The term ‘Consumer Behaviour’ can be defined as the behaviour that consumers display in searching for, purchasing, using, evaluating, and disposing of products and services that they expect will satisfy their needs. The study of consumer behaviour is the study of how individuals make decision to spend their available resources (money, time, efforts) on consumption related items.
It includes the study of what they buy, why they buy it, how they buy it, when they buy it, where they buy it, and how often they buy it. The answers to these questions can be found through consumer research and provide the manufacturer with important input for product scheduling, design modification, and promotional strategy. In addition to studying consumer use and post purchase evaluation of the product they buy, consumer researchers are also interested in how individuals dispose of their once-new purchases.
The answer to this question is important to marketers because they must match their production to the frequency with which consumers buy replacements. But it is also important to society as a whole, because solid waste disposal has become a major environmental problem that marketers must address in their development of products and packaging. As students of human behaviour, it is important for us to understand the internal and external influences that impel individuals to act in certain consumption-related ways. Consumer behaviour is simply a subset of the larger field of human behaviour.
As marketers and future marketers, it is important for us to recognize why and how individuals make their consumptions decisions so that we can make better strategic marketing decisions. Without doubt, marketers who understand consumer behaviour have a great competitive advantage in the market place. CONSUMER BEHAVIOUR PRINCIPLES IN STRATEGIC MARKETING There are numbers of reasons why the study of consumer behaviour developed as a separate marketing discipline. Marketing scientists had long noted that consumers did not always act or react, as economic theory would suggest.
The size of consumer market in this country is vast and constantly expanding. Consumer preferences are changing and becoming highly diversified. As marketing researchers began to study the buying behaviour of consumers, they soon realized that despite overriding similarities, consumers were not alike. Despite a sometimes “Me too” approach to fads and fashions, many consumers rebelled at using the identical products everyone else used. Instead, they prefer differentiated products that they feel reflect their own special needs, personalities, and life-styles.
To better meet the needs of specific groups of consumers, “enlighten” marketers developed the policy of market segmentation, which called for the division of their total potential markets into smaller, homogeneous segments for which they could design a specific product and / or promotional campaign. They also used promotional techniques to vary that image of their products so that they were perceived as better fulfilling the specific needs of certain groups of consumers–a process now known as positioning.
In addition to the fast pace of new product introduction, other factors that contributed to the development of consumers behaviour as a marketing discipline include shorter product life cycles, environmental concerns, increased interests in consumers protection and public policy registration, the growth of services marketing and non-profit marketing, the growth of international markets, and the development of computers and sophisticated method of statistical analysis. CONSUMER ORIENTED VIEW OF MARKETING STRATEGY: THE MARKETING CONCEPT
The philosophy that marketing strategies rely on better knowledge of the concept is known as the marketing concept. The marketing concept states that marketers must first define the benefits consumers seek in the marketplace and gear, marketing strategies accordingly. Acceptance of this concept has provided the impetus for studying consumers’ behaviour in a marketing context. First formulated in the early 1950s, the marketing concepts seem so logical today that we may wonder why marketers did not turn to it sooner. There are two reasons.
First, marketing institutions were not sufficiently developed before 1950 to accept the marketing concept. Consumer behaviour research was in infancy. Moreover, advertised and distributive facilities were more suited to the mass production and mass-marketing strategies of that time. The implementation of the marketing concept requires a diversity of facilities for promoting and distributing products that meet the needs of smaller and more diverse market segments. This diversity in marketing institutions did not exist before 1950. Instead, the emphasis was on economies of scale of production and marketing.
The second reason the marketing concept was not accepted until 1950s is that prior to that time there was no economic necessity to do so. During the Depressions, there was little purchasing power to spur an interest in the consumer behaviour. During World War-II and immediately after, scarcities were prevalent. There was no competitive pressure to discover consumers’ motives or to adjust product offerings to consumers needs. Manufactures could sell whatever they made. During 1953 this orientations changed. Different marketers brought out similar lines of products but now they found consumers reluctant to buy.
Consumers had become more selective in their purchasing habits. The economy experienced its first true buyers’ market. For the first time, supply exceeded demand, and inventories built up in the face of consumer purchasing power. Some marketers reacted by intensifying the old strategies: pushing the existing line, heightening the selling efforts, repeating selling themes, and pushing excess inventories on unwilling distributors and dealers. Others reacted with more foresight by recognizing the right combination of product benefits would influence reluctant consumers to purchase.
These manufacturers researched the market to identify the consumers’ needs and to develop products to fit those needs. This newer approach resulted in an expanding set of product offerings. It also caused advertising strategy to shift from the repetitive campaigns designed to maintain brand awareness to more creative, diverse campaigns designed to communicate product benefits. Marketers began talking in behavioural terms. In this new context, a product must be positioned to deliver a set of benefits to a defined segment of consumers.
Advertisings’ goals are to communicate symbols and images that show how the brand delivers these benefits, to create a favourable attitude toward the brand, and to induce trial. Advertising is also intended to reinforce the consumers’ choices to influence them to re-purchase. There are two broad approaches to the study of consumer behaviour. A managerial approach views consumers’ behaviour as an applied social science. It is studied as an adjunct to a basis for developing marketing strategies, a holistic approach views consumer behaviour as a pure rather than applied social science.
In this view, consumer behaviour is a legitimate focus of inquiry in an of itself without necessarily being applied to marketing although it may appear that the first view has the most credence for marketers, in reality, a holistic approach also provides a useful perspective to strategy in many cases. The growing sophistication of consumers combined with such factors as changing social mores and increasingly aggressive competition dictate that an ongoing effort at “knowing the consumer” is no longer a casual matter. Even a local independent retailer often cannot adequately characterize its key competitor.
Everyone has expectations as to how people would act under various circumstances, and most people even engage in predicting the behaviour of those in whom they have an interest. Of course, these behavioural propositions are not used only for predicting behaviour; they also can be used as an aid to the planning of actions. Tucker, in Foundations of a Theory of Consumer Behaviour attempted to call attention to the fact that an understanding of consumer behaviour must start with a fundamental appreciation of consumer actions on a micro level.
Therefore, in a very real sense, to expect even a limited success in coming to understand consumer behaviour at this stage, each student must consciously decide to be more observant of his or her own behavioural patterns as well as those of others. This must be done while keeping in mind not to make broad generalizations. DEVELOPING A CONCEPTUAL BASIS FOR THE STUDY: Although consumer behaviour is complex, the identification of a few basic relationships that capture the essence of modern social science theory can serve to introduce the subject.
Further more, since consumer behaviour is a part of all human behaviour, any theory of consumer behaviour must be consistent with what is basic to human behaviour. Lewin offers a conceptual view that summarizes the essence of contemporary thinking and portrays human behaviour as the result of the interaction among components of what is viewed as one’s life space. This can be represented as follows B = f (life space) Or stated another way, B = f (P, E). The life space consists of the total “facts” that psychologically exist for an individual at a given moment.
The life space is really the totality of individuals’ world as he or she perceives it, and in such a context, a thing exists only if it has demonsratable effects upon behaviour. In the latter formula, (B) represents behaviour, (f) function, (P) person, and (E) environment. This expression states that an individuals’ behaviour is the result of the interaction between the individual and his or her environment. The behaviour that is being referred to is broad and involves all human actions, including buying behaviours. The (P) person in the formula is composed of at least two distinct dimensions.
One is heredity; that is, to a large extent individuals are genetically determined entities. Some physical characteristics that may set very real limits on one’s activities are inherited and cannot be altered. However, at birth humans also begin to acquire information and, thus, learning is another major dimension of the (P) person in the Lewin’s model. The (E) environment component recognizes the influence of both the near physical and social settings on behaviour. The life space has also been called a person’s psychological field.
Lewinian formula offers another means of conceptualising what it is that shapes human behaviour. [pic] As figure 1. 1 indicates, a person is moved by basic needs that are internal and exist largely apart from his environment. In this sense, man is similar to many animals. However, as a human being he has a considerable capacity to call upon past experiences and observations as well as to anticipate the future. In addition, man as a social being is profoundly influenced by the other people and, of course, is affected by the physical environment, as are other forms of life.
By perceiving a person as being subject to compound and sometimes-conflicting motivational determinants, it is possible to recognize the complexity of the forces underlying behaviour. Each individual must adapt to his unique psychological field, and to him, this field is reality. He will establish forms of behaviour that permit a workable and meaningful pattern of adaptation to his perception of the world. Despite individual weakness and the complexity of the forces that affect people, and orderly study of human behaviour is possible. CONSUMER ANALYSIS IN MARKETING:
Marketing thought has undergone dramatic changes because of the post World War-II infusion of behavioural science concepts, and many of the earliest views of buyer behaviour have had to yield to new information. As a result, contemporary thought is a blend of old and the new. It is helpful to discuss both the traditional viewpoint, because of its historical contributions, and the more recent modifications. At an early date there were two separate and distinct groups interested in consumer behaviour: (i) Marketing practitioners and (ii) Social scientists.
