Chapter 11Group Influence and Opinion Leadership By Michael R. Solomon Consumer Behavior Buying, Having, and Being Sixth Edition
Opening Vignette: Zachary • Does Zachary meet your mental stereotype for a Harley Davidson owner? • Why does Zachary desire to have more Harley “stuff”? • How do Zach’s fellow RUBs influence his purchases? • What benefits does Zach enjoy from his association with other Harley owners?
Reference Groups • Reference Group • An actual or imaginary individual or group conceived of having significant relevance upon an individual’s evaluations, aspirations, or behavior • Three ways reference groups influence consumers • Informational • Utilitarian • Value-Expressive • Some people are more influential than others in affecting consumers’ product preferences.
When Reference GroupsAre Important • Social Power: • The capacity to alter the actions of others • Referent Power: • When consumers imitate qualities by copying behaviors of a prominent person they admire. • Information Power: • Able to influence consumer opinion by virtue of their (assumed) access to the “truth” • Legitimate Power: • Granted to people by virtue of social agreements, sometimes conferred by a uniform
Expert Power • A physician has expert power, and a white coat reinforces this expertise by conferring legitimate power.
When Reference GroupsAre Important (cont.) • Expert Power: • Derived from possessing specific knowledge about a content area • Reward Power: • When a person or group has the means to provide positive reinforcement • Coercive Power: • Influencing a person by social or physical intimidation
Types of Reference Groups • Reference Group: • Any external influence that provides social cues • Normative Influence: • The reference group helps to set and enforce fundamental standards of conduct. • Comparative Influence: • When decisions about specific brands or activities are affected.
Discussion Question • Marketers often portray products being used in groups that represent favorable reference groups to the target market. • What type of message does this ad convey? What type of influence is this ad designed to exert on its target audience?
Brand Communities and Tribes • Brand Community: • A set of consumers who share a set of social relationships based upon usage or interest in a product. • Brandfests • Consumer Tribe: • A group of people who share a lifestyle and who can identify with each other because of a shared allegiance to an activity or product. • Tribal Marketing: • To link one’s product to the needs of a group as a whole.
Products as a Way to be Popular • Many products, especially those targeted to young people, are often touted as a way to take the inside track to popularity. This Brazilian ad lets us know about people who don’t like a certain shoe.
Membership vs. AspirationalReference Groups • Aspirational Reference Groups • Comprise idealized figures such as successful business people, athletes, or performers. • Membership Reference Group • Ordinary people whose consumption activities provide informational social influence. • Propinquity:Physical nearness. • Mere Exposure:Liking persons or things simply as a result of seeing them more often (mere exposure phenomenon) • Group Cohesiveness:The degree to which members of a group are attracted to each other and value their group membership.
Positive Versus NegativeReference Groups • Avoidance Groups • Groups that consumers purposely try to distance themselves from • Nerds • Druggies • Preppies • The motivation to distance oneself from a negative reference group can be as powerful or more powerful than the desire to please a positive group
Positive Reference Groups • This recruiting ad presents a compelling role model for young women contemplating a career in the armed forces.
Consumers Do it in Groups • Deindividuation: • A process in which individual identities become submerged within a group. • Social Loafing: • People do not devote as much to a task when their contribution is part of a larger group effort • Risky Shift: • Group members are willing to consider riskier alternatives subsequent to group discussion • Diffusion of Responsibility: • As more people are involved in a decision, each individual is less accountable for the outcome
Deindividuation • Costumes hide our true identities and encourage deindividuation.
Consumers Do it in Groups (cont.) • Value Hypothesis: • Riskiness is a culturally valued characteristic to which individuals feel pressure to conform • Decision Polarization: • Whichever direction the group members were leaning toward before discussion becomes more extreme subsequent to discussion • Home Shopping Parties: • Capitalize on group pressures to increase sales
Home Shopping Parties • Women at a home Tupperware party.
Group Influences • Group pressure often influences our clothing choices.
