External Influences: Culture
Consumer purchasing decisions are often affected by factors that are outside of their control but have direct or indirect impact on how we live and what we consume. One example of this are cultural factors
Culture represents the behavior, beliefs and, in many cases, the way we act learned by interacting or observing other members of society. In this way much of what we do is shared behavior, passed along from one member of society to another. Yet culture is a broad concept that, while of interest to marketers, is not nearly as important as understanding what occurs within smaller groups or Sub-Cultures to which we may also belong. Sub-cultures also have shared values but this occurs within smaller groups. For instance, sub-cultures exist where groups share similar values in terms of ethnicity, religious beliefs, geographic location, special interests and many others.
As part of their efforts to convince customers to purchase their products, marketers often use cultural representations, especially in promotional appeals. The objective is to connect to consumers using cultural references that are easily understood and often embraced by the consumer. By doing so the marketer hopes the consumer feels more comfortable with or can relate better to the product since it corresponds with their cultural values. Additionally, smart marketers use strong research efforts in an attempt to identify differences in how sub-culture behaves. These efforts help pave the way for spotting trends within a sub-culture, which the marketer can capitalize on through new marketing tactics (e.g., new products, new sales channels, added value, etc.).