1 Introduction 1
2 Methodological considerations to the project 2
3 Historical overview -The beginning of alcohol consumption in Mexico 21
4 Analysis 26
5 Conclusion 64
6 Discussion 66
7 Bibliography 68
This investigation is concentrated on a case study of the Danish company Carlsberg A/S. One might assume that consumption of alcohol is in many places of the world a matter of drinking beers and liquor to celebrate special events, at bars, clubs and discotheques or to relax after an intensive working performance, or to be accepted in different social groups, in this investigation we will figure out if that assumption holds true among a target group of young Mexicans. According to the Latin-American Beer Producers Association until 2006 Mexico occupied the second place in beer consumption in Latin America. Furthermore a research made for the Pan-American Health Organization in 20071 concludes that beer is the most consumed alcoholic beverage among Mexicans, which is relevant for Carlsberg A/S if the company seek to increase its market share in one of the biggest markets in Latin America – Mexico.2 That fact makes us wonder which cultural issues are at stake when a Danish company such as Carlsberg A/S brands their products to the Mexican consumer. The general background for our interest in the Mexican beer market stems from a telephone conversation with the sales representative for Carlsberg in Latin America, Brian Hansen.3 In this correspondence, Brian Hansen claimed, that the general belief of Carlsberg is, that Latin American people hold strong prejudices against foreign beer – and strong national preferences for national beer.
There have been and are in these days written many publications about “How to do Business in a foreign country” but can it really be written in a manual how to act and understand a consumer - a person from a country with completely different norms and values from Denmark and how does it affect the consumption of the Danish products? Do the Mexicans admire the Scandinavian way of living or do they even know Scandinavia and Denmark, do they find a foreign beer “cool” or do they prefer to consume their national beer? What are the consumer habits and values of the Mexican? Based on these basic wonderings, we have formulated two research questions:
What cultural elements are relevant to beer consumption for the Mexican consumer?
Is there a cultural reason why it is being so difficult for Carlsberg A/S to increase their market share at the Mexican market?
In this project, the concept of culture and cultural meaning will be the overall theme. Many Danish companies face the challenge of negotiating with companies from all countries of the world every day. With the open markets and the globalization of trade the Danish Companies need to discover new marketing strategies and methods on how to brand and sell their products on the foreign markets. To those considerations, they need to communicate and to some point obtain a certain understanding of the other culture in which they wish to place their products. Knowledge about another culture than our own requires an understanding of what culture is – what does it mean- and does it mean the same to all people? Culture is a complex concept that has had many different definitions. In this explorative study it is chosen to follow the hermeneutic epistemology4, because we consider it relevant to this case study thus it reveals an understanding of the cultural and consumption concepts which are at stake when making branding strategies and designs marketed in a foreign country. Hermeneutic is defined, according to the definition by Alan Bryman5, as a term: “That is concerned with the theory and method of the interpretation on human action” 6. The theoretical framework in this project is based on the hermeneutic theorist Hans Georg Gadamer´s works on hermeneutics and is to be understood as a conceptual framework. The theoretical epistemology is based on the hermeneutic circle that can be described as a method which “…describes the process of understanding a text hermeneutically.”7 meaning that the way we understand a text as a whole is made by each individual’s understanding and both the whole text and the individual part need to be understand as reference to each other if not done so, it is not a circle.
The following statements on the definition of culture will be taken into consideration:
The project has its background in the epistemological position: Social Constructivism.
This position is defined as a: “Social phenomena and categories are not only produced through social interaction but that they are in constant state of revision.”9
There are many different approaches to culture and social constructions, however in this project the social constructivistic approach will be used to analyze the qualitative data, as a tool to grasp the subjective meaning of the social action of the respondents. This approach to culture is based on a hermeneutic10 view on culture that derives from the theoretical viewpoint of Gadamer who suggests that our: “Horizon (…) helps us add meaning to what we experience.”11 That viewpoint is further illustrated in the quote below:
“The horizon is the range of vision that includes everything that can be seen from a vantage point. Applying this to the thinking mind, we speak of narrowness of horizon, of the possible expansion of horizon, of the opening up of new horizon, and so forth.”12
As Gadamer emphasizes in the quote the horizon refers to what we can see from where we stand, and this derives from our contextual pre – understanding of the world we are part of. The pre- understandings are much discussed phenomenon though by placing them as central of cultural understanding Gadamer suggest that we all have pre- understandings /prejudices towards “the other”: “Interpretation begins with fore- conceptions (pre- understandings) that are replaced by more suitable ones. This constant process of new projection constitutes the movement of understanding and interpretation.”13
To be able to analyze and to understand “the other”14, it requires investigation of the way the other person talks – to his discourse. According to Michel Foucault/ Günter Kress discourse is“… systematically – organized sets and statements which give expression to the meanings and values of an institution (...) they define, describe and delimit what it is possible to do…”15 In the project, discourse psychology is implemented to study the process of reality of the respondents through their language and perception of their culture. The aim of the project is to get a broader understanding of the question at stake and our respondents discursively constituted views of alcohol consumption.
The following methodological strategy will be practiced in the process of the investigation. The project is an explorative study and the methodological process will be as the following:
Method and Theory
Presentation of the date collection
Presentation of the findings
A conclusion made by the observations found in the qualitative investigation in correspondence with the theoretical framework
The research topic is concentrated on a present problem to the Danish beverage company Carlsberg A/S; the problem itself is of concern to Carlsberg A/S and also to other beer companies which are about to enter or increase shares on the Mexican market, because it will based on its findings identify Mexican values regarding beer consumption. The empirical investigation will be elaborated as a qualitative study, based on the literature of the book Culture and Consumption by McCraken.16
The theory mentioned above are going to be implemented in the project as a theoretical framework in order to give the reader a broader understanding of the cultural bounded meaning towards consumption. Furthermore, possible consumption issues will be analyzed that a Danish company like Carlsberg has to take into consideration when making their branding strategy to establish themselves on a market with a culture that differs significantly from the Danish one.