Chasing a Dream


Beauty is not concrete and may vary from culture to culture changing over time and shifting according to location. “Beauty” is an image which has been created by society to which woman and men have had to subject themselves to be “real”. The ideology of beauty or what is accepted as being the right appearance has been created by society and largely propagated by media.

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For United States of the 1950s Marilyn Monroe was the pinnacle of beauty which soon changed to Twiggy in the 1960s. While porcelain skin is valued in China, scarification of the skin and decorating it with tattoos is considered as a status symbol in Africa. Thus the physical attributes and ideas attached to beauty vary across cultures.

“Women’s magazine industry is understood as a monolithic meaning producer, circulating magazines that contain messages and signs about the nature of femininity that serve to promote and legitimate dominant interests.” (Anna Gough- Yates). A majority of feminist critics argue that media is responsible for establishing and promoting gender differences and inequalities in society. In respect media persons are considered responsible for reinforcing capitalism and patriarchy; manipulating society to attain increased circulation figures.

Magazines are a great source, to study the society. Recording changes, from the purely fashion magazine couture age of 1920’s, to ‘lifestyle and home’ of the 1940’s when domestic help was rare and woman to a personal interest in their homes. To ‘New woman’ of the 1980’s when woman began to work alongside men in almost every field to ‘do it yourself’ of the 20th century with soaring costs and economic downturn. Magazines reflect revolutions in society and influenced the opinion of women across nations.

Given the increase in trade to Asia and the spread of the beauty industry across nations, there is limited study available on how people are depicted internationally in the fashion magazines. Previous research has established that woman’s magazines can act as agents of publicizing gender stereotypes and beauty ideals like size zero and institutionalizing conventions like photographic poses. (Rudman and Verdi, 1993; Griffin, Viswanath, Schwartz, 1994). Yet little research has been done on the differences in representation of women internationally and locally.


“One must establish what people are looking at before one can hope to understand why under the conditions peculiar to them, they see what they see” Rudolf Arnhein (Arnhein 1977:4)

An image is that stimulus or representation that compels us to cognition, interpretation and personal preference. If we understand that the market is image based than we also begin to understand the importance of vision in understanding management in the information society. Images are where visual communication starts. Jonathan E. Schroeder confirms in his study of media that “visual consumption” is critically important for understanding contemporary consumers. Today marketing professionals are sensitive towards global customers and realise that they are enthusiastic consumers of images. ‘Brand image, corporate image and self image are significant economic and consumer values and that global market culture is largely the construction of symbolic environments.’ (S. E. Jonathan, 2002) This is of great importance especially in the 21st century as the importance of marketing management and consumer research in this century may shift from “problem solving to problem recognition from production of goods to the production of images” (S. E. Jonathan, 2002)

Through time marketers have learnt that markets are global which should translate into local approach. But when companies globalise they become more production driven wanting to sell more thus having common promotional strategies across cultures, sticking to one single image, hardly realising that ‘there may be global products, but there are no global people. There may be global brands but there are no common global motivators to buy those brands.’ (M. De Mooij, 2009). Many brands have with the help of technology and communication tried to globalise nations. But technology has not brought a global village in which consumers all behave the same.


Globalisation is best defined as “the crystallization of the entire world as a single place” (Robertson, Ronald. 1990. Mapping the Global Condition: Globalization as the Central Concept. Theory, Culture and Society 7)

Due to the success of global brands writers have predicted an unavoidable colonization of world culture by internationalised brands that would most definitely lead to demise of local cultures. However there is also evidence that suggests social relationships and values in local culture are resistant to the negative effects of globalization. On one hand globalisation is expected to destroy local cultures and bring about homogeneity while on the other hand it is also the reason for the revival of local cultural identities from various parts of the world. Today the expansion of western cultures values and ideas has reached the far corners of the world, right to Asian countries like India and China which have been dominant till the 21st century. Now that these countries have become important players in the world market, counter expansion of values and culture can also be seen.

Over the past few decades there has been a rapid expansion of global brands in the media sector more than ever in the area of woman’s fashion magazines. Local editions of Elle, Harpers Baazar and Vogue are now being published in Asia. The internationalization of a magazine is not a new phenomenon although until quite recently the most popular woman’s magazines have been published locally. Harpers Bazaar, a U.S magazine launched itself in U.K. in 1929 (Anna Gough-Yates, 1993), Elle a European magazine began publishing its first edition in Japan in 1960’s while Vogue a U.S magazine entered the Indian market in the 21st century. However “the establishment of an integrated global media market only began in earnest in the late 1980’s and did not reach its full potential until the 1990’s.” (Herman and Mc Chesney ,1997, p10)

The latest NRS (National Readership Survey) figures suggest that the total readership market in U.K. for the months of July and December 2008 has risen by 10% since last year, while the total market for women’s lifestyle and fashion magazines has grown by 7 %. (IPC Advertising) A similar trend was observed in USA where magazine subscription reached a ten year high in 2008 and with the total number of magazines published reaching 20,590 the total percentage of subscriptions also increased by 1.4% (MPA Magazine Publishers of America, ABC) Comparatively in Asia according to a PricewaterhouseCoopers the Asia/Pacific magazine market excluding Japan is projected to grow by 7.2% annually, reaching $20.7 billion by 2010, Advertising is also expected to rise by 5% annually to $8.1 billion in 2010. This means there’s plenty of potential for countries in South Asia, where advertising spending is just about 0.34% of GDP. Until now foreign brands were allowed only 26% ownership when venturing into Asian countries. But in 2005 most of the Asian countries levelled the field for non news publications allowing 100% foreign direct investment. (D. Ruth, 2007, Forbes)

In an age looking towards the internet for all information and goods there is a risk that print media and magazine subscriptions may fall contrary to predictions. A recent research conducted by PPA marketing suggests that the internet does not have any harmful effect on people’s desire to read offline, in fact in some cases reading websites encourages them to read magazines. Out of 1500 adults between the age of 18- 34 surveyed online revealed that people’s expectations and goals from each medium depends on the subject matter and for the subject of beauty and fashion print magazines are an obvious choice. Also the idea of owning a piece of fashion history through the beautifully photographed and styled images in fashion magazines makes print media a lucrative choice.

With fashion going cross cultures, print media being the apparent choice of the masses to keep them in trend and the governments giving publication houses the clear there is nothing stopping international fashion magazines going local. Like all the other global media, magazines use many different strategies to cross the borders. The main reasons for crossing borders are ‘saturation of home markets and to generate revenue by providing international consumer brands with advertising vehicles that reach into the expanding foreign markets'(Dr. Katherine Frith, 2006,pg4-5). For example Condé Nast which has a portfolio of 127 magazines in 23 countries had to close down Mademoiselle in November 2001 due to competition, flagging sales and saturation of magazine houses. Markets with rising economic rates like Asia and Middle East, as a result have become a target for westerns producers of beauty and fashion magazines.


