Consumer Behaviour & Purchase Decisions Influenced by Reference Groups and Families

Almost all individuals regularly interact with other people who directly or indirectly influence their purchase decisions. Therefore, the study of groups and their impacts on the individual is of great importance,specially for the marketers who want to influence the consumer behaviours in favour of their products and services.

Consumer Reference Groups are groups that serve as frames of reference for individuals in their purchase decisions. Reference groups include:

  1. Friends
  2. Work Groups
  3. Shopping Groups
  4. Virtual Groups & Communities
  5. Consumer Action Groups.

Normative Reference Groups are those groups that influence general values or behaviour.

Comparative Reference Groups are those that influence Specific Attitudes.

Consumer Reference Groups include groups with which consumers have no direct face to face contact such as film stars, sportspersons, other celebrities and social classes.

The credibility, attractiveness and power of the reference group affect the degree of influence it has. Reference group appeals are used very effectively by some advertisers in promoting their goods and services because they subtly induce the prospective consumer to identify with the pictured user of the product.

The 5 reference group appeals most commonly used in marketing are:

  1. Celebrities
  2. Experts
  3. Common Man
  4. Executive and Employee spokesperson
  5. Trade Spokes Character

Celebrities are used to give testimonials or endorsements as actors or as company spokespersons.

Experts may be recognized experts in the concerned product category or actors playing the part of experts.

The common man approach is designed to show that individuals who are just like the prospective customers are satisfied with the advertised product or service.

Companies are using their top executives as spokespersons because their appearance in company advertisements seems to imply that someone at the top is watching over the customer’s interest.

For many customers, their family is their primary reference group for many attitudes and behaviours.

The family is the primary target for most products and services. As the most basic membership group, families are defined as two or more persons related by blood, marriage or adoption who reside together.

There are 3 types of families: Married Couples, Nuclear Families and Extended Families. 

Socialization is the core function of the family. Other functions being economic and emotional support and the pursuit of a suitable lifestyle for its members.

The members of a family assume specific roles in their everyday functioning: such roles or tasks extend to the realm of consumer purchase decisions. Key consumer related roles of family member include influencers, gatekeepers, deciders, buyers, preparers,users, maintainers and disposers.

A family’s decision making style in influenced by its lifestyle, roles and cultural factors e.g.: husband dominated, wife dominated, joint, autonomic decisions etc.,

Classification of the families by the various stages in the family life cycle (FLC) provides valuable insights into family consumption related behaviour.

The traditional FLC begins with bachelorhood, moves on to marriage, then to an expanding family, to a contracting family and to an end with the death of a spouse.

Various other situations also exists like childless couples, live in couples, single parents or single person households.

Who are the influencers for your Customers? How does this show up in Corporate Purchase decisions?

How are you leveraging the various influencers?