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Paul Hudson
Paul Hudson CEO of Intersperience
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Can there be culture clashes online?

The internet; itís accessible from various places in the World. It covers 78% of North America, 63% of Europe, 27% of Asia Ö It brings people from several countries to one place - the online world. Itís truly international. Itís global. Since different nations come together on the internet, does it matter that we are all different? How important is it to be culturally sensitive online? Can there be culture clashes on the internet?

Today we access the internet on a smartphone, tablet, PC even TV, but behind every screen, there is a person. This user lives in a country, grew up in a society and there is no doubt that their offline behaviours and choices are influenced by their cultural values.

So, to what extent does culture influence our behaviour online? Well, quite a lot it turns out!

Our recent study of 1800 people from 9 different countries shows that culture does significantly impact our behaviours online. For example, when we compare Japan and South Korea, both are technologically advanced but differences exist in how they use the Internet. As a nation, Koreans are more open to try new things and place a strong emphasis on the connections and feelings with others. These cultural traits are seen in their use of the Internet too. They place a high importance on expressing opinions and sharing content while in contrast, Japanese consumers are much more reserved, which is mirrored in their use of the Internet, appreciating it as a functional, information tool rather than as a source of entertainment.

If we look further into the use of Social Networking we find even greater cultural differences emerging, with very wide differences occurring in Europe alone. The Spanish emphasis on family and communication leads to one of the strongest connections with social sites, showing the broadest repertoire of use - friendship ties but also strong family connections. In contrast, Germans focus their social networking more on acquaintances than family, as these sites are associated with professionalism and business use.

So, how important is it for a business to understand the extent of these cultural influences?

Today, the fact that a company is online no longer gives an advantage over competitors. All companies are. Consumerís choice is immense. The challenge is to appeal to the customer and deliver outstanding customer care. If you own or run a business, are responsible for a marketing campaign, customer engagement strategy, customer service management or customer base expansion, should you consider the cultural influences on digital behaviour? Should you understand how culture influences the use of the internet? Yes, you definitely should!

If you are asking yourself, how to deliver an outstanding service to the international customer base, how to enter new markets or appeal to new customers Ö We have some answers!

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