Cultural Change and Counter Cultures

The core values just discussed are not fixed or static, but instead are dynamic changing elements of our culture. Cultural change may come about slowly in an evolutionary manner, or a culture may change rapidly, which tends to place more stress on the system. The marketer needs to understand that cultures do change and to appreciate the implications this may have for consumer behavior. For example, when Stouffer’s realized that many grocery hoppers’ values were shifting from a concern for belonging to the family and working as a servant for the family o a concern for self fulfillment and working for themselves, the company responded to this social change. It introduced a line of frozen entrees positioned successfully on the basis of self fulfillment with the theme “Set your self free”.

Changing Cultural Values in the United States:

In the book Mega trends 2000, author John Naisbitt predicts the ten most important trends that will characterize the 1990s.

1) A renaissance in the arts, literature and spirituality
2) The end of the welfare state and the death of socialism
3) Emergence of English as the worldwide language
4) Emergence of the Age of Biology and genetic engineering
5) Shift from dominance of the Atlantic culture to the Pacific culture
6) Decline of cities and growth of the electronic heartland
7) Worldwide free trade
8) No limit to growth
9) Era of globalization
10) Human resources as our competitive edge.

As the world around us is transformed, American values are undergoing some major shifts. Opinion research sows that since the 1960s some fundamental and widely shared cultural views have changed in the United States. Only 20 per cent of the public do not cling to the traditional values of hard work, family loyalty, and sacrifice. Thus, the marketer faces a situation in which new value trends coexist with long standing values still deeply rooted in the country. This pluralism is one of the characteristics of our emerging society. Evidence of these changing patterns show up among baby boomers. A survey conducted among those born between 1946 and 1964 produces a picture of a new brand of traditionalism: there is a distinct longing for more traditional values in some areas, values including hard work, strong family and religious ties, and respect for authority, but these values are coupled with an increasing acceptance of non traditional ideas in other areas – a tolerance of changing sexual morals and a desire for less materialism.

The values cited above may be characteristic of intergenerational differences, but differences can also be found between various groups of the same age. For example, non-college youths appear to be about five years behind the college population in adoption of new social values and moral outlooks.

One researcher categorizes three groups on the basis of their willingness for or prosperity to change – whether cultural values or products. The vanguard makes up 25 per cent of the marketplace. They are vocal, proactive, intense, curious intolerant of the status quo, and searching for the new. They are creators of attitude shifts in society. But they can be fickle and swing in other direction. The adapters (35 per cent) who are generally less passionate than the vanguard are hard working solid citizens with deeply ingrained value systems. Once committed to a trend, this group stays behind it for a long time. The resigned (40 per cent) have value systems cast in stone: the group rarely changes from cradle to grave. Are usually geographically socially and intellectually immobile with limited curiosity and great intolerance for change