Each group had dissimilar orientations to the subject, used different means to study, and sought results that were consistent with their separate perspectives. Figure-1. 2 identifies the variation just described. The early marketing practitioners were essentially pragmatic in their study. They most often focused in variables that had a high degree of face validity in their predictive capacity. For instance, there was generally little disagreement with the proposition that favourable attitudes and selected demographic characteristics influenced buyer behaviour.
Studies were initiated to demonstrate such relationships and to use these results to predict behaviour as well as to aid in strategy development. These studies were not ordinarily tied to any conceptual framework, but were more or less carried on in serial fashion–one after another as a problem arouse. [pic] The works of Engel, Kollat, and Blackwell; Howard and Seth; And Nicosia are the exemplary contributions in the theory of consumer behaviour. These represent specific attempts at identifying all the significant variables that shape consumer action and the inter relationships among these factors.
These works are truly unique accomplishments and have made several note-worthy contributions. 1. They have brought to light the limitations of the attempt to transplant various behavioural theories developed in other disciplines such as Psychology and Sociology without appropriate modification. 2. Through persistent efforts to formulate comprehensive theories, consumer analysts have gained much self-confidence. Although considerable works remains, there is a feeling of having made some progress. 3.
This development process in an applied discipline such as consumer behaviour has also fostered a demand for comprehensive theory that is grounded in reality-based upon realistic assumptions and verifiable propositions. CONSUMER (BUYING) DECISION PROCESS: Prior to discussing the integrative—comprehensive models of consumer behaviour, it is necessary to consider the evaluative processes of the behavioural sciences, focusing on the distributive approach and the decision-process approach. DISTRIBUTIVE APPROACH: Empirical research on consumer behaviour historically has utilized the distributive approach.
Consequently, consumer behaviour has been conceptualised and studied as an act rather than a process or series of interrelated acts. Researchers utilizing this approach attempt to determine the relationship between the outcome of consumer decision-making and a variety of independent variables such as income, social class, race, and marital status. ADVANTAGES OF THE DISTRIBUTIVE APPROACH The Distributive approach has been frequently used because it has many advantages. The major advantage is that research utilizing this strategy is relatively simple and typically less expensive than other alternatives.
Further more, it has been very useful in those instances where the independent variables under the study are highly correlated with the purchase of the product. The Distributive approach has proven to be somewhat useful in estimating marketing potential and in making media selection decisions. LIMITATIONS OF THE DISTRIBUTIVE APPROACH: There are also a number of limitations inherent in the Distributive approach. The foremost difficulty is that these approaches can, at best, provide only a partial or incomplete explanation of consumer behaviour.
Consumer analysts now agree that the act of buying a particular product is only a fraction of the relevant consumption behaviour: that is, it is important to recognize that the decision to purchase a specific product is preceded by some pattern of conscious and sub-conscious actions that are a part of decision making. Unless purchase acts are related to theses broader processes—and they seldom are –both the decision and the correlates of the decision may be misleading in the sense that they may be true only if certain mixture of pre-decision process takes place.
Further more, the Distributive approach does not provide the marketing manager with any insight into why the relationship between an independent variable and purchase decisions exists. Because this approach fails to provide information on the sequence of events culminating ion a purchase act, it is of limited value in developing effective marketing strategies or in evaluating existing business practices in terms of their relationship to consumer needs. DECISION—PROCESS APPROACH: The Decision-process approach to the study of consumer behaviour focuses on the means by which consuming units reach a purchase decision.
The configuration of this decision process consist of five processes linked in a sequence (i) Problem Recognition, (ii) Alternative Evaluation-internal search, (iii) Alternative Evaluation-external search, (iv) Purchase, and (v) Outcomes. This conceptualisation describes the behavioural process that are operative from the time the consumer recognizes that some decision is necessary to the point at which there is some post-purchase evaluation of the particular purchase. ADVANTAGE OF THE DECISION—PROCESS APPROACH: The Decision—Process approach has some distinct advantages over the distributive approach.
This approach, as the name implies, views consumer behaviour as a process and is as concerned how a decision is reached as it is with the decision itself. Furthermore, the decision approach involves a sequence of processes, including the steps that generally precede the decision, the decision itself, and the course of action that follows the decisions. This approach is a more extended and elaborate means of studying consumer behaviour than is the distributive approach; therefore, it can ordinarily provide the marketing manager with more relevant information.
The identification of various stages of consumer decision making and the factors that influence at each stage can contribute to the development of more effective marketing strategies and appropriate public policy for regulation of business practices. LIMITATIONS TO THE DECISION—PROCESS APPROACH: There are numbers of limitations associated with these approaches to studying consumer behaviour. In particular, the fact that the decision process approach is a relatively recent development means that less empirical research has been conducted using this perspective than researchers would like.
Furthermore, the research that has been done from the Decision-process approach has revealed a considerable amount of variation among consumers in their decision-making behaviour. Another difficulty is that very little research has included more than a one phase of decision process, and therefore, little is known about the relationship among the phases or the influence of one phase on another. Despite the fact that there are number of problems involved in conceptualisation and study of consumer behaviour from the decision-process approach, it is increasingly recognized that the advantages outweigh the limitations.
INTEGRATIVE–COMPREHENSIVE MODELS OF CONSUMER BEHAVIOUR: With the emergence of consumer behaviour as a subject for intensive studying in its own right, researchers and practitioners realized the need for an integrative-comprehensive model. Each of these models attempts to represent the essential qualities of consumer behaviour. HOWARD-SHETH MODEL: John Howard proposed the first truly integrative model of buyer behaviour in 1963. Howard’s model was based on a systematic and thorough utilization of learning theory. Perhaps the most important contribution of Howard’s model as the distinction drawn between extensive problem solving, limited problem solving, and automatic response behaviour. This model drew attention to the need for an inter-disciplinary approach to clarification of the conceptual basis for such a model and to the need for extensive development of practical implications of buyer behaviour models. The Howard –Sheth model consists of four sets of constructs of variables (i) input variables, (ii) output variables,(iii)hypothetical constructs, and (iv)exogenous variables.
Each of the variables includes in the model and the hypothesized linkage is described in Howard and Sheth’s book The Theory Of Buyer Behaviour. Howard and Sheth contend that when a buyer is interested in purchasing something, he actively seeks information from his commercial and social environment. The buyer’s perceptual processes limit the information received and modify it so that it is consistent with his own frame of reference. In addition to the process of searching for information, the buyer draws from his learning constructs, such as attitudes and motives.
The choice criteria the buyer has developed enable him to choose a brand that has the greatest potential for satisfying his motives. When a buyer’s experiences with a brand are satisfactory, the evaluation of it increases and the likelihood of his purchasing that brand of product increases. If the buyer repeats the decision a number of times, routinised purchase behaviour develops. Whether or not a person actually buys a given alternative brand, however, is a function of the comprehension of brand attributes, attitude toward the brand, confidence in the purchase, and individual intention.
Furthermore, the exogenous variables help explain individual differences to such factors as financial status, time pressure, and social class. The great strength of this model lies in the fact that a multiplicity of variables are linked in a precise way. The relationships hypothesized in the model at times approach the rigour of fully developed theory. The work of Howard and Sheth has stimulated and enriched the thinking and research of nearly every student of consumer behaviour. Despite its many contributions, a number of weaknesses are evident in the model.
First, the distinction drawn between hypothetical and measurable variables introduces unnecessary complexity. The empirical research undertaken for the purposes of validation has indicated the need for modifications and extensions of the model. In addition, some variables that were originally included were found not to be related as hypothesized, while others not specified should have been included. In conclusion, it is fair to say that the empirical research seems to provide considerable support for the model generally, but it has demonstrated the need for extensive revision.
ENGEL, BLACKWELL, AND KOLLAT’S CONSUMER DECISION PROCESS MODEL : The Consumer Decision Process model which serves an integrative and organizational function is the third version of a model developed by Engel, Blackwell, and Kollat. This Consumer decision process model is not an end in itself; rather is a means to facilitate understanding of a very complex phenomenon. The model has the following criteria. i) The model conforms well to the rules of logic. ii) The model is internally consistent. iii) The model encompasses relevant theories. v) The model can be empirically operationalised. v) The model serves as a basis to derive new models. vi) The model is consistent with existing model. vii) The model suggests new directions for research. [pic] The consumer decision process model is organized around five interrelated decision-process stages: (i) Problem Recognition, (ii) Search, (iii) Alternative Evaluation, (iv) Choice, (v) Outcomes. These phases are affected by internalised environmental influences, general motivating influences, product/brand evaluation and information processing.
PROBLEM RECOGNITION Problem recognition occurs when an individual perceives a difference between an ideal state of affairs and the actual state of any given moment. The simplified depiction of problem recognition in figure 1. 4 indicates that there are two basic sources of problem recognition: (i) Motive activation, (ii) External stimuli. Problem recognition can be activated by a number of factors, which tend to fall into one of these categories. Problem recognition can be activated solely by motive activation without any type of external stimulation.
