Consumer Buying Behaviour – The Influence Of Culture

Consumer Buying Behaviour – The Influence Of Culture

Consumer Buying Behaviour – The Influence Of Culture

Marketing unlike any other social science is entirely concerned with the need and wants of people several and individually.

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Although different consumers belong to the same market segments, they do not behave alike, and the characteristics of the products and services would not appeal to them in the same degree. Just as income tastes and other factors influence the demand for a product, so the behaviour of consumers are influenced by socio-economic and cultural factors. Unless these factors are identified and taken care of the marketing manager may be chasing shadows.

The way out is the use of marketing research methods that actually determine the socio-cultural factors and measures, which will then put him in a situation to effectively market his products or services. Cultural influence has been a major set back for the marketer both internally and externally. For effective marketing, cultural influences of individual on aggressive marketing have to be taken care of in that vicinity.

Though locally, different culture of many ethnic groups in Nigeria tends to influence the decision of many consumers. Consumer behaviour is constantly being attacked by culture. So for effective and efficient marketing in Nigeria, Marketing managers should undertake a research on the influence of culture in consumer buying behaviour.

What is culture and what effect does it have on consumer buying behaviour?

Many Scholars of thought has given many definitions to culture and each one seems to point at one direction the way of life of people in a given society. Culture according to E.B. Taylor is “That complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, laws, morals, customs and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of the society. Looking at this definition by Taylo we can deduce or refer culture to be our social heritage which has been passed or handed down to us by our forefathers, from generation to generation and which we have come to accept as our mode of life. Mode or way of life here means behaviours or acts, which we have adopted and imbibed in us through culture.

Another Scholar, Allison Davis (1948)2 his write up in “Social class influences upon learning” looks at culture as something in its generic sense which includes all behaviours which the human being exhibits in conformity with his family, his church (Religion) and all other human groups”. This goes to prove that culture has immense influence on these different groups a fore mentioned by Allison. Culture intervenes in the economic decisions made by individuals either as personal consumers or when they may be acting for an organization. Interaction takes place between a man and his environment; He is affected by the society of which he is a member. In other to understand peoples behaviour the knowledge of the influence of culture norms and values is essential.

Howard and Sheth (1969)3, sees culture as a selective, man made way of responding to experience, a set of behaviour pattern”. Thus they postulate that culture consists of important traditional ideas and in particular the values, which are attached to these ideas. Cultural influences affect motives, brand understanding, attitude and intention to purchase.

The definitions help to create awareness of culture as the medium that binds a people together and characterizes its specific way of life. “Culture neither grows like a plant, nor can it be destroyed by an earthquake.

It is made and preserved, changed and destroyed by man. It lives and dies with the attention man plays to it and the rate which it is allowed to play”.

Culture has an impact in consumer buying behaviour and consumption habits, which are part of the behavioural patterns of individuals, are deeply affected by the prevailing culture of the society in which people live. Every society develops different cultures, which reflects the many parts of human behaviour that have been learned and accepted by groups of people and these forms part of their traditional mode of life.

Producers cannot go into manufacturing a new product without considering the cultures of the society where he intends to distribute the food. Foreign marketers put cultures of various countries of their trading partner into consideration before attempting to export some producers to that particular country. Cultural taboos abound in every country, so what may be food here, may be poison to others. E.g. in India some abhor edible cattle, while in Britain the edible cattle flourished as food.

As Briff has stated “Every individual is a product of the culture of his society which affects very considerably the actions and decisions which he takes every day”5.

In Nigeria today we have not less than 250 ethnic groups and each group has a measure of cultural differences, which distinguish them from every other group. Their method and mode of behaviour varies from one ethnic group to the other and the mode of buying varies from one local market to the other.

The way an Igbo man approaches some products in the market is quite different from the angle from which a Yoruba man may look at it. The difference in behaviour comes as a result of different cultural background.

The research work is carried out to find solutions to certain problems. In this research work on the influence of culture in consumer buying behaviour in Amuzi, Nwangele L.G.A. the areas of concentration include these variables.

