too. The figure below shows the typically diffuse strategy (common for example in Indonesia) on the left. Here one circles around the stranger, getting to know the person diffusively and one gets down to the specifics of business only later when relationships of trust have been established. On the right hand side of the figure one can see the specific strategy where one gets down to the specifics of the business deal immediately. Selling with a culture more diffuse than one’s own is very time-consuming. In diffuse cultures, everything is connected to everything else. This is true not only in the context of retailing but overall in business negotiations where one’s business or interview partner from a diffuse-oriented culture may wish to know where you went to school, who your friends are, what you think of life, politics art, literature and music.

Figure C-27 Communication in diffuse and specific societies


The orientation and endorsements

The relationship orientation influences consumer behaviour in that consumers in diffuse societies seldom question the connection between a celebrity and the product he or she endorses. This is why David Beckham, for example, can advertise several products in Japan, from chocolate to whiskey, since his sporting reputation influences every life space (i.e. he is famous and successful, so he must know the best chocolate and whiskey, for example) (see also, Appendix 1, Figure 306).

Figure C-28 Endorsements in diffuse-oriented societies (1)


Figure C-29 Endorsements in diffuse-oriented societies (2)

Figure C-30 Endorsements in diffuse-oriented societies (3)

In specific societies, ads are used more specifically, i.e. if a sport star advertises chocolate, it must seem to be healthy chocolate (diet chocolate) and it has to have attained a degree of credibility in the sports world. Advertising has to communicate clearly the connection between sports and chocolate (for example, eating chocolate on the tennis court). However, Beckham can, for example, advertise chocolate in a non-specific environment due to his fame in diffuse-oriented societies, as seen in the above figures. Another important point when using celebrities in advertisements is their credibility and ability to integrate. In a diffuse society such as Indonesia where religion plays a big role in the public and private life of people, people who are not only famous but also religious and who embody Islamic ideals have to be selected for endorsements (like for example Unilever Indonesia which successfully engaged Inneke Koesherawati).


Figure C-31 Inneke Koesherawati endorsing Unilever's Sunsilk in Indonesia

Since life spaces are not separated but are inextricably entwined, the celebrity chosen to endorse a product has to appear credible in life spaces of importance to the consumer. This is vital in Indonesia and Malaysia where religion is not one’s own business and where celebrities are asked explicitly about their religious beliefs. This is the reason why there are hundreds of web pages and weblogs (blogs) on Indonesian stars (such as Inneke Koesherawati, chosen for the Sunsilk campaign), so that their fans and admirers can exchange ideas. In Inneke Koesherawati’s case, her clothes (the veil) are of particular interest and her beliefs are of general interest. The diffuse orientation can be advantageous for celebrities as someone who is famous in a particular field, especially music, can try out every imaginable field at the same time and still be successful. It is not relevant to ask why a model is trying out acting or singing; she is famous, so she must be good at everything.

The orientation and brand appeal


Generally speaking, the diffuse orientation has a positive correlation with the status orientation, meaning that diffuse societies are generally status oriented, too. When both concepts are considered with a product, this means that a brand name has to embody status and prestige in multiple life spaces (spill-over effect), not just in one. A brand normally known only by runners (for example, ASICS), which does not however guarantee status in other life spaces is less likely to be chosen over a brand which does guarantee this (IW, interview November 2004).

Another concept is brand loyalty. Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner (1997: 91) believe that diffuse cultures value loyalty more than specific cultures which could mean that brand loyalty is higher in diffuse cultures than in specific cultures. It would be interesting to see whether there actually is a correlation between brand loyalty and the orientation. The Indonesian consumer market is still too immature however shown in the fact that people consistently try out a different shampoo and soap, to allow a scientifically based investigation to be conducted (IS, interview October 2004). It is widely known that recent research actually shows that brand loyalty is high in some categories. However, what relationship this has with the orientation is unclear since data is unavailable (DT, interview December 2004) and as a result cannot be explained in greater detail.

The orientation and advertising


The diffuse orientation also has implications for advertising. Advertising in diffuse societies is to be carried out in such a way that the company is seen to be feeling responsible for the personal problems and welfare of its customers, consumers and society as a whole. Based on the concept of life spaces in diffuse oriented societies, citizens do not regard a company in a limited sense, but it is seen as a corporate citizen, with joint responsibility for the economic, social and political development of the country (IS, interview October 2004). This responsibility has also to be transferred to advertising. Especially in Indonesia, this became apparent in advertising campaigns during the financial crisis where companies indicated, for example, how products could be used more sparingly in order to avoid costs. Generally speaking, in diffuse oriented societies, public relations (PR) initiatives are an extremely important advertising tool compared to the marketing mix in specific societies (AR, interview, January 2004). Finally, company representatives must note that in a diffuse-oriented society, such as Indonesia, a more holistic marketing approach is needed as it is important to understand that products might be used outside the specific usage-pattern for which the company originally designed the product. Since there is no clear line drawn between people’s individual life spaces, the marketer is to approach the market from a wide range of perspectives including religion, language, history, and politics, etc. It is ideal, however, to start at a much earlier stage in the planning process i.e. to know the respective markets’ customers and their wishes, and to include both in the planning. This thesis, with its delineated orientations, fulfils this demand (pre-requisite). How companies can be faithful to this requirement will be shown in the case-study (Part D).

C.2.4 Emotional orientation

C.2.4.1  Definition

Reason and emotion both play a role in relationships between people, an observation which introduces the dilemma between the “neutral and affective orientation” (Trompenaars and Woolliams 2004: 83). The contrast between affective and neutral cultures is described by Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner (1997: 63) as: “Members of cultures which are affectively neutral do not telegraph their feelings but keep them carefully controlled and subdued.” In affective cultures people show their emotions and get an emotional response in return. People in neutral-oriented cultures, on the contrary, do not show feelings as openly and emotionally as in affective-oriented cultures. The amount of emotion one shows therefore is often the result of convention (Vester 1991: 98-124). Vester (1991: 98) explains: “Emotions are ‘characterized’ by culture; they are ‘cultivated’ by cultural codes, i.e. emotions are represented in a system of signals, are expressed by semiotic processes and are ‘interpreted’ by means of signals” (“Emotionen sind durch die Kultur ‘gezeichnet’, durch kulturelle Codes ‘kultiviert’, d.h. Emotionen sind in Zeichensystemen repräsentiert, kommen durch semiotische Prozesse zum Ausdruck und werden mittel Zeichen ‘interpretiert’”, translation by author).

In contrast, in cultures scoring highly on affectivity, people show their feelings plainly by laughing, grimacing, scowling and gesturing. People in affective cultures attempt to find immediate outlets for their feelings. However, one should be careful not to over-interpret differences between neutral and affective cultures. Neutral cultures are not necessarily cold or unfeeling, nor are they emotionally repressed. Societies do differ only in the extent to, and the way in which feelings are expressed, but do not differ in the issue of whether feelings are expressed at all, or not which means that showing emotions is culturally restricted.


There are considerable variations between countries’ rankings. Countries were classified according to their response to questions asking, for example, if they would express their feelings openly. In Indonesia 55 percent, in China 59 percent and in Singapore 48 percent of those who participated in the survey were in favour of not showing emotions openly, according to Trompenaars’ and Hampden-Turner’s research. Malaysia (30 percent of respondents were in favour of not showing emotions openly) scores much lower and other Muslim countries, like Egypt and Kuwait, score even lower, i.e. are actually in favour of showing emotions openly.

People in affective-oriented countries reveal their thoughts and feelings verbally and non-verbally, an extreme example is behaviour at Middle Eastern Muslim funeral services or via the most recent uproar over the caricatures of Mohammed which reflects the transparency of their emotions and the expressiveness with which they try to release tensions. Touching, gesturing and strong facial expression are also common in affective countries where statements are declaimed fluently and dramatically. The amount of visible emotion is a major difference between cultures. Indonesia, however, scored in the middle, (namely between neutral-and affective, and is therefore less affective-oriented than most other Muslim nations, but also less affective-oriented than Malaysia). Indonesia is therefore to be considered as neither solely neutral nor as purely affective-oriented, as shown in the figure below.

Figure C-32 Indonesia scoring "in the middle"


The contrast between affective and neutral cultures is closely related to the “being” versus “doing” divide (status orientation). If people are strictly “doing”-oriented they generally tend to disregard expressions of “being”. Feelings and affectivity are seen as being in the purely personal and private realm. Thus, neutral cultures tend to suppress these feelings and view their direct expression as inappropriate for effective interaction. This correlation can be pictorially expressed in the following way.

Figure C-33 Correlations between different orientations

Prior to examining the repercussions of the orientation on consumer behaviour and international marketing, in the next paragraph, the general cultural conditions which lead to the previously described behavioural patterns, will be examined.

C.2.4.2 The orientation’s cultural foundations


Asked which cultural influences made Indonesia score so differently from all other Muslim nations, interview partners in Indonesia argued that the reason is to be found in Javanese social conduct where loud and very emotional behaviour is unacceptable (Magnis-Suseno 1981: 37-54). It is considered polite to speak slowly, softly and monotonously, whereas fast, loud speech is considered crude, and shows great variation in pitch (Markham 1995: 104). Similarly in the Javanese Shadow play, wayang, heroes, knights and noblemen use monotone, polite, and soft speech (“alus”). Giants, demons and comic characters, on the other hand, speak using the crude “kasar” register (Soepomo 1968: 54-55; van Groenendael 1985: 21-39). Javanese social behaviour, according to interviewees, has influenced Indonesian people’s behaviour to some extent over time although large differences between ethnic groups in Indonesia are still noticeable (MP, interview, December 2004). However - and this is an interesting point to make - it was mentioned, that it seems Indonesia is moving somehow in the direction of being affective, although Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner (1997: 94-97) believe that value orientations will remain stable over time. However, social practices such as popular music and TV, have partly left behind the rather neutral emotional behaviour of Indonesians. Take for example “Dandgut” music, the shows presenting it and Islamic TV dramas which tend to be highly emotional (more emotional than, for example, German soap operas). These shows reflect only one trend, i.e. they can be found on the outer layers of culture, and not the core. The change to often highly emotive behaviour on TV or on shows can be approved but does not imply however that such behaviour would be acceptable in real life.

Again however, one of the cultural elements shaping this orientation is religion and Islam is generally seen as affective (emotional) where emotions flow easily, effusively, vehemently and without inhibition. The heated, vital, animated expression once only known from TV news broadcasters in the Middle East, has now entered Indonesia, too, as could be vividly observed during the Tsunami catastrophe (own observation, December 2004). Notwithstanding, this development in Islam seems to play a lesser role (at least for Indonesia) in its effect on the orientation, than, for example, in the Middle East. The reasons behind this are Buddhism and Hinduism with their religious concepts focusing on contemplation and containment, which together with indigenous Javanese world view, colour Indonesian cultural behaviour which can be described as neutral in its emotional dimension. Here, one can see that although there are differences between Asian countries, religion here seemingly has less impact, otherwise Indonesia and Malaysia would score more like Arab countries where warm, expressive and enthusiastic behaviour is not seen as lack of control over one’s feelings. As the orientation is strongly connected to communication, i.e. the exchange of information, it seems reasonable to suppose that “language” is another cultural element which influences a society’s orientation between neutral and affective. Indonesian speakers have a rather monotonous style which reflects the self-controlled attitude of respect. Frequently, the higher the position a person holds, the lower and flatter the voice. Shouting is a sign of loss of “face” (BR, interview November 2004).

C.2.4.3 Implications for consumer behaviour and international marketing

The orientation and advertising


The emotional orientation issue is important in the field of marketing communication whether it is TV, radio or print advertising. Every culture has certain codes and rituals that allow for a compromise between the two extremes, namely affective and neutral. What varies, is the starting assumption: (1) expressing emotions is legitimate and useful for action (affective cultures) and (2) expressing emotions needs to be separated from action (neutral cultures). To what extent emotion in advertising can be expressed, depends on the extent to which the society is neutrally or affectively oriented. It is perfectly feasible to express positive emotions in a humorous way in the less affective (rather neutral) Indonesia. Negative emotions on the other hand, cannot be shown since that would lead to a loss of face in Indonesia. However, this differentiation is more complicated in Indonesia than in other countries, such as China, since the former appears to be stuck somewhere in the middle between neutral and affective. China, on the other hand, is unequivocally neutrally oriented, and this is reflected in advertising. Moreover, this orientation is influenced more than any other orientation by personality, i.e. the personality traits and individual interaction which influence whether a person behaves rather neutrally or affectively. However, some of the important findings about the orientation’s influences on consumer behaviour and how marketing adapts to this behaviour were revealed in interviews in Indonesia.

Generally, to be taken seriously, language in Indonesian advertisements should reflect self-control (BR, interview November 2004). The higher the status of the product advertised, the lower and flatter the voice. Cool and self-possessed conduct is admired and gesturing or strong facial expressions are often taboo (BR, interview November 2004). Advertising statements are often read out in a monotonous voice. Warm, expressive and enthusiastic behaviour (interpreted as lack of control over feelings) should particularly be avoided when promoting prestigious products since they are supposed to give status and prestige to the buyer and any display of emotion is at odds with the display of high status (RD, interview December 2004).

Of course, there is no doubt that, as a matter of principle, advertising in Indonesia should appeal to the emotions of its target consumers, but what few advertisers without Indonesian-specific knowledge realize, is that emotions play a lesser role in this country than in other Muslim countries which score rather affectively when interviews in Indonesia are considered (Social Marketing Circle Indonesia, welcome address, Power Breakfast 2004)92. When referring to Indonesia’s score, Indonesians are less affective than Malaysians but less neutral than Chinese; Indonesians need more rational reasons in ads to buy products than Malaysians, but fewer rational reasons than the very neutrally-oriented Chinese consumer. The reasons given why a product should be bought by the customer should emphasize specific features, benefits, quality, or guarantees and should be read in a relatively neutral language. Visual language, on the other hand, is decidedly emotive in Indonesia, as in Malaysia.


Figure C-34 Emotional visual language in Indonesia (left) and Malaysia (right)

Furthermore, and this is now one of the most important findings, this changes dramatically during emotionally charged times, such as Ramadan (the Muslim fasting month), when people are generally more expressive. During this time, companies advertise with specially produced ads featuring touching, moving cultural and religious symbols and gestures. Emotions play a much larger role then in Indonesian advertising, reflecting the more affective Indonesian consumers’ psyche.

Figure C-35 Emotional visual language in Indonesia (1)


Interestingly, ads during Ramadan are then much more affective there than in Malaysia (which generally is more affective-oriented, but where advertising themes do not change in the same patterns as in Indonesia). The reason might be that Malaysia has a lower Muslim population portion than in Indonesia where over 80 percent of all citizens are Muslim. Further investigation and interviews in Malaysia (2004: CCL, AR) showed that even in newspapers and magazines which are exclusively targeted at Malays (Muslim Malaysians), such a swing towards affective ads cannot be observed. During Ramadan, emotions play a large role in making purchasing-decisions, and therefore companies should tap into this emotion through symbols (as shown in the following figure).

Figure C-36 Emotional visual language in Indonesia (2)

As can be seen from the visuals, during Ramadan ads in Indonesia are emotionally charged. A specific colour such as green, Muslim symbols, gestures and traditional, often oriental-sounding music, is played on TV and radio ads. Also, the content of television programs changes during that time; more Muslim TV dramas are played and presenters wear Muslim clothing. TV stations such as MTV play more traditional music while video jockeys (VJs) wear Muslim clothing and the studios are decorated with Arabic décor. Interestingly, ads in rather affective Malaysia, which do not become more affective during Ramadan, become very affective during national holidays, notably National day. This is the time when Malaysian ads can be described as very emotional.


Rather than displaying overt emotion to sell a product, the Indonesian will strive to create an overall atmosphere (“feeling tone”) (IS, interview October 2004) in an advertisement. This approach is especially popular when advertising traditional Indonesian products, such as domestic food or “kretek” (Indonesian for clove) cigarettes. For example, the tranquillity of a Balinese rice field requires little display of human emotion to get a message across. This kind of ad seems to be very successful since Indonesians understand the feelings and atmosphere even though there might be no strong changes in facial expressions. It requires little display of human emotions to get a message across when themes such as “Bali”, “mountain” or “Kampung” (Indonesian for village) are used in Indonesian advertising.

Figure C-37 Emotional visual language in Indonesia (3)

Figure C-38 Emotional visual language in Indonesia (4)


This can be linked to a further idiosyncrasy of the Indonesian language, namely the widely used paraphrasing. At its most polite, this form of expression can be very visual and differentiated (Markham 1995: 105).

Figure C-39 Emotional visual language in Malaysia

It is evident that, owing to the ambivalent positioning of Indonesian society (i.e. neither very affective nor very neutral), an area of conflict emerges which is especially apparent in advertising. Advertising communicates in neutral words and emotive pictures, i.e. makes use of emotive visual language. During Ramadan this impression is even stronger, i.e. the visual language becomes more affective, for example by using various cultural symbols.


The orientation and endorsements

Additionally, the emotional orientation is reflected in the choice of endorsements for products whether in promotional campaigns, such as road shows, or in media advertising. In Indonesia, whose score is between affective and neutral, celebrities are often used to endorse products. In very neutral China, however, neutrality towards displaying emotions is reflected in the frequent use of experts rather than enthusiastic product users in advertising. In China, many products are endorsed by a person wearing a long white lab coat (representing an authority like a doctor) (Appendix 1. Figure 94). In a similar way, candy may be endorsed by happy children, but a parent, doctor, or kindergarten nurse will also be there to add that the product is good for the child’s health. In China, an overtly enthusiastic advertisement or talking “too much” is often associated with not knowing much, or to use a Chinese proverb, “you have more saliva than tea” (SN, interview September 2005). Although experts are used to back products such as health supplements, for most other products the use of experts in Indonesia is rather uncommon, so advertisers fall back on popular celebrities for endorsements. This is clearly visible from the marketing campaign for the product featured in the case-study in the practical part of this work (PART D). In it, an Indonesian celebrity, not a hair expert, endorses a new hair shampoo. The celebrity endorsing the shampoo does not try to convince consumers to buy the product by listing reasons in favour of purchasing the product, as the hair expert would do.

It remains to be seen whether or not advertising activities on the part of companies will become more affective and whether they will make greater use of religious imagery, owing to the influence of Islamization. In a multiethnic country, would ethnic-specific marketing not be more sensible since twenty percent of the Indonesian population is not even Muslim and the Sino-Indonesians with their on average high disposable incomes could, for example, easily be put off by advertising which is overly affective? Particularly in the context of this orientation, more in-depth research needs to be carried out considering ethnic-specific advertising appeals.

C.2.5 Status Orientation

C.2.5.1  Definition


It is a matter of fact that all societies assign certain of their members higher status than others. By doing so they signal that special attention should be given to these individuals of higher status. To describe the variation in how different societies assign status to their members, Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner introduced the “dilemma between achievement and ascription” (Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner 1997: 102-119; Trompenaars and Woolliams 2004: 97). Generally, status is the relative rank that an individual holds, with attendant rights, duties, and lifestyle, in a social hierarchy based upon honour or prestige. Status may be http://www.britannica.com/eb/topic?idxStructId=762644&typeId=13ascribed (assigned to individuals at birth without reference to any innate abilities) or achieved (requiring special qualities and gained through competition and individual effort). The first form of status is called “achieved status” and the latter “ascribed status”. While achieved status refers to what one does and to what one has done (“doing”), ascribed status refers to who one is (“being”) (Trompenaars and Woolliams 2004: 97). Ascribed status is therefore typically based on gender, age, race, family relationship, or birth, while achieved status may be based on education, occupation, marital status, accomplishments, or other factors. In ascriptive oriented societies, one is one’s status. It is important to see how different the logics of achievement and ascription are and not consider either as meaningless. The status orientation is correlated with the power orientation, i.e. countries which score highly on Hofstede’s power distance index (Hofstede and Hofstede 2005: 43-44), also score highly on the ascribed status orientation. Both orientations’ implications for consumer behaviour and international marketing partially overlap, but their cultural foundations are different as well as their character, or meaning. As can be seen in the figure below, status orientation correlates positively with power orientation, i.e. in high power distance societies, ascribed status orientation dominates.

Figure C-40 Correlations between different orientations

A certain status is natural to one as one’s birth or formal education through which one’s innate powers were made manifest. Ascribed status simply “is” and requires no rational justification, although such justification may exist. In these societies one is, for example, respected more because of age and experience than for achievements, whereas achievement oriented societies believe that such behaviour is rather archaic (Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner 1997: 103). In ascriptive oriented societies, therefore, status is attributed to those who “naturally” evoke admiration from others, that is, older people, males, highly qualified persons and/or persons skilled in a technology or project deemed to be of national importance. To show respect for status is to assist the person distinguished in this way to fulfil the expectations the society has of him or her (Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner 1997: 113). In these societies the individual is unique and not easily comparable with others.


Most literature, such as David McClelland’s (1966) “The Achieving Society”, sees achievement orientation as part of modernization processes. The theory goes that (this idea results from the essence of American Protestantism), once business achievement is rewarded, the process is self-perpetuating. However, Trompenaars’ and Hampden-Turner’s research shows that the achievement orientation might be sufficient but not necessary for modernization and economic growth. South Korea and Japan (Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner 1997: 105) score in an ascription oriented and not in an achievement oriented way. Their score has been stable over the years, despite the countries’ modernization with all the social and economic transformations that went with it. Indonesia scores as a very ascriptive society (Boucher-Floor, THT consulting, email August 2004; Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner 1997: 105; Trompenaars and Woolliams 2004: 98) whereas Singapore is much more achievement oriented. This is abundantly clear from advertising as it will be demonstrated.

Figure C-41 Indonesia scoring highly status-oriented

The cultural foundation of the orientation in Indonesia will be discussed in detail in the following section.