Many women across cultures are influenced by general trends in fashion and follow although at a distance the fashion industry. The relationship between consumers and trends is complex but it is mediated by fashion magazines.

The difference between international fashion magazines and their ‘local’ versions is that the international issues tend to carry a predominance of images for multinational products. (Shaw, 1999). Such magazines are growing in popularity in Asia and this popularity has bought about a change in perspective regarding the depiction of woman and products in local magazines. Griffin, Viswanath, and Schwartz(1994) found in a study comparing images in weekly U.S. news magazines (Time and Life) to weekly Indian magazines (India Today and Illustrated weekly of India), that many of the western advertising principles and poses for women were being conveyed across nations. They confirmed that female models in India were taking on poses that related closely to ‘gender portrayals ‘of the advanced western nations. A recent analysis of magazines international and local in China by Frith, Cheng and Shaw (2004) suggests that Caucasian models are more frequently shown in seductive dresses than Asian models. Feminist critiques like Kates, Shaw and Garlock (1999) would argue that western magazines are cultural institutions that represent women in a problematic and often unacceptable way although attractive female bodies and sexual content have for long been used in the west to draw consumers to a product and generate interest. Comparing this to the representation of woman across cultures with reference to the few studies conducted on the topic; Griffin, Viswanath and Schwartz (1994) concluded that the use of “Sexual pursuit” as a theme was used three times more often in American magazines than magazines in India. In conservative Asian countries like Malaysia and Indonesia only Caucasian women were used in Lingerie advertisements (Frith and Mueller, 2003).

Any magazine wanting to be resonant with its target audience needs to represent the social norms and cultural values of the given society. International magazines like Vogue and Elle although have publishing houses in Asian countries most often train their employees in the west. The result being that the forms of representation and especially that of woman can take on a globalized look. As Kyung-Ja Lee,(2000, pg 86) has rightly said ” for thirty years, media have been taken to task for reproducing and reinforcing stereotyped images of woman. Yet unfair representation of woman in media still prevails worldwide. Sex stereotyping has been so deeply ingrained, even glorified, that the woman themselves have become desensitised to their own inferior portrayal. The prospects appear even gloomier as the globalisation of media progresses”

Previous researchers have noted that the images of models used in magazines have been extensively retouched to represent the ideal of beauty that is unattainable for all but a very few people.(Greer,1999). By showing models that are ‘uniformly thin’, flawless and perfectly proportioned the media may contribute towards low self esteem and unhappiness among woman and give rise to problems like eating disorders.( Gauntlett, 2002) Media is also considered a large contributor to the global increase in plastic surgery to change physical appearance among young girls (Lee, 2007). With most models used in international magazines being ‘white’ the publications are rarefying the ethnic beauty ideals. In fact the obsession with whitening products may be a result of this overuse of White models in Asian publications.

Finally as global media takes readers away from local publications and changing Asian beauty ideals it is important to study the impact of international beauty ideal on local consumers. The Asian society has predominantly been a conservative society yet with the onset of westernisation this society is changing and adapting itself. But as Marieke de Mooij states, “product usage or acceptance does not change overnight, as people’s behaviour is stable .” A new idea or concept is only accepted when it is consistent to a change in society and does not imply a fundamental change in culture.


This essay will discuss Vogue magazines cover page and its relationship with its brand identity. Can the brand successfully globalised by altering its cover page image, based on cultural and social variants in each of its markets? Would standardisation of the brands cover page images and visual identity help to avoid criticism on its entry into a new market?


Started in 1982 Vogue magazine is predominantly an American cultural phenomenon. It began as a social weekly periodical and nurtured into a professional and confident monthly publication under the leadership of Condé Nast which took over vogue in 1909. Primarily as a lifestyle magazine catering to both men and woman Vogue has come a long way to be at the pinnacle as ‘the fashion magazine for woman in vogue’ (David, A., 2006). In an age where French fashion was considered the ultimate Vogue managed to put American Couture on the map. Under the Condé Nast umbrella the magazine not only managed to become a brand name in its own country but also exported fashion ideas to the world.

Today Condé Nast which has a portfolio of 127 magazines in 23 countries believes Vogue to be its cash cow. At present there are a million fashion and beauty magazines such as In Style, Elle and Cosmopolitan circulated around the globe, but in times of crises citizens all over turn to Vogue to confirm the latest fashion news. With readership and subscription levels of about 220,000 a month for the British Vogues, 133,000 a month for the French Vogue and American Vogue, at 1.2 million a month Vogue is the leading magazine in the business of fashion. (IPC Advertising reports) The once small publication eventually became an international phenomenon with issues being published in more than 12 countries.




British Vogue


Spanish Vogue


French Vogue


Argentinean Vogue


German Vogue


Italian Vogue


Brazilian Vogue


Singapore Vogue


Korean Vogue


Taiwanese Vogue


Japanese Vogue


Latin American Vogue


Greek Vogue


Chinese Vogue


Indian Vogue

Since its birth the magazine has strived to serve the society by portraying an example of proper etiquette, beauty, composure and fashion. The magazine not only plays a role in setting latest trends but also records the changes in cultural thinking, actions and clothing through its images. Looking at Vogue through the ages it can be clearly seen that it is also a documentation of the changing roles of woman, and the influences of cultural ideas and politics over time. The power the Vogue magazine has over generations of women has inspired many new magazines like Cosmopolitan and Glamour; all interested in its market share. In spite of this great quantity of magazines circulating around the globe, considering circulation figures and media impact no other publication has managed to accomplish the lasting power and success of Vogue. (David, R., 2007)


“Self definition has always been crucial to vogue.” (David, A., 2006). Throughout its first 30 years vogue editors and illustrators made use of the French meaning of vogue, defined in the first dictionary of the Académie Française (1694) as the impulsion or movement of a galley or other ship by the force of rowing. It was only in the 18th century that vogue and fashion were listed as synonyms (Féraud 1787–8).