(1) To find the family influence on Individual or consumers in buying certain items.

(2) To discover whether age a group or reference groups which individuals may belong has any influence in their behaviour.

(3) If educational background or the level of personality of some people has anything to do with the characteristics they may exhibit during purchasing.

(4) To probe into religion or any other social group to which some people belong to; have influence on their buying motives.

(5) Other variables like roles and statutes, which come under culture, exert influence on consumers or help them to buy certain things.

Though these variables would be treated differently to find how much they could influence individual attitudes towards buying. Generally, these deals with finding how culture affects our life.


The purpose of this study is to ascertain if culture has any influence on consumer behaviour to what extent and how best to take advantage of that especially consumer in Amuzi, in Nwangele will be based on the following areas of cultural factors.

Family, religion, social groups roles and statues and others their influence in consumer attitude to buying behaviour. The other purpose for the study includes trying to determine how much marketers consider culture when making important marketing decisions. The last objective aims at determining the extent to which marketing organizations relates and interact with the culture of different consumers in other to produce what will satisfy their needs. This will show the extent to which the marketing organizations and the consumers understand each other’s activities.

(1) There is no significant difference in the buying behaviour of people based on family and education.

(2) There is no significant difference in the buying behaviour of people based on religion and reference groups.

(3) There is no significant relationship in the buying behaviour of males and female based on family references groups, education, religion.



This research is necessary because it will afford as the opportunity of knowing the areas in which culture exert influence on consumers in Amuzie, Nwangele Local Government Area. This will help markets in these areas to know why consumers accept or reject their products. It will also help the markets to know if their products are in high or low demand.

This research will enable anybody who read through it to identify the areas of strange and weakness of cultural influence on the marketing organizations or firms and consumers in Amuzi, Nwangele L.G.A.

The study will show without much difficulty how the culture influences affect people in Amuzie. All these to a large extent have some characteristics of marketing activities (i.e. price product, place and promotion).



Perhaps it will be pertinent at this juncture to give what shall be stated or regarded as the scope of this study and the limitation therein, this research is likely to encounter in the course of this study. The scope shall be within the environment of Amuzie in Nwangele Local Government of Imo State. And will also cover some of the consumers within this restricted area. It shall be based on the influence of culture in consumer buying behaviour. This research work will not go into detail about the culture of Amuzi, rather it will deal with the cultural variables that affect the daily consumption needs of the consumers.

The limitation of this work or study is lack of literature available for research on the subject matter with reference to the Nigerian situation/factors. Owing to this, we have to recognize the problem in trying to extrapolate conditions that may exist in different social and cultural background to the ones prevailing in Nigeria.

Also the way consumers will respond to the questionnaires or interviews will limit the scope of this work. They find it difficult to cooperate and give sincere answers to the questions in the questionnaire some of them might not care to return the questionnaire whether filled or blank and in some other cases these people shy away from questions, visitors because of suspicious and insecurity and the fear of given away some vital information. This make them to either refuse to answer questions or give correct answers to the questions asked.

Time factor posed great constraints in the process of carrying out this project. The topic in question was not chosen on time, and there was not adequate or sufficient time to see all the consumers that are needed for the population of the town under study and this limited the extent of the research work.

Financial constraints also contributed in limiting the scope and operational area, which could have been covered. The removal of petroleum subsidy and increase in the pump price of fuel by the federal government resulted in a very high increase in transportation fare.

Illiteracy; a good effort was made at limiting the sample size to a level of class, but there was a deviation from this in order to reach the man/consumer who has been influenced by culture. The uncooperative attitude of consumers in supplying the relevant information sought is a known hindrance to the effective and speedy condition of these research works.

Those who collected questionnaire and threw them away or had them misplaced always confronts the researcher with apologies, excuses, procrastinations etc. wasting unduly for these people for led the researcher to continue her work with the little response she has, out of much stress, frustration and time made her abandon further attempts to collect them (questionnaires)


This involves drawing or extracting from professional,

Journals, Textbooks, lectures, seminars whose subjects of discourse might be useful in understanding the influence of culture in consumer buying behavior.”

The marketing concept is the result of an attempt to put into consideration a basic marketing philosophy held by economists and marketing theorist. Economic welfare is the responsibility of business to create utilities for consumers. Smith quoted in page 214 of his book that the purpose of production is to serve consumption”6 the authors of early marketing literature emphasized that the purpose of marketing is to provide consumer consumptions. To satisfy the needs and wants of consumers means understanding the consumer behaviour, understanding the consumer attitudes means to comprehend the environment and culture to which consumers are born and breed which influence them right from their earliest stage in life.


Culture is the underlying determinant of human decision-making. While psychology describes how human choice is made, anthropology and study of culture explains why some choices are preferred to others. A realistic analysis of consumer choice therefore must include understanding of the cultural content, which moulds human desire and shape human decision-making.

Kroeber and parson (1958) defined culture as the complex of values, ideas attitudes and other meaningful symbols created by man to shape human behaviour and the artifacts of that behaviour as they retransmitted from one generation to the next”.

Culture includes abstract and material elements. Abstract elements are values, attitudes, ideas, personality types and summary constructions such as religion. These are learned patterns of behaviour, feelings, and reactions that are transmitted from one generation to the other.

Material elements of culture are such items as computer, Drawing, paintings stools (local) buildings, products of all types, advertisements and many of the other items that are the artifacts of a society environment. How culture affects our life and contributes to changes in our life and the marketing implications of the changes on consumers buying behaviours is the main focus of our study.


Before discussion the implication of culture to marketing, it will be good to know what consumer behaviour is. To understand consumption decisions requires the person’s entire lifetime experiences.

According to Engel, Blackwell and Kollat, consumer behaviour is the act of individuals directly involved in obtaining and using economic goods and services including the decision processes that precede and determine these acts”8.

In this reference, the authors critically defined consumer behaviours as the reaction of consumers to economic goods and services with the necessary factors that influence individuals to behave as they do towards these goods and services.

Why is the study of consumer behaviour necessary? The consumer market is not a homogenous entity but is made up of many different market segments, each with distinct marketing characteristics. These demarcations can be explained in large part by the basic socio-economic conditions.

We have observed from the definition of culture, that it is the way of life of some people and these components of culture family, reference groups, schools, religion and other social institutions influence every individual in any understanding of consumer behaviour. He must develop either formally or informally a theory of consumer behaviour open which to base his marketing programmes. The theoretical framework should form a central element in his assembly of marketing concept.

The evolution of consumer behaviour theories has been gradual. As early as 1920’s marketing specialists were struggling with them and coming remarkably close to many of the move advance concepts now held Bell (pg 211-212). Time and efforts have brought additional rewards. Today, we have a considerable body of knowledge classified as the theory of consumer behaviour. Indeed the contribution to our understanding of consumer has come from so many sources that we speak of the approach as essentially inter-disciplinary.

Consumer behaviour emanates from culture in which the individuals are brought up and subsequent changes that follow it let is examine the variables one after the other and find their influence on Amuzie people respectively.


In the olden days when Christianity had not spread to many places in Nigeria due to rigidity of mind towards their formal beliefs, But marketing is a behavioural disciplinary socio-economic description and measurement of marketing entities are not enough. It is marketing action that actually determined the success or failure of company’s marketing effort. Such action is the result of customer’s behaviour as well as seller activity. Marketing in other words stems from the interaction of buyers and sellers unless a buyer behaves in some way, it is usually impossible for a sale to occur. Understanding of customer’s behaviour is therefore essential in the planning of marketing programmes. In the final analysis customer’s behaviour is one of the most important keys to successful marketing. Therefore it will be the task of this study “influence of culture on consumer buying behaviour” to probe into the nature of customer attitude. In spite of its importance, which has been observed, since the advent of marketing consumer behaviour today still lies in what is called the “Dark Continent of Marketing” human minds eludes our understanding. What determines buying decisions? It task is enormous and complex. Each of us has almost infinite likes and dislikes than there are people. Individuals’ likes and motives are subject to change with different circumstance. The inconsistency and changeability of hum likes and dislikes to reach a workable many tribes worshipped many deities, which they recognized and strongly held at high esteem to be their goods. They believe in this deity as a medium for communication and transmission of messages between God and man. Although nobody can actually say precisely whether it was true or not. But when Christianity came, it introduces the idea of one supreme God to worship. Before the coming of Christianity they lived their lives in such a way that they do not truest any other medium. Professor Mbiti in the opening sentence of the very first chapter of his book, African Religion and philosophy, summarized the tradition religious system with a set of beliefs, and practices. Religion permeates into all the departments/spheres of life so fully that it is not easy or possible always to isolate it.

