Chocolate Around the World

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Coffee map

Chocolate, a commodity with a long history of cultivation around the world, has become one of the most popular indulgences of our time. The cacao bean has had a long history that extends back to the ancient civilizations, before the Spanish arrived in conquest of these areas. Ancient Aztecs believed that chocolate was the “food of the gods”, and was only consumed by kings.

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Similar to wine, cacao beans develop certain flavors depending on the climate and soil that they are in. Over the years, many cultures have celebrated the various tastes of chocolate and have added their own spin to creating unique versions of this treat. For example, in Southeast Asia, chocolate sometimes exhibits a smoky, earthy flavor, due to being dried by fire during the rainy seasons. Many people around the world distinguish the chocolate from this area as tart and fruity. In Peru, its chocolate beans can be traced back through history. Many people covet the flavor of these beans, as the chocolate itself boasts aromas of earthy vegetation. On the other hand, Colombian chocolate exhibits a roasted flavor, similar to that of a toasted marshmallow. Due to influence of the Aztecs, chocolate in Belize has a lighter color and mild, fruity essence with nutty undertones, and in Mexico, chocolate tends to have an assortment of spices in it. In Africa, chocolate from Cameroon is known for its mild, fruity flavor, and in Ghana, chocolate exhibits a bold, bitter and rich taste. Lastly, in Europe, chocolate in Italy tends to include many caramelized nuts, Belgium is known for its rich, milk chocolate and French chocolate is characterized by its creamy center and dark flavor. It wasn’t until chocolate reached Europe that it was mixed with sugar and a new craze for the sweet candy began.


In addition, chocolate holds different meanings in several cultures, and is used for different occasions around the world. Before the Spanish conquest, it was initially used as a common currency around Central and South America. Today, it has become an icon for celebrating holidays in the United States, such as Valentine’s Day, Halloween and Easter. In Mexico, chocolate is used as an offering on the Day of the Dead, in the form of beans or prepared as mole. In the Dominican Republic and Panama, chocolate is used for medicinal purposes. In these cultures, it is believed that chocolate drinks can cure bronchitis, fight fatigue, lessen pain and lower the risk of heart disease or cancer. In the past, it was also believed that cacao beans could heal malaria and similar diseases. Additionally, chocolate has been used for spa and relaxation treatments.


No matter the use or taste of chocolate, it is always the best treat to get you (or a loved one) through the day!


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Mattel’s Barbie Dolls of the World Controversy

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Mattel first launched its Dolls of the World collection in 1980, which was created to celebrate different cultures and tradition, as well as educate young girls about the world through play. In 2012, Mattel re-launched the line in an attempt to appeal to a new generation of Barbie fans, however, the company was put under fire for “promoting outdated and offensive cultural stereotypes” in their 2012 launch of the new dolls. Various media sources and upset customers commented on the new dolls, stating that their outfits were inaccurate and the passports and accessories that came with the dolls represented clichéd stereotypes. For example, the 2012 Mexico Barbie comes in a bright pink “traditional” dress and a pet chihuahua; this posed many criticisms due to the fact that the dress was an inaccurate example of traditional Mexican clothing, and the chihuahua seemed to be a stereotype of the culture. Offended customers stated that the Barbie could have come in contemporary representations of the country’s fashions or at least in real traditional clothing, such as “a white blouse with colorful embroidery and a woven shawl” and accessorized with an appropriate prop such as “a hairless dog or a Mexican bass guitar”.

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Similar controversy came about for the 2012 India Barbie, which is dressed in a gold sari and comes with a pet monkey, the 2012 China Barbie, which is dressed in a kimono and comes with a pet panda and the 2012 Australia Barbie, which comes with a koala, amongst many others in the same re-launched collection.

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In a statement made to the Huffington Post, Mattel’s responded to the controversy by stating, “Each doll wears an ensemble inspired by the traditional costume and fashion of the country. We consulted with the Mexican Embassy on the Dolls of the World Mexico Barbie, especially with respect to the selection of the Chihuahua.” However, in an online announcement, Mattel’s Dolls of the World principal designer, Linda Kyaw, admitted that she had never been to Mexico when she designed the doll. Angry bloggers made statements suggesting that the costumes and accessories worn by the dolls were offensive, and one blogger stated that Mattel’s entire set “missed an opportunity to teach about real cultural diversity”.

