This is part two of a two part blog on how social influences effect consumer behavior (i.e. what drives people to buy ‘stuff’ on a psychosocial level). Part one is on Normative Influences and part two is on Informational Influence.


Part Two- Informational Influences…

Let’s use the following example, to illustrate the difference between Normative and Informational Influences:

You go to a Sunday market with your partner, and you both decide you want to buy a cup of coffee.

There are TWO seperate coffee stands standing side-by-side (stand A & B). Coffee stand A has ten people lined up to buy coffee, whereas stand B has two people lined up to buy coffee.

Because you are driven by Normative influences, you will most likely conform, and line up at stand A.

But! The two people lined up at Stand B, know something you don’t know. Stand B actually has better coffee, better service, their coffee is fair trade, and it’s even a little cheaper.

If you were driven by Informational Influences, you would go to stand B. regardless of the huge line at Stand A.

But hey, it’s a Sunday, you have time, and it’s only a few bucks so who cares (and anyway what’s in a cup of coffee? Coffee, milk, and the cup it comes in). So, let’s just buy from Stand A, because everyone else is. Let’s be driven to make our purchase based on Normative Influences.

However!! If you were going to spend 30,000 on a car, or 600,000 on a house, I doubt you’d be too worried about the crowd when it came to making a purchase decision. You’d become more driven to make a purchase based on informational influences.

Why? Because financial risk has just gone up considerably, and there are more features to consider (engine size, fuel economy, suspension, steering, ABS brakes, alarm, warranty, size, boot space, acceleration, torque, gears, upholstery, colour etc etc). You will definitely base your purchase decisions based on informational influences.

In a nutshell;

● Normative Influence is conformity based on one’s desire to fulfill others’ expectations and gain acceptance (Myers, 2009).

● Informational influence is conformity under acceptance of evidence about reality which has been provided by others (Myers, 2009).

B2B vs B2C marketing…

It’s timely to mention, that generally speaking you can state that B2C marketing is concerned with driving business through Normative Influences (especially low-involvement purchases like FMCG), and that B2B marketer’s are concerned with driving business through Informational Influences (although like all things, cross-pollination does in actual fact happen, and is preferred if your goal is a thorough brand building exercise).

Furthermore, in B2B vs B2C marketing, in both occasions you’re marketing to human beings. B2B however is often a small & focussed target market made up of committee’s, in a higher-risk purchase environment. However, in B2C marketing your target market can number in the millions, made up mostly of individuals, in a lower risk purchase environment.


Myers, D.G. (2008) Social Psychology. Ninth Edition. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.