Update April 7, 2020
Why we need Cultural Dimensions
---Analysis of A Case
When Proctor and Gamble (P&G) attempted to enter the Italian market with the green Swiffer mop, they learned some pretty impressive information about Italian women and their cleaning habits --- they have some of the cleanest homes in Europe. On average, it is estimated that Italian women spend 21 hours on cleaning per week as compared to 4 hours by U.S. American women. The weekly routine includes washing kitchen and bathroom floors at least four times a week, along with regular ironing of clothes, even undergarments, and sheets (Ball, 2006). This means they buy lots of cleaning products. With this information, P & G did not do any due diligence by performing focus groups to collect data. They thought they could just sweep it under the rug. Italian women would love the Swiffer Wet Mop because it would cut down on the amount of time spent cleaning. However, the product failed miserably, because the P&G brand management team failed to understand the reasons why Italian women preferred to clean their way.
Convenience and saving time are not important to Italian women --- strong detergents and fastidiousness are. Women needed to be convinced that a spray coming out of a plastic mop would be as strong as putting “elbow grease” into scrubbing floors by hand with a sturdy bucket at their side. While the value of "quick and easy" products is appreciated by U.S. American women, Italian women perceived this as cheating. They preferred to do things the old fashioned way. Labor-saving devices such as washing machines and dishwashers did not gain popularity in Italy as they did in other countries until the 1960s, because after World War II Italy remained one of the poorer countries (Ball, 2006). Even today, young women in the workplace prefer --- and take great pride --- in meticulous attention to the cleanliness of their homes. At the time of this product flop (2006), it was estimated that only 30 percent of households had a dishwasher because women were convinced that these machines could not clean as well as they could (Ball, 2006).
We can draw important cultural lessons from this failure by examining what happened in relation to why. This is where the use of cultural dimensions --- showing differences and similarities of cultures is useful. If we compare the United States with Italy, U.S. Americans tend to be fixed in nature since they generally prefer to follow schedules and strictly manage their time. Getting things done quickly and efficiently are valued as good, whereas taking too much time to complete a task (such as hand scrubbing a kitchen floor four times a week) is a poor use of time management --- after all, you could spend your time better on something else. On the other hand, Italians prefer a fluid orientation, which means a looser management of their time --- rather than do, they prefer to be. Things get done and, when they are done, the amount of time spent and the thoroughness dedicated to a task is considered worthwhile. Had P&G spent some time in due diligence trying to understand the why behind the what of cultural values, they could have saved time, money, and lost productivity. This is why we need to understand cultural dimensions, which are based upon human values.
---Source: Tuleja, E. A. (2017).