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Socio Cultural Influences On Consumer Behaviour

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Marketing
Wordcount: 2100 words Published: 27th Apr 2017

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Unlike any previous technology, mobile phone is now perceived as a social necessity, especially among teenagers (Kasesniemi and Rautianinen, 2002; Skog, 2002). The mobile phone has become a true “extension of man” (Castells et al., 2004). Further evidence (Wei and Lo, 2006) demonstrated that mobile phone usage strengthened the user’s family bonds among Taiwanese college students and prolonged their psychological neighbourhoods and assisted closeness to their social networks. Geser (2004) disputed that the significance of the mobile phone lies in empowering individuals to engage in communication without the displacing around the world. Ling and Yttri’s (2002) research on the mobile phone use of teenagers in Norway determined that the need to be connected and coordinate with the social group pull out further than regular activities. The fact that teenagers adopt socially-integrative approach to technology use is consistent with the importance that adolescents place on their peers and their influence on emotional development (Green, 2003). On the other hand, Marquardt (1999) has maintained that mobile phones shape social relationships and this is a disintegration of communities. Mobile phone usage has resulted in greater electronic interactions between friends and family at the expense of face to face contact which have been gradually fading. Conversely, HUANG Xiaowei (2011) asserted that the mobile phone, with its remarkable development and superior functions, is not a myth but a consequence of social development

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Sphere of Social Influence for Mobile Phone Adoption

A purchase that involves a perceived risk is influence the average person to seek the opinion of others so as to reduce that level of uncertainty. Therefore, these social interactions happen with family members, opinion leaders and reference groups (Lamb, 2004). Holbrook and Hirschman (1982) highlighted that consumer’s perceptual and relative preference for products or services might arise from the social practices surrounding a consumption object and its setting. A study showed that Malaysian teenagers largely influenced their parents in the purchase of mobile phones, since parent purchase their mobile phone for their children, they seek their opinions while making the purchase (Fikry, 2010). Lu et al. (2003) added that in some cases, the opinions of others might influence individuals to adopt and own mobile phones. Individuals facing greater social pressure to used mobile phone from peers and superiors are much more influenced to adopt mobile phone services. This was aligned with Davis et al. (1989) argument that consumer are more ready to accept a technology to conform with consent from others who are important to them rather than their own feelings and beliefs about its use. Kelman (1958) pointed out “when an individual accepts influence because he wants to establish or maintain a satisfying self-defining relationship to another person or a group”.

Due to their overwhelming success, mobile technologies influenced not only the work and social life of people (Fortunati, 2001; Gant and Kiesler, 2002). The research of Tiana Tucker (2011) illustrated that friends were the most influential people for young adults when purchasing a new mobile phone. Word-of-mouth (WOM) communication has become a critical information-sharing medium that influences consumers’ buying decisions and attitudes towards product categories and brands. WOM seems desirable to achieve positive perception and thus preference for a brand in the customer’s mind (Sweeney et al., 2008).

The impact of culture on mobile phone purchase

Consumer behavior is, nonetheless, very much influenced by culture. Various studies affirmed that national culture affects the likeliness to adopt technological products (Bagchi et al., 2004; Straub et al., 1997) and usage of mobile phones, in particular (Leung and Wei, 2000). Inglis (2005) added that ‘within a complex society, there will be different sets of cultural norms as to how the body is to act, which vary according to social context’. Taking the example of mobile phone use, speaking loudly in a public place in China is normal, however, if this situation happens in Singapore, for instance, what will happen maybe that everybody looks at you in a strange way. Differently, Castells et al., (2007), “obtaining a mobile phone is a milestone that indicates success, not only financially but also culturally in term of the integration within society”.

Psychological Power on Consumers’ Behaviour for Mobile Phones

Branding Implications on Mobile Phones Purchase

Unlike the consumer goods, brands in the sky-scraping technology industry do not stress on the affiliation between product and the company but on what is coupled with the brand image (Hamann et al., 2007). Bhat and Reddy (1998) said that brand image acts as information prompt. Moreover, brand can accelerate consumers’ information transmission (Kotler, 1999). Brand is considered as a warranty not only for quality performance but also of the distinctiveness and emotional relationship with MP (Bahmanziari et al., 2003; Jiang, 2004). Additionally, both Chu et al. (2005) and Tan and Piron (2002) contended that the building of brand awareness in consumers’ minds can considerably influence the purchasing behaviors of consumers.

With technological development and similarities in product features, consumers are often unable or reluctant to differentiate among brands on coherent attributes only (Temporal and Lee, 2001). Likewise Riquelme (2001) examined how much self knowledge consumers have while choosing between different mobile phone brands based upon six key elements (telephone features, connection fee, access cost, mobile-to-mobile phone rates, call rates and free calls). However, Kay (2006) asserted that strong brands have substantially more domination on customers, than their ability to differentiate competitors offer as they also demonstrate supplementary effects. Brand image impact on customer desired quality and satisfaction, resulting to strong satisfaction thus leading to customer loyalty (Fornell et al., 2006). Moreover, Anderson and Sullivan (1993) and Homburg et al. (2006) noted that the purchase experience had a substantial impact on consumers’ assessment of customer satisfaction which in turn leads to repurchase intention and brand loyalty of a product. Wood (2000) brand image is adapted to the needs and wants of a target market so as to assist brand loyalty.