Motives are enduring predisposition to strive to attain specific goals, and they contain both an arousing and a directing dimension. Motive activation causes the individual to become alert, responsive, and vigilant because of the feelings of discomfort produced. The result is the formation of a consciously felt drive that energizes motive satisfying behaviour. [pic] Problem recognition can also be activated by external stimuli. Technically, external stimuli affects new information and experience that trigger motive and, in turn, motive activates problem recognition.
Fig1. 4 demonstrates this. However, not every perceived discrepancy between actual and ideal will result in problem recognition. There is a minimum level of perceived difference that must be surpassed before recognition occurs. The level of perceived difference that is necessary for problem recognition to result will vary among consumers and circumstances. SEARCH Once a problem is recognized and no constraints intervene to halt the decision process, the consumer must then assess the alternatives for action.
Initially the consumer will search internally to determine whether or not sufficient information is available to make a purchase decision. If the internal search and the alternative evaluation process reveals that alternatives have been well defined and a satisfactory one can be identified, the remaining stages of the decision process will be circumvented, and a purchase decision will be made. This type of response to problem recognition is referred to as routinized behaviour. If the internal search does not prove to be sufficient, external search is activated.
The process is illustrated in the figure 1. 5. While only stored information and experience are depicted in this simplified diagram, several other variables such as attitudes, beliefs, and personality also have impact on consumer. [pic] Internal search for information occurs instanteously and largely unconsciously. In many instances, this search is insufficient to permit the consumer to make a decision. Consumers differ significantly in their willingness and desire to search for purchase related information.
These differences exist because some people are cautious and unwilling to act even after careful evaluation of alternatives because of the perceived implications of a wrong decision, whereas others are willing act largely on hunch and intuition. While there are numerous factors affecting an individual’s willingness to search for information, researchers generally maintain that consumers search for information as long as the benefit of search exceeds the cost of the search. INFORMATION PROCESSING:
Information processing refers to the process by which sensory inputs are transformed, reduced, elaborated, store, recovered, and used by the consumer. Research has established unequivocally that consumers are highly selective in the way they process information. In fact, the information loss and distortion can be so substantial that there is very little similarity between the actual content of the message and the content as perceived and retained by the consumer. Information loss and distortion occur as new information is passed through active memory.
Active memory refers to that portion of consumer’s memory, which is used in processing and interpretation incoming information. That is, active memory as depicted in the following figure 1. 6, is a type of filter that controls the flow of information. [pic] Information processing begins with exposure, at which time the individual is in physical proximity to an informational stimulus such that there is opportunity for one or more senses to be activated. This makes the obvious point that the marketer’s first task is to get the intended message to the right person at the right point of time.
Attention is defined as the active processing of an exposed stimulus such that a conscious impression is made within the active memory. Attention is highly selective, however, and many stimuli are completely filtered out. The key fact is whether or not the stimulus has pertinence for that individual. Attention is a necessary but not a sufficient precondition for message reception—the accurate comprehension of the meaning of the stimulus and storage of that information in long-term memory. The filtering effect of active memory can distort meaning in such a way that some things are amplified whereas others are diminished or ignored.
Not every correctly comprehended message enters into permanent memory, because there also is a tendency to retain only those, which are compatible with our present beliefs. The final stage of information processing as shown in fig1. 6 is new information or experience, which enters into permanent storage. Obviously, it can affect all other things stored within memory and bring about changes. In the context of consumer behaviour, however, the greatest changes will be in product beliefs and attitudes, intention to purchase, and in actual purchase behaviour.
The marketer’s real difficulty is to design messages that do not activate the filter in such a way that it prevents further processing or distorts the inputs. ALTERNATIVE EVALUATION: The information that the consumer processes can exert an influence on four key variables within the central processing unit: (i) Evaluating criteria, (ii) Beliefs, (iii) Attitudes, and (iv) Intentions Evaluative criteria are the internalise specifications and standards used by consumers to assess and compare alternative products. They are the desired outcomes from choice and use expressed in the form of specifications used to evaluate alternatives.
Evaluative criteria are concrete, product specific manifestations of underlying personal goals, typically applied across several products within a product type. Several factors must be kept in mind when considering these evaluative criteria, which are shaped by an individuals personality, stored information, social influence, and marketing efforts of firms. These criteria change over time and consequently the evaluative criteria related to any product must be carefully monitored. Beliefs represent information that links a product or brand to evaluative criteria.
Whereas evaluative criteria are highly individualized and, therefore, rather resistant to marketer influence, beliefs can normally be influenced by the marketer with little difficulty. Attitude can be defined as a learned predisposition to respond consistently in a favourable or unfavourable manner with respect to a given alternative. The alternative choice with the highest rating summed across the evaluative criteria has the greatest probability of being purchased and consumed when a corresponding need exist. Attitudes stand as one of the most analysed phenomena in general human behaviour.
Intention refers to subjective probability that a specified action will be undertaken in a particular instance. Thus, it has been concluded that a change in attitude is necessary, but not sufficient, condition for change in intention. The change in intention than leads to a change in behaviour, unless it is inhibited by an environmental factor. Two environmental influences that have a particularly pronounced effect on intentions are normative compliance and anticipated circumstances. Normative compliance refers to the existence of perceived social influence on choice plus the motivation to comply with that influence.
The sensitivity to comply with social influence is determined by the individual’s personality make-up. Personality is normally considered to be the consistent pattern of responses to environmental stimuli. The term life-style, frequently used interchangbly with personality, refers to the pattern of enduring traits, activities, interests, and opinions which determines general behaviour and thereby makes one individual distinctive in comparison with another. CHOICE AND ITS OUTCOMES: The complete model of consumer behaviour integrates the portions of the model previously discussed.
Furthermore, it depicts choice and outcomes, the last two stages of decision-making process. Choice generally follows the formation of a purchase intention but perceived unanticipated circumstances can serve as a barrier to such intention. Examples of unanticipated circumstances are: changes in income, changes in family circumstances, and non-availability of alternatives. In the event that an intended behaviour is thwarted, the intention either remains in existence until a later time or the decision-making process begins anew.
The choice process includes the selection of the particular retail outlet at which product is purchased as well as those activities associated with determining the conditions of sales. The decision to purchase a product or service can result in two types of outcomes: satisfaction and dissonance. If the customer’s post-purchase evaluation indicates that the chosen alternative is consistent with prior beliefs and attitudes, the resultant outcome is satisfaction. . A purchase decision can also produce post-decision dissonance.
Post-decision dissonance is a state of doubt motivated by awareness that although one alternative was chosen, the alternatives not chosen also have desirable attributes. Dissonance is especially likely to occur if the purchase is financially burdensome and several attractive alternatives were rejected. The purchaser now might be sensitive to the information that confirms the choice and thereby relives doubt. Therefore, post decision search for information is not unusual in such circumstances. VARIATIONS IN CONSUMER DECISION PROCESSES:
The consumer decision process describe in the preceding pages is the most comprehensive type of decision-making. However, most consumer decision-making is not this complex. Indeed, the most common type of consumer decision making—the habitual or routine decision process—is at the opposite extreme. Consumers tend to rationalize their decision making as much as possible to reduce the complexity in their lives. In the case of routinised decision process behaviour, problem recognition will lead directly to a purchase intention and then to a purchase.
The consumers’ beliefs and attitudes are fixed in the form of brand loyalty, thus simplifying substantially the decision process. In a sense, extended problem solving and routine behaviour lie at opposite ends of a continuum. In between is limited decision process behaviour, which occurs when there is good information about the domain of feasible alternatives but insufficient information about each to permit a sound decision. POST- PURCHASE BEHAVIOUR The managerial implications of the outcomes of consumer choice are apparent.
The marketing analyst must regularly monitor consumer’s evaluation of the product to be certain that the product continues to receive favourable evaluation on evaluative criteria, beliefs, and attitudes. If the evaluation of choice results in complete dissatisfaction being transmitted to long-term memory, two types of outcomes can result. First, the consumer can discontinue this type of purchase behaviour. Discontinuance of purchase behaviour can result when the current solution is unsatisfactory and no other acceptable solution is available.
The second type of out come that can result is a change in purchase behaviour. The consumer might continue his or her search for a satisfactory solution in other locations, re-evaluate the alternative solutions, or redefine the problem to increase the likelihood of locating satisfactory solution. If the feedback to the consumer’s long-term memory is partial satisfaction, the outcome might be (1) discontinuance of purchase behaviour; (2) continuance of purchase behaviour but with some reservations; or (3) modification of purchase behaviour.
If partial satisfaction was experienced with respect to the solution of a one-time problem, the purchase behaviour will, of course, be discontinued. A consumer might be only partially satisfied and yet continue the same purchase behaviour because the product is an inconsequential one or because the best available alternative is presently being used. A post-purchase evaluation that results in partial satisfaction for the consumer may cause a modification in purchase behaviour. The modification can result from a change in the consumer’s problem recognition or from the alternatives available to the consumer.
