How Culture Impacts WHAT We Say – Product vs. Market Focus

Updated: Jun 17


As stated in a previous post, culture impacts everything we do and giving a presentation is no exception. People from different cultures have varying expectations and preferences for both HOW a presentation is given and WHAT is presented. The WHAT involves both the content itself and how it is structured.


In this post, I discuss another cultural preference that impacts the WHAT; do members of a culture need or like to be sold a product or service (think “hard sell”), or not. This cultural difference is referred to as Product Focus vs. Market Focus.


In Product Focused cultures, people believe that if a product is of sufficient quality, little selling has to be done. It’s the “build it, and they will come” mentality. A product succeeds or fails based on its perceived usefulness, quality, or beauty. In these cultures, it is believed that people will intuitively see the product’s value based on the merits of its features.


Product Focused cultures include Germany, Italy, and Mexico.


Other cultures are Market Focused cultures. The belief in these cultures is that products and ideas don’t sell themselves, a product must be sold to succeed. A great deal of effort and money should be invested in presenting both the features and benefits, explicitly and compellingly. In these cultures, audiences expect the “hard sell”. They want to know what the product or service will do for them. Without this information, they will not understand that the product or service is worth considering.


Market Focused Cultures include the United States, India, and Russia.


Tips for presenting to both types of cultures.

When making a presentation to a Product Focused audience:

  • Give plenty of details about the product so the audience can make their own decision about its value.

  • Avoid the “hard sell”. Product Focused audiences are turned off by the hard sell. They feel if that you have to push your product or service to that extent, there must be something wrong with it, and they will not trust the product or the presenter.

  • Don’t mention the competition. Explicitly comparing your product or service with the competition is considered in bad taste.


When presenting to a Market Focused audience:

Imagine how different the same presentation would look and sound for a Product or Market-Focused audience. Applying this cultural difference as you prepare your presentation will enable you to correctly structure and deliver your message, so you make a good impression and make the sale.

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