As a consumer, your decision to purchase and use certain products and services, is influenced not only by psychological factors, your personality and life- style, but also by the people around you with whom you interact and the various social groups to which you belong. The groups with whom you interact directly or indirectly influence your purchase decisions and thus their study is of great importance to marketer to understand are:
I) Primary and secondary reference groups: A primary reference group is one with which an individual interacts on a regular basis and whose opinion is of importance to him, family, neighbors, close friends, colleagues and co- workers are examples of primary reference groups. Secondary reference groups are those with which an individual interacts only occasionally and does not consider their opinion very important.
II) Formal and informal reference groups: Rotary, lions, Jaycees are some of the well – known social reference groups in our society. Labor unions, social clubs and societies are other types of formal reference groups to which individuals may belong. A formal reference group has a highly defined structure, specific roles and authority positions and specific goals.
In contrast, an informal reference group is loosely defined and may have no specified roles and goals. Meeting your neighbors over lunch once a month for friendly exchange of news is an instance of an informal reference group.
III) Membership and symbolic reference groups: A membership reference group is one to which a person belongs or qualifies for membership. All workers in a factory qualify for membership to the labor union. A symbolic reference group is one which an individual aspires to belong to, but is not likely to be received as a member.
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