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Chapter 16 Cultural Influences on Consumer Behavior

Understanding Culture


Culture is the Accumulation of Shared Meanings, Rituals, Norms, and Traditions Among the Members of an Organization or Society and Determines:
Overall Priorities A Consumer Attaches to Different Activities and Products

Success or Failure of Specific Products and Services

Aspects of Culture


A Cultural System Consists of 3 Functional Areas:

Social Structure
Way in Which Orderly Social Life is Maintained

Way a System is Adapted to Its Habitat

Way in Which People Relate to Their Environment and Social Groups

Other Aspects of Culture


Although Every Culture is Different, 4 Dimensions Appear to Account for Much of This Variability.
Power Distance
How Interpersonal Relationships Form When Power Differences Exist. Degree to Which People Feel Threatened by Ambiguous Situations. Degree to Which Sex Roles Are Clearly Delineated. Extent to Which the Welfare of the Individual Versus the Group is Valued.

Uncertainty Avoidance

Masculinity/ Femininity


Values of a Culture


Values are Very General Ideas About Good and Bad Goals Enacted Norms
Explicitly Decided On

Crescive Norms
Embedded in Culture

Customs Mores Conventions



A Myth is a Story Containing Symbolic Elements That Expresses the Shared Emotions and Ideals Of a Culture. Myths Serve 4 Interrelated Functions in a Culture:





Types of Ritual Experience


A Ritual is a Set of Multiple, Symbolic Behaviors That Occur in a Fixed Sequence and That Tend to Be Repeated Periodically.

Ritual Type
Rites of Passage Cultural

Baptism, Meditation, Mass Graduation, Marriage Festivals, Holidays Parades, Elections, Trials Business Negotiations Mealtimes, Birthdays Grooming, Household

Group Family Personal

Gift - Giving Rituals

The Gift - Giving Ritual Can Be Broken Down Into the Following Three Distinct Stages:


Giver is Motivated By An Event to Buy a Gift

Process of Gift Exchange

Bonds Between Parties Are Adjusted

Holiday Rituals
Thanksgiving Valentines Day Secretaries Day Grandparents Day Christmas


What Rituals Are Associated With the Following Holidays?

New Years

Rites of Passage


Rites of Passage Can be Construed as Being Special Times Marked by a Change in Social Status.
Stage 1. Separation
Detaching From the Original Group

Stage 2. Liminality
Person is In-Between Statuses

Stage 3. Aggregation
Person Reenters Society After Rite-of-Passage is Complete

Sacred and Profane Consumption

Sacred Consumption
> Involves Objects and Events That Are Set Apart From Normal Activities, and Are Treated With Some Degree of Respect or Awe.


Profane Consumption
> Involves Consumer Objects and Events That Are Ordinary, Everyday Objects and Events That Do Not Share The Specialness of Sacred Ones.

Domains of Sacred Consumption

Sacred Places
May have religious or mystical significance. Others are created from the profane world and given special sacred qualities (i.e. Disney World, or shopping malls) The home is a particularly scared place.


Sacred People
Memorabilia can take on special meaning, from baseball cards to clothing the special person has touched or worn.

Domains of Sacred Consumption

Sacred Events
Many consumers activities (events) have taken on special status.
Examples would include the Super Bowl, the Olympics, the World Series, even family vacations.


Personal mementos from sacred events can include:

Local products (i.e. wine from California). Pictorial images (i.e. post cards). A piece of the event such as a rock or seashell. Symbolic shorthand (i.e. a miniature Statue of Liberty). Markers (i.e. Hard Rock Cafe T-shirts).

From Sacred to Profane, and Back Again


Some sacred things have become profane, and some profane things have become sacred.
Desacralization occurs when a sacred item or symbol is removed from its special place or is duplicated in mass quantities, becoming profane as a result.
Examples: Monuments, artwork, American flag, religion.

Sacralization occurs when ordinary objects, events, and even people, take on sacred meaning to a culture or to specific groups within a culture.
Examples: Super Bowl, or Elvis. Objectification occurs when sacred qualities are attributed to mundane objects. Collecting refers to the systematic acquisition of a particular object or set of objects.