The Ultimate Guide to Consumer Psychology [Examples & Tips]

consumer psychology

You must have heard of consumer psychology so many times. However, have you ever wondered what it means exactly and how you can use it?

Psychology is everywhere. We see how it affects all aspects of our lives. Psychology can reveal the reasons behind everything we do.

So, how does psychology analyze our purchases? Why do we buy specific things and not others? How about external incentives? How does media affect our decision-making when it comes to buying?

Well, these are what consumer psychology tells you all about. Keep reading this article to find out the answer to all the questions you have about consumer psychology!

consumer psychology

What Is Consumer Psychology?

Consumer psychology is defined by Wikipedia and Michael R. Solomon (in his book, Encyclopedia of Applied Psychology) similarly.

consumer psychology

In practical terms, consumer psychology states that businesses that understand why individuals make choices can employ this information to fine-tune their goods and marketing tactics. As a result, they can optimize their conversion rates and increase revenue.

Consumer psychologists study how decision-making, social persuasion, and motivation affect why people purchase some products but not others.

Furthermore, consumer psychology is often regarded as a subspeciality of industrial-organizational psychology. It is referred to as the psychology of consumer behavior or marketing by specific experts in the field.

Why Is Consumer Psychology Critical?

consumer psychology

Incorporating consumer psychology and understanding the psychological variables that influence customer behavior is a significant issue for marketers and company owners. Consumer behavior research seeks to understand how customers make purchasing decisions, who purchases particular goods, and how products or services are consumed or experienced.

According to the study, psychology’s significance in consumer culture is difficult to anticipate, even for specialists in the area. However, new research techniques, including ethnography and consumer neuroscience, provide further light on how consumers make choices, particularly in evaluating the intention-action gap or the discrepancy between what customers say and what they do.

Social marketing, customized marketing, brand-name shopping, and the consumer’s perception of the commodity’s price (directly expressed as the consumer’s sensitivity to price) are all crucial factors in understanding consumer attitudes and helping to explain market demand’s reaction to price changes.

Additionally, establishing a positive connection with the target audience is critical for brand management. The product or service itself and its appearance, pricing, and packaging are tangible aspects of brand management. Intangible components include customer encounters with the brand and connections with the brand’s goods or services. This market research may assist brand managers in developing the most successful and favorable brand management and advertising plan possible.

What Are Some Psychological Influences on Consumer Decision-Making?

consumer psychology

As we understood from the definition of consumer psychology, consumer action is driven by psychological determinants of customer behavior or the consumer’s underlying motive. This procedure may involve a search for information as well as a purchasing decision. A consumer’s attitude toward a brand (or brand preference) is defined as a connection between the brand and a purchasing motive. Also, may help you to create an in-depth look into the psychological influences that shape consumer decision

Buyer psychology motives may be negative, such as avoiding pain or discomfort. Positive incentives include the desire to get some kind of reward, such as sensory pleasure.

Abraham Maslow created one method to understand both kinds of motives, called Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. This method outlines five degrees of significance for needs. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a broad paradigm for comprehending human motivations in a wide range of situations. Applying Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to this area demonstrates the strong relationship between social psychology and consumer culture ideas. Another approach offers eight purchasing reasons, five of which are negative and three of which are favorable.

maslow hierarchy of needs

The consumer’s desire to seek knowledge and participate in the purchasing decision-making process is often referred to as “involvement” in marketing literature. We characterize purchase choices as ‘low involvement’ when customers incur a little psycho-social loss if they make a terrible choice. When psycho-social risks are quite significant, a purchasing choice is characterized as high involvement.

Several variables influence the consumer’s degree of engagement. These may include the perceived danger of negative repercussions if they make a wrong choice, the product’s category, its social visibility, and the consumer’s previous experience with it.

What Is an Example of Consumer Psychology?


One of the most significant advantages of consumer psychology for businesses is advertising in novel and efficient methods. Companies, for example, are limited to selling the advantages of their goods directly if they do not understand what motivates customer behavior.

For example, a business selling kitchen disinfectants may claim that their product is less expensive than rivals. Research, however, may inform them that for customers, the safety of their families is the most crucial consideration when buying a disinfectant. Telling customers that the product is effective against most diseases, including salmonella, might be a more successful marketing strategy.

Moreover, suppose they later find that customers are also motivated by environmental concerns. In that case, they might begin utilizing recycled plastic for packaging and extensively publicizing this fact. Based on research, they appeal directly to the requirements of the customers in this manner.

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What Are the Four Different Types of Psychological Science of Consumer Behavior?


Consumer psychology states that the kind of goods that a customer needs to purchase influences their purchasing choice. A customer’s behavior while buying a coffee differs significantly from that of a consumer when purchasing a vehicle.

