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Mariam Hashmi


1. SUMMERY:                                                                         3

2. INTRODUCTION:                                                                3

3. THE NATURE OF REFERENCE GROUP INFLUENCE                                    3

    3.1.        Informational Influence                                                        3

    3.2.        Normative influence                                                              4


    3.3.        Identification Influence                                                        4


4. Celebrity as a referent power in advertising                                4


5. Referent  power involvement                                                        7


6. How Much Does It affect                                                         8

7. Degree of Reference Group Influence                                          9                

8. when will it effect                        

9. CONCLUSION                                                                        10                                

10. REFERENCES                                                                         12                                                                        



Referent power plays a very important role in marketing communication, following report look in to different influences groups and referent power. How referent power affect one. How affective a referent power is? How a marketer can use it to his advantage. What are the factors which make referent power effective? Different theories have been discussed. This report will be looking critically on evaluating the role of referent power in marketing, evaluate the role it will play in future, and provide a future marketing plan.


This report of “Referent power and why it can be a potent force for marketing appeals” was written as a final assignment for the Consumer Behavior module.

Humans are social animals and they always looks to other for appreciation, they want acceptance in the social circle. They identify themselves with some groups and consciously or subconsciously they imitate members of the group “to fit in“. They try to imitate those qualities by copying the referent’s behavior. What we think of ourselves is influenced in our social interaction by the reaction of others whose values we share or judgment we respect. Our attire, vehicles we use and career make statements about us, and our behaviors and lifestyles are the presentation of ourselves to our influence groups. By wearing a particular brand T shirt bring us closure to our group.


Advertisers have different task while creating a promo or advertising depending on what are their target segment. Marketers use all three major influencing groups before launching a campaign. There are three form of reference group; Informational, normative and identification


  1. Informational Influence


When an individual is not sure he uses the behavior and opinion of reference group members as potentially useful bits of information and try to copy it. In this case individual may have similarity with the other members of the group or expertise of the member group. So a person sees members of group using the same brand of tea he may decide to try same for Himself because he has evidence that it may be a good brand. Ads which wants to use informational power will quote something like” they used it will you?”  “ Intelligent people like only one thing…”  

REFERRENT power is the power of prominent people to affect others’ consumption behaviors by virtue of product endorsement ( 50 cents for Reebok)(Pic 1.1), distinctive fashion statements On the cover of US Magazine today.  Celebrity Baby Jessica Alba's little princess, Honor Marie Wearing Ooh La La Mama's FLY SPIRIT onesie). or championing of causes. Campaign began with identifying three major sports figures who had a connection to lung cancer (Troy Aikman, Joe Buck, and Cal Ripken, Jr ( Pic 1.2)

To understand this mechanism an example is helpful. Suppose there are two restaurants and a group of people on the street outside deciding which one to eat at. The most well-informed individuals (those with higher precision in making these types of decisions) will decide first and everyone will see some people start to line up outside of one restaurant. If the others know this person is of higher precision (and even if they don’t) a few people will follow their lead and join the line. Each new person who lines up outside of the restaurant sends a signal to the rest of the group (and in particular their friends and family) that this is the restaurant to pick. The more people who follow the signal, the stronger it gets and you have an Informational Cascade.

Pic 1.2

The idea is presented in rigorous detail in a paper called “Theory of fads, Fashion, Custom and Cultural Change as Informational cascades”” written by Sushil Bikhchandani, David Hirshleifer and Ivo Welch and published in 1992. To paraphrase:

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An informational cascade occurs when it is optimal for an individual, having observed the actions of those ahead of him to follow the behavior of the preceding individual without regard to his own information…

The prediction that a low-precision individual imitates a higher-precision predecessor is consistent with the evidence of numerous psychological experiments demonstrating that a subject’s previous failure in a task raises the probability that in further trials he will imitate a model performing the task (see Thelen, Dollinger, and Kirkland 1979, p. 146)…

Reference group doesn’t have equal power for all types of products and consumption activities. Question ...

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