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CONSUMER BEHAVIOUR How big is the influence of others (non-paid sources) on what we buy?

REFERENCES In order to study and understand real people and their opinion on the non-paid influences of what they buy, projective techniques of interview was conducted with three interviewees. A 56 year old divorced male living in Auckland central within an income bracket of $80,000-$100,000, a 30 year old single male living out of Auckland central within an income bracket of $40,000 - $60,000 and a 27 year old female married with kid living in Manukau within an income bracket of $60,000 - $80,000. They all spoke on all the factors mentioned in this assignment for almost an hour each. They will be referred to as A, B and C respectively. INTRODUCTION The consumer faces numerous sources of influence. A lot of these influences are non-paid sources such as culture, social class, reference group, family, age, life cycle, occupation, lifestyle, motivation, perception, beliefs and attitudes. This essay is looking at how the stated factors influence affect consumers buying behaviour. Solomon (2011) states that to understand why people buy things we try to appreciate how products, services and consumption activities contribute to the broader social world we experience. Whether we shop, cook, clean, play, hang out at the beach, or even look at ourselves in the mirror, the influence impact is presence in our lives. Often, we take cultural influences for granted, but they are significant. An American will usually not bargain with a store owner compared to an Indian. This, however, is a common practice in much of the World. A persons self-image will also tend to influence what he or she will buy. An upwardly mobile manager may buy a flashy car to project an image of success. Social factors also influence what the consumers buyoften, consumers seek to imitate others whom they admire, and may buy the same brands. Personal and psychological factors can also influence consumer buying behaviour. CULTURAL FACTORS The influence of culture appears to be the most important external factors, particularly in the context of international marketing (Desmond, Dick and Alvin, 2005). Culture is the part of every society and is the important cause of person wants and behaviour. The way that we do things around here, culture could relate to a country, a distinct section of the community, or an organization. The influence of culture on buying behaviour varies from country to country. Culture is the lens through which people view products (Solomon, 2011). Interviewee A expressed his opinion with an example like this; Indian eats hot and spicy food. Their children learn to like hot and spicy food. However, less European children eat hot and spice. Interviewee B and C also related to food when asked about different cultures and if they influence our buying behaviour. It is well acknowledged that culture can have a strong influence on consumers' thoughts and actions. A lot of times people observe and translate culture by the way people eat, dress and behave and this becomes the contributing factor of how other behaves around that culture.
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While culture has generally been the buying behavioural indicator in marketing, social-class membership provides a richer dimension of meaning. Social class determines what a person would buy, and in what quantity. It also determines the frequency of use of a product. Interviewee C claims that the higher the income of a person, the greater will be his capacity to spend. The individual's consumption patterns actually symbolize his class position, a more significant determinant of his buying behaviour than just culture. Pierre (2008) explained there is a social-class system operative in metropolitan markets which can be isolated and described. The kinds of things a person will or will not buy are strongly related to his or her social class status. SOCIAL FACTORS The impact of reference groups varies across products and brands. Conspicuous products such as clothes, cars and toys lend themselves to reference group influence. Reference group can be of any size and may be tangible or intangible and symbolic (Peter and Olsen, 2008). Past research findings indicate that at least three reference groups are important in the adoption of new farm ideas-neighbours, friends and family (George and Everett, 2008). Interviewee C said that her parents usually consult her husband who is an IT manager if they want to buy any new technology product or any other major buys. For the parents the son-in-law is clustered under reference group category who influences their consumptions. Interview B on the other hand pointed out that recently a salesperson attempted to create a reference group influence by describing how he is similar to the previous purchaser of the car. Salespeople could describe themselves as a reference group and largely influence consumer decision making. In addition, family buyer behaviour is strongly influenced by the member of a family or household. Therefore marketers are trying to find the roles and influence of the husband, wife and children. Interviewee B leaves with 3 other people who are not related to him, therefore