FORMS OF LEARNING We learn cultural norms and customs mostly from family and peers, and begin to understand at a very young age that some behaviors are appropriate and others are not. Anthropologists have identified three forms of cultural learning. Formal learning takes place when parents, older siblings, and other family members teach younger members “how to behave.” Informal learning takes place when children imitate the behaviors of selected others, such as family, friends, or TV and movie heroes and characters. Technical learning happens when teachers instruct children, in educational environments, about what should be done, how it should be done, and why it should be done, in social as well as personal settings. Our ethical values (e.g., the importance of kindness, honesty, and responsibility) are also formed during child- hood as youngsters learn them from parents, teachers, and other significant adults.7

ENCULTURATION AND ACCULTURATION Anthropologists distinguish between the learning of one’s own (or native) culture, referred to as enculturation, and the learning of new cultures, called acculturation. In Chapter 13, we demonstrate that acculturation is important for marketers who sell products in multinational

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markets. When selling products overseas, marketers must study the culture(s) of their potential customers so as to determine whether their products will be acceptable and how to communicate the characteristics of their products effectively and persuade consumers to buy them.

Sometimes, consumers can be “foreigners” in their own countries. For example, one study traced a group of provincial women in Thailand as they enrolled at a university in Bangkok (Thailand’s capital city). As their first semester began, the women quickly formed their own group; they kept to themselves and did not mix with students from Bangkok or participate in the city’s social scene. Ironically, the longer the provincial women lived in Bangkok, the more they resisted adopting Bangkok’s culture and strongly expressed their provincial values. 8

A key component of enculturation is consumer socialization (see Chapter 10), which includes teaching children and young adults consumption-related values and skills, such as the meaning of money and value, how to judge product quality, styles and preferences, prod- uct usage, and the meaning and objectives of promotional messages.9 In addition to the family unit, educational and religious institutions also convey cultural values to younger members . Educational institutions impart the knowledge of arts, sciences, civics, and professional and specialized skills. Religious institutions provide spiritual and moral guidance and values, which often have a substantial impact on behavior.

MARKETING INFLUENCES-oN CULTURAL LEARNING The contents of media, advertising, and marketing reflect cultural values and convey them to all members of society very effectively. Given Americans’ extensive exposure to print, broad- cast, and online media, promotional messages are powerful vehicles for imparting cultural values. Every day, at almost any time, Americans are exposed to hundreds of promotional cues and messages, many of which we hear and see more than once. The repetition of mar- keting messages both conveys and reinforces cultural beliefs and values. For example, in the highly competitive environment of cellular communications, providers have aggressively promoted such features as low rates of dropped calls, high extent of coverage, and flexible pricing plans. After years of seeing such ads, wireless phone users learned to expect extensive benefits from cellular gadgets, and their expectation levels have been going up steadily- further reinforced by the frequent introductions of more sophisticated mobile communications.

In advertisements, not only are cultural values depicted in the advertising copy but they are also coded in the visual imagery, colors, movements, music, and other nonverbal ele- ments of an advertisement. 10 Many products became American icons and tangible expres- sions of the nation’s cultural values. For example, the ever-popular baseball cap provides wearers with a cultural identity. Baseball caps function as trophies (as proof of participation in sports or travel to particular destinations), and many brands serve as self-proclaimed labels of belonging to a cultural category (e.g., Harley-Davidson owner) or even means of self-expression (e.g., highly customized Harley Davidson motorcycles) . The statuses of Coca-Cola and Disney as the most recognized commercial American icons are illustrated by the millions of people wearing their logos (and their counterfeits) in virtually every location on our planet.

Marketers also transmit a lot of information that enables consumers to express shared cultural values. For example, advertising in sophisticated magazines such as Vogue and Architectural Digest instructs readers how to dress, how to decorate their homes, and what foods and wines to serve guests. Online, people form virtual communities that focus on prod- ucts and enable consumers to exchange and learn product-related customs. Social media is rapidly becoming a key factor in conveying and sharing cultural values. People follow tweets of influential people and peers, and write in blogs that are focused on their activities, interests, and opinions. As a result, for example, more people may get involved in civic groups and humanitarian causes, such as the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge (discussed later in this chapter). Their actions, respectively, express the importance of personal achievement and success as well as humanitarianism, which are two of our core values (also discussed later in this chapter).

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