Studies show that as much as 85% of purchases are influenced by emotional motives. Not rational buying decisions, as we might first believe, but emotional ones. In fact, what we think of as rational choices are actually influenced by our emotions.
A little understanding of psychology is a great asset for any sales person or marketer, especially with regards to the differences between rational and emotional motives and decision-making.
Rational buying motives can include: profit (stocks and shares), safeguarding health (health insurance), security (burglar and car alarms), utility (batteries etc.) and caution (buying insurance). Very little emotion is involved in these purchases and there would very little emotional attachment when buying insurance or batteries. There would be no emotional bond to an insurance company or a car alarm - these goods serve utilitarian purposes. Very few people “like” these purchases.
So what are some examples of emotional buying? Here are a few of the main ones:
Envy – this is a very powerful motive and is based on wanting what other people have, whether that is the latest gadgets or designer clothes.
Love – people purchase houses, cars or clothes because they "love" them, but other triggers for this emotion can be St Valentine’s Day gifts, for example. In this sense, displays of love can be highly commercial.
Vanity – we are all prone to this buying motive as it’s related to self-esteem.
Pride – we can feel validated if we buy sought-after goods as it makes us feel important and worthy.
Amusement – we might not need the product we buy, but we buy it anyway because we want it and it entertains us (the latest technology is a prime example).
Fear – we might be fearful of “losing out” or seeming inferior if we don’t buy a particular product. This is closely linked to envy.
There are, of course, many other emotional triggers and a good sales person needs to recognize people’s emotional buying motives and sell to them. I mentioned earlier that rational decisions to buy are actually influenced by the emotions – let me show you this with an example.
Suppose you need to buy a new washing machine. You walk around a few stores looking at different models, all of which look very similar and do exactly the same job. You narrow your choice down to two models – both are white, roughly the same price, size and specification. One of the washing machines has a nice green trim to its handles and buttons and you decide to buy that machine there and then. Your decision was not based on rationality – after all, a washing machine is a utilitarian purchase – but on emotional factors. You liked the green trim. Therefore, your final decision was an emotional one.
This can apply to other seemingly utilitarian products like furniture or cars. When we buy furniture, we are buying an image or style that we want to reflect our taste and image of ourselves. When we buy a car, we are purchasing status. We don’t simply buy clothes to conceal our nakedness, but to express our personality and self-image.
So, whatever you sell, you need to ensure that you take in account the close links between emotions and the psychology of buying. Pinpointing which emotions your product is likely to trigger in your potential clients and then selling to them will undoubtedly increase your sales.
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