If you want to get people to buy your stuff, you need to understand how consumers make purchasing decisions.
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People research products. They compare competitors. Some 87% of buying decisions begin with research conducted online, usually on Amazon or Google.
Product quality and seller reputation matter, of course. But what about when the product matches the customer’s needs and they trust the seller? What influences a purchase decision once those fundamentals are in place?
Here are 9 things you should know if you want to win over customers as they make a decision to buy.
1. Reviews matter for deciding on products and companies.
Many studies in recent years have confirmed what we already know: People read reviews and decide what to buy based on them.
Some 88% say they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, and 39% read reviews on a regular basis. In fact, only 12% of those surveyed don’t read reviews at all. (And that was a few years ago.) We’ve written at length on the impact of user-generated reviews.
Researchers informed half the participants that natural chickens were healthy (but less tasty) and genetically engineered chickens were tasty (but less healthy). The other half were told the opposite.
Overwhelmingly, participants preferred the plump chicken, but their reasoning was different:The first group claimed that it was because they valued health above taste.The second group said it was because taste was more important.
Neither group justified their choice based on how they felt about the chicken’s looks. They felt compelled to justify their emotional choices with rational reasons—to the point that the two groups gave opposing accounts to justify the same “purchase” decision.
Emotions rule in all areas of buying behavior.
The scientists replicated the results in other areas, including marketing, politics, religion, etc.
“This process seems to be happening somewhat unconsciously, people are not really aware they’re coming up with these justifications. What is even more interesting is that people who claim that emotions are not that important, who consider themselves to be really rational, are actually more prone to fall into this trap.”
What does this mean for marketers? Raghunathan suggests that the earlier you can make an emotional connection, the better. Once consumers have decided that they like a particular option, it’s difficult for them to backpedal. Rational thinking will only justify their emotional choice.
(You might also be interested in reading about how consumers use post-purchase rationalization to avoid buyer’s remorse. The brain doesn’t like to think it made an emotional decision, so we assign rational reasons for our decisions post-purchase.)
9. The subconscious drives purchase decisions.
For the last 50 or 60 years, market research, as an industry, has believed that people make decisions based on rational, conscious thought processes. Science tells a different story, one that turns that fundamental belief on its head. Most decision-making happens at the subconscious level.
We may focus on facts and numbers, but in many cases, it’s the subliminal that makes people decide one way or another.
People are complex. We’re just beginning to scratch the surface of what they really want. Some tests have shown that people prefer items on the right or at the bottom of the list. Why?
We don’t know yet. Sometimes we make purchasing decisions even when we aren’t paying attention to the products. New questions about human thought processes and decision-making pop up every day.
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Neuroscience is still working on the answers, but there are some insights that we can start putting into play now.