Cultural influence on Consumer Behaviour

01/06/2020 0 By indiafreenotes

The influence of culture is inevitable in our societal living. However, within a larger society, there are sub systems of values exhibiting variations in behavioral pattern. Marketers have begun to segment larger societies into smaller subgroups that are homogeneous in relation to cultural values.

The individuals of a specific subculture vary in their consumption patterns. They show variation in lifestyle, financial viability, food preferences, reading habits, purchase of specific brands in a particular product category, purchase time, store patronage, etc.

Multi Culture in India

India is said to be a country of multi cultures. It is so because of its long history of civilization. Different rulers have ruled the country. These rulers had different systems of governance and social practices. However, now there is unity in diversity which is important to any marketer in framing strategy for marketing.

The diversity has given birth to ever increasing number of States. India is a country with 29 states and six union territories. Each state has its own own culture. There are more than one subculture is found in some states. There are major religions such as Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Jains and Bhuddhas.

Each state and religion has its own traditional style of dressing, wearing ornaments, food preferences etc. Wheat and wheat products are consumed more in north India. People in south India consume rice. Certain communities do not eat non-vegetarian food, while among the other communities non-vegetarian food is popular.

Differences in Consumption pattern

Differences are found in the consumption pattern related to rural – urban sub-cultural division. Variations are found in preferences for food items, housing, clothing, home, furnishing, transport vehicles used, recreation and leisure activities, saving pattern, etc.

Economic Status – Classes of people in India

Economic status is another important sub-cultural variation. According to economic status, people can be divided into three classes:

  1. The upper or affluent class,
  2. The middle class, and;
  3. The lower class.

The affluent class accounts for only a negligible portion of the society. Luxury items are consumed more by the affluent class.

On the other hand, the lower class spends more on necessary items. People in the lower class have very little purchasing power.

What is more important to the marketers is the middle class which forms a big chunk. Marketers have evinced a keen interest in the consumption pattern of the middle class. In spite of the regional, linguistic and cultural activities in India, middle class consumers follow a common pattern of the lifestyle and buying behavior. They are basically a security seeking class.

They need social security along with economic and emotional security. They respond favorably towards innovations, only if they are convinced about their security needs. They always strive to rise higher in social strata. They purchase products which add to the joy and comforts of their family members.

Thus, a study of sub-cultural variations will help, the marketer in designing marketing programmes suitably to target consumers of each subculture category.

Consumer behaviour deals with the study of buying behaviour of consumers. Consumer behaviour helps us understand why and why not an individual purchases goods and services from the market.

There are several factors which influence the buying decision of consumers, cultural factors being one of the most important factors.

Cultural Factors

Cultural factors comprise of set of values and ideologies of a particular community or group of individuals. It is the culture of an individual which decides the way he/she behaves. In simpler words, culture is nothing but values of an individual. What an individual learns from his parents and relatives as a child becomes his culture.

Example: In India, people still value joint family system and family ties. Children in India are conditioned to stay with their parents till they get married as compared to foreign countries where children are more independent and leave their parents once they start earning a living for themselves.

Cultural factors have a significant effect on an individual’s buying decision. Every individual has different sets of habits, beliefs and principles which he/she develops from his family status and background. What they see from their childhood becomes their culture.

Females staying in West Bengal or Assam would prefer buying sarees as compared to Westerns. Similarly a male consumer would prefer a Dhoti Kurta during auspicious ceremonies in Eastern India as this is what their culture is. Girls in South India wear skirts and blouses as compared to girls in north India who are more into Salwar Kameez.

Our culture says that we need to wear traditional attire on marriages and this is what we have been following since years.

People in North India prefer breads over rice which is a favorite with people in South India and East India.


Each culture further comprises of various subcultures such as religion, age, geographical location, gender (male/female), status etc.

Religion (Christianity, Hindu, Muslim, Sikhism, Jainism etc)

A Hindu bride wears red, maroon or a bright colour lehanga or saree whereas a Christian bride wears a white gown on her wedding day. It is against Hindu culture to wear white on auspicious occasions. Muslims on the other hand prefer to wear green on important occasions.

For Hindus eating beef is considered to be a sin whereas Muslims and Christians absolutely relish the same. Eating pork is against Muslim religion while Hindus do not mind eating it.

A sixty year old individual would not like something which is too bright and colorful. He would prefer something which is more sophisticated and simple. On the other hand a teenager would prefer funky dresses and loud colours.

In India widows are expected to wear whites. Widows wearing bright colours are treated with suspicion.

Status (Upper Class, Middle class and Lower Class)

People from upper class generally have a tendency to spend on luxurious items such as expensive gadgets, cars, dresses etc.You would hardly find an individual from a lower class spending money on high-end products. A person who finds it difficult to make ends meet would rather prefer spending on items necessary for survival. Individuals from middle class segment generally are more interested in buying products which would make their future secure.

Gender (Male/Female)

People generally make fun of males buying fairness creams as in our culture only females are expected to buy and use beauty products. Males are perceived to be strong and tough who look good just the way they are.