Academic journal article South Asian Journal of Management

Dynamics of Purchase Decision-Making in Families

Academic journal article South Asian Journal of Management

Dynamics of Purchase Decision-Making in Families

Article excerpt

Families constitute an important economic and social unit that affects consumption decisions of individual family members. Of all the reference groups, family has one of the strongest, immediate, and most pervasive effects on consumer's personality, motivation, and attitude. There are some general role patterns and interactive processes between family members that are of special interest to marketers. Moreover, marketers are not just interested in the physical act of purchase, but also in understanding the process that precedes the purchase. Hence, this paper is an attempt to figure out the dynamics of purchase decision-making in families and identify the variables discriminating the role and participation of family members at the time of purchase of durables.

Family is an important consumption and spending unit. It is crucial for marketers to understand families since they frequently seek to influence the purchase decisions made by them. This involves a study of the nature of decision-making process, that is, an investigation of role structure in decision-making among the members of a family and the family specific characteristics. Role-structure in decision-making describes the manner in which influence, across elements of the decision process, is distributed among members of a decision-making unit (Filiatrault and Ritchie, 1980). The nature of influence of family members is also seen to vary by product category (Davis and Rigaux, 1974; Green and Cunningham, 1975; Nathan, 1997). While for some product purchases, husband may be most influential, for others, wife or other family members may decide about all or most dimensions of the purchase. The possibilities of dominance between spouses may take any of the following forms:

* Autonomic decisions: Where decisions are made unilaterally by the spouse.

* Husband-dominated decisions: Where husband has the most significant influence in purchase outcome.

* Wife-dominated decisions: Where wife has the most significant influence in purchase outcome.

* Syncratic decisions: Where the spouses jointly decide about the purchase.

Role-specialization of wives is observed to be high for purchase of groceries, furniture, and clothing, while that of husbands is significant for the purchase of automobiles and life insurance policies. Vacations and housing decisions are seen to fall under the joint-consensus (syncratic) category and those of savings, investments and household appliances under the autonomie category.

Families are more complex to understand as compared to individual consumers for specific roles played by family members undergo dynamic and continuous changes because of psychographic and attitudinal metamorphosis. Some families remain essentially traditional in their life styles following the traditional role patterns and relationships, while others adopt more materialistic orientations; wherein the individual family member becomes of prime importance because of his individuality. In such families, the choice of each individual needs to be considered independently and every individual priority owes due consideration before the final decision outcome. Still, some other families are left in between-trying to adopt the modern life style and at the same time confining to the traditional norms and values. The roles and relationships in such families follow an entirely different pattern. These shifts are also being increasingly caused by participation of women in the labor force. The dual-career families, within a social stratum, have relatively greater discretionary income to buy products that are otherwise sometimes out of reach, for single-earner families. Not only are the buying structures different, but also the persons involved in the purchase and use of these products differ due to various factors playing in the family, one of which is the time pressure experienced by women in such families. Children also display varying levels of involvement not only across product categories but also across family types. …

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