Post-purchase evaluation that result in partial satisfaction or dissatisfaction present particularly appealing opportunities to marketing analysts. Questions for Discussion 1. “The distinction drawn between the distributive approach and the decision approach is interesting to the academician but is unimportant to the marketing strategists”. Comment. 2. Discuss the stages of the decision process, the variations that occur in the decision process, and the underlying determinants of these variations. 3.
Comment on the following quotation: “The decision-process model can explain deliberate, well-thought out consumer decision making but cannot explain impulse purchases. ” 4. Most successful small business owners have never taken a course in consumer behaviour nor formally studied the subject. How can this be true? 5. How might the decision-process approach help the manufacturer of high quality stereo equipment understand how and why consumers purchase his or her product? UNIT-2 CULTURAL AND SOCIAL FACTORS OF CONSUMER BEHAVIOUR:
Environmental influences—culture, social class, groups, family–substantially affect consumer behaviour. These environmental variables not only influence specific consumer choice but also determine the nature of an individual in ways that influence all decision of that individual. CULTURAL INFLUENCES The shared values of large groups of people influence the means used to satisfy human needs. These values vary substantially among some cultural groupings whereas only inconsequential differences exist among others.
The values and influence of smaller groups within the large culture have been less apparent and less well understood. Nevertheless, these groups, frequently called subcultures, affect consumer decision-making. The Nature Of culture: In simplest terms, culture serves an adaptive function; that is, it is a means of helping an individual adapt or cope with the world. A significant part of the importance of culture stems from the influence it has on people’s perceptions, attitudes, and values. This leads to the realization that human decision making is greatly affected by the culture in which it operates.
The term “culture” is used to mean the complex set of variables, ideas, attitudes, and other meaningful symbols created by humans to shape behaviour and the artifacts of the behaviour that are transmitted from one generation to the next. Three things should be noted about this definition. First, culture does not refer to instinctive human responses, such as eating when you are hungry. Nor does it include the inventiveness that takes form as one time solution to problems. Second, this definition reflects a contemporary view of culture that emphasizes the integrative and learning function of culture.
This definition also stresses the communicative aspect of culture through time, that is, the process of passing on values, beliefs, and artefacts from one generation to the next. Thus, culture can be viewed as the means and methods of coping with environment that are shared by a large group of people and that are passed from one generation to another. This sharing and then passing on is the result of finding effective means of dealing with common problems and circumstances. Culture includes both abstract and material elements. Abstract elements are the values, attitudes, ideas, and personality types, as well as the various ombinations of these, such as religion, that can be used to characterize a large group of people. These abstract characteristics are learned overtime and are transmitted to succeeding generations. Material elements refer to those objects that are employed by a large group of people in meeting their various needs. As a result, in an advanced society, these take on many different forms. The word society refers to a collection of individuals who share a particular set of symbols and conduct their inter-personal and collective behaviour according to the prescriptions of that group of people. A culture is a way of life while a society is made up of people who live by its dictates”. The process of absorbing or learning the culture in which one is raised is called enculturation or socialization. Acculturation refers specifically to the learning of another of another culture or sub-culture different from the one in which the person was raised. The social units with which an individual has most regular and intimate contact include the family, the prayer institution, and educational institutions; these social units have the greatest influences on culture values absorbed throughout life.
The influence of all other social units is “filtered” by members of the family in the early years of the typical individual. Other human groups, particularly reference groups are also important transmitters of culture. These groups filter and modify the values of the broader culture to make them consistent with their group values. Basic Characteristics of Culture Some people believe that the essence of marketing focuses on culture and society because they perceive marketing as the delivery of a standard of living. Certainly those who characterize marketing in this way must be very interested in consumer behaviour.
Only through studying the consumer’s interests and decision-making processes can appropriate goods and services be delivered. The notion that culture is an important determinant of behaviour has caused consumer analysts to examine the fundamental characteristics of culture in order to discover more about its dynamics. Five distinct characteristics, or dimensions, can be identified and described to facilitate understanding culture and its effect on consumer behaviour: (1) culture is learned; (2) culture is inculcated; (3) culture is a social phenomenon; (4) culture is gratifying; and (5) culture is adaptive.
CULTURE IS LEARNED: Consumer behaviour is learned; it is not instinctive. Culture provides the consumer with a framework to recognize a set of stimuli and a set of responses appropriate to those stimuli. For example, consumers are not born with the idea that a particular type of food product will satisfy their hunger; they learn it from their culture. Cultural values learned early in life tend to resist change more strongly than those learned late in life. Fundamental values refer to the ultimate reasons people have for acting as they do; these are intangible and deal with basic aims, aspirations, and ideals.
For example, self-oriented values include the right to life and the pursuit of happiness, physical and mental well-being, self-sufficiency, and the right to endeavour to shape one’s own life. Once learned and accepted, these values resist change. The appropriate strategy for deeply ingrained, culturally determined preferences. It is commonly recognized that, although family and other social groups contribute most to the socialization process, marketing also can have significant impact on this process. CULTURE IS INCULCATED.
To say that culture is inculcated is simply to say that culture is transmitted from generation to generation. This process is performed mainly by the immediate family, but other groups and institutions also contribute to it. Ethnic, educational, and religious institutions all participate in the passing on the values, customs, and artefacts from one generation to next. For example some religions prohibit the consumption of certain products and these prohibitions have a direct impact on the marketing of these products. The values, norms, and behavioural patterns transmitted are generally idealised.
There is , however, considerable disparity between the idealised norm and the norm that is observed in practice. Thus, parents as a rule instil the importance of adhering to laws (idealised norm), yet the same parents may jaywalk, exceed the speed limit, or do some thing wrong. Minor violations of cultural values are permitted, expected, and, occasionally, encouraged, whereas major violations are perceived negatively and are subject to punishment, such as imprisonment. In a consumer behaviour context, such deviations may be less dramatic but, nevertheless, are important to analysts.
Consider the example of a parent who stresses the importance of the performance features of a product, like a stereo, a then obviously buys one because it has a good-looking cabinet. The emphasis on performance characteristics (the idealised norm) is generally more acceptable to society, but this is often not the basis for making a particular purchase decision. CULTURE IS A SOCIAL PHENOMENON Cultural values, habits, and patterns of behaviour are shared by the people living in a particular society. The values consumers have and the consumption behaviour they express are group properties; they are not distinctive to individual consumer.
Culture has an effect on all values and behavioural patterns but particularly on those that are basic to social life, such as how to get along with others, the type of food to eat, how to dress, and how to earn a living. The systematic study of culture requires that the marketing strategists focus on groups or segments. Indeed, marketing strategy must be based on assumptions about large numbers of consumers representing sizable market segments. Thus, planning and directing of marketing operations must be based on similarities of behaviour that often result from culturally determined variables.
CULTURE IS GRATTIFYING The basic function of culture is to satisfy the needs of the people adhering to its dictates. Only those values, habits, and behavioural patterns that satisfy human needs will be continued through time. Elements within a culture that cease to gratify needs usually become extinguished, at least in the long run. The notion that culture reinforces some responses serves as the basis for marketing decision-making. Strategist must recognise that the advertising used and the products offered for sale must focus on satisfying needs that society approves. CULTURE IS ADAPTIVE
As indicated previously, culture is passed from generation to generation; yet this does not imply that culture is static or endowed with eternal life. Rather, culture adapts to the environment in which it operates and with which it has contact. In the past, culture change was unbelievably slow. More recently, however, vastly accelerated technological changes and the amazing capabilities of communication are reflected in comparatively rapid cultural adaptation, particularly among the developed nations. SUB-CULTURE A culture represents a loose agreement on the values, behaviour patterns, and symbols it upholds.
There are, however, smaller groups within the larger society that have modified these ways of dealing with the environment and with persons enough to be at variants with the general living patterns. These smaller groups are referred to as Sub culture. More specifically, sub-culture influences refer to the norms and values of sub groups within the larger or national culture. Individual consumers may be influenced only slightly by membership in specific sub-groups or the sub-groups may be the dominant force on the personality and life style of the consumer.
Some products may be favoured specifically by the persons in a particular sub-culture. However, because sufficient similarities exist among various sub cultures, many products are commonly accepted. The appeals of fast food counters demonstrates this kind of general acceptance. Among sub cultures there are a number of points of commonness that permit grouping of identifiable characteristics. Four types of sub cultures are described below: Nationality, Religious, Geography, and Ethnic. NATIONALITY SUB CULTURES
Nearly every metropolitan area has within its boundaries groups that are relatively homogeneous and often distinctive products and/or consumption patterns become associated with the residents. Many times the media, primarily the newspapers, develop programmes for the markets. RELIGIOUS SUB CULTURES Religious sub cultures may exert considerable influence on those members who choose to conform closely to group norms. It is obvious from some examples that certain sub cultural beliefs and values actually restrict the market for a number of products. Many conditions can cause the influence of the sub culture to decline.
