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Using the Cultural Value to Rejuvenate Your Traditional Businesses

"The entrepreneur always searches for change, responds to it, and exploits it as an opportunity." --- Peter Drucker


As a past event sponsored by Mutiara Johan Group, the forum with the above title was jointly organised by KC Chia & Noor, Chartered Accountants, a GGI member firm, National Chamber of Small and Medium Enterprises, Malaysia and Confederation of APAC-CEO Alumni of the Tsinghua University, Beijing PRC. The above forum was held in Kuala Lumpur, the capital city of Malaysia and attended by above 150 participants.


The keynote speaker was Dr. Kuo An Min who graduated with a Ph.D degree from the Syracuse University, USA, is now the Professor cum Director of the Research Center on the economy and commerce co-operation between Taiwan, East Asia region and the China region of Hsing Wu University of Science and  Technology in Taiwan.


Prof. Kuo, in discussing on the current issues pertaining to the cultural value, shared and exchanged ideas with the floor participants on how to use the cultural value to rejuvenate the local traditional business operations, recent development and to provide concrete solutions to overcome some of the challenges that are facing the traditional businesses especially in the Asian region.


Below is the gist of his speech delivered in the forum:

1.   Incorporating cultural value into businesses

Cultural value focuses on quality of life and understanding of the social and psychological value of cultural capital relating to non-financial social assets that promote social mobility beyond economic means. Examples are education, intellect, style of speech, dress and even physical appearance, et cetera.


Incorporation of cultural value into businesses would expedite value creation, rejuvenate existing operations and enhance the positioning, competitiveness niche and sustainability of traditional businesses in both local and international business dynamics.


2.   Rejuvenation is a must to counter the emerging challenges

The local traditional businesses generally are small and medium enterprises, most of them are family-owned with rudimental managerial, financial and marketing skill. They are mostly involved in the manufacturing, agricultural, tourism, service and retailing sectors with low cost-effectiveness and lack of modern management techniques. Business planning is generally lacking and is often seen as a modern luxury managerial tool foreign to most of them.


In a world that constantly quests for rapid changes in consumerism, cultural trends, spending patterns and modern styles of living, the continual cost escalation and intense competition in doing business, rejuvenation of these enterprises is a must in order for them to cope with such changes to become more unique, creative and innovative with new ideas and mindsets with a view to revitalize the business agility for them to excel in future.


3.   Cultural value must be multi dimensionally out-reached

In the wave of globalization and increasing value awareness, the corporate cultural value must be multi-dimensional cutting across nation, race and religion in order for their products or services to be out-reached and acceptable by all races regardless of religious and cultural background worldwide.


As such, appropriate cultural value only need be applied and incorporated in the marketing strategies and product design including structural design, ingredients, production processes, packaging, distribution and delivery so as to avoid any possible contravention and in conflict with any racial and religious sentiment that would arise in the entire production and marketing processes. Corporate cultural value must be flexible, adaptive, creative and innovative and more importantly, it must tally with the local conditions and customers’ needs.


4.   Marketing concept has shifted its emphasis from product development and differentiation to a comprehensive range of customers’ values.

In time of rapid, complex and advanced information and communication age which allows easy access and convenient flow of market intelligence, doing businesses has been very demanding in rapid pace and encountering challenges.  There is even more pressure than ever for short-term decision making and results. Thus, marketing concept has shifted from product centric to service orientated and now value driven.


In this value driven era, consumers are regarded as whole human beings with minds, hearts, and spirits. They are aspiring to their anxieties about making the globalized world a better place and search for manufacturing and marketing companies that could address their deepest needs for social, economic, and environmental justice in their mission, vision, and values. It embraces not only functional and emotional fulfillment but also human spirit fulfillment in the products and services they consumed.


As such, in addition to satisfying the consumers’ needs and hopes, the concept of marketing has been lifted into the arena of human aspirations, values, and spirit that complements emotional marketing with human spirit marketing.  The marketing companies also need to have bigger missions, visions, and values; and to provide solutions to address problems in the society and the world at large.


5.   The unexplored and expanding ‘Halal’ market for the Muslim world with a 1.5 billion population.

The current global economic downturn and continuing Europe’s deteriorating sovereign debt crisis have resulted in market retraction and a dip in export demand, thus the traditional enterprises have to search for new market opportunity for their business sustainability and survival.


Apart from China and India each having about 1.3 billion population, the Muslim world has become one of the most influential market driving forces in the global trade, representing a paradigm shift that defines a new market opportunity based on religious cultural values and practice. The Muslim world with a 1.5 billion population base represents 25% of the world’s population. Their unexplored and expanding ‘Halal’ market for goods and services has an extensive and proven mainstream market appeal and presents a lucrative market and huge business opportunities to all.


Dr. Kuo commented that Malaysia is a superb showcase of a multi-cultural, multi-faith and multi-racial country which has rich and diverse cultural values and extensive foreign trade tradition with strong links to China, India and other Muslim countries. Thus, Malaysia is well positioned as the gateway to the above 3 market destinations in total of about 4.1 billion in population with an economy size worth USD13 trillion about  18.6 % of the world economy.


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