the level of decision making influence on each other is quite low compared to a household consisting family members. In situation like his, all the members in the house are quite independent they are their own influencer, decider, buyer and user. Deborah, Laurence and Christina (2008) stated that family decision processes in Auckland from the perspective of estate agents who deal with families purchasing houses on a daily basis, and formulate their own understanding of buyer behaviour, and adult family members who have recently purchased houses. The analysis makes it possible to explore the ways in which estate agents interpret the purchasing behaviour of families and to compare these interpretations with the understandings of adult family members. The study offers insights into the ways in which families engage in search practices, interpret information and internally negotiate decisions. All my three interviewees explain that they make joint decision with their spouse/ partner or the people they live with. Most research on family decision making has focused on husband /wife roles and influence, whereas children have received little attention (Peter and Olsen, 2008). Children can have major influences on the familys budget allocation decisions and purchase choices. PERSONAL FACTORS It is obvious that the consumers change the purchase of goods and services with the passage of time. . The age and life cycle is an orderly series of stages in which consumer attitude and behavioural tendencies evolve and occur because of developing maturity, experience, income, and status. Solomon (2011) said, The money a couple with no children spends on dinners out and vacations will go to quite different purchases after the birth of a child, when a night on the town becomes a distant memory.

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Interviewee A lives by himself but owns a dog that he considers a member in the house. He expressed his opinion on the age and the life cycle change he is going through now. He claims to be spending more money on food and entertainment now than ever. Every Tuesday is his movie night and Friday is his night out with his club members, especially with men of his age. Interviewee C is married and has a child and she has observed significant change in expenditures in food, clothing and other services such as house mortgage after baby was born. Their buying pattern has totally changes after the baby that triggered new priorities. Interviewee B is in his young adult living independently in keeping with the freedom characterising this stage of life. He is also expecting his career boost and increased earning. However, he claims that he spends unconsciously few times because he is a sole decision maker and he tends to impulse buy or maybe because he wants to fit in with his friends. More over, the occupation of a consumer has significant impact on buying behaviour. The status of a person is projected through various symbols like the dress, accessories and possessions. For example a marketing manager of an organization will try to purchase business suits, whereas a low level worker in the same organization will purchase inexpensive work clothes. The consumer acquiring and using goods for the purposes of occupation and self-image is a major theme in texts on consumption and consumer behaviour (Szmigin, 2003). Consumers can, while seeking to identity with particular others or groups, also wish to differentiate themselves and present their own unique image to the world. Interviewee A gave his opinion on occupational impact on his buying behaviour he said that his buying pattern kept changing as he got promoted at work. He said as your position grows your requirement changes and grows with it. For example, he used to eat at McDonald when he was younger or in his middle management role but now he is ranked quite high at work, he doesnt even once consider going to a fast-food chain to eat. He feels that he has to grow and maintain his status, occupation and selfimage that is why he wouldnt allow himself to go to certain places his down lines go to, one of which is McDonalds. Lifestyle of customers is another import factor influencing the consumer buying pattern. Lifestyle refers to the way a person lives in a society and is expressed by the things in his/her surroundings. A lifestyle of a person with high income would clearly be different from someone who earns less. Although a single person may have a lower income than a married couple, the single may be able to buy more discretionary items. Interviewee C elaborated on her and her familys lifestyle. She said, Both my husband and I work full time and we have 2 year old kid, we have a pretty simple lifestyle like any other Kiwi but we are constantly trying to live a very healthy lifestyle more for the sack of the kid and based on the fact we all are aging. This tells us that people feel responsible for their lives and their children that is why they tend to leave a conscious lifestyle. Interviewee B spends a lot of his leisure time with friends playing guitar and drinking alcohol over the weekend. In his lifestyle he considers his friends and music very important to him. PSYCHOLOGICAL FACTORS Every person has different needs such as physiological needs, biological needs, social needs etc. This need creates a state of tension that drives the consumer to attempt to reduce or eliminate it (Solomon, 2011). Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs provides a useful theory which when slightly simplified suggests that we are motivated to satisfy a higher level of need once we have satisfied a lower level need. They structure purchases or consumption activities to reduce the chances they will experience a nasty result. Solomon (2011) illustrates an example, many consumers work hard to avoid rejection by their peers, a negative goal. They will stay away from product that they associate with social disapproval. Interviewee