C.2.5.2 The orientation’s cultural foundations


The orientation and religion

What are the cultural foundations causing Indonesia to score as one of the most ascriptive oriented societies? There appears to be a reasonable answer to this question. The cultural element religion exerts the greatest ability to shape society in all of the countries investigated. Depending on content, moral guidelines and interpretation, religions shape culture in diverse ways. In the context of this orientation, the ability to shape status orientation can either be ascribed or achieved depending on the existing religion in the country. According to Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner (1997: 104-107) the idea of achievement orientation generally goes back to the essence of Protestantism: the pursuit of justification through works which long ago gave achievers a religious sanction and capitalism its moving spirit (Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner 1997: 104). People work hard to assure themselves of the esteem of their culture (Weber 2005). Catholic countries ascribing status to more passive ways of life, Hinduism associating practical achievements with delusion (Eliade and Culianu 1995: 293-294), and Buddhism teaching detachment from earthy concerns (Eliade and Culianu 1995: 267-268) are all forms of ascribed status with its impact on social behaviour. Aspects of ascription vary greatly from country to country whereas Protestantism correlates with achievement orientation and Catholic, Buddhist and Hindu cultures score in a considerably more ascriptive-oriented manner. Howe (2001: 84-108, 138-162) illustrates what importance status and hierarchy still exert on Bali today.

Although Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner (1997) make no reference to Islam and in which way Muslim belief influences the status orientation, taking a look at how several Muslim countries score in this orientation provides clues. In Trompenaars’ and Hampden-Turner’s tables (1997: 105-106), Muslim countries score highly on the ascriptive orientation although Islam preaches essential egalitarianism within the community of the faithful. This apparent contradiction can be justified in the following way. The tendency of the Islamic ethic to strengthen the community at the expense of the extended family or http://www.britannica.com/eb/topic?idxStructId=604711&typeId=13tribe has not succeeded, however. Muslim society, until modernizing influences encroached upon it, had remained basically one composed of tribes or quasi-tribes which strengthened elements such as descent and lineage (which are clearly “being”) and influenced a society’s orientation in the direction of ascribed status.


However, the ascribed-status supporting role of Islam, whose ability to shape cultural behaviour and therefore the status orientation, is less prevalent in Indonesia. The reason for this is, pre-Islamic religions have been influencing Indonesia’s contemporary social structure in a lasting way, as already discussed at length in the context of other orientations. The concept of ascribed status is founded in its history and especially refers to the time before Islam became influential as Palmier (2004: 5) reveals. She continues by explaining that “the conversion to Hinduism of Indonesia, and the consequential unification of the archipelago, brought hierarchy with it” (Palmier 2004: 5). The most striking manifestation of Hinduism and its impact on status groups is found in the religion’s http://www.britannica.com/eb/topic?idxStructId=98395&typeId=13caste system. Before the coming of the Hindus it would appear that there was relatively little social class differentiation, i.e. pre-Islamic religions also possess considerable influence in connection with these orientations.

The initial questions can be seen to be clarified, namely that Hinduism and its societal influence led to the development of hierarchies which previously did not exist in this way. The following line of argument will facilitate comprehension of these connections. Before the arrival of the Hindus, shifting-cultivation was the dominant agrarian method in Indonesia. Shifting cultivation, a flexible and highly adaptive means of production, was one of the very first forms of agriculture practiced by humans who took an area of land to use for agriculture, only to abandon it a short time later. Before rice began its spread across Southeast Asia, the physical mobility (nomadic movements) of groups relied on hunting and gathering (Piper 1993: 12). They practiced shifting-cultivation which usually did not lead to the creation of permanent settlements with hierarchical social structures. Irrigated rice seems to have become established in Java shortly before the ascendancy of the Majapahit kingdom in the thirteenth century (Piper 1993: 12). Wet-rice cultivation which was introduced by Hindus and which gradually eroded shifting-cultivation as the dominant method of agriculture, led to a settled form of existence and with it also the creation of a “social structure of differing degrees of status” (Palmier 2004: 5). In this new social structure power then came into the hands of the nobility, who were both military and spiritual leaders, and subservient to the sultan (Palmier 2004: 5). These have always gone to great lengths to emphasize and trace their descent and kin relations (Palmier 2004: 7), a fact which displays qualities of an ascribed status orientation. These new society structures offered a hierarchy of statuses. One quality which gave and continues to give value is an occupation. The value of an occupation in this system increased with distance from manual labour, i.e. the further away, the higher the status. “A way of life free from the toil of one’s hands is ‘refined’; one which involves it is coarse”, writes Palmier (2004: 5). This is an attitude to life which still persists in Indonesia and Thailand today, and which is noticeable in certain cosmetic brands’ sales figures. Since status is not associated with manual, outdoor occupations, but rather with jobs in air-conditioned offices, having tanned skin is tantamount to being unrefined, since a tan is linked to manual labour. The paler the complexion, the higher the status. This explains why so many people are attracted to skin lightening cosmetics. The following figure presents some information on these lightening products.

Figure C-42 Advertisements for skin whitening products


According to Rappe (1995: 341), self-identity on Java is especially dependent on social status. This status is pre-determined through birth or by decent, and must be corroborated through rituals. Errington (1984: 278-280) provides a sophisticated portrayal in this context. According to it, there are two kinds of self in the tradition of Javanese nobility (“priyayi”): the large, “aku”-self, and the small “ingsun”-self. “Aku” is the worldly self, brought out by interaction with the world. This “aku”-self must be overcome, so that man can achieve unity with the holy, refined “ingsun” self. Both relationships have differing personal pronouns in the first person. “Aku” is used for spontaneous, familiar discourse, in the so-called “ngoko” register in Javanese (Markham 1995: 95-98). “Ingsun”, on the other hand, is used as the personal pronoun for the king and gods of shadow play “wayang kulit” and is reserved for festive, ritual occasions. These differing spheres correspond to internal and external behaviour. In this way the “aku”-self can be assigned to the area crude (“kasar”), in which uncontrolled passions play a huge role. The “ingsun” self, in contrast, represents the refined (“alus”) area of people. From the “aku”-self one gets to the “ngsun”-self by performing mystical practices by which one attains the necessary dignified feeling (“rasa”). The following elaborations will highlight the importance of status.

The orientation and language

Besides religion, language (particularly the Javanese language) supports Trompenaars’ and Hampden-Turner’s classification of Indonesia as an ascribed status orientated society. As already explained in detail in another paragraph (power orientation) the Javanese tongue is structured so that it permits recognition of seniority and social status as well as having fine nuances (Keeler 1994: xvii-xxiv). Basically, it has two main language forms. Addressing one’s juniors, inferiors or intimates one uses “ngoko”; addressing one’s seniors, superiors or strangers, one uses “kromo” (Markham 1995: 95-98). Palmier (2004: 44) notes in this respect: “… naturally, the kinship terms of reference for seniors were usually of the honorific vocabulary, “kromo”; for juniors of the “ngoko”. Woodward (1989: 8-9) clarifies that Javanese chronicles (“babad“) are exclusively concerned with princes, kings and local saints.


The above-mentioned observations cited as the basis for Indonesia’s ascribed status orientation are, like all culture elements, prone to a dynamic process of change. These transformations led to new status symbols replacing others as described by Palmier (2004) and Gerke (1999) through shifts in meaning of noble titles and other such symbols. Palmier (2004: 48) explains:

"Whether in housing, dress, manners, education, interests, or speech, these leaders are moving out of traditional Indonesian styles into modern Western ones. And the more Western, the more prestige.” (Palmier 2004: 48)


This change in how certain status symbols are regarded does not, however, lead to a general change in status orientation in Indonesian society. This is owing to the fact that this change only affects the attributes described as practices in the model of the culture onion. The values which remain constant are therefore unaffected by this change. This is shown in the extent to which fascination with status, hierarchy and symbols (in whatever form they may take) continues to mould Indonesian society. As shown, societies confer status on individuals in diverse traditions. In Indonesia, status and prestige are associated with seniority (which is often associated with experience), nobility and job titles, family names, and ethnic and religious background. These qualities (attributes of being) generally count more than specific achievements (attributes of doing) in Indonesia. However, a change seems to have taken place over time as to which properties are associated with status. These changes took place in the form of an increasing significance of new elements, while at the same time a loss of other elements’ importance occurred. Elements are understood as differing symbols which convey status. Although the above-mentioned attributes such as family name or nobility continue to be significant, they have been complemented by materialistic attributes such as possessions (Gerke 1999). This means that status and prestige are nowadays things that can be bought, for example objects such as televisions, mobile phones, motorbikes and cars have a high status value, as do nearly all consumer goods available today. Their status increases with the price paid for the product.

Thus it is possible to possess consumer goods and the status which accompanies them through hard work and its resulting affluence. This does not mean, however, that ascribed status oriented Indonesian society is shifting to an achievement orientated one as a result. It is not activity (doing) through which affluence is accomplished, but the symbols and their display which primarily creates status. It is precisely because of this fact that status symbols continue to exert such great influence with important repercussions on consumer behaviour and international marketing. Leslie Palmier (2004) takes the change in status and its impact over time on Java as her subject matter and confirms with her research that originally the cultural element religion brought hierarchy and with it the ideas of status and prestige to Indonesia. Symbols which entitle status have changed over time. Especially the western influences which first came to Indonesia with colonization play a role. The repercussions on marketing and consumer behaviour will be explained in the next paragraph.

C.2.5.3 Implications for consumer behaviour and international marketing

Status orientation has far-reaching implications on the one hand in its influence on consumer behaviour, and on the other, in the extent to which companies tailoring their marketing strategies to the orientation (insofar as those in charge) are aware of the existence of different status concerns (DM, interview December 2004; IW, interview November 2004; SL, interview October 2004; HS, interview October 2004; KS, interview October 2004; JiK, interview October 2004; LSML, interview October 2004; KSBH, interview October 2004; AK, interview October 2004; ACWC, interview October 2004; AR, interview April 2001, September 2004, December 2004; CCL, interview August 2005; SN, interview August 2005). Since this orientation affects all marketing aspects (4Ps), the orientation’s impact on the 4Ps (product, price, place, promotion) should be discussed. First of all, however, Indonesian consumers should briefly be interpreted in the framework of the status orientations.


Basically it is noteworthy that Indonesians are extremely status conscious. This consciousness is apparent in all aspects of life, not only in consumer behaviour. It influences to a greater or lesser extent the entire population’s behaviour, even though Indonesians with a Chinese background (Sino-Indonesians) are considered to be less status conscious (SL, interview September 2004). This lack of status consciousness is evident from the fact that purchasing status symbols is not a top priority for them, even if financially possible. It is not a cliché to say that it is more important for the Chinese minority to have a school and university education for their children than it is to purchase status symbols (SL, interview September 2004).

When it was suggested that all areas of life are affected by status orientation, the religious sphere is not excluded from this. Undoubtedly Indonesians show more respect for people with religious knowledge (irresponsible of religion). Differing status is recognizable, for example in Protestant communities in Jakarta, by the fact that certain chosen members of the community or foreign visitors automatically sit in the front row, and if this is not the case, they are requested to do so. Frequently the front row has different seating available - often decorative sofas. It is assumed or known that the people who are seated here have a higher status. It was observed that foreigners who generally receive high respect are usually asked to sit in the front row or at a table with a so-called VIP or a person considered to be important. The Indonesians who arranged the foreigner’s visit and who greeted him or her are also endowed with status. Therefore the people who invited the author were asked to sit further towards the front than their status would usually permit, and a year after the author’s visit they were still allowed this privilege.

The same was true of conferences and seminars where foreigners and wealthy looking Indonesians received privileged treatment. This meant that the author was automatically seated at Chatib Basri’s table (MarkPlus Economic Outlook, Jakarta December 2004)93. If the Indonesian counterpart’s status is unclear, then clothing, language and manners automatically count as status. This explains their obsession with status symbols. Palmier (2004: 149) notes: “Indeed, the pattern of clothing was itself revelatory of status”. Whoever is well-dressed, preferably with clearly visible designer logos (logo-mania), receives a lot of respect. Security checks at the entrances of malls, hotels and restaurants are less stringent for seemingly expensively dressed people, who are treated by the security staff in what can be described as an obsequious manner (from a western viewpoint). Anyone who gets out of a Mercedes-Benz at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Jakarta, for example, receives the red carpet treatment. Anyone who asks for a taxi there and is well dressed will not have to wait in line at the taxi stand, because it will immediately be organized for them. And apart from the foreigner who follows the rules and waits, no one will complain about this person’s apparel dependent behaviour. Indonesians understand and accept this behaviour and always seem to justify it with similar comments such as “This person is rich, so she/he deserves this treatment…”.


Foreigners may in general perceive the status consciousness and behaviour on the part of Indonesians as somewhat grotesque. An Indonesian employee at the Portuguese embassy, for example, takes a taxi to work although these daily trips drastically reduce her disposable income (MI, interview September 2004). It was argued that as an employee at an embassy, to go by bus is not the done thing, since this would mean loss of face in the neighbourhood and in front of colleagues. Behaviour of this kind is reminiscent of Mulder’s assessment (1990: 139): “In questions of status, the Javanese are irreconcilable“. According to him, people are often obstinate and uncompromising, determined to protect their status with all means and regardless of the consequences, all of which can be traced back to the fear of losing (ibid: 139). Passengers on the bus would also wonder in the case of the embassy employee why a well dressed lady had to take the bus. The same is true of the following behaviour. Office workers take the bus to work and then change to better clothes at the workplace and change back into their old clothes for the way home (unless a dinner or outing is planned). They do this not only to keep their work clothes good, but also because it would mean loss of face to travel by public transport in good and expensive-looking clothing. Many visitors to the malls demonstrate a similar kind of behaviour, especially the younger among them, when they change clothes upon arrival at the mall. At the mall they often wear clothes borrowed from friends or jointly purchased with friends. Before leaving the mall, they change back into their everyday clothing. The fact that mall clothing is shared, is reminiscent of Indonesian neighbourhood helping (“gotong-royong”) (Koentjaraningrat 1967: 394), i.e. clothes are borrowed from family, friends and colleagues in order to go to the malls. Often people purchase an item of clothing together in order to lend it out to others depending on who needs a specific T-Shirt, for example, at a specific time. This status oriented behavioural pattern appears to be grotesque or unauthentic to the foreign observer since clothing does not necessarily reflect the biographical or financial background of the buyer in Indonesia. One has to ask oneself why specific branded goods are so important that they must be bought even they have to save on food or rent to buy them. The answer to this question is Indonesian’s extreme ascribed status orientation which was reported over and over in interviews.

The interview setting for this work was especially tailored to take account of this intense status consciousness. Interviewees were received at rented conference rooms in business centres at leading hotels. This was to show them respect and acknowledge their social status. Palmier (2004: 153) explains why this is so important in Indonesia: “To show respect for status is to assist the person so distinguished to fulfil the expectations the society has of him or her.”

The orientation and promotional activities


Generally in the context of this orientation, the fundamental question companies should ask themselves is whether customers want to own functional products that achieve a utilitarian purpose or whether they prefer to buy status. It was clear from interviews the extent to which some companies advertise their products country specifically and at the same time unwittingly translate status orientation (“doing“ versus “being“) into advertising (DM, interview December 2004). Achievement-orientated cultures market their products and services on the basis of their performance. In ascribed-status cultures, such as those generally found in Southeast Asian countries, status is ascribed to products that naturally evoke admiration from others and are symbolic representations of status. This status is less concerned with the functional capabilities of the product. If status is linked to “being” of the status orientation, the products and brands should be positioned so that their attributes are seen as prestigious. In achievement oriented cultures, the emphasis is on performance, reliability and functionality. This is especially apparent in promotions (another of the 4Ps) and campaigns designed for different target markets. The BMW campaigns can be taken as an example here. In Indonesia (which is a strongly ascribed status oriented country), BMW campaigns reflect this being orientation. In Singapore, which is much more achievement oriented, BMW advertisements have a much more technical feel. Cars are advertised in such a way that if one purchases a BMW, one’s hard work seems to be rewarded. This kind of performance oriented advertising, however, would not be broadcast in Indonesia since it would be unsuccessful there (BR, interview November 2004).

Figure C-43 BMW ads in Singapore (1)

Figure C-44 BMW ads in Singapore (2)


Figure C-45 BMW ads in Indonesia

The same goes for the luxury watch sector. In Indonesia, luxury watches are purchased more than anything else to express status and this is reflected in adverts broadcast there. In other countries (for example Germany which is regarded as scoring in a similarly achievement oriented fashion), watches are more likely to be advertised as a reward. Similarly, de Beers’ advertising in Japan shows women who should treat themselves to a diamond as a present. Japan, too, is achievement oriented. Due to ascribed status, products with logos seem to sell well in Indonesia.

Figure C-46 Wempe advertising campaign clearly reflects a "doing orientation"


Figure C-47 DeBeers new "A diamond forever" campaign reflecting a "doing approach"

Figure C-48 The status orientation in Indonesia

Experience shows that brands like Giorgio Armani which are difficult to identify, sell poorly among the logo-loving Indonesian elite. Logos are a way of setting yourself apart from others and appear to be so valuable that the fake goods available in Indonesia often flaunt logos from more than one company. Indonesian consumers’ logo-mania leads to insiders labelling Indonesian consumers as unsophisticated. They are merely interested in logos and status and not in individuality. Expensive sounding brands and logos create prestige, with European sounding names often being used to name condominium and shopping complexes and boutiques. Palmier’s argument that “…in Java names have long been important social indicators” (Palmier 2004: 119-120) is true in the world of goods, too. The resourcefulness with which Indonesian businessmen and women name their shops and goods is incredible. But they all have one thing in common. They sound outlandish and conjure up the impression of exclusivity and luxury. Many shops not only in the fashion business, but also patisseries, restaurants and clubs give themselves exotic foreign, often English, French or Spanish sounding names; most recently even Arabic sounding names are being used. In connection with product and brand names, attention should be drawn to the differing brand awareness in the luxury goods branch (as explained in the power orientation paragraph). In Indonesia, products in this sector only sell if the brand name and brand logo are clearly visible. Less ostentatious brands are only successful to a limited extent. This is why Prada in Indonesia mostly sells shoes from its sports range which is easily identifiable because of its red stripe (HaS, interview December 2004). They do not, however, sell shoes from their main range which is only recognizable as a status symbol to those in the know.


Figure C-49 Foreign names evoke status in all fields of business

It would be interesting in this context to carry out an investigation comparing status orientation scores and turn-over of individual luxury brands in selected countries. In ascribed status oriented countries, sales of those brands which have big logos would possibly be higher than in achievement oriented societies where quality is the main factor in purchasing. Price (one of the 4Ps) has a different significance as a buying criterion in an achievement oriented culture than in an ascribed oriented society. In the former, price is often a synonym for quality (high price equals high quality). In ascribed status societies, price is more of a synonym for status. This means that a high price endows the product with prestige which as a result rubs off on the consumer. In the framework of price determination SL added the following: “Price is an important buying criterion for certain products” (SL, interview September 2004).

Interestingly, status is not only ascribed to people, but also to buildings and locations. There is scarcely a residential complex without a foreign sounding name. The concept of country of origin is closely linked to this, too. This means that for ascribed status societies this purchasing argument is important, providing the products are from a prestigious country of origin. In Indonesia, products from Europe, the United States and Japan rank highly; at the lower end of the scale, China ranks after Indonesia’s own products. This idea leads to the last of the 4Ps -place. By this (as already explained in the chapter on international marketing) the environment in which the products are presented, from distribution channels to the individual outlet, is meant. Here it is important to find a place which matches the product image. This is difficult in Indonesia (especially when one leaves the cities) where approximately 75 percent of total outlets are traditional. Notwithstanding, Indonesians are very resourceful when it comes to decorating their traditional outlets. Painted scarves, company flags and pennants doll off their point of sales (POS). By doing so, they aim to crate an ambiance which reflects the product or brand images of goods sold.


Figure C-50 Examples of traditional retailing in Indonesia and presentation of products

The orientation’s impact on concepts used in consumer behaviour and marketing

In order to understand consumer behaviour, it is generally believed that one must understand the motivating forces driving consumption decisions. In other words, one needs to know what needs consumers are seeking to meet and why they choose to meet them in the way they do (Schütte and Ciarlante 1998: 90). In the context of this orientation it is necessary to reveal whether needs, motivations and means of fulfilment differ from those of Western consumers and what the cultural reasons for this are.


The most popular and well-known approach to human motivation is based on the research of psychologist Abraham Maslow (1997, 2002). Maslow’s needs hierarchy specifies that needs are arranged in a sequence from lower-level to higher-level (see following figure). Each level of the hierarchy specifies a certain type of need. Maslow identifies five needs: (1) psychological (the biological needs for food water and sleep), (2) safety and security (the need for shelter, protection, and security), (3) social needs (the need for affection, friendship and acceptance), (4) ego needs (the needs for prestige, success, accomplishment, and self-esteem) and (5) the need for self-actualization (self-fulfilment and enriching experiences). Lower-level needs (starting with the physiological) are considered to dominate higher-level needs, i.e. consumers must satisfy low-level needs before they begin to pursue higher-order needs. According to Maslow, the highest level of need is related to self-realization (self-actualization). Consumers desire to live up to their full potential. They want to maximize the use of their skills and abilities. This need for self-realization only becomes activated if all four of the lower-level needs have already been satisfied. These five basic levels of human need rank in order of importance from lower-level (biogenic needs) to higher-level (psychogenic needs). The individual’s lowest-level need which is unsatisfied serves to motivate the individual’s behaviour. Once satisfaction of that need is achieved, a new and higher need emerges that the individual is motivated to fulfil. Upon satisfaction of that need, a still higher need will emerge, again motivating the consumer to fulfil it.

Figure C-51 Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs (1)

Maslow’s hierarchy provides useful organization for thinking about needs and motives. However, the hierarchy ignores the intensity of needs. The avid consumption of luxuries in poor transitional economies illustrates aspects of oversimplification. For example, Indonesian families forgo needed food in order to afford a television or a refrigerator that then remains empty. This might seem to be an extreme example, but examples such as this really do exist. It seems that sometimes higher-level needs win over basic needs. Even in ancient cultures in which people often struggled to meet basic needs, one can see evidence of human tendencies to make art and assemble collections.


