Cross Cultural Aspects of Emotional Benefit Stategies

ABSTRACT - The current changes in societal values press us for a new definition of the quality of life. In this sense emotional benefits are defined as the contribution to the quality of life conveyed by products or the places of purchase. When globalisation is the dominant strategy, the concept of emotional benefitting needs to be cross-national. Since there are practically the same competitors and increasingly the same products in every country, it would seem most appropriate to increase standardization but differentiation only when necessary.


Peter Weinberg (1993) ,"Cross Cultural Aspects of Emotional Benefit Stategies", in E - European Advances in Consumer Research Volume 1, eds. W. Fred Van Raaij and Gary J. Bamossy, Provo, UT : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 84-85.

European Advances in Consumer Research Volume 1, 1993      Pages 84-85


Peter Weinberg, University of Paderborn, Germany


The current changes in societal values press us for a new definition of the quality of life. In this sense emotional benefits are defined as the contribution to the quality of life conveyed by products or the places of purchase. When globalisation is the dominant strategy, the concept of emotional benefitting needs to be cross-national. Since there are practically the same competitors and increasingly the same products in every country, it would seem most appropriate to increase standardization but differentiation only when necessary.


The current changes in societal values press us for a new definition of the quality of life. These changes include (Weinberg 1992 a):

- An increase in insecurity, there is doubt concerning the solving of social and political problems and the controlling of the economy.

- A change in attitudes towards classical values, such as the importance of property and career.

- striving to simplify life: a search for a simplified view of life, one that lacks insight into complex social processes.

- A shift in the central focal points of life (from work to private sphere): a demand for self-realization, education, free time and interpersonal communication.

- An increased need for sensitivity: a search for quality of experience, enjoyment of life and closeness to nature.

These trends can be observed in all western industrialized nations. They are reflected in market developments. Cross-cultural segments whose consumers prefer identical brands can be identified. These products can be characterized according to (1) naturalness and health, (2) compatibility with the environment, (3) transmission of the experience of leisure and the joy of living and (4) contribution to a demanding and individualistic lifestyle.


Branded goods (mostly called brands) are products which are characterized by a trade mark and by a relatively stable and concise set of attributes (Huber 1988).

The trade mark gives information about the origin of the product, and gives it an identity. The producer can defend the trade mark against copy by registration. For the consumer the trade mark is an information cue which enables him to identify and judge the product.

Branded goods can be characterized by:

- Consistently high quality the consumer can believe in.

- Ubiquity in the sense of an overall distribution of the brands e.g. in certain types of retail shops.

- Image and publicity of the product achieved by communication, distribution and pricing. This is especially valid for matured and exchangeable products.

Today ecological characteristics must be added to the definition of branded goods. There are two possibilities:

- Either the set of attributes is enlarged to include environmental aspects of the product, especially with regard to the production, the consumption and (eventual) diposal of the product.

- or the above mentioned characteristics as quality and image have some sort of ecological dimension.

In any case, branded goods of the future cannot ignore the ecological challenge (Dichtl, 1978).


The dynamics of the market and growing product differentiation has brought about many kinds of brands. Since there is no unique typology for the term "brand", it is difficult to give a valid definition.

An important and common distinction, however, is the differentiation between producer's brands and retailer's brands. Here the decisive criterion is the nature of the business. Depending on whether the business deals primarily with manufacturing or the retailing one talks of producer brands or retailer brands, respectively.


Branded goods mainly appear on markets, which can be distinguished by the following characteristics (Weinberg, 1992 b):

- Matured products

- Saturated markets

In these markets you find consumers who are well experienced in consumption and evaluating the product class. They have knowledge about the quality and need no further information about product features.

Therefore the brand policy especially needs to conform to changing values and lifestyles of the consumers. Central trends in values include the increasing orientation towards free time, pleasure and emotional benefits.

Emotional benefits are defined as the subjectively experienced contribution to the quality of life conveyed by the product or the place of purchase. Therefore it is a matter of sensual product experiences which are anchored in the world of consumer feelings and experiences which make a genuine contribution to the quality of life (Weinberg, 1992 a).

Dominant objectives are (Huber, 1988):

- Establishing emotional preferences for the brand

- Building up of brand loyalty or store loyalty

- Unique selling position or image of the retailer

- Achieving a quasi-monopolistic price

- Forcing market power towards the retailer or rather towards the producer

- Concentration of the market position of the brand or retail shop on the market.

Dominant instruments are:

- Product quality, product design, packaging and branding.

- Communication (mass communication and personal communication)

The possibility of an emotional benefit segmentation results from the following developments observable in the U.S. and in Europe:

- The overburdening of the consumer with factual information

- An increasing number of markets reaching the saturation phase

- Product quality is taken for granted.


This means, the consumer must be reached basically by an emotional product positioning, and so it is important to identify cross-cultural homogeneous market segments in this sense.


Strategic orientation

When globalization is the dominant strategy, the concept of emotional benefitting needs to be cross-national rather than nation-specific. This takes into account the world-wide assimilation of the markets and the growing similarity in price levels caused by the reduction of borders, import restrictions and customs.

Since there are practically almost the same competitors and increasingly the same products in every country it would seem most appropriate to increase standardization but differentiation only when necessary.

The deciding factor is the cost of building psychologically homogenous markets, where the products contribute to the customers' quality of life in a subjectively comparable manner. International brands as well as Euro-brands are able to cross borders especially by their emotional benefit.

