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Ethnographic Research on the Consumer Behavior of the Irish Culture

Info: 4436 words (18 pages) Essay
Published: 3rd Nov 2021 in Cultural Studies

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Introduction

Having experienced a stagnation in the economic growth between 1970s and 1980s, the Irish society witnessed a growth of its economy starting from late 1990s towards early 2000s (Sheehan, Berkery and Lichrou, 2017). The economic changes brought about a growth in employment rates leading to an increase in the gross domestic products. As a result, the Irish culture begun witnessing a positive shift in consumer expectations, optimism and confidence. There was increased consumer buying power and their general living standards, due to increased personal spending on consumption. Therefore, the economic changes witnessed in the Ireland starting from late 1990s contributed positively in raising and strengthening the aggregate demand and overall household consumption among the Irish people.

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Available information reveals that the Irish culture underwent a rapid transition of consumer behavior from scarcity to affluence between the nineteenth century and the twentieth century (Sheehan, Berkery and Lichrou, 2017). The transition in consumer behavior became evident when most of the Irish people started abandoning traditional consumption as their consumption rose steadily above subsistence level. People started obtaining goods and services through acquisition as opposed to the previous approach of household consumption while individuals started judging others based on their consumption styles and levels. That is, individuals started choosing services, products and activities that best define specific lifestyles which has been popularly identified as consumer culture.

Looking at the consumption behavior among the Irish people enables one to understand Irish as a consumer society.  The purchasing behavior of the Irish people is determined by quality, service and price (Sheehan, Berkery and Lichrou, 2017). The three purchasing determinants identified above have been found to vary by age of the consumers. For instance, the young population is mostly attracted to the brand and product awareness while the working-age population is interested in both brand and quality of the goods and services. On the other hand, the older population exhibit increased attraction towards high quality products. In spite of the recent recession as well as the Brexit standoff, Irish consumers have continued to exhibit distinguished consumption behavior (Sheehan, Berkery and Lichrou, 2017). Some consumers have begun to prefer discount stores while others prefer going to shops, making mobile payments as well as buying online. Therefore, this research paper aims to conduct an ethnographic study of the consumer behavior in the Irish culture.

Literature Review

Introduction

Numerous researches have been done with the aim of investigating and understanding factors that determine consumers’ buying behavior. Available information from various research findings identified social, cultural, personal and psychological factors as key influencers of consumers’ buying behavior (Pate and Adams, 2013: Solomon, 2012). While looking at cultural factors, various scholars have defined culture as a set of basic beliefs, values, way of life, wants, perceptions and behavior acquired by either an individual or a group of individuals in a given society (Kotler et al., 2015). However, the influence of culture on one’s consumption behavior varies from one society to another based on specific factors such as religion, race, cultural environment and family. The social factors that have an impact on an individual’s consumption behavior include family, status, social roles and reference groups. Also, we have the psychological factors that influence consumption behavior. The psychological factors include perception, learning, beliefs and motivation. On the other hand, personal factors include variables like age, lifestyle, life-cycle stage, self-concept and personality (Rani, 2014).

Consumer Behavior

Various scholars have defined consumers and individuals who buy goods and services purposely for personal consumption. Although observation of consumers buying habits can enable one to understand their behavior, getting a clear understanding of the reasons that make them to behave in a certain way or why they certain products is not easy. Therefore, it is possible to study consumer behavior by looking at what they buy, how they buy and where they buy the goods and services. However, it is not easy to learn the reasons or whys of the consumer behavior. The main reason being that the answers to why consumers decide to buy certain products from a given retailer and at a given price lie in their minds (Kotler et al., 2015).

Therefore, the study of consumer behavior is a wide topic which requires thorough understanding of the processes undertaken by individuals and groups while selecting, purchasing and disposing ideas, services and products to satisfy their desires and needs. As a result, consumer behavior has been identified by Haghshenas, et.al (2013) as a combination of sociology, psychology, anthropology as well as economics studies aimed at understanding the process by which consumers make buyer decisions whether individually or as a group.

Information from various studies reveal that consumers respond to various marketing strategies. The marketing strategies have been associated with the existence of ‘P’ stimuli including product, place, price and promotion. Also, availability of marketing forces in the purchasers’ environment have been found to influence consumers’ behavior. The forces include economic, cultural, technological and social factors. The factors were clearly summarized by Kotler et al., in the table below (2015).

