Reference Groups in Marketing: Definition, Types & Examples

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  • 0:00 Definition of Reference Groups
  • 0:25 Types of Reference Groups
  • 0:54 Application in…
  • 2:30 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Shawn Grimsley

Shawn has a masters of public administration, JD, and a BA in political science.

Have you ever wanted to be like Mike? In this lesson, you'll learn about reference groups and their importance in marketing. You'll also have a chance to take a short quiz after the lesson.

Definition of Reference Groups

A reference group includes individuals or groups that influence our opinions, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors. They often serve as our role models and inspiration. Marketers view reference groups as important because they influence how consumers interpret information and make purchasing decisions. Reference groups influence what types of products you will purchase and which brand of product you choose.

Types of Reference Groups

Reference groups can be divided into two major types:

  • A normative reference group influences your norms, attitudes, and values through direct interaction. Examples of your normative reference groups include your parents, siblings, teachers, peers, associates and friends.
  • A comparative reference group is a group of individuals whom you compare yourself against and may strive to be like. Examples include celebrities and heroes.

Application in Marketing & Examples

Marketers use reference groups to lend credibility to products and services and help convince potential customers to purchase the product. Celebrity product endorsements are a common strategy used to sell products. Similarly, marketers may create advertising that implies that your normative reference group prefers a particular product or service. Let's look at some examples.

Your child wants to be a professional basketball player and practically worships a certain professional basketball player. Your son's sports hero has a side gig as a product endorser for an athletic company that sells shoes, apparel, and equipment. Your son begs you to purchase the shoes, apparel, and equipment endorsed by his hero because he wants to be like the pro.

You like playing the violin, and your favorite concert violinist endorses a particular violin produced by a particular manufacturer. You decide that the artist must know what she is doing, so you purchase the type and brand endorsed.

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