The working class world tends to be more limited in both direct and vicarious experiences, which is reflected in consumption patterns. Expenditures are concentrated into fewer categories of goods and services. The working class are more concerned with immediate gratification than are middle class families but avoid spending their money in says that are considered out of place. Their sending is centered more on the interior exterior interest of their house than on the size and location of the house itself. Since their upward social mobility is quite limited, they are not concerned about socially elite addresses. Instead their housing tastes are every practical and utilitarian with decent clean new and safe characterizing their outlook. An example of this orientation, in spite of an income that would allow other alternatives is illustrated by Michigan’s first million dollar lottery winner, who collects $50,000 a year for 20 years. Although he retired from his manual labor job, he did not move his family from their one bedroom bungalow. Instead he installed aluminum siding, central air conditioning storm windows, a sun porch, double oven gas stove, color television and finished his basement recreation room with dark green paneling and indirect lighting.
Although working class consumers’ behavior resembles middle class behavior in hard goods spending their expenditures for services lag behind and also power their own expenditures for durables. Some of the reasons suggested for the lack of service oriented consumption among the working class in comparison with the middle class are 1) they tend to be do it yourselfers 2) their expenditure for children’s education are much smaller, 3) they are more likely to spend their vacation at home or visiting relatives, saving on motel and transportation costs, 4) they do not frequent expensive restaurants but tend to consume their meals away from home with relatives or at a franchised drive in. Thus, the tremendous boom in the service sector of our economy is largely a middle class phenomenon.
Lower Americans: Contrary to what might be expected some members of this group may represent an attractive segment for manufacturers of food products or other frequently purchased items, and for certain durables. For examples one study found that such families are consumers of many major consumer durables frequently the new, more expensive models. Another researcher found that the prevailing market value of the lower class family’s car, television set, and basic appliances average almost 20 percent higher than the average value of similar possessions for the working class, despite a median income which was one third lower than the working class group. Lower class spending behavior can be described as compensatory consumption. The lower-lower class family’s pessimistic outlook on life causes them to spend for immediate gratification. Thus, through their purchasing they try to emulate the good life. This group’s purchasing patterns also reveal a tendency to buy on impulses with little planning. Low educational level appears to be a primary cause of this.
Shopping behavior also varies by social class. For example a very close relation between store choice and social class membership has been found, indicating that it is wrong to assume that all consumers want to shop at glamorous high status stores. Instead, people realistically match their values and expectations with a store’s status and don’t shop in where they feel out of place. Determining the social difference between people and stores involves measuring the difference between a person’s social class and the social class of a store’s typical; or stereotypical customers. In some research the social distance measure has been related to the probability of frequenting stores. For example, the greater the social distance, the less likely a person is to stop at a given store. However, higher class customers are less prone to shop at stores with lower class stereotypes than lower class customers are to shop higher class stereotypes.
Thus, no mater what the store, each shopper generally has some idea of the social status ranking of that store and will tend not to patronize those where they feel they do not fit in a social class sense. The result is that the same products and bands may be purchased in different outlets by members of different social classes. Therefore an important function of retail advertising is to allow the shopper to make a social class identification of stores. This is done from the tone and physical character of the advertising.