Since its first issue Vogue magazine has been personified as a youthful young woman. The magazines first cover presented itself in the disguise of a debutante, a young socialite. When Condé Nast bought the magazine in 1909 he brought it into line with other successful publishing ventures and in just over a decade, circulation went from 14,000 to 150,000 while advertising revenue soared from $76,111 to two million dollars (Robinson 1923: 170). He modernised the magazine not just the content but also the cover. He replaced the black and white drawings of the front cover with commissioned, lavish, stylised and signed illustrations. This change helped to attract attention to the magazine and increase circulations. “As an advertising man, he understood the value of having a visual brand or logo and Nast revived the original Vogue trademark, a “distinguished little sketch” which “immediately became known as the Vogue girl” (David, A., 2006). This first “Vogue girl” was just an illustration clad in a fancy dress with the than fashionable leg-o-mutton sleeves. ‘Her unnatural ivory white skin, snow white wig, tiny waist and voluptuous bosom, was directed at the fantasies of the magazine’s readers’ (David, A., 2006).The Vogue girl represented the heritage of those Americans who wished to be different from the New World Americans and was constantly seen as wearing historical costumes and heirlooms. Than too the new world American woman aspired to look like her. All this changed in the 1920’s when the “Vogue girl” was changed to an illustration by Georges Lepape. This new image was more streamlined and represented the woman at the heights of fashion in the 1920’s. Vogue had gone from importing fashion to exporting it. As times changed so did the magazine cover from illustrations to photographs, making models like Cindy Crawford and celebrities like Madonna a household name. This change in its image was a response to the internationalisation of the magazine.

Today the vogue cover girls are the most glamorous, exotic, unusual and popular persons of the moment. The trend being more towards actresses than models dressed in the heights of fashion, styled by the best stylist and clicked by A-list photographers they are every girl’s aspiration and every boy’s fantasy. Like its cover girls the magazines is considered to be glamorous, glossy and trendy. (Alexandra Shulman, Vogue U.K. editor). Despite of having these factors common among them, the vogue covers are dissimilar in many aspects depending upon its country of publication.


Anglo –Saxon psychological research states that the concept of self and personality are the basis of Western consumer behaviour. The words “identity” or “personality” have no fixed meaning in the Asian culture. A global brand needs to consider the cultural differences to truly succeed in the world field. A number of research experts and cultural studies suggest that a brand should “think global, act local”. This is based upon the theory that “the way people think and perceive any brand or image is guided by the framework of their own culture” (Mooij, M, 2009). The observation of Japanese individuality as a sign of westernisation of the country is a misconception of many global brands.

For more than a decade international magazines have been accused of standardising a beauty ideal across the globe with disregard to the individual cultural and beauty ideals of the host country. For a short duration the values and attributes of a foreign or global personality might have a strong attraction, but ultimately people return to their own local values and culture. For a Brazilian woman the emphasis is on her bottom, “um corpo de violão” which literally means a guitar shaped body is most desirable. No matter how many international magazines showcase buxom beauties, the Brazilian woman would ultimately want a bigger bottom as the point of attraction is “the sweet swing” of the hips. The illustration of a desirable Japanese woman in “The memoirs of a Gesha” suggest, that the Japanese appreciate soft delicate feminine features, small feet and long hair cut in layers. A slim slender graceful body is more desirable than a curvaceous one. In Islamic countries the body is considered an obstacle in viewing ones true beauty. Any bodily decorations or changes are considered a veil over the inner beauty and the “Hijab” is another veil to conceal these changes so that the woman’s only public identity would be her inner self. For the Greek it has been symmetry in structure and features, based on Plato’s ideas that, “beauty is that which irradiates symmetry rather than symmetry itself.” The Nuba tribe in Sudan like dark skin and hairlessness. On studying traditional Indian paintings it can be concluded that the Indian ideals of beauty in a woman is voluptuousness, with the belly and hips being of prominence.( Ei, 2008) The image and identity associated with woman of different geographical locations are deep rooted in their respective cultures. The beauty ideals and a woman’s self image in any culture can be understood by studying its paintings, sculpture and artistic representations. Today the artistic or idealistic representations of women are magazine covers, images and photo spreads. These covers are also considered a mode of advertisement for the magazine within that culture. As Steve Taylor has rightly put in his book 100 years of magazine covers “it is hard to identify another cultural artefact which embodies an advertisement for itself in such a powerful way. Magazine covers can be breathtaking, beautiful, confrontational, resonant, heartbreaking, stimulating, irritating and uplifting. At their best they come together as a kind of spontaneous street level exhibition, publicly displaying the work of some of our best creative talent, featuring what is most admirable and dismissible about the modern world, communicating the people and events that shape our culture.”

Apart from a mode of advertisement of today’s culture a magazine cover plays a dual function of advertising the magazine brand itself. “An impressive cover encourages people to flip through the magazine and buy it”. (Alexandra Shulman, British Vogue editor). Getting the magazine cover right is not only ethically important but also financially important to the magazine in order to develop brand loyalty and increased circulations. Thus making it important to study magazine covers as a mode of advertisement and part of the marketing mix, for a magazine publication.


It is a common assumption that ‘an advertisement would be effective if the viewer decodes the advertisement successfully,’ if there is a significant transfer of attributes. (Mooij, M., 2009). Thus while developing one idea for a global brand or one single motivator for different cultures, one should not assume that the responses would be alike too. An idea being interpreted accurately by the consumers would only happen if ‘the senders and receivers share one culture’. If they do not share the same cultural values it may result in misunderstandings and demeaning of brand value within that culture. For example consider the inaugural Vogue covers of India and China. The Indian Vogue cover was styled by the magazines British fashion director while the Chinese vogue was styled by French Vogue editor Carine Roitfeld (China economic net and Fashion week daily dispatch). The covers were not rightly decoded by the consumers and received much criticism. Whereas the covers for the preceding months styled by Anaita Shroff Adajania the fashion director for Vogue India was highly appreciated.(Fashion week daily dispatch)

“The essence of a brand is that it is a name in the memory of consumers. It is a perceptual map of positive and negative associations, a symbolic language, and a network of associations.” (Mooij, M.,2009). Vogue with its launch in many Asian countries received much negative associations with its local issues. The local Asian issues of Vogue are considered small ripples in the big pond of Fashion magazines (Armstrong ,L, 2009) and they could never manage to create the impact that American vogue or Italian Vogue have managed to create world over. Vogue India or Vogue China might be sold worldwide but it is not necessary that consumers in all countries consider them global brands. One theory suggests that a global brand is a brand that is strongly associated with its country of origin (Mooij, M., 2009) and for Vogue it’s been America. This can be considered positive if the country of origin has a stable global identity. With American values becoming ambiguous and Vogue bifurcating into multiple countries over time its core identity may be threatened. The idea of incorporating local aesthetics with their global image might dilute the brands global image.


