Very recently I had made a decision to ditch my now aged “RGB” television and get a nice 60” flatscreen. There were key attributes from the social environmental factors which played an enormous role in my final decision.
Family and Culture: Although the core sociological structure of my personal family did not directly influence my decision, input from family members was extremely important in making the purchase decision. When looking for a specific brand, family input was critical in the final decision. What I mean by this is that the initial decision to modernize and acceptance of change for hedonic purposes was spewed by my own psychological evaluation of the situation (ie modern is better, more reliable and uses less energy hence it would be fair to put the past behind me). However, it is very important to note that after I made up my mind to go ahead with the purchase, the opinions of others, and most prominently family members/close friends was detrimental in my decision on which company to do business with. I was spewed to consider two major Japanese competitors for their reputation and (apparently)amazing customer service; Toshiba and Sony. I also need to note that I did not spare any expense in using amazon’s customer review panels of certain “top competitors” that I had picked from their respective lineups ; thus gaining a more complete insight of what I was about to purchase via other people’s opinions and experiences. [Source: https://amazon.com(peer reviews)]. So sociologically, the opinions and experiences of others were also incorporated in my decision-making process following my evaluation of my options based on familial input.
Reference Groups: Is it human nature to conform to a perceived amelioration of one’s own hedonic needs? It is very easy to say that people are individuals that like to stick to what they have based on practicality. However, after careful evaluation of my purchase I must agree that this is wrong. A Reference group is generally who we look to when trying to conform. In my case the reference group was pretty much everyone I know. It’s a bit broad but, unfortunately, everyone has already beaten me to the flat screen era years ago. Even though my television was in no way inferior in performance, perhaps the need to appear on-par with my comrades was too strong. I obviously followed their example and decided to go ahead with my purchase. I guess this is all just the influence and will to fit in. It’s the same reason why people with money don’t stick to Fords and Toyotas but instead go for Lincolns and Acuras right? I guess it’s a sign of status and staying back in the perceived “stone age” is not a step in the right direction when our minds have a psychological tendency to mimic reference groups. [Source: personal experience]
Social Media: We live in an era where we have two lives. One is physical and stable; the other is virtual and dynamic. We sometimes have a tendency to spend more time living in our virtual world rather than in our own physical realm (ie on a boring weekend when it’s snowing). Therefore it is only logical to assume that social media marketing, advertising and promotion would have a significant impact on the buyer’s decision. For example, with my purchase above, I could have been easily influenced by either party to buy their respective products if they told me you can have a“10% off coupon for our product if you like our Facebook page”. The trick with something like this (theoretically) would be that every update [let’s say…] Toshiba makes on their Facebook page would appear on my feed every time I log into Facebook. I would end up saving money, earning this company’s trust by experience, and their updates could possibly influence me to buy something from them again (this is where social media can cause impulsive buying sales). Social media is vital in the establishment of opinions today and companies that do not use it are basically ignoring an untapped goldmine of potential customers. There is a reason why “social media marketing” is becoming a bigger business every day , and if companies don’t exploit it, their competitors most certainly will. [Source: personal experience]
So my conclusion is simple, these factors all played a vital role in my buying decision, save social media. I ultimately went with Toshiba.
The Gaming customer that would end up spending $500-$1000 on a gaming system cannot be segmented as “lower middle class” , although some people might come from this sector and join in on the ritualistic buying of the consoles on the first day of release. There is a severe probability that the people involved in this are “upper middle class”. Since this is a Hedonic need (entertainment) rather than utilitarian (safety, warmth etc) , there would be no practicality in assuming that people that can hardly go out to eat would spend half a month’s paycheck on entertainment.
Demographic: trough personal experience, the demography for video games is males ages 16-30. This is very evident in the complete lack of major releases that are classified as “feminine”. Most major releases for any gaming console are full of gore, violence and are unsuitable to the female psyche. A 2008 census conducted by the University of Southern California yields to confirm my statement. Nearly 53% of Americans age 18+ are said (by the study group reference) to play video games. 40% play regularly. There is no conclusive date stating that a certain race is more prominent in the study conducted in relation to the playing of video games(white:40%;black33%;hispanic17%;other10%). However, males accounted for 78% (more than ¾) of the video game playing population. [Source: usc.edu]
Graphic: graphic plays absolutely no role in deciding who would go for the brand new consoles on the first day. It would be our tendency to say people living in cities and suburbs would be far more apt to buy video games; however there is no research to back this and plenty of people living in rural areas play video games (and have money to spare). So It is fair to assume video game fanatics and hedonic enthusiasts can exist anywhere in the country, as long as there is a way to get their hands on the console. This also brings us to the important point of who bids for these things online? It could be the rural “upper middle-upper class”. However it would be best to assume the bidders are the upper class, since they don’t need to be sitting in lines to get a console; they have plenty of money to spare.
