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Consumer Psychology Is The Secret Ingredient To Market Better: Here’s How

Nowadays, psychology and strategy go hand in hand. It is really not a surprise that understanding human behaviour has become a key element in every field, be it fashion, entertainment, consulting etc.

Consumer psychology is even more important for marketers since their main job is to persuade people to buy a product, and how can you do that without having a clue about how your consumers think?

Here are some helpful tips to understand your audience better, and up your marketing strategy:

1. Anchoring – Give Them The Worst First

Let’s start with one of the fundamental strategies of successful marketing – Anchoring.

Remember when you bought a $200 shoe because the tag said 50% off? We buy the product just because it’s on sale, even though our actual budget could have been $50.

According to the concept of anchoring, we tend to compare our decisions with the first piece of information we get. In this case, $200 is your first piece of information, and since $100 is much less, we tend to feel a bout of happiness and purchase the product.

In his book Influence, Robert Cialdini says that if you want to persuade someone, give them the worst piece of information first and then give them the bad piece of information! You will have a better chance of convincing.

So, the next time you send an offer to a customer via email, make sure you highlight both the before-offer price and the after-offer price for better results.

2. Build Trust – Be Open To Your Flaws

If you try to paint a perfect picture in your customer’s mind – such as ‘our product works for all purposes, all customers, all situations, it will definitely backfire on you.

No product is perfect and the consumers know that. A better strategy is to earn your customer’s trust by being honest about your limitations and flaws, and by letting the customers make an informed decision.

At my startup Hiver, we strictly follow a ‘Rather-Say-No’ rule, wherein when we meet a prospect for the first time, we sit down and discuss their needs and expectations. If we think that our product doesn’t match their expectations, we openly tell them that our product may not be the best fit for their needs.

What do we gain from this?

  • The expectation from the product is set very clearly right in the beginning.
  • It saves the time that we’ll have to spend on customer support later.
  • Many such customers have actually referred us to their friends!

3. Don’t Underestimate The Importance Of Self-Concept

Every human being perceives himself or herself in a very specific way. For example, you often hear people saying things such as ‘Hmm..that car isn’t really me’, ‘the watch doesn’t exactly represent me’, etc.

Unless your product fits well with a customer’s self-concept, you cannot sell it. But, of course, how do you build a product that meets everyone’s self-perception? You don’t! You just tailor your marketing message to sync with their self-concept.

For example, if a customer wants to see themselves using a prestigious brand watch, then you market the brand of the watch to them. If a customer wants a high-utility watch around his wrist, you market its features to them.

Some tips:

  • is a great tool to arrive at a consumer’s self-concept. Look for patterns in their past behaviour, for example on your website, to understand them better.
  • Never throw everything you have at your consumer. Talk to them, ask them questions and try to perceive how they see themselves. Using that perception and their requirements arrive at the best possible product you have.
  • Market segmentation is another good way to understand a customer’s general psychology and self-concept. For example, the age group 40-60yrs probably wouldn’t prefer flashy cars.

4. Attach A Larger-Than-Life Meaning To Your Company

Here’s the thing – never read out the awesome features of your product in your marketing message, instead tell everyone how it’s changing lives across the world and how it’s making the world a better place.

You can also attach a larger-than-life perspective to a company by associating important causes and messages to your company. For example, Nike doesn’t talk about the amazing features of its shoes, it talks about motivation, determination and winning! And when you see a Nike product you associate it with those emotions.

The idea is to make them feel inspired and make them see that your product has a larger meaning and that by buying this product, they will be a part of that meaning too.

5. Trigger Emotional Responses

Strong emotions can set people in motion. For example, Listerine used the term ‘Chronic Halitosis’ over and over in its advertisements. All it means is bad breath, but, by using a seemingly scary word, they attracted everybody’s attention.

Emotions like fear and shock can especially grab customers’ attention. So a great way to market your product is by telling customers what major problem you are solving, what bad consequences are you preventing etc.

According to Maslow’s need hierarchy safety and security are the most basic human needs. Let your marketing message address that basic human need.

6. Circumvent Selective Perception

Let’s say you are a night owl and you love it. So, when you see two articles on the web, one about the advantages of being a night owl and the other about the bad effects of being a night owl, you subconsciously would prefer to read the first article and ignore the second one.

This is called selective perception.

Customers see what they want to see. The marketer’s challenge is to sidestep this selective perception and not let your prospects filter you out of their minds.

The only way to do this is by understanding your customer.

Here are some tips:

  • Use market segmentation. Once you divide your segments, you should get a better understanding of the general psychology of each segment and tailor your message accordingly.
  • Observe your customer’s online behaviour. For example, what communities are they active in?
  • Data analysis and hardcore surveys to get to know your past customers better, which can help you associate better with your current prospects.

“When consumers purchase a Toyota, they are not simply purchasing a car, truck or van. They are placing their trust in our company.” – Akio Toyoda

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