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A study of these religious systems is therefore, ultimately a study of the people themselves in all complexities of both traditional and modern life. Religion is the strongest element in traditional background and exerts probably the greatest influence upon the thinking and the living of the people concerned” Mbiti (1970 Pg 1)10 It is this aspect of religious influence that marketer is interested in how does religion affect our behaviour and attitude towards certain commodities. For the people of Amuzi community in Nwangele local government to exist is to be religious in a religious universe. That is the philosophical understanding behind African myths, customs, traditions, belief, Morals, actions and social relationships, African traditional religions has molded their lives in such a way that adherence to it becomes a basic way of living. This could be in their demand for food, Shelter, Clothing and other essentials of life.

In spite of African traditional religion western religion such as Christianity has contributed much to their way of life. Though they hold firm to their tradition yet Christianity and modern life has permeated into the fabrics of their life and this resulted to changes in demand for food and services.

The idea of supreme God is introduce by Christianity. It occupies an altogether unique place in the religions life of the Amuzi people. In Amuzi, in Nwangele local government Area of Imo State, Christianity has tremendously affect their life and this has played a significant role in changing their buying motives. Certain foods are demanded which are important in the observation of cultural traditions. Between August and September of every year, they are engaged in the new yam festival” For appeasement of the God of yam and fertility in these areas. During this period, the demand for certain consignments becomes consistent and effective.

For instance, certain fashions, which are mainly for that occasion, gain a lot of market peoples rate of consumption of yams and other food items increases. Some Christians are indifferent to these occasions because to them it is a form of paganism, their mode of buying and eating some food items and clothing change completely and to do otherwise during the festival means not being a true believer.

Further more, the influence of religions on buying behaviour could be observed during Christmas and Easter periods when cards and messages meant for that season are sincerely exchanged with lovers, friends, co-believers etc. Either by posting or hand delivery, we could notice that markets are always busy at these time of the year and also contrary to this during Ash Wednesday when all the Roman Catholics in Amuzi, Dim-Na-Nume Nwangele LGA Refrain from buying meat from the market which results to a decline in the consumption and sale of this commodity. There are also living in the community, some Hauses, who are Muslim brothers and sisters. These sets of people adhere so much to their Muslem religions norms and practices to the latter as specified by their religion. During the festival of El-kabir and El-fitri period there is a tremendous increase in the demand for certain types of clothing, materials rams and some other food items are in high demand, alcohol is excluded because their religion abhors/forbids the intake or consumption of strong drinks. Their attitudes towards alcohol are strictly indifferent.

Culture of which religion is an integral part contributes much in changing the attitude of people towards what they like and dislikes Religious taboos militate against consumers choice of goods and services. E.g. it is a great offence or a taboo for a or ardent Muslim to eat pork meat. This brings about changes in demand for certain commodities and also leads to attitude change.


According to Mcgrowhill and Broadbeck (1958 pp 127): A group is social entity that allows individuals to interact with one another in relation to particular phenomena” Broadbeck defined it as an “Aggregate Individuals standing in certain description (Observable) relations to each other “12. The group may be family, an audience, a committee, a labour union or crowd.

