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Tangibilizing services through visual tangible cues in corporate Web sites: a six-country cross-cultural analysis

Daechun An (School of Business, Inha University, Incheon, Republic of Korea)

Journal of Services Marketing

ISSN: 0887-6045

Article publication date: 7 October 2014




The purpose of this study is to examine cross-cultural differences in the use of visual tangible cues in local corporate Web sites of six nations.


A quantitative content analysis was used to obtain a numerically based summary of visual tangible cues utilized in 207 Web sites of global service corporations.


A clear pattern of differences was observed in the major visual functions (literal vs symbolic), the use of photographs vs illustrations and the utilization of interactive elements between two groups of nations. Eastern visuals tend to rely more on symbolic visuals performing association function, mixed use of photographs and illustrations and customer endorsement, whereas Western visuals are more likely to perform literal functions, use photographs and feature customer–employee interactions.

Practical implications

International services marketers who are planning a global campaign on the Web can benefit by using differentiated visual strategies, which reflect unique cultural characteristics of a target market.


This study adds a new contribution to an international account of Web services advertising in maintaining a comprehensive understanding of contemporary use of visual tangibles cues. It could benefit global services advertisers with both practical and theoretical implications, for no systematic studies have ever touched the visualization strategies on the Web.



This research was supported by Inha University Research Grant.


An, D. (2014), "Tangibilizing services through visual tangible cues in corporate Web sites: a six-country cross-cultural analysis", Journal of Services Marketing, Vol. 28 No. 7, pp. 566-579.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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