Conformity • Conformity • A change in beliefs or actions as a reaction to real or imagined group pressure. • Norms • Informal rules that govern behavior. • Factors Influencing the Likelihood of Conformity • Cultural Pressures • Fear of Deviance • Commitment • Principle of Least Interest • Group Unanimity, Size, and Expertise • Susceptibility to Interpersonal Influence • Role-relaxed consumers
Social Comparison • Social Comparison Theory: • Asserts that people look to the behavior of others to increase the stability of their self-evaluation • Co-oriented peer: A person of equivalent standing • Resisting Conformity: • Independence: Being oblivious or indifferent to the expectations of others • Anticonformity: Defiance of the group is the actual behavior • Reactance: The negative emotional state that results when we are deprived of our freedom to choose
WOM Word of mouth rumours
Word-of-Mouth Communication • Word-of-Mouth (WOM): • Product information transmitted by individuals to individuals. • Negative WOM and the Power of Rumors: • Negative WOM: Consumers weigh negative info from other consumers more heavily than they do positive comments
Discussion Question • This ad for a video game says, “Conformity Bytes!”, but then captions, “Join the Revolution!” Why? • Does this ad encourage independence or anticonformity?
Word-of-Mouth • The U.S. Postal Service hopes to create a buzz via word of mouth.
Rumors • Hoaxkill.com is a Web site dedicated to tracking hoaxes and debunking product rumors.
The Transmission of Misinformation Figure 11.2
Changing Information • Serial Reproduction: • Technique to examine the phenomenon that information changes as it is transmitted among consumers • Assimilation: Distortions tend to follow a pattern from ambiguous to conventional to fit with existing schemas • Leveling: Details are omitted to simplify structure • Sharpening: Prominent details are accentuated
Cutting-Edge WOM Strategies • Virtual Communities • Virtual Community of Consumption: A collection of people whose online interactions are based upon shared enthusiasm for and knowledge of a specific consumption activity. • Multi-user Dungeons (MUD) • Rooms, rings and lists (e.g. chat rooms) • Boards • Blogs (weblog)
Four Types of VirtualCommunity Members • Tourists: • Lack strong social ties to the group • Minglers: • Maintain strong social ties, but are not interested in the central consumption activity • Devotees: • Express strong interest in the activity, but have few social attachments to the group • Insiders: • Exhibit both strong social ties and strong interest in the activity
Virtual Communities Figure 11.3
Guerrilla Marketing • Guerrilla Marketing • Promotional strategies that use unconventional locations and intensive word-of-mouth campaigns to push products. • Brand Ambassadors • Viral Marketing • Refers to the strategy of getting customers to sell a product on behalf of the company that creates it.
Guerrilla Marketing Ads • Ads painted on sidewalks are one form of guerrilla marketing.
Opinion Leadership • The Nature of Opinion Leadership • Opinion Leaders: People who are knowledgeable about products and whose advice is taken seriously by others. • Homophily: The degree to which a pair of individuals is similar in terms of education, social status, and beliefs. • How Influential Is an Opinion Leader? • Generalized Opinion Leader: Somebody whose recommendations are sought for all types of purchases. • Monomorphic: An expert in a limited field. • Polymorphic: An expert in many fields.
Opinion Leaders Market Shoes • Opinion leadership is a big factor in the marketing of athletic shoes. Many styles first become popular in the inner city and then spread by word-of-mouth.
Types of Opinion Leaders • Innovators • Early purchasers • Innovative Communicators • Opinion leaders who also are early purchasers • Opinion leaders also are likely to be opinion seekers • The Market Maven • Describes people who are actively involved in transmitting marketplace information of all types. • The Surrogate Consumer • A person who is hired to provide input in purchase decisions.
Cool hunters and mavens • Maven - unpaid enthusiasts who initiate discussions with consumers and respond to requests for information • neighbourhoods mavens • professional mavens (critics, reviewers, correspondents) • celebrity mavens (Beckham) • modern consumers need maverns to • seek relevant information • provide a ‘trustworthy’ recommendation • decide which is best • examples • Blair Witch Project • Harry Potter http://www.sharperimage.com http://www.NewConsumer.co.uk/ Lewis and Bridger 2000
Perspectives on theCommunications Process Figure 11.4
Fashion Opinion Leaders • Fashion opinion leaders tend to be knowledgeable about clothing and highly motivated to stay on top of fashion trends.
Identifying Opinion Leaders • Self-designated Opinion Leaders • Sociometric Methods • Trace Communication patterns among members of a group. • Referral Behavior • Network Analysis: Focuses on communication in social systems • Referral Network • Tie Strength: The nature of the bond between people. • Bridging Function: Allows a consumer access between subgroups. • Cliques: Subgroups
Revised Opinion Leadership Scale Figure 11.5