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Buyer Behaviour - Cultural Factors

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

Cultural factors have a significant impact on customer behaviour.

Culture is the most basic cause of a person’s wants and behaviour. Growing up, children learn basic values, perception and wants from the family and other important groups.

Marketing are always trying to spot “cultural shifts” which might point to new products that might be wanted by customers or to increased demand. For example, the cultural shift towards greater concern about health and fitness has created opportunities (and now industries) servicing customers who wish to buy:

• Low calorie foods
• Health club memberships
• Exercise equipment
• Activity or health-related holidays etc.

Similarly the increased desire for “leisure time” has resulted in increased demand for convenience products and services such as microwave ovens, ready meals and direct marketing service businesses such as telephone banking and insurance.

Each culture contains “sub-cultures” – groups of people with share values. Sub-cultures can include nationalities, religions, racial groups, or groups of people sharing the same geographical location. Sometimes a sub-culture will create a substantial and distinctive market segment of its own.

For example, the “youth culture” or “club culture” has quite distinct values and buying characteristics from the much older “gray generation”

Similarly, differences in social class can create customer groups. In fact, the official six social classes in the UK are widely used to profile and predict different customer behaviour.

In the UK’s socioeconomic classification scheme, social class is not just determined by income. It is measured as a combination of occupation, income, education, wealth and other variables:

Class name
Social Status
Occupational Head of Household
% of UK Population
A
Upper middle
Higher managerial, administrative or professional
3
B
Middle
Intermediate managerial, administrative or professional
14
C1
Lower middle
Superiors or clerical, junior managerial, administrative or professional
27
C2
Skilled working
Skilled manual workers
25

D

Working
Semi-skilled and un-skilled manual workers
19
E
Those at lowest level of subsistence
State pensioners or widows, casual or lower-grade workers
12






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