A multinational company’s personality and identity are the biggest factors influencing consumer (Eales, 1990 as cited in Melewar,T.C, & Saunders, J., 1998). Unrestricted global trade, a competitive marketplace and the fast technological developments have created a situation where consumers don’t just buy the product they also “buy” the company that produces it. The brands character, its identity, its image and the confidence it inspires in them help in making the choice between two almost similar product offerings in the market. At the centre of any business and its projected image is its corporate visual identity system. The elements of this system are: name, symbol, and/or logo, typography, colour and slogan (Dowling, 1994). These elements help to sell the company to consumers and its stakeholders. Corporate identity programs have risen due to globalisation (Ind, 1992). The changing business tactics, geographical locations, variations in cultures and changing markets have all encouraged companies to change their corporate identity. “As companies begin to operate on an international basis, the image that they acquired as national producers often becomes inappropriate” (Mills, 1988 as cited in Melewar,T.C, & Saunders, J., 1998).

Some international companies adopt a unified brand image in spite of government and consumer displeasure. The degree of de-standardisation of any company depends upon the strength of the host countries culture, government policies and target market. (Mooij, M., 2009). The decision to standardise a brand image also depends upon the competitive edge derived in either keeping activities central or decentralizing them. However a brand like Vogue that has a truly global orientation needs to express consistent brand values wherever it chooses to compete. Thus making its worldwide image more recognisable for its homogeneity than not.

A major component of a corporate identity is the corporate structure. (Strong, 1987) According to Ind (1992) there exist two corporate identities, one that is the organisational structure and the other that is the visual structure. The Visual structure is concerned with the branding of the product, and how it appears to the consumers. (Gray & Smeltzer, 1985 as cited in Melewar, T.C., & Saunders, J., 1998). The basic concern with the visual structure is the degree of centralisation and decentralisation.

Thus the basic problem faced by Vogue is whether to sell an identical product image to all its consumers or to make modifications as per the local differences. A global brand can be a mass brand satisfying a common product need in all the countries or it can be a brand catering to a common niche in all the countries. Vogue magazine has two options, being a global brand it could standardize the brand and the brand image across the globe so that the Indian woman reading the Indian Vogue would feel equal to the French or American woman reading their respective Vogues. The other option it has is to go local, differentiate between its offerings and treat each market as an individual and not a global product while standardising its visual image, giving the impression of a common brand.

Researchers argue that standardisation of a brand helps the company to achieve a uniform image internationally which in turn increases sales.(Buzzell, 1968, Hovells & Walters, 1972 as cited in Melewar, T.C., & Saunders, J., 1998) . Others were of the opinion that standardisation makes consumers familiar with the product, its services, business diversities and competitive distinction thus helping to establish a uniform corporate image.(Peebles et al ,1977 as cited in Melewar, T.C., & Saunders, J., 1998). Cosmopolitan for example is known around the globe to address personal and sex related issues as it does not change its editorials and articles depending on culture. The band logo/ font type, position or style does not differ according to geographical locations. The brand has achieved a sense of standardisation by not having a distinct country name printed on its cover unlike Vogue.

The research on global corporate visual identity systems by T.C. Melewar and John Saunders (1998) proved that “firms with highly standardised corporate visual identity systems (CVIS) saw themselves reaping more reward from their CVIS than did those with low CVIS standardisation. All customer based measures were significantly higher with highly standardised CVIS than those without: favourable impact on sales (86 % for those with higher CVIS to 43 % for those with lower), favourable impact on consumers (92% versus 43%), advertising awareness (89% versus 50%) and market share ( 73% versus 52%).” However his findings suggested no favourable impact on market share and stakeholder investments. Thus making the decision of standardisation of brand/ corporate image a profitable yet consumer based decision. Therefore if a company decides to standardise a brand across countries, than they would have to do so by keeping the target consumers in mind.

If Vogue was to standardise than they would be assuming the existence of a homogeneous global market segment across borders with common values. We have already established that needs may be common but attitudes, motivators and the vocabulary of needs vary. As Marieke de Mooij for example suggests that Asian teenagers increasingly resemble American or European teens in their behaviour, dress and the way they express themselves but their behaviour is not driven by western values. Moreover,” there is not one teenage culture in Asia there is an enormous diversity among their lifestyles” (Lau,. S. 2001). The same applies for all target markets. Thus once again proving, cultural differences changes a consumers approach towards a brand.

Standardisation of a brand is based on factors like product category, product life cycle and the culture of the company.(Mooij, M., 2005). A study by Reader’s Digest suggests that the brands that are easily standardised and commonly perceived by its consumer’s world over are from the technological area offering consistent high quality. For Vogue to consider standardisation at this time in its product life cycle would be suicidal. It is also at a different phase of the lifecycle in different countries and the requirements of each country are different depending upon the market segment targeted at. Vogue in India is targeted at the younger woman while Vogue America at a more mature one, (Steudte, S., 2008) thus having different brand images making it difficult to move it to a global product. Furthermore the degree of standardisation depends upon the corporate culture of the company or the vision of the management. Vogue’s vision has been to be the “eye of the culture, inspiring and challenging women to see things differently, both in themselves and the world.”(Condé Nast, media kit). To standardise “the brand” Vogue now would not only be difficult but would mean that the brand would have to change its vision, ultimately confusing consumers.

Multinational companies rarely adopt a purely standardised approach towards its products or promotional strategies. For example MC Donald’s uses a global strategy by offering its basic line of products to all markets and consumers. It however adapts its line to suit local tastes and preferences.(Herbig, P. A., 1997) We also see a common Mc Donald arch in every country, the arch, its colour or position is not changed neither do we have a “Mc Donald India” or “Mc Donald U.K.” as a logo depending on the country its serving. Dove went global with its tag line “Dove contains one quarter of moisturising cream” but with the image of thirtyish woman from various cultures all praising the brand in their own language. Similarly, Vogue has a “local” approach towards its individual offerings it incorporates local models and actresses in its photo shoots, uses articles pertaining to local issues, still the brand image is not rightly decoded by its consumers. Time magazine has about 133 editions across the world and has managed to maintain its common identity. (Herbig, P. A., 1997) Vogue needs to “act global, think local”. Vogue should learn to exploit the local cultural values and use them to its advantage. The strategy of keeping the brand as the centre, focusing on the brand and magazine attributes, keeping the font, type, position, colour the same while varying its advertising models and props according to cultures would help the brand to reap all the benefits of globalization. (E.g. Cosmopolitan, Mc. Donald)


“From its beginnings to today, three central principles have set Vogue apart: a commitment to visual genius, investment in storytelling that puts women at the centre of the culture, and a selective, optimistic editorial eye.” (Condé Nast, media kit). Although each edition of the magazine is different they all share these common principles. They aim to put fashion in context to the larger world, the way we dress, socialise to who leads us and inspires us.

