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CONSUMERS AND SUBCULTURES. What are some demographics. Age education occupation social class Ethnic group gender family size and composition distribution of population. So What Are demographics?. Objective Quantifiable Characteristics of a population

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What are some demographics

  • Age
  • education
  • occupation
  • social class
  • Ethnic group
  • gender
  • family size and composition
  • distribution of population

So What Are demographics?

  • Objective
  • Quantifiable
  • Characteristics of a population
  • Important variables for market segmentation

Different segments have different consumption patterns


What does money mean to you?

  • Security
  • Comfort
  • being able to help one's children,
  • freedom
  • pleasure
  • success or failure
  • social acceptability
  • love
  • happiness

Money means different things to different segments

Our ideas about money affect our consumption behaviour


What does the demand for goods and services depend on?

  • the ability to buy
  • the willingness to buy

To Spend or Not to Spend

Consumers’ willingness to buy?

  • a measure of consumers’ opinions on the financial position of their own household and the economy as a whole
  • and to what extent they think it is a good time to buy large expensive items such as a TV or a computer.
  • Demand for necessities remains stable over time
  • The underlying data are taken from the consumer confidence survey.

The Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Survey

  • a monthly report based on a representative sample of 5,000 U.S. households across the country.
  • measures the level of confidence individual households have in the performance of the economy.
  • Households are asked five questions

(1) a rating of business conditions in the household’s area,

(2) a rating of business conditions in six months,

(3) job availability in the area,

(4) job availability in six months, and

(5) family income in six months.

  • An index is constructed for each response and then a composite index is fashioned based on the responses.
  • Industries that rely on the Survey for forecasting include manufacturers, retailers, banks, and government agencies

The Consumer Confidence Index fell to 92.8 in October 2004, down 3.9 points from 96.7 in Sept.. This is the third consecutive decrease for the index, which is at its lowest level in 7 months.

What are the implications for Marketers of automobiles?


Consumption growth displays a positive relation to the willingness to buy.

  • The index of willingness to buy is a clear predictor for the future development of consumer spending.

Confidence and willingness to buy varies by market segment and is usually higher among younger than older consumers


And among higher income consumers than lower,

  • college graduates over high school graduates
  • whites or other ethnic groups
  • men or women

Willingness to buy is also affected by product and method of purchase

Willingness to buy by telephone


What is Social Class?

What are the typical factors that differentiate the social classes?

  • relatively permanent strata in a society that are distinct subcultures
  • Occupation
  • Education attained
  • Behavioral standards – taste culture
  • Source of Income
  • Level of Income; wealth
  • Dwelling area
  • Power
  • Religious Affiliation; Associations
  • lifestyles, buying patterns, motivations and values
  • possessions

Classes in Canada

Upper Class

  • Upper-upper class
    • About 1%, “old money”
  • Lower-upper
    • 2-4%, nouveau riche, .com millionaires.
    • Sir Kenneth Thompson Canada’s richest man (16.4 billion 2001)

Classes in Canada: Middle Class

  • 40 – 50% of population
  • Considerable racial and ethnic diversity
    • Upper-middle: upper managerial or professional fields ($100k +)
    • middle-middle class. ($50-$100,000)
    • Lower-middle: middle management, white-collar and highly skilled blue-collar. (< $50,000)

Classes in Canada: Working Class

  • 1/3 of the population.
  • Lower incomes than middle-class.
  • No accumulated wealth.
  • Less personal satisfaction in jobs.

Classes in Canada: Lower Class

  • 20% of population
  • Social assistance and working poor
  • Revolving door of poverty
  • Seasonal, part-time workers, minimum wage earners.

The Importance of Class

What sort of things does social class affect

  • Lifestyles and Interests
  • Tastes
  • Language
  • Self Image
  • Values
  • Political orientation
  • Access to such resources as education, health care, housing and consumer goods.
  • How long you will live & how healthy you will be

I.e. Consumption behaviour

who spends how much and on what


Dress: white collar vs. blue collar

  • Form of recreation: upper-class people are expected to play golf rather than shoot pool down at the pool hall - but they can do it at home.
  • Residential location: upper-class people do not ordinarily live in slums
  • Material Possessions: Kind of car: Rolex watch, how many bathrooms a house has

How Much Money Will Be Spent

How Money Will Be Spent


Credit Card Holder $96.00


Boogie Bag



Singapore Airlines (SIA) is planning to offer a first and business-class only flight to the United States in 2005. A first for Asia, SIA will be the second major airline in the world to go all-business class: about a year ago, Swiss PrivatAir started 'no coach' flights between Dusseldorf and Newark, on behalf of Lufthansa.

how do the lower and upper classes differ in their consumption tastes
How Do the Lower and Upper Classes Differ in Their Consumption Tastes?

Lower classes generally focus on more immediate and more utilitarian needs

Upper classes

are often likely to approach consumption from a more aesthetic perspective

marketing implications
Marketing Implications

Your company, XYZ corp., manufactures inexpensive furniture and has targeted the less well off. In an effort to upgrade your image the company has decided to target higher-class consumers. What will the marketing implications be on the following.

  • Product design, choices and development
  • Distribution
  • Price
  • Advertising and other

marketing communications

what are status symbols
What are Status Symbols?

Conspicuously consumed goods which are used to provide evidence of wealth

Why do some people feel the need for status symbols?

