How do you get a person to buy a product or service? Psychology holds answers to questions that have preoccupied marketing departments for decades, particularly surrounding how to influence people and how people respond to attempts to influence their behaviors.
“Persuasion is no longer just an art; it’s an out-and-out science,” said Robert Cialdini, professor emeritus of psychology and marketing at Arizona State University, at the 125th Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association. “Indeed, a vast body of scientific evidence now exists on how, when and why people say yes to influence attempts.”
Consumer behavior refers to the study of what causes individuals and organizations to purchase certain products and support certain brands. This area of study focuses primarily on behavior, motivations and psychology.
Marketing can be highly effective in influencing consumer behavior. Here are some of the factors that contribute to that success.
Think of marketing as creating an emotional connection with your customers, as well as displaying your products and services. People often buy based on emotional reactions rather than rational thinking.
It’s easier to know how to influence consumer behavior when you know consumer trends. As businesses evolve, so do consumers’ habits and priorities. Customers’ tastes 10 years ago were different from their present tastes, and they will be different 10 years from now. When trying to create and enhance your marketing strategy, always keep in mind that consumer behavior trends change.
With that in mind, here are some of the customer behavior trends informing actions in 2021:
Over the last few years, customer demand has increased for transparency in the businesses they support. Consumers now boycott and quickly dismiss companies that have questionable practices or are run by CEOs they politically disagree with. Customers are more likely to support companies that align with their personal beliefs and values. Companies need to be transparent about their histories and practices to gain their consumers’ trust.
The COVID-19 shutdowns forced people to stay inside their homes, leading to an increase in online spending. Even with restrictions being lifted, that trend is likely to continue. Companies need to meet consumers where they are, and now more than ever, that’s online. That means launching an intuitive e-commerce site that offers a positive customer experience. When developing strategies to influence customer behavior, brainstorm ways influence consumers both in person and online.
With so much business being done online, many consumers are concerned with the security of their personal information. Consumers are demanding more anonymity; they don’t want a company to know too much about them aside from the necessary details for the business exchange. Companies need to meet consumers halfway and accommodate the ones who refuse to provide any information besides what is needed for a transaction. This may make it more difficult to influence a specific person, but showing that your company follows this trend could influence their spending.
Climate change is a major fear for many people. Consumers want to do their part to reverse the damage to the planet. They are demanding more environmentally friendly companies and will push that demand further in the future. With an eye toward clean and green practices, consumers are often influenced by companies with sustainable products.
Consumers’ expectations of brands are rising, and companies need to meet those expectations to maintain and improve brand loyalty among their target audience.
Cialdini synthesized years of research on social influence into six universal principles for understanding attempts to influence human behavior. Both businesses and consumers can use these principles to better understand the inner workings of purchasing behaviors and to determine which strategies are most likely to succeed.
Armed with these six principles of influence, companies can more adeptly navigate their potential consumers and convert more to sales. However, Cialdini warned against crossing the line between influence and manipulation, as the latter could spell disaster in the long run.
“People, companies and marketers need to ask themselves whether the principle of influence is inherent in the situation – that is, do they have to manufacture it, or can they simply uncover it?” he said. “No one wants to be a smuggler of influence. Claiming to be an expert when they’re not, exploiting power – those eventually will have negative consequences.
“We can focus too heavily on economic factors when seeking to motivate others toward our offerings and ideas,” Cialdini added. “We would do well … to consider employing psychological motivators such as those we have covered here.”
Business News Daily editorial staff contributed to the writing and reporting in this articles. Source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.