There are two consumer behaviour topics for this assignment. You should choose one (1) of these topics as the subject of your Consumer Behaviour Report.
Today consumers are faced with a myriad of choices in every day and high involvement decisions. For complex and important decisions, it is likely that young people are also influenced by family, friends and others: both offline and online.
You are to choose a high-involvement purchase (you may have recently bought a car, or moved into a share-house, or bought an expensive piece of jewelry, or gone on an OS holiday, or moved to another country or University). How has the role of others affected your decision?
There has been a lot written and researched about the decision-making aspects. You are to research how parents/guardians, groups or significant others form a part of this process and how they influence the decision made. Considering the complex nature of such a decision making process and the influence that ‘others’ are likely to have. It would be wise to choose the product or service, then contrast how significant other/s affected your decision. You will also need to use theory to analyse your thoughts and the decision process.
* Relevant readings to help you get started (there are others):
Bearden, W. O., & Etzel, M. J. (1982). Reference group influence on product and brand purchase decisions. Journal of Consumer Research, 9 (4), 183-194.
Kaplan, M. F., & Miller, C. E. (1987). Group decision making and normative versus informational influence: Effects of type of issue and assigned decision rule. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 53.
Much has been written in the media and in academic research about cancer. While many hundreds of types of cancers exist, early detection is the key to surviving the disease in many instances. While breast screening takes place routinely for women aged over 40, and prostate cancer testing is recommended for men over 50, there are frequently more and more younger people being diagnosed and dying with other cancers not being detected, such as bowel, skin and breast.
Considering the complex nature of this issue, as well as past and current strategies employed by charities and Government. Your task is to recommend how to convince younger men and women to get early cancer detection testing. To get started: choose a gender and age group after doing some research about early detection of cancer and which sex suffers from different cancers.
Possible theories: Motivation, TPB, ELM (persuasion)
* Relevant readings to help you get started (there are others):
Ajzen, I. (1991). The theory of planned behavior. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 50 (2), 179-211.
Burns, D. J., Reid, J., Toncar, M., Anderson, C., & Wells, C. (2008). The effect of gender on the motivation of members of generation Y college students to volunteer. Journal of Nonprofit & Public Sector Marketing, 19 (1), 99-118.
The problem/opportunity selected for the assignment is to investigate the role of reference groups, i.e., family, friends and others in high involvement purchase decision. In detailed terms, purchase decision varies in terms of high involvement and low involvement. Under high involvement purchase decision, product is quite expensive and risky while product is less expensive in low involvement purchase decision. The role of reference groups increases in case of high involvement purchase decision as such products are quite expensive therefore require consumers to do lot research before arriving at purchase decision. In this regard, a high involvement purchase decision, for e.g. purchasing a car is selected and role of others in its purchase decision from the perspective of marketers is evaluated.
The reference group is defined as the group or individuals influencing purchase decision of a consumer. There are various kinds of reference groups as formal, informal, aspirational, etc. In simple terms, family, friends, work colleagues, online communities, membership of a particular group, etc are some entities influencing purchase decision (Yakup, Mucahit and Reyhan, 2011). The marketers believe that consumers’ perception of a given product or service is influenced in several terms by the reference groups.
In the first instance, there is informational influence, i.e., nature and kind of information provided by reference groups to the consumer regarding product or service (Petra, 2012). Such information can be related to product performance, past experience, image, etc and help consumers in making purchase decision. Secondly, consumers also make purchase decision in light of group norms, values, and behaviours. All these aspects are analysed and purchase decision is made in conformance with group norms, values and behaviour to which consumer belongs to.
From the marketing perspective, reference groups provide frame of reference to individuals for making purchase or consumption decisions (Sathish and Rajamohan, 2012). The family, friends and other people do not pose a kind of restriction on the consumer for making particular purchase decision. Instead, they specify general values, behaviours, and attitudes that serve as benchmark in making purchase decision.
It is identified that these people or groups do not pose specific authority levels for instructing or directing consumer for making purchase decision. Instead, these people or groups are just having relative influence guiding consumers for a particular purchase decision (Panda and Patra, 2013). Every individual seeks to maintain and nourish friendship in his or her life for having companionship, security, and platform for discussing problems or situations and arriving at best possible solutions.
The concept of reference group has complicated the purchase decision making process. Previously, purchase decision making process is only limited and confined to the individual. But, now with the emergence of social groups and desire of individuals of gaining recognition, attention and acceptance in social settings complicated the purchase process. The purchase decision is taken in light of social influence where there are several determinants of influence (Lal and Sharma, 2012).
Reference group is one such determinant considered as a significant factor to be taken into account by the consumer for proving worthiness of purchase decision. There are several factors through which reference groups influence purchase decision of consumer. Some such factors are perceived risk, expertise, need for the social approval, comparative appraisals, etc. It can be understood in a manner that consumers make purchase decision under the influence of all these factors. This is evident as a high involvement purchase decision like purchase of car is never taken in light of marketing advertisements and notions (Sukato and Elsey, 2009).
Rather, consumer evaluates purchase decision of purchasing car in light of factors mentioned above falling in the dimension of reference groups. The risk aspects like performance, mileage, features, design, etc are considered for avoiding risk in the purchase decision of a car. Moreover, experience, suggestion and feedback of friends, family members, relatives, and others are also taken for ensuring success of purchase decision. The opinion and views of reference groups matter significantly and gives consumer confidence in making purchase decision (Sian, Chuan and Chen, 2010).
Under this, Maslow theory of motivation is used for gaining insight regarding the high involvement purchase decision and role of others in it. There are five dimension of this theory as shown below:
(Source: Abraham, 2011).
