Stage in the Family Purchase Decision Process

The marketer is interested not only in the physical act of purchasing a product or brand, but also in the stages leading up to that decision. The research study on family participation and influence in purchasing behavior described above and presented in Table found that roles and influence vary throughout the buyer decision making process making process. Such knowledge can be of great help in formulating product, promotion, channel and pricing strategies. For some products wives are involved more heavily in the initiation, information seeking and purchasing stages than are husbands. At other times, however, is a greater tendency for husbands to participate in the decision process, particularly when the product is high priced and technically or mechanically complex.

Studies have examined a wide variety of products and services with similar findings. Their data support the contention that the extent of husband wife involvement varies considerably from product to product throughout the decision making process.

Figure graphically illustrates the changes in marital roles occurring among a sample of US husbands and wives as decisions making proceeds from search from information to final decision.

Family Specific Characteristics:

There are a number of additional variables that have been found to influence the nature of purchasing decisions made within the family. The influencing factors to be discussed blow include culture, subculture social class reference groups and social interaction stage in life cycle, mobility, geographical location and children.

Culture: The roles of husbands and wives may differ dramatically from culture to culture, which may result numerous differences in consumer decision making.

The basic family systems encountered by the market around the world fall into three general patterns, illustrated as follows: (1) in Moslem cultures, the wife is generally in a subordinate and secluded role, with few rights and little control over the affairs of the family ; (2) in the Latin American culture the wife is free but is still definitely a junior member of the partnership with the husband having the final authority in all but minor matters, and (3) in European and North American cultures the basic pattern is equality. This later region, for instance evidences substantial similarity with regard to husband wife involvement for a number of household activities.

Subculture: In addition to cultural variations from one country to another, there are also sub cultural or ethnic variations in consumer behavior within a country’s heterogeneous population. For example, in the United States joint decision making is most pronounced among white families with husband dominance strongest among Japanese Americans and wife dominance strongest among black families. A study of Hispanic (Mexican American) husband wife relative influence in purchase decision making found that, autonomic decisions among Hispanic couples appeared to be toward either wife or husband dominance and that relatively few product categories were characterized by joint or synchronic decision making.

Social Class: Several studies on the relationship of socioeconomic class and joint participation in purchase decision making have indicated that a curvilinear relationship exists. That is, autonomy in decision making is most likely at upper and lower social classes, while joint decision making is most common among the middle class.

Reference Groups and Social Interaction although no research has been conducted on the role of reference groups in family purchase decisions, it is thought that such relationships are influential. Some authors indicate that the greater the extent to which spouses have social ties or connections with relatives or friends, the less the amount of joint or shared decisions. This is because some decisions may be made in consultation with friends or relatives rather than only with one’s spouse.

Stage in Life cycle:

The nature of family decision making changes over the life cycle. For example, wives with pre-school age children have considerably less independent responsibility for economic decisions than do other wives. In addition, families in early sages of the life cycle show a very high frequency of joint decisions. However evidence indicates that joint decision making declines over the life cycle. This tendency has been explained in terms of an increased efficiency or competence that people develop over a period of time in making purchasing decisions that are acceptable to their spouses. Such competence eliminates the need for interaction.

Mobility, both social as well as geographic, tends to increase the extent of intra family communication and the degree of joint decision making. One researcher attributes this to the fact movement away from stable primary groups such as family and close friends throws spouses upon each other.

Geographical Location: Limited research on the influence of place of residence on family decision making indicates that rural families have a higher frequency of joint decisions than do urban families. Also, the wife occupies a less influential role in rural families.