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Think about a recent purchase you made that was totally influenced by marketing, advertising, or social media marketing. From the standpoint of post-purchase reflection, was this influence a positive or negative experience? Explain your rationale.

MAR 3211, Consumer Behavior 1

Course Learning Outcomes for Unit V

Upon completion of this unit, students should be able to:

3. Explain how consumers interpret information about products and people.
3.1 Explain how the consumer buying process model relates to consumer interpretation of

information about products or services.
3.2 Describe how a consumer’s interpretation of a company’s marketing efforts influence consumer


4. Examine how consumers are influenced by values as members of a particular culture.
4.1 Explain how external groups or cultural beliefs could influence consumer buying.

8. Analyze how consumers evaluate product selections.

8.1 Summarize how group and situational factors impact consumer buying.

Learning Outcomes

Learning Activity


Unit Lesson
PowerPoint Presentation
TED (2012) video
Scholarly Activity


Unit Lesson
PowerPoint Presentation
Ahmad (2016) article
Scholarly Activity


Unit Lesson
PowerPoint Presentation
TED (2012) video
Ahmad (2016) article
Briley and Wyer (2002) article
Stayman & Deshpande (1989) article
Scholarly Activity


Unit Lesson
PowerPoint Presentation
TED (2012) video
Ahmad (2016) article
Briley and Wyer (2002) article
Stayman and Deshpande (1989) article
Scholarly Activity

Reading Assignment

In order to access the following resources, click the links below.

Click here to access the Unit V PowerPoint presentation. (Click here to access a PDF version of the

Group and Situational Effects

MAR 3211, Consumer Behavior 2


Read pp. 80–87 in the article below.

Ahmad, S. N. (2016). The role of social facilitation theory on consumer decision making: A conceptual

framework. American Journal of Management, 16(2), 80–89.

Read pp. 400–403 and 412–414 in the article below.

Briley, D. A., & Wyer, J. S. (2002). The effect of group membership salience on the avoidance of negative

outcomes: Implications for social and consumer decisions. Journal of Consumer Research, 29(3),

Read pp. 361–363 and 369–370 in the article below.

Stayman, D. M., & Deshpande, R. (1989). Situational ethnicity and consumer behavior. Journal of Consumer

Research, 16(3), 361–371.

TED (Producer). (2012, August 13). TEDTalks: John Gerzema—The post-crisis consumer [Video]. Films on


Click here to access the transcript for the video above.

Unit Lesson

In earlier units, we talked about the preliminary stages of the consumer buying process and how
understanding this process will actually enable marketers to respond more effectively to consumer needs and
wants. As a reminder, this process includes the components below.

• Problem recognition: The consumer recognizes that he or she is in a situation where there is a
problem or need.

• Information search: The consumer then proceeds to research and search for alternatives that might
solve the problem.

• Evaluation of alternatives: The consumer assembles a series of potential alternatives with the intent
of solving the problem.

• Purchase decision: The consumer decides on the “best” alternative but does not actually make the
purchase yet.

• Purchase: The consumer actually takes action and makes the purchase.
• Post-purchase evaluation: The consumer decides whether or not the purchase fulfilled his or her

needs and whether he or she will be a repeat buyer of the product/service.

Understanding the consumer buying process can assure long-term customer loyalty and higher brand loyalty.
Through this understanding of the consumer buying process, marketers can also interpret the value of
situations. Consumers are put into a variety of different situations—sometimes accidentally and sometimes by
design. Instead of the buying process being a tactical chore, it becomes an experience to be enjoyed. For
instance, Harrods of Knightsbridge in London delights shoppers with an actual orchestra in their store. Think
about the atmosphere at Starbucks. What about the acclaimed Hollister specializing in teen clothing? They
provide a retail experience including beach pictures and a beach atmosphere. Apple stores, through their
clean, sleek, and minimalistic theme, carry forward their brand identity. The famous Bass Pro Shops fishing
retailer provides fishing enthusiasts with the ultimate surroundings of fishing without actually being on the lake
or ocean. The question is how valuable the situation is to the consumer. This, of course, varies with each
target market.

MAR 3211, Consumer Behavior 3


A consumer’s choices are affected by many personal factors. Situational factors often affect antecedent
states, and these may include whether you are in a time crunch, your mood, or whether you like shopping.
Personal situational factors might include whether this is a casual purchase or something that is needed this
weekend. How much time does the consumer have for the shopping experience (30 minutes or 3 hours)?
Time of day and time of year also have an impact. Time is the consumer’s most valuable resource, and in
most cases, it is truly scarce. A consumer’s mood also affects these buying decisions. Think about a time that
you felt like going on a shopping spree versus other times when you are dragging your body through the mall.
Additionally, some people just love to shop, and others prefer to get in and get out. What are the motives for
shopping? Is it instant status, the thrill of the hunt, or simply the sharing of common interests? As another
example, consider the motivations of those who regularly participate in the Black Friday ritual on the Friday
after Thanksgiving.