PRIMARY GROUPS: They are those intimate personal association by which relationship of a regular nature are built up between two or more persons. These groups have a primary influence on the individual members personal development and they includes, family, friends working colleagues etc.

SECONDARY GROUPS: They are those groups to which an individuals may belong by deliberate choice that could be exercise by being a member of a primary group, example could be member of a primary group, example could be membership of political party etc.

An individual will simultaneously belong to several groups each having same degree of influence on him.

REFERENCE GROUPS: It refers to groups with which an individual closely identifies himself so that they become together and test the standard of evaluation and the sources of his personal behavioural norms”, Macgrow Hill, pg. 127 & 128”13

Kotler pg 140 sees “reference groups as all those groups that influence a person’s attitudes, opinions and values” 14 Reference groups influence individuals attitude towards the adherence of what the group want him to do and not what he wants to do. The greater the degree of attraction of a group, whether individuals belongs to it (membership group)or not (aspirational group) the greater the influence of that groups attitudes on the individuals behaviours.

Reference groups can influence a person’s attitudes in these ways:

(1) They expose a person to possible new behaviour.

(2) They influence the person’s attitude and self-concept because the person’s normally desires to “fit in”.

(3) They create pressures for conformity that may affect the person’s actual product and brand choices.

At this stage let us examine different groups that exists in Amuzi for clarity, let me tabulate them.

Christian groups Red Cross, men and women guild etc

Women Association Obiwuotu Cultural group

Youth Association Amuzi age grade society

Social clubs Future hope social clubs

Women’s club The umu-Ada group


These groups share every thing in common and they exert much influence on their members. In Omu-ori part of Amuzi the umu Ada group is predominantly for the Ada’s ie the first-born female women from every family represented in Amuzi. Interested adults have free licenses to belong to the group but such an individual must fully satisfy all the requirements. These references groups meet and discuss together on specified occasions. Sometimes they put on uniformed alters on ceremoniously recognized occasion, such as, Marriages, Launching funerals, naming ceremonies etc. In what way will they influence their members?

They do that through rules and regulations guiding the associations, they have written constitutions, which serves as guiding principle to all their members. In the women society, most women accept whatsoever product their leaders propose for them. The group takes every thing and no member has the right to refuse any food except the one generally agreed to be bad. In future hope social club, they maintain a bit of secrecy and their foods; yam bush meat, pounded fufu, kola nut which is an essential part of any Igbo gathering and any other thing presented by the member of the group. Etc, Every member is bound to accept whatsoever is presented to him. They put on special clothing with different colours for all their annual meetings. If you are not a member, you can be motivated by their ways of life and it will make you to want to become a part of them.

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Especially during their annual ceremonies that are graced with so much affluence, pump and pageantry highly classed musicals will be on display for them etc.

People of the same social and reference groups tend to behave alike and this influences their consumption style. Each of the social groups and reference groups mentioned above has measures of influences on each individuals group for instance, if we actually aspire to be a part of the group, we are more likely to follow the groups values norms and behavioural patterns, Consumer consumption and usage habit reflects those of such groups. So for the facts that group behave alike, they force groups behaviour into each member, thereby bringing some changes in individual life style.

Every groups is a function of the culture of the environment in which it exists or is formed. This reflects also in what the society wants them to do though individual’s members of the group are always under the influence of the reference groups, which they belong. Reference groups helps to a large extent in determining consumer’s choice of a product. A company would like to know if a decision to purchase its products is influenced by reference groups. In this case, the seller marketing communications should stress the products attributes, price quality and other differential advantages. In the words of N.G. Nwokoye culture and tradition determine the openness of a people to new ideas and their willingness to try new products and services.


Education is training and knowledge acquired through schooling in various institutions of higher learning. The more educated a person is the more his taste of life style and level of buying decisions changes. The embrace of education by the south has given them advantages over the north in Nigeria. And this has brought about changes in the life style of some people in the south.

