How Socialization Impact Consumer Behavior?

How Socialization Impact Consumer Behavior?

Consumer behavior is influenced very much by his culture. Socialization is the process of imparting to the individual the basic values and modes of behavior approved by his culture.

What is Socialization?

This process usually includes teaching moral and religious principles, interpersonal skills, dress and grooming standards, appropriate manners and speech, and several other things. Loudon and Bitta defined socialization as “the process by which a new member learns the system of values, norms, and expected behavior patterns of the group being entered.”

Berkman and Gilson defined it as another process by which a person tries to acquire principal ways of behaving, the values, norms, and attitudes of the individual’s social and cultural unit. The analysis of consumer behavior requires an understanding of the concept of socialization.

As you understand, the process through which we learn the entire range of physical, intellectual, and social skills needed to function as members of our society. The process of socialization starts right from an individual’s birth.

Now questions that may come to your minds are;

  • How and where do potential customers learn their culture?
  • Are they socialized in large or small households?
  • In religious institutions?
  • At educational institutions?
  • Or where?

The most important agents of socialization are;

  1. family,
  2. educational institutions, and
  3. religious institutions.

These three institutions or agencies play a vital role in an individual’s acquisition of behavioral patterns accepted by his society. At times, you may find that the ways these institutions teach you the socialization process are complementary to each other. You may also observe that different institutions teach you conflicting values.

For example, you have been taught one value with regards to the culture by your family, were at school, you may come to know of the different values.

Whether they teach you conflicting things or not, they are the institutions from where you learn your assigned roles. Let us now have a look at these three institutions in brief as they play roles in the socialization process:

Socialization and the Family

From right after birth to the first couple of years, you will be among the members of your family.

So, the family is the first institution where you learn different values, norms, and standards of behavior that help you socialize. You learn your culture, the characteristic ways of behaving, values, and norms first from your family.

This institution, therefore, is considered most important in the process of an individual’s socialization. Now, the question comes: why does a family teach its members to socialize? The answer lies in three goals that a family pursues while teaching the process of socialization to its members.

They are;

  1. to instill self-control;
  2. to instill values and
  3. to instill role behavior.

Let us now examine these goals in brief:

To Instill Self-Control

Individuals lacking self-control cannot live in society comfortably with others. If you want to live with other members of your society successfully, you have to have a very high degree of self-control. Each family, therefore, imparts its junior members the concept of self-control.

You may observe that we teach our children to forego some of their immediate pleasures for future ones. We also teach them to change some of their behaviors to make them socially consistent. You have noticed that we do not allow our children to stay outside and play after the sunset, though they want to stay and play outside longer.

We thus teach them the concept of self­control, asking them to come back home to study, putting off the immediate pleasure they get from playing.

To Instill Values

Values are our ideas about what is right and what is not by which we conduct ourselves. As human beings, we should have certain values. Values are taught in families for disciplining children. Every society holds certain values.

Being a member of a particular society, an individual should retain those values for his/her behavior to be acceptable by others.

Many values are taught to children by the senior members of the family. Some of the values are sharing, caring, showing respect to seniors, being affectionate to younger, etc. For example, we teach our kids to share their toys and other belongingness with others of the same age.

For example, you may ask your son to share his sports equipment with your neighbor’s son. This teaching will develop the value of sharing in your son so that he can live happily with others. If he does not learn this value, he will be considered selfish, and his behavior will not be considered acceptable by others in society.

To Instill Role Behavior

As the child interacts with his family members, he learns that certain behavior is appropriate in certain areas. Situation. Being a member of society, an individual needs to play different roles depending on the situation.

The same role is not appropriate for every situation. The family teaches its members that they should perform different roles in different situations. You may observe that you allow your children to behave one way when they are at home.

But you expect them to behave differently when they accompany you to the marketplace or one of the relatives’ houses.

Moreover, we in the family teach our children that the roles of males and females are different, and consequently, they should behave differently. This will have an impact on the child as he or she grows up. This impact is required for the child to learn his/her appropriate behavior for him/her to socialize with others in society.

As children interact with his/her family members, he/she learns the roles that he/she should play in different situations for his/her behavior to be acceptable.

This interaction also helps develop the child’s self-image as he/she comes to know others and compares him/her with others in the family.

This leads to the ideas of self-concept that we shall discuss now.

Socialization and Educational Institutions

After the first couple of years of childhood, we sent our children to schools. This is the first institution outside the family where children get the opportunity to interact with others. Educational institutions, therefore, play a vital role in an individual’s socialization process.

Children learn many things here, including their nation’s history, culture, norms, values, heritage, and patterns of behavior considered socially acceptable.

The way an individual is taught these in educational institutions and the way he interacts with his classmates determine, to a great extent, his overall behavior, including consumer behavior. As educational training and attainment vary among individuals, they learn to socialize differently.

These differences are responsible for different consumer behaviors, as we see in different individuals. For example, the values you are taught on nationality in your school will determine your behavior concerning the consumption of locally manufactured goods.

Again, as educational attainments vary, individuals are likely to behave differently. For example, a university graduate is likely to learn a different socialization pattern than someone having only a primary education level. This definitely will cause them to behave differently as consumers.

Socialization and Religious Institutions

The third institution that plays a role in an individual’s socialization process is a religious institution. It teaches certain values, beliefs, and convictions that guide and regulate one’s behavior. Such an institution perpetuates religious consciousness, spiritual guidance, and moral training, responsible for many of the consumer’s behaviors.

Religious institutions basically reinforce different economic and ethical concepts learned from the family and educational institutions. The religious training one gets or lacks in socialization may affect his behavior as a consumer in three ways. They are:

  • Religious training may dictate or discourage the use and consumption of certain items. Muslims, for example, do not buy and eat pork as the teachings of Islam forbid it. Hindus, for example, do not eat beef as discouraged by their religion.
  • Not all religions are equal in terms of the values that they prescribe. Some religions are conservative, and others are liberal. For example, Islam is a religion which is conservative in terms of encouraging people to become materialistic. It discourages its followers from being materialistic in terms of consumption rather than encourages them to be spiritual.
  • Not everyone who belongs to the same religion has equal bondage with his religion. Not all Muslims, for example, are conservative in consuming luxury goods. An individual’s attachment to his religion depends, to a great extent, on his family income and academic attainment. As family income and academic attainment increase, the individual tends to become gradually separated from his religion. In most cases, as income rises, individuals’ attachments with their religions become loose.

It is now evident that three institutions viz. family, educational institution, and religious institution play a major role in socialization.

How a consumer will behave is determined greatly by how these three institutions play their roles in an individual’s socialization process. Besides, mass media also plays a role in the process of socialization and several groups. In the next lesson, we shall discuss some of these groups.