The combinations of cultural, social, personal, and psychological factors, which are largely uncontrollable, are known to affect consumer behaviour. The marketer’s task is to devote enormous efforts into understanding how these factors interplay and ultimately, how they influence purchase behaviour.
Culture, that is, the way of life of a particular group of people, largely determines what people want and the way they behave. For instance, the Nigerian culture in Africa is distinct and different from the Italian culture in the Europe and this influences products, pricing and media preferences.
One very important aspect of culture is subculture. Subcultures represent specific element of the broader culture, and give members of a subculture peculiar identity and basis for socialization. Subcultures include nationality groups (e.g. Yoruba, Ibo in Nigeria), religious groups (e.g. Islam and Christianity), racial groups, and geographical areas, all of which exhibit degrees of difference in ethnic taste, cultural preferences, taboos, trades and lifestyles.
Finally, the influence of subcultures is subsequently affected by social class (stratification). Obviously, people’s buying behaviour is often strongly influenced by the class to which they belong or to which they aspire.
These are reference groups, family and social roles and statuses.
Reference Groups refer to the groups that have a direct or indirect influence on the person’s attitude or behaviour. They are classified into four types:
Primary Membership Groups
These tend to be informal and to which individuals belong, and within which they interact include such groups as family, neighbours, colleagues and friends.
Secondary Membership Groups are more formal than primary groups but with less interaction include trade unions, religious groups and professional bodies.
Aspirational Groups are groups to which an individual would like to belong. Many young people aspire to be great sportsmen and women and emulate people occupying such positions.
Dissociative Groups are those whose values and behaviour the individual rejects: thieves, prostitutes, drug pushers and assassins.
Products like cars, beer, clothing, restaurants and cigarettes are influenced by reference groups. The marketer’s task is to identify the opinion leaders for each reference groups and target them with their offerings.
Family plays a very prominent role in influencing behaviour. It is of two types: family of orientation (parents, brother etc) and the family of procreation (spouse and children). Three patterns of decision making within the family and the sorts of product category with which each is typically associated have been identified; they are:
- Husband-dominant Examples include life insurance, cars and TV.
- Wife-dominant Examples include washing machines, carpets and kitchenware.
- Equal influence Examples include living-room furniture, holidays, housing and furnishings.
Roles and Statuses
A role has to do with the activities that a person is expected to perform. A role carries a status. At different time, a person may play different roles and attain different statuses. People therefore select a product that conforms to their roles and status.