CONSUMER
BEHAVIOR

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Lars Perner, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Clinical Marketing
Department of Marketing
Marshall School of Business
University of Southern California
Los Angeles, CA 90089-0443, USA
(213) 740-7127
Cell: (213) 304-1726

Narrated Presentations on Basic Marketing Issues

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Brief Articles

How to Get Good Grades in Marketing (Satire)

Demographics

Demographics are clearly tied to subculture and segmentation. Here, however, we shift our focus from analyzing specific subcultures to trying to understand the implications for an entire population of its makeup.

Some articles of possible interest:

Coffee, Lipsticks, and the Economy
The 2008 Tax Rebate and Consumer Behavior
Gasoline Prices and Consumer Behavior

Several issues are useful in the structure of a population. For example, in some rapidly growing countries, a large percentage of the population is concentrated among younger generations. In countries such as Korea, China, and Taiwan, this has helped stimulate economic growth, while in certain poorer countries, it puts pressures on society to accommodate an increasing number of people on a fixed amount of land. Other countries such as Japan and Germany, in contrast, experience problems with a "graying" society, where fewer non-retired people are around to support an increasing number of aging seniors. Because Germany actually hovers around negative population growth, the German government has issued large financial incentives, in the forms of subsidies, for women who have children. In the United States, population growth occurs both through births and immigration. Since the number of births is not growing, problems occur for firms that are dependent on population growth (e.g., Gerber, a manufacturer of baby food).

Social class is a somewhat nebulous subject that involves stratifying people into groups with various amounts of prestige, power, and privilege. In part because of the pioneering influence in American history, status differentiations here are quite vague. We cannot, for example, associate social class with income, because a traditionally low status job as a plumber may today come with as much income as a traditionally more prestigious job as a school teacher. In certain other cultures, however, stratification is more clear-cut. Although the caste system in India is now illegal, it still maintains a tremendous influence on that society. While some mobility exists today, social class awareness is also somewhat greater in Britain, where social status is in part reinforced by the class connotations of the accent with which one speaks.

Textbooks speak of several indices that have been used to "compute" social class in the United States, weighing factors such as income, the nature of one’s employment, and level of education. Taken too literally, these indices are not very meaningful; more broadly speaking, they illustrate the reality that social status is a complex variable that is determined, not always with consensus among observers, by several different variables.

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