Major factors influencing buying behaviour - social factors, Marketing Management

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Social factors: in addition to cultural factors, a consumer's behaviour is influenced by such social factors as reference groups, family, and social roles and statues.

Reference group: generally speaking a reference group can designate to any person or group that serves as a point of comparison (or reference) for an individual's informing either general or specific values, attitudes or behaviour. Every human being because of his sociable nature prefers to evaluate his abilities and his opinion based on the comparison of the other abilities and other opinions.

According to the Philip Kotler, "a person's reference group consists of all the groups that have a direct (face to face) or indirect influence on the person's attitudes or behaviour". Reference groups are of different types.

According to the Herbert Hyman," reference group is "the type of a group that an individual uses as a point of reference in determining his own judgements, preferences, beliefs, and behaviour".

Classification of the reference groups

a.       Normative reference group: reference groups that directly influence general or broadly defined values or behaviour are usually called normative reference group. For example, a child's normative reference group will be his family.

b.      Comparative reference group: reference group which will serve as a benchmark for certain specific or narrowly defined attitudes are called comparative reference group. Such a group serves as a point of the comparison especially for evaluating one's own status.

c.       Contractual group: another way to classify reference group will be in terms of a person's membership or degree of involvement with the group and in terms of the positive or negative influence they are able to evolve on the person's attitudes, behaviour and values. One such reference group is the contractual group. These are the groups with which the person interacts and has the regular contact.

d.      Aspiration group: an aspiration group is one to which the disclaiming group. This is a group whose values or behaviour does not appeal to the individual. Here is a person may have membership or face to face contact but he disappears of the groups values, attitudes and behaviour. Here his behaviour will be the opposite or reverse to the norms of the particular reference group.

e.      Avoidance group: this may be group with which the person may not hold membership nor have face to face contact and also of whose values, attitudes and behaviour, the person totally disapproves. Here the person will tend to avoid the group and will adopt values, attitudes and behaviour which will be in the opposition to that of the group.             

    People are significantly influenced by their reference groups in at least three ways:

a.       Reference groups expose an individual to new behaviours and lifestyles.

b.      They influence attitudes and self concept.

c.       They create pressures for conformity that may affect actual product and brand choices.

Family: family members can strongly influence buyer's behaviour. The family is the most important consumer buying organization in the society, and it has been researched extensively. Family is of two types:

a.       Family of orientation: from parents a person acquires an orientation towards religion, politics, self worth etc. In countries where parents live with their grown children, their influence can be substantial.

b.      Family of procreation: this involves a more direct influence on every buying behaviour it includes one's spouse and children. Marketers are interested in the roles and influence of the husband, wife, and children on the children on the purchase of different products and the services. Husband wife involvement varies widely by product category and by stage in the buying process. Buying roles change with evolving consumer lifestyles.

c.       Roles and status: a person participates in the many groups' family, clubs, and organizations. The person position in each group can be defined in the terms of role and status. A role consists of the activities that a person is expected to perform. Each role carries a status. A Supreme Court justice has more status than a sales manager, and a sales manager has more status than an office clerk. People choose products that communicate their role and status in the society. Thus company presidents often drive Mercedes, were expensive suits, and drink chives regal scotch. Marketers are aware of the status symbol potential of products and brands.

Personal factors: a buyer's decisions are also influenced by the personal characteristics. These include the buyer's age and stage in the life cycle, occupation, economic circumstances, lifestyle and personality and self concept.

Age and stage in the life cycle: as a person passes through different stages of his life he needs different set of products. Further the tests, habits of person change with the age. They eat baby food in the early years, most foods in the growing and mature years, and special diets in the later years. Taste in the clothes, furniture, and recreation is also age related. Consumption is shaped by the family lifestyle. Some recent work has been identified psychological life cycle stages. Marketers pay close attention to changing life circumstances divorce, widowhood, remarriage and their effect on consumption behaviour.

Occupation and economic circumstances: occupation also influences a person's consumption pattern. A blue collar worker will buy clothes, work shoes, and lunch boxes. A company president will buy expensive suits, air travel, country club membership, and the large sailboat. Marketers try to identify the occupational groups that have above average interest in their products and services. Product choice is greatly affected by the economic circumstances; spendable income (level, stability, and the time pattern), saving and assets (including the percentage that is liquid) debts, borrowing power, and attitude towards spending versus saving. Marketing of the income sensitive goods pay constant attention to trends in the personal income, savings, and interest rates. If economic indicators point to a recession, marketers can take steps to redesign, reposition, and reprise their products so they continue to offer value to target customers.

Life style: people from the same subculture, social class, and occupation may lead quite different lifestyles. Life style is the person's pattern of the living in the world as expressed in these activities, interests, and opinions. Life style portrays the "whole person" interacting with his or her environment. Marketers search for the relationship between their products and life style groups. For example, a computer manufacturer might find that most computer buyers are achievement oriented. The marketer may then aim the brand more clearly at the achiever life style.

Personality and the self concept: each person has a distinct personality that influences buying behaviour. By personality, we mean distinguishing psychological characters that lead to relatively consistent and enduring responses to the environment. Personality is usually described in the terms of such traits as self confidence, dominance, autonomy, deference, sociability, defensiveness, and adaptability. Personality can be a useful variable in analyzing consumer behaviour, provided that personality types can be classified accurately and that strong correlations exist between certain personality types and product or brand choices. For example, a computer company might discover that many prospects show high self confidence, dominance, and the autonomy. Related to personality is self concept (or self image). Self concept is the totally of the person's thoughts and feelings with the reference to himself or herself as the object. Marketers try to develop brand images that match the target market's self image. It is possible that a person's actual self concept (how she views herself) differs from her ideal self concept (how she would like to view herself) and from her others self concept (how she thinks others she her).

Psychological factors: a person's buying choices are influenced by the four major psychological factors motivation, perception, learning, beliefs, and the attitudes.

1.       Motivation: a person has many needs at any given time. Some needs are biogenic; they arise from psychological factors states of tension such as hunger, thirst, discomfort. Other needs are psychogenic; they arise from psychological states of the tension such as the need for reorganization, esteem, or belonging. A need becomes a motive when it is aroused to a nonsufficient level of relation to the surrounding field and on the conditions within the individual.

2.       Perception: a motivated person is ready to act. How the motivated person actually acts as influenced by his or her perception of the situation. Perception is the process by which an individual selects, organizes, and interprets information inputs to create a meaningful picture of the world. Perception depends not only on the physical stimuli but also on the stimuli's relation to the surrounding field and on the conditions within the individual.

3.       Learning: when people act, they learn. Learning involves changes in an individual's behaviour arising from the experience. Most human behaviour is learned. Learning theorists that learning is produced through the interplay of the drivers, stimuli, cues, responses, and reinforcement. A drive is a strong internal stimulus impelling action. Cues are minor stimuli that determine when, where, and how a person responds.

4.       Beliefs and attitudes: through and hearing, people acquire beliefs and attitudes. These in turn influence buying behaviour. A belief is a descriptive thought that a person holds about something. Beliefs may be based on knowledge, opinion, or faith. They may be based on knowledge, opinion or faith. They may or may not carry an emotional charge. Manufactures are very interested in the beliefs people carry in their heads about their products and the services. An attitude is a person's enduring favourable or unfavourable evaluations, emotional feelings, and action tendencies toward some object or idea. People have attitudes towards almost everything: politics, clothes, music, and food. Attitudes put than into a frame of mind of liking or disliking an object, moving toward or away from it. Attitudes lead people to behave in a fairly consistent way toward similar objects.

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