Figure 2.1: Brand Preference/Loyalty Equation (Alamro and Rowley, 2011).

Additionally, in the context of the mobile communications industry, Baker et al. (2010) examined the importance of brand equity in generating greater consumer demand for mobile communications products/services. In a similar vein, Jurisic and Azevedo (2011) addressed the need to increase brand equity by building and maintaining customer-brand relationships; valuing customers’ mostly treasured issues thus increasing their emotional attachments to the brand. The brand a consumer uses gives you an idea about the consumer self-image, hence promoting self-consistency and self-esteem (Sirgy, 1982; Fournier, 1998). Brand is a highly influential factor in the purchase decision for mobile phone (Karjaluoto et al., 2005). Brands that make the customer “happy”, “joyful” or “affectionate” cause a stronger attitudinal commitment and purchase loyalty (Chaudhuri and Holbrook, 2001).

Lindstrom and Seybold (2003) find in their study that ”children age eight to 12 year-olds attach themselves to brands in the same way as adults do but their loyalty is weaker than adults”. This was further supported by the statement of Schiffman and Kanuk (2004) “the power of a brand resides in the consumer’s mind from both lived (purchase and usage) and mediated (advertising and promotion) experiences”. A perceptible exception is the work of Rondeau (2005), which discovered challenges and strategies relating to the branding of mobile applications thus examining the relationship between specific mobile application features and the success of branding initiatives. A study by Liu (2002) in the Philippines showed that choices between mobile phone brands were influenced by latest technology features such as SMS-options and memory capacity, more than size.

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Attitudes and the mobile phone

Attitudes can be said to be the likes and dislike of consumers. Generally, individuals exhibit their behaviour in accordance with their attitudes. Hence, consumers like and use certain mobile phone and/or brands because these satisfy their needs (utilitarian function), allow themselves to express their personality (value-expressive function), bolster a perceived weakness they have (ego-defensive function), or simplify decision making (knowledge function).

Park et al. (2008) examined the effects of user-friendliness, convenience, enjoyment, and subjective norm regarding the use of mobile phone on their attitudes toward mobile communication. In the context of adoption of mobile technology, Nysveen et al. (2005) maintained that consumers’ perception of ease of use shapes positive beliefs about perceived usefulness. Perceived ease of use is defined as “the degree to which a person believes that using a particular system would be free of effort” (Davis, 1989). In a similar approach, Kwon and Chidambaram (2000) suggested that the user-friendliness was a chief determinant of both perceived enjoyment and perceived usefulness to use mobile technology. Hence, the effortless use of mobile phone is mostly believed to provide more gratification, as well enhance consumers’ professional and personal lives.

Moreover, beliefs concerning the convenience of mobile communication were the principal determinants of positive attitudes towards mobile phone service (Snowden et al., 2006). Attitudes toward mobile communication referred to a consumer’s cognitive and affective orientations toward mobile interactions, while attitudes toward mobile represented a consumer’s positive or negative feeling for mobile device usages (Bigne´ et al., 2007). The importance of mobile phone in an individual’s life depends on the latter’s perceptions, such as an emphasis on avoiding insecurity, the need to organize daily activities and to manage time effectively by doing things on the move (Ropke, 2003). Mobile phones can be used for safety and security (Dedeoglu, 2004; Plant, 2001; Wargo, 2004): for instance, to call for help in emergencies (Dedeoglu, 2004). Mobile phone acts as a “symbolic bodyguard” when people feel vulnerable in public places: mobile phones may serve as “barrier signals”, showing that users are not lonely; they have a support network along (Fox, 2001; Plant, 2001). However, according to Ball-Rokeach and DeFluer’s (1976) media dependency theory, consumers depend largely on media to meet certain needs such as information and entertainment. As such media will be a more influential and powerful source for that individual to rely upon. A research carried out by Ozhan (2004) reports that as educational level increases, the level of negative attitude toward mobile phones increases also.

The theory of reasoned action proposes an attitude-behavior relationship, linking attitude and subjective norm to a behavior as immediate determinants of intention to perform the behavior (Ajzen and Fishbein, 1980). It further proposed that a person’s actual behaviour is influenced by the intention to emit the behavior. Aaker (1996) added that brand awareness also affects perceptions and attitudes of consumers thus allow making differences among rival brands. Some reports stated that mobile phone is an object of addiction, similar to shopping and gambling. Palen et al. (2000) identified several reasons for mobile phone adoption, including increased mobility, accessibility, and safety. A teenager said “We just write about silly things and make jokes. I can’t live without my mobile phone” (Cassidy, 2006). Mobile phone includes intrinsic and extrinsic value, both as an object and an experience, which has taken shape as the phone becomes a part of the consumer’s everyday life (Licoppe and Heurtin, 2001; Ling, 2001).


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