Social Values in Consumer Psychology

The main factor affecting how consumers perceive brand value is social image. Purchase decisions are predicted by perceived product quality. Luxury brands can use the internet without sacrificing their exclusivity. Technologies and millennials are in charge of altering appropriate conventional models in the premium segment. Many consumption values influence consumer decisions. In any given situation involving a decision, the consumption values contribute differently.

The consumption values are independent—the apparent benefit derived from the affiliation of an alternative, including one or perhaps more particular social groups. An alternative might gain social significance through affiliation with stereotypical statistical, demographic, and cultural-ethnic groups. On a profile of preferred visuals, social value is assessed.

Social Values in Consumer Psychology

Social value is frequently a factor in decisions about apparent things (like apparel or jewelry) and products and services that will be distributed to others (like presents or items for entertainment). For instance, a particular brand of car might well be chosen primarily because of the social image it evokes than for how well it performs in terms of functionality. Even items typically considered practical or utilitarian (like kitchen equipment) are regularly chosen based on social worth.

According to Milton Rokeach, social values are the most significant concept in social science. According to him, social values are the foundation upon which all other branches of social science are built. Although Rokeach only briefly discussed consumer behavior in his pivotal 1973 book, in a section titled "Inconsequential Findings" (alluding to the acquisition of a car), his viewpoint as implemented to consumer research appears well-founded because studies investigating customer means-end chains repeatedly finds that value fulfilment is frequently the primary reason why consumers choose products.

Nevertheless, the presumed causal cascade runs from value fulfilment through repercussions to brand feature extraction. Research demonstrates that customers choose products with attributes that produce implications, consequently leading to worthwhile fulfilment. We can anticipate meaningful comprehension of customer decisions as we comprehend each component. Most goods that do not in some way help consumers achieve their values will eventually become less popular.

The most important life goals are social values, which influence people's decisions about what products to buy. Although not all consumer decisions are influenced by values, knowing a person's values can frequently give researchers a more profound knowledge of how they react to a specific company or item than what can be inferred from other demographic and lifestyle data. Value clusters can be a good foundation for segmentation because different persons have persistent differences in their choice habits. Individuals with the same value will anticipate distinct product attributes, such as circulation, marketing, and interaction. Effectively interacting with consumers in various value groups will be a critical factor in the marketing success of many firms.

Pitts, Canty, and Tsalikis offered a vital experiment to show the usefulness of influencing consumer decisions. In this investigation, Pitts and colleagues demonstrated that consumers' purchase intentions increased after exposure to a value-consistent advertisement instead of a value-inconsistent one. Consumers will typically find an item or company more alluring when they believe it to be suited for their value fulfillment. Consumers are more likely to respond to marketing communications that make the connection between personal beliefs and brands.

Cultural Values

Cultural values are essential to a culture's ordered and interwoven character. A cultural value is a generally held concept that has stood the test of time. As a result, values develop tendencies to behave in predictable ways. They function as behavioral standards or criteria. Values deal with styles of behavior and so transcend specific contexts. As a result, we have two sorts of values in a culture −

  • Instrumental value (or conduct modes)

  • Terminal value (or states of existence)

These values impact consumer behavior, including buying habits, tastes, and preferences. Before marketing to a culture, it is vital to grasp its core value system. Various socioeconomic classes may react differently to cultural ideals. Examine the cultural significance of the achievement. While everyone shares the same cultural values, how they respond to them varies tremendously depending on subculture and socioeconomic status.

Each culture has what are known as fundamental values. These are the most essential or fundamental cultural values. It is not required for a culture's fundamental beliefs to be exclusive. As individuals travel to other communities, they bring with them a variety of ideals. While these values may seem straightforward, the critical point is that they are widespread and regarded as givens. For example, core values that have been mentioned might be any of the following.

  • Progress, achievement, and success: These values lead to progress for society

  • Activity: Being and keeping active is widely accepted as a healthy and necessary part of life.

