Culturally polite communication: enhancing the effectiveness of the localization strategy

Dongmei Li, Robert Kreuzbauer, Chi-yue Chiu, Hean Tat Keh

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Although global brands entering local markets often use localized communication (i.e., incorporation of local cultural elements in their marketing communications), the fundamental question of when and why the local community would react favorably to this strategy is still not fully answered. This research draws on the communication accommodation theory to address this question. Results from four studies show that local consumers evaluate a global brand less positively when it incorporates high-symbolic (vs. low-symbolic) local cultural elements in its marketing communication. Notably, the positive effect of culturally polite communication on consumers’ evaluations of a global brand occurs only in the local market, but not when the communication occurs in another market. Moreover, localization efforts by a global brand result in a strong localness perception, which has a positive effect on brand evaluation. Indeed, a strong localness perception of the global brand could even overshadow the need for culturally polite communication.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)49-69
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Cross-Cultural Psychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2020


  • cross-cultural marketing
  • cultural politeness
  • localization
  • localness perception

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