Based on observations, it is evident that more complicated and costly transactions require more significant thought and a larger number of participants.

The amount of engagement a customer has in a purchase choice determines their purchasing behavior. The level of risk associated with a transaction also influences purchasing behavior. Larger-priced products have a higher level of risk, necessitating a greater level of participation in buying choices.

Consumer purchasing behavior may be classified into four types:

  1. Complex buying behavior
  2. Dissonance-reducing buying behavior
  3. Habitual buying behavior
  4. Variety seeking behavior

consumer behavior

Complex Buying Behavior

When customers purchase a high-priced item, they exhibit complex buying behavior. This rare transaction heavily engages consumers in buying choice. Consumers will do extensive research before making an investment decision.

When purchasing costly or unknown goods, the consumer acts significantly differently. When the risk of buying a product is very high, a customer consults with friends, family, and specialists before making a choice.

For example, when a customer buys a vehicle for the first time, it is a significant choice since it entails a lot of money. There is much consideration given to how it seems, how his friends and family will respond, how his social standing will alter as a result of purchasing the vehicle, and so on.

In complex buying behavior, the buyer will go through a learning process. He will first form beliefs about the product, then attitudes, and finally a well-considered buying decision.

Marketers must have a thorough knowledge of the goods to appeal to consumers with complex buying behavior. It is anticipated that they would assist the customer in understanding their products. It is critical to craft advertising messages so that they impact the buyer’s thoughts and attitudes.

Dissonance-Reducing Buying Behavior

Consumer participation is robust in dissonance-reducing purchasing behavior due to the high cost and occasional purchasing. Furthermore, there is a scarcity of options with tiny variations across brands. In this case, a customer purchases readily accessible goods.

This buying behavior compels consumers to purchase products with few options, leaving them with limited decision-making options. Consumers purchase some goods without extensive research because of product availability, time constraints, or financial constraints.

For example, a customer searching for a new foldable table to go camping soon settles on a product based on a few brands’ offers. The primary criterion here will be the purpose and feature of the foldable table and the money he has available.

Marketers could organize after-sales service camps with targeted messages. These ads should seek to encourage customers and persuade them to stick with their brand of choice. By providing discounts and incentives, these marketing efforts should aim to increase repeat purchases and referrals.

Habitual Buying Behavior

Habitual buying behavior occurs when a customer has little participation in a purchasing choice. In this instance, the customer notices just a few notable variations across brands.

Consumers do not give much consideration while purchasing goods that they use regularly. They either buy their favorite brand or the one they use regularly – or the one available in the shop or the cheapest one.

For example, when a customer buys a loaf of bread, he prefers to buy the brand he knows well without much research or devoting much time to the process. This category has a wide range of items. This product category includes everyday items, such as salt, sugar, biscuits, toilet paper, and black pepper.

There is no brand loyalty among consumers; they go for it and purchase it. Consumers do not do research or need information before purchasing such goods.

Radio, television, and print media all have an impact on habitual buying behavior. Furthermore, people purchase depending on brand familiarity. As a result, marketers must employ repeated ads to increase brand recognition. Marketers can also use techniques such as price drop promotions and sales promotions to encourage product testing.

Marketers should use visual symbols and images in their advertisements to entice customers. Consumers readily remember visual ads, and they may associate them with brands.

Related Article: Shopper Habits: How to Identify and Use Them for the Best

Variety-Seeking Behavior

Consumer engagement is minimal in variety-seeking buying behavior. There are substantial variations between brands. Consumers often swap brands in this region. Because switching goods is cheap, customers may wish to test new products out of curiosity or boredom. Consumers in this area often purchase various goods not out of discontent but rather out of a need for variety.

For example, a customer may purchase a cookie and choose a brand without much consideration. The same customer may select a different brand the next time out of a desire for a different flavor. Brand switching happens often and unintentionally.

For this kind of customer behavior, brands must use a variety of tactics. By controlling shelf space, the market leader will encourage habitual buying behavior. Marketers will show a considerable number of similar but distinct product variants on the shelf.

To attract customers, marketers prevent out-of-stock situations, sponsor regular advertising, and provide reduced pricing, discounts, offers, coupons, and free samples.


Understanding what motivates individuals to purchase the items they do is more than just a guessing game. Businesses use consumer psychologists to analyze their customers’ judgments and choices objectively. Consider consumer psychologists’ role in creating such messages and surveys the next time you see an advertisement or complete a consumer survey.

Cyrus Nambakhsh
Cyrus Nambakhsh
Cyrus is a serial entrepreneur, product-led-growth expert, a product visionary who launched 7 startups. He has built scalable platforms to help businesses and entrepreneurs. Visit my profile here: ==> For Guest Posts and Links Contact: [email protected]
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