There is a psychology behind marketing that is often ignored in favour or tried and tested strategies. But in order to continue securing those all-important conversions and developing a brand alongside a growing business, it’s necessary to understand this psychology.
The first thing to appreciate are the stages that people go through before they make a purchase. There are five of these and they are:
This stage takes place when the customer realises that they want, need or simply desire something.
This stage will see the customer take their interest and turn it into action. They will be searching for a solution to their problem, essentially. This stage could require a range of research types, such as consulting online reviews and speaking to a personal network, or it may simply involve buying the product without further thought.
After carrying out the search, most product purchase decisions will require a comparison. It tends only to be immediate and low-cost consumer products which are bought without a comparison stage. Truly unique products may also be bought without a comparison if the customer is sufficiently aware and convinced of the benefits and has determined that other providers of the same or a comparable offer do not exist.
4.Decision to buy
When the customer has identified the solution which best fits their needs, they will decide to buy it and complete the transaction.
Once the customer has bought their chosen product or service, they will assess it and decide whether or not their decision was a good one. They will think about whether the reality of the product met their expectations and whether the price point was appropriate, given the value of the product itself.
Of course the customer journey isn’t always a straight road and people are come to purchasing decisions in slightly different ways. and despite how we might feel like all our purchasing decisions are made purely on rational consideration, this couldn’t be further from the case. Research shows that we are heavily influenced by our psychology, emotions and social norms and customs. What’s more these processes have been shown to be entirely subconscious. Tapping into them is the brand marketer’s gold mine.
The key factors which influence our purchasing decisions can be broken down as follows:
1. Psychological factors
Most of us simply aren’t aware of the deep array of psychological factors that affect the way we experience the world, our attitudes, feelings, judgements and perceptions. These early experiences and influences determine our motivations and beliefs, the way that we learn (and the lessons that we draw from life) and our broader experiences. Certain people, despite scientific proof being available for valid theories regarding the world we live in, choose to believe rather bizarre ideas, such as the earth being flat, for example. In such cases, customers will need to feel that brands understand their belief systems in order to be compelled to make a purchase.
As customers therefore, our emotions play a key part in defining how our mind becomes focused upon achieving a goal or desire, in this case through a purchase. Some consumers are motivated only to fulfil their very basic needs of security. Others will feel motivated to achieve their needs for self-esteem through purchases.
Perception is unique to every individual and their experiences and personality. Every consumer, therefore, has a unique blend of criteria that they use to make decisions. Again, these may or may not be conscious.
Learning factors determine the extent to which a customer will be inclined to research their product choices. This will typically be more involved if the item needs to last, or if it is high value. This is particularly the case where the brand or product is new. Remember that brand experience and perception will have a huge impact on the likelihood of a purchase – and a return purchase.
Belief systems describe attitudes and beliefs alike, both of which impact the decision to purchase. Savvy marketers realise that, along with tried and tested tactics, values are key to developing awareness of a brand. Customers will choose brands that have congruent values with their own.
For example, today’s customers are prepared to seek out sustainable brands who believe in eco-friendly business and who demonstrate this ethos. Customers will often be prepared to pay more and to go further to buy from these brands and from those that demonstrate corporate social responsibility in the way that they operate.
2. Personal factors
Again, this category captures a huge array of variables including interests, age, career, financial position and personality traits. What’s more, these traits will adjust and vary in their importance over time. Marketers can sometimes place individual consumers into groups for tighter demographic assessment and to better predict customer behaviour. If this can be done, marketing campaigns can be more tightly and accurately defined and launched.
3. Social factors
Societal pressure is intense and the desire to belong to certain groups will have a significant influence over the choice of products purchased. Social status is a key factor here, combined with the rise of influencer marketing on social media. Again, the importance of peer group opinions will change over time.
4. Cultural factors
Encompassing factors such as social class, this category overlaps with social and personal factors. It helps to fully capture the complexity of every consumer and the unique array of characteristics that will help to define whether or not they purchase a product and service.
In short, the buyer cycle may be easy to anticipate, but the influences on every customer’s purchase decision will be a complex array of interconnecting variables. Expert marketers will leverage experience, insight, technology and data to create compelling and impactful marketing campaigns that resonate with each defined audience – and which result in those all-important sales conversions.