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Comparing Hong Kong and Japan Cross-Cultural Marketing Communication


The way individuals think, interact, and make decisions is influenced by cultural beliefs. Marketing professionals may create material that appeals to diverse demographic groups by understanding how culture affects various categories of consumers. Brands may interact with individuals on a positive note through culture marketing. Long is recognized as impacting communication and the likelihood of competition success while doing business globally (Tian & Borges, 2011). Thus, cultural sensitivity influences how corporations act in cross-culturally reflective marketplaces. Multinational firms today have an in-depth understanding of the intricacies of many cultures to execute effective international campaigns due to the advent of globalization. For firms looking to gain a competitive edge in the global market, it is crucial to comprehend how globalization affects cross-cultural communication (Usunier et al., 2013). The cross-cultural marketing communication between Hong Kong and Japan is compared in this paper. The two nations should display variations from the typical discourse patterns, although they often use a high-context communication style representing their collectivistic cultures.

Cultural Analytical Framework

The report chose Hofstede’s cultural dimension model from the trio of underlying presumptions guiding analytical cultural studies. Geert Hofstede created Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions Theory, a framework for analyzing how cultures differ between nations and how business is conducted in various cultural contexts (Jackson, 2020). In essence, the model is used to evaluate the characteristics of culture, discriminate between various national cultures, and analyze their influence in a global company situation. According to this model, the values of a given culture could be depicted by the Individualism versus Collectivism dimension, Power Distance dimension, Uncertainty Avoidance dimension, Masculinity dimension, Long-term orientation dimension, and Indulgence versus Restraint dimension.

The degree to which cultures are incorporated into groups, as well as their perceived duties and dependency on groupings, are taken into account in the individualism vs. collectivism component. Next, according to DeBode, Haggard, and Haggard (2020), the power distance dimension considers how much inequality and power are accepted and how those same concepts are seen from the followers’ perspective. The uncertainty avoidance dimension then examines how much ambiguity and uncertainty are tolerable and how unanticipated circumstances and occurrences are handled. The attitude toward sexual equality, preference of society for success, or conduct is the next factors taken into account by the masculine versus femininity dimension (DeBode et al., 2020). The long-term orientation versus short-term orientation component also considers society’s perception of its temporal horizon. The indulgence vs. restraint component, which also includes how far societies indulge their needs, centers on how societies can regulate their irrational thoughts and urges (DeBode et al., 2020). For anyone interested in learning more about the effects of culture and how the various aspects vary between nations, Hofstede Insights should be a great resource.

The scoring system provided by the Hofstede database shows the following scores when comparing Hong Kong against Japan:

Hong Kong against Japan

Hofstede Comparison Score of Hong Kong vs. Japan (Hofstede Insights, n.d.).

Diagram 1: Hofstede Comparison Score of Hong Kong vs. Japan (Hofstede Insights, n.d.).

The Hofstede score that ranges from 0 to 100 helps compare the cross-cultural marketing communication of Hong Kong versus Japan. The graphic demonstrates how Japan and Hong Kong have opposed cultural traits. From the score, it is clear that Japanese culture is more indulgent than Hong Kong culture in terms of individualism, feminism, strong demand for uncertainty avoidance, systematic future construction, and long-term orientation. Compared to Hong Kong, Japan exhibits a significant degree of gender difference, demonstrating the importance of uniqueness and individual liberties in Japanese culture. According to Alqarni (2022), Japan’s high uncertainty avoidance ratings show the nation desires greater stability, more established regulations, and social norms and is less uncomfortable taking chances than Hong Kong.

Additionally, individuals in Japan who live in communities with higher levels of indulgence than Hong Kong typically show a readiness to act on their feelings and wishes in order to enjoy life and have fun. On the other hand, it is also clear that Hong Kong culture is more hierarchical than Japanese culture. It indicates that a significant degree of disparity between those in positions of power and those who do not is present in Hong Kong and tolerated. A society with a high PDI score is one where individuals know their place within the system and supports an unequal, hierarchical allocation of power (Alqarni, 2022).

Marketing Communication Methods

A corporation reaches the target audience via marketing communications through various channels and techniques. Companies use various strategies and methods to connect with their consumers in a competitive market by integrating marketing channels and resources to deliver the required message and ensure that customers are aware of it (De Mooji, 2018). Businesses that successfully communicate with clients about a particular brand will be able to set that brand apart from rivals’ offerings and strengthen their bonds with their target market. The two primary areas that include marketing communication are mass communication as well as individual communication (De Pelsmacker, Geuens & Van den Bergh, 2013). The primary communication strategies are advertising, brand activation, sponsorships, promotion, and social media. They support introducing a product to leads, creating a favorable brand image, conveying the key concept and message to the target audience, increasing product and brand recognition, and motivating customers to purchase (Jandt, 2013). The three communication strategies chosen by the paper for examination and analysis are advertising, social media communication, and brand promotion.


Advertising is creating and delivering messages that advertise items or services. The capacity to express the proper reasonable emotional and logical appeal, contingent upon the product or service promoted, is required for effective marketing. Entrepreneurs spend thousands of dollars to market their goods on Youtube, social media, television or TV, and radio platforms. They hire advertising firms or create commercials to reach a large audience and urge customers to buy. The strategy is costly but successful since corporations may earn a high return on investment that surpasses expenditures by running advertising across many channels. (2019, Krizanova et al.).

Social Media Communication

Social Media Users since 2017 (Dixon, 2023)

Diagram 2: Social Media Users since 2017 (Dixon, 2023)

Marketing that uses social media platforms—where people create communities and disseminate information—expands an organization’s reach, generates leads, and boosts revenue. Marketers may now reach out to their contemporaries, existing clients, and prospective buyers using social media (Kushwaha et al., 2020). It is estimated that 4.48 billion individuals throughout the globe utilize social media, making it the most popular platform for marketing because of its cheap cost and widespread user base (Dixon, 2023) among companies. Marketers employ various methods to spread the word about their wares, such as social media platforms, video-sharing sites, websites, blogs, and influential people.

Sales Promotion

Using a limited-time promotion to boost awareness and sales of a product or service is an example of this marketing communication technique. Most marketers said they would be interested in hearing about the latest brand news, including any special offers or promotions such as free shipping or discounts. Startups may improve product sales and interest using this strategy. More people would learn about the brand and join in. Existing companies might benefit from sales promotions since they clear obsolete inventory and pave the way for new releases.

Cross- Culture Marketing

Cross-cultural communication, as applied to the business world, refers to the ease with which individuals of diverse cultural backgrounds can work together. Companies need to understand the significance of cross-cultural marketing if they want to break into international markets. Advertising that takes into account a target audience’s cultural norms and values is called cross-cultural marketing (Tian & Borges, 2011).

Increased competitive advantage, better connection with customers, and expansion opportunities are just a few reasons multicultural advertising is a successful marketing tactic. One way firms may get an edge over the competition is through cross-cultural marketing. Companies may get an advantage in the marketplace by expanding their reach and catering to customers of all backgrounds and cultures. Companies may benefit from cross-cultural marketing because it helps them learn more about customers’ desires, requirements, and values from diverse cultural backgrounds. Additionally, cross-cultural marketing allows companies to reach a wider audience and enter untapped areas by better connecting with customers of various cultural backgrounds.

In addition to helping companies succeed, cross-cultural marketing also serves a larger social purpose by fostering a more accepting and welcoming environment for people of different backgrounds and beliefs. The notion of marketing as a mirror, which holds that brands should adhere to the same cultural norms and values as their intended customers, is one of its most basic applications. Respecting cultural variations and developing marketing tactics appropriate for each culture is essential for firms that want to attract customers from those cultures. Social class, sexual orientation, religion, gender roles, and language constitute only a few of the core aspects of culture that they must define (Gunn et al., 2013).

Components of Culture

Diagram 3: Components of Culture

To ensure that their messages are understood, marketers must consider linguistic variations. Any little change in the phrase may communicate a vastly different meaning, highlighting the significance of both verbal and nonverbal communication. Some foreign languages may misinterpret the formality of the original text. Marketers also need to think about how they are using themes like ethnicity, sexuality, gender, and religion to make sure they are sending the right message. In this scenario, high- and low-context cultures respond differently to advertisements. The Japanese have a high-context culture in which most communication is nonverbal. That is why it is smarter to leave out certain product details in advertising. Words alone are used as the primary means of expression in Hong Kong’s low-context cultures. Businesses might benefit from a more aggressive sales strategy in this situation.

