How Reference Groups Exert Influence on Consumer Behavior

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A reference group is any person or group that serves as a point of comparison (or reference) for an individual in forming either general or specific values, attitudes, or a specific guide for behavior. They help us understand the impact of other people on an individual’s consumption beliefs, attitudes, and behavior. It helps marketers choose their methodology to affect desired changes in consumer behavior. From a marketing perspective, reference groups are groups that serve as frames of reference for individuals in their purchase or consumption decisions. Reference groups that influence general or broadly defined values or behavior are called normative reference groups. Reference groups that serve as benchmarks for specific or narrowly…show more content…
8 Reference Group Functions and Types of Influence Exerted It is possible to further classify reference groups into four types, depending on the function they perform and the kind of influence they exert reference groups operate by establishing certain norms, roles and status within the group for members to follow. As explained earlier, norms are unwritten codes or, standards of conduct that are assigned to individuals within the group. In addition, specific roles have been identified in group purchasing behavior in the attempt to select the best among alternative brands or makes of a product. These are described as those of the influencer, the gatekeeper (i.e. the individual who has the maximum control over the flow of information), the decision maker, the purchaser and, the final user. Status positions have also been designated within a group. High status of members within a group implies greater power and influence. Products are sometimes purchased to demonstrate status, for example an elegant dress or, an expensive car. The influence exerted by the group depends on the type of reference group it is. There are four general types of groups namely, normative, comparative, status and dissociative groups. Normative Reference Groups These are group whose values, norms and perspective an individual uses in defining a personal social situation. Norms represent shared value
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