In the area of psychological determinants of consumer behaviour, it is seen from the point view of an individual and how buying motives make him to behave this way or that way ever, man is a social animal and, therefore, sociologist and social psychologists have attempted to explain the behaviour of a group of individuals and the way in which it affects the conditions and individuals behaviour in purchase decisions. These groups of individuals as behavior determinants are family, reference groups, opinion-leaders, social class and caste and culture. The study of these shows clearly that the buying motives of an individual within him will not decide his purchase decisions. His decisions, in fact, are influence by these groups in which he lives. A brief description of each is given for the benefit of the readers.

1. Family:

Most of the buying decisions are made by the customers are taken within the environment of their family and are influenced by the desires, attitudes, values of the other family members. Family as a primary group is vital because, it links the individual with a wider society and it is ±r?ugh this that the individual leaves the roles appropriate to the adult life. A family can be a ‘nuclear’ or ‘extended’ one.

Nuclear family is consisting of a two generations …. consisting of parents and children. On the other hands, extended family spans over at least three generations even move. The family impact on consumer buying behaviour can be traced in two ways sly, (1) the family influence on individual personality characteristics, attitudes and evaluative criteria and (2) the family influence on the decision-making, process involved in purchases. As family is purchasing and consuming unit, different members of the same family play different of “initiating”, “influencing”, “deciding” and “using” or “consuming”.


2. Reference Groups:

Each person in the society is not only the member of his family but the member of some group or groups out side the family circle. These groups are called as “reference groups”, reference groups are those to which the individual identified to such as extent that these groups become a ‘norm’ influences his behaviour. It is a social and professional group that influences the individuals opinions, beliefs and aspirations. It provides an individual with a sense of identity, accomplishment and stability. Here, an individual may adopt the view of a group without becoming a member.

Thus, a person need not be a professional sportsman to have the opinion and out look of a professional sportsman. Some non-military personnel behave more than military personnel. Consumers as social animals spend most of their time in group situations and except the information provided by their groups on products, price, performance and style and the like.

3. Opinion Leaders:


Like reference groups, “opinion leaders” or “influential” play a key role in influencing the buying behaviour of their followers. Very often, we come across situations where a person refers to an individual than a group in formulating his or her behaviour, pattern. The individual to whom such reference is made by a person or persons is the opinion leader. The belie preferences, attitudes, actions and the behaviour of the leader set a trend and a pattern of others to follow in given situation. In every intimate reference group there is a reference person — informal leader. The group follows him respects him and looks upto him. He is the innovator in the group who first tries new ideas and products and then propagates them to his followed In other words, the buying motives of his leader that are respected by his group of followed without much thinking and hesitation.

4. Social Class and Caste:

Buying behaviour of individuals is also deeply influenced by the social class and the ca: to which they belong. Social-class is a relatively permanent and homogeneous division of a society into which individuals or families sharing similar values, life styles, interest and behaviour to be classified. Social class is a larger group than intimate group in structure. A social class based on income, occupation, authority, power, ownership, life style, education, consumption patterns and so on.

Thus, in India we have three social classes as rich, middle class and the poor. ‘Caste’, on the other, is a group, the membership of which is determined by birth. It is not the wealth but the birth that decides his or her caste. In India castes were based on occupation specialization and these have been – “Brahmins”, “Kshatriyas”, “Vaishyas” and “Shudras”. These social class and caste has its own life styles, standards, living and behavioral patterns. The  distinct patterns decide buying behaviour of the individuals in these groups.


5. Culture:

‘Culture’ is yet another dimension. It refers to all those symbols, artifacts and behavior patterns which are passed on socially from one generations to another. Culture includes cognitive elements, beliefs values and norms, signs and taboos. Cultures are specific to the areas in which they evolve. Thus, each nation has its distinct culture. In each nation, there will be sub-cultures identified on the basis of ethnicity, nationality, religion, each language, art, music and so Cultural and sub-cultural groups have these unique consumption patterns that provide import bases to the marketing organization. Market segmentation, product development, advertising merchandising packing and so on. While designing the marketing mix, one should take i account the broad cultural values that are relevant to the product and its reach to the consumers.