What role does family play in consumer behavior?

What role does family play in consumer decision making? How much are our buying decisions affected by our role in the family?

Family plays an important role in our most buying decisions. Our selections are based on several important considerations, many of which are influenced by our families and our roles. Whether it is your tie’s color or your favorite perfume, family and friends are bound to have a limited but certain influence on your choice. The influence of family remains throughout our lives from the time we are kids to the time we become grandparents. From the time others make purchases for us to the time we are self -dependent and start making our own decisions, family’s role is significant. It is just as inseparable from consumer behavior as an individual from family.

You must have marked how your buying preferences have changed as you grew up. From the time you used to select your favorite toys to the time you started having an I-pod, these preferences have changed a lot.  From the time, you were a teenager to the time you got married and started having kids, several things have changed that have influenced your buying behavior. Many times you are the primary shopper for your family buying grocery, shopping for other small and big things and making important purchasing decisions. Sometimes you let your spouse decide what to buy and sometimes the kids. A husband buys a tie of a color his wife prefers and wife wears a color her husband likes. These all things are taken for granted and there is no big science behind it. Similarly, parents like to know their kids preferred color before they buy a new car.

Marketers also target families in their marketing and advertising campaigns. Particularly, it is true about the products where the entire family is involved in the buying decision. Moreover, there are several things that differ from family to family including preferences. While one family likes having a small car, another one prefers a SUV. One would like holidaying in Manila, another in Dubai. Apart from it, there are also other factors that influence how a family makes its purchasing decisions. A family where the level of cohesion and communication between the members is high, buying decisions are made keeping others’ preferences in mind. In case of families where the emotional bonding is low between the family members, buying decisions are less affected by group preferences. Individual members like to buy independently as per their individual choice. Apart from it, how flexible a family is regarding its power structure also affects the buying process. How much liberty parents provide their kids also affects buying decisions in the family.

Your role in the family has a significant influence on your preferences. Markets target these family roles to attract customers. There are product ads that target the new mothers or the newly wed. Marketers also target kids to persuade their parents to buy particular products. Toy ads generally target the kids and sometimes the parents. There are different tactics that are employed to target different family members. Apart from it, family roles related to buying decision making are also divided. Many times you may have initiated the discussion for a new product in your family at the dining table. Your elder brother must have supported you and helped your idea gain acceptance. He is acting as an influencer. The final decision makers are still the parents.

Many times your father may not be feeling convinced to make that purchase but your Mom convinced him that the entire family will love it so he must go ahead. Even the people who are not directly involved in the process play an important role in the decision making. They have an important say in the final purchase. Your younger brother who is under ten is not playing a direct role but is a consumer and therefore you make the decision on his part considering his choice too. Advertisements of cars and homes specifically target the entire family. Even household things like fridges, televisions, dishwashers have their ads targeted at families.

The family structure has changed a lot but the traditional large families are not yet dead. They are still in existence, however, their number has kept declining with time. Smaller families have increased in number.  The marketers have accordingly changed their targeting methods. At many points you do not even know how deeply your purchasing decision was influenced by your status in the family. Whether you were buying a surprise gift for your spouse or getting a new toy for your only child, family is always at the core of your buying decisions. Whether you are the shopper or just a consumer like other family members, your role in the family influences the final buying process. However, this does not mean that family is always at the centre of the buying decision. Your role in the society and at your workplace also influence your buying decisions. Your choice of your suit may be influenced more by your role as an executive rather than as a son or husband. So, not all your buying decisions are affected by the family but yet many of them are influenced by it. This influence may have declined with time but is far from being over.

People still get married, form families and shop for their family members and friends. In most cases family also represents a household where people’s collective purchasing power has an important influence on the final purchase. If there are two or more people who earn in the family, such family would make larger purchases or will have higher purchasing power. In the families where there is a single earner purchasing decisions are generally made after considering important needs first. Families with less disposable income will feel less inclined to spend on fun and frivolous items. A family, its financial condition, the level of cohesion in it as well as several other factors influence the buying process. If you are the leading member or the only wage earner in your family, you know how you make your choices by keeping your family’s considerations first.

Family in this way, becomes integral to the process of buying and consumer decision making. As a marketer, you know the role of family is paramount and one should focus his marketing strategy and tactics accordingly.  In terms of consumer behavior, importance of family and family roles cannot be ignored. As stated earlier, they are just as inseparable from our decision making process as family itself is from our lives. Those father son and father daughter ads are not targeting just anyone in the crowd, they are targeting the roles that are a part of every family. Now, you know how you and your parents have been making purchases. Family still has a distinct place in our hearts and that becomes evident whenever we are shopping. Several of us find it difficult to forget our girlfriend’s recommendation when we are buying our new shirt.

Abhijeet Pratap

I have studied Marketing and English Literature and like to write on topics in Business management, Marketing, literature, latest technologies and other areas. I also like to spend my time learning coding.

Leave a Comment