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6 Often Forgotten Reasons Why People Buy

We buy because we want to prove something to our family and friends, and what we buy reflects our standing in life

Photo by zhang kaiyv from Pexels

Every entrepreneur I know is concerned with selling better. This is exactly why we invest a lot of time and effort into keeping up with new trends and methodologies on marketing and sales. Even I sought out articles, lessons, and all the shiny new things when it comes to the psychology of selling. I consume sales, persuasion, influence, and behavioral economics books like the next plague is about to hit the earth. Well, if the plague is ​actually going to come, I might not have to sell anything, anyway.

Sometimes, though, we get so caught up in the technicalities that we overlook some absolutely basic reasons why people buy. These things are right under our noses, and if you are having trouble finding an angle to sell your product, service, or solution, here are six often forgotten reasons why people buy: 

Boredom. It is time to own up to it. Sometimes, our purchases are not motivated by any need, but because we simply do not have anything better to do. Why do you think there are luxury stores in airports? When our options are not as extensive as to accord us with various pursuits, we go inside stores and get that shopper’s high. Plus with the aid of the all powerful credit cards, the purchases just get easier and easier. 

Status Marker. Buying is also influenced by other core emotional motivators, and one of them is concerned with the neurochemical need for validation. We buy because we want to prove something to our family and friends, and what we buy reflects our standing in life. A concept that encapsulates this is “conspicuous consumption”. This concept refers to the purchase of luxury goods or experiences to show off wealth, in the purpose of raising one’s status. Another offshoot principle is “conspicuous compassion”, which is the display of large donations to charity or expensive philanthropy for status. 

Personal Perceptions. Have you ever bought something because you feel like you deserve it? It’s the same for your customers. On top of making purchases that cement our status, we also identify with our purchases. Say, you’re loaded and you’re off to a vacation that you know you just have to take. When looking through accommodations, you will be presented with some choices: some will be less expensive, while others will require you to cough more money up. Now, if you are accustomed to a certain kind of lifestyle, or you think that you are in a good position to celebrate a good thing that just happened to you, chances are you would book the more expensive room. This is how most 5-star services get sold. You don’t really buy the room or the bed, you buy the idea that you are a 5-star person. 

Reciprocity. People also buy because they feel like they want to give back to a company that has given them something. For example, if you are walking around in a mall and you were offered a free taste of a new ice cream flavor and you liked it, you would probably buy something from that brand the next time you see it on an aisle. The same principle applies when we make repeat purchases from companies that have met our buying expectations in the past. 

Social Proof and the “Sheep” Principle. Consumers also tend to buy more of the same products that everybody else is buying. After all, if quite a lot of people think that something is good, then it must be. And this desire for safe purchases is hardwired into us because it saves us the chore of decision making, which is why we fall for ads that solidify their level of market reception by saying things such as, “Nine out of ten women choose our product over that of the competitor.” 

Exclusive Products & Superior Service. Finally, people buy things that they know they will never get anywhere else — and this is the most important trick for promoting customer loyalty. Does it sound manipulative? Hardly. Consider: if you know that Amazon and eBay already exist for streamlining product selection and acquisition, what will you be able to offer so that a customer will choose your product over something they can easily find online? Yes, that’s right. Better services and better products. Moreover, the more you make your item/ service exclusive and premium, the more people want it. Simple: people want what they can’t have. So pepper in words like “exclusive”, “limited”, “select”, “top”, etc. They’ll know they want it. And they’ll be throwing their money at you. 

Now that you know that humans are pretty much easy to sell to, go now and sell some sh*t. 

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Karla Singson
Written By

Karla Singson is an award-winning writer and public speaker, and the Founder and Marketing Lead of a couple of physical and online businesses. She considers herself a perpetual student of marketing, with keen interests in public relations, copywriting, and behavioral economics. Follow her on Facebook and website.

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