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Continuing our look at the factors of consumer behavior, this month we take a look at social class. Remember, while we aren't able to control these factors of behavior, we should always take them into account.

Each person has different factors that affect their purchasing behavior - cultural, social, personal, and psychological. Social factors consist of the consumer's small groups and family.

There are two main kinds of groups to note.

1. Groups that have a direct influence and to which a person belongs are called membership groups (e.g. gym member).

2. Reference groups serve as indirect points of comparison or reference. (e.g. amateur athlete influenced by professional athletes).

Both types of groups expose people to new behaviors/lifestyles and influence their attitudes and self-concepts and create pressures to confirm to those groups. One of the biggest influences in product purchases comes from an individual's groups - word-of-mouth. This refers to personal words and recommendations of trusted friends, associates and other consumers.

Since word-of-mouth is such an large influence in most people's purchasing behaviors it is important to always provide above and beyond service. People won't recommend you to their groups if they had less than stellar service.

Family is the most important consumer buying organization in society. One big thing to note is that in recent studies, children influenced an additional $150 billion that their families spend on items such as food, clothing, entertainment and personal care items. Consider adding a children's section or end cap to cater to these big influencers.

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