Linguistic Barriers in Consumer Behaviour

Translation Mistakes in Advertising!


Bacardi concocted a fruity drink with the name ‘Pavian’ to suggest French chic … but ‘Pavian’ means ‘baboon’ in German. –


A hair products company, Clairol, introduced the “Mist Stick”, a curling iron, into Germany only to find out that mist is slang for manure. Not too many people had use for the manure stick.

Coca Cola

When Coca Cola was first introduced into China they named it Ke-Kou-Ke-La. Unfortunately, the Coke company did not discover until after thousands of signs had been printed that the phrase means “bite the wax tadpole” or “female horse stuffed with wax”, depending on the dialect.

Coke then researched 40,000 Chinese characters and found a close phonetic equivalent: Ko-Kou-Ko-Le, which can be roughly translated as “happiness in the mouth.” (have you seen what it can do to teeth?).



Coors the American brewer lost its fizz in Spain when their hip phrase “Turn It Loose” came out as “Get Diarrhea”.


General Motors

When General Motors introduced the Chevy Nova in South America, it was apparently unaware that “no va” means “it won’t go.” After the company figured out why it wasn’t selling any cars, it renamed the car in its Spanish markets to the Caribe.

Toyota MR2

Marcel Rigadin reports that Toyota makes the MR2, which in France is pronounced “merdé” or spelled ‘merdeux’, means “crappy”.


Götzen in Turkey .

The european hardware store chain “Götzen” opened a mall in Istanbul. “Göt” means “ass” in Turkish. They changed the name to “Tekzen”.





Focus Group Assignment


set: 17 November 2016              due: 8 December 2016

*NOTE: A Focus Group Report is expected from this group work done in class

In the second hour of our Thursday class for Consumer Behaviour we will carry out some group work in the form of focus groups. Students will form groups of 3 to 6 students and will discuss the topic ‘social media’ as if they were a professional team of market researchers. One student will be designated group leader to ensure the group stay on topic.

For 40 minutes the group will discuss the issues of social media, likes and dislikes, the importance of social media in the day, ıt’s cultural significance, and if there is an international viewpoint as well as any sub-topics that arise in the discussion. It would be useful if some students could take notes or record the session.

After class it is the responsibility of the group to write up a report summarising the findings of the focus group. All members of the group should take a part in creating the report. Make sure your report contains the names and student numbers of all group members.

Send your report as a document or pdf to your instructor



  1. How_to_Conduct_a_Focus_Group
  2. focusgrouptoolkit


Mid Term Project – Consumer Learning

Individual Project – Consumption Journal

The Mid Term Project

set: 8 November 2016          due: 24 November 2016

in class time: 17 November 2016 is for you make your analysis and to prepare your report

ie. There is no formal class this week

For the following week you will keep a diary of consumption activity. This should primarily be your own consumption, but you could observe others, as well. Include EVERYTHING you purchase, from morning to evening.

You will make a full week’s entry, day by day, as part of your report.

The objective of this assignment is for you to develop a reflective and evaluative approach to your own consumption. The approach is interpretive, similar to an anthropologist’s fieldwork diary. Reflecting on your own personal consumption should help you to put yourself in the place of other consumers.

Consumption can cover actual real life consumption, as well as activities online that do not conclude with a purchase.

Consumer behavior concepts from our class, as well as extra readings should be applied to help you interpret and analyze the experience or observation.

Each entry should comprise:

  1. A description of the experience. You may want to include copies of the advertisements or promotions seen. Use your smartphone to take photos in store.
  2. Analysis – Analyze what you think is happening. For example, how does the behaviour fit (or not) with the concepts and theories discussed in class?
  3. Pay particular attention to the theory on
    • segmentation, targeting and positioning
    • consumer motivation and personality
    • consumer perception
    • consumer learning.
    • consumer attitude formation and change

Once the week is finished, make your analysis, and email your report to your instructor 

Remember to add your student number and name at the top of your report.