Consumer behavior is influenced by a wide range of external factors one of them being culture. Perner (2008, para. 1) asserts that culture entails a wide range of influences imposed on a consumer by other individuals. Culture involves a wide range of components which include morals, rituals, values, customs, beliefs, and art which are acquired by an individual from the society (Mooji,2004,p. 65). Different countries have different cultures. Within a given culture, several subcultures exist.
Subcultures entail a subset of a given culture characterized by unique values and behaviors. This makes the subculture to be distinguished from the entire culture. In their decision-making process, one of the factors that influence consumer behavior is culture. According to Schouten & Mcalexander (1995, p.53), interpersonal relationships between individuals are one of the key forces which affect how an individual spends his or her money. This means that the respective subcultures influence consumer behavior. Schouten & Mcalexander (1995, p.45) asserts that a given subculture about consumption arises as individuals identify themselves with given consumption objects or activities.
There are various ways through which the various subcultures can be identified. These include race, nationality, religion, age, lifestyle, social class, gender, geographic location, and religion. In addition, various subcultures develop their unique worlds about their product insignias, language, and norms which are considered to be complete. An individual consumer can belong to a wide range of subcultures.
For example, ethnic subculture entails a group of individuals who are characterized by similar genetic or cultural ties. This group is identified by other individuals as a distinct category. The discussion of this paper is aimed at identifying key subcultures and how they are related to consumer behavior. In addition, the paper will also entail a discussion of how these subcultures impact the future of marketing and purchase choices.
One of the subcultures which have an impact on consumer behavior is social class. Social class is defined as the various hierarchical arrangements which exist within a given society. According to Maguire (n.d, p. 1), society is organized into different economic classes resulting in the formation of different compartments each with diverse interests. The experience that an individual receives in a given position leads him or her to ally with other individuals who are within the same position and those who have similar interests. Various social classes exist within the diverse subcultures. These social classes are characterized by a difference in occupation, education attained, behavioral standards, and source of income, wealth, dwelling area, power, religious affiliation, lifestyle, values, motivations, and possessions.
According to Solomon (2007, p. 450), there is a difference in the level of income that individuals of different economic groups receive. However, individuals within the same social class have a difference in how they spend their money. This results from the existence of differences in personal values. Solomon asserts that an individual’s attitude and behavior are a key determinant of consumer behavior compared to his or her income. This leads to a difference in the consumption behavior of individuals within a particular social class. For instance, an individual may not have a high level of income but he or she can be considered to be of a relatively high social class. This depends on his consumption behavior. Such an individual may decide to purchase products of high quality but purchase fewer products.
In addition, individuals within the same social class can be categorized into three groups by considering the level of their income. These include the average, underprivileged, and the over-privileged. Even though a difference exists amongst individuals within the same social class about their purchasing power, these individuals are committed to retaining a consumption behavior about the respective social group.
Four main social classes exist within the society about income level. These include;
- Upper classes
- Middle class
- Lower class
These classes have got different levels of income. The upper and middle social classes are further subdivided into two groups depending on their level of income. For example, the upper group within the upper class has an income which is above $ 100,000. On the other hand, the lower group’s level of income averages $50, 000 to $ 100,000. The income level of the upper group in the middle class ranges from $100,000 and above while that of the middle and lower class is $50,000 to $100,000 and less than $ 50,000 respectively. On the other hand, the working classes have an income that is lower than that of the middle class. In addition, this consumer category does not have any accumulated wealth and they have less satisfaction in their jobs.
Hawkins & Neal (2004, p.34) asserts that there is a strong relationship between various components of social class and consumer behavior. Hoyer and Maclnnis (2001, p. 35) assert that consumers attempt to improve their social status by increasing their level of consumption.
This means that individuals with a high level of income have distinct behavior. According to Solomon (2007, p.450), there is a difference that exists in the consumption behavior of individuals within the upper and lower classes. For instance, the lower classes are mainly concerned with attaining a high and immediate utility in their consumption patterns. On the other hand, the upper classes’ consumption patterns are more aesthetic. This makes it evident that individuals within the different social classes have got different tastes in their consumption patterns.
Impact on marketing and purchasing choices
Social class has an impact on the future of marketing and purchasing choice. For instance, firms in different economic sectors have to develop products that meet the demands of individuals in different social classes. To attain this, marketers have to conduct comprehensive market research to determine the best way to develop the product. The ultimate effect is that the firm will be able to develop products that appeal to the target market. According to Hoyer and Maclnnis (2001, p. 24), individuals within the working class develop a high level of brand loyalty compared to those in the upper class. This means that marketers have to formulate strategies aimed at developing brand loyalty amongst the upper-class consumer category (Oslon & Peter, 2005, p. 22).
In addition, social class has an impact on a firm’s pricing strategy. This plays a significant role in the process of the firm introducing new products to the market. By considering diversity in social class, such as lifestyle, educational background it will be possible for the marketers to develop products that result in the target market attaining their desired value (Williams, 2002, p. 250). In addition, consideration of social status will enable marketers to conduct effective pricing.
This will be attained through consideration of the difference that exists amongst the consumers about their price sensitivity. In addition, social class affects the market communication strategies to be implemented by the marketer. Currently, consumers in different social classes are incorporating technology into their consumption patterns. Therefore, marketers have to consider how they can integrate emerging technologies in their marketing process (Maklan, 2007, para. 4).
Society is characterized by a difference in age diversity. In addition, there is a variation in consumption patterns of individuals belonging to different age groups.
Various subcultures exist about age. These include preteens, teens, generation X, baby boomers, and seniors. According to Preteens have a significant influence on a wide range of product categories purchased. This means that marketers should focus on this age group in developing products. In addition, preteens select stores from which to purchase their products. By targeting this age group, a firm can be able to attain a high level of market share.
This can only be attained through developing brand loyalty of the products consumed by this customer category. The ultimate result is that the firm will be able to attain a high level of profitability. According to Singh (2006, p. 3), customer satisfaction can integrate a repeat purchase behavior in the consumers. This is because the customers will share their experiences with the other customers.
On the other hand, there is an increment in spending power amongst the teens. This presents an opportunity for marketers to develop products aimed at meeting the demand of these customers. Teens are also characterized by being open to new products and ideas. As a result, firms need to consider developing new products.
Another category of age as a subculture consists of generation X who are individuals who were born during the period ranging from 1965 to 1977. In their consumption pattern, these individuals do not trust marketing. In most cases, these parties desire to balance work and leisure. In most cases, Generation X-ers do are not attracted to traditional methods of creating market awareness such as advertising. However, these parties depict their desire to control their purchasing patterns by integrating a variety of communication methods such as the use of mobile phones, e-mail and fax machines.
According to a Consumer Behavior Report (2008, p.2), there has been an increment in the level of confidence amongst generation X in conducting their purchases online. In addition, generation X-ers consume products and services by evaluating their practicality.
These consumers have a relatively high level of income which means that their purchasing power is relatively high. Considering the inclination of generation X towards technology in their consumption behavior, there is a high probability of marketers improving their performance by integrating electronic commerce in the process of marketing. Some of the emerging marketing technologies that marketers will incorporate include the use of blogs, wikis, Facebook, Twitter, and myspace. The ultimate result is that firms’ will attain efficiency in their marketing process.
Baby boomers form the other category of age as a subculture. These include individuals who were born during the period ranging from 1946 to 1964. In addition, these individuals have a relatively high level of discretionary income compared to other age categories. As a result, their purchasing power is high while their propensity to save is very low.
Future impact of age on marketers and purchasing choices
According to Consumer Behavior Report (2008, p. 5), baby boomers are increasingly becoming health conscious. In addition, a large number of baby boomers are becoming more concerned about the environment. Therefore, it is paramount for marketers of firms to ensure that product safety is integrated with the production of products. This means that intensive quality control is vital for marketers selling products to these customers. This can be achieved by ensuring that all the firm’s operations meet the required standards in terms of quality. By integrating quality in marketing products to baby boomers, a high level of customer loyalty will be attained.
There is also a high probability of marketers improving the performance of their respective firms through product and service development by targeting these parties. This is because these consumers tend to keep up with emerging fashion. In addition, Consumer Behavior Report (2008,p. 6) asserts that baby boomers are increasingly incorporating electronic credit cards in their purchasing process. This also increases the probability of marketers improving their marketing process. As a result, firms need to consider diversity in an age in marketing their products.
The consumer behavior of a particular customer category is affected by a wide range of factors one of them being culture. In addition, the complexity of consumer behavior is affected by the existence of a large number of subcultures in a given culture. Subculture represents the various subsets or components in a given culture. Some of the subcultures which influence consumer behavior include social class, age, and income level. Social class results from diversity in education level, tastes, occupation, lifestyle, values, and motivation. Consumers within a particular social class have developed a consumption behavior that is unique to that group. All his or her consumption decisions are by the social class.
The difference in income also characterizes an individual’s consumption behavior. The core consumption objective of individuals with a relatively low level of income is to maximize their level of utility. This is contrary to consumers with a high level of income whose consumption objective can be aesthetic.
Age as a subculture also has an impact on consumer behavior. Consumers belong to different age groups which can be categorized as generation X, baby boomers, pre-teens, and teens. These consumers have integrated different consumer behaviors.
To be effective in their marketing process, marketers should consider the existence of different subcultures. This enables them to formulate effective marketing strategies. Some of the strategies that marketers can formulate relate to pricing, product development, and market communication strategies. As a result, consumers will attain a high level of satisfaction. In addition, by adjusting their marketing strategies to meet consumer demand, firms will be able to attain a high competitive advantage.
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