Did you know that Americans are twelve times more likely to look up tattoo parlors and tattoo removal services than the French? Whether this means that Americans are more impulsive or that the French are simply too blasé to ink up their skin remains to be seen, but the key takeaway is each country carries differences in consumer behavior singular to their culture.

How Culture Shapes Behavior

As a global organization with offices in the US and Europe, Jumpshot values diversity. Our multicultural workplace includes representatives from five continents. We’re no strangers to cultural diversity. Different perspectives are without a doubt the main advantage of a multicultural workplace as it allows the organization to establish a broader viewpoint on their market, products, strategy and any challenges that come their way.

Our culture has a massive impact on our lives, from personality to behavior and even brain activity patterns. Our interests, humor, attitudes and body language are rooted in our culture to some degree and can influence the way others perceive us and our actions, regardless of our own intentions. This gap between others’ perception and our own intention is what motivated us to investigate actual human behavior. To do this we turned our lens toward Yelp, a global crowd-sourced review service for local businesses.

Evaluating Consumer Behavior with Yelp

In order to evaluate and analyze the effect of cultural diversity on consumer behavior we need to identify a candidate for investigation, based on the following criteria:

1. User generated content platform, which lets us capture the visitors’ intent.

2. Highly converting platform, enabling us to capture actual consumer behavior.

3. International presence, allowing us to compare human behavior for different nationalities and cultures.

With 142 million people in 32 countries using and contributing to Yelp every month and 98% of Yelp’s visitors purchasing from a business they found on the platform, Yelp meets all three of these criteria.

Most of Yelp’s traffic originates from the US, with international visitors accounting for 22% (31 million monthly uniques) of the service’s visits. A Jumpshot Site Analysis report quickly confirmed this, so we compared the US with the two runner ups: Germany and France.
Yelp Top 5 Countries by Pageviews (Q1 of 2015)

We analyzed American, German and French visitors’ behavior on Yelp for Q1 of 2015 to discover underlying cultural effects on user behavior and found a multitude of statistically significant differences in online behavior, the most interesting of which was rooted in lifestyle choices (like tattoos and their removal). Here are a few of our findings:

Sticking to the Local Flavor

Yelp’s Restaurant category is its second strongest category by user engagement (Shopping being the first). We analyzed the distribution of restaurant views by sub-category and discovered that people tend to prefer their local cuisine over any other. When comparing the three, our data showed that France took the lead with 15 percent of Yelp activity attributed to local cuisine pageviews (with baguettes and coq au vin, who can blame them?). The US and Germany trailed close behind with 12 percent and 10 percent respectively.

Top 5 Restaurant Sub-Categories by Country

Top 5 Restaurant Categories on Yelp in the US, FR and DE

* Another takeaway is an obvious one: Everybody loves pizza.

These three aren’t the only countries opting for their signature dishes. Mexico, Japan, Greece, and Italy are just a few countries where visitors use Yelp to find the best local food. Could local cuisine popularity be attributed to a preference for familiarity by natives, or desire to taste the local flavor by tourists? Probably a bit of both.

Sitting on the Sidelines or Stepping up to The Plate?

Sports are deeply rooted in a country’s culture and traditions. Baseball is America’s favorite pass time while soccer is the leading European sport. We looked into Yelp’s ‘Sports Clubs’ and ‘Sports Bars’ subcategories in the US, Germany and France, and discovered a significantly different attitude towards sports. Americans are more passive sports lovers, mostly interested in where they can watch their favorite team in ease, preferable at a sports bar. Europeans, as represented by Germany and France, are more active sports lovers, interested in joining sports clubs to find people with whom to play sports.

Correlation Between Sports Clubs and Sports Bars on Yelp

France’s Love Affair with Fashion

France (and Paris in particular) is known worldwide for its fashion industry. Tourists come from all parts of the world to shop the grands magasins, walk along the Champs Elysés and even get fitted for haute couture. So it’s no surprise, the French are in the lead for activity on fashion related categories on Yelp. Our data showed that the French are more than four times as likely to visit a clothing and fashion based business page than Americans and almost twice as likely as the Germans.

Bottom line: Our country, language, history, traditions and education (aka culture) impact us and others’ more than we realize. Marketers need to leverage these cultural differences as part of their global expansion strategy. Businesses need to think global and act local to succeed in the multicultural globalized reality we all share. It’s crucial to keep these small but significant cultural nuances in mind because something that may appeal to an American, may have the opposite effect with the French. Like that tattoo you got when you were 18.


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