Maslow’s needs hierarchy provides a useful summary or inventory of human requirements that can be useful for marketing managers interested in understanding their customers’ necessities. However, they should be cautious in assuming that a hierarchy of needs holds. The theory assumes some overlap between each level as no need is ever completely satisfied. While all the needs below those which remain unsatisfied continuously motivate behaviour to some extent, it is the lowest level of unsatisfied need that serves as the dominating motivating force of an individual’s behaviour. Thus the theory asserts that dissatisfaction is a stronger motivation than satisfaction.

While Maslow’s theory is agreed to be broadly applicable across many social disciplines, his needs hierarchy seems particularly suited to western culture, specifically American culture (Schütte and Ciarlante 1998: 92), although Maslow himself dismissed the question of intercultural transposability by arguing: “…societies are much more alike than we would think…” (Schütte and Ciarlante 1998: 92). Kindel, on the contrary, asserts that Maslow’s needs hierarchy is inappropriate for the Chinese, particularly at its stages of self-realization. In addition, Maslow’s ordering of needs may not be consistent across cultures. Research supports somewhat different hierarchies in the East (HS, lecture October 2004). Some cultures certainly put more value on social needs and belonging (as presented in the social orientation) and less on ego needs and self-realization. Different cultures have varying conceptions of the self that are likely to influence whether they value self-fulfilment or collective fulfilment. The presentation of this concept to them led to unanimous agreement on the part of the interview partners.

In the case of the Asian consumers, not only are modifications to Maslow’s ranking of needs required, but also the definition of and even existence of such needs must be questioned (JK, lecture October 2004). Since Southeast Asians, like everyone else, must be fed and protected in order to survive, changes are not required as far as physical needs are concerned. However, it is debatable whether self-realization as a personally directed need actually exists for the Asian consumer. Instead, it may be a socially directed need reflecting the desire to enhance an individual’s image and position through contributions to society. Among the collectivistic cultures of Southeast Asia (social orientation), the idea that personal needs are the highest level of need would neither be readily accepted nor regarded positively by others. To compare Maslow’s hierarchy of needs with the one suggested as being relevant for Indonesian consumers, refer to the next figure at the end of this paragraph. Indeed, the emphasis on achieving independence, autonomy and freedom (characteristic of the individualistic value system of Western cultures) is visibly absent form Asian cultures, according to Schütte and Ciarlante (1998: 92). In the Asian context, socially directed needs are considered to be those of the highest level. Rather than redefining Maslow’s self-actualization need as a socially directed self-fulfilment need, Schütte and Ciarlante hypothesize that personal needs in Southeast Asia tend to be subordinated to social needs. As a consequence, the highest level of satisfaction is not derived from the actions directed at the self but from the reactions of others to the individual. Therefore, a more accurate hierarchy of needs in the Southeast Asian context is one which eliminates the personally directed self-actualization need and instead emphasizes the intricacies and importance of social needs. What Maslow has identified as social needs of belonging and prestige can, according to HS, (lectures October 2004) in fact, be broken down into three levels: (1) affiliation, (2) approbation, and (3) status.


Figure C-52 Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs (2) (adapted from HS, lecture October 2004)

Affiliation is the acceptance of an individual as a member of a group. In the family, this acceptance is automatic, but in most other groups certain qualifications must be met in order to gain membership. In terms of consumer behaviour, the affiliation need will encourage conformity to group norms. Once affiliation has been attained, the individual will desire the approbation of those in his group. This is a higher level need and requires effort, as approbation must typically be earned through acts that demand the respect of others. Once the individual feels sufficiently approbated within his group, he/she will desire the status that comes from the esteem of society at large. Fulfilment of this level of need requires the regard of outsiders, whereas fulfilment of the approbiation need is on a more intimate level. This status level of needs most closely resembles Maslow’s prestige need and manifests itself in highly visible conspicuous consumption.

Schütte and Ciarlante (1998: 94-97) present other attempts which are believed to complement the idea of human needs and their impact on behaviour in the context of Maslow. One of the theories presented, groups together three human needs with the most significant ramifications for consumer behaviour as a “trilogy of needs”. These are the needs for power, affiliation and achievement.


Figure C-53 Trilogy of needs

These can be related to Maslow’s needs hierarchy and go even further in delineating the contrasts between Western and Asian consumers in terms of the nature and importance of each need and the type of consumer behaviour each one inspires. Schütte and Ciarlante (1998: 94) find that while these needs can often be personally directed in the case of the Westerner, among Asians these needs are far more often socially directed. The need for power refers to an individual’s need for control. This control can be directed towards the individual’s environment as well as towards other persons or objects. When an individual feels that controlling other people or things increases his status in their eyes, the individual experiences increased self-esteem as a result. This need for power is personally directed and is related to the individual’s need for self-esteem. In the Asian hierarchy of needs, the need for power would relate to the status need when the individual feels that greater power brings with it greater esteem from others. The collectivistic Asian consumer, according to Schütte and Ciarlante (1998: 98), however, “…is typically more satisfied to remain a part of the group rather than to control it, and the personally directed motivation the Western consumer experiences is therefore relatively absent in the Asian context. However, in Indonesia, people feel a great need for power over others. Historically power over people (prestige increases with the number of subjects) in Southeast Asia was considered more valuable than power over land. Land was plentiful, people, however, compared to area of land, were relatively scarce. The need for affiliation is very similar to Maslow’s social need and therefore ranks as extremely important in motivating consumer behaviour among individuals with a high dependence on the acceptance and approval of others. As Schütte and Ciarlante (1997) reveal with their hierarchy model of needs, the affiliation need is of particular importance in collectivistic cultures and may therefore be a greater motivator than in the Western context. People with high affiliation needs often select goods that they feel are in accordance with group norms and will thus meet with the approval of their group. In the western context, this need pertains to products and services that are consumed in groups and alleviate feelings of loneliness, such as team sports, coffee bars and shopping malls. In the Western context, the achievement need is related to both the socially directed prestige need and the personally directed self-realization need. People with a need for achievement tend to be more self-confident, enjoy taking calculated risks, actively research their environments and are very interested in feedback. Products and services that signify success are particularly appealing as they provide feedback about the realization of their goals. In the Western context, products associated with the need for achievement include cigarettes, candy, alcohol, ice cream and cookies because they serve as rewards for achievement. For the Asian consumer, “…achievement is a primary means of satisfying the social need for admiration from the peer group as well as status from society at large” (Schütte and Ciarlante 1998: 96). The self-satisfaction that achievement brings to the Asian consumer is derived not from providing a means of setting oneself apart from or above the groups, but from the social rewards in terms of status and the acceptance it brings.

In other words, achievement in the Asian context is very much a socially directed need in contrast to the personally directed self-realization needs of Western consumers. The figure illustrates the different weighting of needs between Western and Asian consumers. For the Western consumer, the individualistic needs of achievement and power are more prevalent and motivating than is the need for affiliation. In the collectivistic Asian cultural context, social needs (affiliation, admiration and status) are far more motivating than the need for individualized self-fulfilment in the form of achievement and power. This might be right, but the need for power over people certainly exists in Indonesian society. The needs for power and achievement are most motivating to the Asian consumer when they are socially directed, thus being subsumed by the affiliation need. Hence, for the Asian consumer, it is the “social self” that motivates. The “private self” is sublimated to concern over the effects of one’s actions and behaviour on others. It is therefore more important to monitor the motivations of the social than the private self. Motivational research techniques designed to reveal hidden motives may provide interesting detail, but the outward, social self is the active participant in consumption choices. Since the social self is far easier for the marketer to measure and respond to than the private self, it may be relatively easy to predict responses of Asian consumers to product-offering and promotional activities (Schütte and Ciarlante 1998: 97).


To sum up, the considerable significance of this orientation in connection with Indonesian cultural and consumer behaviour must be highlighted. Strong status orientation is reinforced through the power orientation, which will be explained in the course of this chapter. Since both orientations can be considered to be the most important in terms of affecting certain consumer behaviour patterns, both will be dealt with again in the summary and discussion of the model and results for Indonesia.

C.2.6 Control Orientation

C.2.6.1  Definition

The “control orientation” has been adapted from Trompenaars’ and Woolliams’ “internal versus external control value dimension” who describe this dimension as “the dilemma between internal versus external control” (Trompenaars and Woolliams 2004: 107). This dichotomy is also known as “internal locus of control versus external locus of control” (Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner 1997: 141; ibid: 107). The dimension concerns an existential matter of life which affects all human beings, i.e. the meaning people assign to their natural environment. The dimension enquires whether a culture tries to control and dominate nature or submit to it. Societies have developed two major orientations towards nature; either that one can and should control nature by imposing one’s will upon it, as in the ancient biblical injunction “multiple and subdue the earth”; or that man is part of nature and must go along with its laws, directions and forces (Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner 1997: 141). The orientation therefore reflects the idea of an inner-directed versus an outer-directed worldview. One can see considerable variations in this external versus internal control dimension between countries (ibid: 143-144).

A divide between countries is reflected in Trompenaars’ and Hampden-Turner’s ranking of the dimension where predominantly Muslim countries and Hindu India score as externally controlled. It seems that people in Muslim countries and Asian countries in general, are less likely to believe in internal control than people residing in Europe or North America. In the latter two, a strict separation between religious beliefs and science has been drawn, as well as a separation between church and state. The foundations of this behaviour will be explained in the next section. Indonesia’s score exemplifies a society principally believing in external control of the world (Boucher-Floor, THT consulting, email August 2005). Indeed, there is much evidence to indicate that Indonesian society is heavily influenced by religious and cultural influences which are the reason for the country’s score as a society where people believe in being outer-directed (externally controlled).


Figure C-54 Indonesia scoring rather externally controlled

C.2.6.2 The orientation’s cultural foundations

In the course of human existence, there has been a shift from a preponderant fear that nature would overwhelm human existence, to the idea that nature can be controlled. This transformation is closely linked to the rationalization of the world, i.e. that the truth should be determined by reason and factual analysis, rather than faith, dogma or religious teaching (Kopper 1979: 1-39). Before the fifteenth century in Europe, nature was seen as an organism. People believed that nature and the environment determined what human beings needed to do, and that nature controlled them, rather than the reverse. With the Renaissance, this organic view became mechanistic and the idea that nature could be controlled, developed (Debus 1978: 1-15; Gerl 1989: 19-40). Thus religion was replaced by a civic order, culminating in the secular viewpoints expressed in the French Revolution (for example laicism). The 18th century also saw a continued rise of empirical philosophical ideas, and their application to political economy, government and sciences such as physics, chemistry and biology. The idea of uniform laws for natural phenomena mirrored the greater systematization in a variety of studies. The Enlightenment’s intellectual heritage is reflected in the view that it was the point where Europe broke through what historian Peter Gay (1966) calls “the sacred circle”, where previous dogma circumscribed thinking. The Age of Enlightenment, as is generally believed today, facilitated the beginning of a human-centric (internally controlled) versus a God-centric (externally controlled) worldview with major implications for humankind and the organization of life (Trinkhaus 1999: XVI., 667-684). However, the Age of Enlightenment - a western cultural heritage - influenced primarily the cultures out of which it originated, and in other parts of the world had too minor an influence on people’s life worlds to rationalize the organic view that nature dominates individuals and directs actions. People’s focus in these cultures tends to be on the environment rather than on themselves. This has been described as external control and has major implications on peoples’ world outlook, self-assessment and self-development. Those people who have a mechanistic view of nature have, in addition to the belief that man can dominate the environment, a tendency to take themselves as the point of departure for determining any course of action. This is known as internal control.

Fatalism is often closely connected to outer control orientations as religion exerts influence on people’s life worlds, particularly in regions where people are predominantly believers of religions which were not de-mystified by the innovation of the Age of Enlightenment. Fatalism is a belief that directly influences action, not necessarily in terms of acting less, but rather in terms of acting differently. It clearly posits the locus of control as being outside, in the metaphysical environment. There are huge differences in how religious beliefs influence this orientation. Where, for example Christianity fundamentally differs from Islam, is in the assumption that God would ask human beings to accept their destiny as it comes (Usunier and Lee 2005: 66). The Christian creed separates the worldly from the heavenly sphere more strictly, as mentioned elsewhere. Furthermore, there is a less personal and direct relationship to God than in Islam, since, at least in Catholicism, it is largely mediated by the Church. This frees the tendencies towards mastery over nature, since God gives mankind leeway in relation to worldly enterprises. In Christian religions, the way is cleared for proactive attitudes. In Islam, omniscience is, as generally in monotheistic religions, typically attributed to God. Thus, it is not primarily the presence of omniscience which exists traditionally in theology, but the degree of emphasis placed on the capacity to know everything across religions. In religions such as Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism (Weber 2005; Schluchter 1984) where this emphasis is strong, people see themselves as externally controlled (Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner 1997: 144) with major implications on cultural behaviour.


As mentioned elsewhere, Indonesia’s society is culturally influenced by the religions and traditions of the Indian subcontinent (Hinduism and Buddhism) and that of the Middle East (Islam) as well as indigenous customs (“adat") (Garang 1974: 10-40). The phenomenon of inter-personal relationships dominating all areas of Indonesian society is “adat”. The term “adat” originates in the Islamic-Arabic region, and describes non-coded local-traditional habits which are summed up in the expression “what is commonly known and accepted”, or “custom” among Islamic nomadic tribes (Garang 1974: 10). “Adat” is a means of social control.

Java, Indonesia’s main island, once the site of many influential kingdoms in the Southeast Asia region, is still, despite what Mulder (1994: 19) has called “santrinisasi” (continuous penetration of orthodox Islam), a strong repository of an amalgam of classic Javanese ideas exercising a powerful spell (“Javanization”) on present-day social, political and cultural spheres in Indonesia. At the heart of Javanese civilization there are, as exemplified elsewhere in this chapter, mystic and religious practices which are shaped by the idea of being in step with cosmic rhythm and destiny (ibid: 23), clearly favouring an outer-control orientation. Javanism’s underlying thinking that events are preconditioned and are manifestations of God’s omnipotence or the power of nature (“kodrat”), and the Javanese belief in the projective power of puppet plays (“wayang”) exemplify the assumption that Javanism promotes a view of an externally controlled world. Together with Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam, all chiefly propagating an externally directed world, one can conclude that Indonesian society in general scores in a rather externally controlled way. Finally, the hypothesis that Indonesian society is rather externally controlled, can be confirmed.

C.2.6.3 Implications for consumer behaviour and international marketing

The orientations’ implications mainly concern organizational and strategic companies’ matters (rather than questions arising in the field of consumer behaviour) since the orientation’s influences on individual consumers are rather inconsequential compared to its impact on strategy and organization. The reason for this is that the relationship closely analogous to man and nature, outlined in this orientation, is that of organizations and markets (Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner 1997: 148). While the belief that the environment is all-powerful in deciding the future and can lead to fatalism or resignation (American belief), it can also lead to a company view where markets and consumers are central variables of success and where direction is taken from markets (outside) and not only from the company’s research and development (R&D) department (inside) which tends to be far away from the end-consumer. It may be for this reason that some outer-directed cultures (for example Japan, Singapore and South Korea) are among the world’s better economic performers with their innovative and consumer-centric companies (for example Toyota and Samsung). This gives clues as to why a product may succeed, i.e. not simply because the company wills it to, or because its special design features delight customers, but a combination of all product features. This shows how much it helps to be outer-directed, because this cultural tendency focuses on what customers want. It may succeed for reasons other than those which come from inside the organization, namely the customers’ preferences.


Figure C-55 Interaction with consumers in externally- and internally-oriented companies

Unlike Indonesians and generally most Asians, Germans are inside-oriented and focus on quality (RD, interview December 2004). German companies expect to sell on this, but this can also mean losing track of competitors or managing markets with a homogenous global strategy without taking local idiosyncrasies into account. For inner-directed companies, local peculiarities deriving from culture are rather meaningless as the products and services are believed to be so superior that they can sell worldwide without adaptation. As Colenso (2000: 149-168), Howaldt, Kopp and Winther (1998: 13-19) and Imai (1997: 15-26) show, such introspectiveness can lead to many faux-pas in the corporate world. Therefore, it can be concluded that the main issue related to this orientation is to connect the internally controlled culture of technology push (selling what one can make) with the externally controlled world of market pull (making what one can sell). Outer-directed need not mean God-directed or fate-directed but directed by the knowledge revolution, by a joint-venture partner or the end-consumer.

To accept direction from customers, market forces or new technologies can be more advantageous than opposing these with one’s own (or company’s) preferences. Ideas like “scanning the environment” and “customer orientation” usually come very naturally to cultures scoring as outer-directed, as mentioned elsewhere. As shown, in a cultural environment where a lot of attention is given to outside forces, companies are very keen to find out what customers want (Colenso 2000: 113-124). Manufacturers do their best to make or develop products that fulfil customer needs. The most effective organizations are those which are better at connecting the push of technology to the pull of the market (Colenso 2000: 149-168; Howaldt, Kopp and Winther 1998: 13-19; Imai 1997: 15-26).


Another important aspect regarding this orientation is that of innovation. Asia’s major inroads into Western markets have come less from products that have been invented there and more from products that were “refined”. It is believed that this is possible because of Asian’s outside orientation. Western contention that sees Asians as “stealing ideas” is also shaped by the West’s proprietary notion about what comes from inside of us and is therefore “ours”. The concept is so apparent to Southeast Asians and especially the Japanese, that they are hardly aware of it (Imai 1997: 15). Not all Southeast Asians follow the concept, but being outwardly oriented to the market is generally discernible in companies. Southeast Asians may regard western technologies as part of the environment, like fruit on a tree, which wise people pick and incorporate into themselves. Moreover concepts such as “kaizen” (refinement, improvement) have very high cultural prestige. Colenso (2000: 8) adds:

“It is important to recognize that kaizen is not an initiative, it is an ongoing organizational culture which, as a matter of primary focus, is dedicated to and active in, the process of improvement.” (Colenso 2000: 8)


The concept is heavily linked to environmental adaptation (Imai 1997: 19-21), while many companies in the West espouse the view that the consumer would adapt himself to their products. To take something from the external environment and then refine or improve it is not “copying” but simply making something better. For Southeast Asians, the process of refinement has very high cultural prestige and is considered as art in its own right (Howaldt, Kopp and Winther 1998: 13-17). To invent something, to be its author and originator, is associated with high status in an internally oriented culture. To refine and develop something that was invented elsewhere is less prestigious. Finally, it can be claimed that an outer-directed orientation is the starting point of this thesis’ contention. This is because, without taking the importance of markets, consumers and their culture into consideration, it is impossible to have successful products as the company is then too internally-oriented. What can happen in a case such is shown in the next figure.

Figure C-56 Possible results of an inner-controlled (directed) market approach (images, courtesy of Coke)

In general it seems that the most successful foreign companies are the ones that manage to combine the image of a foreign brand with some degree of adaptation to local circumstances and preferences (Imai 1997: 15-26). In international marketing, control orientation does not play a central role in direct communication with the consumer. It rather concerns the basic direction of the company - whether it works in a customer-centric way or if the organization itself is at the forefront. This is the reason why, in the context of this orientation, consumers and their behaviour played a lesser role. However, the case-study presented in Part D reverts to this orientation and shows how successfully some outer-oriented companies operate.

C.2.7 Time Orientation

C.2.7.1  Definition


Time is more than what the clock says since different cultures have different concepts of time (owing to people’s need to coordinate their activities), which introduces dilemmas arising out of the different meanings given to time (Trompenaars and Woolliams 2004: 119). Time orientation has been analyzed by Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner as well as Hofstede. Hofstede (2005: 207-240) referred to this as “long-term versus short-term orientation”. For the purpose of this study it has been renamed “time orientation”, since not only differences between short-term and long-term concepts, but other time concepts will be investigated in conjunction with this orientation as well. Long-term orientation is the extent to which a society exhibits a pragmatic future-oriented perspective rather than a conventional historic or short-term point of view. Values included in long-term orientation are perseverance, ordering relationships by status and observing this order, thrift, and having a sense of shame. The opposite is short-term orientation, which includes personal steadiness and stability, respect for tradition and reciprocation of greetings, favours and gifts. Focus is on the pursuit of happiness rather than on the pursuit of peace of mind (Hofstede 2005: 210). The combination of long-term orientation and collectivism results in family ties, long-term thinking and other elements of Confucian philosophy such as filial piety and paternalism (Bond 1986: 214-216).

Hofstede’s and Trompenaars’ studies, based on the dimensions of past, present and future time orientations, were found to be important in the Chinese Value Survey (CVS), which was developed by Michael H. Bond and Peter B. Smith (1993) to measure values suggested by Chinese scholars. Both employ this concept for their own research and extend the study in a non-Chinese cultural environment. The purpose was to introduce a deliberate Eastern bias into value surveys that had historically been developed by Western scholars. This new instrument was tested on students in 22 countries (Bond and Smith 1993: 149-150). It revealed a dimension they termed “Confucian Work Dynamism”, which corresponds to a future-orientation on the one hand and a post- and present-orientation on the other (Bond and Smith 1993: 149-150, 186). East Asian countries scored highest, followed by Western countries. Key differences between short- and long-term orientations are thrift, being sparing with resources, respect for circumstances and the willingness to subordinate oneself for a purpose (Bond and Smith 1993: 149-150). At the short-term orientation pole, personal steadiness and stability, if overstressed, discourage the initiative, risk seeking, and changeability required of entrepreneurs in quickly changing markets. Other key differences are main work values including learning, honesty, adaptability, accountability and self-discipline. Leisure time is not important. Large savings are connected to funds available for investment - most of which is in real estate (AS, interview November 2004; HS, interview December 2004; IK, interview August 2004). Something that is often perceived as paradoxical in the measurements on this index is the combination of strong respect for tradition and short-term orientation in a large part of the Western world, whereas respect for old age and ancestor worship are such strong elements of Asian value systems. This reflects the desirable versus the desired: tradition is important, but it is innovativeness that is desired. Particularly in China, pragmatism tends to overrule respect for tradition. Besides Trompenaars’ and Hampden-Turner’s derived Chinese Value System, there are further theories which should be named at the juncture of this orientation.

