To understand Family influence on consumer behaviour lets first understand the important elements of a family.
A family is an important element that affects the consumption and disposal of products by an individual. A family may be defined as two or more people living together, related by blood or marriage who share a common house, common income and similar status and values.
It is important for a marketer to know the family structure, family compositions, buying patterns, Buying roles and motives of family members, life cycle stages etc. in order to understand family influence on consumer behaviour and position a product efficiently in the market.
There may be two types of families:
Nuclear Family – A small family comprising of a married couple and their children.
Joint Family – It refers to a large family comprising of married couples, their parents, their children and their relatives.
Family Influence on Consumer Behaviour
A family is a social group and all members of a family influence and get influenced by each other. Family bonds are more stronger than bonds in any other group and all members of the family form a single decision unit in case of purchase of products and services for common consumption. Each member influences and gets influenced by a family member depending upon his/her role, life cycle stage and relationship dynamics in the family.
Therefore, family influence on consumer behaviour can be understood by studying the buying roles, family dynamics and life cycle stage of a family member.
Buying Roles of a Family
The various roles played by members of a family while making a purchase decision are:
Influencer – The family member or family members who provide information about a product or service to other family members
Gate Keeper – Family members who controls the flow and direction of the contents of information
Decider – The one with the power to select the product whether individually or jointly
Buyer – The one who makes the actual purchase
Preparer – The family member or family members who prepare the product for family consumption
User – The consumers of the product or service
Maintainer – The members who maintain the product for continued use and satisfaction
Disposer – The member who disposes the product.
Family influence on consumer behaviour exists due to the relationship dynamics between family members. The buying behaviour of a family and its members basically depend upon the dynamics of husband-wife in decision making. There may be the following types of decisions on the basis of husband-wife influences –
Wife Dominant Decisions, E.g. grocery, food, home decoration
Husband Dominant Decisions, E.g. phone, cars, insurance
Joint Decisions, E.g. vacations, schools for children
Autonomic or Unilateral decisions, E.g. milk, newspaper
Family Life Cycle stages
The buying behaviour of a family member is also influenced by his position in the family life cycle stage. Different stages in the life cycle show family influence on consumer behaviour with respect to a family member`s position in the life cycle stage. The family life cycle stages and consumption patterns of each stage can be understood with the table below: