What Really Motivates or Drives a Buying Decision?
We are surrounded and pounded daily with messages to buy something. Advertisements flood the market on our smartphones, computers, televisions, billboards and more urging us to take action for purchasing a car, home, health care products, business services, clothing – you name it. These messages are present every day, but what really drives us to make a buying decision? That answer usually falls into one of three categories: 1) Cost, 2) Emotions, and 3) Timing.
Even within the category of cost, there are several aspects that influence our buying behavior. Who doesn’t want to get a great deal when it comes to making a purchase? It’s hard to find someone who simply pays full price regardless of what they’re buying. People like to know they’re getting a really good price on the things they buy. That’s why discounts and sales are extremely powerful. The idea of “saving money” is a super motivator.
Incentives also influence the buying process. While getting a deal through a discount or sale is appealing, so is the opportunity of getting something in addition to your purchase. Incentives can range from “free oil changes for a year” when you buy a new car to “free cappuccino on your 5th purchase” when buying coffee. When an incentive is properly designed, it motivates a buyer because they feel like they’re getting more for their money.
Social status. We would be remiss if we didn’t mention how cost can also be a primary motivator for prestige, significance or social status. Simply being able to afford something that most people cannot afford to buy can put you into an elite category. Maybe this is high-end office space that sets your business apart from others or perhaps an expensive automobile that elevates you above the average crowd. In this case, cost influences the buying behavior of those who know they can afford it and who don’t have to worry about discounts, price reductions or incentives.
Buying behavior is heavily influenced by emotions. That’s kind of a no-brainer, but when you think about it, emotional appeal is very powerful. Sometimes this means we’re attached to a favorite brand and remain loyal to it – like Apple, Coke, Levi’s or Microsoft. Brand reputation plays a part in this, too. If you are consistently pleased with your preferred brand and it stands strong in the market, then you will likely remain emotionally attached to it.
Solving a problem is also driven by emotions. When something needs to be resolved and your purchase brings a solution to the situation, you will likely be elated with the result. The satisfaction of seeing a problem or headache eliminated can be exhilarating. And sometimes your buying decision solves a huge problem making you an instant hero!
The emotions can also be influenced by peer pressure or prestige. Think about all the times you’ve seen nearly everyone with the latest product and you felt either left out or had an urge to join the crowd. It could also be a matter of prestige. Maybe you just want to feel special, unique or stand out from the crowd. Instead of joining the masses, you’re looking for an element of significance through your purchase.
Emotional buying decisions often involve convenience. The idea of making a purchase that is easy, quick and trouble-free brings with it a certain amount of comfort and sometimes relief. “Oh, I’m so glad I saw this…I’ve been needing it for a long time and here it is!” would be a common thought that many of us experience when purchasing a convenience item.
Sometimes emotional purchases are driven by necessity. These are not always the “fun” kind of purchases, but they take care of an identified need. Think about the last time you bought a washer and dryer. Probably not the most exciting thing to buy and often considered a “grudge purchase”. Appliances are almost always purchased because you have to have them.
Finally, most buying behavior is influenced by timing. Within this category, seasonal buying is a big one. We are all influenced by different seasons of the year. Aside from the obvious Christmas season, we always see sales for winter, spring, summer and fall. Apparel is one of the largest product categories for seasonal buys, but we also see this for different products and services throughout the year. Back to school is huge at the end of summer; tax preparation services are big in the spring; vacation packages are promoted in the summer; along with just about every holiday on the calendar.
Timing often includes urgency or schedule influence. In business, this occurs when a need arises in the office environment like equipment or something related to a special project. For consumers, it may be event-driven like a cookout or special occasion with a specific calendar date that influences all buying preparation.
Buying decisions made because of timing usually involve an element of pressure. Deadlines are chiefly responsible for that which means the pressure builds until all necessary purchases have been completed. A special price that is only valid for a short period of time can easily impact our urgency. Who doesn’t remember the old television commercials that urged you to “call before midnight tonight…and we’ll double the offer!”
While there are certainly other factors that can affect our buying behavior and ultimately the purchasing decisions we make, most of them boil down to the cost involved, our own emotions and timing. When it comes to developing a marketing strategy that is designed to influence buyer behavior, it is imperative to know which element of influence drives your market. Craft your marketing messages and content strategy to reach your buyers. Use language and images that they can relate to. Implement the best methods and ways to make effective connections with your buying market. You can then create a presence that puts your product or service in the buyer’s sweet spot.
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