“You can’t always get what youwant, but if you try sometimes, well you might find you get what you need” – Rolling Stones
Let’s take a moment to boil down the study of the psychology behind consumer behavior into one simple concept – CHOICE. When presented with a selection of number of possibilities, consumers select the option that most aligns with their preferences or needs. The following four constructs impact consumer behavior:
- The psychology of how the consumer feels emotionally about or connected to the product or how they can distinguish between competitive products
- The environment in which the consumer engages the products (i.e. in person, on-line, alone or with trusted friends)
- The depth of information the consumer has regarding the possible selections
- The motivation of the consumer to make the selection relative to their investment in the need for the product
EMOTION – ENVIRONMENT- INFORMATION – MOTIVATION
Successful businesses use these 4 constructs of choice to influence the consumer in their behavior and design their marketing campaigns and strategies to connect on these levels.
Emotions drive decisions, and consumer behavior’s core motivator is emotion. A strong positive emotional connection to a product provides excellent motivation to select that product again in the future. A strong negative will likely impact future selection. Whether it is in the packaging, the presentation, the delivery or the consumer experience, building the proper emotional response for the product will generate additional motivation for selection.
According to Jeff Rutowski in How your emotions drive buying decisions, “People buy to solve problems, alleviate concerns, and to eliminate fear. The underlying message to this is that people buy based on emotion and then justify their purchase with facts.”
Environment impacts consumer behavior as a secondary response to emotions. A consumer’s cultural heritage, family history and friends influence the selection process. If friends or family make certain choices, it is likely that the consumer will make similar choices. This is why word of mouth advertising is so effective. A friend has a strong emotional experience about a product, and tells a friend about this experience and thus provides environmental stimuli for that second friend to make a consumer decision.
Informed consumers are also more likely to make selection because consumers are able to focus less on the gathering of details, and more on the actual environment of selection. Studies have shown that knowledgeable consumers are less likely to be constrained by price in their selection process (The Effect of Prior Knowledge on Price Acceptability and the Type of Information Examined – Rao & Sieben) Therefore, it is important to educate the consumer as what people know about a selection outcome, or what people perceive they know about the outcome determines how much they are willing to invest to ensure they reach the outcome.
Finally, a motivated consumer that has an invested need a particular outcome will more likely make a selection. In Consumer Behavior, Wayne D. Hoyer & Deborah J. McInnis state that “…when consumers are highly motivated to achieve a goal, they are more likely to pay careful attention to it, think about it, attempt to understand or comprehend goal-relevant information, evaluate the information critically, and try to remember it for later use.” In this aspect, motivation helps feed the information component of consumer behavior. Someone who is motivated is more likely to seek out a certain outcome, while someone with less motivation may easily pass by a choice, even if they have a strong emotional connection to it.
In conclusion, an organization that understands the emotional needs and motivation of the consumer, relates to their environment, and provide a source of knowledge, builds a stronger relationship with their clients and influences decisions. Through the evolution of technology and strategic media marketing, organizations can leverage this consumer behavior and achieve their organizational goals.
“Consumer behavior has changed and the business model has not changed.” – Rich Barton (former Microsoft executive and founder of online travel company Expedia)