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Chapter 11 Group Influence and Opinion Leadership. CONSUMER BEHAVIOR, 8e Michael Solomon. Chapter Objectives. When you finish this chapter you should understand why: Others, especially those who possess some kind of social power, often influence us.

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Chapter 11 group influence and opinion leadership l.jpg

Chapter 11Group Influence and Opinion Leadership

CONSUMER BEHAVIOR, 8eMichael Solomon

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Chapter Objectives

When you finish this chapter you should understand why:

  • Others, especially those who possess some kind of social power, often influence us.

  • We seek out others who share our interests in products or services.

  • We are motivated to buy or use products in order to be consistent with what other people do.

  • The things that other consumers tell us about products (good and bad) are often more influential than the advertising we see.

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Chapter Objectives (cont.)

  • Online technologies are accelerating the impact of word-of-mouth communication.

  • Social networking is changing the way companies and consumers interact.

  • Certain people are particularly likely to influence others’ product choices.

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Reference Groups

  • Reference group: an actual or imaginary individual/group conceived of having significant relevance upon an individual’s evaluations, aspirations, or behavior

  • Influences consumers in three ways:

    • Informational

    • Utilitarian

    • Value-expressive

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Reference Group Influences

  • Reference group influences stronger for purchases that are:

    • Luxuries rather than necessities

    • Socially conspicuous/visible to others

Figure 11.1

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When Reference Groups Are Important

  • Social power: capacity to alter the actions of others

  • Types of social power:

Referent power

Information power

Legitimate power

Expert power

Reward power

Coercive power

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High schools have all types of reference groups, with members representing all types of social power. Think back to high school and try to identify people who had the following types of power (consider not only peers but also teachers and administrators).

  • Referent power

  • Information power

  • Legitimate power

  • Expert power

  • Reward power

  • Coercive power

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Types of Reference Groups

Any external influence that provides social clues can be a reference group

  • Cultural figure

  • Parents

  • Large, formal organization

  • Small and informal groups

    • Exert a more powerful influence on individual consumers

    • A part of our day-to-day lives: normative influence

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Brand Communities and Consumer Tribes

  • A group of consumers who share a set of social relationships based upon usage or interest in a product

  • Brandfests enhance brand loyalty

  • Consumer tribe share emotions, moral beliefs, styles of life, and affiliated product

    • Tribal marketing: linking a product to the needs of a group as a whole

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Membership versus Aspirational Reference Groups

Membership reference groups: people the consumer actually knows

  • Advertisers use “ordinary people”

    Aspirational reference groups: people the consumer doesn’t know but admires

  • Advertisers use celebrity spokespeople

  • Click to view

    Quicktime video on

    use of celebrity

    athletes in advertising

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Positive versus Negative Reference Groups

  • Reference groups may exert either a positive or negative influence on consumption behaviors

  • Avoidance groups: motivation to distance oneself from other people/groups

  • Marketers show ads with undesirable people using competitor’s product

  • Antibrand communities: coalesce around a celebrity, store, or brand—but in this case they’re united by their disdain for it

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Consumers Do It in Groups

  • Deindividuation: individual identities become submerged within a group

    • Example: binge drinking at college parties

  • Social loafing: people don’t devote as much to a task when their contribution is part of a larger group

    • Example: we tend to tip less when eating in groups

  • Risky shift: group members show a greater willingness to consider riskier alternatives following group discussion than if members mad their own decisions

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  • Do you agree that deindividuation encourages binge drinking on campus?

  • What can or should a college do to discourage this behavior?

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Consumers Do It in Groups (cont.)

Decision polarization: after group discussion of an issue, opinions become more extreme

Home shopping parties capitalize on group pressure to boost sales

  • Informational and normative social influence

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Home shopping parties—such as Tupperware, Avon, Pampered Chef, Amway, or Botox—are designed to put pressure on friends and neighbors to buy merchandise.

  • Have you attended these parties? Why or why not?

  • Do you believe putting social pressure is ethical? Why or why not?

  • Why are these parties more common among women?

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  • Most people tend to follow society’s expectations regarding how to look/act

  • Factors influencing conformity:

    • Cultural pressures

    • Fear of deviance

    • Commitment to group membership

    • Group unanimity, size, expertise

    • Susceptibility to interpersonal influence

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Word-of-Mouth Communication

WOM: product information transmitted by individuals to individuals

  • More reliable form of marketing

  • Social pressure to conform

  • Influences two-thirds of all sales

  • We rely upon WOM in later stages of product adoption

  • Powerful when we are unfamiliar with product category

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Negative WOM and Power of Rumors

  • We weigh negative WOM more heavily than we do positive comments!

