Subculture is a part of culture containing the important features of the main culture. Culture includes what we have learned, our history, values, morals, customs art and habit. Marketing takes place within a given culture requiring different marketing programs. Not everyone in the same country or society shares the same behavioral pattern of the dominant or main culture. It clearly indicates that there are subcultures. The identification of a subculture may provide a firm with a segment of a market that it can develop. For example, products have been developed in great quantity for the teenage subculture and advertising has been directed to these consumers. Each subculture like a larger culture has distinctive values, beliefs and attitudes that the marketer must understand if he is effectively to exploit them.
Every culture contains subculture, defined as a group that share the values and artifacts of the larger society, but also have distinctive practices, preferences and beliefs. Again, subculture can be defined as patterns of behavior which contains important characteristics of the dominant society but provides values and life styles of its own.
Major sub-cultural categories:
Ethnic (based on the ancestors birthplace)
English, Chinese, Arab
Muslim, Hindu, Christian
Northern, Southern, Central
Teen, Middle aged, Elderly
Teachers, Doctors, Engineers
Upper, Middle, lower
The ethnic subculture is based on the nationality of one’s ancestors who have migrated to a new country .Ethnic subculture is usually found in affluent countries where people migrate from other parts of the world with the hope of a better life and livelihood. Though ethnic groups may lose their nationality over time, but in fact ethnic identification is held from one generation to the next through a number of institutions. As people migrate to another country leaving their home country, they slowly accept the new culture as their own over time. But they frequently exhibit the culture of their ancestors. This ancestral pride is manifested most strongly in the consumption of ethnic foods, in travel to homeland and in the purchase of numerous cultural artifacts (ethnic clothing, art, music, foreign-language newspapers). For example, in UK, there are many Bangladeshi immigrants who have now become British citizens, but they display consumption behavior in many occasions that resembles with that of someone living here in Bangladesh. They buy and use Bangladeshi foods, wear “lungi” & “sharee” & go to mosque on Fridays. This is a glaring example of how ethnic subculture affects consumer behavior.
Each of the ethnic subculture has unique traditions and behaviors that have potential influence on product preferences and consumption behavior. A particular market consisting of ethnic subcultures may be the focus of a marketer. But it is not very easy to reach effectively a particular ethnic subculture with a particular type of products. The reason is that not everyone in the same ethnic subculture will consume the same type of product nor will lead the same life style. So a marketer living in cosmopolitan city should realize the ethnic group and should further segment this group on the basis of demographic and other aspects and different offers should be made for different sub segment.
Religious subculture based on people’s religious beliefs. Some may be very pious and some may be relax. Members of a particular religion constitute religious subculture. Religious beliefs rituals may dictate the use of certain items and may discourage the consumption of others. For example, Islam discourages its followers the consumption of certain items such as alcoholic beverages, pork etc. An individual’s religious affiliation influences to a great extent his consumption pattern. It is expected that the members of a particular religious subculture will display similar behavioral patterns in their purchases and consumption. But differences may be found among the members of a particular religious subculture in terms of their consumption and lifestyle. A devout member of “Islam” may consider it immoral to be materialistic, where another member of the same religion may find nothing wrong in becoming materialistic. A marketer of cine-magazine will have no problem in reaching the later person, where it will be almost impossible for him to penetrate the market consisting of people of the other mentality and religious beliefs. Marketers should be tactful when considering religious subculture in their marketing strategies. As people are emotionally charged by their religion, so marketers should consider religious thinking of people in their marketing strategies.Marketers should not hurt the religious beliefs rather every marketing policies should keep consistence with religious beliefs of the people to get success in business.As most of the people in Bangladesh are muslim, they prefer purity in each item. That’s why “AROMATIC” soap became successful with the idea of halal soap when it was introduced. As Bangladesh is religious neutral country, marketers should not take any extreme policy.
The way people lead their lifestyle may also vary according to where they live or from which pat of the country they have moved to the other part of the country. People from a particular part of the country or people living in a particular part constitute what we call regional or geographic subculture. On this basis there could be two type of regional or geographic subculture. One could be based on geographic region of the county and other could be based on urban, suburban or rural distinction. Different geographic area of the country poses different climatic conditions which influences home construction, clothing requirements and recreational opportunities. In addition, different regions of the country have different age distribution and different social histories. These variables in combination with the climatic variables have produced differing values and lifestyles which newcomers to a region generally acquire after a period of time. These regional variation influences of the particular media, the types of products used and the product attributes considered important as well as they are produced and used. Bangladeshis, for example, live in the hill district display different patterns in food consumption, housing & recreation than those of the people living in other parts of the country. The people of Chittagong region of Bangladesh prefer hot & spicy food, where as people living in other parts may not like it. Again, fish is consumed by everybody here in Bangladesh, but dry fish is consumed heavily by people living in the southern and coastal areas of Bangladesh.
Regional subcultures clearly influence many aspects of consumer behavior. The consumption process also is influenced by the urban, suburban and rural distinctions. The urban and suburban people prefer ready food, prefer eating out and enjoy their leisure in a way different from rural people. So marketers should consider regional subculture specially when they operate the business region wise, as people of different region show totally different consumption Pattern.
Subculture based on age:
Subculture may also be based on age differences of people living in the same country and belonging to the same main culture. It I likely that those who belonging to the teen age group will behave quite differently than those of middle age or elderly. Because the outlook, experiences, attitudes and other aspects are likely to vary. The teenagers are more materialistic in their lifestyles. The youth market is very lucrative for the marketers, as they start their carrier in this age are flaunt with more luxury items. Since they have little obligation in this stage, they can spend whatever they are. Their consumption patterns lean toward personal care & luxury items.