In spite of having a common vision all the editions of the magazine are not perceived as one brand. The need to globalize the brand arose from the wish to create economies of great magnitude in production, sales, marketing and advertising. Many multinationals have harmonized their portfolios and learnt that great economies cannot be created by standardising the brand alone. Standardisation is easier for new product than it is for products already established in the market. Products suitable for standardisation are those that cater to markets that are basically similar (urban , elite) and those products that can be promoted by image campaigns. (Herbig, P. A., 1997) Louis Vuitton for example caters to the elite segment in all geographical markets and although it has a variety of advertising campaigns there is a standardised visual identity and brand image due to standardised products. For the products that cannot be completely standardised advertising plays an important role in connecting the product with the consumers. “The visual element in an advertisement is the element most amendable to standardisation.” (Herbig, P. A., 1997) Vogue magazine caters to the elite fashion conscious market and is majorly promoted through its cover advertisement.

In Asia there is a vast diversity of culture, language, and values. Also its rate of economic and educational growth is on a rise. As a growing number of people become better educated and affluent their tastes diverge, westernisation no longer holds the charm. With rising wealth, people give greater importance to their social identity. (Huntington, S. P., 1996) Asian countries like Japan, China and India are slowly catching up with USA in respect to their literacy rate and GDP (statistic table 1) the wealthier these countries get the more prominent is the influence of culture on consumption and consumer behaviour.

In order to build a relationship between consumers and the product a brand needs to reflect people’s values and culture. ( Mooij, M., 2005) For Vogue the cover page is its first and main connection with the people. An effective vogue cover would reflect the values of its target audience thus making the connection stronger and increasing brand loyalty. Yet the brand also needs to maintain its global brand values and image. A semi standardised approach towards its cover pages incorporating a common type, font, position, size, colour and doing away with the country specific fonts while incorporating a sensitive approach towards target audience culture and social values reflecting through better advertising (cover pages) might ease its entry into a new market and strengthen its brand loyalty in Asia.

Essay 3: VOGUE-ART

This essay will visually analyse the covers of vogue magazine across four countries. It will discuss the images with respect to semiotics, cultural and geographical diversity. It would help to determine the practicality in standardising vogue covers across countries.


Communication is the key to success. Marketing communication depends a great deal on visual representation to bring meaning to a brand, enhance brand image and create associations in the mind of consumers (Mooij,M., 2009). Visuals and Ads can also be considered “socio-political artefacts they create meaning within a culture that often extends beyond what is intended” by its producers.(Borgerson, J.L., & Schroeder, J.E., 2002) Today global economies are improving and are now better connected to each other, indicating a need for enhanced communication. As a result of growing trade the opportunities for using standardised ads across countries are being constantly evaluated. (Cutler, Javalgi, Erramilli, 1992).

Some authors challenge this standardised approach to advertising of a global brand since they believe it to be difficult to execute among cultural and national diversity. (Wind, Y., 1986).National and cultural differences have been believed by some to have a profound influence on the method of representation of visuals (Mooij,M., 2009) hence it can be assumed that these influences are visible at the component level too . (Kaynak,E., Kara, A.,2002). Other researches assert that the right approach to standardization will differ according to product- related and environmental factors. (Meffert,H., & Althans, J.,1986 cited in Cutler, B., Javalgi, R., Erramilli, K., 1992,) The Visual is an important element in marketing. It is the visual that first captures attention and also the only element most open to standardisation across cultures. (Reinhard, K & Phillips, W.E., 1985 and Kaynak, E., Mitchell, L.A., 1981 as cited in Cutler, B., Javalgi, R., Erramilli, K., 1992,)

This essay will contribute towards the above discussion by visually analysing the covers of Vogue magazine. It will discuss the images in respect of semiotics, cultural and social diversity. The focus of this analysis is however to determine if in practice Vogue can standardise the brand across cultures through its covers.


“The relationship between magazines, fashion and photography is a critical minefield” (Taylor, S., 2006) According to John Berger, magazines are windows into the woman’s futures hinting that they can attain the ideal visions by purchasing the magazines.

Vogue a fashion and lifestyle magazine is published in many countries across the globe by Condé Nast Publications. The magazine addresses topics of fashion, life and design. Caroline Weber the book critique in The New York Times in December 2006 described Vogue as “the world’s most influential fashion magazine.”( Oliva, A., Angeletti, N.,2006)

According to Caroline “Vogue is to our era what the idea of God was, in Voltaire’s famous parlance, to his: if it didn’t exist, we would have to invent it. Revered for its editorial excellence and its visual panache, the magazine has long functioned as a bible for anyone worshiping at the altar of luxury, celebrity and style. And while we perhaps take for granted the extent to which this trinity dominates consumer culture today, Vogue’s role in catalyzing its rise to pre-eminence cannot be underestimated.”( Oliva, A., Angeletti, N.,2006)

Vogue is not only known for its images representing high fashion and society but also for its editorials on art, culture and politics. It has been acknowledged for enshrining the position of the model as a celebrity. (Press,D, 2004). Like the fashion industry it represents, the magazine is also criticised for valuing wealth, social connections and lowering body standards over more humanitarian pursuits. One cannot please all of the people all of the time, but recently Vogue has been under the public eye for stereotyping, and creating cultural differences too often.


For the purpose of this essay semiotic analysis is crucial in order to understand images. There are many theoretical models discussing semiotics all the way back to de Saussure. Although the model suggested by Pierce would be more appropriate since it accounts for a duality of meaning within signs. This model takes into aspect the viewer of the sign into model. This element makes it a better tool to examine visuals and concepts such as understanding the magazine cover. Crow a researcher in the field of semiotics reviewed the works of Pierce and concluded “The meaning of any sign is affected by who is reading the sign. Peirce recognised a creative process between the sign and the reader. He was more interested in how we make sense of the world around us.” He introduced the concept of “the interpretant”. When a visual is decoded with the interpreter in mind it allows us to consider the mental and cultural knowledge of the sign in order to understand the meaning of the object to its viewer. This would be useful for understanding the interpretation of signs within different cultures and society.

The other important elements would be the denotation and connotation of the visual with reference to posture, lighting, colour combinations, clothes and the framing of the image. The idea by Crow and Pierce suggest “the first order of signification is straightforward. It refers to the physical reality of the object which is signified.” For example a magazine cover of a woman represents a woman, but in reality soft lighting or the use of a different film to achieve a sepia tone would change the way we perceive the visual of the woman. It might make us nostalgic or emotional, a close up of the face might encourage us to focus on the expressions of the woman than her surroundings. All these interpretations are the second level of significance.