It would be advantageous, therefore, to discover aspects which are cross-culturally common and those that permit a cross-national emotional benefit strategy. On this foundation country-specific, regional and local differentiations can be added. An example: Coffee images and coffeedrinking habits are different in all European countries, but comparable everywhere in an emotional sense is the "invitation for enjoyment". Thus, it is possible to create an international, yet unique emotional benefit strategy, one that is completed by regional emotional benefits (e.g. relating to utilization and taste habits).

Figure 1 shows the relation between the international concept and country-specific emotional benefits.

Methodical Orientation

Languages influence the perception and thinking and thereby lead to country-specific differences when associating brand names and advertising campaigns. Since in Europe, where a variety of different native languages coexist, and a shift from verbal to pictorial information seems very likely, we must examine how much visual communication (by pictures) might contribute to the standardization of understanding.

Nonverbal communication, perhaps the most significant form of communication, uses an interculturaly similar face and body language, in order to present brands, as well as explain and communicate product features. Pictorial communication and nonverbal signal systems are adequate instruments for emotional benefit strategies and they meet the consumers' world of emotional experiences without encountering culturally conditioned differences (which are differently experienced at the cognitive level).

Lifestyles consist of cultural behavior patterns. Emotional benefit strategies are interested in market segments which distinguish themselves according to behavior patterns and regardless of social structures or socio-demographic criteria. Important is the comparable psychic emotional benefit of the brand.

Life-style comparing analyses, which examine observable activities, interests and opinions (as the A-I-O - concept), also need to consider the country-specific emotional benefits. Here again nonverbal language contributes to the analysis.


The idea of international brands is becoming more and more important. In Europe the brand policies need to be anchored at European trends of demand. The result is that nationally successful brands pass over the borders and become international symbols (like internationally understandable "traffic-lights"). In a general sense: Consumer values are increasingly adjusting to the values symbolized by brands.

Product Implications

From an international aspect, a product offers an emotional experience, and this means production of a meaning and sign, not only a brand. The product quality is not only the perceived instrumentality of the attributes for subjective purposes. The perception of quality has to generate an internationally unique image in the sense of emotional benefitting.

Since product design appeals directly to the senses of the consumers by means of styling, color and material, it is necessary to determine the design based on not only aesthetical and functional reasons, but also on achieving a brand emotional benefit.

The packing in its function as a "silent salesman" contributes fundamentally to emotional benefitting. By means of smell, form, color, layout, symbolism and slogans the packing has an activating function, supports the feeling for the brand and promotes the emotional benefit expectations. Thereby the packing joins a network of factors that help to position the brand.

Branding is most important within the product policy in order to create an emotional benefit strategy. Branding gives the impression that a good will be constant over a long period of time, thereby enhancing the conveyance of the emotional benefit.

In particular, the name of the brand makes an important contribution to the frontier-crossing emotional benefit. Thus, "international branding" can be understood as the combination of the consumers judgements of the products with an international unique name. This name needs to be attractive, marketable, capable of being copyrighted and received by the consumers in the sense of the emotional benefit strategy (Kelz, 1989).


Communication can be defined as the attempt to influence the behavior of consumers, who are well experienced with the product class. Factual product quality is something which they take for granted.

Consumers with such a low level of involvement are particularly susceptible to visual communication, as it requires almost no mental effort. To a large extent, visual communication operates automatically and is the basis of low involvement strategies.

Under the mentioned conditions of the market the motto is: "Pleasure is more important than information", advertising should try to (Kroeber-Riel, 1990):

- Emotionalize: Provide emotional benefits, those which distinguish themselves from the competitors and which manifest internationally a concept unique to that product.

- Actualize: Generate actual offers, and remain in communication with market. Here country-specific emotional benefits, those deduced from the frontier-crossing emotional concept, have to be discovered.

- Inform: Communicate main information signals, those which suit the images of the brands. Regional differentiations, which are necessary, must be made at the level of local benefits.

Therefore we aim, in frontier-crossing standardization, at having the "prototype standardization approach" in mind. Guidelines can be defined concerning the emotional strategy, maybe even some basic nonverbal communication suggestions.

In each country the emotional concept is translated into emotional benefits specific to certain market segments. The global strategy and the local tactics need to be adjusted, so that strategy and local tactics of the communication lead to an internationally unique positioning of the brand.


Brandmeyer, K. (1990), "Zum Markenwert bei Konsumgntern - Aspekte der "Markenbilanz", Werbeforschung und Praxis, 3, 54-55.

Dichtl, E. (1978), "Grundidee, Entwicklungsepochen und heutige wirtschaftliche Bedeutung des Markenartikels," Markenartikel heute, Wiebaden, 17-33.

Huber, W.-R. (1988), Markenpolitische Strategien des Konsumgnterherstellers, Frankfurt/M..

Kaas, K.-P. (1990), "Langfristige Werbewirkung und Brand Equity," Werbeforschung und Praxis, 3, 48-52.

Kelz, A. (1989), Die Weltmarke, Idstein.

Kroeber-Riel, W. (1990), Strategie und Technik der Werbung, 2. Aufl., Stuttgart.

Meffert, H., Bruhn, M. (1984): Markenstrategien im Wettbewerb, Wiesbaden.

Weinberg, P. (1992 a), Erlebnismarketing, Mnnchen.

Weinberg, P. (1992 b), "Markenartikel und Markenpolitik," Handw√∑rterbuch der Betriebswirtschaftslehre, Stuttgart (im Druck).



Peter Weinberg, University of Paderborn, Germany


E - European Advances in Consumer Research Volume 1 | 1993

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