Do you know the science of why? – Part 1

What do you really know about your customers? Sure, you couldn’t possible know everyone’s shoe size, or how many siblings or children each customer has – but there are other things you really should know. For example, what drives your customers to grab your products off the shelf and not your competitor’s? Or, conversely, what makes customers pick your competitor’s products over yours?

In The Science of Why, Jay Ingram takes a closer look at just such questions. By presenting the findings of his own scientific research, he opens a window into the minds of consumers, and puts forward the MindSight Matrix, a tool to help you see the different factors at play when consumers choose what to buy (or not to buy), what they think and what motivates them – in other words, knowledge you definitely want to have when deciding on a marketing strategy.

There’s one main force that motivates action: a desire for change. Whether an elderly lady buying a new pair of slippers or a young professional joining a gym, all customers are looking for change, and the MindSight Matrix helps pinpoint exactly what kind of change is wanted.

There are three categories of desired change: expectations, experiences and outcomes. Expectations are what customers want to change in the future. To attract customers hoping to change their expectations, marketers should focus on giving them a vision of the future where the product has opened up new opportunities for them. Experiences are what customers want to change in the present moment. And, finally, outcomes reflect how satisfied customers are with their past choices.

There are also three categories of motivations: intrapsychic motivations, instrumental motivations and interpersonal motivations. To identify motivation, we have to specify where we want the change to take place.

Change can either be internal or outward-directed. If you want to change how you feel about or perceive yourself, then you’re longing for internal change. If you want to change your outward appearance or physical surroundings, or buy a new product, then you desire outward-directed change.

Outward-directed change can be driven by either instrumental motivations or interpersonal motivations. Instrumental motivations are what inspire you to buy those Nike sneakers or that Chanel handbag, or to take that vacation to Fiji. Interpersonal motivations, on the other hand, are what move you to align yourself with a particular reference group – be it punks, clubbers, sports fans or activists.

Here’s a question: have you expressed yourself today? And here’s another: have you bought anything today? If you answered yes to the second question, then you can probably answer yes to the first. Many of our purchases are driven by intrapsychic motivations; simply put, we buy things to say something about ourselves.

Consumers that respond to intrapsychic motivations value how a product will make them feel about themselves. These types of consumers are notoriously hard to satisfy, because only they know their true personal desires. To attract such consumers, marketers develop campaigns that focus on how a product will make an individual feel.

All of us have one of those really indecisive friends. He or she spends ages deciding what to purchase, then gets cold feet at the last minute and leaves the store empty-handed due to some minor worry regarding the product. If you don’t have one of those friends, you might even be that friend yourself. But don’t worry! There’s no shame in it.

Consumers like this are security-oriented: they want secure, reliable relationships with brands. They don’t want to worry about fluctuating quality or sudden price increases.

To please these customers, marketers need to give the impression that their product will always provide what is wanted. A baby food brand, for example, wants mothers to know that their food is nourishing, has recyclable packaging and tastes good. Nothing more, nothing less!

Another type of shopper is the identity-oriented consumer. Such consumers seek brands that confer prestige or social status on their owners. These consumers buy based on what they associate with the brand. Think about women who walk around in Burberry trench coats or men who drive Lamborghinis: these brands reflect who these people want to be.

Finally, there are mastery-oriented consumers. They love brands just as much as the identity-oriented ones, but don’t buy to get social recognition; they buy for themselves. They want to make purchases that help them be the best they can be at their hobby or passion. This means products that are innovative, high quality or professional grade. To be continued…

Check out my related post: What do you need and what do you want?

Interesting reads:


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