Retail Reflections

To Buy Or Not To Buy

To Buy Or Not To Buy

Harnessing The Power Of Emotions

When it comes to purchasing, we make many decisions every day whilst wrestling with information overload and being bombarded with choices on a daily basis.

While it may seem that an array of choices is better than limited choice, it can lead to confusion and indecisiveness. However, once we’ve made a decision, we want to think that we used our logic. But is it so?

From food to cloths to technology, we decide to buy certain products. Why do we decide to pay more for brand name products instead of going for a generic type which is fundamentally the same but at a cheaper price?

Or why we often end up buying more things than we had originally anticipated?

How many times did you end up buying more food when you went shopping feeling hungry? We know that the “hungry shopper” ends up buying more items than those on their shopping list. We’ve all been there. We often buy things because we want them, not necessarily because we need them.

Science says….

According to neuroscience and psychological studies, we seldom make rational decisions.

Most of the time we base our purchasing decisions on what product appeals to our senses and emotions.

So when it comes to purchasing a new phone or handbag, choosing a restaurant, or cereal at the supermarket, subconsciously we turn to emotions to provide us with mental-shortcuts to navigate through information and to make quick decisions.

Contrary to what most of us would like to believe, decision-making may be a process handled to a large extent by subconscious mental activity. Many processes in the brain occur automatically and without involvement of our consciousness

Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences

The new technological advances in the field of neuroscience, such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) identify the relationship between emotions and decision making.

Brain scans suggest that emotions exert a powerful force on human behaviour. Cognitive-behavioural sciences also support the fact that emotions create feelings and certain thoughts which in turn influence behaviour.

We can even use the Pareto Law to further the point – it seems that 80% of the choices we make are subconscious and emotionally driven whilst 20% of our decisions are rational and logical.

In other words, we only use 20% of our brains consciously.

We Buy Feelings Not Products

Research suggests that whether we shop online or in store, when making a purchase we are driven by emotion, by our personal feelings and experiences rather than brand features, attributes, facts, or even the price tag.

We form an emotional connection with a particular brand or product. So that when we shop, there is an internal struggle between emotion and logic.

“We leave the house with the left hemisphere mind set which is rational and logical……but by the time we hit the shops we are governed by emotion” 

There are many cues in the environment that trigger our emotions which are embedded in the products, services and adverts that we come across on a daily basis. So by the time we hit the shops we become consumed by the internal processes in our right mind hemisphere which governs emotions.

Once our emotions, such as fear, guilt or compassion are aroused then we turn them into actions.

Studies examining the regulation of mood suggest that consumers who are in a pleasant mood tend to choose products that are congruent with their current level of arousal, while those in an unpleasant mood will tend to choose products that are incongruent with their current level of arousal.

In other words, consumers in a negative mood prefer positive alternatives that offer positive emotions. Insecurity, for example, may cause us to buy the latest Samsung or iPhone to support our positive self-identity and increase confidence.

Key Learnings

1. Creating an emotional connection with your customers means making them feel something that should make them act on those feelings.

2. Brands who have a strong awareness of the importance of emotions in driving buying decisions, work on infusing their products with emotional triggers that make emotional connections leading to the establishment of stronger relationships with their customers.

3. When making a purchase we are driven by emotion, by our personal feelings and experiences – price, product and features are secondary.

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