In the recent years, the businesses are operating internationally. The social cultural challenges are faced by all of the organizations either local or international but the companies which work across the national borders face a lot of social cultural challenges. For example, work force diversity has increased in the companies. People from various backgrounds like culture, language, religion, gender and traditions work together. It is the responsibility of the organizations to create such an environment which may enhance the positive interaction among the workforce.
The aim of a business is to make optimum use of its available resources to generate revenue, and maximize its profits. Whether or not a business is able to make optimum use of its available resources depends upon numerous internal and external factors. One of such notable factors that play a decisive role in the functioning of an organization is the sociocultural environment of the region in which the organization is operating. Sociocultural factors such as social attitudes, belief systems, education, law, politics, etc., have a bearing on the prospects of a business. If a business overlooks, or fails to identify the effects of sociocultural factors, it runs the risk of alienating itself with its immediate environment.
One of the most important sociocultural trends which have an impact on a business is the constantly changing preferences of customers. A business may build a brand name for itself and model its core strategies in a certain manner, but if it fails to recognize and adapt to the changing preferences of the customers, it is doomed to fail. According to Adhikari, (2010)Nepalese companies have been facing four mega trends that can be found are mainly; Rapid globalization, IT revolution, Industrial structure change and declining birthrate.
Sociocultural Impact in Nepalese perspective:
Nepali society is a home of multicultural, multiethnic and religious groups scattered throughout the length and breadth of its geographic boundary. Nepali society and cultures have flourished here over millions of years and this diversity set in a small geophysical entity like Nepal is a typical example in the history of the whole of South Asia(Khatry, 2014).
Glorious history apart, Nepali culture has also been experiencing changes in the recent decades. Some of these changes are fast and irreversible. They are going deep into the mind and psyche of the new generation and bringing up some pertinent questions regarding new social order, cultural continuity and national character.
Fast development of urban culture through modern education, media, economy, employment and other factors, our rural context has remained back or is experiencing slow pace of change and development. Yet, the impact of urban development on the rural social, cultural and political order is phenomenal. We are now fostering education where there is less focus on norms, moral values and respect for one’s culture and tradition. Western consumer culture, faiths and practices, western values and norms are creating erosion in our own value system, faiths and practices.
The socio cultural change has brought various trends and mega trends in Nepalese market. The impact has been so great and so deep that, wherever we go, and, as far as the eye can see, we can notice its impact directly. Our food, and food habits, our dresses, our dances, our songs, our music, our education system, our life style are the entire western pattern. (Library of Congress, 2014)
The socio-cultural environment of the country has changed considerably over the past two decades or so with many changes in the economic, cultural and gender mix of the working population. This emerging and distinctive change and class structure of the Nepalese society has opened up new frontiers of economic and business activities. The following are a few examples of the broadening base of the Nepalese business sector.
a) The Middle class House-makers:
Today, the urban house- maker is playing an increasing and active role in managing her household. The house-maker, therefore, has a major influence in all purchase decisions of her family. With the increasing purchasing power of the middle class, the house-maker has more funds with her to buy different products of daily use as well as other commodities needed by the family.
b) Shifts in lifestyles:
Nepal is currently witnessing great changes in lifestyles and eating habits. Fast foods are preferred to homemade meals. The number of restaurant goers is growing. Similarly, changing urban lifestyles demand for time saving home appliances, TV seats, refrigerators, telephone sets, music system, and so on.
c) The Urban Teenagers:
Urban teenagers belonging to the middle and upper class families are now emerging as a sizable and distinct market segment. They care less for tradition and religion. They are after material comfort and inclined towards pursuit of pleasure. The children of the teenagers spend their pocket money on soft drinks, chocolate, fast foods, movies and light reading materials.
d) Growth in nuclear Family:
In Nepal due to growth in working class population modern youth tends to prefer small family or children of one or two. This has changed the purchasing pattern and family planning pattern of people. Unlike previous, current generation youth tend to marry and prefer to stay away from their parents. This has shooted the demand for new apartment, baby care centers, Montessori schools and changed lifestyle. The young parents tend to invest heavily upon the baby care and baby related products in markets and thus have increased demand. Meanwhile, these young parents are also equally spending for themselves in recreational activities like watching movie, eating out in weekends and visiting new places in a six month or so thus boosting out the nation’s economy.
