One of the stances in the behavior of a consumer can be determined through the culture he belongs to. Culture encompasses many things from the religious belief, moral values, food, art, music etc. Therefore it is difficult to limit the boundaries of its spectrum. In marketing context it is defined as sum total of learned beliefs, values and customs that affect the consumer behavior of a particular society. It provides with the framework for one to operate in a certain manner that is acceptable to other members of the society. Most of the time, the hand of culture is invisible in the actions that consumers take in their daily routine life. The influence of culture is deeply inculcated in the beliefs and thoughts but has significant impact on the choices and preferences that consumers chalked out for them. An interesting fact is although it is deeply rooted in consumer’s belief; however it isn’t inherited but learned. These learning can take one of the three forms formal, informal and technical.
Formal learning takes place when adults in one’s family teach values to the young ones. Informal learning happens when the consumer imitates behavior of selected others (family, friends, role models, celebrities etc). And finally technical learning starts when a teacher tells a child how the things should be done and reason to adopt a particular way for doing it.
Core Cultural Values
Few of the cultural values are:
Individualism versus collectivism: Some cultures promote individuality, while other collectivism. Based on their behavior, marketers judge hoe the message will be delivered to its target audience.
Practicality v/s emotional: Some cultures impose their focus more on the practicality in their consumption while others attach their emotional values. Practicality and emotional attachment also varies along with the product category. Luxurious product/brand usually plays around the emotional characteristic of product and present themselves as sense of achievement, affiliation to a specific social class etc. The extend to which a consumer is driven by the practicality or emotional values also depends upon the overall economic condition of the society.
Material Comfort: Material comfort signifies the attainment of good life that has all necessaries goods to spend and use. Convenience-oriented goods and pleasure-providing goods and services are dominating in consumption pattern of the general public in the society. This value doesn’t only describe the companies operating in that culture but also give options for the medium/media to choose from to deliver their messages to their target audience.
Cultural rituals:This describes the practices and provides understanding for consumers’ actions. There are four important types of consumers’ rituals:
Possession rituals: It occur when product move from market place to home. Removing tags, packaging, placing, customizing are few of the ritualized activities in which consumer carry to show their symbolic ownership.
Grooming rituals: It is used in transition from private to public self. Numerous beauty and personal care services are marketed on basis of grooming ritual.
Divestment ritual: It aids the behavior of consumers, when they dispose off their possessions.
Exchange rituals: This ritual symbolizes the permanent change in social status and behavior associated with that change.
Cultural values also define the sphere of a company’s operation and distribution of its product. For example in many Muslim societies, alcohol cant be produced and sell in the market place.
Schiffman L. Kaunk L ( 2007) “the influence of culture on consumer behavior” Consumer Behavior ninth Ed New York, Prentice hall, pg 392-416
Zinkhan G, Arnould E (2002) “the meaning and nature of culture” Consumers 1st Ed New York, McGraw-Hill Publication Pg 139-166.