Hall’s (1989) important study of time as an expression of culture provides an explanation of the difference in behaviour and language. One distinction by Hall of how people handle time is between monochronic (M-time) and polychronic (P-time) cultures (Hall and Hall 1989: 13-31). People from monochronic cultures tend to do one thing at a time; they are organized and methodical, and their workdays are structured to allow them to complete one task after another (Hall and Hall 1989: 13-14). Polychronic people, on the other hand, tend to do many things simultaneously. Their workday is not a chain of isolated, successive blocks; time is more like a vast, never-ending ocean extending in every direction (Hall and Hall 1989: 16-17). Germans adhere to the more rigid and compartmentalized way of dealing with time. To people who do many things at the same time, however, such as the Indonesians, Arabs or Pakistanis, punctuality is nice, but by no means an absolute necessity. In monochronic cultures, time spent on the Internet takes time from other activities, such as TV viewing. In polychronic cultures, people do both at the same time. Not all cultures are the same, however. In Japan, tight M-time is for business, and P-time is for private life (de Mooij 2005: 58), and work ethics are adapted to suit the circumstances. The figure below highlights this time concept.


Figure C-57 M-time versus P-time cultures and timing

Besides Hall’s analysis of language and time, one can distinguish between cultures and their orientation toward the past, present and future. Hall (1989: 17) identified three types of culture: present-oriented, which is relatively timeless, tradition-less and ignores the future; past-oriented, mainly concerned with maintaining and restoring traditions in the present; and future-oriented, envisaging a more desirable future and setting out to realize it. It is chiefly people who fall into the latter category who experience economic or social development (Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner 1997: 121). North Americans tend to be future-oriented; the future is a guide to present action, although the time horizon is short-term (Hall and Hall 1989: 17). The old is easily discarded and the new embraced. Most things are disposable, from ideas, trends, and management fads to marriage partners. Even the “old” is treated as new. Many Europeans are past-oriented; they believe in preserving history and continuing past traditions. Japan has a very long-term future time horizon, as has China, but they look to the past for inspiration (Hall 1989: 17). Furthermore, in societies undergoing a rapid process of economic change, past orientation is often temporarily played down (Usunier and Lee 2005: 27). This behaviour is often described as belief in the future, a phrase which is intended to express which great hope believers in the future associate with their future.

Another methodology used by Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner (1997: 125-127) to measure time interculturally is set out by Tom Cottle, who created the “Circle Test”. People are asked to think of past, present and future as being circled and asked to draw and arrange these circles in any way that shows how one feels about the relationship to the past, present and future. Four possible configurations were found. First, he found absence of zone relatedness. There is no connection between past, present or future, though in their view the future is much more important than the present and than the past. The second configuration was temporal integration; the third was partial overlap of zones and the fourth had zones touching but not overlapping, hence not sharing common regions of time (Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner 1997: 126). The figure below illustrates the results of the investigation into this concept schematically.


Figure C-58 Time zones and their relatedness

China is characterized by absence of zone relatedness, whereas Malaysia shows an orientation where all three aspects overlap, usually where the future is bigger and more important but where the past touches not only the future but overlaps it. All three aspects are important. The circle test measures how different cultures assign different meanings to past, present and future. Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner (1997: 126) extended the test to include short- and long-term horizon. Most Asian countries except the Philippines and Pakistan, which are very short-term-oriented are in the higher long-term orientation range. The Philippines and Pakistan are very-short term oriented (Hofstede and Hofstede 2005: 211) Unfortunately, there are no exact figures for Indonesia. However, Islamic countries are considered to be short-term oriented (Hofstede and Hofstede 2005: 234). The tables presented by Hofstede contain data from only two entirely Muslim countries and Islam by itself does not stand for a short-term orientation, but the strength of its fundamentalism does. This fact renders categorizing Indonesia difficult, even if advertising placed there strongly implies short-term-orientation due to its emphasis on the here and now. This was also confirmed by Tineke Boucher-Floor of THT Consulting (email, August 2005) who characterizes Indonesia as shown in the previous figure (figure: time zones and their relatedness). Yet, the most important aspect of the time orientation is whether a society is short- or long-term oriented. Indonesia scores as short-term oriented as the following figure demonstrates.

Figure C-59 Indonesia scoring rather short-term oriented

C.2.7.2 The orientation’s cultural foundations


As Gurevitch states (1976: 229): “Time occupies a prominent place in the ‘model of the world’ characterizing a given culture”. People’s relationship to time changes with respect to periods of history and levels of human development, the technology available for measuring time, the emphasis given to natural and social rhythms, and the prevailing metaphysical views. This means that each perception of time corresponds to a vision of the real world, its origin and destiny (world perception). Time appears predominately therefore through this social function, in that it allows people to have a common framework of activities and helps to synchronize individual human behaviour. Encyclopedic approaches to the concept of time (Attali 1982) show that one time pattern has never eliminated a previous one. Each new time pattern superimposes itself on the one that previously prevailed. As a consequence, individual time perceptions may result from adding or mixing different basic patterns of time. Most of the literature in cultural anthropology considers time perceptions as cultural artifacts.

The orientation and religion

In conjunction with the time orientation, the culture element “religion” plays an important role in pushing people towards a present orientation, if it emphasizes that only God decides the future. In terms of temporal orientations, the Arabic-Muslim character has been described as fatalistic and short-term oriented. As stated by Harris and Moran (1987: 474):


“Who controls time? A Western belief is that one controls his own time. Arabs believe that their time is controlled, to a certain extent, by an outside force – namely Allah – therefore the Arabs become more fatalistic in their view of time… Most Arabs are not clock watchers, nor are they planners of time.” (Harris and Moran 1987: 474)

In contrast, future orientation is naturally related to the view that people can master nature, and think the future can in some way be predicted or at least significantly influenced. In societies where future orientation is strong, it is backed by the educational system and by an “imagination of the future” supported by reports on scientific breakthroughs and technological developments. A strongly economic view of time, when combined with monochronism, emphasizes the linearity of time. Time is viewed as being a line with a point at the centre, i.e. the present. Each portion of the line can be cut into slices, which are supposed to have a certain value. Basic religious beliefs play a key role in supporting such a linear view of time. Christianity has a one-shot interpretation of worldly existence. Only on the final judgment day will Christians know if they are to be granted eternal life. However, the Asian religions, including Hinduism and Buddhism, assume that on the death of the body, the soul is born again in another body. The belief is that regular reincarnation, i.e. until a pure soul is allowed to escape the cycle and enter nirvana, radically changes the nature of time in a specific life (Becker 1993: 1-22, 23-45).


Figure C-60 Worldly existence of humans: time bar versus time circle

For most Asians, cyclicity is central in their pattern of time as illustrated above. Naturally, patience is on the side of people believing in cyclical reincarnation of the soul. For Christians, it is more urgent to achieve, because their souls are given only one worldly life which in fact supposedly has important repercussions on consumer behaviour and marketing. Elements of cyclicity are based mostly on metaphysical assumptions. Elements of cyclicity of time therefore have one main origin - religious assumption about reincarnation of the soul.

The orientation and language


Besides the influence of religion on this orientation, language plays a role in that it identifies a society as being either short-term or long-term oriented. Short-term or long-term orientation can to a lesser extent be investigated with the help of language. However, it is possible to comment on the relationship between past, present and future. It seems that there are clues as to culture’s time orientation in its language, since representations of time are conveyed through the medium of language, as a means of communication and therefore collective action, too. The vocabulary of time reveals a great deal about the linkage between language and cultural representations. Since Indonesian does not have any conjugations, the time of an action (tempus) cannot be identified through the verb. Thus the verb can have many meanings from a time point of view (Nothofer and Pampus 1998: 39). Generally, the context is sufficient to determine the tense. If this is not the case, the adverbs of time can be used for assistance. In Indonesian the completion of the action is more important than the tense; comments about the tense are carried out by three adverbs (sudah [already], belum [not yet], sedang [now]). On principle, these grammatical elements reveal that there is no clear division between tenses. It could be assumed that this is why the circles do not overlap in the circle test in this case. Finally, the culture element language has a decisive influence on this orientation, too. To what extent the orientation determines purchasing behaviour is the subject of the next section.

C.2.7.3 The orientation’s impact on marketing and consumer behaviour

As demonstrated, time is a core system of cultural, social, and personal life. Each culture has its own unique time frame. Different concepts of time can explain significant differences in behaviour. A few aspects of time that are relevant to consumer behaviour are summarized in the following paragraphs. Furthermore, it should be noted that many marketing concepts are time based: product life-cycle (Kotler, Ang, Leong and Tan 2003: 316-318, 329, 332), sales forecasting (Kotler, Ang, Leong and Tan 2003: 133-137) or the planning of new product launches (Czinkota and Ronkainen 2004: 613-620) to name but a few. Normative time in marketing and management seems indisputable, and its very nature is rarely questioned. It is perceived as linear, continuous and economic. However, time in an intercultural perspective is probably the area where differences are both the largest and the most difficult to pinpoint, because (1) assumptions are very deep rooted and (2) formally one adopts a common model of time, which could lead to conflicts when different models and assumptions about time meet. Short-termism is the expression used to describe the pressure exerted by money markets for profits now, in the short term. Because of the monetary value placed on time in the US, companies that have a product that will save people time usually emphasize this feature. But in other cultures not everything that will save people time generally sells and therefore this feature should not be exploited in advertising. Western advertisers tend to use clocks in their international advertising to symbolize efficiency. At the same time however, the fact that clocks are not recognized as symbols of efficiency in cultures where people have a different sense of time is not taken into consideration (de Mooij 2005: 57). The long-term orientation is often also associated with a country’s high rate of savings. In comparison to China or countries with a large Chinese minority, Muslim countries’ scores are low here, too. Investigation of Indonesian consumer behaviour clearly indicates differences between ethnic groups. Muslim Indonesians do not comply with long-term orientation (fostering virtues oriented toward future rewards) but rather their behaviour (fostering of virtues related to the past and present) conforms to short-term orientation. The “time to market” is the period of time taken from the start of the development of a product until it is offered to customers in the marketplace. A variation is “time to break even”, or how long it takes to earn enough money to cover expenses. Generally speaking, American managers seek to make this time shorter and shorter. A window of opportunity can close in your face if you are as much as a few weeks late. In sequential cultures, most attempts to decrease time to market, or time to break even are based on pushing people and events to move faster. This is the consequence of thinking sequentially. Push equals linear acceleration, or going faster. Pull strategies are popular in Japan. The Japanese start by “thinking backwards” from a future rendezvous with the customers to the pattern of current activities needed to make the rendezvous happen. Japan is also the place where just-in-time production practices (JIT) was developed. Those cultures that use pull strategies tend to put their focus on long-term effectiveness. The opposing value of long-term orientation is “save for tomorrow”. Short-term orientation is reflected in the sense of urgency so frequently encountered in U.S. advertising. Examples are “Hurry”, “Don’t wait”, or “Now 50% off”. Another expression of short-term thinking is “instant pleasure”, or living in the now and not thinking about the future, as the advertisement below illustrates.

Figure C-61 An example of short-termism in advertising (image, courtesy of GMC)


A strong value in long-term orientation cultures is reverence for nature. This is also related to collectivism, so it is particularly in the configuration of long-term orientation and collectivism that harmony of man with nature plays such a major role in people’s lives. Nature and symbols of nature are important elements in the advertising of Japan, China and Chinese-related cultures (see for example Appendix 1, Figure 307-309) and to a much lesser extent in Indonesian ads. Harmony with both nature and fellow humans is a popular subject in Asian advertising. It is part of an indirect approach that helps to build trust in the company. Much advertising is pure entertainment and visuals and objects that please the eye, many of which relate to nature (bamboo trees, flowers, autumn leaves, or other representations of the seasons) and which often have a symbolic meaning unknown to foreigners, are used (see for example the BMW X5 ads discussed). Indonesian advertising reflects thoughts and harmony less via citing actual facts than in the depiction of certain familiar practices, as illustrated in the figure below.

Figure C-62 Harmonious sentiments as indicators of long-termism

Figure C-63 Harmonious sentiments as indicators of long-termism


Many Westerners do not understand the butterflies in ads for computers or other natural elements in Asian advertising. The combination of collectivism and long-term orientation demands harmony with nature and thus explains this advertising style, the objective of which is to please the customer, not to intrude. The short-term orientation of the Indonesian society is mostly articulated in advertising campaigns for banking services, such as credit cards and consumer credits and less so in ads for consumer goods where campaigns accentuate visual elements associated with, for example the status and power orientation or the social orientation.

The orientation and shopping behaviour

The sequential tendency is apparent in purchasing behaviour. People in these societies like to do a lot of things simultaneously and therefore places where they spend their leisure time (for example malls) reflect this. In the mall, not only can one shop, but one can also ice skate, visit a spa and have something to eat. Asian’s sequential tendency could explain why shopping malls that include recreational facilities are preferred. Shopping is regarded positively and as a social activity with the possibility to meet friends, to go with the whole family, to eat, or to go the cinema. All over Asia the latest data shows that economies are becoming 24-hour economies. It seems that Asians like always having something to do.


On principle, the time orientation is clearly visible in consumer behaviour and their attitude “buy now, pay later” instead of “save for later“. This became especially apparent from the interviews conducted in Indonesia. Advertising campaigns are not necessarily targeted at the average richest groups but at the groups of people which like to spend even if they cannot afford to. It became apparent that Muslim consumers in particular were the target of advertisements since they would not hesitate to spend money on every imaginable kind of consumer good. A similar experience was had in Malaysia in 2001 where a product was initially only displayed in bookstores frequented by the Chinese-Malaysian minority. The reasoning behind it was that it was believed that they would purchase the product rather than the comparatively less well-off Malays (Willer 2003). Later, it turned out that it was precisely the less well-off Malays who did not care about the price. Kids wanted the product and it was bought for them (Willer 2003).

The orientation and consumer credit

Banks and credit card issuing institutions are aware of Indonesian consumer short-term oriented behaviour and exploit this opportunity to their advantage. Consumers are bombarded with advertising for consumer credit and credit cards everywhere. Credit card companies put up their stalls at the personnel entrances or beside the prayer rooms of an office building in order to advertise their products. Restaurants, cafés and whole malls have certain offers for credit card holders. Owning a credit or bank card in Indonesia is equated with being modern, a sales argument per se, and nearly everyone today has at least one bank card (IS, interview October 2004). Since bank cards allow people to go overdrawn, a lot of Indonesians take advantage of this if no cash is available. Paying by credit or debit card leads to a gradual deterioration of traditional retailing where only cash would normally be accepted. Modern retail outlets take full advantage of this fact. A lot of Indonesians feel rich because of having bank cards and so they love to go out shopping and use them (IS, interview October 2004).


Figure C-64 Short-termism in Indonesian advertising campaigns for banking products

Finally, it can be concluded that the orientation is on the one hand quite visible in advertising campaigns for banking services in Indonesia, on the other hand, however, less frequent in ads for products outside the banking sector. For cars, cigarettes and many other products, visuals are used which evoke thoughts of harmonious living, a sentiment associated with a rather long-term outlook of a society.

Rubber time (jam karert) - often associated with Indonesian consumer behaviour -, was not gone into in depth in connection with this orientation, since it is only important in intercultural communication and not in International marketing.

C.2.8 Power Orientation

C.2.8.1  Definition


“Power distance” is one of the dimensions of national culture suggested by Hofstede (Hofstede and Hofstede 2005: 41) to put value concepts in a global comparative perspective. Power distance measures the extent to which a society and its individual members tolerate an unequal distribution of power in organizations and in society as a whole. De Mooij (2005: 60) defines power distance as “the extent to which less powerful members of a society accept and expect that power is distributed unequally”. Power orientation is reflected in the values of both the less powerful and more powerful members of society, for example by behavioural values of superiors who display their power and exercise it, as well as by their subordinates who are uncomfortable if they do not personally experience it (Hofstede and Hofstede 2005: 39-46). In high power distance societies, superiors and subordinates feel separated from each other and everyone has his or her rightful place in a social hierarchy, and as a result, acceptance and giving of authority is something that comes naturally. At society level, power distance translates into how society handles inequality. It is accepted that some people are given more status and respect than others. In cultures scoring lower on the power distance index, authority can have a negative connotation, as focus is on equality of rights and opportunity and independence are highly valued (Hofstede and Hofstede 2005: 40-41).

In the large-power-distance situation, children are expected to be obedient toward their parents. Sometimes there is even an order of authority among the children themselves, young children being expected to yield to older children, for example (HS, lecture October 2004). Independent behaviour on the part of a child is discouraged (Bond 1986: 203-205). There is often considerable warmth and care in the way parents and older children treat younger ones, especially those who are very young. They are looked after and not expected to experiment for themselves (HS, lecture October 2004). Respect for parents and other elders is seen as a basic virtue; children see others showing such respect and soon acquire it themselves. This can be confirmed in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and South Korea. Respect for parents and older relatives lasts through adulthood: parental authority continues to play a role in a person’s life as long as the parents are alive. Parents and grandparents are treated with formal deference even after their children have actually taken control of their own lives (Hofstede and Hofstede 2005: 51) and children are supposed to support their parents financially and practically (HS, lecture October 2004).

In the small-power-distance situation, children are more or less treated as equals as soon as they are able to act. The goal of parental education is to let children take control of their own affairs as soon as they can. Active experimentation by the child is encouraged, for example being allowed to contradict their parents. Behaviour towards others is not dependent on the other’s age or status; formal respect and deference are seldom shown (HS, lecture October 2004). In the large-power-distance situation, the parent-child inequality is perpetuated by a teacher-student inequality that caters to the need for dependence well established in the student’s mind. The educational process is teacher-centered, that is, teachers outline the intellectual paths to be followed, are never publicly contradicted or criticized and are treated with deference even outside school. The teacher is a “guru”, a term derived from the Sanskrit word for “weighty” or “honorable”, which in Indonesia is, in fact, what a teacher is called. Corporal punishment at school is much more accepted in a large-power-distance culture than its opposite. It accentuates and symbolizes the inequality between teacher and student and is often considered good for the development of the child’s character. In a small power-distance society, it will readily be classified as child abuse.


Other key differences between small and large-power-distance countries are that whoever holds the power is right and good; skills, wealth, power and status go together; the powerful should have privileges. Power is based on tradition or family, charisma (Weber 1922: § 12), and the ability to use force. There are large income differentials in large-power-distance countries which are mostly poorer countries with a small middle-class (Hofstede and Hofstede 2005: 67). Interview partners in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore considered that power orientation is one of the value dimensions with the biggest impact on consumer behaviour and a major reason for European luxury goods companies having their main retail markets in Asia (KS, interview October 2004; LSML, interview October 2004; ACWC, interview October 2004; AK, interview October 2004; BH, interview October 2004), since it would provide meaningful links between the orientation and the status behaviour of a society’s members.

In the power distance index (PDI), the following countries’ scores are high, i.e. in these societies power distance is rather big, reflected in steep social hierarchies; Malaysia scores 104 (rank 1-2 of 74), Indonesia 78 (rank 15-16 of 74) and Singapore scores 74 (rank 19 of 74). The reasons for these scores will be summarized in the following sections.

Figure C-65 Indonesia scoring as rather highly power oriented

C.2.8.2 The orientation’s cultural foundations in Indonesia


Except for Pakistan (rank 48 of 74) which scores in the middle, most Muslim countries included in Hofstede’s study score rather high, i.e. they are societies with high power-distance (Hofstede and Hofstede 2005: 41). This shows that the core cultural influences of this dimension might again be related to religion. All the religions (Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam) which colour Indonesian culture are more or less hierarchically organized as mentioned in the comments concerning the other orientations. However, Hofstede and Hofstede (2005: 66-68) do not consider religion the only element in forming the origins of power distance differences. “There seems to be a relationship between language area and present-day mental software regarding power distance” (Hofstede and Hofstede 2005: 66).

The orientation and language

Indonesian (Bahasa Indonesia) is the official language of Indonesia. It is, in a sense, a very "modern" language: officially it came into being only in 1945, and it is a dynamic language that is constantly absorbing new loanwords. While only a tiny fraction of the inhabitants of Indonesia speak it as a mother tongue, a substantial number use it as a second language (Nothofer 1999:73-75). This is remarkable as the syntax of other regional languages is believed to foster Indonesia’s high power orientation. This is an assumption which is only possible, though, since the Indonesian language was unable to suppress the significance of regional languages in everyday life (Nothofer 1999: 73-75). The Javanese, as the most influential group in Indonesia, speak a language which reflects steep social hierarchies. The Javanese language is the inferred language of more than 75 million people in the central and eastern part of the island of Java, in Indonesia (Sneddon 2003:196-197). Javanese can be regarded as one of the classical languages of the world, with a vast literature spanning more than twelve centuries (Keeler 1984: xvii-xxiv). At this juncture, the following should be pointed out.


The Javanese culture has various registers of politeness, which are reflected in different linguistic levels. Up to fourteen degrees of politeness in the Javanese language serve to identify the social standing of the person being addressed. The Javanese consider their hierarchically structured language a reliable means of assigning respect (Markham 1995: 78), which is extremely important to them for a harmonious family life and ultimately for the entire community. Although not currently an official language anywhere, Javanese is by far the Austronesian language with the largest number of native speakers (Sneddon 2003: 196-197). At least 45 percent of the total population of Indonesia are of Javanese descent or live in an area where Javanese is the dominant language, and four out of five Indonesian presidents since 1945 are of Javanese descent. It is therefore not surprising that Javanese has profound impact on Indonesian society. Javanese speech varies depending on social context, yielding three distinct styles or registers. Each style employs its own vocabulary, grammatical rules and even prosody. This is not unique to Javanese; neighbouring Austronesian languages as well as East Asian languages such as Korean, Japanese and Thai share similar constructions. In Javanese these styles are called: (1) “Ngoko”. “Ngoko” is informal speech, used between friends and close relatives. It is also used by persons of higher status to persons of lower status, such as elders to younger people or bosses to subordinates (Keeler 1984: 4-5; 29-30; 47-48; 65-66; Errington 1988: 152). (2) “Madya”. It is the intermediate form between “ngoko” and “karma” (Keeler 1984: xix; Wolff and Soepomo 1982: 25). An example of the context where one would use “madya” is an interaction between strangers on the street, where one wants neither to be too formal nor too informal (3) “Krama” is the polite and formal style. It is used between persons of the same status who do not wish to be informal. It is also the official style for public speeches, announcements, etc. It is also used by persons of lower status to persons of higher status, such as youngsters to elder people or subordinates to bosses (Keeler 1984: 1-3; 27-28; 45-46; 63-64; Wolff and Soepomo 1982: 13).

