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Saturday, 22 September 2018

Reference Group Influences on Consumer Behaviour

A consideration of the influence of group is based on the reference group; that is, a group that serves as a reference point for the individual in the formation of his beliefs,attitudes and behaviour. However,before we discuss reference groups further we would like to discuss groups generally.


A group may be defined as two or more people to interact to accomplish either individual or mutual goals.


We have the following types of groups:

1) Primary Versus Secondary Groups: If a person interacts on a regular basis with other individuals (for example with members of his family,neighbours or workers whose opinions are valued),the these individuals can be regarded as primary group for that person. On the other hand,if a person interacts only occasionally with such others,or does nor consider their opinion to be important,then these others constitute a secondary group for that person. The point of difference between primary and secondary groups are the importance of the group to the individual and the frequency and consistency with which the individual interacts with others.

2) Formal Versus Informal Groups: If a group has a highly defined structure (eg, a formal membership list),specific roles and authority levels (a president,treasurer and secretary),and specific goals, then it would be classified as a formal group. On the other hand,if a group is more loosely defined, then it is regarded as an informal group. In terms of their influences on consumer behaviour,informal social and friendly groups are generally more important to the marketers,since their less clearly defined structures provide a more conducive environment for the exchange of information and influence about consumption related topics.

3) Large Versus Small Groups: A large group is said to be one in which a single member is not likely to know more than a few of the groups members or be fully aware of the specific roles or activities of more than a limited number of other group members. Examples,of large groups include the Nigerian Bottling Company PLC and the Institution of Management and Technology (IMT) Enugu.

On the other hand,members of a small group are likely to know every member personally and to be aware of every member's specific role or activity in the group. A lecturer in the department of marketing IMT,Enugu is likely to know other members and be aware of their duties and interests within the group.

In the field of consumer behavior,we are normally concerned with the study of small groups,because such groups are more likely to influence the consumption behaviour of group members.

4) Membership Versus Symbolic Groups: A membership group is a group to which a person  either belongs or would quality for membership. On the other hand,a group in which an individual is not likely to receive membership,despite acting like a membership by adopting the group's values,attitudes and behaviour,is considered or said to be a symbolic group. There is no doubt that actual membership group offer a more direct, and thus a compelling,influence on the consumer behavior.
 However,examined the different kinds of groups, we can summarize by saying that small,informal,primary membership groups are of the greatest interest to marketers because they exert the greatest potential influence on consumer purchase decisions.