The objective of this paper is to focus on a spousal influence strategy that has not been investigated previously by consumer researchers: triangulation. Triangulation is the process by which a third‐party is enlisted to intervene and convince the other spouse; this person can be a friend, a relative, or one or more of the couple's children.
A survey questionnaire was completed by 192 couples who were asked to evaluate their own and their mates' influence strategies in four different purchase decisions.
It was found that, in general, men tend to triangulate more frequently than women. Men triangulate most frequently during a vacation decision. Less frequently, triangulation was found regarding a new residence place, followed by Saloon furnishing and TV set. Women tend to triangulate most frequently in a new residence place, followed by a vacation. Regarding all of the third persons which comprised this strategy, with the exception of “ask our child/children”, men reported a significantly greater tendency to ask a third person to influence. Conversely, women reported a significantly greater tendency to ask the child/children to influence their husbands. The longer the marital relationship, the less the use of triangulation strategy among men.
Advertising messages for products that are purchased by a joint decision can encourage or discourage triangulation. If there is a reason to expect that triangulated persons would have a positive attitude toward the product, the message would be more effective if it encourages triangulation, and vice versa.
Findings documented in the paper shed light on the triangulation strategy, a hitherto unexplored aspect in consumer behavior literature. Consumer researchers should take into account the influence of close friends and relatives that might play a role in couple purchase decision processes.
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