Why do people buy stuff?

Business idea has basically been unchanged for thousands of years. Industries manufacture products and services to turn waste into waste. Sounds pretty easy. Yet one of the problems that companies have faced since the dawn of time is how to persuade the customer to purchase their goods and services in an ethical way.

Ultimately, the aim is to make a customer buy something they need but don’t have, or get rid of something they have but don’t need or want.

What is the best way to do this? To really get thinking about the buyer psychology behind why people buy, here are some things to keep in mind (no pun intended):

1) Consumers’ Egos
Buyers would obviously think of themselves when making purchasing decisions about themselves, and what they stand to gain from purchasing. This means, as a seller, playing to this ego and even stroking the ego of your customer to make them more relaxed with the buying decision. Think about tackling the egocentric tendencies of a customer by answering this question from their perspective: “What’s in it for me? “If you can answer the question for them confidently and satisfactorily – before they even ask it – you’ll have gone a long way towards completing the deal.

2) Consumers make purchasing decisions rooted in subjective desires as much as in rational evidence.
The brain has two sides, and is sometimes described as left-brained (logical and analytical) or right-brained (intuitive, subjective). It’s not so black and white with the grey matter. Also if you can lean one way or the other, in your thought processes both sides of the brain still matter, and definitely in your buying decisions. We ‘re not machines, and we’re never going to make purchasing decisions based purely on rational considerations like economics (cost-benefit ROI analysis) or regulation.

3) Buyers are more committed to avoiding losses than to hunting for profits
Pointing out what a buyer stands to gain by purchasing your product needs a leap of imagination on their part-by purchasing by you, they have to imagine themselves in a new and better environment. It’s not always straightforward to take this sort of innovative and inventive leap, and can be tenuous.

However, claiming that they will no longer suffer the existing pains that they currently do is much more grounded in reality, based on the very human notion of fleeing losses. They already have this very real pain point, something they live with on a day-to-day basis. Once they have the conviction that you relate to and understand this pain point, and that you have the power to remove it, they will be much more convinced.

4) Of course consumers are suspicious
So why should they not be? Most sales reps have their own agendas (i.e. to sell), and customers should be aware, of course, that these are self-serving agendas which do not actually help anyone but themselves. That’s why selling experts often stress the value of creating a confidence- and reputation partnership. Consultative marketing has arisen specifically in order to transcend these consumers’ inherent distrust barriers and place the sales rep to not only sell them anything, but actually support them.

5) Buyers look for value
Psychologically, the possibility of actually ‘winning’ the fight against the seller is perked up by consumers, by having as much interest as possible. Note, value isn’t a set amount – it’s entirely subjective, based on what the buyer wants to gain and what they’re willing to pay. As a seller, you want to cater to this psychological desire to “win” by offering the greatest possible value, relative to quality. It is not just about ROI alone-there are still a lot of intangibles at stake.

Knowing why people buy falls into the hands of sales and marketing is easy to think about, and has nothing to do with how we design and create our goods. The thinking is partially right. Few products change their core features and functions to suit an ad campaign. Yet, for the product teams, benefit-first thinking is necessary. Here are some things you should keep in mind when combining functionality with feelings:

  1. Understand the motives of the consumers.
    There could be a difference between what the users felt they cared about, and what they value. Finding out why they are using your product will affect your design and approach to help reach their incentive centres. People your consumer may need some adjustment.

2. Help the user be who they want to be.
Think about why someone is buying or using your product. Now think about what your product does for them. If those two aren’t matching up, then you’re not meeting their expectations or wishes.

3. Render the product ‘s advantages clear within the user experience.

However if the company does great things for its consumers, they might not know this to be the case if it isn’t readily apparent. Think of how you can improve the advantages that you are giving. This reinforcement can be either constructive (“click here to save time”) or reactive (“doing X just saved you ten minutes.”).

4. Prioritize things that deliver benefits.
Every decision is a trade-off, so place a higher weight on initiatives that provide clear and conspicuous value to users. Make this a key ingredient in your prioritization framework of choice.

5. Make the experience frictionless.
Reduce measures and time taken to get them to their first assurance of confidence-building that the company delivers on its pledge. Whether it’s stellar onboarding or an automated UX, the longer it takes for them to feel better about themselves, the greater the likelihood they will bail out before they get there.

Check out my related post: What is Amazon Prime’s ecosystem?

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