Signs and symbols are subconsciously taught to us as we grow up. Thus when we see a particular sign our conscious mind remembers the meanings and relevance of the symbols and interprets it. (Kress, G.R., Leeuwen, T.V.,1996) This interpretation can vary according to culture and geographical regions making it important to understand the relevance of signs through the viewer’s perspective.


Another important tool used would be Jungian analysis. “Jungian symbolic analysis is the psychology of the unconscious mind. The use of archetypical symbols in an image can trigger feelings and emotions in the conscious mind, these feelings and emotions stem from ideas held in the unconscious mind” (Stein, M.,1995)From his work it can be concluded that a common conscious exists, it is accessed by each human being as they require it. This common “unconscious remains a base reference point, that can be exploited according to the message intended to be communicated.”(Stein, M., 1995) This analysis would help in understanding the magazines as it defines itself through the images it chooses. It is also noted that magazines create a specific visual styles and there might be an underlying reason for this. The Jungian symbolic analysis would help to interpret them.


Vogue magazine has managed to establish itself as the global fashion magazine by having a number of versions in languages from across the globe. Although fashion is the link binding all the versions the geographical locations and cultural variations have developed differences between the versions. For example, there is a vast difference between Indian, British, American Vogue and the Italian Vogue.

The American Vogue was the first pioneering magazine by Conde Nast publications in the field of fashion. The British vogue was this publication house’s second edition and first overseas edition published in 1916. For some the entry of Vogue into the Indian market in 2007 was a milestone in the rise of the sub continental fashion industry. (Yan, J., 2007). For others there is nothing distinct “Indian” about it. (Michelle, 2007) The Italian Vogue first published in 1964 is known as the best fashion magazine in the world. (Press, D, 2004)

  • All the magazines have a focus on high fashion brands like D&G, Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Dior, however their approach and attitude differ. Compared to the Italian Vogue the American, Indian and British Vogue are more sociable. “The American Vogue appeals to a wider audience as it also concentrates on street fashion and not just high fashion.” (Steudte, S., 2008). They display a range of items of various price ranges, styles and affordable brands that would be appreciated by the masses. Angelica Cheung editor Vogue China said “Each country’s Vogue is different. There’s no one formula to say what the right way to do Vogue is. Italian Vogue is totally pictures, French Vogue is chic and moody, and British Vogue is very commercial”.

    The movement of the eye is also different for each cover. For the Indian vogue the eye first settles on the model in the centre than moves from upper right to bottom left. For the British Vogue the eye quickly travels from the model to the upper left corner and flows down to the bottom right corner. A survey conducted by Adweek (17 Oct 2005) suggests that the way men and woman perceive sexually charged ads differ. Women tend to notice the model but quickly move away from it to read the text.

    The American Vogue is confusing and although the eye rests on Cameron Diaz’s face the words all over the page confuses the eye as to where to look. The Italian Vogue has a dramatic visual and the eye rests on it completely to try and decipher it, use of any more text than what is already used would have made the cover lose its effect.

  • The June 09 issue of Indian vogue has actress Shilpa Shetty in a short denim skirt and top with her hands behind her head appearing relaxed and comfortable while the British Vogue has Natalia Vodianova naked and looking seductive yet modest. Nudity is not acceptable in Asia as it is in Europe it would also be against the culture and ethics of the country. As one politician R.R. Patil of India put it during wardrobe malfunctions at Lakme India fashion week, “deliberate display of nudity would not be accepted and any such publicity seeking stunt will be prosecuted.” (Jones, D., 2006) Indian Vogue would never display a woman in the nude on its front cover.

    If we consider the June 09 American and Italian vogues we would see that the American vogue is much less edgy than the Italian Vogue. There is something unconventional and mysterious about the Italian Vogue cover. It’s not something one would see on the cover of a fashion magazine. It is more art than fashion. According to the art director of British vogue, the photos in the Italian Vogue “go beyond straight fashion to be about art and ideas.” (Rafinei, S., 2007) Meghan Collision is seen wearing a black cape, dark black and grey animal print clothes, black gloves and Goth make up with bright red lipstick. The image shows her in a darkly provocative “vampish” pose which gives the cover its provocative and shocking look. As one blog, (Rock the Trend) put it “Choosing Meghan Collison over all the other girls from the main editorial is a genius move, she gives a natural edge to a would-have-been sultry cover”. The American Vogue has Cameron Diaz standing in a doorway with a welcoming smile on her face, hands in her pockets wearing a comfortable white shirt and pants. Cameron Diaz is also shown with a few strands of her hair out of place suggesting a more casual girl next door look. A more friendly and approachable cover, as one journalist put it “There is something about the cover that screams “American chic”. Maybe it’s the blond in white combo? It’s very American Vogue”

    The models for the Indian and British vogue appear to have been photographed in a studio while Cameron Diaz is photographed standing in a doorway or patio doors opening to a garden which adds to the girl next door charm of the model. The models for the Italian vogue have also been photographed in a studio but the approach is more towards art than fashion.

    Body decorations such as tattoos and piercings have not been used to distract the viewer from the subject. In the American Vogue the cover girl is shown wearing simple and practical gold bangles a sign of the working girl where as the girl on the Italian vogue cover is wearing long chunky black earrings, multiple silver chains in her neck and a big heirloom look alike ring on her finger adding to the dressed up look of the model.

  • With the abundance of visual data and images available in the market publishers of communication rely heavily on words to get the meaning and idea of the image across to the consumer. What makes the visual strong is the type of fonts and position of the fonts. (Frascara, J., 2004).

    The title of the magazines is placed differently in all the versions. The Indian and American Vogue has it displayed behind the actresses head suggesting a delicate approach towards fashion. The British Vogue has it displayed on either side of the models head perhaps to indicate being in the heart of the fashion scene. While the Italian version has it distinct and complete at the top, a more deliberate and bold approach towards fashion.

    The amount of page covered by text also varies. The Indian vogue has words on either side of her with nothing covering her except a part of the title. This could be a deliberate move to highlight her toned body clad in the denim skirt. The amount of space allotted to these words on the cover page is also about half of the total available space. The words used on the British vogue are many, covering about 3/4th of the available space on the cover. Also the words are strategically placed to show some the magazines decency and class. Vogue is not Playboy.

    The amount of words used is most on the American Vogue cover occupying almost all of the space around the “cover girl”. It also appears slightly over crowded. The Italian Vogue has hardly any words on it describing its contents. There are only a few lines below the picture, indicating a greater importance attributed to the central image.

