Social Influences on Consumer Behavior

Written by lydia silvestro
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Social Influences on Consumer Behavior
Socialising drives consumer behaviour. (Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

It's no secret that the social interaction of today's consumer has a great influence on her purchasing choices. Social experiences such as direct personal interaction, online social networks, television, magazines and visual merchandising contribute to a buyer's decision-making processes.

Direct Personal Interaction

The influence seen in direct personal interaction is akin to a “keeping-up-with-the-Joneses” mentality. A visit to a neighbour’s renovated kitchen or newly installed hot tub may naturally give an individual the desire to entertain in a similar fashion...and fashion is key. The avid home-decor enthusiast will spend a great deal of his time and money creating a stylish atmosphere for entertaining.

Social Influences on Consumer Behavior
Interacting with friends influences your purchases. (Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Online Social Networks

Much of a consumer’s social interaction consists of posting and viewing photos online. The most popular photos receive social validation through user commentary and tend to be snapshots of new cars, home renovations, trips, weddings or social events. Any of these images can provoke a desire to make a purchase, whether it’s a new floor for your own dining room, a vacation or a dress that will allow you to have as much fun as you see your friends having. Among all of these influences are the little BlackBerry or iPhone icons placed beneath photos and status updates, indicating the device or gadget used to transfer this information from the user’s hands to the computer screen. The social network aficionado, passing along her satisfaction and inspiring a desire in another user to enjoy the same gadget, promotes electronics purchases unknowingly.

Social Influences on Consumer Behavior
Using social networks can change your consumer behaviour. (BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images)


Television's influence begins with collections of advertisements lumped together between breaks in programming, but television commercials are not the end of influence on the average consumer. The programming itself has become instrumental in persuading the purchaser. From DIY shows to sitcoms to game shows, viewers are bombarded with persuasive messaging instilling a desire to buy. For example, a lover of cooking shows might realise the need for a mortar and pestle in his kitchen when three shows in a row on his favourite network feature a celebrity chef creating a masterpiece of crushed spices or a paste of fresh herbs.

Social Influences on Consumer Behavior
Television can influence consumer behaviour. (Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images)


The top magazines in the U.S., such as "Better Homes and Gardens," "Good Housekeeping," "Woman’s Day," and "Ladies’ Home Journal," promote a lifestyle their target audience craves. The consumer sees spacious houses and beautiful backyards, lovingly decorated and elegantly functional, and she wants to mirror these visions in her own home.

Social Influences on Consumer Behavior
Magazines influence their audiences. (Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

Visual Merchandising

A walk downtown or a stroll through a mall presents another opportunity for social influence on consumer behaviour. Storefronts represent prime real estate for advertising, drawing the consumer to a brand or line of products. The purchaser can see the items working together harmoniously, right in front of his eyes, creating a desired atmosphere and tempting him to venture inside for a closer look.

Social Influences on Consumer Behavior
Visual merchandising can influence shoppers. (Rayes/Photodisc/Getty Images)

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