According to Hofstede, marketers must examine the differences between the two nations’ cultural characteristics. This would enable marketers to make the necessary changes to their marketing and communication strategies, according to Piller (2017). Hong Kong, a collectivist nation, would reward advertisements highlighting communal ideals rather than individual ones. Japan, with its strong uncertainty avoidance culture, should provide more details and a guarantee to reassure customers.


Consumers in Hong Kong place a premium on affordability, quality, and credibility. It is obvious since the nation ranks higher than Japan in power distance, collectivism, and masculinism measures. On the other hand, brand reputation and price are very important to Japanese customers. It is evident in the high levels of feminism and individualism in the population.


WPP plc is a global advertising agency with a significant presence in Hong Kong and Japanese markets. The firm is successful in both sectors because of the efforts of its subsidiaries, like Asatsu-DK and Geometry Ogilvy. Ogilvy&Mather is a wholly owned subsidiary of WPP plc that handles business in Hong Kong. It uses several marketing tactics, such as internet advertising and brand strategy, to promote its services and products in the Hong Kong market. In contrast, WPP operates in Japan via the Asatsu-ADK firm, a subsidiary of WPP. The firm is the preeminent marketing firm in Japan due to the breadth of services it provides. Digital marketing and media strategy are among its offerings in Japan.

Uses advertising methods, including strategic alliances and influencer marketing, digital marketing and social media, and localization and cultural sensitivity via its subsidiaries, ADK and Ogilvy&Mather, to attract and connect with its target demographics. In order to increase brand awareness and trust, the organization works with key influencers and partners. Through its agents in those two nations, the corporation employs digital marketing and social media methods, producing shareable content and spreading the word through social media. Ultimately, WPP affiliates tailor their advertising to the Hong Kong and Japanese markets’ customs, language, and tastes. It guarantees that the intended audience will connect with the message.

Social Media User in Japan (“Japan digital marketing,” 2021).

Diagram 4: Social Media User in Japan (“Japan digital marketing,” 2021).

The WPP agency uses hyper-specific social media advertising strategies to reach its target audience. They use social media and professional networking sites like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn to reach specific audiences with targeted advertisements. They may expand the reach and influence of their efforts using social media marketing (Yamin, 2017). Their targeted demographic in Japan and Hong Kong is especially receptive to their social media marketing efforts, boosting overall brand recognition, customer loyalty, and revenue.

Online Communication

Real-time interaction is used by WPP affiliates in Japan and Hong Kong to connect with their target demographic. WPP divisions monitor social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for chances to interact with customers in real-time. An astounding 96% of Hong Kongers use their mobile devices for internet browsing (Kao, 2021). In Japan, smartphone use is on the rise, with 85% of the population expected to use smartphones in 2022 (Kats, 2018).

Smartphone Users in Japan (Kats, 2018).

Diagram 5: Smartphone Users in Japan (Kats, 2018).

Mobile Internet Usage

Diagram 6: Mobile Internet Usage

They use current events, timely themes, and viral material to get people talking about their customers’ products. They increase their brand’s exposure and relevance by participating in topical and relevant dialogues. WPP subsidiaries in both nations use real-time interaction with customers through social media platforms to develop meaningful relationships with consumers and increase brand loyalty.

Sales Promotions

Diagram 7: Japan GSS Special Promotion (Japan Home, 2021)

Japan GSS Special Promotion (Japan Home, 2021)

Diagram 8: Hong Kong Discount (Shopping in Hong Kong, 2020)

Hong Kong Discount (Shopping in Hong Kong, 2020)

WPP uses discount offer strategies in Japan and Hong Kong to attract consumers. They incentivize their intended consumers in Japan and Hong Kong through limited-time discount specials and unique offers. Customers are incentivized to purchase within a defined time frame utilizing promotional codes, coupons, or discounts, coupons. The need for business speed is met via sales promotion strategies that appeal to customers’ need for a good deal.


In summaryDifferentiating between the cultural norms of Hong Kong and Japan, they are allowed for more successful cross-cultural marketing communication. To connect with Hong Kong’s tech-savvy consumers, advertising campaigns should prioritize reputation and trustworthiness development and use social media and influencer marketing to their advantage. In addition to ensuring their advertising is culturally appropriate and relevant to the various communities, they should highlight ease of accessibility and effectiveness in their message. However, in Japan, marketers must focus on fostering long-term customer connections. Communicating the value of quality, craft, and careful attention to detail is essential. Future success for the two sectors depends on adopting data-driven tactics for understanding customer tastes and behavior.


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