Topshop’s Global Consumer Behaviour

24 Jan

My following blog entries will explore aspects of consumer behaviour focusing on consumer behaviour and how it affects the activities of the clothes retailer “Topshop”.  The subjects investigated are strategy, Taboo & Sexuality and Language Barriers in global marketing. These blog entries will discuss situations in which standardised and localised strategies are the most appropriate for Topshop and ways in which the company will need to be sensitive to culture.


By adopting a standardised strategy, a company would have the same style of marketing campaigns with all markets globally. For example Coca-Cola would be most likely to adopt this strategy because their product is targeted at all ages, all cultures and races and is a global brand. Marketing for the product does not have to take much care in to being sensitive to different cultures. Here at Topshop, adopting a standardised strategy could enable us to reach markets and create a global branding image. A benefit of adopting this strategy would be to reduce the amount of marketing strategies that are necessary globally (, 2013). If at Topshop we were to target each country with the same marketing strategies then we would have a stronger and more individual defining image of our brand and products.

Using a localised marketing strategy means to adapt marketing strategies according to the area and culture that you are targeting. By adopting a localised strategy, it would be necessary for the company to be sensitive to the cultures and areas that it is marketing to. Adopting a localised strategy is Topshop’s most effective strategy to use.  By being based in the UK, it is deemed more acceptable for models to be more exposed and for our clothing to be exposing more flesh. However, we must be sensitive when targeting different countries and areas such as the middle-east. In some middle-eastern countries such as Saudi Arabia, Islamic laws and ethics state that women of Islam must cover up their bodies, necks and faces. (, 2013).  In this instance, care must be taken in to marketing products in Islamic countries for those who do not follow the Islam rule in order to be respectful to the culture. Being respectful of culture also is dependent on genres of music playing in retail stores. Western countries have adopted the stimulus that “sex sells” which is not the case in certain cultures and music cannot contain any connotation. Not respecting cultural differences can result in a damaging brand image not just in the affected area but globally.

Taboo & Sexuality


Taboos are subjects that make the public feel uneasy to see, talk about or encounter and make them question their morals and beliefs. Examples would be animal testing, homosexual couples in public, drug use and war. Marketers must be aware of sensitive topics in different cultures when expanding to different countries or areas with different cultures. The topic of taboo must be considered in order to be sensitive and respectful to cultures which may vary from what is deemed as “acceptable” in the British culture. For example to market a product in the UK with light hearted references to animal testing is highly likely to cause uproar with consumers.

Which each society, it is inevitable to find each culture has diverse views on sexuality. For example: homosexuality, the roles of men and women, sex and provocative clothing etc. In the aspect of role differences, in British history, it was more stereotyped for the women to stay home and be housewives, mothers and home keepers whereas the men were supposed to be the bread winners, working full time jobs and returning to a perfect household. In the modern age, it had become more common for women to also be career driven and working rather than becoming “stay-at-home” wives. In this modern day, the idea of homosexuality has become less of a sexual taboo and more acceptable. However there are some cultures in which this is still a taboo subject and marketers must be sensitive to the subject in order to not cause any offense.

Language barriers/Lost in translation


Language barriers can be very problematical and destroying for a business campaigning to expand in to the global market. It is impossible to begin to emerge in to a new market without understanding fully their culture and language. Lack of knowledge of translation, language barriers and what may be classed as an unacceptable innuendo in a certain language gives the impression of unprofessionalism and failed planning. (, 2013). Successfully breaking through language barriers will be a step towards breaking through to the new market and creating a sense of trust with the consumer and the company. The following three companies are case studies of global marketing campaigns which have resulted in poor translation and language barriers.

1)      The telephone company “Orange” started a launch campaign in 2004 with the tag-line “The future’s bright, the future’s Orange.” This became problematical in Northern Ireland as this reflects this suggests to them “The Orange Order” which means protestant or loyalist, implying that the future is protestant. (, 2013).

2)      “Parker Pen” marketed a ball point pen in Mexico. Their slogan was intended to read “It won’t leak in your pocket and embarrass you.” However the translate slogan read “It won’t leak in your pocket and make you pregnant.”

3)      Chevy’s marketed their new car “Nova” to Latin America only to discover that in Spanish “Nova” translates literally as “It won’t go.” (, 2013).


Topshop is a retail store which started in 1964 in England. They now have 300 stores in the UK and have now expanded to the USA. Their target market is young women as their fashion is very modern. Their primary celebrity ambassador is Kate Moss who designs her range of women’s clothing sold at Topshop.  As well as Topshop stores, their ecommerce is increasingly popular and most items are sold online, shipping to over 100 countries. 


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