Influence of social groups in the buying behaviour of rural consumers

By Isita Maity and Priya Chetty on October 11, 2021

A social group primarily refers to a group of two or more people sharing views with each other with the same objective (Conover, 1988). Numerous theorists believe that the influence of social groups helps people meet mutual needs and demands. This article aims to determine the influence of social groups on the buying behaviour of rural consumers in today’s marketplace. It provides an in-depth empirical review of the importance of social groups, especially on social media platforms, to promote brands.

Understanding social groups and its importance in rural areas

Social groups can consist of family members, friendship groups, colleagues, coworkers, course team members, social media influencers, and religious groups (Marks, 1994). Eminent research scholars have shown different perspectives on social groups. It is undeniable that social groups in today’s businesses are successfully able to connect people from different geographical boundaries. People staying in remote places were not aware of numerous brands and products before. Various online and offline social groups have helped them up to connect with people and gather knowledge about numerous brands and products. Chu and Chen (2019) stated that social group is the most effective way of interacting with a massive number of people on a similar platform and increase brand image. Moreover, quality of products and affordability of services are the two primary factors based on which the success of an organization is highly dependent.

Influence of social groups in making choices

Sreen, Purbey and Sadarangani (2018) conducted a survey on 1040 educated Indian consumers about the theory of collectivism and how it affects their attitude towards green products. They opined that with the gradual progress of the digital media industry the business organizations are changing their marketing strategies. In the case of rural areas, the businesses were not able to promote their brand effectively in past years using conventional means of promotion. Social media promotions are the biggest way of making connections with people from different geographical and cultural backgrounds. Through social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and LinkedIn, companies are able to see the influence of social groups in the purchase decisions of rural consumers. It is also becoming easier for marketing executives to understand their needs and demands.

Building brand reputation plays a key role in a social group

In rural areas, the influence of social groups in buying choices of consumers is more apparent than in urban areas Chatzigeorgiou (2017). Different social groups play a role in influencing the purchase decisions of different products. For instance, family plays an important role in determining the choice of refrigerator and furniture, while coworkers influence the choice of a laptop to buy. However, quality plays a key role in the buying decisions of rural consumers. Along with maintaining product quality, businesses need to reach out to consumers about the reliability and durability of their brands. This helps them get to make an in-depth product analysis (Yadav and Rahman, 2017). Marketing and promotion through social groups is the best way to make direct or indirect interaction with the customers in order to build a positive brand reputation. Business organizations also get the chance to reach out to a large number of the target audience by connecting with people from remote areas.

Promotional campaigns to influence social groups’ opinions

Many other researchers have analyzed the influence of social groups on the purchasing behaviour of consumers. Juaneda-Ayensa, Mosquera and Sierra Murillo (2016) opined that numerous businesses are negatively influencing rural customers by promoting their brands. In order to impress social groups, they have made a low pricing strategy, which drove them towards purchasing the products. However, in this process, they are compromising the quality of products. As a result, customers after purchasing the products for one time tend to leave negative feedback. Escobar-Rodríguez et al. (2017) stated that it highly reflects on the brand image and reputation of a business. The profit margin of the business is also getting highly influenced. Therefore, social groups are also instrumental in spreading awareness about false claims by brands.

Maintaining a good quality helps to build brand reputation

Yin et al. (2019) opined that the success rate in influencing rural customers through social groups is undoubtedly high. According to him, more than 40% of rural customers have shown their positive response in purchasing one product or service through social groups. Wijayaningtyas, Handoko and Hidayat (2019) also elucidated that since social groups are built on commonalities among people, connecting with them for influencing their purchasing decisions is much easier than through other mediums. For this purpose, influencers play a key role as they share their experiences in a personal capacity rather than publicly like celebrity endorsers. Regional influencers in rural areas greatly affect consumers’ mindsets regarding their product choices.  

After making an in-depth critical evaluation about the influence of social groups on the purchase intention of rural consumers it can be stated that the purchasing behaviour is positively influenced. At the same time, businesses need to focus on maintaining the quality of products as well to maintain a good brand reputation. It is however undeniable that social group is the most effective way of interacting with a massive number of people on a similar platform and increase brand image. Some eminent scholars while making in-depth marketing research have opined that quality of products and affordability of services are the two primary factors based on which the success of an organization is highly dependent.

References

  • Chatzigeorgiou, C., 2017. Modelling the impact of social media influencers on behavioural intentions of millennials: The case of tourism in rural areas in Greece. Journal of Tourism, Heritage & Services Marketing (JTHSM)3(2), pp.25-29.
  • Chu, S.C. and Chen, H.T., 2019. Impact of consumers’ corporate social responsibility‐related activities in social media on brand attitude, electronic word‐of‐mouth intention, and purchase intention: A study of Chinese consumer behavior. Journal of Consumer Behaviour18(6), pp.453-462.
  • Conover, P. (1988) ‘The Role of Social Groups in Political Thinking’, British Journal of Political Science, 18(1), pp. 51–76.
  • Escobar-Rodríguez, T., Grávalos-Gastaminza, M.A. and Pérez-Calañas, C., 2017. Facebook and the intention of purchasing tourism products: moderating effects of gender, age and marital status. Scandinavian Journal of Hospitality and Tourism17(2), pp.129-144.
  • Juaneda-Ayensa, E., Mosquera, A. and Sierra Murillo, Y., 2016. Omnichannel customer behavior: key drivers of technology acceptance and use and their effects on purchase intention. Frontiers in psychology7, p.1117.
  • Marks, S. R. (1994) ‘Intimacy in the public realm: The case of co-workers’, Social Forces, 72, pp. 843–858.
  • Sreen, N., Purbey, S. and Sadarangani, P., 2018. Impact of culture, behavior and gender on green purchase intention. Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services41, pp.177-189.
  • Wijayaningtyas, M., Handoko, F. and Hidayat, S., 2019, November. The millennials’ perceived behavioural control on an eco-friendly house purchase intention. In Journal of Physics: Conference Series (Vol. 1375, No. 1, p. 012060). IOP Publishing.
  • Yadav, M. and Rahman, Z., 2017. Measuring consumer perception of social media marketing activities in e-commerce industry: Scale development & validation. Telematics and Informatics34(7), pp.1294-1307.
  • Yin, X., Wang, H., Xia, Q. and Gu, Q., 2019. How social interaction affects purchase intention in social commerce: A cultural perspective. Sustainability11(8), p.2423.
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