It’s certainly true that cultural factors have a significant impact on customer behavior.
This means that you should objectively review your product and service offers to see if you can create new customer segments by adapting to different cultural shifts.
Culture is the basic foundation of somebody’s wants and behavior. Children absorb a cultural orientation of basic values, perception and wants from their family and other important groups. In many cases these are also ethnic or religious orientations. The key is that they have shared values.
However, from their teenage years onward, people evolve and adapt their cultural identity from a wide, fluid range of influences. These include reference groups from their job, sporting groups, or social circle and can be strongly influenced by the media.
Naturally the age of your customer will also create different cultural groupings. For example, Generation X has quite distinct values and buying characteristics from the older baby boomers or the much older grey generation.
Even differences in social class can create customer groupings. Most countries have a socioeconomic classification scheme, used by marketers to describe the population by reference to their occupation, income, education, and wealth. For example, are your customers ‘working class’ or ‘middle class?’ How does this description describe their interests and price expectations?
But cultural shifts in identity and values can occur across socioeconomic segments and point to new products that might be wanted by customers or to existing products and services that may benefit from increased demand. For example, a decade ago we saw a cultural shift towards concern for health and fitness. The result was opportunities (and now industries) servicing customers who wished to buy:
- Healthier foods
- Fitness Club memberships
- Exercise clothing & shoes
- Home exercise equipment
- Activity or health-related holidays etc.
More recently, there has clearly been a cultural shift to a Climate Change Consciousness. Whatever the arguments for or against the causes of climate change, many companies have adapted their offers, and their marketing, to this new cultural shift. How many companies now offer a carbon offset? Is yours one of them?
Trendwatching.com point to a status shift: Eco-iconic. They say many consumers are eager to flaunt their green behavior and possessions because there are now millions of other consumers who are actually impressed by green lifestyles.
Action Step: Take the time to study and observe potential customer groups for your products and services. Can you extend, amend, adapt, or repackage existing products or services to appeal to a new culture or sub-culture?