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This year, Mattel re-launched the Mexico Barbie in different traditional attire, which some critics call “Mariachi Barbie”. Sara Rosales, a spokeswoman for Mattel, explained to Fox News Latino that, “Girls enjoy exploring the world and learning about different cultures. The Barbie brand understands the significance of introducing new cultures to girls in a relatable way”. Regardless of Mattel’s statements, critics still believe that even the new 2014 Mexico Barbie, which comes dressed wearing a fitted black bolero jacket and cropped trousers with intricate gold trim and a wide-brimmed sombrero, still fails to capture the essence of a truly Mexican woman. A web site called The Corvallis Advocate said, “Apparently no one from Mattel has set foot outside of the U.S. – possibly not outside of Disneyland’s rather aged ‘It’s a Small World’ exhibit.” Again, Rosales stated, “The Dolls of the World collection features the native fashions, while celebrating the culture and diversity represented within each country in a way that will appeal to Barbie fans of all ages.”

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Controversy over these issues leaves the question to the perspective of the reader – did Mattel really have proper intentions of representing cultures as best it could for the education of Barbie fans of all ages, or were they ignorant in digging deep in to local culture to design the Barbies, which led to offensive misrepresentation of various countries in the eyes of many?

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The Power of Media

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Social-media-for-public-relations1In one of our previous blogs we discussed about how companies underestimated the power of communication, we will now talk about companies who got it right by understanding the language of the market and initiated smart and localized marketing campaigns that met their target audience.

Coca Cola


 Coco-cola realized the power of social media in South Korea. According to their research 43% of the population maintain online profiles and blogs and more than 90% of the youth use social networking websites on a daily basis. Word-of-mouth and increasing power of social media gave Coca-Cola the idea to take advantage of Brand evangelism. Brand evangelism is a concept when fans or in this case consumers can talk about the brand and get involved in any way they can. In 2008 Coca-Cola reached out to a group of online young moms in Seoul who host parties and build partnerships. Coca Cola realized that this particular forum is an ideal place to experiment with a social media strategy that leveraged digital influencers. Their strategy to combine their evangelists and the internet was an immediate success as the mommy bloggers shared information and discussed about their brand loyalty towards Coca-Cola brand, they also provided marketers on they could improve Coca-Cola’s brand with other Korean families.



 Levi’s is an American clothing company used a very uncommon but a very attractive marketing strategy to promote their work wears line. They decided on approaching the young bi-cultural Latino market. Levi’s research showed that young Hispanics are tech savvy’s, active users of social media and regular online bloggers. In 2010, they created a unique campaign that took five young U.S. Hispanics on a journey from Alaska to Argentina on the Pan-American Highway. These five travelers traveled from North to South fully dressed in Levi’s new Work Wear line. Their experiences were documented in a teen week reality show on Discovery, “Norte a Sur: Una Ruta, 5 Experncias” (North to South: One Route, 5 Experiences). The show broadcasted their journey in the Pan – American Highway and how they pitched on work projects in 10 different cities involving the arts during their travel. Not only the unique show was a success, they provided their travellers with iPhones to use it during their journey and post updates on their social profiles, blogs and the company’s official facebook page.The campaign immediately hit the target audience as the brand’s message was customized specifically for the Latino audience.



While catering to a foreign market, companies usually adapt in order to survive in the particular market. Volvo did not want to loose its image as an American brand in the foreign market and realized that some aspects of American culture are positively planted in the consumers mind. Volvo wanted to give its market a taste of one of the coolest American traditions. Volvo launched the Starlite Urban Drive-In (outdoor film screening) on an outdoor patch of land in East London. The drive in provided a seat for Forty dollars in a new shiny-parked Volvo, which also included a drink and some popcorn. The car’s sound systems played the soundtrack to the films showing on the big screen: classics such as “Grease” and “Dirty Dancing”. They completed the experience with the classic American 1950s aesthetic; waitresses on roller skates took orders for burgers, meatloaf, sweet potato pie and ice cream sundaes. This campaign was so successful that Ford later sponsored a series of outdoor film screenings at 11 different cities in the United Kingdom to launch campaign for the new Galaxy.


