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Branding & Behavior

The Mind And Purchase Decisions

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The Mind And Purchase Decisions

More often than not, people buy what they think they should have. They’re sort of like sheep, following the flock. Do most people really need a four-wheel-drive vehicle? (No.) If they did, why didn’t they become popular years ago? (Not fashionable.)

The main reason for this kind of behavior is insecurity, a subject about which many scientists have written extensively. If you’ve been around a long time, people trust you more and feel secure in their purchase. This is why heritage is a good differentiator.

Minds are insecure for many reasons. One reason is perceived risk in doing something as basic as making a purchase. Behavioral scientists say there are five forms of perceived risk:

1. Monetary risk. (There’s a chance I could lose money on this.)
2. Functional risk. (Maybe it won’t work, nor do what it’s supposed to do.)
3. Physical risk. (It looks a little dangerous. I could get hurt.)
4. Social risk. (I wonder what my friends will think if I buy this.)
5. Psychological risk. (I might feel guilty or irresponsible if I buy this.)

All this explains why people tend to love underdogs but buy from the perceived leaders. If everyone else is buying it, I should be buying it.

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1 Comment

DPaulson on July 05th, 2009 said

Hi Jack,

You say, “More often than not, people buy what they think they should have. They’re sort of like sheep, following the flock” and “Minds are insecure for many reasons. One reason is perceived risk in doing something as basic as making a purchase.”

I think you are right – – sometimes. It is true that appeals to insecurity can motivate some people. But I am reminded of the famous quote by Abraham Lincoln, “You can fool some of the people all of the time, some of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.”

My own approach is to try to understand purchasing behavior in context. I use pictographs to duplicate the purchasing scenario and then I allow respondents to tell their story. By going through the purchasing process step by step (with pictographs) respondents will explain their motivations which include insecurities and perceived risk. With this detailed information, it then becomes possible to design better products, services, and sales strategies.

If you would like more details concerning understanding purchasing behavior in context, please see http://beyondfocusgroups.blogspot.com

Thanks,

Dale

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