Social Change: Understanding Changing Consumption Habits!

Social Change: Understanding Changing Consumption Habits!

Societies and their characteristics are changing over the periods of time. Many factors are responsible for such changes to take place. Consumption patterns of people change to cope up with the changes. Societies become increasingly urbanized with the changes. Urbanization creates some new trends in societies creating new consumption patterns.

Meaning of Social Change

Marketers must consider the importance of the social setting within which people work. Marketers must also recognize that the social structure and setting are not rigid, rather subject to continuous change.

Changes take place in every sphere of social life, and change is an ongoing process. To survive in this extreme competition age, marketers must analyze the changes occurring in demographic characteristics, style and quality of life, social awareness, and gender roles.

Many forces bring changes in the social setting.

But, out of these forces, technology has been identified as the major force bringing socio-cultural change. Marketers of all ages will recognize the influence of technological forces on the market environment.

Advances in technology can bring many changes in society. Such changes may be summarized in the process known as modernization.

A society can be termed as modern if acceptance of innovations is high there.

People of modern society will have a positive attitude toward change; possess advanced technology and skilled labor force; have a general respect for education and science; emphasize rational and ordered social relationships, rather than one emotional one; people are highly flexible in their attitudes, beliefs, and behavior; are highly mobile and members can see each other in quite different roles.

Ways in Which Modernization Affect Social Organizations

It is evident by this time that technology is the main force responsible for a society to become modernized. This may affect the social organization in many ways, and consequently, brings changes in the consumption and lifestyles of people.

Usually, modernization brings the following changes in the lifestyles and consumption of people of a particular society:

Modernization increases geographic and social mobility.

With the development of technology, new jobs are created. Most of these jobs are usually created in cities as they first experience the fruits of technology.

Computer software developers, garment workers, lift service members, satellite engineers, etc., are some of the occupations created by technology, which create an opportunity for people living in cities.

As new jobs are created in cities, rural people start migrating to cities with the hope of getting employment and enhance economic conditions. This process of migration from traditional surroundings and relocating to new ones is known as urbanization. With the change in one’s occupation, his skills are likely to change (in most cases, improve).

As he applies his improved skills, his income is likely to increase. An increase in income alleviates one’s social position creating social mobility. Thus, with modernization, both geographic and social mobility increase.

These bring a significant change in one’s lifestyle and consumption. For example, a woman who migrates from a rural area to an urban area and finds a job in a garment factory will improve her financial status.

This obviously will change her consumption and lifestyle. The said lady now will buy things that she could not even imagine when she was in the village and had no means to earn by herself.

Modernization brings a change in the existing stratification of society.

Social stratification is the term using which people in a society are ranked by other society members into upper and lower social positions, which produces a hierarchy of respect or prestige.

There was a time (when people were not mobile geographically and socially as the present day) when used to rank people in terms of their lineage.

With the growing geographical and social mobility of people, they are stratified according to their wealth and occupation. No matter your family background, you will be placed in the higher social strata if you have sufficient wealth or are engaged in a white-collar job.

Your status now is determined by your material possession and occupation. Birth and kinship are considered now less important because of modernization.

Modernization also changes the family structure.

As because of growing technological developments, societies become increasingly industrialized. To adapt to the complex and modern industrial society, one has to keep his family size small.

In modern society, people are heavily involved in different activities, which limit their time to be given to family members. As a result, the traditional extended family concept is eroding.

People thus believe in the concept of a nuclear family consists of parents and children.

Modernization also changes the roles of family members.

Very old and very young family members are considered unproductive, as they cannot suit themselves to jobs that require very high skills.

Modernization also creates employment opportunities for females at large numbers.

As women become heavily involved in income-generating activities, they cannot give their children much time and other household activities. This also changes the existing husband-wife relationships. The concept of ‘househusband’ is a by­product of modernization.

Husbands are increasingly involved in household purchase activities, which was the wives’ domain earlier. Husbands are now found to be more cooperative than ever before and less authoritarian. An individual now does not consider his family as a center of different activities.

Modernization may decrease the impact of religion on different day-to-day activities.