In addition, there are also "meta-style" words - the “honorifics” and “humilifics”. When one talks about oneself, one has to be humble. But when one speaks of someone else with a higher status or to whom one wants to be respectful, honorific terms are used. Status is defined by age, social position and other factors. The humilific words are called “krama andhap” words, while the honorific words are called “krama inggil” words. For example, children often use the “ngoko” style when talking to the parents, but they must use both “krama inggil” and “krama andhap” (Keeler 1984: 215-234; Errington 1988: 152). The impact of the Javanese language on Indonesian culture and society therefore should not be underestimated, particularly its influence with regard to the power orientation.

The orientation and natural conditions


Alongside religion and language, it is believed that natural conditions (geographic latitude) influence a society’s ranking in the power orientation. The logic of the relationship could be as follows: first of all, the societies involved have all developed to the level of sedentary agriculture (for the impact of geography on the wealth of nations, see, Landes 1998: 17-28). At lower latitudes (more tropical climates), agricultural societies generally have more abundant nature at their disposal. Survival and population growth in these climates demand relatively limited intervention of humans with nature: everything flourishes. In this situation, the major threat to a society is competition from other human groups for the same territory and resources. Those societies that have organized themselves hierarchically and in dependence on one central authority that keeps order and balance, have better chances for survival. At higher latitudes (moderate and colder climates), nature is less abundant. There is more of a need for people’s intervention with nature in order to carve out an existence. The first enemy to be resisted is nature rather than other humans. Societies in which people have learned to fend for themselves (without being too dependent on more powerful others), have a better chance of survival under these circumstances than societies that teach steep social hierarchies. The value system in this part of Asia has been, as literature shows, influenced by thousands of years’ tradition of wet-rice cultivation which has led to a societal formation in hamlets and villages which still impact social life today. Bellwood (1997: 146) argues in this respect for example: “Ranking in Indo-Malaysian small-scale traditional societies is based on a number of principles, the main one being that the descendants of the group that founded a settlement and first cleared the land will tend to preserve high status”. This leads to a “rise of inequality” (Bellwood 1997: 146). Bellwood (1997: 147) explains that standing and class exert less influence in many areas of Southeast Asia, for example, in Borneo, Sulawesi and the Philippines, where the population is scarce and agriculture is dominated by shifting cultivation. It is different however in regions with wet rice cultivation in Indonesia. Here there is a difference between nobility and commoners. Bellwood (1997: 147) notes: ”This is especially true for those societies that have had close associations with the Islamic sultanates and the networks of international trade“. The latter brought prestigious goods into today’s Southeast Asia, and with it, objects to display status.

Before discussion of the orientation’s implication on consumer behaviour, the following significant point needs to be mentioned. Although countries have, in fact, all moved to lower power distance levels (i.e. countries score lower in power distance today than in the 1980s) this has neither led to changes in their mutual ranking in due course (Hofstede and Hofstede 2005: 71) nor has it diminished the orientation’s consequence for consumer behaviour. The orientation’s stability reflects the perpetual existence of cultural elements which are considered to be constant over time und which reflect the inner layer of the structuralist culture model.

C.2.8.3 Implications for consumer behaviour and international marketing

What is important for marketing is that, in large-power-distance societies, inequalities among people are expected and desired, whereas in small-power-distance societies inequalities should be minimized. This is true for more, as well as less educated persons who both show equally authoritarian values (Hofstede and Hofstede 2005: 57) although it is expected that improved education worldwide will lead to a decrease of power distance, but relative differences between countries are not expected to change. Interviews (MP, interview December 2004; HS, lecture October 2004) showed that increased levels of education have not led to a lesser degree of power distance, regardless of whether power distance levels in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore were being investigated in the interviews (CCL, interview August 2005). Thus the picture of differences between countries with regard to power distance is a static one, despite an era of unprecedented intensification of international exchanges. Moreover, hierarchies and centralization are popular, privileges and status symbols are common, and competition accepted.


Results from interviews prove the following observations made during field research in Indonesia and experiences gained in connection with the status orientation. Facts support the assumption that there is a correlation between status and power orientation, i.e. countries with higher status orientation are also highly power oriented (shortly the analysis will be concentrated on status behaviour, which can be traced back to a high score on the power index). That is valid at least for the countries of Southeast Asia investigated. Indonesian consumers display social habits and customs (every greeting, every contact must indicate the kind and degree of social distance between individuals). One’s social status must be made clear so that counterparts can respond using the register appropriate to their power positions. It is generally believed that well-known global brands serve that purpose, i.e. to distance one from others by using status brands. It is a matter of fact that Indonesians who arrive in a luxury car at a hotel or visit a restaurant fashionably dressed receive much better service than someone who does not. Clothes make people, or brands make people; this is definitely true for Indonesia.

Indonesians are generally believed to be among the most status-conscious consumers in the world and nearly everything can be used to distance oneself from others (emphasis on distance – power distance) and receive respect from people of a lower social level (DM, interview December 2004; HaS, interview December 2004). This includes manners and language (verbal dexterity and style), personal appearance (some women’s hairstyles add status) and dress, as well as the number of people surrounding a person (for lifestyles and behaviour patterns of Indonesia’s wealthy, see for example, van Leuwen 1999: 339-359). In malls, mothers with kids are frequently accompanied by their nannies and other domestic staff. In hotel lobbies people who like to be called “boss” are surrounded by their entourage who listens obediently and attentively like the boss’s royal subjects. Power over people (subjects), an old tradition in Indonesian culture, bears status. To make clear who among them wield power, Indonesians who have the financial means put their employees (mostly nannies) in uniforms, with masks on their faces since the advent of SARS and avian influenza. But not only power over people bears status; even certain products do, too.

Figure C-66 Power distance in advertising campaigns


The orientation and products preferences

In Indonesia and Malaysia, some luxury alcoholic drinks have social status value as well, as observed in outlets in both countries. As de Mooij notes (2005: 60) there is a significant correlation between power distance and consumption of Scotch whiskey. Interviews in Singapore in 2004 confirmed this view, particularly the comments by the Senior Brand Manager of Riche Monde Sdn Bhd, Mr. Andrew Khan. He commented that a lot of alcohol is consumed because of reasons of “face” in Southeast Asia. HS replied that the fact that virtually all sales of alcoholic drinks occur in outlets (consumption in food and beverage F&B outlets) versus very low sales for home consumption show that one must doubt whether Asians really like to drink alcohol, for example wine or liquor or whether they consume it for purely status reasons in order to distance themselves from others. This phenomenon was observed in Jakarta’s clubs as early as 2002 (Willer 2003). This gives reason to believe that the current wine trend in Asia might be short-lived because it is popular only due to image reasons. It could lose popularity overnight if Asians substituted wine for other drinks whose image promised greater status and helped to assure superior social standing. This applies not only to alcohol consumption, but also to coffee consumption. The reality is that most Asians actually prefer tea, but coffee is consumed publicly in coffee shops such as “Starbucks” or “Coffee Bean” where the image of the foreign brand is designed to guarantee the consumer a certain lifestyle and can assure the consumer of who he or she is and the lifestyle he or she wants to portray. At home, other hot drinks are often consumed, such as tea or Milo (AK, interview October 2004). Since these product preferences belong to the so-called practices or the outer three rings of the structuralist culture model, and since these change in the course of time, it is correct to assume that wine consumption is nothing more than a trend. Wine consumption (practices) allows people to set themselves apart from other social groups who cannot afford it. The desire to be different, however, reflects the high power orientation (one of the ten orientations in the core of culture in the structuralist culture model) which is stable over time.

Purchasing decisions are generally highly influenced by external stimuli and reflect the consumer’s overall evaluation of the product in Indonesia (AS, interview November 2004). The consumer first develops a feeling for the product that arises from stimuli such as advertising, the brand name and others’ opinions (DM, interview December 2004). Based upon this feeling, the consumer forms an intention to purchase or not to purchase. This can be seen in the conspicuous consumption behaviour of many Indonesians. Products which communicate status are valued for their expressive ability, and attitudes towards such products will be formed based less on the individual’s personal beliefs and more on the overall image of the product communicated by brand and the opinions of opinion leaders. People who endorse products are important in advertising as their image and status spills over to the product endorsed.


Figure C-67 Product endorsements in Indonesia

Figure C-68 Product endorsements in Singapore

Another important impact of the orientation is that of being market leader and the image it brings with it. The “rightful place” concept implies that in high power distance cultures, being the “number one” brand is important (BR, interview November 2004). A brand that has entered markets early and is viewed as the number one brand will remain much more easily than it would in low power distance cultures where challengers are favoured with a “we try harder” approach. This attitude is reflected in the many brand rankings and brand awards being published in Asia every year (DM, interview December 2004; RD, interview December 2004).


Power distance, however, is not limited to the realm of brands only. In Indonesia, power distance is associated with many features. It is important for the feature which determines power distance to be visible, this means for example that non-descript brands have only limited success (BR, interview November 2004). Giorgio Armani, whose products are more understated than for example those of Louis Vuitton with its big logos, had to close its boutiques quickly (BR, interview November 2004). This was due to the fact that the understated Armani luxury did not live up to Indonesian’s expectations of what luxury should be like in order to rub off on its owner (BR, interview November 2004). Preference for ostentatious brands and logos (logo-mania) is apparent in all social strata (logo-mania brands, see Appendix 1, Figure 206-217). For those who are less well-heeled, there are fakes of all brands in the informal sector and to an extent in the formal sector (observation, Jakarta and Surabaya, September until December 2004). Nowhere else, it seems, are there as many Montblanc pens with their white logos sticking out of men’s breast pockets, as in Indonesia. Whether pens or sports shoes, jeans or leather goods, almost every brand is available as a fake in Indonesia – even brands which are not as yet available there (HaS, interview December 2004). This kind of democratic luxury (fakes) is all the more astonishing since, apparently there are not any no-name sport shoes or T-Shirts at all. “The bigger, the better” is the manufacturer’s motto as far as brand names are concerned, in order to meet customers’ expectations. Indonesia is one of the biggest markets for counterfeited products.94

Figure C-69 Imitating European architectural styles in order to add status to buildings

Another important aspect relevant to high power distance cultures is the relationship between age and status, as well as respect connected with age. Not only are older people perceived and portrayed in ads as wise and experienced, but respect connected with age can also be understood as behaviour in which authority and relationships between individuals and groups are held in high regard. Indonesia’s social life, of course, reflects this attitude (which has its foundation in the significance of age) not only between family, friends and colleagues, but also in the salesperson-customer relationship which is considered important in Indonesia.


Although age (which translates itself into power distance) is an important feature of societal values and influences consumer behaviour, a new trend, i.e. that buying decisions are increasingly influenced by Asian children and teenagers, needs to be taken into consideration, too. In the past, this trend was much too often misinterpreted. It was and still is commonly believed that the youth in Southeast Asia imitate their Western counterparts by showing less respect for elders. However, what many marketers forget is that, although children increasingly influence purchasing decisions, this is neither tantamount to disrespectfulness nor to an assimilation of values between Asia and the West. Relationships between parents and children still vary with power distance and therefore between countries, but are as stable as the orientation itself, i.e. the disparities in status and power between them. In low power distance cultures, parents play with their children as equals, whereas in high power distance cultures children play more with each other. This explains why Lego (toys, building blocks) does not sell well in many high power distance societies as the concept is based on parents and children constructing buildings together (HS, lecture October 2004).

Finally the considerable influence of this power orientation on consumer behaviour in Indonesia becomes apparent. This was confirmed over and over by interviewees who were convinced that this orientation and the status orientation exert greater influence on consumer behaviour than all the other orientations. Therefore this can be considered a general characteristic of the average Indonesian consumer who on principle acts in a status oriented way.

C.2.9 Gender Orientation

C.2.9.1  Definition

The orientation, adapted from Hofstede’s dimensions of culture, can be labelled the “masculinity versus femininity dimension” or “gender orientation”. The question whether one interacts with others or for others is a common problem and responses are made on the basis of dominant value systems, which roughly correspond to male (assertive) and female (nurturing) roles. This orientation can be defined as follows:


“A society is called masculine when emotional gender roles are clearly distinct: men are supposed to be assertive, tough, and focused on material success, whereas women are supposed to be more modest, tender, and concerned with the quality of life. A society is called feminine when emotional gender roles overlap, i.e. both men and women are supposed to be modest, tender and concerned with the quality of life.” (Hofstede and Hofstede 2005: 120)

To summarise, it can be said that the dominant values in a masculine society are achievement and success; the dominant values in a feminine society are caring for others and quality of life. Other key differences between masculine and feminine societies are that both men and women should be modest and both men and women can be tender and focus on relationships (Hofstede and Hofstede 2005: 134-136). There is tendency to polarize in masculine societies, i.e. big and fast are beautiful, whereas feminine societies, those scoring low on the masculinity index, are more people-oriented, and small is beautiful. In typically feminine societies, such as Northern European countries, the welfare system is highly developed and education is largely free and easily accessible. In these societies, patience and helpfulness are shown to those in trouble. In typically masculine societies, whether individualistic or collectivistic, weaker people find, on average, less support from society at large. In the more masculine countries, sense of responsibility, decisiveness, liveliness, and ambitiousness were considered characteristics for men only, while caring and gentleness were seen as solely for women. In the more feminine cultures, all these terms were considered as applying to both genders. In this dimension Indonesia scores 46 (rank 41-42) whereas Singapore 48 (rank 38) and Malaysia 50 (rank 34-36). All three countries’ rankings reflect a rather feminine orientation, with Indonesia rating as the most feminine. The following section will explain the reasons for this score.


Figure C-70 Indonesia scoring rather femininely oriented

C.2.9.2 The orientation’s cultural foundations

The issues related to the gender orientation are central to any religion. Whereas masculine cultures worship a tough God or gods who justify tough behaviour toward fellow humans, feminine cultures worship a tender God or gods who demand caring behaviour toward fellow humans (Hofstede and Hofstede 2005: 152). Outside the Christian world there are tough and tender religions. Buddhism in masculine Japan is very different from Buddhism in feminine Thailand, just as Islam in Saudi-Arabia is different from Islam in Indonesia. The same is true for Christianity which has always maintained a struggle between tough, masculine and tender and feminine elements (Hofstede and Hofstede 2005: 152). Sunni Islam is a more masculine version of the faith than Shia, which stresses the importance of suffering (Iran as predominantly Shiite, scores in a more feminine way than the predominantly Sunnite Arab-speaking countries) (compare rankings in: Hofstede and Hofstede 2005: 120-121). Although Islam is regarded as a tough, masculine religion and many Islamic countries score in a rather masculine way in Hofstede’s ranking (for example Arab countries rank 31-32 of 74), Indonesia, the world’s most populous Islamic country, scores as being more feminine (rank 41-42).

Another important aspect is related to Hofstede’s (2005: 120) definition of a feminine society: “A society is called feminine when emotional gender roles overlap: both men and women are supposed to be modest, tender, and concerned with the quality of life.” Islam’s being a religion which calls for modesty (Weber 2005, Schluchter 2001, 2005) explains why many Muslim countries, although Islam is perceived as a tough, masculine religion, tend to score in the middle region of the ranking. This is since religion demands modesty from its followers. Socialization in male-dominated Islamic countries seems to discriminate against women (men dominate social life) and therefore these countries appear to be particularly masculine (because of the inequality between men and women). The ranking is based on factors like ambition and gentleness, which are irrelevant to male-female inequality, at least in Hofstede’s view. Muslim countries seem to be less ambitious but more gentle. Since the rankings again take a look at religion in isolation, seeing a correlation between Islam and a high score on the masculinity index would be a false conclusion to draw.


Explanations stated elsewhere in this chapter on the cultural heritage and environment of Indonesia where pre-Islamic beliefs (whether indigenous, Hindu or Buddhist religions) still exert influence on the value dimensions, are valid in the context of the gender orientation, too. The assumption of a less masculine Islam in Indonesia is fostered by its description as moderate and liberal. A brief look at one of the many ethnic groups in Indonesia can vividly underpin this assessment. The “Minangkabau”, an ethnic group indigenous to the highlands of West Sumatra is strongly Islamic but its ethnic traditions (“adat”) make it the world's largest matrilineal society (Bellwood 1997: 143), in which properties such as land and houses are inherited through female lineage, unknown anywhere else in the Muslim world. Its culture is matrilineal, with property and land passing down from mother to daughter, while religious and political affairs are a male domain (although some women also play important roles in these areas).

Finally, this is one of the dimensions where no final assessment can be made as Indonesia is a diverse multi-ethnic society. Indonesians themselves agree that especially on this dimension, considerable variations between ethnic groups within the country exist, reflecting its multi-ethnicity. The Javanese, for example, take an extreme position toward the tender side of the orientation (IMP, interview December 2004). The Christian ethnic group of the Batak95 are very different to the rather tender and modest Javanese.

All things considered, it is interesting to note how Indonesia’s rather feminine score affects consumer behaviour.

C.2.9.3 Implications for consumer behaviour and international marketing


Marieke de Mooij (2005: 65-66) who studied consumer behaviour data across sixteen European countries and found several significant differences related to the masculinity versus femininity orientation, is one of the very few researchers who has looked for a correlation between culture dimensions and consumer behaviour. She draws some interesting conclusions, which again however, as in the case of the society orientation (individualism versus collectivism), seem only to be valid for the countries she studied. De Mooij’s research provides her with data from which she concludes that status purchases are more frequent in masculine cultures where more expensive watches and more real jewellery are bought. However, when de Mooij’s research results were cross-checked in interviews in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore (2004 and 2005), the ethnocentricity of her approach and conclusion attracted attention. During a seminar at INSEAD Singapore, it was possible to speak to business leaders from around Asia. One of them, the country manager (KS) for the diamond group, De Beers96 (in Thailand: DTC, Diamond Trading Company, see: Appendix 1, Figures 310-312), noticed that de Mooij’s conclusions which the author had presented to her were not true for most parts of Asia. De Mooij notes in her research (2005: 65) that in masculine societies, performance and achievement are important, and achievement must be demonstrated, so status brands are important to show one’s success. De Mooij goes so far as to see a positive correlation between the masculinity orientation and sales of real jewellery (gold and diamonds). Leading business figures of the Diamond Promotion Group (DeBeers) stated that de Mooij’s conclusion might be true for the West but definitely not for Asia (ACWA, interview October 2004; LSML, interview October 2004; KS, interview October 2004).

Although most Asian countries score in a rather feminine way, showing off one’s success is important and accepted (as already elaborated on in the paragraphs on power and status orientations). In a detailed presentation on Thailand, one of the most feminine countries (rank 64 of 79 countries) (Hofstede and Hofstede 2005: 120-121)), KS described her countrymen’s aspirations for status and prestige (status orientation) as having a higher influence on consumer behaviour than the gender orientation. Other interviewees (HS, October 2004; JSWY, October 2004) have supported the author’s opposition to de Mooij’s conclusions by corroborating that her findings might be relevant only in the countries she included in her research, but that the findings are not transferable to the Asian market. In Asia, the correlation between masculinity and the sales of status products (jewellery and luxury brand products such as handbags) is invalid, except for Japan and Korea which both score in a masculine way. But especially in Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand, luxury goods (often with logos) are important to convey status although these countries praise modesty and score in a rather feminine way. Therefore, it must be concluded that orientations other than the gender orientation are more important in this context, for example rankings in the power and status orientations (where the aforementioned countries score highly, i.e. high power (distance) and status orientation) which might have a far-reaching impact on consumer behaviour. In a personal discussion with Bernhard Dahm (February 2006) he concluded that status orientation plays a more significant role in Indonesia than, for example, the culture behavioural effects of the gender orientation. As mentioned, in Asian countries, men and women show off their success with expensive goods and products, from jewellery and watches to cars and memberships etc. Although consumer expenditure for luxury items in Japan and South Korea reflects de Mooij’s correlation (both countries score as highly masculine and status products have high sales), the sale within product categories is extremely different and shows how important it is to take a closer look. Japan and the US score in a masculine way, both have high sales of status products (such as diamonds) but the diamonds sold, for example, are very different. In Japan big diamonds seem to be un-sellable on the mass market and the quality of the stone is more important to the consumer than size. In the U.S., the stone cannot be big enough (“Big is beautiful”) but the quality, however, of the stone is less of a concern in the buying decision (KS, interview 2004).

Similar findings were made in the case of luxury consumer goods, such as handbags clearly marked with brand logos. In Asian countries (whether they score in a rather feminine way as in Indonesia or in a masculine manner as in Japan and South Korea), consumers have the urge to show off what they can afford. Here again, informal interviews during the INSEAD Singapore executive education event as well as in Indonesia, Malaysia, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Seoul (mystery shopping) show that de Mooij’s assumptions are relevant only in Europe where she has done her research but that the findings cannot be transferred and implemented in Asia. The Louis Vuitton country manager for South Korea, Jean Sung-Wook Yang (JSWY), confirmed the importance of status in Asian markets and believes that other orientations presented to him might be more influential. HaS (interview December 2004) made it known, too, that the greatest factors of influence on the Indonesian consumer are the status and power orientations which outweigh the importance and impact of the gender orientation. Apparently, in Asia, the impact of this orientation on consumer behaviour might be less important than those of the power and status orientations. This reveals important insights into possible recommendations for action, i.e. the orientations exert differing degrees of impact in their influence on consumer behaviour depending on the cultural background.


