Marketing is the art and science of influencing consumer behavior. Every aspect of marketing is inseparably tied to consumer psychology. From advertising and promotions to public relations, pricing and packaging, marketing strategies are designed with one purpose in mind: encourage habitual purchases. Understanding marketing and its important role in consumer behavior is just as valuable to consumers in the marketplace as it is to business owners.
Impulse purchases fuel profitability for a wide range of industries. Generally induced through direct sales or point-of-purchase displays, impulse buying has become a deeply ingrained component of consumerism in the U.S.
An example of marketers inducing impulse buying can be seen in telephone sales. A customer may call in because he wants to buy a Cleveland Browns T-shirt, for example, but at the end of the call, he may have purchased a hat and mini-flag as well, due to the savvy prompting of the salesperson.
Children are especially susceptible to impulse marketing. It is not a coincidence that you have to stand in line for 15 minutes at the grocery store while your children are surrounded by bright-colored candies at their eye level.
Name Recognition and Brand Preference
Marketers can effectively limit consumers’ purchase choices by limiting their information about a particular product category. Generally accomplished through advertising, promotions and the power to obtain premium shelf space, brands can ingrain their names in consumers’ memories through extreme repetition and continual brand exposure.
Consider shoes, for example. When asked to name all the shoe brands they can, U.S. consumers are likely to name fewer than 10 brands. Even though in reality there are hundreds of shoe brands around the world available to U.S. consumers online, they will generally buy from one of the 10 brands stored in their memory.
Marketers can use advertising, packaging and aesthetics to create lasting emotional ties to their brands in consumers’ minds. When this is accomplished, consumers may believe that no other brand can possibly serve the same need the same way.
Consider Harley-Davidson motorcycles, for example. At this point in the brand’s life, there are loyal customers who are the sons, daughters, grandsons and granddaughters of loyal customers. These customers were literally raised around Harleys. They associate Harley-Davidson with their parents and grandparents, and they wouldn’t even consider riding or purchasing another brand.
Psychographics is the study of the unique psychological characteristics of market segments that can be used to influence purchase behavior. Through pricing, packaging, advertising and selection of sales outlets, marketers can make consumers believe that their products will attribute a certain status to them.
Consider clothing, for example. Depending on the marketing mix, clothing can make a consumer feel popular or rebellious, sexy or conservative, fun or serious, price-savvy or a big spender, luxurious or low-key.