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Subcultures and


Consumer Behavior: A
John C. Mowen
Michael S. Minor
Key Concepts
 Subcultures vs.  The African-
demographics American subculture
 Types of U.S.  The Hispanic and
subcultures Asian subcultures
 Regional shifts in
 Baby boomers
 Changes in U.S.  Social class
age composition  Class differences in
 How the elderly shopping behavior
Subcultures . . .
. . . a subdivision of a
national culture that is
based on some unifying
. . . members share
similar patterns of
behavior that are distinct
from those of the national
Variables . . .
. . . describe the characteristics of

 Nationality  Marital Status

 Age  Income
 Religion  Region
 Gender  Ethnicity
 Occupation  Education
Age Subcultures
changes in values,
lifestyles, and
patterns as they
move through
their life cycle.
Age Subcultures

Four Major Age

Baby Boomers
Generation X
Generation Y
The Baby-Boom
Generation. . .
. . . are those
Americans born
between 1946 and
1964 and share
lifestyle similarities.

. . . number 77
Generation X . . .
. . . is small in number, but possesses
$125 billion of discretionary income

 This group is known for valuing religion,

formal rituals (e.g., proms) and
 and has more negative attitudes toward
work and getting ahead than the
boomers had at their age.
Generation Y . . .
. . . is the 72 million children of the baby
boomers who first reached adulthood in
the year 2000.

 This group, like Xers, is more

heterogeneous in racial and
socioeconomic terms than the boomers.
The Elderly
The “Graying of
America” refers to
the fourth major
age trend

 By the year 2020

Americans over 65
will outnumber
teenagers two to
The Elderly...
 Process information differently.
 Experience motor skill declines which
mean walking, writing, talking, etc.
abilities deteriorate.
Ethnicity . . .
. . . refers to a group
bound together by
ties of cultural
homogeneity (i.e.,
linked by similar
values, customs,
dress, religion, and
 Represents almost 13
percent of the U.S.
 Income deprivation a
major factor: In the
1990s, 37 % of African-
American households
had incomes of under
The Hispanic Subculture
. . . is the second-fastest-growing ethnic
sub- cultural group in the United States
and will become the largest ethnic
minority in the U.S. by the year 2010.
 Commonalities:
 Language (82 % of U.S. Hispanic households
speak primarily Spanish).
 Religion (over 85% of Hispanics are
 Tendency to live in metropolitan areas
Hispanic Segmentation
There are at least four distinct

 Mexicans (65.2 % of U.S. Hispanics)

 Cubans (4.3 %)

 Puerto Ricans (9.6 %)

 Central and South Americans (14.3 %)

The Asian-American Subcultu
. . . is the fastest-growing ethnic
subculture in the United States.

The percentage of Asian-Americans who
graduated from college is nearly twice
that of white Americans

Asian-American family incomes are
significantly higher than the other ethnic
 More than Hispanics, Asian-Americans
differ in language and culture of origin
Comparing Anglo-, African-
American and Hispanic

 No brand loyalty differences

 No differences in coupon proneness,
impulse buying, or shopping for generic
 African-Americans and Hispanics are
more likely to shop for bargains
Representation in
 African-Americans
and Hispanics are
slightly under-
 Asians are slightly
Regional Subcultures . . .
. . . have distinct
lifestyles resulting
from variations in
climate, culture,
and ethnic mix of

 Consequently,
different product
preferences exist.
Regional Subcultures . . .

winners. . .
The West
(Nevada, Arizona,

Population losers. . .
The East (and
North Dakota)
Geodemographics . . .
. . . takes as a unit of
analysis the
neighborhood (i.e.,
census blocks) and
obtains demographic
information on
consumers within
the neighborhood.
Social Classes . . .
 are relatively  Both actual and
permanent and perceptual factors
distinguish groups:
homogeneous  Occupation
strata in a society  Lifestyles
that differ in their  Values
status, wealth,  Friendships
education,  Manner of Speaking
possessions, and  Possessions
Social Class and Buying
 Social class better  Income better
reflects purchases predicts major
that symbolically appliance
represent purchases.
lifestyles and
Social Class and Lifestyles
Four generalizations can be made:

 Social class influences consumer lifestyles

 Social class is a predictor of resources owned
 People buy products and services to
demonstrate their membership in a particular
social class
 People also purchase goods and services to
help advance their social standing
Other Subcultures
 A growing rural population
 Telecommuters, retirement living,

second home.
 Disabled Americans
 49 million in number.
 Internet community.
Managerial Implications
 Positioning. One method of positioning
a product is to differentiate it vis-à-vis
competitors by making special appeals
to subgroups or subcultures.
 Environmental Analysis. Managers
should conduct environmental analyses
in order to track lifestyle changes in
subcultures. Analysis may also offer
insight into emerging subcultures.
Implications continued
 Research. Marketing research can identify
the unmet needs of subcultures.
 Marketing Mix. Differences between age
cohorts, ethnic groups and regions and
social classes have implications for
differences in promotional, product, and
pricing strategy.
 Segmentation. Manufacturers can use age
and ethnic subculture appeals as a
segmentation variable.