Modernization may decrease religion’s impact on different day-to-day activities, where earlier it would dominate every sphere of our lives. As people become increasingly urbanized in outlooks and lifestyles, they gradually become separated from their religions.

Religions thus lose their impacts on people’s behavior as society becomes modernized. In modern society, people tend to be guided by secular beliefs, science, reasons, or traditional religious appeals.

Modernization makes mass culture tends to dominate

Because of the technological developments, which accompany modernization, mass culture tends to dominate. With technological developments, different messages, whether commercial, social, or political, may be transmitted to the masses within the shortest possible time through different advanced media. As a result, the diffusion of innovation becomes very easy.

Education also becomes a phenomenon of the masses: these standardized arts, culture, products, and marketing appeal. Products can be easily distributed widely throughout the country in the same forms and features.

These changes and developments significantly change the consumption pattern and call for serious marketing attention.

Urbanization – A Significant Social Change Phenomenon Influencing Lifestyles and Marketing Decisions

The rapid growth of metropolitan areas occurs due to technological development, which is responsible for societies’ modernization. The resulting concentration of people and industries reflects the process known as modernization.

Urbanization is basically a basic development to understand the scale and operating practices of the marketing system. Urbanization is a worldwide phenomenon that accompanies industrialization and modernization. As society becomes urbanized, people living in urban areas change significantly, requiring new products and services.

City people tend to consume or use ready or instant food, enjoy eating out, enjoy leisure going to movies, engage in other recreational activities, prefer to live in apartments, and expect home service from marketers. These are the clear indication of a kind of lifestyle that is an urban phenomenon.

When a society and its industries are non-urban, marketing is diffused among small social and economic units. Clearly, such a marketing system, serving a huge number of small communities, would differ from one serving relatively few extensive urban areas.

Large urban areas have brought about a concentration of industries and industrial markets, wholesale markets, and retail markets.

Urban areas and lifestyles of urban people have significant impacts on suburban and rural people. Mass media diffuse urban people’s attitudes and lifestyles to those of suburban and rural people.

Suburbanization is a by-product of urbanization. As central cities grow bigger, they cannot accommodate as many people as they are interested in living there.

Moreover, central cities require more workpeople than resides there. As a result, suburbs or satellite towns develop. A suburb is “a relatively small community adjacent to and dependent upon a central city, is a product of the twentieth century, the product of rapid urban growth, advances in transportation, and rising personal income.”

With the growth of suburbs, a relationship is established between suburbs and central cities. They become interdependent.

Central cities depend on suburbs for working people, and suburban people depend on central cities for employment and social, educational, and cultural activities. Many marketing opportunities are created by suburbanization.

For suburban people to commute, transport facilities are required, which creates a brighter prospect for transport businesses.

Urbanization, which is the creation of modernization, changes the gender roles. A large number of women now find employment outside their homes. As women become economically self-sufficient, they change their consumption patterns.

Many of the things they were earlier dependent on their husbands or parents can now buy independently. Studies found that working women buy more luxury goods than non­working women.

A greater number of women are involved in the profession and will change family structure and consumption patterns.

Couples will keep their families small for the practical problem of raising children. The number of families also ends up with separation and divorce as more and more women find employment and economic freedom.

These create markets for smaller sized products, daycare centers, housekeeping services, time-saving products and services, instant food items, products aimed at single market, working women’s hostels, and many other products and services.

Advertising appeals that were found to be effective with homemakers usually fail to influence working women. They cannot be influenced by the stereotyped advertising appeals aimed at homemakers. They are more practical and are suspicious of traditional advertising claims.

It requires marketers to change their advertising and promotional strategies to make them more consistent with the working women’s attitudes and lifestyles.

New Social Trends – Their Effects on Consumption and Marketing Decisions

Changes occurring as a result of modernization can, in some ways, be illustrated in the demographic profile of the population. Attitudes toward and preferences for geographic location, occupation, and family size, for example, change with the modernization of societies.

All of these significantly change the consumption pattern of people calling for special attention by the marketers. Here we shall particularly take an interest in four areas as marketers or potential marketers.

