The Science of Consumer Psychology: Why Do We Buy What We Buy?

Consumer Psychology: “The study of individuals, groups or organizations and the processes they use to select, secure, use and dispose of products, services, experiences or ideas to satisfy needs and the impacts that these processes have on the consumer and society.”

What a mouthful!  Does anyone really talk like that??  In short, consumer psychology is the study behind why we buy what we buy. More and more people are becoming interested in the influences that cause a shopper to pick one product over another, or for a consumer to prefer the more expensive name brand over the cost-friendly generic brand. Many people, when asked why they chose, let’s say Jiff, over Peter Pan peanut butter, chances are they’ll tell you, “It tastes better.” But is that really why? I’ve had both, and to be honest … to me … they taste about the same. It’s thanks to consumer psychologists that companies – of all sizes – are able to see how our thoughts, beliefs, feelings and perceptions influence us to reach for Philadelphia Cream Cheese over Safeway brand – Fruit Loops over Fruity Rings – Kraft over Kroger and so on—and to put that knowledge to use in their own branding.

PicMonkey Collage_peanutbutterReports done by consumer psychologists help create brands and marketing tools for companies across the globe, and they can help you shape your brand too. Among studying the influences of a buyer’s purchases, they also study:

·         How consumers choose businesses, products and services

·         The thought processes and emotions behind consumer decisions

·         How environmental variables such as friends, family, media and culture influence buying decisions

·         What motivates people to choose one product over another

·         How personal factors and individual difference affect people’s buying choices

·         What marketers can do to effectively reach out to their target customers

Learn more about consumer psychology—read the following articles: or


Do What You Love, Love What You Do:

do-what-you-love2If you’re thinking of going into business for yourself, you need to be able to answer one very important question: Why you do what you do? Believe it or not, many people don’t know the answer. Let’s say you’re a car salesman and you’re thinking of opening your own dealership: When asked, you might say you do what you do “Because it pays the bills,” or, “Because I fell into it,” or something else along these lines. But if you don’t know why you sell cars – why you get that rush when you hand a set of keys over to a newly married couple (if you do) – or what it is about the act of closing a sale that not only gets you out of bed in the morning, but that makes you want to go to work, then how do you expect to succeed in your field? Individuals who are exceptional at what they do are so because they know what their purpose is, they’re truly passionate about their business and they believe that what they do is honestly making a difference.

So how do you go about finding your purpose – your passion – your reason for being in business? It’s not as hard as society makes it out to be. First and foremost, take a (serious) assessment of your skills. If you’re a car salesman, but you excelled at science in school, are really good at figuring out how things work and people tell you all the time that you could be the next winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics, then you’re probably not in the right field. But let’s not be too hasty…

What does experience tell you? Did you sell candy bars in elementary school, or hold a sales position as a teenager, and you went above and beyond your projected sales goals in both? Or did you try your hand at retail in college, only to find that everyone else outsold you – and you didn’t really care? After all, that meant more time dedicated to lab work…If you relate to the former situation, car sales may not be a bad choice for you—but if you can relate to the second situation, I think it’s about time you considered a new career path.

Finally, you need to know what excites you. If you’re in car sales by accident, and you stayed because it pays the bills, chances are, you’re only “getting by.” But is that what you want – to just “get by” – or do you want success? If you want success, you need to figure out what you really love (science, maybe?), and to find that one thing that that gets you out of bed and working hard because you want to be, not because you need to make ends meet.

So many people go about their jobs, or run their businesses, with no clear direction. They don’t know what their core values are – they have no idea what their passions might be – and they’re unsure of what they stand for. This isn’t the way to live – for anyone – but especially not if you’re thinking of going into business for yourself. If you don’t know why your business exists, then why should anyone care? When you are clear on why you do what you do, then you will experience success. Until then, don’t give up on finding your niche—the time it will take you to do so will be well worth it.

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