e) Change in Food Culture
Food habit of Nepali people is greatly changed due to the influence of western cuisine. Most of the Nepalese people needed “dal bat” to satisfy their hunger but today the ‘pizza culture’ has changed “dal bat” culture. People go to the restaurants with their families and have pizza, burger, chicken and purchase of instant noodles, processed meat, packaged food has taken the dinner table at home and office due to change in lifestyle and time limitations. The advent of KFC Chicken, Coca Cola, Organic Coffee and imported wine has taken the place of mother cooked food and local drinks.
f) Shift in working culture
The impact of sociocultural change can be noticed in case of occupation also. Most of the people in the past were farmers. However, the dominant farming culture is seen as disgrace these days, youth prefer to go abroad and work 18 hours a day but seek little opportunities in their home land. The remittance income has further boosted the income of people drastically and this has created demand for luxury items like jewelry, televisions, refrigerators, real estate, automobiles, etc. Similarly, people migrate from village to city in search of jobs in offices, factories and industries. This has increased demand for apartment service in city areas, the plotting of land business has boomed and people are inclined towards buying and trading shares due to awareness.
g) Change in attitude
The attitudes of people are also changing. Nepalese people used to have spiritual thinking and dependent upon luck, but the impact of west have translated into materialistic people. Most of the Nepali people have become money minded people and money has been seen as highest respectful entity. Previously, there was no nightlife in Kathmandu. However, Night clubs, Discos, Dance bars have attracted not only the youths but many people from old generation too. The awareness among people toward gender equality has given female also power and rights for working outside home. This has raised their income and increased their purchasing power decision. To tap this opportunities we can see rise of beauty parlors, boutiques rapidly.
h) Shift in Shopping Culture
The shopping habit has changed a lot. Previously the customer had to go to shops to buy goods but now reverse has happened due to call centers, TV shopping, online shopping as buying, choosing goods has become quicker and easier. Meanwhile, shopping at the departmental stores and shopping malls trend is the next impact of changing sociocultural in Nepal, These days business has combined shopping centers with shopping malls, food courts, movie theaters, game house, beauty parlors etc. So going to shopping mall has become a new trend of not only shopping but a complete day out in weekend for fun and excitement.
i) Change in fashion habits
The trend of jeans and t-shirt has taken over ‘dhakatopi and daurasuruwal’ by male and ‘gunyocholi and patuki’ by female in Nepal. Nowadays it is rare to see such dresses. These were worn by some people in special occasions only. Nowadays people wear jeans, t-shirt, cap, coat, hat, goggles and heavy shoes. The heavy influence of Indian and Hollywood movies and TV serials can be seen in fashion, eating habits and buying habits. The cultural shift has can be seen in celebrating festival as well. Nowadays youth are also celebrating Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and Valentine Day side by side with their local festivals. This has created new business like party palace venues, flower shops, event management companies, and others.
j) Rise in Internal Tourism:
With the restoration of peace in the country, internal tourism has also grown significantly. People visit places of their interest. This increasing mobility of people has created business opportunities for hotels and travels agencies to foster fast.
Sociocultural impact has heavily shaped the consumers value and their relevance to business has become obvious. Value change is pervasive in its effects on business. Any shift in people’s basic values would change the business environment. These trends are occurring more rapidly in various forms. Therefore in nutshell we can outline the following trends in business due to socio-cultural factors:
i) Growing urbanization and consumer awareness.
ii) Individualized lifestyles.
iii) More informed and demanding consumers due to growing education.
iv) Greater acceptance of fashion and lifestyle
v) Shift in traditionally defined male-female roles.
vi) Growth of greater pleasure orientated and materialistic focused culture.
vii) Changing family structure, preference to smaller families and less influence of elders in purchase decision.
These factors together represent the sociocultural profile of the contemporary Nepalese society. These value changes can be considered not only a source of general input to business decision makers, but also the factor to be considered for formulating strategies. Special efforts are required to properly understand these value shifts. Examination of trends in these and similar variables can help a business firm predict and sociocultural changes likely to affect its operations.
C. A. (2010). Nepalese Economy:Current Scenario. Kathmandu.
Ghimire, B. (2008). ohmynews. Retrieved from The Changing Face of Nepal: http://english.ohmynews.com/articleview/article_view.asp?no=381640&rel_no=1
Khatry, P. (2014). Nepali Society: Fading Norms and Dying Values. Retrieved from Gorkhapatra: http://www.gorkhapatra.org.np/rising.detail.php?article_id=64236&cat_id=7
Library of Congress. (2014). Nepal - The Society. Retrieved from mongabay.com: http://www.mongabay.com/reference/country_studies/nepal/SOCIETY.html