The Psychology Behind the Purchase in 2019

Jasmine Glasheen
Jasmine Glasheen
Guest Contributor

A retail purchase takes place in a shopper’s mind long before she pulls out her wallet, so understanding what shoppers want is half the battle in achieving lasting retail success.

It’s a new year in retail. Millennials are maturing, and Gen Z is coming into their own. Since the factors that drive consumers to buy tend to mirror the purchasing preferences of the generations with the most buying power, next-gen imperatives like corporate social responsibility (CSR), mobile commerce and authenticity will pervade the retail landscape in 2019. By maintaining an awareness of the psychological factors that motivate consumers to purchase, retailers can increase their selling success and forge deeper connections with their customers.

With that said, let’s take a look at some of the driving factors behind how consumers will spend in 2019. 

Minimalism Reigns Supreme

Nobody wants to shop an over-crowded store. Shopper fatigue is real, and overstimulation can prevent customers from wanting to continue their shopping … which is the opposite effect that most retailers are going for. By using less products in store displays, retailers can actually help reign in customers’ focus, as well as elevate the presentation of the inventory they want to highlight. A sparse product selection can also drive purchasing by helping customers feel comfortable in a retailer’s brick-and-mortar store – after all, nobody wants to spend time somewhere cluttered. The Next Web confirms the theory of less, and suggests giving customers fewer options to prevent “analysis paralysis:”

“If you have a wide variety of products and services,” The Next Web reports, “breaking your offerings down into smaller categories can also ease the decision-making process.”

Online Communities Drive Purchasing

Humans are social animals and seek community – even when it comes to our purchasing behaviors. The advent of online shopping and social media have done nothing to tamper shoppers’ drive to connect with one another. In fact, the desire for social shopping – where users are able to ask for feedback and share product images with family and friends – is arguably stronger than ever. We are living in an era when 83 percent of customers trust recommendations from their peers and family and two-thirds of customers trust online reviews.

As an increasing number of customers turn to the world wide web to socialize and to learn about their favorite brands, there is a big opportunity for retailers to influence customers by creating online communities for their brand. Whether it’s through a company website, a highly-responsive social media profile, or through a weekly newsletter, showing customers others who are using (and loving) products and giving them a platform to discuss their experiences can help retailers drive regular brand interactions. Psychology Today reports:

“We tend to look at our friends and those around us (such as on Facebook, Yelp, or Amazon) to reassure ourselves that we are making the right decisions. This principle has been used by ad agencies for decades — ‘nine out of 10 dentists prefer Miracle mouthwash.’”

Urgency Spurs on Impulse Shoppers

Here’s one of the cold, hard truths of retail business: Many shoppers who go into a store or log onto an e-commerce website are simply looking for a quick thrill. Yet this isn’t necessarily bad news for retailers. Limited time offers give customers the excitement they want by creating the illusion of scarcity, and that sense of urgency can often be the deciding factor in whether that customer chooses to make a purchase. According to CNBC, 80 percent of young shoppers made impulse purchases online this year, and this high number is no coincidence … retailers have become adept at creating the type of shopping experience that makes customers feel like they’re getting the offer of a lifetime. Creating the perception of an extreme discount or a limited amount of goods in-stock are two of the ways that retailers can do this. Vend reports:

“Use language like ‘only 10 left in stock’ or ‘limited edition,’” Vend suggests, “so the buyer knows that they must take immediate action. And if you’re selling online, adding a ticking clock to the purchasing page reminds them there’s no time to waste.”

Final Thoughts

Whether a shopper comes into a store looking to get away from their chaotic everyday lives, looking for companionship, or looking for a quick thrill, retailers can give them the experience they’re looking for by using the marketing tactics listed above. Keep in mind that the purchase takes place in a customer’s mind long before they pull out their wallet, so understanding what customers want is half of the battle to achieving lasting retail success.

About the writer: Jasmine Glasheen is recognized as a leading influencer, writer, editor, and brand representative. She is a contributing editor to RetailWire, content lead at Retail Minded, and is the author of numerous ebooks and whitepapers for private clients. 

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