Among the five level needs, self-actualisation needs, ego-needs, belongingness and safety needs led individual to involve others in the purchase process. It can be understood with the help of example of purchase of car. The car is purchased for safety reasons as getting security, shelter and comfort in extreme weather conditions as per the safety level need of the theory. Under third level needs, belongingness individual seeks for love, friendship, acceptance, recognition by others (Sharma, 2011).
The decision of car purchase of quite high value and price is done by consumer for enhancing his/her status, gaining improved attention and recognition in the group. It is believed that individual always face a kind of comparisons among friends, family and other groups. The comparison is a common practice prevails everywhere and individuals winning such comparison gain high love, respect, acceptance and recognition. The purchase of luxury car enables individual to win such comparison in terms of value, price, performance and features thereby gaining additional love, friendship, and acceptance by others (Schiffman and Kanuk, 2009).
Moving further, purchase of car also help individual in satisfying ego and self-actualisation needs. It is so because purchase of luxury car is a matter of prestige, status, self-fulfilment, accomplishment, etc more than merely providing a travelling mechanism. All these factors facilitate individual to develop special image and reputation in the eyes of others. In this way, purchase of car and role of reference groups go side-by-side. The consumer makes this high involvement purchase decision in light of reference group considerations and at the same time for improving his/her self among reference group (Hoyer and Maclnnis, 2008).
Some strategies or tactics are recommended in this section for handling the problem/opportunity identified. It has been identified that reference group influences individual’s buying behaviour through affecting his/her product evaluations, aspirations and behaviour. The social network comprised of family members, relatives, colleagues, friends, etc are counted in the reference groups and influences buying behaviour and decision making process significantly.
In this context, it is said that marketers need to use reference groups’ concept properly facilitating consumers to make purchase decision quickly thereby ensuring product sales and market leadership (Kardes, Cronley and Cline, 2010). In simple terms, concept of reference groups should be utilised properly by marketer for improving marketing prospects. In this context, some recommendations are fostered in light of marketing dimension named 4 P’s-product, price, place and promotion.
The first set of recommendation relates with the positioning product offerings in the marketplace in a manner that affect cognitive behaviour of consumers. This recommendation is fostered specifically in context of high involvement products. In detailed terms, high involvement product offerings lead consumer to identify, evaluate and affiliate their purchase option with reference groups in order to arrive at best possible purchase decision.
The reference groups are involved for gaining useful knowledge, information and experience, gaining rewards in terms of recognition and acceptance, and maintaining self-concepts (Sharma, 2011). In this regard, high involvement product offerings should be positioned or offered in a manner allowing consumers to involve reference groups and utilising them for enhancing worthiness and value of product offering.
Marketers are also recommended to develop strategy for using reference groups for creating new customers. It is identified that reference group is a powerful tool for persuading consumers to identify product offerings and making purchase decision. This tool can be used for creating new customers through transmitting product messages in different manners. In first case, marketers can use reference groups for reducing perceived risks and assisting consumers in making purchase decision.
The consumers perform desirable purchase behaviour only when he learns how to reduce perceived risk in making purchase decision (Panda and Patra, 2013). It is equally important for marketer to reduce perceived risks in order to lead consumers to identify product and arrive at purchase decision. For example, consumer who is looking for a new computer will acquire information from an experienced user for reducing perceived risks and using computer effectively. The experienced user in this case provides marketers opportunity to create new customers.
The concept of reference groups is also recommended to be used as a promotional tool by the business firms. The task of promotion is served by the reference groups through transmitting, distributing and circulating information. It is worth mentioning that business firm displays and circulates product information for promoting products in the marketplace.
This task of promoting products can be done successfully by the marketers through using the concept of reference groups. For using reference groups as a promotional tool, marketers are recommended to accidentally transmit information regarding a product or service among reference group members (Petra, 2012).
The reference group among which product information is transmitted will observe and motivate to use the product. In this way, task of product promotion is done on the one hand and reference group members are motivated to initiate the purchase process. As and when reference group members initiate purchase process, other people also influences for making purchase decision. In this regard, business firms are recommended to select and transmit information among enthusiastic reference group members who can provide active response and platform for adding new customer groups.
In simple terms, marketers can utilise reference group as an effective promotion tool through selecting enthusiastic reference members. The enthusiastic reference members mean people holding impressive image in the eyes of normal customers should be selected for promoting products. For example, Nike has hired basketball star named Michael Jordan for promoting basketball shoes.
For this purpose, concept of basketball shoes is introduced and promoted among basketball players holding significant image and reputation in the marketplace. The basketball reference group holds high potential for persuading others or normal categories consumers to purchase basketball shoes (Sathish and Rajamohan, 2012).
Lastly, it is also identified that marketers are using reference groups for enabling consumers to perceive product trustworthy and reliable. In this context, it is advisable that marketers should redefine the role and function of reference group. Apart from circulating and transmitting information, knowledge and experience among users, reference group should also be utilised for establishing and enforcing standards. The standards here refer to the guidelines and benchmark for product performance.
It means reference groups should define the performance criteria for a product offering and individuals should be guided to purchase product meeting that performance criteria (Panda and Patra, 2013). This recommendation is based on the notion that reference groups should not only be used for product information, creating new customers, promoting products. Rather, it should also be used as a normative tool defining performance standards for product offerings in order to lead consumers to arrive at successful purchase decision.
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Hoyer, W. and Maclnnis, D. (2008). Consumer Behaviour. Nelson Education, Ltd.
Kardes, F., Cronley, M. and Cline, T. (2010). Consumer Behavior. Nelson Education, Ltd.
Lal,K. and Sharma,S. (2012). Changing Consumer Behaviour- A challenge for Sustainable Business Growth.
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