The emotional side of buying

July 3, 2009

When people make a final buying decision they are prompted to do so by one of only two triggers: rational buying motives and emotional buying motives. A salesperson can really only sell if they understand the psychology of buying; the process that the buyer is going through when they make a final buying decision. So what are the factors that affect buying motives.

Examples of rational buying motives are:
Profit – people buy stocks and shares mainly to make money from the increased valuation of these equities over time. Most people buy equities to make money from them not out of any emotional bond they might have with the particular company.
Health – people buy health insurance not because they have an emotional attachment with the health company but rather that they want to ensure that they will get treatment no matter what might happen to them.
Security – people buy car and house alarms mainly to ensure peace of mind when they are away from their property or because it gets them cheaper insurance, not normally because they have an emotional attachment to the alarm or alarm company.
Utility – people buy batteries when they need them and for purely utilitarian reasons, people do not get much emotional attachment from a battery.
Caution – again the peace of mind argument made by every insurance company and insurance salesperson in the world. People buy insurance ‘just in case’.
All of these buying motives are rational and made for utilitarian and practical reasons. There is very little emotional content to the purchase.

Examples of emotional buying motives are:
Envy – this is a powerful buying motive. ‘If he/she/they have x, I must have x’. Plasma screens, sports cars, women’s handbags etc etc.
Vanity – everybody is surely guilty of this buying motive. Why buy the latest football jersey even though you already have the last 3 styles. Vanity is related to self esteem and is a very powerful buying motive.
Love/sentiment – Hallmark is accredited with building up St Valentine’s Day as it sold millions of St. Valentine’s Day cards. If you ever want to see the power of love/sentiment as a buying motive ask a husband or boyfriend about the dangers of forgetting St. Valentine’s Day!
Entertainment – This is a guy buying motive. Car accessories, plasma screens, stereo systems etc etc. Do we buy these things because we need them…no. We buy them because we want them,
Pride – Another powerful buying motive. How many football jerseys are bought during a World Cup year as compared to an ordinary year? Lots. Why? Pride!
There are many other emotional triggers but what is the point here?

In start your own businesses classes I quote a figure that 84% of all purchases influenced by emotional motives. Even apparently rational decisions are finally influenced by emotion. Let me give an example. A friend of mine went out to buy a new fridge freezer for her apartment. Having spent a few hours wandering around stores she noted that most of the fridge freezers were similar, white on the outside and white on the inside. Eventually she arrived at an electrical store and looked at 3 models. All did exactly the same job and were of similar size and specification. Two were white on the inside and white on the outside. The third was white on the outside but had a nice turquoise on the inside. She made her buying decision there and then. The final reason for buying the fridge freezer, a normally utilitarian purchase, was that she liked the turquoise interior. That was the only difference between the different models. The final buying decision is normally influenced by emotional factors.

So if you are selling your product/service to clients look for the emotional buying motives and sell to them. Remember, people do not buy furniture per se, rather they are buying a particular style that will fit in their home or are buying something comfortable to watch television. People don’t just buy cars, they are buying status, image etc. Most people don’t buy clothes to cover themselves up, rather they are buying a style or image based upon their personal self image. And if you really still don’t believe me then who ever bought a lotto ticket so that they could help charities and needful causes? If you are not selling to the emotional triggers then you are missing the point of why people actually buy.

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One Response to “The emotional side of buying”


  1. […] References:- Germaine, K, 2009, The emotional side of buying, Start your own business blog, 3rd July, Viewed 31 March 2014. https://startyourownbusinessblog.wordpress.com/2009/07/03/the-emotional-side-of-buying/ […]


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