Family influence in consumer behavior


The family is the most important consumer buying organization in society, and family members constitute the most influential primary reference group. We can distinguish between families in the buyer’s life.

The family of orientation consists of parents and siblings. From parents a person acquires an orientation toward religion, politics, and economies, and a sense of personal ambition, self-worth, and love. Even if the buyer no longer interacts very much with his or her parents, their influence on behavior can be significant. In countries where parents live with grown children, their influence can be substantial.

A more direct influence on everyday buying behavior is the family of procreation namely one’s spouse and children.

The makeup of the American family however has changed dramatically. Census Bureau’s newest numbers shows that married couple households the dominant cohort since the country’s founding –have slipped from nearly 80% in the 1950s to roughly 50% today.

The above figures mean that the Unites States 86 million single adults could soon define the new majority. Already, un-married make up 42% of the workforce, 40% of home buyers, 35% of voters, and one of the most powerful consumer groups on record.

Marketers will have to pay attention not only to the buying habits of “singletons� who have delayed marriage, but also to families once considered on the fringe that are cohabiting partners , divorced parents who share custody, single parents by choice , and same sex couples who may or may not have children.

Marketers are interested in the roles and relative influences of family members in the purchase of a large variety of products and services. In the United States, husband-wife involvement has traditionally varied widely by product category. The wife has usually acted as the family’s main purchasing agent, especially for food, sundries, and staple-clothing items. Now traditional purchasing roles are changing, and marketers would be wise to see both men and women as possible targets.

With expensive products and services like cars, vacations, or housing, the vast majority of husbands and wives engage in more in more joint decision making. Given women’s increasing wealth and income –generating ability, financial service firms such as Citigroup, Charles Schwab, and Merrill Lynch have expanded their efforts to attract women investors and business owners. And marketers are realizing that men aren’t the main buyers of high-tech gizmos and gadgets these days. Women actually buy more technology than men do, but consumer electronics stores have been slow to catch on to this fact. Some savvy electronics stores are starting to heed women’s complaints of being ignored, patronized, or offended by salespeople.

Radio Shack Corp., a 7,000-store chain, began actively recruiting female store managers so that a woman manages about one out of every seven stores.

Nevertheless, men and women may respond differently to marketing messages. One study showed that women valued connections and relationships with family and friends and placed a high priority on people. Men, on the other hand, related more to competition and placed a high priority on action. Marketers are taking more direct aim at women with new products such as Quaker’s Nutrition for Women cereals and crest Rejuvenating Effects toothpaste. Gillette Co. researched psychological issues specific to women and came out with an ergonomically designed razor ‘Venus’ that fits more easily in a woman’s hand. Sherwin-Williams recently designed a Dutch Boy easy-to-use “Twist and pour� pint can targeted specifically at women.

Another shift in buying patterns is an increase in the amount of dollars spent and the direct and indirect influence wielded by children and teens. Direct influence describes children’s hints, request, and demands—“I want to go to McDonald’s.� Direct influence of kids between the ages of 4 and 12 totaled around $275 billion in 1999. Their indirect influence on parental spending accounted for another $312 billion of household purchases. Indirect influence means that parents know the brands, product choices, and preferences of their children without hints or outright requests. One research study showed that teenagers were playing a more active role than before in helping parents choose a car, audio / video equipment, or a vacation spot.

Marketers use every possible channel of communication to reach kids, especially such popular media as Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, or the Disney Channel on TV and magazines such as Nickelodeon, Sports Illustrated for kids, and Disney Adventures.

We summarize that the marketers have to concentrate on the interests of various consumers may be from the same family group or otherwise. To list out each of them are separate consumers in their own right and they can be listed as, housewives or women in the household, husband, children, grand parents, singletons, cohabiting partners , divorced parents who share custody, single parents by choice, and same sex couples who may or may not have children. Today it is not specific to advanced countries alone but the type of aforesaid type of consumers are now common even in Asian and African countries.

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