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Buying - Buyers and Social Factors

Author: Jim Riley  Last updated: Sunday 23 September, 2012


A customer’s buying behaviour is also influenced by social factors, such as the groups to which the customer belongs and social status.

In a group, several individuals may interact to influence the purchase decision. The typical roles in such a group decision can be summarised as follows:


The person who first suggests or thinks of the idea of buying a particular product or service


A person whose view or advice influences the buying decision


The individual with the power and/or financial authority to make the ultimate choice regarding which product to buy


The person who concludes the transaction


The person (or persons) who actually uses the product or service

The family unit is usually considered to be the most important “buying” organisation in society. It has been researched extensively. Marketers are particularly interested in the roles and relative influence of the husband, wife and children on the purchase of a large variety of products and services.

There is evidence that the traditional husband-wife buying roles are changing. Almost everywhere in the world, the wife is traditionally the main buyer for the family, especially in the areas of food, household products and clothing. However, with increasing numbers of women in full-time work and many men becoming “home workers” (or “telecommuting”) the traditional roles are reversing.

The challenge for a marketer is to understand how this might affect demand for products and services and how the promotional mix needs to be changed to attract male rather than female buyers.

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