How Customers Make Purchase Decisions: What the SCIENCE Says

We all like to be believe that every decision we make is based on rational thoughts, but science tells us a different story. It turns out our emotions have a deeper role than we might think.

In fact, it’s our emotions that help us make decisions about what we wear, watch, and buy. Knowing how emotions can and do influence purchasing decisions can help you make a bigger impact in your market. The science backs this claim; the brand you like is the one you’ll buy.

Pyschology Today (link defunct) reports relevant findings such as this one:

Research conducted by the Advertising Research Foundation concluded that “likeability” is the measure most predictive of whether an advertisement will increase a brand’s sales.

Predicting Sales Based on Likability?

We’re not talking about Facebook likes. We’re talking about likeability. Does your brand communicate “likeability” on a human level? So much of marketing your product or your brand comes down to whether or not your viewers (or, customers) simply like you. How can you find out?

While it’s easy to spend thousands of dollars on social platforms and ads, it’s much more difficult to see a return on your investment and measure the impact of your marketing efforts. Often, the problem is a lack of long term strategy. Many of the distributed marketing platform on the market cast a wide net and can surely bring people in and make your product visible. But, you must ask yourself what to do with all of that attention once you have it.

If you don’t have a great site that properly demonstrates what’s great about your brand, then your marketing dollars are wasted.

Branding is Based on Emotion

How many times have you reached for a brand name when a generic competitor is better in all aspects including better price and better quality? This is a well-documented marketing phenomenon. Brand names strike an emotional chord with consumers.
Rational concerns like price, quantity, quality, and objective value have less impact on consumer choices.
Maybe it was because of an evocative TV commercial they saw as a child. Maybe it was a Facebook ad that targeted the consumer at the perfect time on the perfect day. Whatever the reason, the emotional significance of a brand cannot be over-estimated. It makes all the difference at the moment of a sale.

Think About It

Take a moment to think about your favorite brands. When it comes to cars, maybe you’d prefer a luxury brand because of the images of wealth and power that brand represents. However, you might prefer an economy brand because you value simplicity and modesty. Either way, these decisions are based on emotion, not logic.

Making Decisions About Your Brand

Understanding the connection between emotion and purchasing decisions can help you make better choices about your marketing strategy. You can start by asking yourself a series of questions:
  • Is your brand likeable?
  • Who is your ideal customer?
  • What does your customer value most?
You’ll notice each of these questions, once properly unpacked, will lead to a series of more questions, each drilling further down to your key demographics. Take out a notebook and pen and start jotting down as much information as you can about your brand. Pretty soon, patterns will start to form and a strategy will present itself.