  • Humanitarianism

  • Individualism

  • Efficiency, Practicality

Widely accepted cultural beliefs heavily influence consumption decisions. As a result, marketers attempt to appeal to customer values through advertising, product concepts, and design. These values have an impact on both product and brand selection. It has been discovered that terminal values such as comfort, security, and enjoyment influence the choice of the product class. Broadmindedness and other instrumental values become significant in the brand selection process.

Even though there has been little study on how to quantify values, Milton Rokeach developed the Rokeach Value scale, which consists of eighteen terminal values and eighteen instrumental values. To determine the relevance of these values to individual responders, ranking or agreement scales are utilized.

Social Class and Values in Consumer

In every culture, there is a social status imbalance among various people, and people are classified into distinct social classes. Social classes are generally permanent and homogenous social divisions that categorize individuals or families with similar beliefs, lifestyles, interests, and behavior. The notion of social class is based on the distribution of status, and the categories are generally graded in a hierarchical order ranging from low to high status.

Members of a particular class prefer to limit their engagement to persons of the same class unless it is for a specific cause. Within a socioeconomic class, there are shared values, attitudes, and consumption patterns for specific items and services. When we examine different socioeconomic classes, we find disparities in beliefs, attitudes, and behavior and a pattern of consumer behavior unique to each class.

Because various social classes have diverse product and brand preferences, social class is an excellent basis for market segmentation. Knowledge about various items and brands is shared within the same social class. However, communication between social classes is limited. Various socioeconomic strata have varying levels of media exposure and media habits. Consider the following examples of English women's magazines: If we look at the readership profiles of Femina, Savvy, and Woman's Era, we can see the varied types of people each magazine caters to.

Hence, social classes are market niches that are easily defined and accessible. Income, employment, education, personal performance, and possession of many things all contribute to a person's social class. Social classes can be divided into several categories, such as blue-collar and white-collar employees, educated and ignorant, and so on.

Theories of Values

The study of values is not dominated by any one theoretical framework, even though several have been put forth. Maslow's hierarchy, cognitive consistency, social adaptation, and functional theory are a few of these theories. Both sociological and psychological disciplines have something to say.

A depth study of Maslow's theories is standard in college courses. It is predicated on the idea that people develop via a hierarchy of values (or needs; Maslow utilizes both terms interchangeably with values), moving from the physiologic to the societal to the prestige to the self-actualization level. Each stage builds on the one before it, and each higher step is conceptually more complex than the one before it. Although Maslow's values or stages are undoubtedly accurate and helpful in consumer psychology, his presumptive hierarchical approach could be more credible from an empirical standpoint.

According to Rokeach, the rules of cognitive consistency hold for both values and other types of cognition. According to him, values develop and change by the same rules that govern other cognitions. A somewhat different interpretation of this view holds that ideals are mental shortcuts employed to create adaptive abstractions concerning social environment adaption. According to this perspective, values operate and develop via the identical mechanisms of adaptability and assimilation that define similar brain processes in Piagetian theory. Schwartz and Bilsky developed similar ideas. They see values as conscious thoughts of societal aspirations for prosperity and existence and biological needs for connection and longevity.

Schwartz expanded their viewpoint into a particular viewpoint on integrated value systems. The functional theory places more emphasis on attitudes than values. It indicates that values are only occasionally necessary. The underlying premise is that some attitudes form and change based on incentives and penalties rather than values, while others form and vary depending on psychoanalytic and psychosexual tension. Nonetheless, some attitudes do form, evolve, and serve a purpose in upholding principles. According to this perspective, the open attitudes role determines values' importance.


The most important life goals are social values, which influence people's decisions about what products to buy. Although not all consumer decisions are influenced by values, knowing a person's values can frequently give researchers a more profound knowledge of how they react to a specific company or item than what can be inferred just from baseline socioeconomic and lifestyle data.

Updated on: 02-Mar-2023


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