Cultural Influences on Consumer Behavior

The influence of culture is inevitable in our societal living. However, within a larger society, there are sub systems of values exhibiting variations in behavioral pattern. Marketers have begun to segment larger societies into smaller subgroups that are homogeneous in relation to cultural values.

The individuals of a specific subculture vary in their consumption patterns. They show variation in lifestyle, financial viability, food preferences, reading habits, purchase of specific brands in a particular product category, purchase time, store patronage, etc.

Multi Culture in India

India is said to be a country of multi cultures. It is so because of its long history of civilization. Different rulers have ruled the country. These rulers had different systems of governance and social practices. However, now there is unity in diversity which is important to any marketer in framing strategy for marketing.

The diversity has given birth to ever increasing number of States. India is a country with 29 states and six union territories. Each state has its own own culture. There are more than one subculture is found in some states. There are major religions such as Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Jains and Bhuddhas.

Each state and religion has its own traditional style of dressing, wearing ornaments, food preferences etc. Wheat and wheat products are consumed more in north India. People in south India consume rice. Certain communities do not eat non-vegetarian food, while among the other communities non-vegetarian food is popular.

Differences in Consumption pattern

Differences are found in the consumption pattern related to rural – urban sub-cultural division. Variations are found in preferences for food items, housing, clothing, home, furnishing, transport vehicles used, recreation and leisure activities, saving pattern, etc.

Economic Status – Classes of people in India

Economic status is another important sub-cultural variation. According to economic status, people can be divided into three classes:

  1. The upper or affluent class,
  2. The middle class, and;
  3. The lower class.

The affluent class accounts for only a negligible portion of the society. Luxury items are consumed more by the affluent class.

On the other hand, the lower class spends more on necessary items. People in the lower class have very little purchasing power.

What is more important to the marketers is the middle class which forms a big chunk. Marketers have evinced a keen interest in the consumption pattern of the middle class. In spite of the regional, linguistic and cultural activities in India, middle class consumers follow a common pattern of the lifestyle and buying behavior. They are basically a security seeking class.

They need social security along with economic and emotional security. They respond favorably towards innovations, only if they are convinced about their security needs. They always strive to rise higher in social strata. They purchase products which add to the joy and comforts of their family members.

Thus, a study of sub-cultural variations will help, the marketer in designing marketing programmes suitably to target consumers of each subculture category.

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