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Culture can have a profound effect on consumer behavior and impact how a product is marketed. In this sense, culture is defined as the distinct way peoples' experiences, customs and beliefs define how they behave . American culture, for example, values hard work, thrift and achievement. There are generally three components of a culture: beliefs, values, and customs.
A belief is a proposition that reflects a person's particular knowledge and assessment of something.
Values are general statements that guide behavior and influence beliefs. The function of a value system is to help a person choose between alternatives in everyday life.
Customs are modes of behavior that constitute culturally approved ways of behaving in specific situations. For example, taking one's mother out for dinner and buying her presents for Mother's Day is an American custom.
Culture can be further divided into subcultures. One's race, religion and class are all ways subcultures can be established. For example, a person can be a part of the larger "American" culture and still be a member of other subcultures based on his or her socio-economic background. Each of these subcultures will have specific influences on consumer behavior.
Culture as an Influence on Consumer Behavior
Culture is considered an external factor in influencing consumer behavior. Since different cultures have different values, they will have different buying habits. Marketing strategies should reflect the culture that is being targeted. The strategy should show the product or service as reinforcing the beliefs, values and customs of the targeted culture. Failing to do so can result in lost sales and opportunities.