Reference Groups

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Consumer Behaviour & Reference Group Essay
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Southampton Solent

There are various different influences on whether we buy a product or not and this is called consumer behaviour. Consumer behaviour “is about people, or more accurately, the systematic study of their behaviour patterns in a marketing context” (Keith Williams 1983). Reference groups are a major part of the influential jigsaw. A reference group is “A person or group of people that significantly influences an individual’s behaviour” (Bearden and Etzel 1982). There are lots of different types of reference groups and each individual can belong to more than one. An example of one is an aspirational reference group. Aspirational reference groups are indirect to you and are a group you do not belong to but wish you did. An example of how marketers could use this can be seen with the company Nike. They are a highly popular sports brand and use famous sports stars like Cristiano Ronaldo to advertise their produce both in adverts and in real life. The objective for the marketers is to make people think that if their favourite sport stars, such as Ronaldo, wear Nike produce then the consumer will want to as well so they could be seen in the same mould as them, thus looking to aspire to be in the same group. Another example of a group can be the opposite of aspirational which is dissociative. This is a group that people do not want to belong to. An example of a dissociative company can be seen with the Burberry brand and Pete Doherty. Pete used to wear Burberry clothing but had a reputation as a party animal and not a role model and as such gave Burberry a bad reputation which cost them the prestige they once had. Also Burberry became the central wear for the ‘chav’ culture amongst Britain in the early twenty first century, meaning many people tried to avoid being associated with the brand by not wearing it, thus creating a dissociative group. We have reference groups for a few...
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