  • motivation for the purchase and display of products is not to enjoy them but rather to let others know that we can afford them
  • Anonymity exacerbates the need for uniqueness. If most people are unknown in public, status cannot be conveyed by reputation

The Sony VGN-A190 Vaio laptop computer

“Take a look at this status symbol”

“Wow you're going to attract attention opening this in public…”

  • 17" Widescreen LCD display, 512MB SDRAM expandable to 2GB, 400MHz FSB, 80GB Hard Drive, 4x DVD Writer - up to DVD-R $2400 US

When consumers deliberately mock a trend by carefully selecting products and consumption patterns that are not the current fashion or style.

Paper Denim Retro Torn Jeans $140.00

Parody Display


When too many others use or possess a status symbol such that it loses much of its former power

Fraudulent Symbolism

what is a subculture
What is a Subculture?

A distinct cultural group that exists as an identifiable segment within a larger, more complex society/culture

How do you distinguish one group from another?

  • beliefs
  • Values
  • Customs
  • Lifestyles and interests
  • norms
  • Language
  • Insignias
  • Consumption patterns

Every consumer belongs to many subcultures

what is an ethnic subculture
What is an Ethnic Subculture?
  • Possess common cultural and or genetic ties which are identified both by its members and by others as a distinguishable category.
  • Ethnic identity is a significant component of a consumer’s self concept

Whyhas Ethnic marketing become increasingly important to marketers who wish to maintain or increase market share?

  • Ethnic groups in Canada are growing more than 7 times faster than the general population
  • Advertising Canada estimated that in 2001 African and Asian populations in Canada represented in excess of $300 billion in purchasing power.
  • Ethnicity plays an important role in how brands are perceived and purchase decisions made
immigration in canada
Immigration in Canada
  • Canada has one of the world’s most liberal immigration policies and is considered a multicultural or pluralistic society (as opposed to melting pot)
  • New immigrants tend to cluster together geographically which makes them easy to reach.
  • Concentrated in major Canadian cities
  • Bring with them customs, traditions, values, etc.
  • New immigrants are likely to be Asian
Population reporting at least one Ethnic Origin other than British, French or Canadian, 1986, 1991 and 1996 Censuses

Percentage of Visible Minority Population by All Age Groups, for Canada, Provinces, Territories and selected Census Metropolitan Areas, 1996 Census


Percentage of the Visible Minority Population Aged 0 to 24, for Canada, Provinces, Territories and selected Census Metropolitan Areas, 1996 Census


Asian Canadians

  • Asian Canadians are the Fastest Growing Minority Group in Canada
  • Small, Diverse, Growing
  • Above Average Income
    • ($2000/yr more)
  • Native Language Print Media
  • Education Oriented
    • College Graduation Rate is Twice That of Whites
  • tend to be more brand and price conscious
  • Tend to be early adapters of new technology
  • .

Reaching the Asian Canadian Consumer

Problems Encountered by Canadian Marketers

  • Translating Advertising Messages Into Asian Media
  • Overlooked Complex Differences Among Asian Subcultures
  • Lack of Media Available to Reach Asian Canadians
  • Been Insensitive to Cultural Practices

A British ad for Tennent’s beer marketed to the East Asian community


Summary of 2003 UK Study on Ethnic Marketing

  • A strong status-orientation and conspicuous consumption combine to make brands disproportionately more important to ethnic groups compared with the mainstream.
  • Many major purchases are subject to strong family-based decision making.
  • Advertising is perceived rationally and consciously as performing a functional selling role.
  • There is demand for culturally-relevant marketing - more focused targeting, sympathetic to the culture
  • Local newspapers/radio are consumed as part of strong community orientation.
  • Minority ethnic communities are as internally diverse as they are distinct from mainstream culture.
  • Some advertising fails to connect

Non-literal communications are least likely to connect, particularly with Asians

How many Asians would get the joke?


What is this ad saying?

Who gets it?

Who doesn’t

“Yes, Yes, Yes

A totally organic experience”


Marketing Implications of Subculture

  • Minority ethnic groups represent a significant opportunity for brands
  • What language does your key ethnic demographic prefer that you use in communications with them?
  • What media do they read, listen to or watch?
  • Does the product or service support their culture requirements?
  • Distribution-geographic concentration of many ethnic subcultures means that marketers can reach them more easily; also in some cases certain groups prefer to shop in certain stores
  • One must take into account, religious dictates, gender roles, values, spending patterns, and symbols

To appeal to overseas Chinese, certain branches of TD Waterhouse keep fish tanks (A symbol of prosperity), stocked with 8 Goldfish (an auspicious number)

  • The company also honors requests to avoid the number 4 in accounts (it sounds like the word “death” in Mandarin and Cantonese)
  • Of utmost importance is to involve members of the ethnic group in marketing efforts aimed at that group – and not just review material for gaffs

Telco Example

  • Ethnic groups spend more on telecom than the general population.
  • Ethnic groups are the fastest growing segment of the population
  • In 2002, ethnic consumers spent nearly $50 billion on telecom services.
  • An Insight survey of ethnic consumers overwhelmingly identified “customer service” as their number one criterion for selecting a Telco.
  • Chinese consumer's tend to regard wireless devices as personal security systems.
  • Asians are known to be early adapters of new technology
  • Asians are also known to have above average income.

Assuming you are the marketing manager for Bell Mobility, how would you market to this group?

  • Bell Mobility targets Canada's population of Chinese through advertising in Chinese in Chinese dailies,
  • And by a dedicated dealer network with customer service reps fluent in Mandarin and Cantonese.
  • targeted advertising speaks to Chinese consumer's tendency to regard wireless devises as personal security systems.

Using minority ethnic characters is a double-edged sword

  • Use of minority ethnic actors tends to polarize the community between those who see the individual representation as positive and those that see it as tokenistic or stereotypical.
  • Viewers evaluate the ads not only on the basis of personal relevance but also on the basis of "what does this say about us?" to the rest of society.