Increased mobility, education, and income provide challenges to traditional activities and affect behaviour. However, the basic values of a sub culture may continue to have an influence on decision making for some time. GEOGRAPHIC SUB CULTURES Sub cultures develop within different geographic areas of a nation. The climate and religious and nationality influences may be highly interrogated with geographic influences. The proper understanding of the geographic characteristics may help the marketers to understand the consumer behaviour of different geographic areas. ETHNIC SUB CULTURES
The four type of sub culture is based on ethnic or racial differences and is given a more extended analysis because of its importance in modern times. Ethnic sub cultures have been the focus of numerous research efforts in recent years. The understanding of the differences among different ethnic groups will help in more effective market segmentation and formulation of advertising policy. Different ethnic groups reacts differently to a common object. In India, politicians are taking advantage of this type of segmentations. SOCIAL CLASS AND GROUP INFLUENCE People generally tend to associate with those whom they consider to be like themselves.
Frequently, they have similar occupation and levels of formal education and likely to live in comparable circumstances. Under such arrangements, fundamental values and viewpoints about life are shared. There is a particular social consciousness associated with these shared characteristics and a social status attached to them. A hierarchy among status groups has developed because some are regarded as having more social prestige and are, therefore, superior to the others. Historically, sociologists have been particularly interested in the phenomenon of social structure for its own sake.
Consumer analysts, on the other hand, have become attentive to social stratification because it can significantly influence consumer behaviour. Social classes are relatively permanent and homogenous division in a society into which individuals or families sharing similar values, life-styles, interests, and behaviour can be categorised. Of course, it is much easier to provide such a definition than it is to operationalize it. There are no absolute boundaries separating social classes; consequently, there has been considerable disagreement as to where one class ends and another begins.
Social classes are multidimensional, hierarchical structures that tend to restrict the behaviour of members of a particular social class. There is, a number of variables—power, prestige, influence, wealth, and income—combine to create a social class. Social class is not the same as income, although it is often treated as such. Furthermore, people tend to rank, frequently on an intuitive basis without reference to specific people, the various strata or social groupings. This ranking into relatively homogenous groupings tend to restrict the behaviour of the individuals within each social class.
SOCIAL CLASS DETERMINANTS Social classes take shape through what have been called determinants—those characteristics that differentiate the members of one social class from another. Although there are a number of ways that can be used to determine a person’s social class, there is considerable similarity among the various approaches. One of the more helpful approaches follows. It concentrates on five dimensions of social class. These five include occupation, personal performance, personal interactions, possessions, and value orientation
Occupation: Many believe that an individual’s occupation is the best single clue to his or her social class membership. This appears to be true because a person’s life’s work has a substantial influence on the way he or she lives. Personal Performance: An individual achievement is also related to social class status. Ordinarily that is concerned with occupational accomplishments, but it may involve non-job performance as well. These latter accomplishments include service to various community groups or even superior family role performance.
Some social and community organisations demand a great deal of time and usually pay no salary to their members, but each position offers considerable public visibility and attention. Consequently, people active in community service develop the behavioural pattern expected to them by the public. These influences are of interest to the consumer analysts because they may affect purchasing patterns—first, among the individuals who hold these positions and then, more important, among those who use public figures as reference. Possession: Personal possessions are often used as indicators of social status.
Veblen’s theory of conspicuous consumption draws specific attention to the practice of some people who engage in buying to verify their newly acquired wealth. However, while possessions are necessary conditions for class membership, they are not sufficient. Further, the importance of possessions relates not only to amount of possessions that an individual has but also the nature of his or her choice. Value Orientation: Fundamental values are interpreted and applied differently; consequently the value orientations of individuals are important determinants of social class.
The members of a social class tend to share a common set of abstract convictions that organise and relate many specific values, and therefore, it is intuitively appealing that social class should substantially affect consumption behaviour. For example, identifiable differences in beliefs among members of different social classes about family formation, child rearing, the home, and work affect market behaviour and may even provide a basis for market segmentation. Several of these differences have their impact on marketing strategy development. MEASUREMENT OF SOCIAL CLASS
Several methods have been developed for measuring social class. The three principal methods are (1) Reputational, (2) Subjective, and (3) Objective. In considering these methods, it is important to remember that the marketer’s primary reason for measuring social class is to identify market segments that manifest similar consumption behaviour. The reputational method basically considers a social class as a social group characterised by common modes of thinking and member interaction. People are ranked into social classes by having individuals within a particular community group the people they know into various classes.
While this method is useful in predicting social interaction in small and moderate sized communities, the variability in people’s perception of different social classes limits its usefulness, particularly in large cities. Subjective methods of determining social classes ask respondents to rate themselves on social class. Such methods have been used on occasions but are of limited use for consumer analysts for two reasons: ( 1 ) respondents tend to overrate their own class position and ( 2 ) respondents avoid the connotative terms ‘upper” and “lower” classes and thus exaggerate the size of the middle classes.
The value of subjective methods to date appears to be minimal due primarily to the absence of a simple, self-administered rating scale to identify social classes without simply asking the respondents his or her social class. Objective methods of determining social classes rely on the assigning of classes (or status) on the basis of respondents’ possession of some value of a stratified variable. The most often used variables are occupation, income, education, size and type of residence, ownership of possessions, and organisational affiliations.
Most consumer research uses some objective methods for classifying because they yield quantitative results and obviate subjective interpretation. Objective methods can be divided into those that involve single indexes and those that use multiple indexes. REFERENCE GROUPS With the exception of those very few people who can be classified as hermits, most individuals tend to be involved with other people on a continuing basis. Like almost all-human behaviour, an individual’s social behaviour and social relationships are often motivated by the expectation that they will help satisfy specific needs.
For example, a person might become a volunteer ambulance driver to satisfy a need for community recognition. Another person might visit a health spa in the hopes of meeting compatible people to satisfy social needs. A third person might join a food cooperative to obtain the benefits of group buying power. These are just a few of the almost infinite number of reasons why people involve themselves with others. GROUP A group may be defined as two or more people who interact to accomplish either individual or mutual goals.
The broad scope of this definition includes an intimate “group” of two neighbours who shop together and a larger, more formal group, such as a neighbourhood watch association, whose members are mutually concerned with reducing crime in their neighbourhood. Included in this definition, too, are more remote, one-sided, social relationships where an individual consumer looks to others for direction as to which products or services to buy, even though these others are largely unaware that they are serving as consumption-related models. TYPES OF GROUPS
There are many ways to classify to groups, such as by regularity of contact, by structure and hierarchy, by membership, even by size. For example, it is often desirable to distinguish between groups in terms of their size or complexity. However, it is difficult to offer a precise point as to when a group is considered large or small. A large group might be thought of as one in which a single member is not likely to know more than a few of the group’s members personally or be fully aware of the specific roles or activities of more than a limited number of other group members.
In contrast, members of a small group are likely to know each member personally and to be aware of every member’s specific role or activities in the group. For example, each staff member of a college newspaper is likely to know all other members and be aware of their duties and interests within the group. In the realm of consumer behaviour, we are principally concerned with the study of small groups since such groups are more likely to influence the consumption behaviour of group members.
PRIMARY VERSUS SECONDARY GROUPS If a person interacts on a regular basis with other individuals (with members of his or her family, with neighbours, or with co-workers whose opinions are valued), then these individuals can be considered as primary group for that person. On the other hand, if a person interacts only occasionally with such others, or does not consider their opinion to be particularly important, then these others constitute a secondary group for that person.
Thus from this definition, it can be seen that the critical distinctions between primary and secondary groups are the perceived importance of the groups to the individual and the frequency or consistency with which the individual interacts with them. FORMAL VERSUS INFORMAL GROUPS Another useful way to classify groups is by their formality; that is, the extent to which the group structure, the member’s roles, and the group’s purposes are clearly defined.
If a group has a highly defined structure (for example, a formal membership list), specific roles and authority levels (a president, treasurer, and secretary), and specific goals (to support a political candidate, assist the homeless, increase the knowledge or skills of members), then it would be classified as a formal group. The Executive Council of the Gauhati University, with elected officers and members who meet regularly to discuss topics relating to the University, would be classified as formal group.
On the other hand, if a group is more loosely defined—if it consists, say, of four members who were in the same college sorority and who met for dinner once a month, or three co-workers who, with their spouses, see each other frequently then it is considered an informal group. From the standpoint of consumer behaviour, informal social or friendship groups are generally more important to the marketer, since their less clearly defined structure provide a more conducive environment for the exchange of information and influence about consumption related topics.
MEMBERSHIP VERSUS SYMBOLIC GROUPS Sometimes groups are classified by memberships status. A group to which a person either belongs or would qualify for membership is called a membership group. The Pensioners Association of Assam (PAA) is an example of membership groups. Older adults are an important special market, and the PAA is a very large membership group that enjoys their trust. In contrast, a group in which an individual is not likely to receive membership, despite acting like a member by adopting the group’s values, attitudes, and behaviour, is considered a symbolic group.
