What influences consumer behavior?


Marketers must fully understand both the theory and reality of consumer’s behavior.

A consumer’s buying behavior is influenced by cultural, social, and personal factors. Cultural factors exert the broadest and deepest influence.

Cultural Factors:

Culture, subculture, and social class are particularly important on consumer buying behavior. Culture is the fundamental determinant of a person’s wants and behavior. The growing child acquires a set of values, perceptions, preferences, and behaviors through his or her family and other key institutions.

A child growing up in the United States is exposed to the following values: achievement and success, activity, efficiency and practicality, progress, material comfort, individualism, freedom, external comfort, humanitarianism, and youthfulness.

Each culture consists of smaller subcultures that provide more specific identification and socialization for their members. Subcultures include nationalities, religions, racial groups and geographic regions.

When subcultures grow large and affluent enough, companies often design specialized marketing programs to serve them. Multicultural marketing grew out of careful marketing research, which revealed that different ethnic and demographic niches did not always respond favorably to mass-market advertising.

Companies have capitalized on well-though-out multicultural marketing strategies in recent years. For instance, many banks and life insurance companies are focusing on Hispanic Americans because although their income level is rising the 40 million Hispanic Americans living in the United States have not yet become big consumers of financial services.

Virtually all human societies’ exhibit social stratification sometimes takes the form of a caste system where the members of different castes are reared for certain roles and cannot change their caste membership. More frequently, it takes the form of social classes, relatively homogeneous and enduring divisions in a society, which are hierarchically ordered and whose members share similar values, interest, and behavior. One classic depiction of social classes in the United States defined seven ascending levels, as follows:

1. Lower Lowers.
2. Upper Lowers.
3. Working Class
4. Middle Class.
5. Upper Middles.
6. Lower Uppers
7. Upper Uppers

Social classes have several characteristics. First, those within each class tend to behave more alike than persons from two different social classes. Social classes differ in dress, speech patterns, recreational preference, and many other characteristics. Second, persons are perceived as occupying inferior or superior positions according to social class. Third, social class is indicated by cluster of variables—for example, occupation, income, wealth, education, and value orientation—rather than by any single variable. Fourth, individuals can move up or down the social-class ladder during their lifetimes. The extent o this mobility varies according to how rigid the social stratification is in a given society.

Social classes show distinct product and brand preferences in many areas including clothing, home furnishings, leisure activities, and automobiles. Social classes differ in media preferences, with upper-class consumers often preferring magazines and books and lower class consumers often preferring television. Even within a media category such as TV, upper class consumers tend to prefer news and drama, and lower-class consumers tend to prefer soap operas and sports programs. There are also language differences among the social classes. Advertising copy and dialogue must ring true to the targeted social class.

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