June 09, 2021
By: Jhanae Winter
The way people shop is a process that encompasses many factors before a final decision is made. The psychological steps that take place all play a significant role in the purchases made by consumers.
However, it is easy to not consider the consumer experience when branding and expanding your business. Sometimes we can get caught up in our vision that we neglect the research and time it takes to consider the customer experience and buying process.
From a consumer’s point of view, most don’t haphazardly or randomly select items or services when spending their money. There is a deeper psychological process taking place.
HOW A CUSTOMER MAKES A PURCHASING DECISION
There are four factors involved that guide these processes, bringing consumers to their final purchasing decision.
This is how you want to sell your customer. Essentially motivation is what causes the consumer to realize they have a need in the first place. But your products may not have traditional needs. In this case you can do what many do and generate needs. This type of need is not real, but makes the consumer feel that it is. With good marketing and branding you can make your customer feel as though they NEED your products.
Here’s an example. Do we need Starbuck coffee every morning to survive throughout the day? No right. But yet millions of people do whatever they can to have Starbucks to get their day started. This is a generated need.
Psychologists place these needs into two categories: hedonic and utilitarian. Hedonic needs refer to emotional and imaginative buying decisions that connect to the consumer to make them feel better about themselves. Utilitarian needs are more practical and stems from the consumers' logical reasonings for spending money.
The next step is how a customer perceives a product, service or store. They rely on their own perception that is influenced by different sensory senses to respond to stimuli such as light, color, sound, odor, and texture. If a store is too dark for customers to see, this will affect their buying process even if they like the things in your store.
Another aspect of perception involves exposure, attention and interpretation. If a customer is exposed to your product or services too often, it will not register to them anymore. Think of when people pass billboard signs everyday. This then will affect the amount of attention they give the billboard, simply because they see it all the time and don't find it interesting anymore. But the most important aspect is interpretation as you want to make sure the messages you are trying to convey are interpreted correctly.
What does this mean for you? Keep your products and services fresh and exciting. Rebrand if you have to but always ensure your vision is properly conveyed to the consumer.
Yes consumers are learning even as they shop. Learning is essentially a change in one’s behaviour based on their experiences. Before a customer comes into your store or shop online they have already picked up certain cues about various products and services that will affect the way they shop. Think of when your father went to the shop and everytime he bought the same type of toilet tissue he complained about it not being good quality. This affected how you viewed this brand growing up.
Likewise, some consumers do their own research and their acquired knowledge on a product or service guides their purchasing decisions as well. What if you learned that the same toilet tissue brand is not environmentally friendly, this could encourage you to not buy the brand as well.
And finally observational learning can immediately be seen and applied. A consumer observes behaviors around them and mimics the behaviors they were exposed to. So you're in the store now and someone says how much they love xyz brand of toilet paper and puts it in their basket. There is a high chance you go to that brand and buy that toilet paper too.
Learning is very important to businesses as consumers can learn about your brand before they even buy a product. Think of word of mouth, reviews and testimonials.
Attitudes and Beliefs
The attitudes and beliefs a consumer has can determine whether they buy from you or not. It's essentially an evaluation of your business. This evaluation is based on what the consumers’ values are that stem from their specific beliefs, which determine which brands and products they will indulge in.
Marketers and advertisers are especially interested in beliefs that people formulate about specific products and services because these beliefs make up product and brand images that affect buying behaviour. This is why one company will sell one of their products in different ways to appeal to the different ages and sexes that buy their product. In the makeup world there's never one line of foundation right. You have matte, dewy, full and light coverage and sticks versus cream all under the same brand.
So if you want to sell various products or services, rather than think of the entire Bahamian public, segment (or break up) your customers. What do your younger customers value versus the older crew, you may find that they differ.
I most certainly have given you a lot to think about. It takes a lot to grow and maintain a business from a business perspective.
If you want people to shop at your store and buy your items and services, think about how your business motivates them, how they can perceive it, what they have or can learn about your business and their value systems based on the products and services you distribute.