Characteristics of Culture Consumer Behaviour

Characteristics of Culture in Consumer Behaviour

Culture has several important characteristics:

  1. Culture iscomprehensive. This means that all parts must fit together in some logical fashion. For example, bowing and a strong desire to avoid the loss of face are unified in their manifestation of the importance of respect.
  2. Culture is learned rather than being something we are born with. We will consider the mechanics of learning later in the course.
  3. Culture is manifested within boundaries of acceptable behavior. For example, in American society, one cannot show up to class naked, but wearing anything from a suit and tie to shorts and a T-shirt would usually be acceptable. Failure to behave within the prescribed norms may lead to sanctions, ranging from being hauled off by the police for indecent exposure to being laughed at by others for wearing a suit at the beach.
  4. Conscious awareness of cultural standards is limited. One American spy was intercepted by the Germans during World War II simply because of the way he held his knife and fork while eating.
  5. Cultures fall somewhere on a continuum between static and dynamic depending on how quickly they accept change. For example, American culture has changed a great deal since the 1950s, while the culture of Saudi Arabia has changed much less. Culture can be divided into two distinct components.


Material culture influences technology and how it brings cultural changes, i.e.,use of telephones, mobile phones, television, clothing styles, fashions and gives the marketeers achance to improve the product, packing, etc. to meet the needs of the consumer, etc.

The Functions of Culture
We have already seen that culture influences the behaviour of individuals. It provides a framework within which individuals and households build their pattern of living or exhibit their lifestyles.

Norms are the boundaries that culture sets on the behaviour. There are rules that encourage or prohibit certain behaviour in specific situations. Norms are derived from cultural values, which are widely told beliefs that specify what is desirable and what is not. When these rules are violated, it results in sanctions or penalties which are either disapproved of by the society, and in extreme cases the individual violating the norms are banished or ostracized from the society. Most individuals obey norms because it is natural to obey them. Culture outlines many business norms, family norms, behaviour norms, etc. How we greet people? How close one should stand to others while conducting business? The dress we wear and any other patterns of behaviour.

Culture keeps changing slowly over time; and is not static. Changes takes place due torapid technologies. In case of emergency, war, or natural calamities, marketeers and managers must understand the existing culture as well as the changing culture and culture of the country where the goods are to be marketed. Major companies have adapted themselves tointernational culture and are accepted globally. Coca Cola is sold all over the world. Procter Gamble and other companies give cross cultural training to their employees. By making cross-culture mistakes, many companies have difficulty in pushing their products, for example, (i) Coca Cola had to withdraw its 2-litrebottle from Spain, because it did not fit in the local refrigerator; (ii) Many countries are very traditional and do not like women displayed on the products. This acts as a detriment to businessin those countries.

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