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Chapter 10 Group Influence on Consumer Behavior


How does the group function? How can groups be classified? What is the impact reference groups have on the consumption process and how marketers can develop strategies based on these influences? How do roles and behaviors associated with a position in a group influence the Marketing strategy?

What is a Group?

Two or more people who interact to accomplish either individual or mutual goals A membership group is one to which a person either belongs or would qualify for membership A symbolic group is one in which an individual is not likely to receive membership despite acting like a member

Reference group

A reference group is a group whose presumed perspectives or values are being used by an individual as the basis for his or her current behavior. Thus, a reference group is simply a group that an individual uses as a guide for behavior in a specific situation. A person may belong to different groups, but one use as a point of reference in any given situation.

Reference group influences on the consumption process

Informational influence occurs when an individual uses the behaviors and opinions of reference group members as potentially useful bits of information. Conformity is the result of information shared by the group members. Normative influence (utilitarian influence) occurs when an individual fulfills group expectations to gain a direct reward to avoid a sanction. Identification influence, value-expressive influence occurs when individuals use the perceived group norms and values as a guide for their own attitudes or values.

Indirect Reference Groups: Individuals or groups with whom a person identifies but does not have direct face-toface contact, such as movie stars, sports heroes, political leaders, or TV personalities

Product Characteristics and Type of reference group influence

Product Characteristics High product complexity High product conspicuousness Low distinctions among brands Informational Normative Identification

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Broad Categories of Reference Groups

Comparative Reference Groups Normative Reference Groups

Figure 10.1 Major Consumer Reference Groups

Factors Encouraging Conformity: A Reference Group Must ...

Inform or make the individual aware of a specific product or brand Provide the individual with the opportunity to compare his or her own thinking with the attitudes and behavior of the group Influence the individual to adopt attitudes and behavior that are consistent with the norms of the group Legitimize the decision to use the same products as the group

Selected Consumer-Related Reference Groups

Friendship groups Shopping groups Work groups Virtual groups or communities Consumer-action groups

Brand Communities

Group of runners who meet at the Niketown store in Boston on Wednesdays Harley Davidson Owner Groups Saab owners

Reference Group Appeals

Celebrities The expert The common man The executive and employee spokesperson Trade or spokescharacters Other reference group appeals

Table 10.2 Types of Celebrity Appeals



Based on personal usage, a celebrity attests to the quality of the product or service
Celebrity lends his name and appears on behalf of a product or service with which he/she may not be an expert Celebrity presents a product or service as part of a character endorsement Celebrity represents the brand or company over an extended period of time




Figure 10.4 Customers Providing Testimonials

Figure 10.5 SpokesCharacter

Marketing strategies bases on reference group influences

Useful in the areas of advertising and personal selling, can help to make a price acceptable, play a role in distribution decisions. Task of the manager: determine the degree and nature of reference group influence that exists or can be created for the product in question.

Personal Sales Strategies

The power of group norms has been demonstrated in a series of studies referred to as the Asch experiments or the Asch phenomenon. Ex: in business or elsewhere.


A role is a prescribed pattern of behavior expected of a person in a given situation by virtue of the persons position in that situation (as a student, attending in class and studying). Roles are based on positions, not individuals. Role style refers to these individual variations in the performance of a given role. Role parameters represent the range of behavior acceptable within a given role. (students and US marines) Sanctions are punishments imposed on individuals for violating role parameters. Importance of ROLE COMMITMENT or desire to continue in the role position.

Role Role Role Role Role

overload conflict acquisition/ Role deletion evolution stereotype (sharing of common images).

Role Theory in Marketing Practice

Role-Related Product Cluster: set of products generally considered necessary to properly fulfill a given role: (cowboy boots). Important to define appropriate and inappropriate products for a given role. Evolving roles: challenges and opportunities are created for marketers (women and sports). Role Conflict and Role Overload: offer opportunities to Marketers (airlines, time-saving products and shopping opportunities). Role acquisition and Transition: present marketers with the opportunity to associate their products or brands with the new role (single to married)

Communications within groups

Word of Mouth Communications (WOM):

Observation or participation with friends on the use of the product. Search, information and advices from friends. Different sources of information are used for different products (children&life insurance)

Personal sources of information have a clear importance in some purchase decisions.