Furthermore, the correlation between this orientation and sales of gold and diamonds in Europe could well be coincidental in de Mooij’s research. However, one can conclude that this orientation influences Indonesian and Asian consumers in different ways than consumers from other parts of the world. In Asian countries, such as Indonesia, it is not a problem for men to wear jewellery, such as diamond rings and watches (as can be observed at the meeting places of Jakarta’s rich). Swiss luxury watch makers, such as the “maisons” of the Richemont Group97, and French luxury houses are particularly successful in these (more feminine) countries. In European countries, de Mooij’s assertion is that a core value of feminine cultures is modesty, and not showing off. This is true for Indonesia, too, but it does not influence the sales of modest products (non-branded or non-logo), which symbolizes some kind of false-modesty. Other findings of de Mooij’s research are that in masculine societies more often foreign goods are considered more attractive than local products. Here again it must be stated that this is not true for Southeast Asian countries, whether Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam or Singapore. Foreign products are favoured in these societies although their score is rather feminine.

Cultural decoding of the gender orientation and its supposed effects on consumer behaviour and international marketing lead to the following important findings. The gender orientation exerts a very specific impact on societies in individual countries and regions and therefore also on consumer behaviour. This, however, was not the case for the orientations discussed so far. This shows that de Mooij’s comments on the effects of the orientation on consumer behaviour in European countries are not transferable from country to country or region to region. Actually, the orientations are ascertainable worldwide, since they are basic societal premises. Nevertheless the effects on society are different and mirror heterogeneity (which was already discussed in the chapter on the global consumer). This heterogeneity reveals itself in practices, rituals and heroes. Particularly since these can reflect short-lived trends, a correlation of practices, to which undoubtedly consumption practices belong, is possible with the orientation. Additionally, it must be mentioned that the correlation demonstrated by de Mooij could possibly be coincidental. Furthermore, when dealing with a correlation of this kind, micro-data is to be used (for example a comparison between a certain group of diamonds or a specific product, rather than macro-data which only considers the overall quantity purchased (for example the total number of diamonds rather than the size and quantity). Implementing macro-data can create misleading results, as clearly shown and confirmed by industry representatives. Furthermore, in certain countries, gold is purchased for completely different reasons from those in Western countries. Thus, it demands a careful approach and interpretation. To conclude this orientation it is relevant to note that even researchers from Hofstede’s circle can be victims of ethnocentricity.

The orientation and product design aspects


One further aspect of interest in connection with this orientation is car design. The figure below speaks for itself. The link between the brand of car’s country of origin and design is evident. Automobile companies in somewhat feminine oriented countries develop rather round (globular) cars, whereas in masculine countries (for example the USA) powerful, angular cars are developed. Advertising language is similarly masculine in these countries (”Built Tough“, see figure below).

Figure C-71 Car design and the gender orientation (images, courtesy of Citroen, Ford)

In masculine cultures, male choice prevailed in matters of family size and led to (too) large families in poor countries and to small families in wealthy countries (Hofstede and Hofstede: 2005: 160). Family planning programs’ success in Indonesia may be attributed to the rather feminine orientation of its society in general. This relationship is important to know for marketing managers as the average Indonesian family is smaller in size than its Malaysian counterpart (scoring in a more masculine way) and therefore expenditure per child in Indonesia (which has a lower birth rate) can be higher than in families with more children in Malaysia.


The orientation and advertising campaigns

As shown, the masculine/feminine dimension discriminates between cultures particularly with respect to values related to winning, success, and status, which are much used in advertising appeals. It is therefore an important dimension to understand as it leads to differences in marketing-communication styles. In Indonesia comparative advertising is seen as inappropriate and is even forbidden (Indonesian Advertising Agency Society, The Power Breakfast at Le Meridien Jakarta). Discussions with a representative of the Indonesian and Thai advertising agencies at a Power Breakfast of the Social Marketing Circle again revealed that here practices depend not only on the orientations, such as that of gender, but more on local laws, regulations and customs influenced by culture. More caring roles and groups are often assigned to the visual language of print, TV and online advertising as the following examples, with which the discussion of this orientation comes to an end, articulate. The examples reveal how important the orientation is, especially in advertising.

Figure C-72 Watch makers and their campaigns in Indonesia. What might be the more appropriate approach?


Figure C-73 Caring in advertising campaigns in Indonesia

C.2.10 Risk Orientation

C.2.10.1  Definition

The risk orientation deals with another common problem faced by people in any society: namely how people deal with risk. “Uncertainty avoidance”, as Hofstede (2005: 163-206) originally named the orientation, is “the extent to which people feel threatened by uncertainty and ambiguity and try to avoid these situations” (de Mooij 2005: 67). Ways of handling risk are part and parcel of any human institution in any country. All human beings have to face the fact that they do not know what will happen tomorrow (Hofstede and Hofstede 2005: 165). However, one can differentiate between societies’ reactions to unpredictability (i.e. risk). The risk orientation measures the extent to which people in a society tend to feel threatened by uncertain, ambiguous or undefined situations. Rather than leading to risk reduction, risk avoidance leads to ambiguity reduction. Generally, it is believed that people in societies scoring highly on the risk avoidance index (high risk avoiding cultures) search predictability and truth. This search for truth is closely connected to religion. In the following section, culture elements which account for Indonesia’s low risk avoidance score are looked at. Furthermore, high risk avoidance is expressed through nervous stress and in the need for predictability, such as the need for written and unwritten rules. Aggression and other emotions are not to be shown in these societies: people who behave emotionally or noisily are socially disapproved of. This means that stress cannot be released through activity, it has to be internalized. Anxious cultures, i.e. cultures scoring highly on the index, tend to be excessive cultures. They are the places where people talk with their hands, where it is socially acceptable to raise one’s voice and to show one’s emotions. There are basically two ways to react: the first is based on the assumption that people have to deal with risk, because it is in the very nature of the situations they face. The future is uncertain, but one has to live with it, and extreme ambiguity creates intolerable anxiety which every human society has developed ways to alleviate. These ways belong to the realms of technology, law and religion. Religion is a way of relating to the transcendental forces that are assumed to control man’s personal future (Weber 2005). Religion helps to accept the uncertainties one cannot defend against, and some religions offer the ultimate certainty of a life (Weber 2005) after death. The other extreme is marked by risk aversion, which results in the assumption that risk is bad and everything in society must aim to reduce it.

A medium to low score on the uncertainty index is common for all Asian countries other than Japan and South Korea with Indonesia scoring 48 (rank 60-61), Malaysia 36 (rank 65) and Singapore 8 (rank 74) on the index (Hofstede and Hofstede 2005: 169). In weak risk avoidance countries, anxiety levels are relatively low (Hofstede and Hofstede 2005: 171).


Figure C-74 Indonesia’s rather low score on the risk orientation

C.2.10.2 The orientation’s cultural foundations

Religion was previously mentioned as one of the ways in which humankind avoids anxiety and searches for truth (Hofstede and Hofstede 2005: 197). Religious beliefs and rituals help to accept the uncertainties one cannot defend against, some even offer the ultimate certainty of life after death (for example Islam). The grouping of countries in Hofstede’s ranking according to a risk avoidance index score is associated with their dominant religion. In establishing a relationship between risk avoidance and religious belief, it makes sense to distinguish between religions. Some religions, such as Protestantism, Catholicism and Islam share the assumption that there is an absolute truth that excludes all others. According to Hofstede (2005: 198), the difference between strong and weak risk lies in the amount of certainty one needs to have this truth. In strong risk avoidance cultures, the belief that there is only one truth is more prevalent. Eastern religions, such as Buddhism and Hinduism, which influenced Indonesian society before the arrival of Islam (Klokke 2003: 17), are less concerned with one truth (Becker 1993: 23-45; Schluchter 1984: 41-44, 50-59). The assumption, according to Hofstede (2005: 199) that there is one truth man can possess, is absent from their thinking.

Muslim countries tend to score in the middle, and Buddhist and Hindu countries, medium to very low on the uncertainty avoidance index. Indonesia and Malaysia have the lowest score of all Muslim nations (Hofstede and Hofstede 2005: 168-169, 187, 191). While in Malaysia the reason for this low score is probably the high proportion of Buddhist Chinese and Hindu Indian citizens (although Muslims are in the majority) who were included in the interviews and biased Malaysia’s score in that it is much less risk avoiding than other Muslim countries, where the proportion of Muslims in the entire population exceeds 60 percent. Malaysia’s score in the ranking therefore reflects its multi-ethnic and multi-religious background, which leads to its obtaining a relatively low score on the risk avoidance index.


On risk avoidance, Chinese-speaking countries Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore scored lower, as did countries with important minorities of Chinese origin, like Indonesia and Malaysia. Across these countries there is a strong correlation between the percentage of Chinese in the population (as opposed to Muslims) and the country’s score on the risk avoidance index. However, Indonesia’s low score on the risk avoidance index is not attributable to its multi-religious background but rather to pre-Islamic influences of Hindu and Buddhist religions, a fact which was already highlighted in the context of the previous orientations. Furthermore, Indonesia’s brand of Islam can be regarded as moderate and tolerant. According to Hofstede, tolerance indicates low risk avoidance. The orthodox Islam found in Saudi-Arabia and Pakistan which is much less tolerant than the Indonesian kind, fosters a higher risk avoidance orientation, when one interprets the figures from Hofstede’s standpoint. In Islam there is clearly a visible conflict between more and less risk avoiding factions, the first dogmatic, intolerant, fanatical and fundamentalist, the second pragmatic, tolerant, liberal, and open to the modern world (Hofstede and Hofstede 2005: 200).

This indicates that the difficulty in classifying countries by religion is that the great religions of the world are all internally heterogeneous. A country with an Islamic majority does not of necessity display the risk avoidance with which the society’s existing religion is generally associated, as is demonstrated in Indonesia for example. It is evident that religious conversion does not cause a total change in cultural values. Indonesian (Javanese) mysticism has survived Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim, and Christian conversions. Key differences between weak and strong risk avoidance societies are that in the latter, there is more ethnic prejudice and high risk of violent inter-group conflict. Furthermore there is a propensity towards religious, political and ideological intolerance where there is only one truth. The aforementioned statements about the influence of the culture element religion, its origin, character and repercussions (which were already analyzed in the context of the discussion of cultural influence on individual orientations) will not be repeated here. With the aid of the findings related to how Indonesia’s cultural heritage affects risk avoidance in today’s society, an analysis of the extent to which the orientation determines consumer behaviour and international marketing will follow.

C.2.10.3 The orientation’s impact on consumer behaviour and international marketing

The risk orientation is connected to two aspects of consumer behaviour; the first is perceived risk and the second, consumer involvement. Perceived risk is an important variable in consumer behaviour, and differs according to its breakdown into various components: physical risk, financial risk and social risk. Whereas people in certain cultures may be more susceptible to physical risk, others may be more sensitive to social risk.


The orientation and perceived risk

As stated, most Asian cultures rate medium or low on the risk avoidance orientation (Indonesia ranks 60-61 of 74 countries evaluated) (Hofstede and Hofstede 2005: 168-169). Nonetheless, surprisingly, Indonesian consumers, like Asians in general, exhibit consumer behaviour which shows high-brand-name consciousness, brand loyalty, a greater insistence on quality, the active use of reference groups and opinion leaders, group shopping and a slower acceptance of new products, although their score is low on the risk orientation. Behaviour of this kind would normally be associated more with a high risk avoidance score. Although all consumers are concerned to a greater or lesser extent, depending on individual circumstances, with monetary, functional, physical, psychological and social risks, it is believed that in high risk avoidance cultures this perceived risk is higher and therefore more brand name products are sold in these countries. Low risk avoidance, as it is measured in most Asian countries, is equated (in consumer behaviour research) with a degree of willingness to take risks to buy products which are new, from unknown manufacturers, or no-names. This however is not the case in Indonesia where consumer behaviour which complies with the conventional standards of a society with high risk avoidance can be observed. How does this deviation come about?

With the help of interviews, it was ascertained that risk avoidance is not the decisive factor for Indonesian consumers, since consumers are extremely status oriented (Indonesia scores highly on the status and power orientation) and therefore social risk bears enormous influence. In the context of risk avoidance, status orientation has therefore to be included. The following explanation will reinforce this. Basically when analyzing consumers, one has to distinguish between physical, functional and social risks that lead to different consumer behavioural patterns. Asians on the whole tend to be more sensitive to social risks than Western consumers. This sensitivity (as well as economic constraints that increase monetary and functional risk) leads consumers to a greater hesitancy when trying out new products and thus to a different rate of diffusion of innovation from that in the western context (HS, lecture October 2004). This aspect will be dealt with in depth in the next section. Additionally, in the Asian context, brand loyalty may sometimes be more due to “inertia” than to “brand loyalty” as defined in a Western context, in which a conscious decision to continue buying the same brand is involved. Brand loyalty arises chiefly from the psychological comfort provided by avoiding social risk through sticking to the brand chosen by reference group norms. The focus on quality and brand-name consciousness that most Indonesian consumers exhibit therefore is partly a reflection of risk aversion since a recognized brand name serves as a substitute for quality. This suggests that non-branded or generic products, particularly intended for social-use consumption, meet with a less than favourable response. In social-use situations, the quality of a product demonstrates not only the level of living standard, but also the sensibility and taste of the persons who buy or own the product. In Western cultures, risk aversion is most likely to be oriented towards monetary or functional risk, depending on the product type, cost, complexity and less so towards social risk. Such risk aversion in a Western context would typically lead to extended problem-solving. The consumers collect as much information as possible, from both internal and external sources, evaluate each product alternative carefully, consider the attributes of each brand and finally select the brand to purchase based on this evaluation. This can be seen, for example, in Germany in the high reputation of “Stiftung Warentest“ (German consumer testing association) an independent organization, which actually wants to reduce buying risk. However, social risk (which plays a lesser role in Germany than in other societies) is not taken into consideration.


Figure C-75 Perceived risk in Indonesia and Germany

More importantly however, is that while risk aversion leads to active involvement of the Western consumer in the search process, it leads to …”a more passive, conformist behaviour in the Asian consumer” (HS, lecture October 2004). The Asian sense of status propriety plays, as mentioned, a part in fostering adverse behaviour towards new products which have not been adopted by one’s reference group.

Bao et al. (2003) studied risk aversion and face consciousness and their impact on decision-making styles with students from the United States and China. They found that the Chinese were more risk averse and face-conscious than their American counterparts. Further, risk aversion was positively associated with being confused by too many choices and negatively associated with fashion-consciousness and novelty, as well as recreational and hedonistic characteristics of the shopping experience. These results found in the context of the Chinese consumer, are believed to be transferable to the Indonesian consumer.


The orientation and consumer involvement

Furthermore a correlation exists between risk avoidance and consumer involvement. The involvement of the consumer in product purchase or consumption varies across cultures. The Indonesian consumer is in a low-involvement situation when it is a matter of private consumption goods. In this case, Indonesian consumers are likely to adopt a rather simple cognitive stance, favouring the physical functions of the product and being mostly concerned with price and quality. Conversely, there is a high level of purchase involvement when Indonesian consumers buy products for their social symbolic value. These consumers greatly value social harmony and harmonious relationships with the extended family, therefore the social significance of a product is very important because it may express status, gratitude, approval or disapproval. Additionally, de Mooij (2005) established the following correlation between risk orientation and consumer behaviour. In shopping for food and beverages, higher risk avoidance stands for valuing purity and basic products. Risk avoidance cultures used mineral water rather than tap water (even where tap water was of good quality) and they ate more fresh fruit. Risk accepting cultures valued convenience rather than purity: they consumed more ready-made products, such as ice cream, frozen foods, etc. Risk avoiding cultures believed more in cleanliness. On the other hand, risk accepting cultures valued looks more than cleanliness; they used more beauty products, such as cosmetics, lipsticks, body lotions, deodorants, etc. This behaviour is recognizable in Indonesia where physical attributes are extremely important. There is hardly a place in the world with as many adverts for shampoo as in Indonesia (IS, interview December 2004; Synovate 2004: 131). They were slower in introducing electronic communication tools, even if eventually they may use them as much as people in risk accepting cultures. Advertising campaigns, in print and TV, for risk avoiding cultures frequently feature experts, such as doctors in white lab coats, who recommend the product. At this point de Mooij (2005) has to be contradicted since this correlation is not applicable to Asia, for example China. China’s score is very low on the risk orientation, but endorsements by experts are nonetheless favoured.

Now that differences in behaviour have been explained, companies can decide which course of action is to be taken. To what extent the orientation affects a marketing concept which is closely connected to the customer’s willingness to take risks, needs to be analyzed. This will be dealt within the next section.


The orientation’s impact on concepts of consumer behaviour and international marketing

Risk aversion, expressed in high uncertainty avoidance orientation leads to a distinctly different rate of diffusion of innovation among Asian consumers compared with consumers from less risk-aversion cultures. In traditional diffusion theory, consumers are categorized in relation to other consumers in terms of when they adopt a new product. The five adopter categories frequently cited are: (1) innovators, (2) early adopters, (3) early majority, (4) late majority and (5) laggards (see exhibit on the last page of this section). In a Western context, these categories are generally depicted as a normal distribution curve with innovators, early adopters and laggards accounting for 2.5 percent, 13.5 percent and 16 percent, respectively. The early and late majorities each account for 34 percent of the total population which ultimately adopts a product (HS, lecture October 2005). The figure below depicts the correlations described.

Figure C-76 Diffusion of Innovation


In Indonesia, however, very few consumers are prepared to take the social risk of being innovators and trying a new product first. The discomfort of being left behind, however, induces them to follow suit if they think that others have tried a new product. Trials by early buyers thus soften the perceived risk for followers, who are then inclined to “pile in” in their haste to buy. This suggests that the percentage of both innovators and laggards (which form the two tails of the distribution curve) is much higher among Indonesian consumers, resulting in a steeper distribution curve. Additionally, the curve will no longer be symmetrical, the left tail of the curve will be longer, reflecting the hesitancy to try out a new product, whereas the right tail of the curve drops off sharply as consumers are ready to switch brand once the normative standards of their reference group change.

Diffusion of innovation in the Indonesian context reflects the fact that referral is a highly powerful way of expanding product trial by the first wave of consumers (Yan 1994: 66-74). Thus the most effective way of reducing risk and winning acceptance for an innovative product lies in access to the Indonesian consumer’s referral network and utilizing positive word of mouth (HS, lecture October 2004). Once a brand has gained acceptance among early adopters, the rate of diffusion will proceed rapidly. Being an innovator also reflects an active, or “doing” orientation, which is more characteristic of Western than Asian cultures. The marketer should try to use social interdependence and reliance on informal communication channels for Indonesian consumers to his advantage. A popular and effective way of generating positive word of mouth is to conduct consumer promotions at retailer venues. Sampling encourages trial and builds consumer knowledge about particular brands. Attracting the attention of potential customers, educating them and encouraging brand loyalty are key objectives, particularly in Indonesia where consumers are not affluent enough to experiment with brands and social risk is perceived as high. Thus, although a high level of social risk aversion among Indonesian consumers poses challenges, innovative ways can be found to overcome risk aversion, stimulate interest and trial, and eventually establish brand loyalty.

The introduction, presentation, derivation, and explanation of the integrative analytical diagram is now at an end. The model will conclusively be evaluated in the next chapter.

C.3 Concluding discussion of the analytical diagram



After presenting the integrative, multi-dimensional analytical diagram for intercultural marketing and its application to Indonesia, the analytical diagram has to be evaluated and traced back to the discussion of the myth of a globally homogenously thinking and universally acting consumer (global consumer). Subsequently at the beginning of this chapter, the analytical diagram outlined in the Indonesia-specific context will be assessed and one orientation (status orientation) which has proven especially significant during field research will be delineated. Finally, the degree to which models which schematically present culture as a factor and element of international marketing need to be re-examined in this chapter. In almost all handbooks on international marketing, representative models treat culture as merely one of many equally significant factors. In view of the research findings of this work, it is, however, questionable whether such an opinion holds (culture as a factor or element of international marketing). This work shows by means of the Indonesian example that culture is indeed more than merely a factor: it is in fact the context, background and environment of every dealing, thought and action. As a result, a new schematic presentation of the factors in international marketing is rendered necessary. This interim chapter concludes with a presentation of this nature and completes the theoretical discussion initiated in the chapter on international marketing. Finally the analytical diagram, research results and their subsequent discussion clarify one point: international marketing can and must (if culture is not to be understood simply as an equivalent, peripheral legal, economic or infrastructure variable) always be intercultural marketing, i.e. a form of marketing in its own right, which considers seriously and exploits fully the relevance and implications of culture in a success-oriented manner.

C.3.1  Critical appreciation of the analytical diagram

The starting-point of the integrative, multidimensional analytical diagram is the assumption that commonly, in every culture, a limited number of general universally shared human problems needs to be solved. One culture can be distinguished from another by the specific solution it chooses to those problems which are also named “cultural dimensions” (Hofstede and Hofstede 2005: 22-25; Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner 1997: 26-27; Trompenaars and Woolliams 2004: 9-12; Johansson 2001: 62-65) or “orientations” in the context of this work. These cultural dimensions are mostly psychological dimensions, or value constructs, which can be used to describe a specific culture. The author follows the school of thought that international marketing research can operate on the theoretical foundations of these cultural dimensions (de Mooij 2001, 2005) (orientations) which were once developed for intercultural communication but (as this work demonstrates) can be merged into a new analytical diagram and expanded onto marketing. The following figure (C-77) reconstructs this work’s underlying thinking. From a structuralist starting-point, culture - in the sense of Hofstede’s definition (2005: 7) - can be schematically represented in such a way that visible elements of culture (practices) i.e. symbols, heroes and rituals form the outer rings on the model, and moral values which represent the value orientations or value dimensions, are shaded black in the inner ring of the model. Within these value orientations (also known as “mental programming of the mind“ [Hofstede and Hofstede 2005: 4]), one can differentiate between ten distinct orientations within the integrative, multidimensional analytical diagram for intercultural marketing. The thinking behind the following figure is to be interpreted in the subsequent way (from left to right). Practices (symbols, heroes, rituals) distinguish the outer layers of culture in the structuralist model of culture while values, “mental programming of the mind” (Hofstede and Hofstede 2005: 4), identify the invisible layer of culture. Within the invisible layer, ten orientations can be differentiated in the context of this work. They can be found at the right side of the model in parentheses.