Imo State which Amuzi, in Nwangele local government Area is a part education of their children seems to be the highest industry in the state. The Western mode of life style has eaten really deep into our lives and this has had an adverse effect on our different cultures today. An educated young lady today believes she cannot be fully admired by men unless she “Adorns” hair and body so as to enhance her beauty, and this development has brought about certain levels of changes in consumption pattern. Market for hair dressing salon and beauty clinics has increased tremendously as a result of this.

Education has increased taste and level of life style among the intellectuals. Fashion and costly materials are demanded by the educated elites. School children these days find clothes and fashions like jeans, suit, baggy trousers and high-heeled shoes very interesting and they influence each other within academic environments to purchase them. The way an enlightened intellectual views products in the markets in different from how an illiterate in the village perceived them. People become objective in their judgment about products in the market because of their level of education. They belong to a class that cannot accept anything without critical analysis of the need and satisfaction they intend to get from the product. The advent of Western type of education has brought about some cultural changes in the life of consumers in Amuzi community.

Some cultural taboos have been discarded and their mode of living and tastes had also changed. It plays a vital role in changing consumer-buying behaviour and those who are educated seemed to be having differently towards every product in the market. There attitudes changes as a result of their ability to choose products class, because of these cultural changes brought about by education, marketing managers have to bear this phenomena in mind in the production and sales of their products to consumers. Hence education is included as one of the demographic factors in consumer analysis. Better education increases awareness, taste, and stimulates demand. For certain products, like cars, refrigerator, air-conditions, fashion of class design, food set of upholstery, Food associations and high standard of living.

In the light of the above, discussion the life style of individuals who may consciously, attain to higher education level.


The term “Family” is used for several kinds of household. These include: Nuclear family, which is the immediate family cycle made up of father, mother and children living together.

Extended family on the other hand is the nuclear family together with other relatives such as grand parents, uncles, aunts, cousins and inlaws. Family orientation or origin is the one an individual is born into or the one he or she is reared or breed. Family of procreation is the one founded by marriage.

Buying behaviour is substantially affected by the nature of the family and its responsibilities may generate demand for adverse range of products and service. Certain types of trends of products have particular significant to individuals because they form part of the family pattern of life. In any new marriage, a new household is being established end this may lead to buying of new furniture, kitchen utensils, new housing etc. New needs will arise and this influences buying behaviour. A person’s family undoubtedly plays the largest and most enduring role in changing his or her attitude opinions and values about products. The people of Amuzi have common family structure and form. They have monogamy, polygamy and polyandry system of marriage. In the olden days polygamous structure abound since their occupation was farming. So in order to have much hands in the farm, they adopted four to five wives to a man-affair.

The children will also be much in number sometimes a man’s wealth could be measured by the number of wives and children they have to their credits.

But now, these practice is no longer in common usage, you can hardly come across or find a man with more than one wife. Now because modern culture has brought some changes in the life of these people.

What is the impact of the family to the life of a consumer or buyer?.

Does the family structure exert influence on individual and society at large? A person develops a certain attitude towards religion, personal ambition polities, economic, self worth and love from the family. If a buyer or consumer cannot interact very well with his family, the influence on the conscious and subconscious behaviour of the individual will not be strong.

The Father and Mother is the supreme authorities of the family setting, therefore, their decision in relation to what type of food to buy and eat, clothing and other necessaries are imposed on their children during their tender years of growing up. They dictate for them or rather make their choices of consumption for them, and the influence of the parents and family is much at this primary stage of their life. The children get accustomed to any attitude or behaviour they learned from their parents and immediate family. But as they grow, the environment and groups, which they may find themselves help to modify those, adopted behaviour from the parents.

An individual may be influence by his family, supporting his career goal by refusing to give him or her financial support and by pressurizing the person to accept their decisions as the best. Monogamous family influences their children more than the polygamous family which may adopt a carefree attitude towards their children and this may bring about changes in the behavour of individuals towards certain goods and services.

Generally, the families in which individuals may find themselves greatly influence their action during buying. Again characteristics inherent in their parents and the environment in which they grew or developed change their behaviour and attitude to buying.


Consumer Buying Behaviour – The Influence Of Culture

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