06/05/2023 • Mike Ellis
Consumer psychology is the study of how people make purchasing decisions and the mental and emotional factors that influence their behaviour. While digital marketing provides marketers with data on user behaviour, it doesn't reveal why consumers do what they do.
Understanding consumer psychology can help create effective marketing campaigns by exploring concepts such as perception, motivation, attitude, learning, and memory.
Marketers who understand consumer psychology can improve their overall success in creating effective marketing campaigns.
The rise of digital marketing has provided marketers with tools and data that previous generations would have begged to have. This has made it easy for us to get information on what users are doing, what they're engaging with, when they're engaging with it and more.
But it still doesn’t tell us why consumers do what they do.
For that, we need an understanding of consumer psychology.
Consumer psychology is a branch of psychology that focuses on how people make decisions related to purchasing goods and services. It explores the mental and emotional factors that influence consumer behaviour and how marketers can apply this knowledge to create effective marketing campaigns.
With the rise of digital marketing and specifically performance marketing, the skills associated with applying consumer psychology to advertising campaigns have somewhat diminished and are not as widely used as they once were. Over the years digital channels like organic search, Google Ads, Facebook and others have made analytics and data analysis skills a higher priority.
However, recent changes to advertising platforms are putting ads and creatives at the forefront, meaning knowing how to speak to your users and understanding their decision-making process is more important than ever.
Consumer psychology established itself in the aftermath of World War 1. As the world suffered the after-effects businesses were desperate to try and stimulate the economy and sought to understand the motivations and behaviours of consumers to maximise their marketing efforts.
The earliest pioneers of consumer psychology included Walter Dill Scott and John B. Watson, who applied the principles of behaviourism to the study of consumer behaviour. Over time, the field evolved to incorporate a wide range of theories and concepts including cognitive psychology, social psychology, and neuromarketing.
Later in the 1950s, a group of psychologists who primarily worked for advertising agencies, polling stations and market research firms joined forces. They called themselves the “mind miniaturists” and met regularly inviting scholars before formally forming a new American Psychology Association (APA) division called Consumer Psychology.
This is a period many called the golden age of advertising and what inspired the Mad Men series. Although we don't recommend much of what Don Draper applies to his clients 😂
Perception: Perception refers to how individuals interpret and process information received through their senses.
It's important to understand that perception can be affected by anything from mood to previous experience, to the setting in which the information is given.
A common pitfall for marketers and business owners is to assume that everyone interprets their message in the same way they do. A degree of empathy is needed to ensure you know how a message will be interpreted. This is where branding becomes relevant.
Motivation: Motivation is the underlying needs or desires that drive consumers to make a purchase.
Every consumer decision starts with an identification of need; the realisation of a problem. This is the core motivation that drives consumer decisions. This can be physiological (I am hungry), psychological (I want to be seen as fashionable), or functional (my lawnmower has broken).
Attitude: Attitudes are the emotional and cognitive evaluations that individuals hold about products or brands.
This is where branding becomes important. Customers build attitudes towards your brand from experience, what their friends and family say, the adverts they see online, and the experiences they have with your brand.
Learning: Learning refers to the process by which individuals acquire new knowledge and behaviours.
Consumers could acquire new knowledge through various platforms from Facebook to Reddit, Youtube or Search. Knowing how users do this will make for more effective marketing campaigns.
Memory: Memory refers to the ability of individuals to store and retrieve information.
Finally, the recognition of brands and advertisements can sometimes dictate the performance of campaigns. Ad recall is a metric within Facebook that tells marketers some of this information, showing how META already considers this a key factor.
Applying consumer psychology to digital marketing doesn’t have to be complex. Just being prepared and planning your campaigns is enough to improve your results.
Here are some theories that are worth knowing:
In conclusion, consumer psychology is a crucial aspect of marketing that can provide valuable insights into the needs and behaviours of consumers. By understanding the main concepts of consumer psychology and taking steps to learn more about the field, marketers can create more effective campaigns and improve their overall success.
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