SOCIAL CLASS AND CONSUMER BEHABIOR
“MEET MY NEEDS!”.Every man has need for live. For this, people go to buy in market or shop. At
this moment, people or customer behavior is identified so that Social stratification, the division of
members of a society into a hierarchy of distinct social classes what is referred for the development of
consumer attitudes and behavior. The measurement of social class is concerned with classifying
individuals into social class groupings. These groupings are of particular value to marketers, who use
social classification as an effective means of identifying and segmenting target markets. There are
three basic methods for measuring social class: subjective measurement, reputational measurement,
and objective measurement. Class structures range from two-class to nine-class systems. A frequently
used classification system consists of six classes: upper-upper, lower-upper, upper-middle, lower-
middle, upper-lower, and lower-lower. Profiles of these classes indicate that the socioeconomic
differences between classes are reflected in differences in attitudes, in leisure activities, and in
consumption habits. This is why segmentation by social class is of special interest to marketers.
Social class can be considered as a continuum that is a series of social positions in which is placed,
the researchers divided the continuum into a small number of specific social class or strata. The
concept of social class is used to place individuals or families in a social category. Social class is
defined as the division of society into a hierarchy of different class status, so that the members of each
class have relatively equal status and other class members have a status higher or lower.
Behavior economics focus on the kinds of attitudes people have towards money and how they spend
their money. Consumer sentiment is a significant influence which relates to consumer spending
patterns; it depends on the employment scenario, the economy as a whole, the level of regular income,
the quality of life, and stock market performance. Societies are generally divided into various
hierarchical social strata, which are dependent on factors like education, occupation and income.
Different societies have different strata, which may vary from as low as two to as high as nine or ten.
Most societies have three broad social classes - upper class, middle class, and lower class. People
belonging to one particular class can move to other classes, willingly or unwillingly, in an open
society. Such moves can significantly affect their consumption behavior. Consumer tastes and
preferences are influenced greatly by consumer socialization, as well as economic, social, and cultural
SOCIAL CLASS AND STATUS
Researchers define each social class by the amount of social statusthe members of that class have in
comparison to members of other social classes. In social class research (sometimes called social
stratification), status is frequently thought of as the relative rankings of members of each social class
in terms of specific status factors. Examples include:
Wealth—amount of economic assets.
Power—degree of personal choice.
Prestige—the degree of recognition received from others.
CONVENIENT APPROACHES TO SOCIAL CLASS
The idea is that individuals quite normally compare their own material possessions with those owned
by others in order to determine their relative social standing.Social status is usually defined in terms
of one or more of the following socioeconomic variables:
Figure 1: Convenient approaches to social class.
SOCIAL CLASS CATEGORIES
Little agreement exists among sociologists on how many distinct class divisions are necessary to
adequately describe the class structure of the United States. The choice of how many separate classes
to use depend on the amount of detail that the researcher believes is necessary to explain adequately
the attitudes or behavior under study. Marketers are interested in the social class structures of
communities that are potential markets for their products and in the specific social class level of their
potential customers. There are five categories social class in Bangladesh:
Figure 2:Different social class.
Uppers and Upper Middle Class-Women of this group organize shopping more purposefully and
efficiently than those of lower status. They tend to be more knowledgeable about what they want,
where and when to shop for it; their shopping is both selective and wide-ranging. These consumers
are more likely to search for information prior to purchase. They are more likely to read brochures,
newspapers, and test reports before buying appliances.
Middle Class-Women of this class "work" more at their shopping. They exhibit more anxiety,
particularly when purchasing nonfoods, which they feel can be a demanding and tedious process filled
with uncertainty. They are value-conscious and try to seek out the best buy for the money. Such an
orientation would indicate a strong tendency to patronize discount houses.
Working Class-Because of this group's strong concern with personal relationships, there is a
tendency to shop along known, local friendship lines. This attitude also explains their loyalty to
certain stores in which they feel at home. One study describes situations in which lower-status women
who shopped in high-status department stores felt clerks and higher-class customers in the store
"punished" them in various subtle ways. One woman expressed her feeling that in a higher-status store
"the clerks treat you like a crumb‖. Another related how she had vainly tried to be waited on, finally
to be told, "We thought you were a clerk‖.