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Marketing manager’s guide

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PrintWith the advent of technology, the world has become globally connected. A person living all the way in the sub-continent of India, can purchase American brands online or from the nearest malls. This global connectivity has opened doors for global markets to emerge. Consumers are now aware of their needs, wants and desires. They also know about the variety of options to available to them. So to survive in the market, it is of utmost importance to understand the consumer’s buying behavior. What helps the consumer to make the decision of buying a product or serve?


One of the first aspects that effect consumer behavior is Culture. It shapes belief, behavior, values, traditions, restrictions, customs and festivities. It is the most important factor that has survived for millions of years. Culture cannot be defined but can be analyzed in several ways – across nations, across ethnic groups within nations, across individuals within nations (focusing on cultural orientation), and across situations through the priming of cultural values. Then the next step is to understand sub-culture. Humans are not only influenced by their own culture, but are also deeply affected by their religions, their geographic regions and also their social groups.

Therefore, the three elements that led to phenomena of cross-cultural behavior are value, language and consumer behavior. Companies need to understand Geert Hofstede’s dimensions of cultures to understand basic values. Before entering a foreign market, companies should understand that whether the country is high on individualism (allowing larger degree of freedom) or is low on individualism. Companies have to take into account Power distance to understand that the country how the country/society deals with human inequality, and also understand how does the society avoid uncertainty. Before launching the product into the market, the company has to understand if they will meet their target market in the particular country/society. For that, the company has to focus on masculinity vs. feminism. The company has to understand how the society deals with the typical stereotypes of men and women?

After understanding what influences a consumer’s behavior and selecting a market on the basis of the dimensions discussed about, the marketing managers should focus on developing the marketing strategy. To develop a marketing strategy, we need a marketing tool, and the most basic marketing tool is the 4Ps. The marketing managers need to decide on which tangible product or intangible service they will offer at what price and how will they place and distribute it and how will they promote it?

Screen Shot 2014-12-07 at 6.43.17 PMFor marketing managers it is very important to decide what strategy a firm should use while entering a new market. The company has to decide the right balance between standardization and adaptation. The company has to keep the cultural differences in mind and decide on what elements are they globalizing and what are they localizing.

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Understanding commonalities and differences

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For several centuries cultures were ignorant of each other until pioneers such as Marco Polo and Columbus began an era of rediscovery and reconnection. This process, which we now call globalization, has accelerated rapidly over the past 50 years. Developments in trade, travel, the Internet and concerns over climate change, has connected the globe.

At one level the Olympics, soccer, Hollywood, YouTube and Beyoncé are all agents of a global culture. Global markets exist especially for premium categories aimed at the educated and well traveled, upper-middle classes. That’s the reason why brands like BMW and Apple have less trouble customizing their portfolios to local markets. But outside this elite cloud, real cultural differences exist.


Material Factors


India unfortunately suffers from deficient infrastructure, extreme climate conditions and poverty. Nokia hit a home run with the slogan “Made for India,” in the sub-continent with the design and marketing of its 1100 model. It’s design and features hit all the hard facts relevant to the Indian market. The design emphasized the phone’s dirt-resistant keypad, which is a boon in the cloud of dust that is India. The flashlight/torch, was a boon during the much occasional power cuts. Thus, explaining that it important to understand the country’s climate conditions, diet, gross domestic product and other important factors to survive in the market.

Myth and Reality


In today’s day and age it is important to differentiate between myth and reality. Let us understand with an example of the very different countries, the US and France. French love to celebrate with slow food, subsidies for French films and anti-American rhetoric, the French lap up Hollywood blockbusters. In fact, France is McDonald’s most profitable European market, and the French recently voted Nike and Coca-Cola into its A-list of the top-10 most ethical brands.

Social Faux pas


Preferences are in a constant state of flux. Clichés are considered to be a part of tradition and customs but it is really important to understand to what extent. One of the clichés of cross-cultural design is that white products should be avoided in East Asia since white is a taboo color associated with death. Though this perception is true, but in the context of high-tech products, particularly brilliant gloss white gadgets aimed at younger consumers, it is no longer absolute – just look at the iPhone.

Without understanding the differences, it is impossible to understand the commonalities. The marketer has to understand the culture, background, and the social group of its target market. A marketer should not forgo an opportunity because of any kind of myth without checking with the reality or rejecting a concept because of a social faux pas.

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