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The Consumer Culture Theory & Your Social Media

Research that connects consumer culture and marketing have seen massive developments in the past couple of decades. Marketers have exhausted the list of lenses from which they can observe consumer behaviour.  It is after these circumstances that marketers have begun to study distinct cultures in their target market. Thus, this helps in better understanding consumer […]

Consumer Culture Theory

Research that connects consumer culture and marketing have seen massive developments in the past couple of decades.

Marketers have exhausted the list of lenses from which they can observe consumer behaviour.  It is after these circumstances that marketers have begun to study distinct cultures in their target market. Thus, this helps in better understanding consumer behaviour.

One of the many streams of consumer research is Consumer Culture Theory (CCT). The theory explains how cultures embed values within consumers that consequently, impact transactions happening at marketplaces. It also observes how emotions, attitudes and biases affect purchase behaviour.

What Is Culture And How Does It Affect Your Consumer?

Culture is a blanket term that encompasses all social behaviour and norms found in human societies. These norms determine what’s acceptable in society. Moreover, these norms decide what people should value in a society and what to disregard.

Deep Dive Into Culture’s Impact On Consumers

Students at the California university piloted a study on culture and advertising. An ethnically diverse sample of Americans was chosen for this study.

When participants were exposed to ads and asked about their immediate thoughts on them, differences arose. the Americans liked ads that were promotional in appeal; ads that touted the benefits. In contrast, the Asian Americans valued ads that were preventive in appeal– ads that expounded the problems that could be avoided.

The decisions of the participants were predisposed to their culture:

  • Americans value the positive consequences such as achievement, accomplishment, independent thinking.
  • Asian Americans value aspects such as protection and security.

The insights above reveal how growing up in different cultures can affect people when they take a cursory glance at ads. The results, however, differed when the participants were asked to view the ads deeply.

However, marketers these days are required to often plan for such cursory glances and get attention with catchy hooks and. It is more relevant than ever to understanding consumers’ cultures and differentiate yourself.

What Is Consumer Culture Theory?

Arnould, E. J. and Thompson, C. J explain Consumer Culture Theory as “a family of theoretical perspectives that seek to explain the trio of consumer actions, market place and cultural meanings.” 

Traditionally, consumption behaviour is seen from economic and psychological standpoints. In contrast, The Consumer Culture Theory lays greater emphasis on examining how consumption is impacted by social and cultural climates.

The theory is not a grand consolidation of any consumer behaviour. Rather, it is a group of theoretical perspectives that explain the interactions that happen on the marketplace taking into account social, cultural, socio-historic institutions contexts.

In simpler words, take into consideration any sport you play. You have rules that lay constraints on how you play. In order to make the best out of the game and win, you improvise within the rules.

Similarly, the social and cultural influences on a person set the rules according to which they make buying decisions in a marketplace. This is what the Consumer Culture Theory strives to explain.

3 Insights From Consumer Culture Theory for Social Media Marketing

Consumer culture theory provides the following insights for social media marketing:

  1. People love forming culturally relevant tribes
  2. Consumers connect with relatable content
  3. Create “Remarkable” content
  4. Psychographic targetting

The Tribe Mentality

People love forming tightly bound groups which manifest as societies, communities, neighbourhoods in the real world. In the market place, the groups manifest as brand loyalists and evangelists, fan clubs etc. The group based on common behaviour, interests and practices.

Consumer culture research addresses this by pointing out that consumers “forge feelings of social solidarity and create distinctive, fragmentary, self-selected, and sometimes transient cultural worlds through the pursuit of common consumption interests.”

Social media makes forming tribes or online “groups” easier for people. Most of these groups are interest-driven. People gravitate and participate in groups to find relatability and relevance.

This is why there are more than 10 million Facebook groups used by over 1 billion users.

Businesses who build groups around their brand can build a loyal audience out of it. This makes your brand and products more attractive bringing in social proof and encouraging word of mouth. Moreover, building a community brings in repeat purchases without much marketing.

Since social media groups are formed by people who have similar interests you can tap into their desires to contribute to your brand. More than 50% of consumers wish that the brand would tell them what content to create and share. This pulls on the consumer culture theory and the psychology behind the need to find and display relevance in a group.

Relatable Content

Ever tried to associate a photo/meme containing Dicaprio and a motivational quote to your life?

People seek, attach and relate meanings of the reality they see around themselves, both in the real and virtual world. Even on social media, people try to make sense of content and try to relate it to their lives. Relatability is the secret sauce of great content.

Consumer culture theory states that “consumers consume marketplace ideologies, here content, and bend their meaning to fit their version of reality.” For instance, buy people Star Wars accessories to endow onto themselves the values, they get inspired by the movie series.

Similarly, case studies work because they offer relatable narratives to potential customers. 48% of social media users want content that is relevant to at least one of their needs- functional, social or emotional.

To successfully make use of customers’ beliefs and attitudes develop a buyer persona and tailor content accordingly. Additionally, you can use social listening to emulate the language of your customers.

Remarkable Content

This has been a buzzword in social media marketing for quite some time now. Remarkable content is a piece of content that is worthy of people’s attention and notice. After they consume remarkable content, they tend to pass a remark or a comment about your content.

Remarks in social media mean that you get engagement for your content. But, isn’t attention in social media a scanty resource? Then, how can you create remarkable content?

Consumer culture theory proposes that 3 factors guide people’s consumption and possession:

  • hedonistic
  • aesthetic
  • ritualistic

In simpler words, people purchase to satisfy their need for pleasure, beauty and identity.

Taking after CCT, your social media marketing strategy should centre around creating content to satisfy these aspects.

Hedonistic – Develop content that is actionable enough for your audience to solve their problems quickly.

Aesthetic – Make people aspire for beauty and personal development in your ad copies. Develop high-quality images, graphic and videos that tap into the aesthetic desires of consumers.

Ritualistic – Tap into the human desire to follow rituals. For example, Oreo uses emotional storytelling to repeatedly portray how the biscuit should be eaten. The adage “twist, lick, dunk,” existed even in human behaviour even before Oreo ads showed them.

Oreo created an existing consumer culture and ritualised it creating an experience exclusive to the brand itself.

Conclusion: Target Based On Beliefs And Attitudes

CCT emphasises on the importance of understanding consumer cultures while marketing. Particularly, with social media marketing becoming vital for overall user experience, analysing cultures for content creation and marketing is essential.

Social media is more useful when using culture-based segmentation and targeting. Facebook advertising is a psychographic savvy platform to exploit people attitudes, interests and buying behaviours. Using Facebook Audience insights you could even crackdown and segregate users based on the pages they like, race, groups etc.

How Can ORH Marketing Help With Social Media Marketing

ORH Marketing is a culture conscious marketing agency. As a company, we believe in fostering a workplace that is diversity conscious.

Our marketing strategists have a great track record of changing the marketing fortunes of clients from around the world.

Do you need more tips on tapping into the dominant consumer culture of your target market for your social media marketing?

Contact us today.

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