Figure C-77 Value orientations and their position within the culture onion


A comparison of cultures, i.e. members of one culture whether on a micro or macro level, allows differing alignments within the respective orientations to be determined, as was investigated in the previous chapter on Indonesia. For example, the American society is considered to be rather masculine (Hofstede and Hofstede 2005: 120-121) and that of Indonesia, to be on the whole feminine (gender orientation). Here it is to be reiterated that generalizations are implied. Every culture, here on a macro level (i.e. countries or society levels), reveals individuals who behave differently from the majority of citizens (of that country or society) being observed. However, in the scope of this work, basic trends in Indonesian society had to be determined and consequently the country level was the research frame. In subsequent works, more specific and detailed comparisons can be carried out between individual societal groups e.g. between different ethnic groups. It would be desirable to research the extent to which orientations between ethnic Chinese and Muslim Indonesians deviate or to examine to what degree Javanese and Batak differ in their orientations. Initial observations in Indonesia revealed great differences in culture and consumer behaviour in both groups (ethnic Chinese and indigenous Indonesians), which even decades of assimilation policy were unable to eliminate (on the topic of the ethnic Chinese minority, see for example: Suryadinata [2005, 2004a, 2004b, 1997]). Since this ethnic subject matter has not yet been freed from stigma, research in this area is considered problematic. This was apparent above all in interviews where Indonesian interviewees avoided questions concerning ethnic dimensions of Indonesian consumer behaviour. Only IW (interview November 2004), Puma’s98 Far-East president was willing and able to provide insights. Referring to the youth segment of the market, he explained that Puma sub-divided their target group into ethnic categories after having limited it to demographic variables. The reason for this was that one would concentrate mostly on young ethnic Indonesians, who were considered to be more fashion-conscious and who spent significantly more money on clothing and shoes than their native ethnic Chinese counterparts. The latter were mainly influenced by rather conventional fashion trends from Singapore, whereas indigenous Indonesians would generally look to Hong Kong, Japan and Western fashions for inspiration. As a result of this conclusion, outdoor advertising space would be booked, for example, near universities with a majority of native Indonesian students. Also, several campaigns were concentrated in Bandung, which is considered to be a trendsetting location in Indonesia. Bandung is a place where many indigenous Indonesians study. Furthermore, it is a popular and well-known holiday destination for young native Indonesians. IW explained that basically many companies underestimated this ethnic dimension. This brief explanation demonstrates how significant cultural aspects are in consumer behaviour and shows in Puma’s case, how the 4Ps (especially place and promotion) were tailored to foreign cultural conditions.

This ascertainment reveals that if one can identify and compare cultures and how culture affects consumer behaviour, one can adapt international marketing strategies to these cultural dissimilarities and extend the international perspective of marketing by adding an intercultural dimension. The construction of the analytical diagram is designed to enable practical and structured approaches for intercultural marketing, and it is believed that the analytical diagram and the structured approach will considerably ease the process of dealing with foreign markets and provide advantages to companies. It should be expressly stated here that other subjects such as political science can benefit, too, from application of the analytical diagram and a subject specific interpretation of the results.

In spite of the very positive experience and feedback concerning the analytical diagram, limitations of the model are, of course, inevitable. The country or nation variable which allows the division of individuals into larger groups to become operational is obviously convenient, but controversial since the direction of causality between the concepts of nationality and culture is unclear. Not all nation-states are an enduring reality, nor do all national territories hold homogenous ethnic, linguistic and religious groups. Basic sources of cultures can be the sense of belonging to an important ethnic group and may override and even nullify the feeling of belonging to a particular nation-state. National and cultural territories with specific, recognized borders are rarely wholly homogenous. One of the principal aims in international marketing is, however, to identify, categorize, evaluate and finally select market segments, and country or nation states are often a primary segmentation basis, due to the ease of implementation.


When discussing the model with local experts, Indonesians continually emphasized the impossibility of applying an orientation’s evaluation in a generalized way to all members of Indonesian society. It could, however, be assumed that the majority of Indonesian society in general embodied the respectively discussed orientations. This is particularly true as modern lifestyles in the very urbanized Java exerts considerable influence on other parts of the Indonesian archipelago and furthermore, it goes without saying that Javanese culture is the one which exerts the most influence on Indonesia (Graf 2002: 22; Dahm, personal discussion February 2006). In this process the Javanese culture had a pivotal role in influencing Indonesian culture as the numerically largest and most influential ethnic group.

It is obvious that in investigations generally the focus has to be put on the majority when eliciting and describing trends typical of the country. This approach is valuable in highly heterogeneous societies like Indonesia which do not offer the existence of a unique modality (master variable) throughout its whole population (that is, only one religion, or one language). Due to its heterogeneousness Furnivall (1939: 45), for example, describes Indonesia as a plural society, i.e. a society in which two or more groups live side by side but separately within the same political unit (Furnivall 1939: 239). This emphasizes the importance of follow up research which concerns itself with individual social groups more intensively than this work (which focuses on Indonesian consumers in general).

In conclusion, it should be recognized that the concept of national culture may seem dangerous in many respects, because it sums up a complex and multiform reality and national culture is at a level that generally smacks of cliché and stereotype. Nonetheless the analytical diagram and its application circumvent these risks by, on the one hand, wanting to draw attention to country typical trends of the respective orientations and their ramifications on consumer behaviour, and on the other, by virtue of offering the possibility of also conducting studies at a sub-country level (for example at an ethnic group level). The advantage of this feature of the analytical diagram is that it permits comparisons, which in the author’s opinion, ought to be the crux of area studies.


Evidence was found that Indonesia’s orientations, and thus what motivates consumers to behave in a certain way, to prefer some products or brands to others, are different and remain different in comparison to the values of people from other countries, i.e. orientations. If one takes the enormous differences in the impact of the orientations into consideration, and if one recognizes the significance and therefore the influence of culture, then standardized global marketing does not appear to be appropriate. Moreover, in view of the relative stability of the values over time, it cannot be assumed that globalization processes will lead to a convergence of the orientations’ shaping in due course (Sondergaard 1994; Hofstede 2001; de Mooij and Hofstede 2002; de Mooij 2005) and thus standardized global marketing in the future will appear as inappropriate as it does today. This view is confirmed by Tineke Boucher-Floor (email, THT-Consulting, August 2005) who indicates that if one analyses the broad spectrum of 55 countries represented in THT inter-cultural databases, then there is no single paradigm of converging or diverging values (orientations). If the results of this thesis are put into practice (i.e. that culture exerts considerable influence on consumer behaviour and consequently on purchasing patterns – expressed differently according to consumers’ backgrounds), it will be apparent that culturally convergent and homogenous behaviour of consumers does not exist. Owing to the analyses which confirmed that there are no changes at the core of the structuralist model of culture (the ten orientations of which supposedly determine consumer behaviour), culturally convergent and homogenous treatment of consumers will not exist in the future either. The global consumer popular at company headquarters as the prototype of a culture-less, contemporary human being demanding the same products and services worldwide, is, and continues to be a myth.

In the course of the introductory discussion on globalization and its dimensions at the beginning of this thesis (resulted in the ascertainment that globalization is to be taken as glocalization) the theoretical line of argumentation against the existence of a global consumer will be summed up. Except in the case of raw materials, there is no global market, just as there is no global consumer. Apart from raw materials, almost all products are culturally-bound, i.e. they are considered, chosen, bought and interpreted locally.

As a result of the data, i.e. the scores from over 50 countries (their respective orientations), it can be assumed that at least for the countries for which data is available, similar purchasing behaviour on a country level cannot be observed, since the scores of the respective countries are extremely dissimilar. When observing all ten of the orientations, not even two countries are close-clustered, i.e. all ten orientations of the two countries show similar results. As stated at the beginning of this part of the thesis, when comparing countries within Asia, even the differences in scores from within the region are enormous. If there is no such thing as the global consumer, what is there then? There is only one answer based on this thesis. All consumers are glocal consumers, i.e. they may to an extent buy globally available products from multinational companies, but they buy and use them locally, i.e. on a local platform, and they interpret them locally.


The following paragraph is devoted to a synopsis of the Indonesian results of the analytical diagram of intercultural marketing and an explanation of the significance of two orientations needing special attention with regard to the Indonesian market.

C.3.2 Results for Indonesia

Discussions with interviewees in Indonesia have enabled a picture of Indonesian consumers to emerge and have permitted conclusions on the far-reaching repercussions on consumer behaviour to be made. This was effected in detail in the previous chapter. This paragraph serves to reiterate the results on the one hand, and on the other to prioritize the orientations in light of their influence on Indonesian consumers in general.

According to the given definitions Indonesian consumers appear to be particularistic, collectivistic and rather femininely oriented. Additionally, they are somewhat short-term oriented, externally-control oriented, and have a rather low score on the uncertainty orientation. Furthermore, and in the opinion of the majority of interviewees these are the two most crucial criteria, Indonesian consumers are generally high power oriented und high status oriented (both orientations correlate positively). Both will ultimately be investigated in greater detail. The statements pertaining to the emotional orientation are largely contradictory, and thus it is seemingly infeasible to arrive at a coherent verdict (as to why Indonesia can neither be considered very emotional nor very neutral). The following figure (C-78) depicts the ten value orientations and their respective bias in Indonesia. The figure after the former one (C-79) is an arrow diagram which was employed for the initial presentation of the analytical diagram. This has now been completed with data gleaned for Indonesia and the completed arrows reveal the respective alignment of the orientations (see, Figure C-79).


Figure C-78 Value orientation results for Indonesia (1)

The above figure (C-78) shows the ten orientations in the left box, and the respective bias of the orientations for the Indonesian case in the right box. The following figure (C-79) resumes the depiction familiar from the introduction to Part C. The tips of the arrows shaded darkly show the direction which Indonesia tends towards.

Figure C-79 Value orientations for Indonesa


In addition to the above results, correlations between individual orientations are discernible, such as, for example, between status and power orientations. The following figure reveals the correlation between status and power orientation, a fact to be highlighted in more detail in the next paragraph.

Figure C-80 Correlation between status and power orientation

C.3.2.1  Status-driven behaviour, prestige as a motivator and consumption patterns

The economic expansion in recent years in the ASEAN countries has allowed enormous growth in status-seeking conspicuous consumption throughout the region (Gerke 2000: 135-158; Chua 2000: 183-201; Finkelstein 2000: 225-240; Robison and Goodman 1996: 1-18; Kahn 1996: 49-78; Robison 1996: 79-104; Pinches 1999: 1-55; Young 1999: 56-85; Heryanto 1999: 159-187). Robison and Goodman (1996: 1) observe:


“In recent years the imagination of the West, and indeed, of the East as well, has been captured by the dramatic emergence in East and Southeast Asia of a new middle class and a new bourgeoisie. On the television screens and in the press of Western countries, the images formerly associated with affluence, power and privilege in Asia – the general, the princes and the party apparatchiks – however outmoded in reality, are being increasingly replaced by more recognizable symbols of modernity. Western viewers are now familiar with images of frustrated consumers in Bangkok and Hong Kong traffic jams, Chinese and Indonesian capitalist entrepreneurs signing deals with Western companies; white-coated Malaysian or Taiwanese computer programmers and other technical experts at work in electronics plants; and above all, crowds of Asian consumers at McDonalds or with the ubiquitous mobile phone in the hand.” (Robison and Goodman 1996: 1)

Bright new shopping centres sporting expensive boutiques and flagship stores can be found throughout Southeast Asia (Finkelstein 2000: 225-240). Among consumers with the financial means, conspicuous consumption is the rule rather than the exception and is distinctly motivated by the pursuit of status (HS, lecture October 2004). As economic growth progresses, families feel compelled to display their increasing wealth and status. Lavish spending on consumer goods is common (HaS, interview December 2004). The pursuit of status is the leading determinant of such consumer behaviour and it is Western brands that often connote status. Indonesian consumers are eager to be “modern” and so adopt Western consumption habits, buying French perfumes, German appliances, Swedish furniture and Swiss watches, which unlike local products are interpreted as modern (Hoffmann 2006: 53). Products intended for display are regarded as an important vehicle for self-enhancement (HS, lecture October 2004) and imports of apparel, cosmetics, and automobiles have seen enormous increases over the past few years (Hoffmann 2006: 53). While many West Europeans appreciate understated luxury and purchase pieces only recognizable to those in the know who realize their true value, Indonesians adore blatantly obvious logos which clamour “Look here, I’m rich!!”, something which can be observed everywhere in Indonesia or in these groups’ shopping destinations in Singapore and Hong Kong.


Although such spending may seem incongruous in view of the still relatively low incomes in many Southeast Asian countries, the pursuit of status is so important that some of these consumers have shown themselves willing to go into debt to buy products (IS, interview September 2004). For example, it is not just the small number of Indonesian and Malaysian millionaires who partake in conspicuous consumption, but also middle-level managers on shopping sprees. Even teenagers in rural towns sport expensive running shoes and office boys the latest mobile phone (AS, interview November 2004; TS, interview October 2004). Southeast Asian governments regard this development from two standpoints. From an economic standpoint, the governments have grown increasingly concerned about the current account deficit (trade deficit). From a cultural standpoint, they are concerned about the strong growth in consumerism and its apparent opposition to many of the values, attitudes and behaviours associated with their traditional cultures. Even in Vietnam which only instituted “Doi Moi” (the policy enabling partial reform to a market economy) as recently as 1986, there has been a rapid movement towards consumerism in urban centres (see, for example: Carruthers 2004). In Indonesia, the relatively low income level precludes all but a small minority of “orang kaya baru” (OKB) (nouveaux riches) from being able to afford the luxury of status-seeking consumption through top luxury brands (Shamsul 1999: 86-110). Only a few thousand Indonesians can afford European luxury goods such as cars, clothing, watches and jewellery, however, most Indonesians aspire in general to Western brands because they have an image of higher quality compared with national brands (HaS, interview December 2004). True perfection in Indonesia is not expressed through refined and subtle luxury, with discreet symbols, but (as previously mentioned) through purchasing garish, gaudy articles decorated with flashy, showy logos. Part of the attraction lies in status-seeking, as can be seen in the tendency to leave tags on sunglasses and labels on the sleeves of suits or in general in the preference of “logo-mania” goods. However, this trend has not yet reached levels like in Japan where a dangerous and disturbing side to such consumerism is, for example, the recent spate of schoolgirl prostitution. High-school girls have realized that a means of financing their taste for expensive brands such as Chanel, Fendi, and Prada is to sell sex. One 16 year-old girl says:

“If I want to buy Prada and Vuitton bags that cost $600 to $700, I have to have this kind of job. Everybody wears them. I feel like a more valuable person if I have them.” (Schütte and Ciarlante 1998: 107)


Although most Indonesians claim not to have a lot of money, the desire for social status has motivated the contemporary phenomenon of competition to possess, display or consume whatever is the most modern or most famous item of its type.

Western consumer goods have been a mass phenomenon since the beginning of the 1990s, however the desire to distance oneself from others via certain symbols, is culturally motivated and can be traced back to high power and status orientations. Consumption, possession and showing-off of certain cultural wares are thus means of differentiation. During the late 1990s, as Indonesians took the leap towards conspicuous consumption, the items chosen to communicate status were typically Western brands. This awakening in Indonesia, produced by contact with the West in the early 20th century where goods imported from the west were available only to very well-heeled Indonesians at the top of the social hierarchical pyramid, and were therefore considered to be status symbols. Western or imported goods (except for those from China) even today continue to qualify as status symbols although their number has increased dramatically and these are affordable (at least in the fast moving consumer goods [FMCG] sector) to all Indonesians. The desire to possess goods such as these is astonishing upon closer inspection since Western culture and material objects have come to represent (to the Indonesians) qualities of the West which most contrast with Indonesian culture: individualism, freedom of expression, Western modernity and so on. This assumption is flawed and is based on the belief in globalization (and its resulting homogeneous global consumer) and not in glocalization and its resulting glocal consumer, in whose tradition, consumers act locally (purchase, choose, use and interpret locally). In Indonesia the motivation to possess Western goods such as these is not to express freedom via consumption; rather it is the compulsion to expose one’s own status through the medium of consumption. Indonesians do not seem to use Western brands to express the meanings of individuality, rather they try to express worldliness and status. Young people in particular are very brand conscious, but are more selective when it comes to brand consumption (IW, interview November 2004; G, interview December 2004). No longer will just any new Western brand sell (IW, interview October 2004). The results of interviews conducted with experts reveal that the status and power orientations (which both lead to status-aware conduct) can be seen as characteristic of Indonesian society and thus as behavioural patterns which influence consumer attitude. Bernhard Dahm, the doyen of Southeast Asian studies in Germany confirmed this opinion in an interview conducted with him in February 2006.

Generally, social stratification is based on somewhat different criteria across cultures, even though social classes consistently appear across cultures. It is not the existence of social classes that differs, but the degree of emphasis placed on social stratification that varies across societies. In countries where the emphasis on power and status orientation is strong, people in higher classes see themselves as being substantially different from others in lower classes. This can extend to speaking the language differently, prohibiting inter-class marriages, and distinguishing oneself by specific tastes and lifestyles unaffordable for other social strata. Indonesian society which figures an extremely high power distance and a high power orientation, avails itself of a multitude of status symbols. Behaviour on the part of middle and upper classes appears to be intensely driven by the pursuit of exclusiveness (Gerke 1995: 7-11). Symbols of exclusiveness include the appropriate clothing, jewellery and other possessions not to mention cultural goods such as the command of a foreign language (Gerke 1995: 8-13).


The immense status-motivated behavioural patterns are especially apparent in Java, and have over time, extended to the whole of Indonesia thanks to the media and migration. According to interviewees, the prerogative of the “priyayi“ (the educated Javanese upper class, who, according to their religion are predominantly followers of syncretistic religion “agama kejawen“) way of living, became a behaviour and style forming phenomenon aspiring to social strata. In many respects they display a patriarchal and in this sense autocratic social structure (Markham 1995: 83; Berman 1998: 6-17; Errington 1998: 1-21). A person’s social standing depends on his/her belonging to one of the two prime social echelons of Indonesian society which differentiates between white collar workers with desk jobs and blue collar workers with manual labour jobs. Members of the lower strata (farmers, labourers, manual labourers and servants) must show respect to members of the upper classes (higher ranking employees and well-heeled self-employed people) by means of language register and posture (Markham 1995: 83; Berman 1998: 6-17; Errington 1998: 1-21). The “priyayi” distinguish themselves from the remainder of society with their way of living. The expression priyayi denotes the bearer of courtly culture which peaked at the courts of Surakarta and Yogyakarta. In priyayi-view of life, differences in standing are deep rooted and find their expression in sophisticated etiquette as well as different Javanese language register according to rank. Socially “priyayi” are on a par to nobility, “ndara“, with whom they share lifestyle and philosophy. They only have contact to people of the same social class.

The priyayi continue to command the greatest respect today. It is impossible to belong to this stratum with wealth: rather you belong to it because of ancestry and lifestyle, and more recently because of academic achievement, too (Geertz 1969: 9). The “priyayi” are set apart from the others since they generally live in cities, and never exercise manual labourer positions (BR, interview November 2004). They are civil servants, employees and intellectuals. The lifestyle and realm of imagination of both strata are coloured by “agama kejawen“ and frequently are connected to Javanese mysticism, “kebatinan“ which places emphasis on order at all levels of existence (Mulder 1978: 106). The priyayi, in contrast to the “wong cilik” (who earn a living as farmers, manual labourers or workmen), emphasise their connection to courtly arts of bygone days such as Gamelan music (Gramich 1995:3-4; Becker 1980: 1-10), dance, puppet plays and literature and display their “alus”-nature. Order means the control of every aspect of their very existence (Magnis-Suseno 1981: 115). Markham (1995: 83) explains: “Status is determined inter alia by wealth, provenance or education“. Poedjosoedarmo (1972: 6) differentiates social groups, too, between physical constitution, economic and political power, relatives, age differences, sex, magic abilities, and psychic peculiarities etc. According to Javanese hierarchical order, everyone who submits to those people who are worthy subordinates the source of life, respects moral wisdom and the proximity to power (Mulder 1990: 31). Harmonious coexistence can only be achieved when all members of society are aware of and assume their social role and thus their rights and duties. On the subject of Javanese status behavioural patterns, Mulder (1990: 139) sums up: This imaginary world is concentrated on an individual level on the yearning for status and hankering after prestige.

Since status has become the only real thing in the world, people identify with it, and self-satisfaction is wholly dependent on status recognition on the part of others. In this way each moral issue or problem is concealed behind the satisfaction with one’s own ego. The greatest threat to this ego is posed by losing, i.e. by being humiliated or by being insulted since they would “rather die than be humiliated”, and they believe it is preferable to lose money than status. As a result, status (that was held on to just for the sake of not losing it) obscured one’s view of the objective consequences and furthermore led to negligence for all worldly and material living conditions. To a certain extent it led to somewhat narrow-mindedness and obstinacy to the point where status satisfaction overrode everything else. Mulder (1990: 139) adds: “In matters of status, Javanese are irreconcilable“. For this reason people are often obstinate and uncompromising, wanting to protect their status at all costs (which on the other hand can be traced back to the fear of losing). The end justifies the means as far as protection of status is concerned: even lying is justified. Mulder explains (1990: 140): The external life must be pushed aside; it is best to invent one’s own truth. Confrontation with the real world is avoided by means of escapism into a fantasy world –“wayangan“- filled with status symbols, self-deception, and the superciliousness of a personal truth in the process of development. How this observation in today’s consumer is made apparent, will be revealed in the following paragraphs. The significance of status in Javanese society in particular and in Indonesian society in general cannot be more demonstratively expressed.


