Socio-cultural environment and its effect on purchasing


Purchasing power is directed toward certain goods and services and away from others according to people’s tastes and preferences. Society shapes the beliefs, values, and norms that largely define these tastes and preferences. People absorb, almost unconsciously, a worldview that defines their relationships to themselves, to others, to organizations, to society, to nature, and to the universe.

Views of themselves:

People vary in the relative emphasis they place on self-gratification. In the United States during the 1960s and 1970s, “pleasure seekers� ought fun, change, and escape. Others sought “self-realization.� People bought dream cars and dream vacations and spent more time in health activities (jogging, tennis), in introspection, and in arts and crafts. Today, some people are adopting more conservative behaviors and ambitions. Marketers must recognize that there are many different groups with different views of themselves.

Views of others:

People are concerned about the homeless, crime and victims , and other social problems. They would like to live in a more humane society. At the same time, people are seeking out their “own kind� and avoiding strangers. They hunger for serious and long-lasting relationships with a few others. These trends portend a growing market for social support products and services that promote direct relations between human beings, such as health clubs, cruises, and religious activity. They also suggest a growing market for “social surrogates,� things that allow people who are alone to feel that they are not, such as television, home video games, and chat rooms on the Internet.

Views of organizations:

People vary in their attitudes towards corporations, government agencies, trade unions, and other organizations. Most people are willing to work for these organizations, but there has been an overall decline in organizational loyalty. The massive wave of company downsizings and corporate accounting scandals such as those at Enron, WorldCom, and Tyco has bred cynicism and distrust Many people today see work not as a source of satisfaction, but as a required chore to earn money to enjoy their non-work hours. This outlook has several marketing implications. Companies need to find new ways to win back consumer and employee confidence. They need to make sure that they are good corporate citizens an that their consumer messages are honest.

Views of society:

People vary in their attitudes toward their society. Some defend it (preservers), some run it (makers), some take what they can from it (takers), some want to change it (changers), some are looking for something deeper (seekers), and some want to leave it (escapes). Consumption patterns often reflect social attitude. Makers tend to be high achievers who eat, dress, and live well.. Changers usually live more frugally, drive smaller cars, and wear simpler clothes. Escapers and seekers are a major market for movies, music, surfing, and camping.

Views of nature:

People vary in their attitudes towards nature. Some feel subjugated by it, others feel in harmony with it, and still others seek mastery over it. A long-term trend has humankind’s growing mastery of nature through technology. More recently, however, people have awakened to nature’s fragility and finite resources. They recognize that nature can be destroyed by human activities. Business has responded to increased interest in camping, hiking, boating and fishing with hiking boots, tenting equipments, and other gear. Tour operators are packaging tours to wilderness areas and to places like Antarctica.

Views of the Universe:

People vary in their beliefs about the origin of the universe and their place in it. Most Americans are monotheistic, although religious conviction and practice have been waning through the years. Certain evangelical movements are reaching out to bring people back into organized religion. Some of the religious impulse has been redirected into an interest in Eastern religions, mysticism, the occult, and the human potential movement.

Finally, as people lose their religious orientation, they seek self-fulfillment and immediate gratification. At the same time, every trend seems to breed a countertrend, as indicated by a worldwide rise in religious fundamentalism. Here are some other cultural characteristics of interest to marketers the persistence of core cultural values, the existence of subcultures, and shifts of values through time.

  • Randika Jayasiri

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