Influence of Culture & Social Class
An individual has his own choice and mindset. Consumer buying behavior eventually refers to the buying behavior of an individual. An individual can get affected by the environment in which he lives, his culture, his social class, his psychology and his personality. Now, marketers need to understand this psychology and the mindset of these consumers, also, understand what all factors influence their behavior to develop effective marketing strategies.
Culture is a very important aspect to understand the behavior of a consumer. It signifies the set of values of a particular community.
An individual decides to behave in a certain manner because of his culture. He gets all these values from his parents and family. Every individual has different sets of values as compared to others, what they see from their childhood when they start practicing those habits, they become their culture.
Culture does vary from individual to individual, region to region, and country to country, so the marketer needs to pay a lot of attention in analyzing the culture of various regions and groups. Throughout the process, the consumer is under influence of his culture as his friends, family, society, and his prestige influence him.
For a marketer, it is very crucial to take all these things into consideration while analyzing or observing a consumer’s behavior as they play a vital role in his behavior, perception and expectations.
For example, if we observe the taste and preferences, people in southern India prefers rice to roti whereas north Indian people prefer roti than rice.
The social groups or membership groups to which an individual belongs are the social classes that influence him. In the social classes, we usually find people with similar values, lifestyle and behavior. Now a marketer or a researcher needs to pay attention here because generally the buying behavior of people in a particular social class to some extent is similar, though the level of influence may be low or high, he can tailor his marketing activities according to different social classes. Social perception is a very important attribute that influences the buying behavior of an individual.
Example − A person from a low-income group may focus on price while making the purchase while a person from a higher income group may consider the quality and uniqueness of the product.
Sometimes an individual also is influenced by a social group to which he does not belong, but wishes to get connected with others. For example, in a college a student is in no need to buy a smart phone but purchases it to be part of that group and be accepted by them.
Marketers need to understand these situations well and plan their strategies accordingly for such social benefits. Individuals play various roles in the consumer buying process −
Initiator − Initiator is usually the person who comes up with an idea and suggests the purchase.
Influencer − He is the individual who actually pushes for the purchase. He highlights the benefits of the product. This individual can be from the family or friend or outside the group too.
Decision Maker − He is generally the person who takes the final decision or the final call after analyzing all the pros and cons of the product. He may not necessarily be the final buyer as may also take the decision on behalf of the consumer.
For example, a father might decide on buying a laptop for his son or a brother might decide on the best career option for his sister.
Buyer − Buyer is generally the end user or the final consumer who uses the product.
As we, all know family plays a very important role in making a purchase. The family is responsible for shaping up the personality of an individual. Our attitude, perception and values are inculcated through our family.
An individual tends to have similar buying habits and similar taste and preference and consumption patterns as he gets to see within the family. Perception and family values have strong influence on the buying behavior of an individual which they tend to keep constant.
A social status of an individual usually comprises of an individual’s attitude, class and prestige. It depends on the way he carries himself socially or the position at which he is in his work or family or even in his group of friends. The social status of an individual influences his consumption pattern.
Example − A CEO may want to have a celebration and give a party to his colleagues, friends and family, so for his social status he may want to book a five star hotel, something like Taj or Oberoi instead of any other normal hotel.
A purchase decision takes place because of the above-mentioned factors. A consumer is influenced by his culture, environment, family, social status and groups. Companies need to understand these factors and develop strategies and market themselves accordingly to meet the needs of the consumers and increase sales.