    • Negative WOM is easy to spread, especially online

    • Determined detractors

    • Information/rumor distortion

  • Click photo for

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Negative WOM and Power of Rumors (cont.)

Three basic themes found in Web-based “protest” communities:

  • Injustice: consumers talk about their repeated attempts to contact the company only to be ignored.

  • Identity: posters characterize the violator as evil, rather than simply wrong.

  • Agency: individual Web site creators try to create a collective identity for those who share their anger with a company.

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Virtual Communities

  • A collection of people who share their love of a product in online interactions

    • Multi-user dungeons (MUD)

    • Rooms (IRC), rings, and lists

    • Boards

    • Blogs/blogosphere

  • Great potential for abuse via untrustworthy members

    • lawsuit (charging publishers to post positive reviews of Web site)

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Virtual Communities

  • Which type of Web surfer are you?

Figure 11.3

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Guerrilla Marketing

  • Guerilla marketing: promotional strategies that use unconventional locations and intensive WOM to push products

  • Recruits legions of real consumers for street theater

    • Hip-hop “mix tapes”/street teams

    • Brand ambassadors

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Viral Marketing

  • Viral marketing: getting visitors to a Web site to forward information on the site to their friends (for product awareness)

  • Creating online content that is entertaining or weird

    • Example: buzz campaign for Mini Cooper car

Click photo for 

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Social Networking and Crowd Power

  • Web sites letting members post information about themselves and make contact with similar others

    • Share interests, opinions, business contacts

 Click photo for

  • Click photo for

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Social Networking and Crowd Power (cont.)

  • Wisdom of crowds perspective: under the right circumstances, groups are smarter than the smartest people in them

  • Some crowd-based Web sites:

    • participants submit ideas for consumer electronics products and the community votes for the best ones

    • social network for physicians

    • fans can demand events and performances in their town and spread the word to make them happen

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Opinion Leadership

  • Opinion leaders: influence others’ attitudes and behaviors

  • They are good information sources because they:

    • May be experts

    • Provide unbiased evaluation

    • Are socially active

    • Are similar to the consumer

    • Are among the first to buy

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Reasons to Seek Advice from Opinion Leaders

  • Expertise

  • Unbiased knowledge power

  • Highly interconnected in communities (social standing)

  • Referent power/homophily

  • Hands-on product experience (absorb risk)

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Opinion Leadership (cont.)

  • Generalize opinion leader versus monomorphic/polymorphic experts

  • Although opinion leaders exist for multiple product categories, expertise tends to overlap across similar categories

    • It is rare to find a generalized opinion leader

  • Innovative communicators

  • Opinion seekers

    • More likely to talk about products with others and solicit others’ opinions

    • Casual interaction prompted by situation

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The Market Maven

Market maven: actively involved in transmitting marketplace information of all types

  • Just into shopping and aware what’s happening in the marketplace

  • Overall knowledge of how and where to get products

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The Surrogate Consumer

  • Surrogate consumer: a marketing intermediary hired to provide input into purchase decisions

    • Interior decorators, stockbrokers, professional shoppers, college consultants

    • Consumer relinquishes control over decision-making functions

  • Marketers should not overlook influence of surrogates!

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Finding Opinion Leaders

Many ads intend to reach influentials rather than average consumer

  • Local opinion leaders are harder to find

  • Companies try to identify influentials in order to create WOM “ripple effect”

  • Exploratory studies identify characteristics of opinion leaders for promotional strategies

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The Self-Designating Method

  • Most commonly used technique to identify opinion leaders…

    • Simply ask individuals whether they consider themselves to be opinion leaders

    • Method is easy to apply to large group of potential opinion leaders

    • View with skepticism—inflation or unawareness of own importance/influence

  • Alternative: key informants identify opinion leaders

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Sociometric Methods

  • Sociometric methods: trace communication patterns among group members

  • Systematic map of group interactions

  • Most precise method of identifying product-information sources, but is very difficult/expensive to implement

  • Network analysis

    • Referral behavior/network, tie strength

    • Bridging function, strength of weak ties