Social environment is also discussed as cultural or socio- cultural environment. Social environment includes cultural aspects as well. How do we behave as consumers depend upon values, beliefs, attitudes, customs and norms, and lifestyles.
These forces do impact what, why, where, how and when people buy products and services. Socio-cultural forces like other forces present both opportunities and threats. Three things need specific mention – demographics, values and consumerism. Culture includes language, religion, values and attitudes, manners and customs, material elements, aesthetics, education, and social institutions as its important elements.
Language, a powerful tool of communication, is an expression of a culture. What language is to be used on label depends upon the market it serves. Many North Indian businessmen speak very good Tamil, Malyalam, Kannad, and Telgu as they have to do business in those markets. Religion is a great source of values and reason of being. Muslims religion does not permit taking or giving interest, hence there is great scope for Islamic Banking.
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Muslims do not use Jhatka, hence McDonald’s does not use Jhatka meat in Pakistan. It does not use beef in India and pork in Pakistan. Different colours are used for IPL teams’ dresses – Chennai Super Kings uses colour yellow, because it is the favourite colour of Tamil Nadu. Many car dealers procure particular numbers for cars, because they may be attractive or favourable to individual buyers.
What a company produces? How it produces? And how it sells, all depend on the culture. Companies now include kids in the ads for cars, because they dominate the buying decisions. Education is a big opportunity, because of social pressures.
We may also include the demographic factors in social environment. The size, growth rate, age composition, gender distribution, ethnic composition, spatial distribution of population, family size, life cycle, etc. do influence business. In Europe and Japan ageing population offers opportunities for medicines, telemarketing, nursing, etc.; but threat to schooling, entertainment, fund mobilising organisations and other industries.
Increasing younger population in developing countries bring them population dividend and is opportunity for employment agencies. Increasing number of working women in India offers an opportunity to eateries, day care centres, ready-to-cook food, and tutors. Break-up of joint families offers an opportunity for small houses builders and maid-servants providers but a threat for providers in large quantity. Rural people demand things differently than the urban people.
One more dimension has been seen in the purchase decision making. Where both husband and wife are working and cook preparing food, the cook decides about the buying of products. There is a wide range of social influences which affect consumer behaviour. Emergence of Facebook, Twitter, and Likedln have presented great opportunity for socialising and spreading word-of-mouth communication about marketing.
Before we end, a few trends will have far reaching impact — The attitude and roles of men and women are changing, disposable income is shifting in consumers’ favour, and that discretionary income is being spent on luxuries.