Influencing Consumer Behavior: How To Encourage Choice

23 May 2017

Sometimes (or, let’s be honest, practically always) it’s hard to make the right choice. The thing is that quite often we find it equally challenging to choose between types of health insurances and types of shampoo. Our mood and psychological state also influence our choice a lot. When we’re tired or in a hurry we just want to buy what is on the shopping list and proceed to something else, but instead, we have to make our brain work hard while choosing between different options. Availability of alternatives – that’s what makes customers’ lives complicated.

Consumer behavior research demonstrates that shoppers feel more comfortable when choosing out of three options rather than out of 10. That’s why it’s very important for a good marketer to know how to control consumer behavior and make customers choose the “right” product.

Let’s take a closer look on how to conduct consumer behavior analysis and influence consumer buying behavior in a way that is beneficial for your business.

1. Minimize the choice

Research of consumer buying behavior shows that the fewer choice customers have, the better and faster decisions they make. Purchasing behavior is tightly connected with operation modes of our brain.

According to Daniel Kahneman, we have two modes of thought – “System 1” and “System 2”. We use System 1 in order to make simple routine decisions. This System is instinctive and doesn’t require our brain to conduct major analytical work and thus is fewer efforts and energy consuming. System 2 is far more complicated and requires much more energy, efforts, and concentration. We use it when we need to analyze or compare something, to get into details and make complicated decisions. Usage of this System for a prolonged period of time is exhausting our brain, and when we make choices - we use it a lot. And the more options we have, the harder System 2 has to work and our brain doesn’t like it.

Thus, in order to make your customer happier, try to reasonably limit their choice, so their brain can proceed faster and easier with information analysis and decision making.

2. Categorization of products

People are better in choosing products if items are sorted according to categories. Shelves in supermarkets are so well-structured to have the highest impact on consumer behavior. Categorization of products makes the selection process faster and easier. The interesting fact is that categorization works even when categories themselves don’t make much sense. For instance, for the shopper, it would be easier and more pleasant to choose a coffee package from the shelf with items sorted by color rather than from a shelf, where products put together randomly. Basically, we shouldn’t care how the package looks, if the coffee mix is 80% Arabica and 20% Robusta, just like we prefer, but we still take packaging into consideration. It is easier for our brain to choose from coffee packages sorted by color because in this case we analyze information by big chunks and concentrate attention on bigger objects.

3. Prioritize cheap products over expensive ones

Consumer purchasing behavior may be quite tricky and unpredictable, going against conventional patterns. Shopper behavior research shows that if coming to the shop (or accessing the web page) a client sees cheap products first he is more likely to buy more expensive ones later. That’s why it’s better to put cheap products at shop windows and keep more expensive ones inside. It’s very likely that if a customer already bought a cheap product he will later buy a more expensive item. Once consumer’s brain made the choice, subsequent purchase decisions will be easier to come.

Understanding consumer behavior is a tough task and unfortunately, there is no magic formula to make people buy and like your products. At the same time by understanding how the decision-making mechanism works as well as continuously digging deeper into individual buying behavior you will definitely be able to improve your marketing. Hope our simple advice will help you to achieve a better understanding of consumer’ behavior and to build more sustainable relations with them.


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