Discuss about the Social Influence and Sustainable Consumption.
The consumer behavior is the examination of the factors which can affect the purchase tendencies of the consumers. The buying behavior of the consumers can be defined as the decision process involved in buying and using the products. There are several factors and specifications that influence the choice of the consumer, shopping habits and ultimate selection of the product. In the consumer purchase behavior, the final purchase is the result of combination of all of these factors (Singh, 2009). Specifically, some of these factors are culture, social class, family and the psychological factors. Along with it, the cultural trends and the society also influences the purchase decision of an individual. With the identification of these factors, a brand organization can influence the purchase behavior of the consumers. The companies can use these factors to develop the marketing and the brand strategy. These factors are critical in development of the advertising and the marketing campaigns and the companies can be more efficient in designing the marketing campaign in alignment with the needs and the desires of the target customers (Kenrick, Goldstein and Braver, 2012).
There are different phases involved in the consumer decision making process. Firstly, the consumers identify a need or desire to consume something. Subsequently, the consumer selects and shortlists the commodities that promise higher value. In the next step, the consumers decide on his expenditure and the total amount of money that he can spare. In the last step, the consumers analyze the usual prices of the commodity and make the buying decision (Munthiu, 2009). Apple Inc. is a multinational technology based business organization that is focused on developing, designing and selling consumer technology based products, such as personal computers and iPhones. The apple iPhones holds a substantial amount of market share in the smartphones market. The latest versions of the mobile phone are long anticipated and the consumers queue to buy them (Apple Inc., 2016). In the present report, impact of the social influence on the consumer purchase behavior is investigated.
Types of social influence
Society exerts a considerable influence in the purchase decisions of an individual. It is due to the fact that the members of a similar social class have common values or interests. Therefore, these people also share similar purchasing patterns. Different social classes have different brand or consumption preference especially regarding luxurious goods. The people in the same social structure are influenced by the other members of it as they mingle with those people only. Moreover, in the same social class, the financial sanding of the members is almost similar which makes it easier to group them into one while section (Hoyer, MacInnis and Pieters, 2012). The social influence plays a critical role in the decisions of acquisition and consumption of the products. Therefore, they are critical in the development of marketing strategies. There are several manners through which the social group impacts over its members. In a social group, an individual tends to imitate the behavior of a people, whom he thinks are behaving in a correct manner. In addition to it, several situations arise wherein the group member is not sure about the correct behavior in a certain circumstances; therefore, he follows the behavior of other group members. In other circumstances, the social influence may occur when a person s trying to get the conformation of a particular group or person. This social conformity also occurs due to cultural pressures, religion or commitment to the ideology of a certain group.
Basically, the social influence can be divided into two sections, namely, normative social influence and informational social influence. The normative social influence occurs due to the desire of conformity. In the normative social influence, a person buys or purchases a commodity because he wants to be liked or accepted by other persons. The normative influence results in people to comply the public norms. In contrast to it, the informational social influence occurs when a consumer buys a product after consulting or gaining information from his social group. In this kind of social influence, the content of the information shared with the peers plays a critical role in the consumer purchase behavior (Hoyer, MacInnis and Pieters, 2012). These social influences can be divided into several categories which are discussed below:
A person learns how to behave in society from his external environment. Therefore, the people brought up in different cultures, society and traditions show different consumer behavior. Their interest, desire and the needs of an individual are also shaped by the society wherein he is raised. Therefore, culture is a significant social aspect that influences the purchase behavior of the people. A large culture also encompasses different sub-cultures which are dependent on the religion, nationality and the geographical location (Drummond, Ensor and Ashford, 2010).
The social class is a significant influencing factor in the consumer purchase behavior. The social class of an individual is a determining factor in the spare income or financial status of a person. In addition to it, the cultural inclination or the public acceptance of a person is also dependent upon the social class of an individual. However, there are certain discrepancies in the classification of the people on the social class basis. For instance, a person in higher social group may have low disposable income after paying the house mortgages and the children’s school fees than a family in lower social standing (Drummond, Ensor and Ashford, 2010).
