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Chapter 11 Group Influence and Opinion Leadership


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Title: Chapter 11 Group Influence and Opinion Leadership

Chapter 11Group Influence and Opinion Leadership
CONSUMER BEHAVIOR, 8eMichael Solomon
Chapter Objectives
  • When you finish this chapter you should
    understand why
  • Others, especially those who possess some kind of
    social power, often influence us.
  • We seek out others who share our interests in
    products or services.
  • We are motivated to buy or use products in order
    to be consistent with what other people do.
  • The things that other consumers tell us about
    products (good and bad) are often more
    influential than the advertising we see.

Chapter Objectives (cont.)
  • Online technologies are accelerating the impact
    of word-of-mouth communication.
  • Social networking is changing the way companies
    and consumers interact.
  • Certain people are particularly likely to
    influence others product choices.

Reference Groups
  • Reference group an actual or imaginary
    individual/group conceived of having significant
    relevance upon an individuals evaluations,
    aspirations, or behavior
  • Influences consumers in three ways
  • Informational
  • Utilitarian
  • Value-expressive

Reference Group Influences
  • Reference group influences stronger for purchases
    that are
  • Luxuries rather than necessities
  • Socially conspicuous/visible to others

Figure 11.1
When Reference Groups Are Important
  • Social power capacity to alter the actions of
  • Types of social power

Referent power
Information power
Legitimate power
Expert power
Reward power
Coercive power
  • High schools have all types of reference groups,
    with members representing all types of social
    power. Think back to high school and try to
    identify people who had the following types of
    power (consider not only peers but also teachers
    and administrators).
  • Referent power
  • Information power
  • Legitimate power
  • Expert power
  • Reward power
  • Coercive power

Types of Reference Groups
  • Any external influence that provides social clues
    can be a reference group
  • Cultural figure
  • Parents
  • Large, formal organization
  • Small and informal groups
  • Exert a more powerful influence on individual
  • A part of our day-to-day lives normative

Brand Communities and Consumer Tribes
  • A group of consumers who share a set of social
    relationships based upon usage or interest in a
  • Brandfests enhance brand loyalty
  • Consumer tribe share emotions, moral beliefs,
    styles of life, and affiliated product
  • Tribal marketing linking a product to the needs
    of a group as a whole

Membership versus Aspirational Reference Groups
  • Membership reference groups people the consumer
    actually knows
  • Advertisers use ordinary people
  • Aspirational reference groups people the
    consumer doesnt know but admires
  • Advertisers use celebrity spokespeople
  • Click to view
  • Quicktime video on
  • use of celebrity
  • athletes in advertising

Positive versus Negative Reference Groups
  • Reference groups may exert either a positive or
    negative influence on consumption behaviors
  • Avoidance groups motivation to distance oneself
    from other people/groups
  • Marketers show ads with undesirable people using
    competitors product
  • Antibrand communities coalesce around a
    celebrity, store, or brandbut in this case
    theyre united by their disdain for it

Consumers Do It in Groups
  • Deindividuation individual identities become
    submerged within a group
  • Example binge drinking at college parties
  • Social loafing people dont devote as much to a
    task when their contribution is part of a larger
  • Example we tend to tip less when eating in
  • Risky shift group members show a greater
    willingness to consider riskier alternatives
    following group discussion than if members mad
    their own decisions

  • Do you agree that deindividuation encourages
    binge drinking on campus?
  • What can or should a college do to discourage
    this behavior?

Consumers Do It in Groups (cont.)
  • Decision polarization after group discussion of
    an issue, opinions become more extreme
  • Home shopping parties capitalize on group
    pressure to boost sales
  • Informational and normative social influence

  • Home shopping partiessuch as Tupperware, Avon,
    Pampered Chef, Amway, or Botoxare designed to
    put pressure on friends and neighbors to buy
  • Have you attended these parties? Why or why not?
  • Do you believe putting social pressure is
    ethical? Why or why not?
  • Why are these parties more common among women?