They are: change in the family structure; change in the distribution of age groups; change in the educational areas; and geographic mobility pattern. Let us now look at them in turn:

Change in the Family Structure

Modernization has made people’s lives complex and made many devices available to keep family sizes small to cope with the complexities. Social and cultural patterns changed women’s traditional roles from a happy homemaker to a professional career person.

This change in women’s role and effective birth control means helped reduce fertility rates significantly. The market opportunities for firms producing infant products also declined.

Families are now gradually becoming smaller as people marry late. Higher divorce and separation rates also change family structures. Smaller families now have larger disposable incomes, which allow them to spend more on luxuries, travel, and entertainment.

Moreover, entirely new markets are created as the family structure changes for women’s fashions, cosmetics, clothing, durables, and quick-to-prepare foods. Marketers should study these trends carefully and take their programs accordingly.

Change in the Distribution of Age Groups

Demographic change is partly an evolutionary change. Reducing birth rates and increased longevity because of cheaper and effective birth control means and improved medication have increased aged people and reduced children.

The average age of people has increased significantly because of technological development and modernization.

As the general population grows older, demand for some products increases (such as diet food, medicare service, older people’s home), and others subside. Again, as the number of children is reduced, it will threaten marketers producing baby products.

Smart companies realize this and take marketing action to face such a threat. They may diversify their products or make products in such a way that best satisfy both baby and adult markets.

Change in the Educational Areas

As the birth rate declines, there will be fewer children who will go to schools. Those in the elementary education business field will gradually face a serious problem as the birth rate declines further. Many of the teachers employed in primary and secondary educational institutions will lose their jobs.

Firms selling products to primary and secondary schools students will also experience a decrease in sales. This calls for immediate marketing actions by these firms.

On the other hand, more people will have the opportunity to pursue higher studies, which means that brighter prospects wait for higher education institutions.

Geographic Mobility Pattern

As we mentioned earlier, that geographic mobility increases with urbanization. This trend is likely to continue for quite some time in the future.

For industrialization and mushrooming of cities mean jobs and higher incomes to rural immigrants. As the agricultural areas become more efficient with machines, fewer agricultural workers are required to feed the population. Thus migration to cities has been brought about by technological advances and the changes in the locations of economic opportunities.

This definitely dominates the marketing of goods and services. Marketers should closely monitor these mobility trends and find opportunities to exploit created by such mobility of people.

Concept of Social Organization

Socialization is how we come to know of the values, beliefs, and norms or our culture, as well as how to behave in a socially approved manner. Different organizations play roles in the process of socializes with others in society. This concept of self determines his consumption behavior to a great extent.

Our activities are frequently influenced, if not altogether determined, by those around us. These surroundings have an impact on the individual consumer behavior.

Social organization’s influence is a significant force acting on our behavior since individuals tend to comply with group expectations, particularly in case of visible behavior. Shopping, a highly visible activity, and the consumption of many publicly consumed brands are subject to social influences.

Others’ behaviors can affect an individual’s perceptions. The presence and role of another person (immediate family, close friend, young children), for example, may affect the individual’s perception of various television programs.

Consumer behavior is social in nature. It may be best considered a transaction, which results from an individual’s patterns of interaction with others in society. Consumer behavior involves interdependence with other people. An individual does not ordinarily gain satisfaction independent of others’ involvement.

Consumer choices involve relationships with many other people, such as the marketer, the salespeople, family, friends, acquaintances, teachers, religious leaders, etc. It is now evident that others influence an individual in his decision-making. His social organization thus influences his decision.

Social organization may be defined as an individual’s pattern of interaction with other people in society. Thus, an individual may be influenced by his family, friends, members of the reference group, etc.

How others will influence an individual depends on his social organization, i.e., his patterns of interaction with other people in his society. Whether an individual wants or not, he is subject to social influence.

But, remember, the influences of all social groups are not equal to the individual consumer. Moreover, changes take place in society, changing individual consumer behavior.

Social science researchers have identified different types of social organizations and patterns of group interaction. They have also tried to relate those to consumer decision making. Three of such organizations and patterns of interaction are socialization, reference- groups, and social change.

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