Understanding Culture and Subculture in Buyer Behaviour
Culture and Subculture
As the internet is showing us, culture is more than a geographic, ethnic or national thing
Culture is the thinking, feeling, and believing that binds people together. It is not limited to the arts a geographic area or nationality, but embraces all the interactions involved with human activity. However, we are interested in buyers, so our definition of culture is:
the shared attitude and behavioural characteristics, such as values, customs, beliefs, morality, and ethics which strongly influences a groups buyer behaviour.
Culture varies from group to group- even within the same nation or geopgraphy. Culture is the foundation upon which all social interactions rest. It consists of the historical rules by which present interaction takes place.
The term subculture is used to recognise group variations that exist within a culture. We define subculture to mean:
any group that uses the principal characteristics of a dominant culture but provides values and beliefs distinguishable as its own.
It follows that a culture may have any number of subcultures.’ However, a culture is more than simply a summation of all the subcultures of which it is composed. Some of the more common bases for identifying subcultures are regions, nationality, ethnic origin, religion, age and sex. Within any particular culture, we can identify relatively homogeneous subcultures based on each of these classes.
Sources of Culture
Culture is acquired from almost any source of social contact. It is not necessarily passed down from senior to junior citizens. However, in every society there are certain institutions that become the focal points of cultural accumulation. In primitive tribes, this function was often handled by the village elders; but as societies advanced, more complex institutions had to be developed to deal with cultural knowledge. Today, the primary sources of cultural knowledge are family, school, church, political institutions, and other institutions.
It is difficult to pinpoint which institutions are responsible for which cultural values, because they all interact. However, some institutions do tend to take the lead where certain values are concerned. It can be helpful to identify some of these tendencies.