Figure 1: Kotler’s Consumer Behavior Model (2012)

Factors affecting Consumer Behavior

Available research information reveal a number of factors that influence consumer behavior. The factors include cultural, personal, social and psychological influencers. Despite being informed of the factors that influence consumer behavior, marketers do not have direct control of the factors (Solomon, Russell-Bennett and Previte, 2012). Therefore, they should pay close attention to the factors whenever deciding about appropriate sells strategies of introducing products into the market. A summary of the four main factors influencing consumer behavior is captured in the figure below.

Figure 2: Factors that influence Consumer Behavior (Kotler et al., 2015)

Lifestyle factors have been described in various studies as patterns of living of an individual. The pattern of living comprises of activities, opinions and interests. Examples of activities that influence consumer behavior include hobbies, work, social events and shopping (Sellors, 2014). On the other hand, interests consist of family, leisure, fashion and food. Therefore, lifestyle presents consumption pattern that an individual observes while spending his or her money and time (Rani, 2014). Also, lifestyle has been described as a way by which an individual choses to allocate his or her income to specific alternatives in the category of goods and services (Sellors, 2014). That is, lifestyle encompasses specific patterns of consumer behavior resulting from individuals’ inner values. In addition, lifestyle has been used by various marketers when identifying consumer behavior in the market. The main reason being that every generation’s unique characteristics of consumer behavior can be comfortably associated with its preferred lifestyle.

Also, personal factors and social factors have been identified as being among the key determinants of consumer behavior. Personal factors that influence consumer behavior include personality concept (Pate and Adams, 2013). Personality has been identified as the unique traits of a person. Personality traits from the basis upon which an individual is differentiated from another. The traits include the approach by which a person makes buying decisions, opinions, interests and habits (Pape, Rau, Fahy and Davies, 2011). At times, individual buying decisions are informed by factors such as culture, age, gender, and personal issues. Also, one’s consumption behavior is influenced by social networks and groups, opinion leaders and family members.

Social networks and groups play a big role in influencing consumer behavior. Many consumer rely on information available on social media to make decisions on what to buy, when, where and at what price (Kotler et al., 2015). Consumers mostly look out for opinions and reviews made by other consumers about certain products and brands before purchasing them. Also, social media have become reliable platforms where consumers discuss and share ideas about various products and brands thereby influencing their buying behavior. For instance, the Trends magazine reveals that most of the young people not only rely on peer reviews before buying a product but also uses the shared information when determining product or service worthiness (Haghshenas et al., 2013). There is, also, research information which identifies social groups as another factor with the capability to influence consumer habits. Consumers can buy and use certain goods and services which are common among members of a given social with the sole purpose to fit in. Members of such social groups include family members, co-workers and friends. Others include members of professional groups, religious groups and clubs.

Opinion leaders form another factor which influence consumer behavior.  Some consumers look out for opinions from others concerning certain goods and services before they can decide to buy a given product. The information from opinion leaders serve various purposes of influencing consumers’ behavior (Goldsmith and Clark, 2008). For instance, some consumers will look out for information from opinion leaders with the aim of reducing time required to search a product at the same time gaining guidance on the image-related guidance of the new products.

Also, the study of the role of opinion leaders in determining consumer behavior has been studied using three fashion theories. The theories include downward, horizontal and upward flow theories (Bailey and Seock, 2013). The downward flow theory makes use of wealthy fashion leaders like celebrities and politicians who have access to different media. The theory states that fashion choices made by opinion leaders will mostly be accessible to many consumers and get influenced to replicate them. The horizontal flow theory observes that the prestige lifestyle of opinion leaders make them become leaders in their circles while the upward flow theory states that individuals of lower economic status whose fashion trends influence consumers of higher status in the society. Therefore, opinion leaders adopt a fashion trend ahead of the other consumers and inspire their followers to adopt the trend as well.

Methods

Study design

The study design of this research made use of evidence based researches while focusing on conducting a comparative assessment of the outcome against the interview data from two members of the Irish consumer group. The consent and protocol procedure was observed closely, despite having only two formal approvals from participants of the interview process since the research also relied on the evidence recorded in the secondary internet sources. However, the whole process of obtaining credible information for the research ensured that only statistically supported researches were consulted during the research process. Also references obtained from the selected studies were searched together with other relevant review articles online to get additional important citations.

Search method

The search method involved extensive literature search on electronic databases, and manual search as well. The electronic databases and sites searched during the study included Google scholar and SAGE journals. The search time started from the year of 2007 up to the year 2019. The language used during the search process was English. The terms searched during the study include consumer, consumption, consumer behavior, Irish culture, marketing strategies, consumer habits and Irish consumption market.  

