Household Buyer Behaviour

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Introduction: definition of household

Despite, very often, marketers plan strategies focused on individual purchasing decision, most consumptions are thought and made within the household circle. But, what is a household? There are several definitions about this social group. One of the most used is U.S. Census Bureau’s definition “Every occupied housing unit in the nation comprises one household”. Hence U.S Census bases its idea of household on residential unit rather than on affections or kinship. Pretty different is the meaning given by the House Community “ Household is the economic unit based on sexual relationship between husband and wife, and the biological relationship between parents and children". In this case the household is firstly considered as an economic unit, or rather a social nucleus which produces expenses and incomes. Then this economic concept is fortified by the utilization of the expression “sexual and biological relationship” which adds a deeper sense to it. One further division could be identified in “nonfamily household” and “family household”. Nonfamily category represents only the 30% of the total and it regroups people living alone, people with housemates and unmarried couples. The number of these units is steadily increasing because of many factors: raise of divorces, waiting longer before marriage, waiting longer before getting the degree and becoming independent, rising number of women who have a job outside the familiar nucleus. Even though this social segment is turning wider year by year, it is under-represented in advertising. Family households are 70% of the total and they are mainly composed by married couple without children, married couple with one or more children, single parents living with one or more children. United Nation’s definition of family is “ The persons within a private or a institutional household who are related as husband and wife or as parent and never-married child by blood or adoption.” However if in the past the extended family (several generations living together) was the most common family unit, nowadays the nuclear family, made of parents and children, is highly widespread.

Decision making

At this point it is important analyse why the family nucleus is considered so important in the decision-making process. First of all, because many purchasing attitudes, which consumer will keep all life long, take shape and are influenced within the household context since the childhood. Secondly, because family products are exploited by more than one person and this presupposes a joint decision making which involves all the members. Finally, it is proved that most of the purchases of durable goods are planned within the household. This aspect must be underlined because durable goods determine lifestyle of individuals and, generally, they are the most important items in the family budget. Bocker (1986) states that decision-making process of durable goods is composed by two phases and multiple participants: the first part is the “image creation process” during which products are perceived, evaluated and classified by all family members. The second phase is the “human decision-making” which stems from the feelings sourced from phase one, inasmuch consumers’ decisions are based on the reality perceived rather than objective information. However, family buying behaviour can be toughly classified, because of many reasons: families spend money continuously, each family is quite different from the others, family is made of many members and any of them could play a different role in the process. In order to skeletonise, it is possible to trace back all the decisions to two main categories called by Davis (1972, Decision making within the household): ▪ Consensual purchase decisions: when the group agrees on the planned purchase and the only problem to be faced is the way to achieve it. ▪ Accomodative purchase decisions: when the group disagrees about the...
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