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C is very motivated to raise her child in a happy and healthy home. She is motivated for her child to grow up to be a good person and a doctor, however she leaves that for him to decide what he want to be when he grows up. This motivation will drive her to purchase and consume product and services that will support her to raise her child to way she plans to. Depending on what type of product consumed, a perception selecting will have its own level of influence based on individual perception. Customers tend to engage in 'selective perception' - they see what they want to see. They also sometimes distort some messages to fit their view of the world. Kirchheimer (2003) said that perception is affected by the amount of exposure to a stimulus and by individual interpretation. For example, a consumer who hears once that dairy herds contribute to greenhouse gas would not take the statement seriously. If the same consumer encountered that information often and from many sources, then the consumer's attitude toward dairy products might change enough to influence how often the consumer chose yogurt as a breakfast food. All the three interviewee disagreed on the idea of gay marriage and they had their own perception against the idea. Interviewee C related her perception to her religious believe whereas, A and B disagree without any strong argument to support their perception on gay marriage. Whereas, all three agreed that smoking causes lung cancer because they have heard on the TV advertisements. Sometime, consumers cannot explain their own perception but they feel free to express others opinion as their own point of view. One of the factors that lead towards perception is word of mouth. Interviewee B prefer not to live in south Auckland because the crime rate is higher compared to central this is his perception and he got through people telling him that. The perception of an individual doesnt necessarily mean it is the fact it is only the fact to the person that perception belongs to. Beliefs and Attitudes Customer possesses specific belief and attitude towards various products. Since such beliefs and attitudes make up brand image and affect consumer buying behaviour therefore marketers are interested in them. The consumer must first perceive the product and then focus values and beliefs onto the product and make a decision to purchase or not to purchase. Beliefs are more vulnerable to marketing than values are, because beliefs are subject to knowledge and emotion. For example, positive facts can inform a consumer's knowledge about New Zealand local made product. A marketer might decide what demographic group prefer New Zealand manufactured product and then generate positive emotion by associating the product with which that demographic group feels positive. MARKETING IMPLICATIONS Culture is dynamic in current world as changes occur due to technology, migration, fashion trends, entertainment and entire human lifestyles. This facilitates marketers to devise more accurate marketing strategies to reflect on each culture type and its value. Marketers need to take into account the local culture in which they wish to market and they can segment the market into various different culture and subculture. Every society possesses some form of social class which is important to the marketers because the buying behaviour of people in a given social class is similar. In this way marketing activities could be tailored according to different social classes. Marketers must try to determine the content of the shared meanings of various reference groups. Then the select certain reference group to associate with or promote their products. Reference groups can have both positive and negative effects on consumers. This is one of the reasons why marketers must always examine the social processes by which reference groups move cultural meaning to products and from products to the consumer. The marketer needs to know whether Customers are influenced