For example, professional cricket players may constitute a symbolic group for an amateur cricket player who identifies with certain players by imitating their behaviour whenever possible (e. g. , in the purchase of a specific brand of cricket glove or bat). The amateur does not, however,(and probably never will) qualify for membership as a professional cricket player because he has neither the skills or opportunity to compete professionally. Clearly, actual membership groups offer a more direct, and thus a more compelling, influence on consumer behaviour.
In summary, we can say that small, informal, primary membership groups are of the greatest interest to marketers because they exert the greatest potential influence on consumer purchase decisions. CONSUMER-RELEVANT GROUPS To more fully comprehend the kind of impact that specific groups have on individuals, it is essential to examine six basic consumer-relevant groups: the family, friendship groups, formal social groups, shopping groups, consumer action groups, and working groups. THE FAMILY IN CONSUMER BEHAVIOUR
The family as an institution has been receiving increasing attention from a broad spectrum of researchers and policymakers. Some of them question whether the family is in transition, in trouble, or even able to survive, while others convey an optimistic assessment of its future. However the changes in values and the traditional familial responsibilities, stability, composition, and roles are approached, it is evident that government, business, and the academic community have become more committed to studying the approximately 57 million living units defined as families.
In focussing on the family as it relates to consumer behaviour, at least two perspectives may be used. First, the family may be viewed as an agent that influences the behaviour of its individual members. This involves an awareness of the effect that various beliefs, life-styles, socio-economic status, and patterns of interaction among members have an individual member’s market behaviour. The family is, therefore, seen as a reference group. The second perspective focuses on the family as a unique entity.
The family is viewed as a unit that has specific identifiable characteristics and an existence beyond a simple summation of the behaviour or outlook of its individual members. The uniqueness of the consumption patterns of the family entity is often a product of the intimacy of shared concerns and priorities, and these results in behavioural patterns worthy of special study. Before these perspectives can be elaborated, it is well to consider several circumstances that are very likely to affect these influencing and consuming functions of the family. 1. The Women’s Liberation Movement.
Not only have the efforts for equal opportunity in employment and legal matters made an impact on family life in general, so has the magnitude of the number of women in the labour force bringing the demands of their new life-styles to the marketplace 2. The “New” freedom in Sexual Conduct. Persons who identify with this trend may have greater expectations and fewer inhibitions in seeking self-fulfilment generally. This pattern has fostered strong interest in personal hobbies, self-expression in clothing selection, and participation in sports such as racket ball and tennis. 3.
New and Emerging forms of the Family with Different Perceptions of the Bearing and Rearing of Children. A declining birth rate, an increasing divorce rate, postponement of marriage, alternative living arrangements and a growing scepticism toward having children are among the issues surrounding the family. These also can have a measurable impact on consumer behaviour. For example, having children later in the life of family typically means bringing a child into a more affluent environment. The household will be better established and can commit greater resources to child-oriented spending.
There are many ramifications of these conditions and trends. The shifts in household composition and size could have a substantial impact on the level of demand for a vast array of products and services including housing, education, and health care. The increase in the frequency with which families pay for services to carry out routine household tasks also means other changes in the marketplace. Several examples are more varied meal patterns and the use of professional house cleaners and lawn-care services.
Much more could be said, but at this point it is sufficient to remember that these conditions do have some effect on the manner in which the family serves as an influencing agent and a unique consuming unit. In approaching the study of the family, it is also useful to identify and define several alternative configurations of the family. These include the nuclear family, extended family, family of orientation, family of procreation, and the household. This brief review draws attention to the nature and roots of family behavioural patterns that can arise from different interpersonal relationships.
For instances, recent study of banking practices in a medium-sized community showed that the experiences of specific members of the extended family had a substantial influence on adults’ selection of their primary bank. FAMILY FORMS: There are important variations in what have been called families or family groups that must be differentiated for increased clarity and understood as offering overlapping circles of influence. First, the term family generally refers to a group of people who are related by blood, marriage, or legal adoption.
Individuals who simply live together in an apartment or dormitory, as roommates are not considered a family in the customary use of the term. This general definition does not delineate the family entity sufficiently to permit identification of the influences and interactions that are important to the consumer analyst. Considerable clarification can be achieved by distinguishing among the following: the nuclear family, the extended family, the family of orientation, and the family of procreation. It will also be helpful to differentiate between a family and a household.
Nuclear family refers to the immediate kinship group of father and/or mother and their offspring or adopted children who ordinarily live together. A temporary separation of a member does not dissolve this kinship. For example, a son or daughter away at college is still part of the nuclear family. The members of a nuclear family have considerable face-to-face contact on a regular basis. This living together and the intimate sharing that takes place over time are major characteristics of the nuclear family. It is also the family grouping that has been studied the most.
The extended family includes the nuclear family plus other relatives, such as grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, and in-laws. As a focus of attention in terms of their possible influence on the family member’s behaviours or the behaviour of the family unit, there is a practical limit as to who is included for study. The extent to which a relative is considered a part of the extended family is essentially determined by the regularity and intimacy of the interaction with the family members. The family that one is born into or adopted into is called the family of orientation.
This family group typically initiates the enculturation process that continues throughout life. The interpretation of family roles, various help patterns (exchange of money, advice, gifts, and services), and fundamental values are identified and passed on to off spring by this family. The family of orientation essentially begins with the nuclear family but ordinarily is expanded over time and becomes the extended family. The family of procreation is established when one marries; that is, this represents the formation of a new family unit capable of existence as a separate entity.
All families are households; however, not all households are families. The term household refers to a living unit or entity for consumption purposes. A person living alone represents a separate, fully functioning living unit and is also considered a household. Nevertheless, a single person does not constitute a family because the term family is used to refer to at least two related people. Nor would two single men or women living together in an apartment be referred to as a family, although they do constitute a household.
Generally, they are more permanent, demonstrate greater interdependency among members, and have historically assumed more significant roles in society than have non-family households. Furthermore, the nuclear family in particular is the optimum unit of study because of the following reasons. 1) The family is the accumulating unit, the inventory of acquisitions over time being a nuclear family inventory. The items accumulated include various possessions such as cooking utensils, furniture, books, an automobile, and some form of real estate. ) The nuclear family is typically the decision-making unit in asset accumulation and consumption. 3) The nuclear family is more accessible for study than arte its competitors and more easily definable for purposes of study than is the household, for example, which may include lodgers who have little part in family acquisition. Although these points essentially draw attention to the family as a consuming unit, it is also important to recognize the impact of the family as a socializing influence on its members.
Even though these two dimensions of the family are interrelated, it is helpful to separate them for discussion. Therefore, the next section will give specific attention to family influences on its members. FAMILY INFLUENCES ON INDIVIDUAL MEMBERS: Because of the nature of humans, a young person must be cared for and nurtured both physically and psychologically; most often this is handled in a family environment. Parsons and Bales contend that no society has found an effective substitute arrangement for the family. That is, the family continues to exist as a distinct unit.
Because the socialization process begins at birth, the family’s influence on the behaviour of the individual member can be significant. The family shapes its member’s personality characteristics, attitudes, and evaluative criteria, that is, the way its members look at the world and how they relate to it. To a large extent, this influence is informal and exerted on the individual over an extended period of time. Part of these influences includes the acquiring of a consumer outlook. As Boyd and Levy have contended, “…people are born with apparently insatiable needs and desires.
From their first moments they are learning what specific things to consume and the ways to consume them, and, quite as important, what not to consume. ” In describing similar circumstances, Riesman and Roseborough stated that what children learn from their parents is a kind of basic set of domestic arrangements, for instance, a view of furniture as specific functional items to acquire rather than as a stylistic concept and, consequently, the need for home furnishings such as ranges, refrigerators, and television sets.
The same individuals are likely to learn styles and modes of consumption from their peers. The amount of influence the family has will vary at different periods of its member’s lives. For example, a very young child may have relatively little contact outside his or her immediately family environment until the age of four or five years. Typically, the number of socialising agents increases substantially upon entering school with the regular non-family contact with teachers and schoolmates. It can be noted that the nuclear family plays two important roles.
First, the interaction among family members helps shape individual personalities, evaluate criteria, and attitudes. Second, the nuclear family often performs a mediating or interpretation function in exchanges among members, particularly as these relate to resolving differences concerning the needs of the family as a whole. These two functions are stimuli or inputs into the individuals central control unit are subject to the complex processes of exposure, attention, comprehension, and retention, as such; they have varying degrees of influences on an individual’s psychological makeup.
One example of these family influences in action is the impact that a family’s social class can have on its life-style and, subsequently, on its members’ buying behaviours. The differences that arise from social class membership basically are reflected in variation in values, interpersonal attitudes, self-perceptions and daily life routines. A brief reference to each of these four factors will illustrate their possible effect on individual family member behaviour and some marketing implications. VALUES Values are deeply internalised personal feelings that generally affect one’s behaviour and judgements.
The family plays an important role in the development of personal values, which can vary across social classes. For example, some research suggests that people from low socio-economic classes value personal advancement and self-sufficiency less than do middle class people. This difference can have a significant impact on an individual family member’s personal desire for education, his or her motivation while in an educational environment, and even his or her attitude toward providing financial support for education as a taxpayer.
