An empirical investigation on aspects of culture and their influence on marketing strategies in the beverage industry in Kenya
The study sought to investigate how marketing strategies of the beverage industry in Kenya are moderated by some selected aspects of culture and also how firms view the cultural issues in the light of increasing globalization. The population of interest included the firms engaged in Total Commercial Beverage (TCB). The industry has several competing brands in its stable ranging from carbonated soft drinks, beer, tea, coffee, water, juices, squashes, dairy products and so forth. Due to constraints of resources firms accessed were mainly in Nairobi, Mombasa, Thika, Nyeri and Molo. The primary data used in this study was collected using structured questionnaire and open end questions. The questionnaire was administered on a "drop and picked later" basis. 22 firms out of 32 targeted responded favorably giving a response rate of 69%. Of the firms that responded, 41% are locally owned, 36% jointly owned between locals and foreigners and 23% are foreign owned. Analysis of data revealed that aspects of culture investigated drew mixed reception. Invariably, some aspects were deemed more important in certain areas to the extent that they influence strategies. For instance, Language of communication was regarded as being the most important factor in promotion strategies. This is because Advertising, which predominantly must use language understood by the target audience, was also found to be the most popular way to promotion in this industry. Consumer values and attitudes were also important in product design strategies and promotion activities. Economic environment was rated as being the most important factor in pricing strategies whereas accessibility of location was very significant in distribution strategies. With rapidly increasing importance of globalization one would expect marketers to invest much time and efforts in trying to understand customers and markets. On the contrary the findings in this study indicate that cultural factors are not very significant in the perspective of globalization. This agrees with other authors who are pro-globalization arguing that products and brands can be marketed worldwide utilizing the same marketing mix in all nations irrespective of cultural differences. Religion was negatively predisposed in almost all cases implying it is not important in marketing strategies of the beverage industry. Such factors like material culture, education and aesthetics were regarded as marginally important. This is probably because they form an integral part of the wider norms of a culture within a society. Finally the significance of this study lies in realizing that culture by its very nature is wide, complex and rarely understood. Thus the findings of this study should be interpreted with due consideration to its limitations and technicality of terminologies. However the findings suggest that most managers are aware of the cultural undertones even they seem dormant.