The reference groups can be defined as the small social group such as friends, coworkers and the families which are determining in the purchase decision of an individual. The reference groups also impacts on the attitude and the personality of an individual. The individuals are also more likely to exhibit behavior which is considered appropriate and acceptable in the social group.
Social influences impacting on the consumer purchase behavior
The social influence refers to the forces that are exerted on other people during their consumer product purchase. These forces impacts the purchase behavior and the people buy things under this pressure. The social influence includes family, reference groups, opinion leaders and the culture groups. In a social group, every member creates his/her specific position and each position has a defining role in the purchase behavior. For instance, in a family, an individual learn from his parents and other relatives about how to purchase a commodity for use. When a child develops the skills and the knowledge about how to make a purchase, it is called consumer socialization. The family members, parents and the siblings play a critical role in the consumer socialization process. The impact of reference group on an individual’s attitude and behavior can be either positive or adverse. The reference groups can be categorized in three categories, namely, membership, disassociative and aspirational. Generally, in a reference group, a few members behave as public leaders and provide information to the to the group members. The consumers may use internet mediums, like blogging sites and social networks to gain more information regarding the products they are going to purchase (Ferrell et al., 2014). The Maslow’s hierarchy of needs can be used to understand what factors drive the purchase decision of an individual. The hierarchy of needs model is used to understand the basis of human motivation. This model is also used to understand the consumer behavior in purchase decisions. In this model, the human needs can be divided in five major categories, namely, physiological needs, safety needs, belongingness, ego needs and self-actualization. In order to progress to higher level of the pyramid, the lower level needs are required to be addressed first. Each and every individual in this world is driven by the desire to satisfy all of these needs; however, a person is required to meet the needs of the lower level before moving on to the higher levels of needs. As a consumer buys a commodity or a product to satisfy one of his needs, the marketers can influence the purchase behavior of a consumer to satisfy one of his needs. A customer driven by the desire for safety and security for his family will be willing to buy a new car, if he is assured of its safety and security.
Apple Inc. Current Marketing Strategy
In the context of the cellphone companies, the competition among the leading smartphone manufacturers has increased due to increasing number of cell phone users and the expanding market. Therefore, all the leading smartphone manufacturing business organizations invest in one marketing strategy or another to attract the maximum market share. Some companies use the strategy of celebrity endorsement whereas; some companies use the strategy of promoting the technical advanced features of the product to promote their product. Although the smartphones of Apple Inc. does not have high-tech features like its competitors, it has developed a customer following who are eager to buy the mobile phones of the company. The company has adopted the exclusivity technique to create a subset of customers who feel special regarding holding a specific product. In this method, the organization builds a relationship with the customers which increase the customer loyalty. The company has devised a very low-cost marketing strategy where it does not indulge in marketing for its products but its distributors do. Therefore, the net cost associated with the marketing of the company is very low. Despite being an exclusive and luxurious brand, the company became the most popular smartphone company in the world. In this marketing strategy, Apple Inc. made their iPhones available only in selected amount which creates a perception of limited stock and exclusiveness (Gobry, 2011).
Furthermore, the company does not engage in any marketing activity. Most often, some other company is advertising the mobile phones of the company. It is a clever strategy wherein the company has been successful in managing other companies, manly the mobile operators to conduct advertising for them. Many distributors also advertise for the company who want to promote that they are selling the company’s phone. When other companies advertise for the company, Apple Inc. imposes several restrictions to control how the promotion should look. Therefore, all the advertisements of the company look the same. Since the company manufactures bestselling smartphone, the distributors have to promote that they possess the mobile phones of the company to attract consumers (Funk, 2008).