Lower Class-This group is one that buys largely on impulse. This tendency results in the necessity to
rely heavily on credit, since money that might have been spent for big-ticket items has been drained
off in impulse buying of small things. At the same time, however, these people can be poor credit
risks because of their low-income status. This often forces them into a pattern of dealing with local
merchants who offer tailor-made credit terms.
THE MESUREMENT OF SOCIAL CLASS
There is no general agreement as to how to measure social class. The result is a wide variety of
measurement techniques, which may be classified following the below:
Figure 3: Measurement of social class.
Subjective Measures-In the subjective approach to measuring social class, individuals are asked to
estimate their own social-class positions.In the subjective approach to measuring social class,
individuals are asked to estimate their own social class positions. The resulting classification of social
class membership is based on the participants’ self-perceptions or self-images. Subjective measures of
social class membership tend to produce an overabundance of people who classify themselves as
middle class. Moreover, it is likely that the subjective perception of one’s social class membership, as
a reflection of one’s self-image, is related to product usage and consumption preferences.
Reputational Measures-The reputational approach requires selected community informants to make
initial judgments concerning the social-class membership of others within the community. In this
form, selected community informants make initial judgments concerning the social class membership
of others within the community, rather than themselves. This gives researchers a better understanding
of the specific class structures of the communities being studied. Consumer researchers, however, are
more concerned with understanding markets and consumers than social structure.
Objective Measures-A method of measuring social class whereby individuals are asked specific
socioeconomic questions concerning themselves or their families On the basis of their answers,
people are placed within specific social-class groupings. Objective measures consist of selected
demographic or socioeconomic variables concerning the individual(s) under study. These are
measured through questionnaires of factual questions. The most frequently used questions are about
occupation, amount of income, and education. Sometimes geo-demographic data in the form of zip
codes and residence-neighborhood information is added. Socioeconomic measures of social class are
important when segmenting the market. Marketers match the socioeconomic profiles of their target
audience with the audience profiles of selected media.
Viewed as social inequality, which is a universal phenomenon. Inequality is viewed in terms of the
distribution of scare goods. There are some elements of Social Stratification. These are given below:
CLASS – as defined by Marx, it is the division of people in society by their relationship to
the means of production: those who own a large portion of society’s wealth.
STATUS – For Weber, prestige rather than position itself is important. Individuals are ranked
in society as high, middle, and low as determined by how the role attached to their status is
POWER – refers to the ability of an individual to get other people to do ―what he wants them
to do with or without their consent.
In demographics, clustering is the gathering of various population based on ethnicity, economics, or
religion.In countries that hold equality as important, clustering occurs between groups because of
polarizing factors such as religion, wealth or ethnocentrism. Clustering is often considered an
enriching part of free cultures in which one can visit a Chinatown or a French quarter for restaurant
SEGMENTING THE AFFLUENT MARKET
The affluent market is not one single market. Affluent consumers do not share the same lifestyles.
In an effort to isolate distinct segments has developed the following affluent market-segmentation
scheme for the middle and working class consumers:-
MIDDLE-CLASS CONSUMERS-It is not easy to define the borders of what is meant by ―middle
class‖. Though, other measures are possible. For many marketers ―middle class‖ can be thought of as
including households that range from lower-middle to middle-middle class. Because technological
and luxury products are becoming more affordable to this class, it is even more difficult to define
―middle class‖. This is not true in other countries where the middle class is increasing.
WORKING CLASS CONSUMERS-Although many marketers go after the affluent, the size and
income of the non-affluent group make them an important target market. Lower-income, or
downscale, consumers are households earning more or less. Downscale consumers are more brand
loyal than wealthier consumers because they can less afford to make mistakes in switching to
Little of what is best in marketing theory and practice works without correct market segmentation. It
is one of the most fundamental concepts in marketing and your choice of which approach to adopt
will directly affect the impact of segmentation on your business.The means of reducing switching
behaviors within extremely saturated marketplaces are directly afforded by marketing communication.
The effectiveness of such communication, however, can have the desired (or opposite) result on
sustaining consumer loyalty over an extended period of time. While more traditional marketing
models focused on product features and competitive positioning of particular brands or products,
modern marketing emphasizes the relationship between consumer behavior and value. By enhancing a
product’s value, consumers are encouraged to engage in the buying process and are more likely to
maintain personal investment in a product over an extended period of time.