    The bold words on the covers of Indian, British and Italian vogue clearly define the main contents of the magazine. The American vogue has many words on its cover in bold making its main contents unclear.

    The type of font used across them is similar except for it is bold on the cover of the Indian and British Vogue while normal on the covers of American and Italian Vogue.

    The Italian and Indian vogues have the name of the country distinctly placed between the “O” of “Vogue”. The American and British Vogues have no such distinction.

  • Colour is considered to be one of the most powerful tools in understanding design. People respond to different colours in different ways and most often this reaction is subconscious or emotional. In America the colour white is associated with purity and clarity it is the colour of the bridal gown. In the East the colour white is the traditional colour of mourning. (Gage, J., 1999)

    The Indian vogue has Shilpa Shetty in an ice washed blue denim skirt and a blue wrap around short top. The blue of her clothes has been balanced by using blue in the title while the rest of the words are in black. Blue being the choice of colour for a June issue of vogue might be intentional as June is also the onset of monsoons in India.

    The British vogue has a prominent use of baby pink and white in its text to soften the starkness associated with nudity. The Baby pink gives the picture a subtle innocence and sensuality.

    Green and black are the colours used on the American vogue cover keeping in mind her new book “The Green Book” where she talks about new eco- friendly ways to do everyday things, or perhaps her role as the lead in the 2010 movie “Green Hornet”. Green also symbolises fertility and the growth of something new. (Gage, J., 1999) The stark white of her crisp clothes gives the green a fresh look making the cover look like a summer issue.

    The Italian vogue is dark and unnatural hence the use of black and white gives it the mysterious feel that the image portrays. The only use of colour is the red lipstick worn by the model which stands out as a statement, probably setting a new trend with the return of the pale skin and red lips of the 20’s combined with the Goth of the 80’s.( Arnold, R., 2001)

  • The front covers also differ in their subject matter, the Indian and American Vogues suggest ways to stretch ones wardrobe on a small budget may be in view of the recession. The British Vogue talks about the body and shape keeping the health conscious British women in mind. Having a similar subject matter on the American Vogue suggesting people quick ways to lose weight would be met with opposition from the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA). “According to the NEDA, as many as 10 million females and 1 million males living in the US are fighting a life and death battle with anorexia or bulimia.” (Johansson, S. 2009) The Italian version has nothing on it but one sentence about the “pre fall preview” since Italy is known for fashion and fashion shows. “When it is the time for new collections, I buy a fashion magazine like Vogue, and learn about next season’s trends, and sometimes, I make some notes, or keep those pictures for next season, and when the season arrives, I look for those new trends in shop windows” (Deniz ATIK)

    The tones of the magazines differ depending upon its host country although there is a common informative tone across all. The Indian and American Vogue are directive by mentioning style directions. The American Vogue goes a little political by including articles related to Ambassador Susan Rice. The Italian Vogue is purely informative, a catalogue of the latest fashions to come.

  • “Just as in the early days a painter used light and shadow to convey mood, texture and define shape similarly today photographers have to control the use of light to achieve the same effect.”(Crain, S. 2000)

    The cover girl in the Indian Vogue is photographed with the light in front creating a shadow behind her. The light placed in such a way defines her body and features clearly giving her a chiselled look. The British vogue cover girl is photographed with the light slightly to the right from behind her throwing her shadow to the left. This effect creates a play of soft light and shadow around her curves giving it a softer look. The natural light is taken into account while photographing the American vogue model. The use of the natural light has avoided the appearance of a stark and well defined shadow. The natural light ads to the crispness of the models white clothes. The Italian vogue cover image has been created with a dim light behind the models and a sharp focus on the models upper body. This eliminates the shadow completely which adds to the mystery of the image.

  • The difference in Vogue target consumers in different countries confirms that any “magazine globalizing strategy is subject to a number of cultural and economic constraints which themselves ultimately affect the magazine contents.” (Moeran, B., 2006)

    The fact that the average median age in India is 25 years as compared to that in Japan and U.K. which is about 40 years means that Indian Vogue would have to be younger woman oriented than its Japanese and U.K. issues. Also due to the late marriages and more number of working woman in Japan the Japanese Vogue would have to be more focused on the single woman. Similarly, as 99% of the total population in U.K. live in urban cities and the median age being high giving these urban dwellers a higher spending capacity the Vogue issue in U.K., would have more articles and advertisements for luxury goods and holiday getaways.


    For 116 years, Vogue has been a fashion bible for people everywhere. Representing cultures and fashion in context with the larger world. It has been a guide to how we dress, what we wear, how we socialise and what we eat.

    From our analysis of Vogue across four different cultures we can conclude that Vogue does not disregard the ethnic and cultural identities while representing the female body on its cover. Body decorations, costumes and jewellery are also ethnically or geographically specific. While comparing the various issues we can also conclude that the idea of beauty or what is feminine also varies slightly depending on the host country. People of different countries not only speak different languages, follow different cultures but that these parameters characterize different worldviews. In Asia the consumers are not interested in the abstract brand identities and attributes but are more interested in what the brand stands for, its values and image. (Mooij, M., 2009) The image is what the consumers associate with the brand. In the case of Vogue magazine the cover page image is what consumers associate with the magazine. In fact the magazine is promoted on the basis of its cover image for example an editorial on the website of Vogue U.K. read “Victoria Beckham on the cover of Vogue India.” Ideally the image matches the identity or what the company wants to say about the brand. When this image is not communicated properly it gives rise to misunderstandings and controversies about the brand image. Vogue is known to create controversies with its cover pages (Vogue America April 2009, Vogue India inaugural issue). It is common knowledge among advertising professionals that “controversy sells” making this a creative advertising strategy on Vogues part. ( D’Vari, M., Roane,S.,2004) It is however necessary that Vogue magazine blends the local and international fashion values in order to reach its target audience. ‘Just how much they localize their contents depends upon the head office strategy and local markets.’ (Moeran, B., 2006)

    Criticism over recent study of cross culture standardisation of advertisement (cover page) questions whether comparative analysis of advertisements across countries leads to insightful or superficial findings. (Lerman D., & Callow M., 2004). “The debate over standardisation of advertisements should be considered from a pragmatic rather than dogmatic perspective, taking into account the product category and its cultural influence” (Usunier, Kocher, Müller, Walliser, 2008). As markets globalise standardisation is inevitable, but consumers will always be local with varying cultures, religions and languages.