Application of social influence theories in the marketing strategies of an organization
Today, cell phone is considered as a common commodity which is ordinarily used in both urban and rural areas. The companies design cell phones according to their target markets for example, the companies targeting the rural markets eliminates unnecessary features and reduce their service charges. Contrastingly, the companies targeting affluent group constantly innovate to produce light-weight, better designed and multi-functional mobile phones. According to the modern marketing theory, the purchase decision of the customers is encouraged by advertising strategy of the company and the influenced by the reference groups’ viewpoint. While targeting the female customers, Samsung tried to appeal to them by integrating features of colorful backside and compact cases with mirrors. In this target customer section, the affluent customers are targeted by embedding gem stones on the backside of the mobile phones (Xihao and Yang, n.d.). The social influence theories can be used to cultivate the marketing strategy of the company. Firstly, it is important to discuss the product and the target market of the company. The iPhones developed by Apple Inc. is a combination of iPod music player and a smartphone with all the essential features. The advanced features of mobile include a large screen, touch-sensitivity, virtual keyboard and easy navigation through the music collection. The targeted customer base is the affluent new generation who uses smartphones for business purposes. There are numerous methods of implementing social influence in the product marketing.
Use of culture to develop the product
Apple Inc. has already applied social influence theory of exclusivity to attract maximum customers in the company. Other than that, the company can use other methods to expand its customer base. The company can use the social influencing variable of culture to increase the customer base in the geographical locations by applying it differently in different advertising campaigns (Goldsmith, E.B. (2015). The culture can be used to influence the 4Ps of marketing for obtaining the maximum customer base.
The ‘fuelled with love’ campaign of British airways has been effective in increasing customer base in the India, where the target market is emotional (Pal, 2016). Similarly, Apple Inc. can create emotional and touching videos to connect to the customers where the customers emotional. The company can design advertising campaigns and promotional videos according to the geographical location and the local culture. For example, the citizens of Australia are outdoor loving and active in various sports. Therefore, to appeal to the Australian customers, the company can add a health o meter or health watches in the smart phones to appeal to the local customers of Australia.
Use of reference groups in promotion
Today, the use of reference group has become the most common marketing strategy for the promotion of brands. The companies are using the digital marketing strategy or social media to influence the perception of the consumers. The companies can develop strategies to promote the product. It will be in alignment with the current exclusivity strategy of the company. Apple Inc. can initiate a quiz on its web pages before the launch of the actual product to encourage curiosity regarding the product and invoke the consumer interest. Another method of using the reference groups in the marketing strategy is to create qualitative products which increase the word of mouth for the company. The word of mouth strategy is the most important strategy in the social media platform. Moreover, it is observed that maximum companies try to attract maximum customers through social media rather than connecting with them. It is important to attain maximum fans that love the brand and are loyal to it for creating strong customer base (Whitler, 2014).
It is implicit that the companies determine the pricing rage according to the geographical location and the target customer base. As per the above discussion, the company is has created a target customer base among the affluent young corporates and business people all across the world. The people with a good income source are able to afford the iPhones developed by the country. However, the income ranges of the affluent class in different in each country. Therefore, it is important that the company completed adequate market research before determining the price for each place.
The social class is a critical factor in the determining at which place the company should launch its new products. Accordingly, a business organization launches its new products where maximum people come into the category of the target customers of the company. At present, the higher middle class is growing substantially in China and India. Therefore, Apple Inc. is focusing its promotional strategies in this market.
Conclusively, it can be stated that the social influence is a major factor in the purchase decision of the consumers. The consumer behavior is referred to the study of the factors that determines whether a person is going to buy a product or not. An individual makes a buying decision on the basis of the usability, price and is need for a particular commodity. Along with it, the society and other social factors also impacts the buying decision of a customer. Some of the determining social influence factors are culture, social class, family and the psychological factors. The culture influences the perception and of an individual. The local culture also influences the manner in which a person is brought up, his needs and requirements. The family is also critical in the development of buying behavior of a person. The big business organizations use these social influencing factors in the selection of the target customers and development of the marketing strategy. Similarly, Apple Inc. can also use the social influence to increase its customer base. The company is using exclusivity strategy to promote its products. In this strategy, the company makes the products available only to a limited consumer segment. Along with it, it can use social influence theories to enlarge the customer base and enhance the consumer loyalty. For instance, the company can create emotional content and promotional videos to connect with customer base having high emotions. Similarly, reference groups and social class is also important in the development of marketing strategy.
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