The US culture is materialism and Americans are the world’s most voracious consumers, each year buying millions of color TV sets, washing machines, refrigerators, vacuum cleaners, lawn mowers, radios, and other items. Materials progress has made America a land of abundance where more than half of all families own their homes, and two cars per family is the standard. In fact, a recent Wall Street Journal survey showed that three fourths of the 2000 consumers questioned said they have fulfilled most if not all of heir material needs. If consumers are reaching a level of satiation, materialism may lose its importance. However, for some time now it has been on the rise. One study of the growing materialism found in American advertising indicated that ads increasingly stress the good life of luxury and pleasure. In addition an analysis of popular literature and comic strips since World War II indicates that we are increasingly preoccupied with prestige brands. Marketing’s role in fostering materialism and my consequent unhappiness and dissatisfaction that results is an important social issue needing further study.
Related to the core cultural value of materialism is the growing trend toward hedonism, or devotion to pleasure. We desire maximum pleasurable sensation with minimum effort. Our culture’s increasing devotion to hedonism is reflected in the sale of all sorts of products ranging from luxury cars and homes to many foods and such pastimes as electronic video games. In addition, we are more willing to admit the existence of this situation o ourselves and others. For example, a classic L’Oreal hair color ad states. It cost a little more, but I’m worth it. This and many similar ads stress how good the feeling is that comes from using a certain product.
Social Interaction and Conformity: These values seem in contrast to our emphasis on individualism, but some amount of conformity is necessary for a smoothly functioning society. Americans seem to be especially sensitive to group pressure. America has been characterized as a country of both inner directed persons and other deiced persons. Inner directed individuals have their principles firmly instilled by their elders, while other directed persons receive direction from contemporaries directly or indirectly, either personally or through the mass media. Although at one time most of the population of America would have been categorized as inner directed today the predominant pattern is one of other directedness.
The trend of other directedness suggests that people are seeking satisfaction of some need through grater social involvement with each other. Much of the advertising we are exposed to incorporates his theme. Promotions for products as diverse as motorcycles (You meet the nicest people on a Honda) clothing recreation equipment, cigarettes and beverages of all kinds incorporate the theme of how beneficial these products are in achieving pleasurable social interaction.
Do values influence Consumer Behavior?
Intuitively we can see that culture is a strong force in the consumer’s milleu affecting his or her choice of behavior. Thus, marketers have long recognized the importance of appealing to consumer’ values in marketing. For instance, Marlboro’s theme (The Marlboro Man) may attract people who value the respect connected with rugged and independent cowboys, while camel’s recent theme (Where a man belongs) appeals to a sense of belongings. Salem stresses warm relationships with others (Share the spirit) and Merit in its appeal promotes fun and enjoyment in life (The pleasure is back) Unfortunately, little research has been conducted assessing the usefulness of cultural values in understanding or predicting consumer behavior, although there seems to be ample evidence that values do generally influence behavior. Rokeach believes that values guide actions, attitudes and judgments and that the consequences of people’s values are evident in practically any phenomenon that social scientists may think worthy of study and understanding. Even though the influence of values may be pervasive on much human (and consumer) behavior, relatively little research has been conducted on the subject (especially when compared to the great amount of investigation with regard to attitudes). In order to create a meaningful objective research, instrument to improve the value measurement process. Rokeah created the Rokeach Value Survey (RVS) consisting of two sets of values – eighteen instrumental values and eighteen terminal values – each of which is ranked by subjects in order of the value’s importance or is responded to an agree disagree scale.