Updated: Oct 4, 2022
The fun part about marketing is the opportunity to discover new ways to trigger favorable emotional responses from consumers. There's a science to persuasion, and you can use it to your advantage in understanding and influencing consumer behavior.
Marketing psychology anticipates buyer behavior by understanding our cognitive biases. Consumer behavior is the study of what influences individuals and organizations to purchase certain products and support certain brands.
Marketing campaigns can influence consumer behaviors because they elicit specific reactions, use imagery and word associations, causing us to feel nostalgia and fear.
How can you get a person to buy a product or a service?
"Persuasion is no longer just an art; it's an out-and-out science," said Robert Cialdini, professor emeritus of psychology and marketing at Arizona State University, at the 125th Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association. Indeed, a vast body of scientific evidence now exists on how, when, and why people say yes to influence attempts.
What is consumer behavior?
Consumer behavior refers to the study of what causes individuals and organizations to purchase certain products and support certain brands. This research area focuses primarily on action, motivations, and psychology, which, according to Brandwatch, are influenced by three factors.
- Psychological factors
A person's response to an ad campaign depends mainly on their perceptions, attitudes, and general views of life.
- Personal factors
Demographics such as age, culture, profession, and familial background play a significant role in forming consumers' interests and opinions.
- Social factors
A person's social groups affect how they shop. Their income, education level, and social class influence their buying behaviors.
How is psychology important for marketing?
Marketing can be highly effective in influencing consumer behavior. Here are some of the factors that can contribute to that success, according to an article from Business2Community.
One of the reasons marketing campaigns are effective is because they cause consumers to react to them. The more people respond to your marketing campaigns, the more they will talk about them. And the more they discuss your brand and products, the more likely people are to buy them.
· Imagery and word associations
Using imagery and word associations is a great way to attract attention to your brand. For example, if you are looking to target the youth, you should use popular phrases and memes as a part of your campaign. This causes your audience to associate your product with things they already see as cool and trendy.
· Nostalgia, fear, and other emotions
Another major way marketing affects consumer behavior is by evoking emotions such as nostalgia and fear. For example, if a product is tied to specific brands, thoughts, images, or music from your childhood, it may influence you to buy a product as a way to recapture your youth.
On the other hand, if a marketing campaign causes you to become scared or fearful, you may be influenced to buy the product to relieve anxiety and protect yourself.
Cialdini's Six Universal Principles of Influence
Cialdini synthesized psychology research years on social influence into six universal principles for understanding attempts to influence human behavior. Both businesses and consumers can use these principles to understand the inner workings of purchasing behaviors better and determine which strategies are most likely to succeed.
Humans often feel the need to return a favor or reciprocate kind gestures. For consumers, this might mean offering a free sample or a generous discount, for instance.
Once someone is engaged with something, they are more likely to stick with it. In business, this means cultivating brand loyalty; once someone is working with a product or using a service, they are more likely to commit to paying for it again.
3. Herd mentality
If more people do something, others are likely to do it as well. When brands can demonstrate their popularity or satisfaction across a broad customer base, other consumers are more likely to buy-in as well.
People are more likely to listen to an expert than anyone off the street. So, while herd mentality is essential, having a relevant expert speak to the effectiveness of a brand's product or service is essential to converting new consumers.
5. Similar demographics
People who are similar to the target consumer are more likely to persuade the consumer to buy. Whether in terms of ethnicity, socio-economic class, religious inclination, or even shared interests, people from similar demographics are far more effective at persuading consumers than those they perceive as vastly different.
People tend to want what they perceive they cannot have. Making a product or service seem exclusive or going out of stock if they don't act quickly often makes it more enticing to the consumer and increases the likelihood that they will buy-in.
With these six principles of influence in mind, companies can adeptly navigate their potential consumers and convert more to sales. However, Cialdini warned against crossing the line between influence and manipulation, as the latter could spell disaster in the long run.
"People, brands, and marketers need to ask themselves whether the principle of influence is inherent in the situation – that is, do they have to manufacture it, or can they simply uncover it?" he said. "No one wants to be a smuggler of influence. Claiming to be an expert when they're not, exploiting power – those eventually will have negative consequences.
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