Reference Groups

Topics: Brand, Marketing, Advertising Pages: 7 (2407 words) Published: February 28, 2014
Marketing and Reference Groups

All the groups that contribute to the buying behavior of a consumer are known as reference groups. (Bhasin 2010) Consumers may use products or brands to associate with or try to become part of a group e.g. people may feel they need to wear Nike or Adidas to feel part of a fitness group or the gym demonstrated by Vroom with behavior modification. They look at what people in the particular reference group look at and consume and conform to the criteria to make their own consumer decisions, this is demonstrated in the auto kinetic effect theory (Apollo 2012) when he found that if one person says something different to what another thinks, the second person will conform to the first persons way of thinking (instead of thoughts the use of a product is relevant to the theory from a marketing perspective). Most people are members of several reference groups all of which influence the individual in different ways.

“Reference groups are categorized as direct or indirect.
The direct reference groups are face to face interaction which directly affects an individual’s life and can be primary or secondary; they also usually have goals or objectives.” (Babin, Harris 2011) For example, some of the well known US billionaires have come together to give away some of their fortune with face to face meetings and is changing lives for numerous amounts of people. (Clark 2010)

Primary is when the groups interact a lot of the time and informally (no particular objective other than social interaction) like family and friends whereas secondary groups are not as frequent and more impersonal communication wise for example: clubs, professional and religious groups. (Anon. 2012)

There are also indirect groups which consumers are not part of (Lamb, Hair, McDaniel 2010) e.g. aspirational groups they do not, but want to belong to e.g. celebrity or elite sports players groups. However to be involved in those groups a consumer would have to conform to the norms of said groups in order to fit in. Also brands use celebrity endorsement to get the consumer to identify with the endorsement/brand: “If I drink Coca Cola I would be more like Katy B”. Dissociative groups are when a consumer does not want to be associated with that group e.g. they will not buy a certain item of clothing, a car or live in a particular area because they do not wish to be associated with the particular subjects.

Marketers use groups to sell their products because they could potentially constitute viable market segments which enable the company to have a better understanding of their customer’s wants and needs. The groups can influence members within their group because a consumer’s behavior is learnt and reinforced by other members e.g because one member of a group drinks Starbucks coffee the rest of them conform. A group of individuals can appeal to any consumer i.e. Cheryl Cole is the celebrity spokesperson for Elvive and she can influence women across a vast age and again through the consumer wanting to identify with the celebrity resulting in increased brand loyalty and awareness.  

The first advert chosen is the Coco Mademoiselle advert by Chanel, is aimed at women aged from 20 to 30 (Girl, F 2012). The TV advert has taken a diverse approach to marketing the brand with a mini movie which portrays a love story in a classic Chanel style by selling sex through class and sophistication. As a consumer, the emotional engagement is of paramount importance and making them feel like they are they’re in the story and part of the journey. It’s also captivating because the aura that surrounds the movie is classy, luxurious and classic which are the objectives of the brand but at the same time it’s sexy, young people can be susceptible to this kind of influence. On the other hand, fashion brands such as Calvin Klein have produced numerous amounts of adverts but the consumer may be more engrossed with the sexual chemistry of the models than...

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Babin, Harris (2011). CB2. USA: N/A. 170.
Clark, A. (2010). US billionaires club together - to give away half their fortunes to good causes. The Guardian. N/A (1), 1-3.
Anon. (2012) social groups. Available:,articleId-26868.html. Last accessed 29.10.2012
Lamb, Hair, McDaniel (2010)
Girl, F. (2011). Chanel Coco Mademoiselle. Available: Last accessed 26.10.12
Taylor, G (2012). John Lewis unveils Olympic wrap. Available at: Last accessed: 29.10.2012
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Anon. (2012). John Lewis. Available: last accessed 29.10.12
Amadeo, K (2012)
McCabe, M. (2012). John Lewis gets patriotic with store wraps: Available: Last accessed: 29.10.2012
Cooper, Kelly, Weaver (2002). Blackwell Handbook of Social Psychology. 2nd ed. Chicago: APA. Chapter 11.
Parsons, Mclaren (2009). Contemporary issues in marketing and consumer behavior. 2nd ed. Anon.: Taylor & Francis Ltd. 105 - 120.
Rijsdijk, Hultink, Diamantopoulos. (2007). Product intelligence: it 's conceptualisation, measurement and impact on consumer satisfaction. Journal of the academy of marketing science. 35 (3), 340-357.
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