Factors affecting the need of the Family, Family life cycle stage and size

01/06/2020 1 By indiafreenotes

Even though it is the family unit which purchases home appliances, toys, furniture etc, it is cannot be implied that all the families are in the market at the same time or for that matter at any time. This means that along with family decision making the family life cycle also plays a role in influencing consumer behaviour and also helps in gaining insight into consumption related behaviour.

 People’s consumptions patterns of goods and services they buy and consume changes over their lifetime. As babies they consume baby food in the earlier years, most food items in their growing and mature years and specific diets in the later years. Individuals taste and preference related to cloths, automobiles, idea of re-creation etc. is also related to stage of the family life cycle and age.

Some writers like Gail Sheehy in his papers ‘predictable crisis in adult life’ and Roger Gould in ‘transformation’ has identified certain psychological life cycle stages that adults experience certain passage or transformation as they go through life. This means that changing consumption interest can also associated with these adult passages.

Thus marketers very often try to identify their target markets in terms of family life cycle and develop appropriate product and marketing plans. Further they also have to pay attention to the changing consumption interests that might be associated with these adult passages and develop marketing programmes accordingly.

The concept of household or family life cycle is important for marketers in segmenting the market. In 1966, William wells and George Gubar proposed eight stages to describe the family life cycle.

The following life cycle stages are typical of families:

  1. The bachelor stage: young, single person under age of 35 years. Incomes are generally low since they have started careers, but they may have few financial burdens and sufficient discretionary income.
  2. Newly married: Young couples, no children. If both spores are employed, they will have high level of discretionary income.
  3. Full nest 1: young married couples with youngest child under 6 years of age. There would be greater squeezes on income because of increased on childcare. However, if they are members of a joint family, the level of discretionary income is likely to be high.
  4. Full nest 2: young married couples with children from 6 years to 12 years of age. Better financial position because income of both parents rising. Children spend more hours outside their parents influence.
  5. Full nest 3: older married couples with dependent teenage children living at home. Financial position of family continues to improve. There are increasing costs of college education for children.
  6. Empty nest 1: older married couples with no children living with them, parents still employed. Reduced expenses result in greater savings and highest discretionary income.
  7. Empty nest 2: older married couples with no children living with them and parents retired. Drop in income and couple relies on savings and fixed income from retirement benefits.
  8. Solitary survivor 1: older single persons with low income and increasing medical needs.

Family decision making and consumption-related roles

When two or more family members are directly or indirectly involved in the decision making process, it is called family decision making. Such family decisions differs from individuals decisions in many ways. For example, if we consider the purchase of a bicycle for a child, some of the relevant aspects to think about can be: who recognizes the need for bicycle? How a brand is selected? What role the concerned child plays?

Joint decisions are more likely to operate in the early stages of family life cycle when both spouses are relatively less experienced. After gaining experience, they usually delegate responsibilities concerning buying decisions to each other.

Key family consumption roles

For a family to function as a cohesive unit, tasks such as doing the laundry, preparing meals, setting the dinner table, taking out the garbage, and walking the dog must be carried out by one or more family members. In a dynamic society, family related duties are constantly changing however, we can identify either distinct roles in the family decision making process.

For example, a family member may be walking down the cookie aisle at a local supermarket when she picks out an interesting new fat-free cookie. Her selection does not directly involve the influence of other family members. She is the decider, the buyer and, in a sense, the gatekeeper, however, she may not be the sole consumer. Products may be consumed by a single family member, consumed or used directly by two or more family members, or consumed indirectly by the entire family.

Dynamics of husband-wife decision making

Marketers are interested in the relative amount of influence that a husband and a wife have when it comes to family consumption choices. The relative influence of husbands and wives can be classified as: husband dominated, wife dominated, joint, and autonomic.

The relative influence of a husband and wife on a particular consumer decisions depends in part on the product and service category. For instance, during 1950s, the purchase of a new automobile was strongly husband dominated, whereas food and financial banking decisions more often were wife dominated. Fifty years later, the purchase of the family’s principal automobile is still often husbands dominated in many households. However, in other contexts or situations, female car buyers are a segment to which many car manufacturers are currently receiving a great deal of marketing attention. Also, in the case of financial decision making, there has been a general trend over the past decade to have the female head of household make financial decisions.

Husband wife decision making also appears to be related to cultural influence. Research comparing husband wife decision making patterns in the people’s republic of china and in the United States revels that among Chinese there were substantially fewer “joint” decisions and more “husband dominated” decisions for many household purchases. However, when limiting the comparison to urban and rural Chinese households, the research showed that in a large city such as Beijing, married couples were more likely than rural couples to share equally in purchase decisions. Still further, because of china’s “one child” policy and the ensuring custom of treating a single child as a “little emperor”, many of the parents purchase decisions are influenced by the input of their child.

In another recent cross-culture study, husband-wife decision making was studied among three groups: Asian Indians living in India, Asian Indians living in the United States, and American nationals. Results show a decrease in husband decisions and an increase in wife dominated decisions, going from Asian Indians in India, to Asian Indians in the United States, to American nationals. This pattern seems to indicate the impact of assimilation on decision making.