Furthermore, any such influence on educational attainment may have a life-long effect on an individual’s market behaviour. For example, better-educated people are generally more astute shoppers. They are also more likely to show an interest in the arts, the public park system, and sports.. The value placed on time as a scare resource also varies from one social class to another. The middle class has generally placed the most value on the careful planning and budgeting of time. This is consistent either the high achievement orientation of middle class people.
The high valuation of time also affects consumer behaviour. For instance, the willingness to engage in pre-purchase search for information, the specific sources used, as well as one’s interest in labour-saving products are influenced by the perceived value of a person’s time. The role of values in the market behaviour of consumers has not received much attention. Adding the knowledge of consumer value orientations, especially in the family framework, to the already used demographic and psychographic (life-style) variables could help marketing managements operations become more effective.
Some of the most promising avenues for research and application of the knowledge of values include market analysis and segmentation, product planning, promotional strategy development, and public policy formulation. For example, market identification might include a segment made up of consumers who highly regard imaginativeness, an exciting life-style, and independence. Such a grouping could be defined as a market segment of consumers concerned with individuality and self-expression.
These consumers may be more receptive to products that can be tailored to their individual desires though the use of added accessories and styling options. Certainly, automobile producers have provided such product flexibility, as have some clothing manufacturers. INTERPERSONAL ATTITUDES Interpersonal attitudes refer to the predisposition of family members to interactions among themselves as well with those outside the family. Differences in interpersonal attitudes exist across social classes and shape individual family member behaviour.
For instance, middle class husbands and wives are more likely to jointly pursue various family functions—such as decision making in chid rearing, family budgeting, and expenditures for major purchases—than those in lower class families, As a result, a middle class woman may be more likely to postpone decision until she has obtained her husband’s views than is a woman from a lower socio-economic class. Also, middle class families generally relate socially to more people than do lower class families. This includes having more non-family members into the home for meals, entertainment, and socializing.
This kind of interpersonal interaction has a long-term effect on children and a more immediate impact on other member’s market activities. Middle class individuals are more likely to seek information from others when making a major purchase decision than are individuals from lower social classes. This latter behavioural pattern may substantially alter the information base from which one operates in his or her pre purchase deliberation. SELF PERCEPTION Levy found that the way one thinks of or perceives him or herself also varies by social class.
For instances, lower class women understand their own bodies less well and have more taboos about them than do middle class women. Lower class women were also found to have more traditional views of interpersonal relations. Masculinity and physical strength were found to be of more concern to lower class men than they were to middle class men. Lower class people generally have less self-confidence and feel less in control of their own destiny. Consequently, they are more likely to believe that if they get ahead, it is the result of chance or luck rather than the result of personal effort.
These views are shared among family members and are passed on from one generation to the next. Their influence on family member’s market behaviour can take on many forms. For example, such a prevailing family view may lead to a discouragement of a member’s efforts for self-improvement through technical training or enrolment in a self-development course such as that offered through adult education programs. It may also encourage a greater interest in gambling such as that, which is available through state-sponsored lotteries. DAILY LIFE ROUTINE
Each family develops its own routine to cope with the daily demands placed upon it. In fact, an interesting exercise for each of us is to attempt to set down in some detail the way our family handles the responsibilities of a typical day. In most families, this routine varies between weekdays and the weekend and, to some extent, by season. The record of such a routine would at least include the time when family members arise; how meals are prepared and eaten (e. g. , in some families the meals prepared jointly while more typically this responsibility falls upon one member-the wife); when members leave for work, chool, other regular activities; how much time is spent apart, together, and in what activities; and how the family closes the day. The word “routine” is used to imply a regular pattern. The awareness of this regular pattern continues over time and, coupled with what is known about learning theory, strongly suggests that the daily family life routine can have an important impact on the individual family member’s behaviour. The strong interest of other family members in certain sports, for example, may shape one’s interests also.
Furthermore, what food is served at home and how it is served affects younger member’s eating patterns outside the home and their meal preparation and entertainment style when they establish their own families later in life. CONCLUDING COMMENT As an individual interacts with other family members, he or she simultaneously influences these individuals as he or she is being influenced by them. Furthermore, no other single group or individual ordinarily has as many opportunities for shaping a person’s behaviour as does his or her family.
As mentioned earlier, the nuclear family is a primary group with frequent face-to-face contact among its members. It also shares a common pool of financial resources as well as consumption needs. Therefore, family members tend to be more alike in their thinking and behavioural patterns than they would be if they were not in the same family. FAMILY AS A BUYING AND CONSUMING ENTITY The family, particularly the nuclear family, is a very significant economic and social unit in most societies.
Personal goals and expectations are brought together, shared, and shaped by family members in such a way that the family itself takes on a set of characteristics that reflect those of its members but which, nevertheless, are unique to it. Decisions regarding the purchase and use of goods and services are made by a family through the interaction of its members. Consequently, it can be said that family decision making, similar to that of individuals who act in their own behalf, can be characterized by decision-process model.
Families and family behaviour have been studied extensively by social scientists in many disciplines including sociology, social psychology, anthropology, home economics, consumer psychology, economics, and marketing. However, as Ferber has pointed out, relatively little attention has been given to bringing together the various dimensions of consumer behaviour within the framework of the family to provide a more realistic explanation of economic behaviour. Alternative Models Ferber has developed what he calls a simplified decision-making framework with specific attention given to family saving and spending.
This is shown in figure-3. 3 showing Interrelation of Saving and Spending Decisions. The basis for the framework is the division of family economic decisions into two types—financial and non-financial. Those decisions in the financial grouping include decisions dealing with money management, savings, spending, and asset management. Because this framework was used to discuss financial decisions, all other decisions that a family may make are grouped together under what is called non-financial.
One can quickly note in Ferber’s framework that both financial and non-financial decisions are affected by the available financial resources of the family, by the objectives or goals of the family, and by the attitudes of the family members. The family’s objectives and attitudes relate to wide variety of topics and, therefore, encompass both the material and non-material goals of the family in both short and long run. Attributes include expectations and outlooks of the different family members on economic and related issues as well as their system of preferences and value judgements concerning alternative type of economic behaviour. pic] This framework takes note of the fact that family decisions in some instances are dominated by influences that are external and not under family’s control. In particular, these include economic and political events in the community in which the family lives and personal experiences of the individual family members such as births, deaths, marriages, and accidents. Other, more detailed models of family decision-making have been developed. One of the recent contributions has been made by Sheth. He offers a comprehensive model of family decision making in consumer behaviour.
The model is a representation of his attempt to specify the nature of family decision making in consumer behaviour and to bring together the findings of various social scientists in a comprehensive representation. In Sheth’s model the consumption of a family is classified as that of (1) the individual members, (2) the family as a whole, (3) the household unit. Examples of individual member’s consumption include their use of shaving cream, which may just be used by the father (husband), nail polish by the mother (wife), and comic books or toys by the children.
However, various food items and hand soap, for example, are consumed by everyone in the family. Furthermore, certain goods and services (e. g. , utilities such as water, electricity, and natural gas) as well as such items as paints, wallpaper, and the living room furniture are used by the family indirectly in the process of living together in the same residence. The latter fit into Sheth’s third category of consumption. This approach to classifying family consumption points out that the demand for goods and services may be collective and direct, collective and indirect, or individual.
In Sheth’s theory, family consumption is considered to follow family buying decisions. This indicates that gifts, rentals, and acquisitions by means other than buying are not explicitly taken into account. This seems appropriate because these latter forms represent a small proportion of goods and services consumed by most of the families. Family buying decisions are identified as either autonomous—made by a single member—or joint—made by at least two members of the family. The theory as a whole has four major subsections that can be observed in the model: 1.
Individual members of the family, their predispositions, and the underlying buying motives and evaluative beliefs about products and brands. 2. Determinants of the motives and beliefs of the individual members that are both external and internal. 3. Determinants of autonomous versus joint family decision-making. 4. The process of joint decision making, with consequent inter-member conflict and its resolution. 5. Although the Ferber and Sheth models differ substantially, each draws attention to the importance of focusing on family as a unique consuming unit.
The Family as a Dynamic Entity For many reasons, family composition changes over time, and this may substantially alter the family needs, its decision-making process, and its market behaviour (where to shop and what to buy). One way of viewing these changes that has proven helpful is through what has been called the family life cycle. A common representation of this follows below. It should be noted, however, that in this categorisation there are three listings included here as a representation of the usual format, although they are not families but non-family households.
Furthermore, these three non-family households represent pre-and post-family entities. 1) Bachelor State: young single people not living at home (non-family household) 2) Newly Married Couples: young with no children 3) Full Nest I: young married couples with youngest child under six 4) Full Nest II: young married couples with youngest child six or over 5) Full Nest III: older married couples with dependent children 6) Empty Nest I: older married couples, no children living with them, household head in labour force. ) Empty Nest II: older married couples, no children living at home, household head retired 8) Solitary survivor in labour force (non-family household) 9) Solitary survivor, retired (non-family household) This scheme takes note of the fact that changes in family composition are likely to be more important in terms of market behaviour than age or simply the aging process of the family members. To illustrate the importance of family composition to consumer behaviour, a brief summary is presented of the major dimensions of four of the above listed stages in the life cycle and some of their marketing implications.
