Cultural and Societal Change

Society is made up of many different cultural groups. As we noted in the Consumer Buying Behavior Tutorial, members of a cultural group share similar values and beliefs, which are learned and reinforced by others within the same cultural group. These shared values and beliefs lead members of a cultural group to behave in similar ways (e.g., customs, traditions, likes/dislikes, attitudes, perceptions, etc.).

Cultural groups can be viewed on several levels. At a broad level, a cultural group consists of a very large number who share basic values (e.g., ethnicity, religious affiliation). While looking at the broad level can offer some insight into how a general cultural group behaves, marketers are much more concerned with examining cultural groups at narrower levels.

Narrow level analysis of cultural groups leads to the study of subcultures, which consists of individuals sharing values and beliefs that revolve around special interests. For instance, a large cultural group may exist in a certain region of a country. While they share basic cultural values with others in their country (e.g., sense of patriotism), they may also share values with those in their region that are not shared consistently throughout the country (e.g., work ethic, taste in food, etc.).

Examining these subcultures even more closely will reveal thousands of smaller subcultures (e.g., sports interests, type of shopper, music preference, online gaming enthusiast, etc.). It should be evident that a single consumer may belong to many different subcultures. It should also be evident that members of a subculture sharing similar values are also likely to have similar needs and, as we discussed in the Targeting Markets Tutorial, this suggests that subcultures are natural for market segmentation.