Consumer choices are also affected by the purchase environment that includes the shopping experience,
point-of-purchase stimuli, and sales interactions. The shopping experience includes décor, odors, and
temperature of the store. Think about Abercrombie & Fitch with its distinct décor and smell. They have
attached that smell and décor with their brand identity, so their target market actually expects this within the
store. What about the store’s layout? Is it easy to navigate and find things, or is the store unorganized and
inefficient? Salespeople within a store also play a key role in the consumer buying experience. It is much
more than educating the customer because it also involves working with and engaging the customer with the
products. Connecting the needs of the customer with the products and services of the store is the ultimate
goal. There are eight different environmental experiences provided that could be delivered by the shopping
environment, which are listed below:

• arousing,
• distressing,
• unpleasant,
• gloomy,
• sleepy,
• relaxing,
• pleasant, and
• exciting.

Think about each of these and their relevance to your own personal shopping experiences. Another factor is
that of the social surroundings. Are there large crowds or just a few leisurely milling people? The store truly
takes on a certain personality. The qualities of an environment might include knowledgeable employees, low
prices, wide selection, and convenience in shopping, parking, payment, hours, and location. The effective
qualities might include friendly employees, colors, lights, music, odors, prestigious brands, and other
shoppers. These factors all contribute to a positive experience for the consumer. The final factor related to a
consumer’s choices is that of post-purchase processes. This includes consumer satisfaction, product
disposal, and alternative markets. Maintaining the allegiance of the customer for reasons of a return visit as
well as positive advertising are paramount. With the advent of the Internet, customers can have a huge
impact with respect to negative advertising of poor experiences.

Contrasting individual consumer decision-making to organizational decision-making identifies quite a few
differences. These organizational buyers purchase goods and services on behalf of companies for use in the
process of manufacturing, distribution, or resale. Many times, this is under the business-to-business (B2B)
framework. Groups of individuals, each of which take on a specific role, complete the organizational
decisions. Beginning with the initiator, this individual brings the idea forward, identifying the need. The
gatekeeper conducts the information search and controls the flow of information available to the group. The
person who attempts to sway the outcome of the decision is the influencer, and the person who actually
makes the purchase is the buyer. These individuals work together within the framework of the organizational
buying scenario. The decisions that these individuals are making tend to fall under one of three buying
situations as demonstrated in the chart below. Each situation has a differing level of effort that must be
exerted by the sales team, coupled with a different level of risk for the company.

MAR 3211, Consumer Behavior 4



Extent of Effort Risk Buyers


Habitual decision-

Low Automatic


Limited problem-

Low to

One or a few

New task Extensive

High Many

The decision-making process is influenced by a significant amount of factors. Internal factors such as store
layout, website, and salespeople provide some level of influence while outside groups provide another level of
influence. Organizational buying behavior also provides a more complex model with multiple individuals being
involved in the decision-making process.

Look at a video that further demonstrates how situational effects influence consumer buying. In this case, a
financial crisis and environmental influences are major factors (TED, 2012). The following video looks at the
transformational changes that have had significant impacts. Click the link below to view the video.

TED (Producer). (2012, August 13). TEDTalks: John Gerzema—The post-crisis consumer [Video]. Films on


Click here to access the transcript for the video above.

Group and interpersonal influence is a significant force in the consumer buying process. Reference groups
are defined as individuals who have significant relevance to a certain consumer group. They are one of the
highest influences on final consumer buying behaviors. Group memberships, whether formal or informal, will
sway consumer thinking and ultimately buying. For instance, membership with a ski club might influence ski
equipment purchases toward one brand over another. Sometimes this involves a sense of conformity, and
other times, this is a result of simply gaining additional information about a certain brand. An extension of this
conformity could be peer pressure. We tend to associate peer pressure with young people who might buy
certain clothing as a result of peer pressure. This actually extends long past those teen years when you might
see an entire family who purchases only Ford automobiles or only Samsung products. Speaking of familial
forces, household decision-making can be quite complex. The traditional family structure provides buying
practices with young couples having one set of buying practices and older couples having other buying
practices, sometimes simply by the amount of resources available. This seemingly simple structure has
morphed into a quite complex family structure, leading to a much more complicated buying structure.
Divorces, remarriages, and combined families have led marketers in circles as they attempt to tie the family
cycle to buying patterns. Another force in groups could be the level of power that the group exerts. This social
power takes on several formats; see below.

• Referent power: The individual admires the group and strives to act like the members.
• Legitimate power: The individual is tied to a certain action due to the rules of the group.
• Expert power: The individual benefits from the group member’s knowledge or experience.
• Reward power: The individual receives some type of reward for aligning with the group behavior.
• Coercive power: The individual is influenced through the threat of punishment for noncompliance.

Another related trending group power is demonstrated by the Groupon company that allows consumers to
join groups of consumers interested in the same product or service using the Internet. The more consumers
who express interest in the product or service, the greater the savings for everyone in the group. Groupon

MAR 3211, Consumer Behavior 5


started in Chicago but is now available in more than 150 cities in the United States, and the company has
expanded globally.

Situational and group influences are incredibly stimulating within the realm of consumer buying behavior. As
the marketer continues to work toward understanding these situational factors, the marketer can create
situations that appeal to the consumer. Concurrently, as the marketer works toward understanding groups,
the marketer can utilize these group influences in promoting the positive aspects of the product and/or
service offering.


TED (Producer). (2012, August 13). TEDTalks: John Gerzema—The post-crisis consumer [Video]. Films on


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