When one visits a well-off Indonesian one gets the impression that their visible, domineering edifice is a meaningful symbol of their holiness and their right to be respected. Concrete proof of the worth of a person deserving of respect is the arrangement of rooms which visitors, supplicants or clients have to go through in order to reach that person. Ante-chambers ritually segregate distinguished people from the common people. Thus on a visit to a high-ranking Indonesian individual, the tea was placed at the other end of the table to ensure the ceremonial distance between the distinguished person and the deferential visitor. After the author had to wait in three different places to be taken to the room where the interview was to be conducted, he was seated at a befitting distance from the interviewee. As previously mentioned, interviews and meetings with Indonesians were conducted in a manner which respects Indonesians’ extreme status orientation. Premises were looked for which were appropriately decorated for extraordinary and worthy people. These rooms had to make people feel that they were something special, and to revere them with suitable politeness. Visitors had to be enabled to show symbolically to outsiders that they belong to the elite in society. Private office rooms in the business centres of the Four Seasons Hotel, Grand Hyatt and Shangri-Là in Jakarta apparently met these criteria, and were therefore chosen to conduct interviews in an environment where the interviewees felt at home. In this manner the interviewees were made to feel that their social status was recognized and respected.

It was obvious that behaviour in public situations is apparently of the utmost importance for these people’s identity. By particular behaviour consisting of being surrounded by a host of people, characterized by slow and quiet speech, people attempt to prove to others that they are especially noble, honourable and holy. How one wants to be seen and as whom one wants to be seen is perceivable through certain symbols in Indonesia, which are not merely limited to physical symbols (for example clothing) but which are also visible through certain behaviour. This behaviour, especially apparent at high-tea in international hotels, requires leisure time which not everyone has at his or her disposal. Another element which is absolutely de rigueur in Indonesian social circles, is that people should be greeted with great discretion and reserve. It is advisable to avoid becoming overly familiar with those individuals who did not benefit from a noble upbringing. In Indonesia one avoids establishing too close a relationship with people in menial positions. The latter would not want this kind of relationship either. People in menial positions are often not even treated like human beings. Seemingly courtly behaviour is supposed to reveal elevated status. What is considered to be crude in Europe, is not necessarily considered in the same way in Indonesia despite their lifestyle’s emphasis placed on the subtleties of life. It is perfectly acceptable to discuss the cost of having watches made, the value of jewellery, clothing and cars, all in an endeavour in order to set oneself apart from others. Everyone is constantly trying to impress, it seems. When strolling through the malls it appears that besides consumption, leisurely strolling is characteristic of people’s life. The pursuit of a noble lifestyle is typical of the new middle and upper classes and becomes especially obvious in malls – the spare-time destination, where well-heeled families are accompanied by a host of subordinates at a respectful distance.

C.3.2.2 Symbols of setting oneself apart

The car


Many readers will have their attention drawn for the first time to the enormous status-driven behaviour of Indonesian consumers, and will be able to compare it with their own society’s wealthy people’s behavioural patterns. For many people in Indonesia who are the proud owners of cars, there is yet another way to show off their exclusiveness and social power: an exclusive number plate. A considerable number of Indonesian car owners are interested in distancing themselves from the crowds of ordinary drivers by choosing a certain unusual, rare or lucky number for their license plates. This is by no means limited to members of the Sino-Indonesian minority. Furthermore, extremely expensive cars are bought as collectibles rather than as a means of transportation. Anyone who purchases a Ferrari or similar car (for example at the luxurious “AutoMall”99 in Jakarta [see, DVD → Folder “Pictures”]) usually puts it in the garage to show it off to visitors and friends. With this, he/she wants to express that he/she can afford such an elegant, albeit pointless, car (not even the motorways would allow the use of a Ferrari due to the poor tarmac and notorious traffic jams in Jakarta). The car becomes the symbol of distance from mundane prosaic pragmatism (IK, October 2004). One’s name or one’s photo appearing in the newspaper or another publication (for example, because of one’s car fleet) is tantamount to being awarded a medal, and bestows prestige on the recipient. Less well-heeled Indonesians living in areas far away from Jakarta try to add status to their cars and social standing by having their cars registered in Jakarta and then being able to own a number plate beginning with a “B” (which stands for Jakarta) and then impressing their local community (a Jakarta number plate implies being connected with power and money as well as the influence which comes with them) (observed and discussed in Banjarmasin and Ujung Pandang, April 2004).

The credit card

Someone from a noble background would never come directly in contact with money. Nobility is demonstrated by means of another person than the consumer paying the bill. Especially in particularistic societies, owning and showing off a credit card reinforces the worth of a person and exposes him as a member of the upper-middle and upper classes in front of hoteliers and business people etc. The person is deemed to be someone trustworthy to the institution, and as someone who has money at his disposal without his necessarily having it on him at the time. Moreover, credit cards are instantly visible to all and sundry when the wallet is opened.



Stringent dress codes are supposed to signify the lifestyle of these people. Fashion is characterized in a two-fold manner. Firstly their intention is to imitate others who have a role model effect. These role models include first and foremost people who wield social power and those from the social elite, and secondly they represent an endeavour to be distanced symbolically from those people with whom they do not want to be associated. Above all shoes are apparently an important symbol. Shoes in Indonesia today which inhibit movement such as high heels or leather shoes, are designed to demonstrate that the wearer is liberated from the need to perform physical or manual labour, as opposed to those who can only afford slippers.

The statements are summed up in the following figure (C-81). It demonstrates the consequences of a high power and status orientation in Indonesia, and how they will change over time. Start at the top left “practices” and read clockwise.


Figure C-81 Status and power orientations over the course of time in Indonesia

The following quotes are excerpts from an article which was published in the Australian Financial Review (27 February 2004) and which shall explain pictorially the status-conscious behaviour of some leading examples of Indonesian society.


“By his own reckoning, Hotman owns 60 houses and 15 luxury cars, including a new-model Porsche, Jaguar and Mercedes-Benz. Around his neck is a glistening diamond he bought for US$150,000. Oversized opal rings adorn his fingers and a gold-encrusted watch and bracelet cover his wrists… Of his fleet of vehicles – which require the services of six full-time personal drivers – Hotman says his favorite is a new SL 500 silver Mercedes-Benz that set him back a cool Rp3 billion (US$470,000) [imported cars are subject to special import taxes which leads to the fact that foreign luxury cars are more expensive than palatial-like mansions in Indonesia].” (Financial Review 27 February 2004)

Hotman has accumulated almost all of his extraordinary wealth since 1999, when he left a leading city law firm to start his own practice, aiming to capitalize on the new legal framework set up after the 1997 financial crisis. “Yes, it is a good life”, he smiles, sitting in his luxurious office on the 18th floor of the Summitmas Tower in central Jakarta. “The crazy thing about people in Jakarta is that they believe the most expensive is also the most luxurious, so they just buy it”, says Hotman, “But I work hard, I don’t corrupt anyone. It’s my sweat, so if I like it I just buy it – it’s entertainment for me.” And in that Hotman Paris Hutapea is anything but exceptional. In fact, he is only the most obvious example of Jakarta’s new rich – a breed of 20, 30 and 40-somethings which has boldly rewritten the rules for wealth in the six years since Indonesia was plunged into economic and political chaos. As the country’s economy edges towards recovery, the super-wealthy are now free to flaunt their affluence in a style unimaginable a decade ago – even though half of the country’s 220 million people still live in poverty. The trend towards ostentation owes much to Indonesia’s new political landscape; post-Soeharto governments have brought freedoms that were unimaginable under the dictator’s 32-year reign.


“Before 1998, nobody was allowed to appear wealthier than the Soeharto family. It just wasn’t acceptable… Now there are no restrictions like that, and you can see that the rich in Indonesia are comfortable to show it off.” (Financial Review 27 February 2004)

Nowhere in Indonesia is this new face of wealth more evident than in the steamy, swarming capital of Jakarta. Luxury apartments in Jakarta are selling as fast as they can be built, many for more than $US1 million. The overseas-educated children of the elite are opening Manhattan-style hip bars, and glitzy new shopping malls are opening at a cracking pace, catering to the eager-to-spend middle and upper classes. One of Indonesia’s leading economists, Chatib Basri (speech, December 2004), says that while Indonesia’s upper and upper-middle classes comprise only about 5 percent of the population that means that the country still has 11 million people with extremely high purchasing power. Perhaps the clearest sign, however, of the resurgent spending power of Indonesia’s upper-middle and upper classes is the booming popularity of shopping malls, the staple of Jakarta entertainment and a favourite hangout for Indonesian to see and be seen. At least six giant shopping centres have opened in recent months.

After having described status behaviour in depth, the next paragraph is dedicated to understanding culture not simply as an element or factor of international marketing (as is the case in literature), but as the concrete context of all dealings, actions and thinking.

C.3.3  Culture as variable or context


Consumer behaviour has strong universal components (psychology and economics), however its cultural variations cannot be ignored (Usunier and Lee 2005: 88) as they tend to influence the meaning and manifestations of consumer behaviour and make intercultural applicability of consumer behaviour concepts impossible (Usunier and Lee 2005: 96; Schütte and Ciarlante 1999: 92). As demonstrated for Indonesia, variations in consumer behaviour therefore cannot be linked solely with economic factors, such as per-capita income for example, but must be investigated in cultural determinants and be put into perspective according to their impact on society. Consumers and their needs are largely driven by cultural norms (Kotabe and Helsen 2004: 93). The great importance of culture as an influencing factor on consumer behaviour, as articulated in this work, is not acknowledged by business studies or its sub-disciplines, or is even suppressed (cultural ignorance) since cross-border marketing is already highly complex. Therefore, the culture phenomenon is often concealed for reasons of simplification (for managers culture seems to be too fuzzy and hard to come to grips with). In many companies, the opinion reigns that foreign markets and people should be subservient to domestic products and advertising initiatives (cultural imperialism). The reason for this is the lack of a systematic approach to these issues, leaving the decisions to intuition and prior experiences. Confronted with the complexity of international marketing, most managers feel overwhelmed (the unanimous opinion of INSEAD participants of “Marketing of consumer goods in Asia”-seminar, October 2004, Singapore). Decisions ought to be taken with the utmost care as, with international involvement, the demand for management abilities and skills increases. The fact that a company has to operate several markets or observe several countries does not only imply proportional multiplication, but also the potential for more effort and problems. Owing to cultural components, especially in negotiations (presence of varying cultures within the company) complexity takes on an additional emotional dimension, and conflict (intra-organizational) is nigh inevitable. If, however, culture were internalized not only as an element but as a context, and if the context’s impact were appreciated, gaffes could be avoided. The following figure (C-82) demonstrates how the influence of culture as a success factor in literature and practice is indicated. Besides many other factors such as infrastructure, competition, political climate etc., culture is an equally relevant factor. Since these factors are considered uncontrollable by companies, they are thus described as uncontrollable elements, too.

Figure C-82 Culture as a variable

After the research conducted in connection with this work, this viewpoint of culture as being merely a factor appears reasonably to be unsatisfactory since the significance of culture is not recognized. Culture is not merely a factor but the context which influences all dealings, thinking and actions, as proven by this work. Companies have to come to terms and cope with this context. Therefore the following figure (C-83) appears more appropriate i.e. it reflects the complex nature of culture, and its role for consumer behaviour. Culture is no longer deemed to be an uncontrollable factor but as the context itself in the life world in which the consumer chooses, buys and interprets. This context (culture) is equally uncontrollable; however, those who are aware of the significance of culture can minimize the risk for the company. The following figure (C-83) replaces the previous one (C-82). Culture is now understood as a context and not only as a factor.


Figure C-83 Culture as context

Owing to the great significance of culture, it is recommendable to carry out culture-appropriate differentiation, i.e. between the poles of standardization and differentiation to select a suitable strategy. The following paragraph will clarify this.

C.3.3.1  Differentiated standardization strategy

Based on the understanding that culture is the context of all action, it has now to be decided which strategy a company should follow in order to minimize the risks of an overseas operation.


Figure C-84 Between standardization and differentiation

It has been shown that companies have the opportunity when dealing internationally to standardize (standardization strategy) or differentiate (differentiation strategy), i.e. either to establish a global marketing mix and to adhere to it, or to customize it to local requirements. The strategy of choice which actually exists, will in time be denoted as a contingency perspective, i.e. the possibility to adapt exists, but is not an absolute necessity (opportunity and at the same time lack of urgency), but in order to maximize success rate, a strategy of differentiated standardization should be strived for. The following figure (C-85) will highlight this strategy. The variables of a perspective such as this are arranged on different levels, whereby one can differentiate between the following four: firstly a macro-economic level, which arises due to local economic developments, legal regulations, physical features and demographics. Secondly, the micro-economic level consisting of consumer particulars, the competition, and the structure of intermediaries (distribution system). Thirdly, on an internal-company level, where strategic basic orientations (de- or centralization of decision-making, relationship between parent company and overseas subsidiaries), property structure, knowledge of the market, experience with business overseas - are condensed. On the fourth level, described as product or branch specific level, product type, product life-cycle, culturally bound specifics of the product, the uniqueness of the product, how the product is used, and the foreign buyer’s product knowledge can be found. All of these levels are embedded in the cultural level (culture as the context), which in turn affects all the other levels. This is depicted below:

Figure C-85 Differentiated standardization (adapted from chartbook, Müller and Gelbrich)


Many global companies have become aware of the fact that people are not the same across countries and that they are not becoming the same either. Currently, in Southeast Asia one can see pan-Southeast Asian advertising campaigns slowly turning into local campaigns (implementing a strategy of differentiated standardization) (for example: Mercedes-Benz and Me)100, obviously because global or regional campaigns did not work.

Figure C-86 Regional (Asia-Pacific) campaign Mercedes-Benz & Me (online campaign of the year)

In Part C the reasons for the failure of these global marketing campaigns were elaborated in detail. Even Marlboro, the quintessential global advertiser, has localized its brand portfolio with the take-over of Sampoerna since its own brands were not able to penetrate the Indonesian market successfully. Coca-Cola, for example, localized its product development and marketing communications. Anyone who is familiar with the Coca-Cola vending machines in Japan and South Korea would have to admit to what extent Coca-Cola has adapted to local challenges in these markets. The traditional Coke is frequently unavailable in vending machines operated by Coca-Cola there, besides a variety of chilled teas, coffees and lemonade beverages. Marketing and advertising are basically about consumers, and not producers. Markets are people, not products, one can reasonably summarize. There may be global products, but there are no global people. There may be global brands, but there are no global motivations for buying those brands. Research revealed that the reasons for young people buying global sports brands for example, differ a great deal worldwide (see for example: Holt, Quelch, Taylor 2004; Quelch 2003; Raman, Thompson, Aaker, Manwani, Clift, Kotabe 2003; Yankelovich and Meer 2006).


To return to the integrative, multidimensional analytical diagram of intercultural marketing, these trends can be illustrated in the following way (Figure C-87). In the middle of the following figure (C-87), the known structuralist model of culture (whose outer layers [rings] distinguish visible elements of culture and the innermost layer [values]) differentiate the ten orientations) (researched in the case of Indonesia) can be found. The latter are pictured on the right and denoted as steady over the course of time. On the left hand side, i.e. depicted as unstable over the course of time, are the visible elements of culture, also described as practices (symbols, heroes and rituals). For example music styles, fashions, celebrities or various lifestyles can be subsumed to these practices. These change over time - an unquestionable fact. A clothing style which is considered to be modern today may be outdated a year later. Owing to this, the outer layers of the culture model are to be understood as unstable, i.e. as variable. Outer changes in the visible layers of culture do not reflect changes in the innermost layer, values or value orientations, since they are stable.

Figure C-87 Variable versus steady elements of the structuralist model of culture

In an extremely status-oriented society, which, for example, has a high power and status orientation, there will always be the desire from the consumer to be separated and distanced from other social strata. The means of distancing oneself, for example by purchasing certain goods, may change over time, but the desire to be different will remain the same, as reflected by the high status orientation. It may be true that consumers use goods in many transitional or developing societies to symbolize modernity or their ability to participate in an apparently global consumer society but which has a rather glocal conformation. However, the idea that consumers’ conspicuous consumption of status symbols is a frequent by-product of economic development, does not appear plausible. This is because conspicuous consumption, the acquisition and visible display of luxury goods and services to demonstrate one’s ability to afford them, is first and foremost a sign of high status and power orientation in a society where the need to be different from others exists permanently. If this need did not exist, then people would refrain from buying certain status goods (these would not even occur to someone owing to the low status orientation). If status orientation were pronounced, then more status goods would be purchased. This observation is also the reason why European luxury concerns target in particular the strongly status-oriented Asian societies to make the most turnover, as can be seen in the figure below (C-88).


Figure C-88 Turnover by selected luxury goods companies by geographic region

It may be true that many of these countries are less developed than the USA or many European countries, but the latter’s score is rather low on the status orientation. The decisive differences can all be traced back to cultural reasons and show that the concentration, expansion, and internationalization of the consumer goods industries, the growth of affluent consumer segments in every nation, democratization, loosening of class boundaries, and a quickened flow of information through the commercial media, all contribute to global market expansion but that these developments have not led to the development of a globally homogenous consumer culture. With this ascertainment this discussion will now proceed to the practical section, Part D.

Fußnoten und Endnoten

79  Dangdut is a genre of Indonesian popular music which is partly derived from Arab, Indian, and Malay folk music. Beginning in the 1970s, it developed among working class Muslim youth, but especially since the late 1990s has had a broader following in Indonesia. A dangdut band usually consists of a lead singer backed by a band of four to eight musicians. The term has been expanded from the 'desert-like-style' music, and embraces other musical styles today. Modern dangdut incorporates influences from Latin, house, hip hop, R&B, and even classical music. Most major cities, especially on Java, have one or more venues that have a dangdut show several times per week. The concerts of major dangdut stars are also broadcast on television.

80  http://www.detikhot.com/index.php/tainment.read/tahun/2006/bulan/02/tgl/01/time/173429/idnews/530392/idkanal/230 (12 August 2005); http://www.tempointeraktif.com/hg/nusa/jawamadura/2003/05/17/brk,20030517-04,id.html (12 August 2005);

81  http://www.kompas.co.id/kesehatan/news/0601/23/125752.htm (12 August 2005);

82  http://www.ndrtv.de/weltspiegel/20030706/indonesien.html (12 August 2005); http://www.geocities.com/inuldangdut/ (12 August 2005); http://myhero.com/myhero/hero.asp?hero=Daratista (12 August 2005); http://www.femina-online.com/serial/inul/srlinul1.html (12 August 2005); http://www.femina-online.com/serial/inul/srlinul1.html (12 August 2005); http://www.tokohindonesia.com/selebriti/artis/inul-daratista/index.shtml (12 August 2005); http://www.commondreams.org/views03/0514-01.htm (12 August 2005);

83  http://www.retailasiaonline.com/ (16 March 2006)

84  http://www.mandarinoriental.com/hotel/507000006.asp (14 August 2005)

85  https://www.shangri-la.com/gc/en/index.aspx (14 August 2005)

86  http://www.lippobank.co.id/produk_dbt_mthr.html (17 August 2005)

87  http://www.datascrip.com/ (17 November 2005)

88  Interestingly, most companies which represent European luxury brands in Indonesia (import and sales) belong to the Soeharto clan. The French luxury brand Hermes, for example, is represented by a niece of Soeharto. Most up-market boutiques call “Plaza Indonesia” its home, which together with the Grand Hyatt Hotel above the mall, is believed to be owned by the Soeharto family, too.

89  http://www.plazaindonesia.com/ (19 September 2005)

90  http://www.plaza-senayan.com/html/index.php (19 September 2005)

91  A service test which serves to evaluate and determine quality of customer service of companies. This activity from market research and the findings leaned from it are the precondition for further initiatives to optimize service and to eliminate deficits. To this end mystery shopping is conducted (usually under cover) to evaluate criteria relevant to service. Staff friendliness and competence etc. are tested. A test customer poses test questions and rates quality of service.

92  http://www.bisnisjakarta.com/agenda_bisnis.html?start=20&bulan=9&tahun=2004&dt=1096218000&s_q=&PHPSESSID=8ed9a7be114243126ca35e7a814be23a (12 August 2004)

93  http://www.markplusnco.com/ (13 August 2005)

94  http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/4076982.stm (12 November 2005)

95  Batak is a collective term used to identify a number of ethnic groups found in the highlands of North Sumatra, Indonesia. Their heartland lies to the west of Medan centred on Lake Toba. In fact the "Batak" include several groups with distinct, albeit related, languages and customs (“adat"). While the term is used to include the Toba, Karo, Pak Pak, Simalungun, Angkola, and Mandailing groups, some of these peoples prefer not to be known as Batak. Before they became subjects of the colonial Dutch East Indies government, the Batak had a reputation for being fierce warriors. Afterwards Christianity was embraced widely, and the HKBP (Huria Kristen Batak Protestan) Christian church is presently the largest Christian congregation in Indonesia. Batak societies are patriarchal. The Batak culture(s) stands out in weaving, wood carving and especially in its ornate stone tombs. Their burial cultures are very rich and complex, and includes a ceremony in which the bones of one's ancestors are re-interred several years after death (mangungkal holi).The Bataks themselves today are mostly Christian with a Muslim minority. The dominant Christian theology was brought by Lutheran German missionaries in the 19th century. One of the most famous German missionaries involved was Ludwig Ingwer Nommensen. Bataks speak a variety of (closely related) languages, all members of the Austronesian language family.

96  http://www.debeersgroup.com/debeersweb (10 December 2005); http://www.adiamondisforever.com/ (10 December 2005); http://www.dtc.com/ (10 December 2005);

97  http://www.richemont.com/ (13 August 2005)

98  http://about.puma.com/puma.jsp?type=company&lang=eng (17 November 2005)

99  http://www.agungautomall.co.id/aam-contact.html (17 November 2005)

100  http://www.asiadma.com/adma/resources/newsitem.asp?NewsID=100064 (17 November 2005); http://www.mercedesbenzandme.com/global/index.php (12 November 2005)

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