Consumer Behaviour External Factors: Culture, Sub Culture, Social Class, Reference Groups, and Family

09/12/2023 0 By indiafreenotes

Consumer behavior is influenced by a myriad of external factors that shape individuals’ choices, preferences, and purchasing decisions. Among these external factors, culture, subculture, social class, reference groups, and family play pivotal roles in influencing consumer behaviors in diverse and complex ways. External factors such as culture, subculture, social class, reference groups, and family play integral roles in shaping consumer behavior. Businesses that recognize and understand these influences can tailor their marketing strategies, products, and services to effectively engage with their target audience. Embracing cultural sensitivity, acknowledging subcultural diversity, considering social class dynamics, leveraging reference group influence, and recognizing the impact of family on consumer decisions are key steps for businesses seeking to navigate and harness the power of external factors in the ever-evolving marketplace. By aligning with the values, preferences, and aspirations of consumers influenced by these external factors, businesses can foster brand loyalty, build meaningful connections, and thrive in the competitive landscape.

  1. Culture:

Culture represents the shared values, beliefs, customs, and behaviors of a society. It acts as a guiding force shaping individuals’ perceptions, attitudes, and behaviors. Understanding the cultural context is crucial for businesses, as it influences consumers’ preferences, product perceptions, and decision-making processes.

Impact on Consumer Behavior:

  1. Cultural Symbols and Meanings:

Culture imbues symbols with specific meanings. Colors, images, and words can carry different connotations in various cultural contexts. For example, the color white may symbolize purity in Western cultures but represent mourning in some Asian cultures. Marketers must be aware of and respect these cultural nuances to avoid misinterpretations and cultural insensitivity.

  1. Cultural Values and Norms:

Cultural values and norms influence consumer behaviors by setting standards for what is considered acceptable or desirable. For instance, cultures that emphasize individualism may prioritize products that promote personal expression, while collectivist cultures may place value on products that foster group cohesion and harmony.

  1. Cultural Rituals and Traditions:

Consumer behavior is often tied to cultural rituals and traditions. Purchasing decisions may be influenced by cultural events, holidays, or milestones. Businesses can align their marketing strategies with these cultural occasions to evoke positive emotions and create meaningful connections with consumers.

  1. Cultural Subcultures:

Within broader cultures, subcultures exist based on shared characteristics such as ethnicity, religion, age, or geographic location. Subcultures can have distinct consumption patterns, preferences, and values. Marketers must recognize and respect these subcultures, tailoring their messages to resonate authentically with diverse consumer segments.

  1. Cross-Cultural Marketing:

In a globalized world, businesses often operate in diverse cultural environments. Cross-cultural marketing involves adapting strategies to suit different cultural contexts. It requires a nuanced understanding of cultural variations to ensure that marketing messages are relevant and culturally sensitive.

Strategies for Marketers:

  • Cultural Sensitivity Training:

Marketers should undergo cultural sensitivity training to enhance their understanding of different cultures and avoid unintentional cultural faux pas.

  • Localization of Marketing Messages:

Tailor marketing messages to reflect cultural values, preferences, and language. This includes adapting advertising content, imagery, and slogans to resonate with specific cultural audiences.

  • Inclusive Marketing Campaigns:

Embrace inclusivity in marketing campaigns by featuring diverse representations of people from various cultures. This fosters a sense of inclusiveness and relatability among a broader audience.

  1. Subculture:

A subculture is a group of individuals within a larger culture who share a set of distinct characteristics, behaviors, and values that differentiate them from the mainstream culture. Subcultures can be based on various factors, including ethnicity, religion, age, gender, or shared interests.

Impact on Consumer Behavior:

  1. Distinct Consumption Patterns:

Subcultures often exhibit distinct consumption patterns and preferences. For example, youth subcultures may have unique tastes in fashion, music, and entertainment. Understanding these preferences is crucial for businesses targeting specific subcultures.

  1. Brand Loyalty and Identification:

Subcultures provide a sense of identity and belonging. Consumers belonging to a particular subculture may exhibit strong brand loyalty if a brand aligns with the values and aesthetics of their subculture. Marketers can foster brand loyalty by understanding and authentically connecting with these subcultures.

  1. Subcultural Trends and Influences:

Subcultures are often trendsetters in fashion, music, and lifestyle. Marketers can stay ahead of mainstream trends by monitoring and understanding subcultural influences. Collaborating with influencers within specific subcultures can be a strategic approach to gaining visibility and credibility.

  1. Communication Styles:

Subcultures may have unique communication styles and slang. Marketers need to be aware of these nuances to effectively communicate with and engage members of specific subcultures. Authenticity in communication is crucial to gaining trust and acceptance.

Strategies for Marketers:

  • Segmentation Strategies:

Implement segmentation strategies to target specific subcultures. This involves tailoring products, services, and marketing messages to appeal to the unique preferences and values of different subcultural groups.

  • Subcultural Research:

Conduct in-depth research to understand the nuances of various subcultures. This may involve ethnographic studies, interviews, and immersion in subcultural communities to gain authentic insights.

  • Inclusive Campaigns:

Develop inclusive marketing campaigns that celebrate diversity and showcase the richness of different subcultures. This can help create a positive brand image and resonate with a broad audience.

