Material culture relates to the way in which a society
organises and views its economic activities. It includes
the techniques and know-how used in the creation of goods
and services, the manner in which the people of the society
use their capabilities, and the resulting benefits. When
one refers to an 'industrialised' or a 'developing' nation,
one is really referring to a material culture.
The material culture of a particular market
will affect the nature and extent of demand for a product.
Whereas a luxury item, such as a sophisticated piece of
computer hardware, may have a ready market in a country
such as France, demand for it may be non-existent in a
developing country which is hampered by inadequate facilities
and/or foreign exchange shortages. The material culture
of a country may also necessitate modifications to the
product. Electrical appliances, for example, may have to
be adapted to cater for differences in voltage levels.
To illustrate this: the United States operates under a
system of 110V in contrast to South Africa's 220V. Alternatively,
weights and measurements may have to be converted to those
applicable in the importing country (again the US uses
measures such as miles, gallons and pounds, whereas most
other parts of the world use the metric system - kilometres,
litres and kilograms).
Material culture can also have a significant
effect on the proposed marketing and distribution strategies.
While highways and rail transport are the principal means
of moving goods within the United States, rivers and canals
are used extensively in certain European countries. If
the company is planning to develop a manufacturing operation
in a foreign market, aspects such as the supply of raw
materials, power, transportation and financing need to