The research paper and journal articles to be used during the study were carefully selected during the search process by reviewing their abstracts, citations as well as the full-text articles to determine content eligibility of all articles collected during the initial search. The relevance of the material was determined based on the preset inclusion and exclusion criteria as follows:

Inclusion criteria

Evidence based researches that provided description and analysis of consumer behavior, factors that affect consumer behavior and consumption behavior of the Irish culture were included in the study. The next inclusion criteria focused on research papers and articles as well as news articles published in English in the last eleven years about consumer behavior. The third inclusion criteria was specifically on the consumer behavior and factors that influence consumption behavior in the Irish culture. Inclusion criteria of individuals who participated in the interview process included people who had participated in a culturally-bound activity like ceremony, party or celebration; traditional food; sports or artistic event; shopping, house cleaning, and beauty ritual.

The exclusion criteria involved

All the studies whose content had nothing to do with consumer behavior were excluded from the study. Also, studies and news articles whose content was written in other languages other than English were excluded. Besides, studies published more than eleven years ago were excluded from the study. Individuals who had participated in activities that were not culturally-bound were excluded from interview process.

Extraction of data

The process of obtaining data from the selected studies was done independently using data extraction forms while information from the interview data was extracted by transcribing the interviews then using the transcriptions to create codes to categorize the collected information. Also, data from eligible studies was extracted on the basis of characteristics of the study population, and quality of the study as well as outcome measurement.

Determining the possibility of biasness and quality of the study sources

The risk of biasness was assessed by looking at random sequence generation, the possibility of incomplete outcome data, and selective funding that could compromise the independence of the study. Summaries of the data collected through interview was arrived at after transcribing the interviews and using the transcriptions to create codes to categorize the information collected.

Outcome

There were two levels of outcome considered during the study. The two levels were the consumer behavior and factors that influence consumer behavior in Irish culture. The first outcome provided an explanation of various consumer behavior in the consumption market while the second level of outcome provided specific information about consumer behavior in the Irish culture. 

Results

A total of 10 research articles were retrieved during the search process, whereby 7 research articles were identified via the Google scholar database search while the remaining 3 articles were identified following other searches such as the search of key terms on the internet and abstract analysis. To develop a list of credible studies and articles with relevant content that satisfies the study objective, the research process relied upon the inclusion and exclusion criteria to ensure that any article that fails to satisfy the set criteria was not included in the study. As a result, a total of 10 articles were selected as having relevant content and the ability to satisfy the set inclusion criteria. The following list presents the total articles that satisfied the inclusion criteria during the search process, as well as their content being relevant with regard to the study objective.

Table 1: Summary of research Articles considered in the study

Author (Year)

Outcome

Level one

Level two

Bailey and Seock, (2013)

Relationship between fashion leadership, magazine and consumer behavior

 

Goldsmith and Clark, (2008)

Impacts of fashion opinion leadership on consumer behavior

 

Haghshenas, et.al (2013)

Factors affecting consumer behavior

 

Kotler et al., (2015)

Consumer behavior

 

Pate and Adams, (2013)

Impacts of social networking on consumer behavior.

 

Pape, Rau, Fahy and Davies, (2011)

 

Experience of Irish consumer behavior

Rani, (2014)

Factors that affect consumer behavior

 

Sellors, (2014)

Impact of social media on consumer behavior

 

Sheehan, Berkery and Lichrou, (2017)

 

Consumer behavior of Irish society

Solomon, Russell-Bennett and Previte, (2012)

Consumer behavior

 

The results above shows that a total of ten articles were considered during the study. Out of the ten articles, eight contained relevant information about consumer behavior while two articles provided specific information about consumer behavior of the Irish culture. Also, it is clear from the table that only articles published not more than 11years were ago were considered in the study.

Discussion

This chapter provides an analysis and discussion of primary information obtained from the interview process as well as the secondary data accessed via the internet search of various articles about consumer behavior. There were two participants in the interview process, each of them being of opposite gender as shown in the next pie chart.

Figure 3: Chart representing gender of interview participants in percentage

Analysis of information contained in most articles provided interesting insights into consumer behavior that characterize the Irish culture. The behavior were categorized into four main groups of factors of social, personal, psychological and cultural. The impacts of the four factors on consumer behavior were then analyzed by looking at the contribution of lifestyle, opinion leaders and social networks on the consumer behavior in the Irish culture. For instance, the information obtained from the interview process revealed that participants had social media accounts and used them to share and exchange information with other users concerning fashion trends and brand quality. The social media platforms used by the participants include Facebook, twitter, Instagram, snapchat.