    Although the various editions of Vogue are different they all share one common goal and that is fashion. They influence their reader’s opinion about the latest trends, lifestyles and image. Although it has adapted itself catering to its country of publication Vogues focus has never changed. It is the ultimate resource for sophisticated and affluent woman around the world, connecting them to the latest in beauty, fashion, culture and lifestyle.( Vogue India media kit).


    “One of the greatest myths of global marketing is of global consumers living in a global village.”(Mooij.,M.K.,2003). Technological developments cross border trade and media coverage has brought all the countries of the world together making us one. But the question is are we really together? In Asia the signs of westernisation are apparent through the clothes people wear, food they eat and products they use but can we assume that the other aspects of their behaviour has also changed? There is one common culture across the globe?In reality, no matter how westernised, educated or rich people get their fundamental values and beliefs do not change. A foreign product is attractive and appealing in the beginning but in the end people always return to their roots. (Mooij, M, 2009). It is this that caused the cross border English news channel CNN to set up national language versions. MTV had to localise its shows across Europe. Global communities and global cultures only exist in the minds of marketing manages and advertisers. To make any international brand successful globally the study of global cultures and values is very important.

    If we understand that the every product in the market is image based than visuals are the first step towards understanding management in the information society.(Schroeder,J.E.,) Images are the bases of visual consumption. For a magazine brand like Vogue, promotion, sales, brand image, brand identity and national identity are all image based. Standardisation of the brand would not only be illogical but also wrong. A common global visual brand identity would however make the brand more familiar to its consumers across the globe. A sensitive approach towards the countries cultures would help the magazine avoid misunderstandings and bad faith. Vogue is most often known for its provocative and shocking cover pages. Such attention grabbing, and controversial covers might increase sales but they also damage the reputation of the represented group in society. They influence the worlds view towards the group, some representations that are racist, stereotypical or sexist manipulate these groups for utilization by others.

    Studying Vogue magazines cover pages across five countries we can conclude that by adapting itself to its host country Vogue has managed to stay true to its vision of making fashion a global phenomenon. The magazine has moulded itself to represent the culture and fashion values of the target country giving it the ‘inspiration, information and the means to evolution’. (Vogue India media kit)


    The culture of a country has for long been recognized to influence people’s behaviour. ‘Cultural norms and beliefs are powerful elements shaping people’s perceptions, dispositions, and behaviours. (Markus and Kitayama.” 1991). The failure to consider the differences between cultures and nations has caused many business to fail. (Ricks, 1993)

    The researchers of marketing, consumer behaviour, trend analysis and trend forecasting consider culture or the differences and similarities in them to be an “obvious given”. Culture is most often seen as a hurdle in the way of total globalisation. While agreeing to the common thought ‘that culture should be ‘respected’ and ‘treated seriously’, the main driving force of marketing and consumer studies is most often, completely, how to overcome and ‘manage’ culture (Roothart, H. and W.van der Pol, 2002) More over magazine photographs have for ever intrigued researchers (Kang, 1997) they also contain visual representations of stereotypes of different social groups within a society (Operario & Fiske, 2001). Many researchers also believe that it is highly important to study magazine images because of the unreasonable standards depicted and the harmful physical and mental consequences for the young woman who read them. (Malkin, Wornian, & Chrisler,1999). In spite of this researchers have nearly always focused on advertising images in these magazines and the fashion spreads and covers which are considered the first point of contact have been ignored.

    Some researchers believe that in print media visuals are an important component in the promotion and acceptance of the medium.( Barry, A.M.,1997). Others believe that cultural and national differences influence the perception and representation of visuals. Some researchers suggest a standardisation policy would increase brand familiarity while others suggest that standardisation would depend upon the product category and environmental factors. (Laynak E., Mitchelle, L.A., 1981 as cited in Cutler B.D., Javalgi R.G., Erramilli M.K. ,1992)

    The essays contribute towards these ideas by studying the consumer’s perspective towards Vogue magazine covers across the globe. The views and opinions concluded are based on secondary data collection and supported by theory. Previous research conducted in the field of International marketing and Visual Advertising has helped support the idea that a brand need not standardise to be truly global. Understanding cultural diversity and adapting to it will not only make the brand easily acceptable in multi-cultures but also avoid bad faith. Visual analysis of Vogue covers across four varying cultures proves that the reason for vogues success as the best fashion magazine is due to its acceptance of local cultural influences and vision to take it to an international platform.

    The problem however with this analysis is that it is not based on primary data or public opinion polls. Secondary data collection only helps in establishing a generalised opinion on the topic. Primary data collection and readers views would have helped to understand other questions such as; are the visuals represented an image of society today or are they created and are fictional. With the growing awareness and effort by media to educate consumers of the side effects of idealistic aspirations, what is the portion of the world population that believes these images to be untrue and are not bothered by it?. A lot of data needed to interpret culture and its effects on Visual marketing in the present time can only be answered by opinion polls, conducted not only considering the target audience but also the ‘general’ audience. Also every country has its own culture and beliefs. Understanding them and their motivators in such short time with only secondary data to support is unsatisfactory. Access to circulation and distribution figures of Vogue magazine in each country would have helped to strengthen the research.

    The readerships of international fashion magazines represent a cluster which is different from the ‘regular citizen.’ The readers of a magazine like Vogue are wealthy, well to do women, globe trotters with an aspiration to high fashion, well educated and liberated in their perspectives unlike the traditional society. Also when a country or countries’ culture is referred to, it is most often the ‘cultural stereotypes’ or general knowledge. Many marketing researchers tend to assume that culture is stable, un-changing and fixed. (Alvessen, 2002). Westernisation and globalisation are having an effect on the world cultures that has yet to be taken into account. The analysis based on four countries only suggests that generalising about the global cultures and national values would be misleading and un- conclusive. Moreover the existing research on culture in marketing is most often based on Western countries and their culture. A study of cultural influences considering other nations is necessary to determine whether culture can be generalised and discover boundary difference.

    Potential future studies could be focussed towards several issues. Additional countries should be considered for analysis, to determine their individual standings compared to the countries analysed and also to see if they can be grouped into a distinct cultural group. Research can be further conducted on the influence of product category on advertising style (cover page styles).In addition magazines as a whole need to be analysed to determine whether advertising styles through cover pages remains constant across borders. This research analysis only one medium and a limited number of Vogue magazines. Each country has a wealth of different magazines, a different market structure and target market. The government policies change and publishing houses differ indicating that magazines can only be approximately matched across countries. If Vogue magazine is chosen to be representative than a change in the choice of magazine might change the outcome.

    In conclusion, it is hoped that the findings in this paper would help stress the importance of studying culture in International marketing. It would help to further any research in this field.

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