The middle age groups, on the contrary are matured, worried about the future, they are likely to be conservative in buying many material goods and are found to spend money on protective investments.
The elderly people who have gone on retirements or whose regular income generating activities have ceased display quite different consumption behavior. Most of them live with their children, their health condition gradually deteriorate, have emotional difficulties, have minimum amount of money to spend, are price/value conscious, are deal prone, like to shop as it has special meaning, are tuned in to the mass media, and read direct mail, package labels and package inserts. These few characteristics make them behave quite differently than other groups.Because of their differences with other groups; they also need different types of products.
The elderly people, because of deteriorating health, will require more fat free foods, tonic item, medical advices and medication as well as hospitalization. Since they have limited incomes, they prefer comparison shopping. Because of their maturity and different attitudes, they are skeptical of advertising claims and are influenced more by informed sources. The emergence of elderly market has created a need for many different types of products such as old people’s home, health clubs and a number of other products and services. Marketers face lot of problems and challenges in reaching elderly market. The communication strategy for elderly market should be well thought. The most successful communications are those that show a mixture of age groups using the products. Smart marketers have been attuned to the needs of elderly consumers &have been quickest to realize their value as customers. As demand of people of different age are different, so marketing policies to reach each group of people should be different.Marketers should offer their product considering the needs of each groups and in the way they want to. Single subculture:
The single subculture consists of unmarried as well as individuals who were married before but are now divorced or separated or widow and live independently. This subculture is found to be increasing particularly in urban and semi-urban areas. The size of this subculture is gradually becoming prominent to call a special marketing attention. The singles have some special needs, which can’t be met through normal social interaction. Marketers who can recognize their specific needs and can develop products aimed at meeting those specific needs can reap a considerable benefit. Single night clubs exotic telephone talk services, dating services, bachelor hostels/mess, convenience foods, restaurants, sports equipments etc. could be some of examples of products & services aimed at the subculture of singles. In our country single subculture is growing prominent in the urban areas and a result lot of hostels for both males & females have been established aiming to provide accommodation services to singles.
Subculture based on gender differences:
Subculture may also be formed based on gender difference, such as subculture of males & subculture of females. They are likely to behave differently, consume different types of products & respond differently to marketing appeals. Men for example are influenced more by aggressiveness, competitiveness, independence, self-confidence and masculinity. Women on the other hand, are influenced by neatness, gentleness, tactfulness, talkativeness and feminity. There are products which are equally used by men & women, but different appeals are needed for these groups. Cosmetics, perfumes, clothing, bicycles etc. are used both by men & women. But different designs, colors, sizes, shapes & fragrances are provided for by the marketers to appeal people of different sex. Bicycle, for example, is designed differently for men & women. Again, among females, those who are professionals, behave differently than those of non-professional. The working woman, particularly those, who are married, will again require different types of products and services that may not be bought by unmarried working women. The shopping patterns of these two groups will also vary. Since characteristics, attitude and needs vary between these two groups they may be considered as two different market segments.
People display different patterns of purchase behavior according to their occupational involvement. People of different occupations may constitute occupational subcultures, such as subculture of the doctors, subculture of the lawyers, subcultures of the teachers, subcultures of the engineers, subculture of the defense personnel. A defense officer, for example, will show different behavior than someone belonging to the civilian’s society. Doctors for example may look at the nutritional aspect while baying a food item. Marketers should recognize the difference in attitude and behavior among people of different occupations and formulate marketing strategies accordingly to be successful in each specific subculture.
Subculture of social class:
Social class may be used as a determinant of sub cultural differences. There could be subculture of the well-offs, subculture of the middle class & subculture of the poverty. People belonging to the subculture of the rich will display different buying behavior than those of the middle class & poor. Rich people are very selective in their purchase, people of the middle class will have substantial control over their consumption decisions; poor on the other hand will be very careful & cautious in taking their purchase decisions. Rich people are conscious about quality & uniqueness when purchasing a product but poor is not. They spend huge amount of money on recreation & luxury goods. They go selective shops for their purchasing where they get quality goods at pleasant environment. Subculture of the poverty consists of those people who live below the poverty level. One important characteristic of such people is that they spend significant portion of their money on basic necessities. Most of them are very price sensitive. So they avoid pre-packed, instant frozen food items as they are costly. As they have limited educational opportunities, they develop different attitudes, outlooks and motivation resulting in different buying behavior. They spend only small portion of their income on clothing, transportation, recreation, and luxury. They basically look at low cost items, favor shops where they get credit facilities & are attracted by different inducements offered by the marketers. To reach the rich, marketers should supply quality product & better environment where as they should try to keep the price low to get the poor customers. Conclusion:
Any culture is again divided into many subcultures. These subcultures posses some distinct characteristics. As there can be broad differences between the cultures of various societies, there can also be differences within the same culture. Every culture, Contains subcultures, defined as groups that share the values and artifacts of the larger society, but also have distinctive practices, preferences & beliefs. Because of the important differences within any culture, marketers must be aware of diverse subcultures. Marketers must recognize that even though their operations are confined to a particular country or a division or district or even to one city, sub cultural differences may dictate considerable variations in what, how and when people buy. To deal with these differences effectively, marketers may have to alter their product, distribution system, price or promotion to satisfy members of particular subcultures. A particular subculture takes on importance in marketing if it constitutes a significant part of the population & specific purchasing patterns can be identified with it. Marketers need to be aware of how sub cultural characteristics influence buying behavior. Moreover, they should also bear in mind that one sub cultural background may interact with other aspects such as social class, personality, life-style & so on during the buying decision process. Marketers should also keep in mind that, like culture, subculture also changes. Therefore, continuous monitoring of sub cultural characteristics may help marketers bring appropriate and timely changes in their marketing strategies to make them more market oriented.