Lifestyle: Like I said before, I am adamant that most people involved in this are not lower middle class. Even though the mean age and racial makeup would suggest this would be the case, it would be naïve to assume these people have money to throw at something so stupid. No, no these people, like most of us, will wait it out until the price drops (usually accrued residual decrease of 50% in one year).
My conclusion is supported by my findings, the people that do this are doing it to follow their peers, their psychological needs are hedonic (not even entertainment but just the impression on others). And these people have money to spare!
Staples (https://staples.com) offers solutions to people’s needs that fit the extended problem solving, limited problem solving and habitual decision making of its customers.
Extended problem solving
- Buying a printer with no knowledge of types of printers(inkjet, magnetic etc), and making the decision alone following research and customer reviews (influencing factors)
- Buying a Laptop! Most customers will have very limited to no understanding of laptop specifications, meaning there will have to be significant research conducted prior to making a final decision (no impulsive buying here)
- Buying a fax machine is difficult, and probably will soon be unnecessary due to scanners and the internet. Is it worth the price?
Printer: [https://www.staples.com/HP-Officejet-Pro-8600-e-All-in-One-Printer/product_366000] An all-in one solution which includes a scanner and printer! It’s only 140$ , loaded with colored ink cartridges. HP is a reliable company with a good reputation , however the ink cartridges cost as much as the printer (ouch).
Laptop: [https://www.staples.com/Dell-Alienware-17-173-WLED-Gaming-Laptop-4th-Gen-Intel-Core-i7/product_968086] This laptop promises to perform from the date of purchase for up to 10 years ahead. It might seem like a hefty pricetag at almost 2000$, however the specs of this product put it in the top performance criteria for it’s time. These specs won’t be standard in other laptops that cost 300$ and break down every year for maybe 5 years (300x5=1500 but with a performance lag).
FaxMachine:[https://www.staples.com/Canon-FAXPHONE-L100-Laser-Fax-Machine/_product_683059] At only 130$, this fax machine will provide all faxing conveniences, a fast and modern performance scheme and a pleasant aesthetic appearance.
Limited Problem Solving
- Buying an ink cartridge for a printer you just bought. You are familiar with the specifications of the cartridge as outlined in the printer’s manual; however you have never bought one and there are several manufacturers to choose from.
- Buying a new wireless mouse. You might be familiar with some brands, however when you arrive, they will be different from what was there the year before.
- Buying software. For example, being familiar with what the software does (ie Microsoft office) , however having to decide on the tier package , year and price.
Ink Cartage: [https://www.staples.com/HP-88XL-Black-Ink-Cartridge-C9396AN-High-Yield/product_618609] Obviously, the 49$ price tag is nice. To accommodate the printer, the base price of a cartridge from a different company is around 100$, with limited knowledge, by linking manufacturer, price and possible quality, my decision at the staples website was easy.
Wireless Mouse:[https://www.staples.com/Logitech-Wireless-Mouse-M325-Black/product_784551] With limited knowledge of wireless mice, a bit of research yielded good reviews for this mouse. The price is only 15$, so obviously this is a good buy.
Microsoft Office: [https://www.staples.com/Microsoft-Office-Home-Student-2013-for-Windows-1-User-Download/product_135163] The student edition is only 150$ , and it basically includes all the products a student would need for school. There is no point in going professional for an additional 200$, this is economic and based on just that; I can make my decision with limited cognition on the subject.
Habitual Decision Making
- Buying a notebook from the same brand that one always gets.
- Buying pencils
- Buying batteries
Notebook: [https://www.staples.com/Staples-1-Subject-Notebook-8-inch-x-10-1-2-inch/product_321463] At 1.50$ , these notebooks are a fair buy. The staples branding is something I always get, so I will continue getting the same brand notebooks based on personal , habitual experience.
Pencils: [https://www.staples.com/Paper-Mate-Mirado-Black-Warrior-Pencil-2-Dozen/product_608000]Black warrior pencils! 24 pencils for the price of one notebook is a bargain. Let’s just say these are the only type I ever buy, I love the brand image and I only get this brand constantly, so why not get it again? It’s practically a brainless decision (impulse).
Batteries: [https://www.staples.com/Duracell-AA-Alkaline-Batteries-8-Pack/product_318923] 8 batteries for 9$ is a great deal. This is a brad that I trust , which has proven time and again to be reliable and long-lasting. I will continue to buy these because it’s the only brand I use.
The customer experience deviates away from traditionalism when shopping online. The location will usually be the home or office—convenience of smartphones can allow people to do it anywhere. Time spent on the decision can be much longer or much shorter (impulsive) due to the huge array of information online. Brands will most likely still be traditional, good reputation brands because people always fear flawed quality. So in the end, similar items will be bought as in retail stores but at the convenience (location wise ) of the customer. Time spent won't be adversely affected, nor will the brands purchased.
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