Opinion Leadership

Individuals who supply consumption-related information to others are referred as opinion leaders. The two-step flow of communications: process of one person receiving information from the mass media or other marketing sources and passing that information on to others. The exchange of advice and information between group members can occur when:

One individual seeks information from another. One individual volunteers information.

Opinion Leaders characteristics

Greater long-term involvement with the product category than the no opinion leaders in the group (enduring involvement). Function through interpersonal communications and observation (within all demographic segments) Have a strong personality trait and public individuation (willingness to act differently from ones peers even if it attracts attention). Have higher level of exposure to relevant media than no opinion leaders. Information about PRODUCT DISSATISFACTION

Marketing Strategy and Opinion Leadership

Identifying Opinion Leaders

Marketing research

(Ex: NIKE) subscribers for Runners World", officials of local running clubs. Barbers and hairstylists for hair care products.
Opinion leaders receive, interpret and relay marketing message to others: product-use tests, pretests of advertising copy and media preference studies should be conducted on samples of opinion leaders. Effective mean of generating interpersonal communications. Clothing stores/style leaders from their target market. Cars Attempts to both stimulate and stimulate opinion leadership: Carl Lewis for running equipment/ conversation and brand advice.

Product sampling

Retailing/Personal Selling


HOUSEHOLD and Consumer behavior

Family Households: Married couple, Nuclear family, Extended family Households Non-Family Households: Unmarried couples, Friends/ Roommates, Boarders

The Typical Household?

Canada: Nuclear family Thailand: Extended family USA: Not married, no children

Consumer Socialization

The process by which children acquire the skills, knowledge, and attitudes necessary to function as consumers.

Figure 10.8 ConsumptionRelated Socialization

Figure 10.11 A Simple Model of the Socialization Process

Young Person
Other Family Members Influence More Basic Values/Behavior Moral/religious principles Interpersonal skills Dress/grooming standards Manners and speech Educational motivation Occupational career goals Consumer behavior norms Preadolescent Friends

Influence More Expressive Attitudes/Behavior Style Fashion Fads In/Out Acceptable consumer behavior




Other Functions of the Family

Economic well-being Emotional support Suitable family lifestyles

Figure 10.10 Appealing to the Responsibility of Providing for Future Family Financial Need

Figure 10.11 Ad Telling Readers that a Great Vacation is Family Time

Table 10.6 Eight Roles in the Family DecisionMaking Process

ROLE Influencers Gatekeepers Deciders DESCRIPTION Family member(s) who provide information to other members about a product or service Family member(s) who control the flow of information about a product or service into the family Family member(s) with the power to determine unilaterally or jointly whether to shop for, purchase, use, consume, or dispose of a specific product or service Family member(s) who make the actual purchase of a particular product or service Family member(s) who transform the product into a form suitable for consumption by other family members Family member(s) who use or consume a particular product or service Family member(s) who service or repair the product so that it will provide continued satisfaction.

Buyers Preparers Users Maintainers


Family member(s) who initiate or carry out the disposal or discontinuation of a particular product or service

Dynamics of Husband-Wife Decision Making

Husband-Dominated Wife-Dominated Joint



The Family Life Cycle

Traditional Family Life Cycle

Stage Stage Stage Stage Stage

I: Bachelorhood II: Honeymooners III: Parenthood IV: Postparenthood V: Dissolution

Modifications - the Nontraditional FLC

Figure 10.15 Targeting the To-BeMarried Segment

Figure 10.16 Targeting the PostParenthood Stage

Figure 10.15 An Extended Family life Cycle

Middle-Aged Divorced without Children Young Divorced without Children Middle-Aged Married without Children MiddleAged Married with Children* MiddleAged Married without Dependent Children*

Young Single*

Young Married without Children*

Young Married with Children*

Older Married*

Older Unmarried*

Young Divorced with Children*

MiddleAged Divorced with Children

MiddleAged Divorced without Children

Usual Flow Recycled Flow * Traditional Family Flow