Archives for posts with tag: Psychographics








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.












This is part one 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 One- Normative Influences

Normative Influences are an individual’s perception of the “norm”. These “norms” dictate how a person decides to behave attributable to perceiving that there is a degree of social pressure, this degree of social pressure can range from strong to weak. A normative influence implies that if consumers do not follow these norms they will be excluded or frowned upon by peers. Consider the Apple I-phone, when I worked in advertising I knew junior staff members who would forego an entire week or two’s salary in order to purchase an I-phone 4 because the entire agency had them and it was the perceived norm to have an I-phone (versus say an Android phone for example).

Normative social influence is one form of conformity. It is “the influence of other people that leads us to conform in order to be liked and accepted by them.” This often leads to public compliance—but not necessarily private acceptance—of the group’s social norms.

Bibb Latane’s social impact theory states that the more important the group is, the closer the physical distance is between the group and oneself, and the number of people in the group all affect the likelihood that one will conform to the group’s social norms.


There are three key sources of influence with regards to Normative Influences.

1)      General Sources, e.g. marketers, advertising initiatives, media.

2)      Special Influences, e.g. opinion leaders. An opinion leader might be David Beckham to me and Beyonce to you. Or George Bush to Republicans and Barack Obama to Democrats.

3)      Groups as influences. Here we can break the groups in our lives into three sub-categories a) associative (groups we hang out with/are involved with/associate with), b) aspirational (groups we aspire to be like/ associate with) and c) dissociative (groups we strongly desire not to associate with e.g. emo kids or ad wankers who own I-phones so you go out and buy Android to prove that you aren’t anything like them.)

These three sources of normative influences can affect brand choice, conformity (behaving like the group behaves, this is generally more about brand choice than the product itself), compliance (doing what someone asks you to do) and reactance (doing the opposite/opposing what the individual or group wants us to do.)

Normative influences create congruence. Congruence is basically the process of people or things locking in together, a “becoming one” type concept. Brand choice congruence is the effect of normative influences on the likelihood that consumers will buy what others buy.

So… these normative influences can force decisions such as whether or not to buy into a product category (Do I buy hair gel or hair wax?) and then which brand they may choose to go with (Okay I’ll buy hair wax because Dave and John do. But do I buy Dax-Wax or Sweet Georgia Brown wax? I better check with Dave and John.)

Another important point to explore is as to whether or not the product/brand is for public or private consumption. For example, I bought an Audi once because it’s a product/brand that you will see me interact with out in public. Thus, social norms of a group I aspired to be like drove me to buying an Audi because they might see me using it. But do I really care if I buy a brand/product which I’ll only be using in private? Like, Peanut Butter for example or perhaps a brand of underwear (under wear might be a bad example because in some cases I hope certain people will see it… eventually). Again the I-phone 4 in the ad agency is a good example here. Everyone sees your phone, it better be Apple. No one sees your underwear generally speaking so hey- wear what you want or even better why even wear any at all? J

Using Compliance Techniques- making the great unwashed buy your cool “stuff”


A compliance technique is basically a means to an ends – the end being that a potential customer inevitably buys into your product or brand. The average sales manager will have seen these one hundred times before. Use these, but use them strategically and ethically:

  • Foot in the door technique; Get a consumer to agree to a small favor.
  • Door in the face technique;  Shock consumer with big request, than contrast to small request
  •  Even a penny will help technique; Ask consumer for a favor so small it hardly qualifies .e.g. Can I have one minute of your time?
  • Ask Consumer to predict Behavior; e.g. How are you helping the environment? Do you recycle? Our product is made of recycled parts.
  •  Provide freedom of choice;  e.g. Vodafone displays a range of cell phones, thus giving the consumer a sense of freedom through empowerment to choose.

Okay so that’s Normative Influences. Next week I’ll write up part two on Social Influences and how they effect Consumer Behavior (a blog on Informational Influences and how they effect brand/product choice.)

Happy to be keeping you clever

O W Lovell

Thanks to:

Wikipedia (sorry, yes I went to wiki for a concise definition on Normative Influences)

and also;

Hoyer & MacInnis (n.d.). Consumer Behaviour (4th ed.).