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significantly by any reference group and which kind of customer is influenced by which particular reference group. Marketers are also recommended to fully understand family decision making, and to identify which family members are involved, what roles they play, and who has the major influence. This analysis will help marketers develop effective marketing strategies targeted at the appropriate person Each of the standard stages in the life cycle of the family creates unique marketing opportunities and each places a different priority on purchases, which consequently affects consumer purchasing behaviour (Kenneth and Donald, 2005). Different stages help marketers to develop appropriate products for each stage. Marketers can represent a combination of occupation, wealth and life style, giving a good indication of buyers capacity for expenditure. Marketers must understand that people today are very concerned about their image and the status in the society which is a direct outcome of their material prosperity. The profession or the occupation a person is in again has a direct impact on the products they consume. Motivation can be both negative and positive. Marketers attempt to satisfy consumer needs by providing possible solutions in situations of different motives. This is the most essential aspect a marketer can never go wrong if consumer motives is thoroughly studied and understood. Marketers in real world try to attract the customer attention whereas customers try to interpret the information in a way that will support what the customers already believe, that is their perception. Therefore, marketers should retain information that supports their beliefs. Marketers can change the beliefs and attitudes of customers by launching special campaigns in this regard. CONCLUSION The influence of others especially non-paid sources which is within most consumers are extremely significant in consumers buying decisions. The cultural, social and personal factor influence impact on buying behaviour is presence amongst us as consumers. Yet we are never conscious about the fact that its our cultural and personal beliefs that make us behave the way we behave towards our consumption of product. Culture does not only mean our country or religious, its more to do with how each one is raised and how one views product which becomes ones personal thoughts. Even where one cultural group predominates, minority groups in the area might create a niche market strong enough for a business to thrive. Comparing the household consisting of family members, each member may be involved in different aspects of the purchase decision process and consumption of the product and services that is bought. Marketers are interested in the roles, and influence of the each member whether its through their motivation, perception or belief on the purchase of different products and services. These consumers direct their behaviour towards goals they value positively; they are motivated to approach the goal and to seek out products that will help them to reach it. Furthermore, consumer markets are defined by age, occupation and lifestyle characters and have an influence on buying decision. Whether the person is out going and spends on entertainment or keeps to themselves and purchases via online or mail order again depending on how they want to reflect with their age, occupation and lifestyle has an impact on the types of purchases made.

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Finally, consumer buying behaviour is influenced by cultural, social, personal, and psychological reasons. Actual buying process involves complex process and cycle. Companies have to keep a tab on all four factors in formulating strategy.

References
Ausra, S., Regina, V., Rita, K., (2006). Influence of Social Factors on Consumer Behaviour. Engineering Economics, 48, 3, 73-82. Retrieved June 4, 2011, from Manukau Institute of Technology library database. Deborah, Levy., Laurence, Murphy., Christina K.C, Lee., (2008). Influences and Emotions: Exploring Family Decision-making Processes when Buying a House. 23, 2, 271-289. Retrieved June 4, 2011, from Manukau Institute of Technolgy library database. Desmond, L., Dick, M., Alvin, L., (2005). Cultural Influence on work of mouth communication. AMA Winter Educator Conference Proceeding, 16, 9-10. Retrieved June 4, 2011, from the Manukau Institute of Technology library database. George M, B., Everett M, R., (2006).Reference Groups and the Development of Product Images. Public Opinion Quarterly, 22, 2, 186-187. Retrieved June 4, 2011, from the Manukau Institute of Technology library database. Gravatt, S., Butler, M., (2005). People dont buy what you sell: They buy what you stand for. Management Books: United Kingdom. Kenneth E, C., Donald, Baack., (2005). Family Life Cycle. Concise Encyclopedia of Advertising. 7777. Retrieved June 5, 2011, from Manukau Institute of Technology library database. Marsden, P., Kirby, J., (2006). Connected Marketing. BH: Burlington. Orton, K., Windham, L., (2000). The Soul of the New Consumer: The Attitudes, Behaviours, and Preferences of customers. Allworth Press: New York. Perner, L., (2010). Consumer Behaviour: The Psychology of Marketing. Retrieved June 4, 2011, from http://www.consumerpsychologist.com/ Pierre, M., (2008). Social Classes and spending behaviour. Journal of Marketing, 23, 2, 121-130. Retrieved June 3, 2011, from The Manukau Institute of Technology Library database. Poulos, M., (2007). Buyer Behaviour Implications for Marketing. 2nd Ed. Pearson Education: Australia. Solomon, M. R., (2011). Consumer Behaviour Buying, Having and Being. 9th Ed. Pearson Education: New Jersey. Szmigin, I., (2003). Understanding the Consumer. SAGE Publications: London.

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