Free Case Study About Cross Cultural Consumer Behavior:

Type of paper: Case Study

Topic: Apple, Japan, Mobile Phones, Business, Steve Jobs, Customers, Disney, Market

Pages: 5

Words: 1375

Published: 2020/11/15

An International Perspective in Consumer Behavior

When Apple released the iPhone in 2008, the company expected to sell millions of units in Japan. Apple’s sales projection was based on the company’s market share in Japan. Based on Apple’s previous performance in the country, the company projected that the iPhone would sell in Japan because many locals patronize Apple’s existing products including the iPod and the Mac computers. For this reason, Apple expected to sell millions of units in the country. Nevertheless, after the iPhone release, Apple only sold around 500,000 units, half of the company’s projected sales.
One of the reasons why Apple only sold a few units is because Japanese consumers did not find anything new or appealing in the iPhone. 3G, one of the iPhone’s main selling point, has been a common phone feature in Japanese phones. Japanese consumers also found the touch screen phone difficult to use. Furthermore, the iPhone did not include the main features that Japanese consumers wanted in their mobile phones. Japanese consumers have been used to more advanced mobile phones with high quality displays, television viewing features, satellite navigation, music player and recorder, and the digital camera. Japanese consumers also commonly use ‘emojis’ and rely on their phones to make credit or debit card transactions for various purposes such as purchasing train cards. Overall, the features of Apple’s iPhone are incomparable to the features of phones that Japanese consumers were used to.
Did Apple err in trying to sell its latest iPhone in Japan?
Based on the foregoing evidence, Apple did make a mistake when it decided to sell the iPhone in Japan. Apple merely relied on the sales of its other products in Japan to make projections about iPhone sales without conducting research about the Japanese market. Prior to releasing the iPhone, Apple should have conducted research to determine what the Japanese market needs, demands, or prefers when it comes to their mobile phones. By assessing these needs and demands, Apple could have created an iPhone design with features that suited the specific needs of the Japanese market.

Is the Japanese cell phone market similar to the cell phone markets in other countries?

The Japanese cell phone market is unique compared to cell phone markets in other countries. Apple expected that the Japanese market will respond to the iPhone as other markets in other countries. Nonetheless, the Japanese market is unique because consumers also have unique needs and demands. These unique needs and demands were brought about by high quality and advanced features in their mobile phones that Japanese consumers have enjoyed even before Apple released the iPhone.
The unique features of the market in Japan would therefore change Apple’s marketing mix strategy, particularly the product. Apple may use its strategies in the other three aspects of the marketing mix – people, place, and pricing. When it comes to the product, however, Apple needs to modify the iPhone to match the needs, demands and expectations of the local market.

Lessons Learned

Based on the foregoing case, Apple learned that product development and marketing are not ‘one-size-fits-all’. Markets or consumer groups all over the world differ and have unique features or characteristics not only due to culture but also shared experiences. As in the case of the Japanese market, consumers have long used mobile phones with advanced features. Hence, Japanese consumers did not find Apple’s iPhone appealing because of its lack of features.
The case of the Japanese market also shows that purchasing decisions primarily depend on the interests and preferences of consumers. Prior to developing and marketing a product to a particular consumer population, companies like Apple should conduct research about the market to determine or identify needs, interests, and preferences. Consequently, outcomes of research should guide decision-making to ensure that all decisions would suit or match the needs of consumers.
The unique traits and characteristics of the market will affect the marketing mix strategy, particularly the product and its features. Since Apple has been successful in selling its other products in Japan, it would be able to target the local market and use former place and pricing strategies in the marketing mix. Nevertheless, due to the unique needs of the Japanese market, Apple needs to adjust one aspect of its marketing mix strategy – the product – to suit or meet the needs and demands of the local market in Japan.
Prior to the opening of Disneyland in Hong Kong in 2005, the company was faced with an issue concerning the consumer behavior and culture of the local market. Aside from the Disneyland theme park that attracts millions of visitors or guests around the world, Disneyland also provides other offerings for their consumers. For one, Disneyland hosts weddings and wedding receptions for visitors. Since this service is offered in all Disneyland theme parks globally, Disneyland Hong Kong also decided to offer wedding and wedding reception services that stayed true to the local Chinese culture. In doing so, Disneyland decided to include Shark’s Fin soup as part of the wedding reception menu for customers. Disneyland chose Shark’s Fin soup to honor Chinese culture and traditions since this is a common and popular dish in Hong Kong.
Although Disneyland Hong Kong had good intentions in choosing Shark’s Fin soup, the company was faced with a tough decision after many local and international environmental groups started protests. Environmental groups argued that the high demand for Shark’s Fin soup may put sharks at risk for extinction. A high demand for Shark’s Fin soup based on the number of Disneyland visitors would mean a greater supply of shark in the market. Consequently, a high demand of shark may endanger this species. Furthermore, environmental groups also argued that offering Shark’s Fin soup creates a cultural issue considering the contrast between Chinese and Western traditions.
As a member of the top management team at the Walt Disney Company, do you keep or delete Shark’s Fin soup from the wedding banquet menu at Hong Kong Disneyland?
Offering Shark’s Fin soup may be a way for Hong Kong Disneyland to remain true to Chinese culture, the host country’s culture. Nevertheless, environmental groups made an important point that should be taken into consideration. Environmental groups are right in predicting that offering Shark’s Fin soup may put sharks at risk considering the high demand for the dish and the volume of Hong Kong Disneyland visitors. Furthermore, if Disneyland continues with the plan, the company would likely lose support of some stakeholders. Protests would ensue and due to the international attention to the issue, it could potentially affect the image and reputation of Disneyland.
For the foregoing reasons, as a member of the top management team at Walt Disney Company, I would recommend the removal of Shark’s Fin soup from the wedding banquet menu. I will make this decision based on the issue’s effect on marine life and the company’s image or reputation. Furthermore, I will argue that there are other ways to honor Chinese culture. It may be through the inclusion of other Chinese dishes or the creation of Chinese themed spaces at Hong Kong Disneyland. Overall, there are other ways to accomplish Disneyland’s goal of remaining true to the local culture without raising issue that could harm the company.

Lessons Learned

Based on the case, Disneyland should have learned that prior to making decisions, it is important to assess all related issues to ensure that all decisions are appropriate and would not affect the organization in a negative manner. Corporate social responsibility (CSR), for instance, is an important issue that must be considered during assessment. Prior to making decisions, particularly purchasing decisions, Disneyland should ensure that the process would be conflict-free in that it would not affect stakeholders and the environment negatively.
Considering CSR, as well as moral and ethical issues, is highly important because the company’s decisions would directly influence consumer behavior. Consumers, for instance, would less likely purchase unethically produced or distributed products. This is because consumers value moral and ethical responsibility among companies or organizations. On the contrary, consumers would more likely purchase products and services from companies that implement CSR policies or observe moral and ethical guidelines when making decisions. Furthermore, the brand or reputation of a company is valuable to consumers. Hence, it is important to maintain a positive brand image that would be appealing to stakeholders.


Kane, Y. I. (2008). Apple’s Latest iPhone Sees Slow Japan Sales. Wall Street Journal, B3.

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Free Case Study About Cross Cultural Consumer Behavior:. Free Essay Examples - Published Nov 15, 2020. Accessed October 04, 2022.

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