BACHELOR STAGE Although earnings are low in relation to what they will be later in one’s career, this income is subject to few rigid demands; so consumers in this stage have substantial discretion over how they spend their money. Part of this income is typically used to purchase a car and basic household equipment. People at this stage also tend to be more fashion-and recreation-oriented, spending a substantial proportion of their income on clothing, entertainment, food away from home, vacations, leisure-time pursuits, and other products and services involved in the mating game.
Recent trends suggest that this stage is extending over a longer period of time. Furthermore, older singles are increasingly purchasing items formerly bought almost exclusively by married couples, such as single-family houses and all the household items necessary to furnish them. NEWLY MARRIED COUPLES Newly Married Couples without children are usually better off financially than they have been in the past or will be in the near future because frequently both husband and wife are employed.
To illustrate the economic importance of changes in the family life cycle, attention may be given to the results of establishing this new family, that is, the movement from stage one, Bachelorhood, to stage two, Newly Married-no children. FULL NEST II At this stage, the youngest child is six or older and in school; the husband’s income has ordinarily improved; and if the wife has not been employed, she often returns to work outside the home. As a result, the family’s financial position improves. Consumption patterns during this time continue to be heavily influenced by the children’s needs.
Consequently, a number of different products and services are purchased in relatively large quantities, including doctor’s services and medicines, tennis shoes, laundry detergent, snack foods, bicycles, music lessons, and school supplies. EMPTY NEST II By this time the family head has retired and so the couple usually suffers a substantial reduction in income. Although it is increasingly popular for a retired person to take on some part-time work, it ordinarily does not make up the differences between pre retirement income and retirement income. Expenditures on the home and related items are scaled down, and apartment living may begin.
Unfortunately, a sizable number of the couples in this group will be forced to live at a level approaching subsistence. Furthermore, health concerns receive more attention, and some even move to more agreeable climates or retirement centres in their area. CONCLUDING COMMENT AND MARKETING IMPLICATIONS: The words “typically” and “ordinarily” have been used throughout this last section on the family life cycle. This does not mean that all families fit neatly into one of these developmental stages. In fact, everyone knows of other configurations of family life; we may even have grown up in one.
One of these other family groupings is the single-parent family with young children. To a large extent these families’ needs and behavioural patterns follow those in the Full Nest I stage. However, to meet these needs the remaining parent will likely be employed and probably make more extensive use of day care facilities and babysitters than would be the case if both parents were in the family. Also, in many such families the expenditures for childcare are substantial and, therefore, force the family to live at a somewhat lower level than would be necessary if it had two adults present.
The special needs and desires of families at each stage of the family life cycle offer unique market opportunities; that is, these needs and desires offer opportunities for governmental agencies, non-profit organisations, and business to be of service. Specifically, the life cycle concept can be used to: 1. Identify Target Markets. Studies of consumer expenditures reveal that the consumption of many products and services varies significantly by stage in the family life cycle. This provides a means of identifying specific groups of consumers within the broader consumer market that have the greatest interest in certain products or services.
As a result, marketing efforts to provide for these needs and desires can be more effective and efficient. For instance, with a target market clearly identified, products can be tailored to the consumers’ requirements, distribution provided in convenient outlets, and advertising undertaken in media that reach the target market with a minimum of wasted coverage. 2. Forecast Demand. It is possible to obtain consumption rates of products and services broken down by life cycle, age, and other demographic data.
By identifying the consumption patterns of the family segments that are predicted to expand significantly, it is possible to single out product and service groupings that are likely to enjoy above-average growth rates in the future. 3. Family Roles Structure. Family role structure refers to the behaviour of nuclear family members at each stage in the decision making process. One means of gaining an understanding of family role structure is by studying the various forms of role specialisation that occur in families.
Role specialisation within the family can affect both the decision making process and the decision made. This specialisation takes a number of forms: two are used here to illustrate the importance of role specialisation and the nature of its influence. First, role dominance will be discussed, followed by the gatekeeper concept. Role Dominance. Role dominance refers to the extent to which one member of a family has greater influence in the family decision making process than do other members. Typically, husband-dominant or wife-dominant decision-making has been the focus of attention.
These are decisions involving both spouses but where the ideas of one have greater impact. There have been a number of studies conducted to identify patterns of dominance and the circumstances that foster such dominance. Marketing and advertising managers are particularly in determining which spouse has the most influence in various types of decisions so that promotional strategy can be oriented accordingly. A person’s background can contribute to role dominance. There is evidence to indicate that the degree of dominance by one member can vary among groups with differing cultural backgrounds.
Also, several researchers have found evidence to suggest that husband’s dominance appears to be more likely when the husband is successful in his occupation. The wife’s influence increases with age and is generally greater if she is employed. It is important to note that existing evidence also shows that dominance by one family members depends upon the particular type of decision being made; that is, a family cannot ordinarily be classified as being wife dominant or husband dominant, because when confronted with certain decisions the wife will have greater influence, and in other situations the husband will be dominant.
Gatekeeper Concept: Another form of role specialisation is what a number of consumer analysts have called the gatekeeper concept. The “gatekeeper” refers to an individual who acts as a valve and filter affecting the flow of information coming into the family. In a number of families the homemaker still illustrates this concept at work. The fact that she is at home more than other members, as well as her concern for the general well-being of the family, puts her in a position to receive, screen, and sort incoming messages.
Salespeople who call during the day are also subjected to her gate keeping action. In business setting, a manger’s secretary may function in a similar capacity. To the consumer analyst, such role specialisation must be identified and understood because it can have a substantial impact on consumer behaviour Questions for discussion 1. Culture is something over which marketers have no control: therefore, the marketing manager’s task is to identify basic cultural values and consumption patterns in light of the products his or her firm distributes. Evaluate the statement. 2.
Distinguish between beliefs, values, and customs. Illustrate their importance in the study of consumer behaviour. 3. What do you understand by the term “culture”? What are the different sub-groups of culture? 4. Prepare a list of formal and informal groups to which you belong and give examples of any purchases for which each may have served as a reference group. 5. How does the family influence the consumer socialisation of children? What role does television advertising play in consumer socialisation? UNIT-3. PERSONAL AND PSYCHOLOGICAL FACTORS IN CONSUMER BEHAVIOUR. PERSONALITY:
Personality is a frequently used and reasonably familiar term. Most people have at various times characterized someone as having a pleasant personality or, perhaps, an obnoxious personality. Marketing strategists’ fascination with personality stems from the belief that this consistent mode of behaving will enable marketers to understand consumer behaviour. The assumption is that if they really understand a consumer’s personality, they will understand why a person consumes the way he or she does and then, perhaps, they can effectively influence that consumption behaviour.
Actually, there is little agreement on what the components of personality are and how these components of personality are and how these components become organized into a meaningful whole. Thus, an examination of the major personality theories is essential to acquiring an appreciation of the potential contribution of this concept. PSYCHOANALYTIC THEORY: Psychoanalytic, or Freudian, theory posits that personality is composed of three systems of interdependent psychological forces or constructs: the id, the ego, the super ego. The interaction of these three systems determines the person’s behaviour.
The id, the original source of all psychic energy, seeks to achieve immediate gratification of all biological or instinctual needs. Thus, a consumer’s instinctive cravings, needs, and desires originate in the id. If all the pleasure seeking impulses emanating from the id were openly expressed, the consumer would quickly violate society’s norms, rules and regulations. Indeed proponents of the psychoanalytic theory would content that uncontrolled behaviour that directly satisfies all instinctive needs and desires is inherently bad.
The ego functions to control and direct the id’s impulses so that gratification can be achieved in socially acceptable manner. The ego controls behaviour by selecting the instincts that will be satisfied as well as the manner in which they will be satisfied. This is accomplished by integrating the often-conflicting demands of the id and the superego. The superego, the internal representative of the society’s norms and values, acts to inhibit the impulse emanating from the id that would be contrary to society’s norms and values.
Thus, superego can be thought of as the consumer’s conscience or moral arm that serves to direct behaviour. According to the psychoanalytic theory, the id is entirely unconscious and the ego and superego partially unconscious, resulting in an unconscious determination of behaviour. Psychoanalytic theory has thus provided the conceptual basis for motivational research. Consumer behaviour, according to the motivational researchers, is the result of unconscious consumer motives that can only be determined through the use of indirect assessment methods that include a wide assortment of projective technique.
The individual focus characterizing psychoanalytic theory is frequently inappropriate to the marketing analyst whose interest is in groups or segments of consumers. Indeed, even if individual information could be obtained, its application by the marketing strategist is not readily apparent. While psychoanalytic theory has been extensively and justly criticized, few would deny that it had a tremendous impact on marketing in the 1950s and 1960s and, to a lesser extent, in the 1970s.