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Concerning personality and lifestyle, most consumers in Irish culture have access to social platforms and use them to research and review products before deciding where and when to buy good and at what price. Also, personality influenced consumers’ behavior when deciding to try new brands of products. In addition, personal factors like economic situation and occupation determined consumers’ ability to make actual purchase of preferred products. Information obtained from the research revealed that social factors played a big role in influencing consumer behavior in the Irish culture, as most of the consumers were inspired by the choices of their leaders. Psychological factors of learning, influence, belief, and motivation influenced personal consumer behavior either for or against buying a given product. A summary of the analysis is captured in the figure below.

 

Figure 4: Bar graph representing a summary of Consumer behavior

Limitations

The research relied heavily on the information presented in previous researches. Also, a sample of two participants for the interview is very small and their response might not be representative of the actual consumer behavior of the Irish culture.

Recommendation

Future research should rely more on primary data collected from a large sample representative of the Irish consumer culture. Also, the study should focus more on consumer behavior among the youths as they not only represent the present and future consumers but also they are the future opinion leaders who will impact on future consumption behavior.

Conclusion

The information obtained from the study identify various consumer behavior as well as factors that influence consumer behavior in Irish culture. Since understanding the reasons as to why consumer exhibit certain behavior when purchasing goods and services is a complex affair, marketers need to understand the factors that define consumer environment such as social, cultural, psychological and personal factors to be able to introduce products that captures the interests of consumers. The main reason being that the factors define consumer behavior which must be addressed by marketers so as to increaser inspire consumers to buy goods and services introduced in the market. Therefore, appropriate marketing strategies should seek to address psychological, social, personal and cultural factors that define consumer behavior in Irish culture.

References

Bailey, L. R., & Seock, Y. K. (2010). The relationships of fashion leadership, fashion magazine content and loyalty tendency. Journal of Fashion Marketing and Management: An International Journal.

Goldsmith, R. E., & Clark, R. A. (2008). An analysis of factors affecting fashion opinion leadership and fashion opinion seeking. Journal of fashion marketing and management: an international journal, 12(3), 308-322.

Haghshenas, L., Abedi, A., Ghorbani, E., Kamali, A., & Harooni, M. N. (2013). Review consumer behavior and factors affecting on purchasing decisions. Singaporean Journal of Business, Economics and Management Studies, 51(1112), 1-8.

Kotler, P., Burton, S., Deans, K., Brown, L., & Armstrong, G. (2015). Marketing. Pearson Higher Education AU.

Pape, J., Rau, H., Fahy, F., & Davies, A. (2011). Developing policies and instruments for sustainable household consumption: Irish experiences and futures. Journal of Consumer Policy, 34(1), 25-42.

Pate, S. S., & Adams, M. (2013). The influence of social networking sites on buying behaviors of millennials. Atlantic Marketing Journal, 2(1), 7.

Rani, P. (2014). Factors influencing consumer behaviour. International journal of current research and academic review, 2(9), 52-61.

Sellors, A. (2014). Social Media Influences on Fashion. Social Media Today.

Sheehan, A., Berkery, E., & Lichrou, M. (2017). Changing role of women in the Irish society: an overview of the female consumer. The Irish Journal of Management, 36(3), 162-171.

Solomon, M., Russell-Bennett, R., & Previte, J. (2012). Consumer behaviour. Pearson Higher Education AU.

Appendix 1: Transcribed interviewee responses

Transcribed interview (Interview responses to the questions)

Codes (consumer behavior)

Situations and life experiences influence the decision and choice to buy a trendy product.

Cultural factor and social factor

Shared values in the community influences the preferred products among the members. Also, interactions on sharing of information on social platforms determines the level of trust that one develops in a new brand of products.

Children learn and emulate their parents and other family members in selecting goods and services to buy

Choice of the products is influenced by age, gender, personality, lifestyle and self-concept

Personal factor

Occupation as well as economic factors determines one’s buying ability

Individual perception, beliefs and attitude influence the choice of goods and services purchased.

Psychological factor

Individual motivation and learning informs the decision to buy a given product.

Appendix 2: Logs of dress codes during a birthday party attended by interviewees

Birthday party: ladies were to wear elegant dress with killer pairs of daintier heels to the party. On the other hand, put on a well-fitted dark suit, a white shirt and a dark tie.

Both men and women put on bold jewelry while girls wore jacquard skirts and bib necklaces to impress.

 

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