One of the greatest challenges for Marketers is the study of the complicated human being. Whilst marketers spend so much time, effort and resources into investigating customer behaviour through scientific studies and market research, we continue to find that the human consumer is not as simple as most text books and 'gurus' lead us to believe.
The real truth behind this is that, as humans, we are quite irrational on the whole when it comes to decision making and consumer behaviour, taking significant influences from so many different sources of stimuli, most of which we are not even aware of.
I have attempted to summarise a few basic outlines of consumer behaviour and psychology, below, to assist marketers appreciate the complexity of their target consumer. A wider understanding will help sharpen communication campaigns and marketing strategies as patterns of behaviour are better catered to.
Real Decisions Are Emotion Based
Consumers base most, if not all of their instinctual decisions on their emotional states, and far less of logical checklists. This is why branding and positioning can be so effective: if you can appeal to a consumer's emotional needs, it becomes highly attractive to them.
Consumers Will Substantiate Their Emotional Decision Using Facts
After a consumer receives a favourable emotional bond with a product, and thus desires it, the logical side finally kicks in. A consumer will automatically grow wary about this emotional 'pull' and cannot validate a purchase simply based on this feeling, so they will search for solid facts that will help them justify their need or want.
This is why marketers must provide easily accessible factual information to consumers after hitting the emotional button; if these facts are present, the consumer will discover their own justifications for the purchase and feel comfortable that logic has a say in screening their decision.
Consumers Crave Value
Not to be confused exclusively with a monetary figure, value is relative to the subject, and basically represents the consumer's perceived benefit, minus all costs involved. This incorporates time, inconvenience, money, cost of substitutes and so forth.
A successful product is one where the consumer is shown enough information for them to evaluate that the benefits of their purchase is at least equal, if not far outweighed by the costs of consumption.
Humans Are Humanistic
Basically, human thought processes are strongest when relating to social interaction with other people. Therefore, marketing messages that are relatable to the target audience by, for example using names, real situations or quotes, will be more effective in meaning.
Ultimate Free Will
Whilst marketing campaigns can be extremely effective and compelling, it is important to appreciate that consumers can never be forced to behave in a specific way: sometimes, even when all the boxes are ticked, a consumer may still behave expectantly. Therefore, the most basic of marketing principles holds true here: make your product offering as appealing and valuable to your target audience as possible.
People Enjoy Purchasing
Consumers enjoy discovering new products and technologies, and get a thrill from curiosity and ownership. This is because they look for products that appeal to them on an emotional level, and therefore, a level of satisfaction is achieved when a purchase is made.
A successful product should add to this feeling of ecstasy, and not sour the experience through inconvenience or creating buyer's remorse.