It is Christmas time! Christmas party and songs are alluring me. Bangor University is celebrating Christmas in many ways: the main reception of the university welcomes everyone with a huge “International Christmas Tree” decorated with plastic litter collected from the beach, YoYo application of Bangor Eat – Drink unit has announced multiple offers, and different clubs and societies are running Christmas based events.

Pic 1

Santa and Reindeer – Retrieved from

Christmas means a lot to people – isn’t it?. For me, Christmas means “Sharing”. It will vary with people based on the cues that they have observed during their life time. The ways in which Christmas celebrated is also different in different countries (To check them).

First thing that pop’s up related to Christmas is Santa Claus, we also know how Santa Claus look like. However, we don’t know who really gave the colour and life to Santa Claus. Thomas Nast an artist from America, drew the picture of Santa Claus and it was then published by Harper’s Weekly in between 1863 and 1886 (Belk, 1987). His portrayal of Santa Claus got picked up after being published. Until now, we use the illustration of Thomas Nast’s Santa Claus. Similarly, Reindeer for Christmas was introduced to people through a poem written by Clement Moore (Belk, 1987). This has infused a new association with Christmas. I have seen reindeer statue, rein-deer toys, and rein-deer key chains galore the markets.

We are bound to do something for Christmas, either we buy or receive some gift. Why do we buy or why do we receive?. It is because, we follow a specific “Culture” . What is culture and what is the psychology behind it?. Let’s explore.

Kardes (2011) defines culture as the patterns of meaning acquired by members of society expressed in knowledge, beliefs, arts, laws, morals, customs, and habits. As an individual, we acquire habits mostly through the culture. Food we consume, dress we wear, our daily life, and our interaction with society depends upon the culture you grow with (Schiffman and Kanuk, 2010).  The rationale behind following the culture is to fulfill our social need and sense of belongingness (Maslow, 1943). Consequently, we behave according to the norms set by the culture (Fishbein, 1979). Culture is also associated strongly with consumption and it has transcended over generations (McCracken,1986). Marketers have developed unique cultures through their messages and segments they create. For example, marketers have created youngsters and hipster’s cultural groups (McCracken, 1986).

Moreover, culture has set protocols to be followed as mentioned above. Christmas by the way follows gifting as a ritual as quoted by Mc Cracken (1986). Gifting ritual works based on the reciprocity principle. Once you receive something from anyone and your mind automatically thinks about giving something back to them (Cialdini ,1975). Additionally, we would gift our family members just because everyone else does it. Social norm has influenced people to comply with the established culture (Cialdini and Goldstein, 2004).

Even though, the reasons behind following a culture is understood. The complexity of the culture poses a big problem for consumer psychologist. Look at India, as a country it has 23 officially recognised language and 6 major religions. However, there are 1600+ languages in India which makes it complex to understand consumer behaviour. Transferring knowledge to the entire India requires hard work and substantial study is needed before developing any marketing strategy.

However, top companies solve this complexity by embracing the culture of different regions. Coca Cola being a renowned brand across the globe uses culture cues at its best to get closer to the consumer. The advert for the year 2016 (see video) has used the same context for different countries. However, the people, jingles, and language are different. The advertisement used different models, language and jingles to suit the cultural context of the country. Finally, instead of questioning the culture, embracing it to solve the challenges in implementing marketing strategies.

Merry Christmas!


  1. Belk, R. (1987). A Child’s Christmas in America: Santa Claus as Deity, Consumption as Religion. The Journal of American Culture, [online] 10(1), pp.87-100. Available at: [Accessed 8 Dec. 2017].Moore, C. (1983).
  2. A Visit from St. Nicholas by Clement Clarke Moore. [online] Poetry Foundation. Available at: [Accessed 8 Dec. 2017]
  3. Maslow, A. (1943). A theory of human motivation..
  4. Fishbein, M. (1979). A theory of reasoned action: Some applications and implications. Nebraska Symposium on Motivation, 27, 65-116.
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  6. McCracken, G. (1986). Culture and Consumption: A Theoretical Account of the Structure and Movement of the Cultural Meaning of Consumer Goods. Journal of Consumer Research, 13(1), p.71.
  7.  Cialdini, R. and Goldstein, N. (2004). Social Influence: Compliance and Conformity. Annual Review of Psychology, 55(1), pp.591-621.
  8. Cialdini, R. and et al (1975). Reciprocal concessions procedure for inducing compliance: The door-in-the-face technique.. [online] Available at: [Accessed 9 Dec. 2017].