What Is the Relationship between Culture and Consumer Behavior?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

Many marketing experts understand there is a clear connection between culture and consumer behavior. Culture has the ability to greatly influence how consumers choose to spend money and even which products out of several options they ultimately choose to purchase. Interwoven with other considerations such as age, gender, and location, the influence of culture on consumer behavior is something that companies must understand if they are to build rapport with customers that helps to increase loyalty and continue to generate sales.

A culture that discourages alcohol consumption will have a smaller number of consumers willing to make those purchases than one that does not.
A culture that discourages alcohol consumption will have a smaller number of consumers willing to make those purchases than one that does not.

When it comes to culture and consumer behavior, a number of sub-factors related to culture will impact how and when consumers choose to buy products. For example, religion is a crucial element in many cultures, and will have a significant impact on what goods and services members of that culture are willing to consider buying. This means that if the dominant religious culture in a given geographic area discourages the use of tobacco or alcohol, the potential pool of consumers for those products will be smaller. For this reason, companies which make or distribute those types of products will limit advertising in the area, focusing attention on other markets in which there are no sociological taboos on the use of those products.

Culture can dictate what products are more acceptable for people in certain age or gender groups.
Culture can dictate what products are more acceptable for people in certain age or gender groups.

Since culture has to do with how people feel, think, and act, the connection between culture and consumer behavior demands that companies understand what a targeted group of consumers will think about a given product, and how they will respond to chances to buy those products. Taking the time to understand the prevailing culture within a given territory makes it much easier to determine how to go about marketing certain products, or whether to even try to market those products at all. For example, establishing a fast food restaurant in a small town where the prevailing culture calls for households to eat the majority of their meals at home will likely not generate the profits of a similar restaurant found in a culture where eating out is more common. While that restaurant may be able to earn a profit, it will most likely have to adjust the menu to include items that capture the attention of local consumers and offer them something different from what they prepare at home, while still offering items that fit well into the mindset of those consumers.

Peer pressure often influences consumer behavior.
Peer pressure often influences consumer behavior.

The strong relationship between culture and consumer behavior can have an impact on the purchase of all sorts of goods and services, ranging from household appliances to major purchases like automobiles. By being able to properly assess that connection between culture and consumer behavior, companies can adjust marketing campaigns to make the products relevant to those targeting consumers and increase the chances of earning their business. While in some cases this may mean launching alternative products that appeal to specific groups of consumers, this approach can be very lucrative in terms of meeting people at the point of their need and creating demand for those products.

A focus on self-image may drive the consumer to buy a car loaded with the latest features.
A focus on self-image may drive the consumer to buy a car loaded with the latest features.
Income, social pressure and cultural factors may all play a role in a decision to purchase an expensive bracelet.
Income, social pressure and cultural factors may all play a role in a decision to purchase an expensive bracelet.
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including wiseGEEK, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

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Discussion Comments

turquoise

What if a culture discourages spending in general? I heard that the Japanese prefer to save money and do not purchase anything that is unnecessary.

discographer

My family is from Eastern Europe and I remember when chain restaurants started to pop up in the region. Most of them ran out of business because no one went. Not only was it customary to eat most meals at home, people also had low income and restaurants were out of their budget. Most people only ate at restaurants on special occasions like birthdays and anniversaries.

Things are changing now though, income has increased and the idea of eating out is not so foreign. More and more restaurants are being opened.

serenesurface

Large American brands do a great job of learning about culture and adjusting their products accordingly.

For example, McDonald's is known for adjusting its menus and ingredients based on the country and culture it is located in. For example, in Muslim countries, there are no pork products in McDonald's menus. The food items all taste a bit different based on the country. In India, the hamburgers are vegetarian and spiced. In Thailand, local desserts are made and offered at McDonald's chains.

This is just one example, many other brands who work oversees do the same thing.

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