The Digital Divide

Most people living in wealthy, western countries take for granted the ease of access they have to information and communication technologies (ICT). The fact that we are surrounded by knowledge and expertise that enable us to be in multiple online environments simultaneously has blinded us from the sad reality that not everyone is as fortunate as we are when it comes to accessing information. When thinking of those less fortunate, we envision those that live in third world countries, but truth of the matter is that people living within the same country are just as susceptible to the negative effects of the digital divide. A definition of this concept can be found in Flews’ New media: An introduction (2014) where he explains this concept as “the gap between populations that have easy access to ICTs and those who remain underserved by these technologies” (p.23).

The digital divide can be divided into two sub-categories:

  1. The ‘global divide’ which relates to the differences in access to the internet and ICT’s that occur between nations,
  2. And the ‘social divide’, which refers to similar issues regarding information access, but as a means of social engagement within nations (Flew, 2014).

2000px-Internet_users_per_100_inhabitants_ITU.svg (1) LARGE

Katherine Bagchi (2005) states, “When assessed by region, Internet use is dominated by North Americans:

  • 41% of the global online population is in the United States and Canada
  • 27% of the online population lives in Europe, the Middle East and Africa
  • 20% of the online population logs on from Asia Pacific
  • 4% of the world’s online population is in South America”.

In today’s digital society, being cut off from telecommunications can have detrimental effects on an individuals potential for growth. The Pew Internet Project brings light to the shocking truth experienced in America. According to the findings, “One in five American adults does not use the internet” and “they don’t know enough about technology to start using the internet on their own” (Zickuhr & Smith, 2014). The citizens of America are experiencing a digital divide with those that live in the same country. This may come as a surprise since the country has adequate infrastructure compared to most countries. Zickuhr & Smith (2014) noted that the strongest negative predictors for internet use were being older than the age of 65, a lack of high school education, and earning a household income of less than US$20,000 per year. In addition to this, they found that respondents who chose to answer the Pew Internet Project survey in Spanish rather than English used the internet less frequently as well.

DIgital Divide Info graphic

DIgital Divide Info graphic

Growing up in a nation where I have been on the better side of the digital divide has provided me with endless opportunities to expand my knowledge of the world. However, my frequent travels to third world countries opened my eyes to the negative side of the divide. University of California, Irvine’s’ David Ganley (2005) explains that “Being on the wrong side of the digital divide means being behind in creating the technology base necessary to participate in the global economy and, thus, missing an important opportunity for economic and social benefits”. He proposes that there are five significant determinant factors that affect the adoption of Information Technologies (IT) in his ‘Global digital divide: A multi-generational country-level analysis’. These include a country’s per capita GDP, size of urban population, average education level, technology costs, and the importance of the trade sector.

In terms of my profession, marketers are primarily concerned with three things, who, when, and where. It is vital that they reach and engage the right consumer, at the right time, and in the right context. Now due to the ramifications of the digital divide, especially the social divide, marketers’ are concerned with three prominent factors, these are:

  1. Multichannel marketing,
  2. Cross channel marketing, and
  3. Real-time interactive marketing.

It has become much harder to execute such practices because people either don’t have access to the mediums necessary or they are not aware how to use it effectively (Bagchi, 2005). As you can see from the video above, digital tools have become entrenched in marketing practices; therefore, if consumers don’t have the means or the knowledge to access or transfer messages from brands then marketers’ are not able to reach their whole audience.


Restructuring Community – A World Without Walls


Definition of GLOBALIZATION:

“Globalization refers to the rapidly developing process of complex interconnections between societies, cultures, institutions and individuals world-wide. It is a social process which involves a compression of time and space, shrinking distances through a dramatic reduction in the time taken ± either physically or representationally ± to cross them, so making the world seem smaller and in a certain sense bringing them “closer” to one another” (Tomlinson, 1999).

Globalization & Marketing Practices

Globalisation has had an immense affect on marketing concepts and practices especially due to the diffusion of computer-based technologies and information systems. Since the rapid growth of technological advances such as the Internet, we have been privy to the growth of knowledge access, thus influencing majority of major brands to become globally consumed. According to Wikipedia, “By 2010, 22 percent of the world’s population had access to computers with 1 billion Google searches every day, 300 million Internet users reading blogs, and 2 billion videos viewed daily on YouTube” (Wikipedia, 2014). Globalisation has lead to a more interdependent and integrated global economy, therefore exposing many companies to other cultures and business practices. Consumers are becoming multicultural due to high exposure of other brands. In order to remain innovative and relevant, companies, specifically global companies, must adjust their marketing concepts and practices to relate to other cultures.

Hosmer (2014) states, “the 4 P’s on Marketing, product, price, place and promotion become greater challenges when applied to global marketing. If your company’s marketing efforts are constrained by keeping domestic and international marketing messages the same, the challenge of branding, pricing in international current, foreign distribution channels and promotional advertising may not translate well”. Before a company enters an international market it is crucial that they have completed extensive market research. “There is an important aspect of advertising in foreign market – that being, the culture and cultural symbols of the target market are of critical importance. When creating communications, we are taught first and foremost to know out audience. Who our audience is will be essential to choosing the type of creative (language, visuals, media etc.) we use to make our messaging relevant and appealing” (Fromowitz, 2013).

According to Park (2014), “It is unlikely that markets will converge entirely because of differences in history, sociology, culture, physical and legal environments, and many other micro-aspects”. A successful way for companies to drive global campaigns is to embrace and utilise digital marketing as a platform. For example, NIKE is one the most successful global brands in the world due to their international marketing campaigns. “The company operates through six business segments, classified based on geographical presence: North America, Western Europe, emerging markets, Greater China, Central and Eastern Europe, and Japan. Each of these geographic segments operates primarily in one industry: the design, development, marketing and selling of athletic footwear, apparel, and equipment” (MarketLine Advantage, 2014). The brand recently launched their online store NIKEiD, which allows customers design their own shoes and clothing. Through their online store Nike viewed this as an opportunity to connect to consumers as individuals and is a great example of how the ‘one size fits all’ mentality does not necessarily work. “They identified that developing products that allow them to connect with their target customers on a personal level across a multitude of cultures and markets was a key success driver. They also smartly combined this with an increased emphasis on social media as an advertising medium” (Griffith, 2012).


Self expression: It empowers us. It defines our individuality. It reveals who we are. Because style is a deeply personal act of self expression, NIKEiD puts the power of creation into your hands. It’s true individuality – achieved through performance, fit, and style. Create your custom original (YouTube, 2014).

My customised NIKEiDs

My customised NIKEiDs

My customised NIKEiDs

My customised NIKEiDs


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  2. Griffith, I. (2012). Smart Insights. How social media and digital marketing has impacted global branding. Retrieved from:
  3. Hosmer, C. (2014). Small Business by Demand Media. Definition of Marketing Globalization. Retrieved from:
  4. (2014). Globalization. Retrieved from:
  5. MarketLine Advantage. (2014). NIKE Inc. Company description. Retrieved from:
  6. Park, D. (2014). B2B International – Beyond Knowledge. Globalisation and Marketing. Retrieved from:
  7. Tomlinson, J. (1999) `Cultural globalization: placing and displacing the West’ in H. Mackay and T. O’Sullivan (eds) The Media Reader: Continuity and Transformation. London: Sage.
  8. (2014). The Free Encyclopaedia. Globalization. Retrieve from:
  9. (2014). NIKEiD. Made For You.Retrieved rom: