Currently, there is a trend in the mobile telephony market involving the release of various new smartphones. These cellphone types have gained more popularity recently because of different reasons, but majorly due to their increased affordability.
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The first item I purchased was a Smartphone made by the Samsung Electronics Company, which was due to the influence caused by a reference group. This particular group has been referred to as the associative reference group since. In this social group, individuals had a lot of traits in common with other group members. In particular, the influence was from my peers in the university class. This type of reference group had its formation founded by commonality. These same traits granted an individual entry by possessing similar traits or even owning similar possessions as other members of the group (Hawkins, Mothersbaugh, & Best, 2010).
Influencing by the reference group and making a purchasing decision
As a member of this group by default due to the numerous traits we have in common, including, for instance, the same age or similar convictions, I have managed to understand their way of thinking and preferences. Also, by purchasing this cell phone, I felt more accepted in their gatherings since every other member had a smartphone produced by the same company. The fact that all the other members owned similar phones and had a lot of positive things to say about the smartphone convinced me that it was a good product.
The second item was also a smartphone but of Apple Inc. These types of cell phones are commonly referred to as the iPhones, and I purchased it as a result of the influence caused by an aspirational reference group. This type of group is the one in which a person wishes to be a part of, and most of its members are famous and have even endorsed the same items. This influence stemmed from the fact that the persons possessing this kind of phone were assumed to be rich, accepting the high price of the iPhones. I also noted that an individual possessing one of these phones was, in most cases, regarded with more respect and received special treatment in social places. Owning such a cell phone was something prestigious even though it worked just like any other smartphone in the market. This aspirational reference group praised the label or manufacturer of the iPhone.
Influence of word-of-mouth and the Asch phenomenon on the purchasing decision
I found out the existence of these products through word-of-mouth from a member of the associative reference group, who introduced the product to me. It was through the same way that the cell phone’s best features were brought to my attention. The medium “word-of-mouth” in this case proved to be a useful tool for advertising because it was easier to believe in the qualities of an item when you were told by a person who had used it and was satisfied with its performance. Such influence is more effective than just seeing an advert on the media.
The Asch phenomenon played an exclusive role in making me purchase both items; both purchases were as a result of continuous hints from either close friends or relatives. Solomon Asch did a lot of social studies, and he concluded that a buyer could be swayed to purchase a commodity when influenced by people in a group that they had some commonality. This is true since, in my case, purchasing two smartphones was not a priority, and I believed that the decision to purchase two cell phones was due to the influence caused. The pressure that one experiences from a specific group force a person to do something that is not their own decision. This is called an Asch Phenomenon. I conformed to the group’s opinion that the cell phones they had were more superior. Without much deliberation, I was convinced to buy the same just to fit into the associative reference group (Graham, 2010).
Forms of social power
Social powers refer to the ability a person has to convince another individual to change their thoughts or behavior in a certain way. There were several social powers that influenced my decision to purchase the two cell phones. First, there was the referent power, which referred to the use of influential people to advertise a product. This influenced my decision to purchase the iPhone. These individuals were celebrities who had a lot of followers in the general public. Hence, when they endorsed a product, there was more trust in what they said than the information communicated through ordinary adverts (Loudon, 1988).
In purchasing the Samsung smartphone, I was influenced by the informational power from my associative reference group, which helped in convincing me to purchase. The members of the reference group had a lot of information about this particular phone, and by sharing their knowledge with me, they persuaded me to buy it. There was some legitimate power used in influencing my purchase of the Samsung smartphone. In that, all the other members of the associative reference group had similar phones. Thus I felt obligated to buy one.
The above explanations detail the influence that a group, which an individual associates with or wishes to be part of, affects the person’s purchasing behavior and decision-making capabilities.
Graham, J. (2010). Critical thinking in consumer behavior: Case and experiental exercises. Boston: Prentice Hall.
Hawkins, D. I., Mothersbaugh, D, L., & Best, R. J. (2010). Consumer behavior: Building marketing strategy. Boston: McGraw Hill.
Loudon, D. L. (1988). Consumer Behavior: Concepts and Applications. London: McGraw Hill.