Making decisions about consumption of objects


One of the key functions of a family as argued by contemporary Marxists in capitalist communities is to behave as a consumption unit (O’Malley & Prothero 2007). Meaning that in order to keep capitalism running the family has to purchase essential products. The idea of false needs helps one to conceptualize this theory where according to Marxist theory false needs are nothing but perceived needs. Instead of creating peoples real needs the system which is capitalistic creates perceived needs. Food, shelter and clothing are referred to as real needs since they are basic materials that human need for survival. However general welfare, health and education might also be categorized under these needs. On the other hand, capitalism demands make false needs to arise as opposed to what human beings really need. False wants come up because individuals perceive the system as unfair and the effect of this is that they improvise needs that distract them from the unfair system. Also, because their social status individuals purchase items that represents their social standing. At the same time parents buy their kids or even themselves items that put them apart from the rest. At other times to maintain the capitalistic system manageable fear sets in within people. This leads them to purchase products out of fear or buy products to have a feeling of safety.

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Studies on consumer behavior have given more attention on how individuals consume products and services. For many years, approach that focuses majorly on individuals has persisted leading to questioning many decisions made by consumers (Bagozzi, 2000; Davis 1976). It is seen as relevant when there is high involvement by adult members of a family while making decisions about consumption of objects that are of financial significance or decisions are socially important and the rate at which they are carried out is low (Kirchler, 1988). Consumption by family though it looks simple is complicated. The reason for this is that family consumption is not only about selecting goods or services but also making decisions about how families relate (Holttinen, 2014).  Also, the perception that they have on themselves and how they would like to be seen by others is equally important (Martens et al, 2006). Consumption by families means the combined effort by members of the family to engage the process of consumption that impact family life (Phillips, 2008). Therefore, during Christmas holidays (Tyanan and McKechnie, 2006), events such as holidays by families (Schanzen and Yeoman, 2015), and refreshments during thanksgiving (Wallendorf and Arnould, 1991) play a significant role in uniting families. The market might be ignoring the power of families coming together (Horchschild, 2003). However, there are several factors to consider while making decisions familities in families.

  1. The individual who initiates the decision to make purchases.

The decision to buy either a product must be initiated by someone within the family. However, the decision to be made depends on which product is to be purchased. Ultimately the one who decides is one who is likely to benefit the most from the purchase.

2.The individual who controls the decision-making process.

It is only after a keen evaluation of the purchase making information that real products and services are purchased. Members of the family are only involved in the evaluation process if the said product includes them or the nature of the product.

3.The individual who decides about price.

The product price and the structure of the family in terms of roles determines who makes the decision. In most cases the husband makes decisions related to items.

  1. the individual who finally decides about price.

The products nature and its importance play a role at this point. For instance, if they will all use the product then the decision-making process includes them all.





There are numerous examples illustrating how families buy and consume products that if categorized would end up as false needs. consequently, the system being a capitalist one eventually serves its needs. some of the examples include the following:

  1. Because parents do not have time to manage their children reason being that they have to go and work in a system that is capitalistic in nature, they buy their children products and services to distract them and to keep them silent while at the same time expecting the children to manage themselves. Some of these product and services might include purchasing toys or even subscribing to media channels that offer entertainment channels.
  2. To have children have a greater competitive edge in education parents buy products and services. This might include hiring personal educational coaches, subscribing to online educational classes or eve buy additional learning materials. Marxists terms this as class inequality theory in education because the low class cannot buy their children a better education.
  3. To offer their families a sense of status parents make purchases to their families. This might include buying their children or themselves expensive phones, clothing or even purchase expensive cars that sets them aside from the rest.
  4. At times parents may purchase products or services that keep their children safe. As they go to work in the capitalistic system, they may opt to hire individuals to take care of their children while they work. At other times they may decide to take their children to day cares where their children are taken care of at a fee.
  5. Since one who benefits the most from any purchase is likely to make the purchase decision, in kitchen appliances for example, the wife is likely to initiate the decision to purchase.

Recommendation to marketers

  1. Marketers should put more emphasis to hosting specifically kid night events which is a great way to attract family’s attention. However, shifting to hotels, marketers should probably offer kids meals at a discount or even free. Additionally, if people come dressed in a certain dress code and submit their encouraging cards or even make donation of canned food then an additional treat is offered to them. Coming up with creative ways such as gyms that are open in local schools would appeal to the wants of families who are in search of ways to make their children feel entertained at an affordable price.
  2. Marketers should understand that some products will be used by a family member while the other products may be used by all family members. This is because there are times where the husband plays the sole role in decision making while in other situations the wife makes purchasing decisions alone. Additionally, the children make those decisions as independent entities. Therefore, marketers should have knowledge on which of the situation plays out while marketing their products.





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