10 reasons why more cultural intelligence is needed in the automotive industry

| By Sue Bryant

Why is cultural intelligence a skill needed in the automotive industry?

Any industry working globally needs to take cultural intelligence seriously. The automotive industry is a case in point, as in most cases, a company’s reach is often global. Parts are sourced globally, which requires relationship building with overseas suppliers. Vehicles are sold worldwide, which means being culturally aware when creating sales and marketing campaigns and strategies.Sales teams have to work together across cultures. Employee bases, from the factory floor to sales forces and dealerships are multicultural, which requires cross-cultural understanding. What’s more, the automotive industry is in a state of change, with increased competition to car ownership from companies like Uber and Lyft, as well as car-sharing schemes and the prospect of driverless vehicles. The ability to recognise trends and respond quickly in different markets is essential.

10 reasons why cultural intelligence is vital to the automotive industry

  1. Cultural intelligence helps develop an in-depth understanding of working styles in other cultures. A culturally intelligent workforce will demonstrate better tolerance, trust and understanding of global colleagues. Cultural differences become strengths in problem solving, rather than obstacles, while improved collaboration drives the ability to respond quicker to market changes.
  2. Developing a strategy across the whole company of improving cultural intelligence can encourage closer integration across offices worldwide. A culturally aware workforce is able to work effectively in virtual teams when everybody, metaphorically speaking, understands the same language. Creating a common language and understanding is both effective in business and unifying for employees. It also encourages the sharing across the company of best practices.
  3. Being culturally aware helps individuals to recognise areas of their own communication that could be improved, to make their daily interaction with international colleagues more effective, and more enjoyable. How emails and memos are worded, for example, and whether and why, with some cultures, face-to-face brainstorming is preferable to a WhatsApp group.
  4. Culturally sensitive leaders make better managers. They are able to better understand the dynamics of multicultural group at a meeting, for example. They are better at negotiating with other cultures, and at conflict resolution between cultures.
  5. Cross-cultural training is essential for business travellers, global assignees and expats; it will reduce culture shock and make the individual more effective and better poised to integrate with their new workplace.
  6. Individuals with cultural sensitivity make better collaborators – essential when working in development teams across cultures. Sharing successes and failures is essential for driving innovation.
  7. Understanding the behaviour of local markets is essential for the automotive industry; how they research and buy, how they perceive the brand, their use of digital and social media, how they expect to be treated in their local dealership, how they might negotiate, their expectations of aftercare and so on.
  8. Multicultural marketing is an important element of automotive sales. Understanding the individual consumer and meeting their needs is all part of cultural intelligence, whether dealing with customers who are LGBT, Hispanic, Asian, mature or millennial. The customer’s buying experience is more important than ever and automotive dealers need to be able to adapt to the needs of different buyers.
  9. Attracting top talent is essential in a competitive marketplace. Companies that celebrate diversity, inclusivity and cultural sensitivity are likely to be more appealing than businesses that are perceived as inflexible and old-fashioned in their outlook. The diversity of a company’s workplace should reflect the diversity of its market – or consumers may not take that company seriously.
  10. Better cultural understanding helps individuals come across as more authentic. Playing lip service to cross-cultural working, marketing and sales is not enough. A genuine appreciation of other cultures is essential, for example, understanding what car ownership means to individuals in these cultures, whether as a means of transport or a status symbol. Authenticity and curiosity will win over consumers and co-workers.

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