  1. Social Class:

Social class refers to a group of people in society who share similar economic positions, lifestyles, and access to resources. It is often determined by factors such as income, education, occupation, and wealth. Social class influences individuals’ consumption patterns and preferences.

Impact on Consumer Behavior:

  1. Purchasing Power and Spending Habits:

Social class is closely linked to purchasing power. Consumers in higher social classes may have greater disposable income and may be willing to spend more on luxury goods and experiences. Understanding these spending habits is crucial for businesses positioning products in different market segments.

  1. Brand Preferences:

Social class influences brand preferences and perceptions. Consumers in higher social classes may gravitate toward premium and luxury brands, while those in lower social classes may prioritize affordability and practicality. Marketers need to align brand positioning with the values and aspirations of their target social class.

  1. Consumer Aspirations:

Social class can shape consumer aspirations and lifestyle choices. Individuals may aspire to a certain social class and emulate the consumption patterns of that class. Marketers can leverage aspirational marketing to appeal to consumers’ desires for upward mobility.

  1. Educational Choices:

Social class often influences educational choices and preferences. Individuals from higher social classes may prioritize prestigious educational institutions, and marketers can tailor their messaging to emphasize products or services associated with educational excellence.

Strategies for Marketers:

  • Segmentation and Targeting:

Use social class as a segmentation variable to target specific market segments. Develop products, pricing strategies, and marketing messages that resonate with the values and preferences of different social classes.

  • Brand Positioning:

Position brands strategically to appeal to specific social classes. Luxury brands may emphasize exclusivity and status for higher social classes, while brands targeting lower social classes may focus on affordability and practicality.

  • Inclusive Marketing:

Implement inclusive marketing practices that bridge social class divides. Brands can communicate inclusivity and accessibility to appeal to a broader audience.

  1. Reference Groups:

Reference groups are individuals or groups that influence an individual’s attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors. These groups serve as points of reference for making comparisons and decisions. Reference groups can be either direct (family, friends, coworkers) or indirect (celebrities, online communities).

Impact on Consumer Behavior:

  1. Normative and Informational Influence:

Reference groups exert normative influence by shaping what is considered socially acceptable or desirable. Consumers may conform to group norms to gain acceptance. Informational influence occurs when individuals seek information or guidance from reference groups before making decisions.

  1. Aspirational Groups:

Aspirational groups are those to which individuals aspire to belong. Consumers may be influenced by the lifestyles, values, and consumption patterns of aspirational groups. Marketers can leverage aspirational marketing by associating their products with desirable reference groups.

  1. Opinion Leaders:

Opinion leaders within reference groups hold sway over others due to their expertise, credibility, or social status. These individuals can significantly impact consumer decisions by influencing perceptions and attitudes. Marketers often target opinion leaders to amplify their brand messages.

  1. Brand Communities:

Online communities and social media have given rise to virtual reference groups and brand communities. Consumers connect with like-minded individuals who share similar interests or brand affiliations. Marketers can foster and engage with these communities to build brand loyalty and advocacy.

Strategies for Marketers:

  • Identifying Reference Groups:

Identify the reference groups that are most relevant to the target audience. This involves understanding the social networks, communities, and influencers that hold sway over consumers’ preferences.

  • Influencer Marketing:

Collaborate with influencers who are part of or have influence within reference groups. Influencer marketing can be a powerful tool to reach and engage with a wider audience through trusted individuals.

  • Testimonials and Social Proof:

Incorporate testimonials and social proof in marketing materials. Highlighting positive experiences and endorsements from reference groups can build credibility and influence potential customers.

  1. Family:

The family is a fundamental social institution that significantly influences an individual’s values, beliefs, and behaviors. It serves as a primary reference group and plays a central role in shaping consumer preferences and decision-making processes.

Impact on Consumer Behavior:

  1. Family Roles and Dynamics:

Family roles and dynamics influence consumer behavior. The decision-making process may involve various family members contributing based on their roles and responsibilities. For example, parents may have different preferences and considerations than children when making family-oriented purchases.

  1. Socialization and Consumer Learning:

Families serve as agents of socialization, shaping individuals’ attitudes toward brands, products, and consumption. Consumer learning occurs within the family unit as individuals observe, imitate, and internalize the values and behaviors of family members.

  1. Family Life Cycle Stages:

Different stages of the family life cycle, such as marriage, parenthood, and empty nesting, impact consumer behavior. Marketers tailor their strategies to address the unique needs and preferences associated with each life cycle stage.

  1. Interpersonal Influence:

Interpersonal influence within families can be significant. Word-of-mouth recommendations and shared experiences among family members contribute to decision-making. Marketers can leverage this influence by creating products and campaigns that resonate with family dynamics.

Strategies for Marketers:

  • Family-Centric Campaigns:

Develop marketing campaigns that resonate with family values and dynamics. Advertisements that depict relatable family situations and highlight the benefits of products for the entire family can be compelling.

  • Targeting Different Family Roles:

Recognize the diverse roles within families and tailor marketing messages accordingly. For example, advertising directed at parents may emphasize practicality and durability, while messages targeting children may focus on fun and entertainment.

  • Understanding Family Life Cycle:

Consider the life cycle stage of the family when developing products and marketing strategies. A family with young children may have different needs and priorities than a family with teenagers or empty nesters.