  • Most people tend to follow societys expectations
    regarding how to look/act
  • Factors influencing conformity
  • Cultural pressures
  • Fear of deviance
  • Commitment to group membership
  • Group unanimity, size, expertise
  • Susceptibility to interpersonal influence

Word-of-Mouth Communication
  • WOM product information transmitted by
    individuals to individuals
  • More reliable form of marketing
  • Social pressure to conform
  • Influences two-thirds of all sales
  • We rely upon WOM in later stages of product
  • Powerful when we are unfamiliar with product

Negative WOM and Power of Rumors
  • We weigh negative WOM more heavily than we do
    positive comments!
  • Negative WOM is easy to spread, especially online
  • Determined detractors
  • Information/rumor distortion
  • Click photo for

The Transmission of Misinformation
Figure 11.2
Negative WOM and Power of Rumors (cont.)
  • Three basic themes found in Web-based protest
  • Injustice consumers talk about their repeated
    attempts to contact the company only to be
  • Identity posters characterize the violator as
    evil, rather than simply wrong.
  • Agency individual Web site creators try to
    create a collective identity for those who share
    their anger with a company.

Virtual Communities
  • A collection of people who share their love of a
    product in online interactions
  • Multi-user dungeons (MUD)
  • Rooms (IRC), rings, and lists
  • Boards
  • Blogs/blogosphere
  • Great potential for abuse via untrustworthy
  • lawsuit (charging publishers to post
    positive reviews of Web site)

Virtual Communities
  • Which type of Web surfer are you?

Figure 11.3
Guerrilla Marketing
  • Guerilla marketing promotional strategies that
    use unconventional locations and intensive WOM to
    push products
  • Recruits legions of real consumers for street
  • Hip-hop mix tapes/street teams
  • Brand ambassadors

Viral Marketing
  • Viral marketing getting visitors to a Web site
    to forward information on the site to their
    friends (for product awareness)
  • Creating online content that is entertaining or
  • Example buzz campaign for Mini Cooper car

Click photo for ?
Social Networking and Crowd Power
  • Web sites letting members post information about
    themselves and make contact with similar others
  • Share interests, opinions, business contacts

? Click photo for
  • Click photo for

Social Networking and Crowd Power (cont.)
  • Wisdom of crowds perspective under the right
    circumstances, groups are smarter than the
    smartest people in them
  • Some crowd-based Web sites
  • participants submit ideas for
    consumer electronics products and the community
    votes for the best ones
  • social network for physicians
  • fans can demand events and
    performances in their town and spread the word to
    make them happen

Opinion Leadership
  • Opinion leaders influence others attitudes and
  • They are good information sources because they
  • May be experts
  • Provide unbiased evaluation
  • Are socially active
  • Are similar to the consumer
  • Are among the first to buy

Reasons to Seek Advice from Opinion Leaders
  • Expertise
  • Unbiased knowledge power
  • Highly interconnected in communities (social
  • Referent power/homophily
  • Hands-on product experience (absorb risk)

Opinion Leadership (cont.)
  • Generalize opinion leader versus
    monomorphic/polymorphic experts
  • Although opinion leaders exist for multiple
    product categories, expertise tends to overlap
    across similar categories
  • It is rare to find a generalized opinion leader
  • Innovative communicators
  • Opinion seekers
  • More likely to talk about products with others
    and solicit others opinions
  • Casual interaction prompted by situation

Perspectives on the Communications Process
Figure 11.4
The Market Maven
  • Market maven actively involved in transmitting
    marketplace information of all types
  • Just into shopping and aware whats happening in
    the marketplace
  • Overall knowledge of how and where to get products

The Surrogate Consumer
  • Surrogate consumer a marketing intermediary
    hired to provide input into purchase decisions
  • Interior decorators, stockbrokers, professional
    shoppers, college consultants
  • Consumer relinquishes control over
    decision-making functions
  • Marketers should not overlook influence of

Finding Opinion Leaders
  • Many ads intend to reach influentials rather than
    average consumer
  • Local opinion leaders are harder to find
  • Companies try to identify influentials in order
    to create WOM ripple effect
  • Exploratory studies identify characteristics of
    opinion leaders for promotional strategies

The Self-Designating Method
  • Most commonly used technique to identify opinion
  • Simply ask individuals whether they consider
    themselves to be opinion leaders
  • Method is easy to apply to large group of
    potential opinion leaders
  • View with skepticisminflation or unawareness of
    own importance/influence
  • Alternative key informants identify opinion

Sociometric Methods
  • Sociometric methods trace communication patterns
    among group members
  • Systematic map of group interactions
  • Most precise method of identifying
    product-information sources, but is very
    difficult/expensive to implement
  • Network analysis
  • Referral behavior/network, tie strength
  • Bridging function, strength of weak ties