Under every culture people still group themselves into sub-cultures. Sub-cultures are set of people with their own distinctive ideals, mind-set and values (Bowens, Kotler & Makens 2003). Examples of which are nationalities, religions, and racial group. Advertisers use information about culture to be able to build a strong connection between their product and target market (Principles of Marketing 2007). Moreover, people further divide or group themselves into social groups based on the following criteria: income, occupation, education, place of residence, and wealth.
Each of these social groups has different preferences on clothing, speech, recreation and other factors (Bowens, Kotler & Makens 2003). One example is the American clothing line of Gap. The label Old Navy is usually laid back and is targeted to the middle class or working class while the label Banana Republic with more sophisticated designs are for the higher end. 2. 5. 2 Social Factors In addition to cultural influences, consumers are also influenced by reference groups, our family, and role and status within the society.
A reference group could be a single person or a group of people that an individual consults when developing personal standards (Consumer Behavior 2008). Reference groups will expose the individual to the new standards, influence the mind-set of the individual about it, and pressure that individual to conform (Consumer Behavior Social 2008). For instance officemates or friends show or introduce the latest trend, convincing their significant others that this good; consequently, purchase is influenced by this feedback. Another social group that greatly influences buying behavior will be family.
Every family goes through the family life cycle. These are stages in the life a family from bachelor life to retirement (Business Dictionary 2008). Each of these stages is characterized by distinct buying behaviors (Consumer Behavior 2008). Moreover, Heath and Bryant (2000) pointed out that when consumers buy things like cosmetics, they ask friends and family first before making a purchase. The information and views expressed by these close relations have as much an impact on whether the purchase will be made as the consumers own needs, inclinations and knowledge.
This practice is especially true when consumers are unsure of their decisions. They will base their decisions on what is socially acceptable or what their social circles will approve of (Heath & Bryant 2000). Table 1. Family Life Cycle (Shukla 2005) Stage Characteristic Buying Behavior Single Light financial burden, more concerned with luxury like fashion and recreation Basic appliances and furniture, games, vacation packages Newly Married Financially stable compared to later stages, high spending Cars, additional appliances and more robust furniture, vacations
Full Nest I Looking for a more permanent home, low liquid assets, unhappy with financial state, low to no savings, highly influenced by advertising Better appliances, baby things like food and toys, medicines, family oriented products Full Nest II Good financial state, advertising has less effect, interested in bulk deals Food and house supplies are priority, self-improvement endeavors like basketball lessons for children Full Nest III Good financial state, some children are earning and already independent, hard to sway with ads Acquire more stylish furniture, luxury-oriented purchases.
Empty Nest I Owned a house, satisfactory financial state, has extra money for charity House improvements, luxury-oriented purchases like cruises Empty Nest II Limited income source ownership Health investment like medicines and insurances Solitary Survivor Have pension with tendency to sell house Medical purchases Through this life cycle family members will each take a role of initiator, influencer, decision maker, buyer, and consumer. The decision maker could either be primarily the husband or the wife or both.
Although with increasing number of single-parent families sometimes the decision maker will be the children (Consumer Behavior 2008). Finally, as a member of a society one usually takes different roles and attaches a certain level of status on the role (Principles of Marketing 2008). For example while at school a teenager who is the class president takes the role of a leader with a high status but while at home takes a lesser role of a follower to his/her parents.
Advertisers usually position their product as something that will increase the status of that person. Continuing the teenager example as a class president he/she could be responsible for class activities like field trips. In terms of supplies he/she will have a tendency of buying higher end supplies compared to supplies he/she will buy for a personal trip. This is to avoid unnecessary mishap of a flimsy product that could lower the status of the individual (Principles of Marketing 2008).