3 Secrets of Consumer Psychology


Every day, marketers are working on figuring out the consumer psychology of purchasing. What makes people buy stuff, while avoiding others? Is consumer behaviour really so complicated? The answer is no; Humans are simple creatures. So simple, the next 3 secrets I reveal might seem obvious and hard to believe. Everything can be boiled down to these 3 broad ‘secrets’ of buying behaviour that subconsciously applies to the mass market. If you understand the psychology, you know how to market to people.

1. Consumers are silently begging to be led

The world is a complicated place filled with thousands of possible options. People think that having choices give them happiness, but according to psychologist Barry Schwartz in his book ‘The Paradox of Choice’, having ample choices actually leads shoppers to depression and anxiety! Whereas having no choice gives relief and happiness.

Consumers need to be led to the reasons to buy, explained why they should want a product and what benefits the product can give them. Don’t let them imply themselves, or have to figure out a reason. A straightforward ‘buy X because X will help you Y’ is the most effective message because consumers want to be led to the answer, and not have to think of creating the answer.

2. Consumers need to be told specific actions to take

In a similar vein, after knowing why they should buy, consumers need to be told how to buy. Detail specific, simple action steps that consumers need to take to gain the above mentioned benefits. Be as clear and concise as possible, cutting out as much variation as possible.

‘Pick up the phone and dial 9XXXXXXX’.

A straightforward call to action has to be explicitly stated. If it seems too much trouble, or there are way too many steps to access your product, consumers will instead think ‘Nah, maybe later’. And later means never.

3. Consumers won’t appreciate what you do for them until you explain its value

Even though you might be curing cancer or saving the world, but if you don’t explain the value of saving cancer, consumers will not appreciate the mountain of effort. It’s not just about explaining product features, but how does the feature benefit the consumer in his or her daily life?

Without explaining what value your product can provide that enhances their work or life, the product has no value. Even the basic necessities like food have to be explained.

Eating vegetables give you vitamins which prevent you from falling ill so often. Falling ill incurs a huge bill with the private clinic. Most advertisers stop at ‘vegetables give you vitamins’. Vitamins are inherently useless unless you explain what practical benefit it gives.

It might seem that consumers are mindless drones just wanting to be instructed. But can you blame us? Life is hard enough with the plethora of decisions we have to make in our career, our family, our love life.

Consumer psychology is simple and direct.

If I could just be told the best restaurant to go to without having to search through hundreds of possible venues, that would be great.